USC receiver Marqise Lee working to overcome freshman mistakes

USC receiver Marqise Lee has played in four games.

The freshman has caught 13 passes.

Coach Lane Kiffin has seen enough.

“I know it’s early to say,” Kiffin said Thursday. “I think he’s going to be one of the best receivers ever to play at this school. “

Not bad for a player many projected as a college defensive back.

Lee, 6 feet, 190 pounds, has started opposite former Gardena Serra High teammate Robert Woods three times and is expected to do so again Saturday when the Trojans play Arizona at the Coliseum.

Lee produces highlight-reel plays almost daily in practice but is still working to consistently carry over those performances to games.

“I’m still developing — I’m not fully dialed in quite yet,” Lee said. “But I’m getting more comfortable as the weeks go by.”


Last week against Arizona State, Lee caught four passes, including a 24-yard touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass against Syracuse.

The challenge, Lee said, is to remain focused for an entire game.

“I’ve lacked that in a couple of games, and I have to pick that up,” he said. “I want to go through a whole game without messing up.”

Kiffin has repeatedly blamed youth for some of USC’s struggles, but Lee does not see it that way in his case.

“People use it as an excuse: ‘You’re a freshman. You should have mistakes,’ ” he said. “I feel like if I’m on the field I should know what I have to do and know my assignments.

Quarterback Matt Barkley most often looks to Woods, who is averaging a conference-leading 10.2 receptions per game. Lee’s role probably will grow as the season progresses.

“We’ve got to do a better job of getting him the ball,” Kiffin said.

Focused on Foles

USC’s defensive line was largely taken out of the Arizona State game by a Sun Devils scheme that utilized quick, lateral passes that allowed quarterback Brock Osweiler to avoid pressure.

The Trojans hope to have better success against Arizona quarterback Nick Foles. The senior leads the Pacific 12 Conference in total offense, but he has been sacked a conference-worst 12 times.

“He’s a pocket guy, but he has mobility,” USC defensive tackle DaJohn Harris said. “He’s a striker. He sees his target and he’s gunning it. He’s good at it.”

Quick hits

Tackle Ryan Kalil practiced after sitting out two days. … Linebacker Lamar Dawson (ankle), cornerback Torin Harris (shoulder) and running back Amir Carlisle (ankle) sat out.