Oregon vs. USC: Why Lane Kiffin Will Have the Trojans Ready
"...A million different ways."
That's how many ways in which USC head coach Lane Kiffin feels his team could have avoided a painful second loss to Arizona last weekend.
The Trojans, after a preseason No. 1 ranking from the AP, are currently sitting at 17th in the BCS rankings going into tonight's game against Oregon.
Kiffin has acknowledged that the fault for the Trojans' woes this season can be placed on his shoulders.
In an interview Friday with ESPN's Colin Cowherd, Kiffin acknowledged that the USC has been undisciplined and that the blame for those kinds of mistakes can be placed squarely on his shoulders.
"That's the head coach's job. If you're gonna have penalties and turnovers like this, it should always go on the head coach."
While it's still up in the air whether that bit about coaches being responsible for turnovers is actually true, the fact remains that undisciplined teams commit penalties, and penalties cause problems.
The Trojans have definitely been committing penalties, and at a rather alarming rate.
Will Kiffin and USC be Ready for the Ducks?
With 10.4 penalties per game, the Trojans find themselves dead last in the nation in penalties per game and penalty yards (84.6) per game.
So yes, in spite of the two losses, quarterback Matt Barkley missing his opportunity to take care of "unfinished business" in the BCS title game, and the very real possibility that the Trojans will not even make the Pac-12 title game, there should be hope that things can get better for the Trojans.
And if that's going to happen, Kiffin and his staff have got to be the ones to start making the difference.
If Kiffin really is the coach deserving of his multi-million dollar contract, a contract which many questioned from day one, he will have the Trojans ready to go against Oregon.
USC is not completely bereft of talent, nor is the season a total waste as yet.
Barkley, and wide receiver Marqise Lee, both have a shot at the Heisman Trophy.
The Trojans have an offense that should scare the bejesus out of most defenses, and would if they could solve these discipline woes.
Oregon has yet to face a team anywhere near the caliber of USC, and the Trojans are playing a whole new role—that of the desperate underdog, fighting tooth-and-nail for a shot at Pac-12 supremacy.
Kiffin has already admitted that much of the blame can be placed on him, and you better believe, being a human, that the thought of job security has already crossed his mind.
Whether a week between games leaves enough time for the USC head coach and his staff to reverse a disturbing trend that has been ongoing all season remains to be seen.
But tonight when the Trojans face the undefeated Ducks at the Coliseum, if they lose, it won't be for lack of effort by Kiffin.
Love him or hate him, the fact that he took the blame, claimed ownership of his error and stepped to the plate shows shows a level of responsibility one might not expect from the man who bailed on Tennessee.
For Kiffin's legacy, this game is about more than just upsetting an undefeated Pac-12 opponent.
How the Trojans' discipline is tonight, win or lose, will be an indicator of how seriously Kiffin is going to take his responsibility for the team's woes, and the veracity of the statement that he takes "a lot" of the blame for their losses.
Against an Oregon team that can beat you "a million different ways", Kiffin better have his team prepared, or they will be in an official headlong dive into the "Land of the Over-Rated."
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