USC Is Preparing For a Strong Cardinal Team

Marqise Lee

The Trojans prepare to take on Stanford, lead by quarterback Josh Nunes and one of the stronger defenses in the Pac-12...Here is what USC Coach Lane Kiffin, Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee, and Dion Bailey had to say about preparing for Stanford...

USC Coach Lane Kiffin
On Stanford playing without quarterback Andrew Luck

I think you're not going to be the same anytime you lose somebody people talked about as one of the best prospects to ever come out. They seem to have leaned on their running game, which is still really good. They have two really good backs in there. An offensive line, even though they've had some guys leave, that's still a really good offensive line, and a great front seven. They're going to be tough all year long for everybody they play. Anytime you can run the ball really well, have a quarterback that's taking care of the ball and play really good defense, that's a good recipe.

Well, yeah, but they came out last week and tried to throw the ball to try to balance it out after the first week of being so lopsided. Like I said, I think they are going to do what they do, when Luck was there they were still a running team first, and so I don't think they've changed all that much. Hopefully we can get them into the 4th quarter and make a new guy have to make plays.

On if the "no-Luck" factor means no Stanford mystery…
I don't think they're going to change a whole lot. They have a system. They've been around for a couple years, even though the coaching change. Coach Shaw has been there, heavily involved in the offense. They do what they do. They do it really well. They're coached very well. Their players are very smart. They don't make a lot of mistakes. And they hardly ever get penalties on them. You've got to play really to beat them.

On what Stanford does well defensively…
The front seven and how many different looks they give you. They're really veteran. If you look at their defense, they've been together a long time, especially the front seven. Most of them are in their last season, and they do a lot with them.

If there is pressure on the center and quarterback against Stanford's changing fronts…
It puts pressure on everybody. All your offensive line, your tight ends in protection, your backs in protection, your receivers and their hot routes. Anytime you play defenses like this, these multiple-front defenses, everybody's got to be on the same page.

How to adjust to playing a big and physical Stanford team…
Well, first, I can't get into very much on that for obvious reasons, about what we're doing this week. But I can say that I do think we are at a little advantage because we go all camp and all spring seeing some similar type of plays, you know, different than what true spread teams have to deal with when their defense sees spread all camp, but I've always hoped that that would help us. I don't know that it has over the last two years, maybe it will this year.

If Stanford has had to show much during their first two games…
Well, I don't think they showed very much stuff but I also think that that is probably their personality. They do what they do. They're not a big huge change from week to week, they're going to play a lot of extra linemen and they're going to play tight ends, they're going to run the ball and they're going to do play action. I think they are really well coached, one of the better coached teams in the country.

On how the Trojans front-seven will hold up…
Well, we're going to have to stop the run, first, we're going to have to play very aggressive in our fits, really going to have to knock them back, otherwise the game gets really long and all of a sudden you have to get out of your normal defenses, and you get the big play actions, so we've got to play really sound defense against these guys.

On the issues Stanford's tight ends can raise…
Mismatch issues and they go after you. They are going to split them out and make you cover them, so they do a really good job with that, the got us last year on one, I'm sure they'll try again.

On how Stanford's returning linebackers Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy affect the game plan…
Well, I don't really think that much game plan. They don't change their scheme, I just think it's another veteran player who makes a bunch of plays and really, I think the key to their defense is they are really smart. So they don't give up a bunch of big plays, especially in the run game, and they are very physical. They give you issues. They have really good sack numbers over the years, but it's the amount of hits they get on the quarterback. They do a really good job, they are coached to play very physical, and they finish on the quarterback very physical after the ball is thrown and they do a really good job.

On the defensive mindset, if it changes, going against a pro-style team…
Well, I don't know. I think that as you look at these guys, they have moved the ball over the years really well by being very physical and coming downhill at you. So as soon as you miss a tackle – they are not a sideline team, like some other teams we've played, they're a downhill team, you miss that tackle and their momentum is going forward.

Quarterback Matt Barkley
On where Stanford is dangerous…

They are always very structurally sound in their defense and not too wild in what they do, but very consistent. I like the way they play there on their defense, it kind of looks like an odd front, so we always have to be on the lookout for that and know your stuff. They do very well when the pressure, got good downhill backers, and a good front seven, so we'll have to be on the watch for them.

If Stanford is predictable…
I wouldn't say predictable with that odd look that they have. You never really know who is coming, but they are very sound in what they do. They don't really make a lot of mistakes.

Receiver Marqise Lee
On what the Stanford defense does that is different…

They've just got great execution. The defensive coach they have over there is very smart. He knows what he is doing and we just have to prepare for him. They give you a couple of good, different looks. Not so much what we haven't seen before, but it's new.

Linebacker Dion Bailey
On being a small fast linebacker against a powerful Stanford team…

I take it as a challenge to prove to everybody that I can handle the physical aspect of the game. That's one of the big question marks about me as a player – can I play in a physical run game with the SEC teams and things like that. When I get a chance to play a team like Stanford, I take it as an opportunity to prove the quality of player that I am.

Without Luck, expecting fewer audibles?
That's pretty much the only difference. They're still going to be Stanford. They're going to run the power, set up the pass game, things like that. And this quarterback, he's shown that he can lead the offense. He's accepted the challenge of taking after what Luck did. But that's the only thing Luck brought to the team that this quarterback probably hasn't shown yet is the ability to kind of be like Peyton Manning out there, run-the-offense-on-his-own type thing. That's the only difference.

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