Stanford Tuesday: Notes

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The Trojans were happy to be practicing under the Southern California sun after last weekend.

  • Nobody would take the bait.  Not Lane Kiffin, not Matt Barkley or Curtis McNeal.  Despite back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Stanford, USC is sticking with the "just another game" mantra.
  • Barkley-Stanford-2011-LAT.jpgRT Kevin Graf admitted that last year's loss "absolutely" sticks with him, but "this is a new year."
  • (Photo by LA Times)
  • McNeal has the most motivation after his triple overtime fumble ended last year's Coliseum classic, but the veteran running back has put the mistake behind him.  "I was able to put it away that night.  It's just football.  You just have to keep on going."
  • Despite the fumble, McNeal was the offensive catalyst against the Cardinal last season.  He ran for 145 yards and 2 TDs on 20 carries, but he has not been the primary ball carrier in 2012.  "I can't worry about how many times I touch it.  Just when I touch it, I have to make something happen."
  • The running game exploded for 258 yards against Syracuse, but the night ended on a sour note with Khaled Holmes getting carted off.  "It's always tough to watch one of your guys go down like that, but we have Cyrus [Hobbi] and he stepped up," Graf said.  "I know he's ready for it if his time comes."
  • Holmes is the undisputed leader of the offensive line, so Graf and others will need to communicate more if Holmes misses any time.  "It pushes me more to step up and try to get this line going," Graf said. 
  • The offensive line will get a huge challenge from Stanford's experienced front seven.  "They are very disciplined," McNeal said.  "They always stick to their rules.  You never catch their guys out of place."
  • The Stanford offense has been balanced in its first two games, but the general perception is that the Cardinal will try to run the ball and control the clock Saturday.  "They seem to have leaned on their running game, which is still really good," said Kiffin about post-Andrew Luck Stanford. 
  • As for today's practice, the defense had the better of the competitive action.  Defensive backs Drew McAllister and Anthony Brown forced incompletions by breaking hard on the ball, which is the type of aggressive play the coaches need to see more of from the secondary.
  • Sorry about the camerawork for Kiffin's media scrum today.  We will work on our box out techniques for next practice.  Here is the sound at least...

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