Going into the biggest game of the season, I talked to all three "quarterbacks."
- Undeniably, practice has been different this week. The sidelines are filled with media, including national faces like Brent Musberger and Desmond Howard. Lane Kiffin admitted that he has not had to ask for his players' attention. They have been snapped in since last Tuesday. After practice, the list of players doing extra work and extra conditioning has grown exponentially. The #1 team in the country has everybody focused.
- Speaking of Desmond Howard, here's a little bonus trivia for the blog readers. Howard is one of four players to win the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP. Name the other three. Answer below...
- Using the marathon analogy, Lane Kiffin backed off the players the last two days to build their legs back up after breaking them down the last two weeks. Practice was light for a typical Thursday and shorter than usual (1 hour 45 minutes).
- The injury list is blurry. Kiffin rested some healthy players, but Nick Perry returned to the field. You can watch the video below if you want to decipher who is in and who is out. I will Tweet from the field (@USC_Athletics) on Saturday when I know for certain.
- Quarterback #1: Center Kris O'Dowd. "It's my job to make the calls and study this defense up," said the senior about his responsibilities. "They confuse offenses, but if we just keep it to the basics, we should not have a problem."
- O'Dowd went on with the scouting report from his angle. "They are just a fast team. They are not necessarily powerful upfront, but they are quick and they are good at what they do."
- We profiled Casey Matthews today in the scouting report. The Oregon linebacker is Clay's brother, so the older Trojans are very familiar with him. "He's my boy," said O'Dowd, who often talks to Matthews publicly on Twitter. "It's just fun competition, especially when you go against people that you know. I can't wait to play against him."
- O'Dowd does not talk trash on Twitter or in the media, but how about the field? "I only talk when the time is right," he smiled. "I'm a pretty humble guy, but I can't say that for the rest of the offensive linemen."
- The forecast calls for rain at some point Saturday. Kiffin said the timing of the rain will determine whether or not it is an advantage for the offense or defense. "We'll love it because it will be cooler for the big guys," O'Dowd concluded.
- Two weeks of anticipation have the Trojans counting down the hours until kickoff. "Every game thus far I have been treasuring in my heart," said the senior who only has six more to play at USC. "It's going to be a great opportunity for myself, this offensive line and this team to play our best."
- "I can't wait!" said Devon Kennard, the quarterback of the defense. "I got some big game experience last year, but I'm playing a bigger role, so I'm really excited for the opportunity."
- Kennard singled out tackling as a key to containing Oregon's dangerous skill players. "It's something the coaches have emphasized," said Kennard about the live tackling drills this week. "It's something we know that they want us to take more seriously, so we've emphasized that for the two weeks."
- The real quarterback gets the last word. "The #1 team in the country coming in here and Homecoming, there's a lot of hype around it," Matt Barkley said about the build-up. "It's going to be our preparation that will win it not the hype, not our fans, although they're great, not College Gameday."
- Trivia answer: Marcus Allen (1981 Heisman at USC, Super Bowl XVIII MVP), Jim Plunkett (1970 Heisman, Super Bowl XV MVP) and Roger Staubach (1963 Heisman, Super Bowl VI MVP).
- Here is the shortest Lane Kiffin post-practice presser of the season...