Matt Barkley returned to USC and all was supposed to be right with the Trojans this past season. They had national championship aspirations, but they were dashed midway through the season and the wheels fell off. USC finished 7-6 –“unacceptable to our standards” according to Lane Kiffin — and the Trojans were left looking for answers heading into the offseason.
Changes were made at many different levels, and while we won’t see exactly how they play out until this fall, the Trojans have their spring game this weekend.
Lane Kiffin joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to discuss what he told his team after last year’s disappointing season, what he feels went wrong, the departure of his father from the program, his quarterback situation and if he’ll keep calling plays.
What do you do or say to set the tone going forward after a disappointing year?:
“The first thing I had to do is really analyze it and make sure that we learned from it and look at everything – starting with myself – within our program that we’re doing. Obviously that’s unacceptable to our standards to finish the year like that. At the same time, we’re not changing everything because we know prior to those last five games, we were 17-3 the 20 games before that. It’s been kind of exciting to restart and refresh. We don’t talk about it anymore, except in interviews.”
What did you see when you analyzed what went wrong at the end of the year?:
“We were 6-1 at Arizona, up by 15 with the ball, ready to go up 22, and from there it just really went downhill for the most part. Obviously that falls on the head coach, managing those expectations. After that loss, obviously we were knocked out of the national championship. We never really regained the same type of energy and fire that we were playing with early in the year. We made some changes with our staff, we’ve moved around some personnel, a completely different defensive scheme has come in and we’ve reverted back to practicing physical, as well.”
What kind of feelings linger about your father’s three years here and what has the transition like been to the new defense?:
“We’re excited, first off, for my dad. … He’s doing great down there, is excited to be back in the NFL and not have all the restrictions around being able to coach players that we have in college. It’s good for him and us, too, to have a change. To bring Clancy Pendergast in, who had been at Cal the past three years, was an easy hire for us after we went through everything, because we need someone to come in and be able to play really good defense in this conference right away, and not a long-term plan. … He’s very multiple, well-versed with the spread offenses and different types of offenses we face week to week here.”
On the situation at quarterback with Matt Barkley going to the NFL:
“There’s a three-quarterback race right now. All three guys are doing really well and have had great springs.”
Are you going to continue to be the offensive play-caller?:
“We’ll make that as we get closer to the fall. There’s no need for it now because we’re just in spring practice developing our players and we already know the plays we’re going to run. So we’ve really just focused on our players now, bringing our new coaches in and putting them within our systems and getting that relayed to our players.”
What’s the message or mantra for your players this spring?:
“Really just guys going out and producing. Not talking about it – just don’t tell us what you’re going to do. … Go out and prove it and just work. Work extremely hard, like they have this spring. And we have done a better job of really being demanding on them.”