Lane Kiffin not yet ready to change his starting tailback
USC tailback Allen Bradford enjoyed a breakout game against Minnesota, but Coach Lane Kiffin reiterated Sunday that no decision has been made regarding a change in the starting lineup for Saturday’s Pacific 10 Conference opener at Washington State.
“It’s still early,” Kiffin said.
Bradford, a fifth-year senior, became the Trojans’ featured back in the second half of the 32-21 victory. He averaged 10.9 yards for his 12 carries and scored on a 56-yard run.
“If you can get him a crease, he’s so unique,” Kiffin said.
Junior tailback Marc Tyler, who carried at least 17 times in each of the first two games, gained 33 yards and scored a touchdown in nine carries against Minnesota. Tyler is listed No. 1 on the initial depth chart released for Washington State.
“He just ran OK,” Kiffin said. “He didn’t have the holes.”
Trojans fall in poll … again
For the third week in a row, the Trojans dropped two spots in the Associated Press media poll.
An unbeaten team that began the season ranked 14th is now No. 20.
The Trojans were jumped by fellow Pac-10 members Arizona and Stanford, both of which produced impressive victories. Arizona moved from No. 24 to No. 14 with a 34-27 win over previously ninth-ranked Iowa. Stanford beat Wake Forest, 68-24, and moved from 19th to 16th.
Nevertheless, Kiffin said the Trojans are a better team than they were when they played their opener at Hawaii.
“I do feel us coming together better,” he said. “This comes with experience….We’re definitely better than we were three weeks ago.”
Front and center
After reviewing tape of the game, Kiffin said the Trojans defensive front played even better than he initially thought.
Led by Nick Perry, Wes Horton, Jurrell Casey and Armond Armstead, USC limited Minnesota to 83 yards rushing.
“I think they’re really special,” Kiffin said of the defensive linemen. “We have four first-day draft picks there. That’s a good thing to have. I just hope they stay for awhile.”
The offense remains a work in progress.
“Very up and down,” Kiffin said.
Quarterback Matt Barkley had two passes intercepted, and the Trojans converted only four of 10 third downs.
“You can’t be doing that in a big game because it’s all about position and holding onto the ball,” Barkley said after the victory. “This game it didn’t catch up to us, but in the future you can’t be giving the ball away.”
Not a foul mood
After being flagged for seven penalties for 71 yards against Minnesota, the Trojans remain the national leader with 321 penalty yards. They have been flagged 31 times.
But Kiffin was not distressed.
“You can’t just look at numbers,” he said. “You have to look at decision-making, and I thought we were very good in that game.”
Robert Woods’ 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the longest by a USC player since Chad Morton returned a kickoff 98 yards against Purdue in 1988. It was first touchdown on a kickoff return by a Trojans freshman since 2003, when Reggie Bush scored against UCLA…. The Trojans resume practice Tuesday after having Monday off.