LOS ANGELES -- Coming on the heels of the Trojans’ 38-28 victory over Utah on Thursday night, the team ran through a rare Sunday practice in full pads, with coach Lane Kiffin using the added opportunity to get a start on this week’s game plan against Washington. Calling the team’s attitude “very spirited,” he was pleased with where the team is in terms of its preparation.
“[It’s] a very good opportunity for us to get ahead this week,” Kiffin said. “We’ve installed all of our first- and second-down stuff, so for us to only be on a Sunday afternoon -- to be that far ahead -- is extremely beneficial to our players and our staff as we move on to third down and red zone. So a really good day today -- guys were excited to get back out here.”
Huskies on tap
The Huskies were the latest team to fall victim to the surging No. 2 Oregon Ducks on Saturday, losing 52-21. Despite the lopsided final score, Kiffin said that he didn’t believe it was necessarily indicative of where Washington is as a program. And with Steve Sarkisian running the show, he also doubted that there was any chance of a post-loss hangover, especially with the Huskies coming back home -- where they’re undefeated in 2012 with a record of 3-0.
“It probably just refocuses them, like what usually happens when you lose -- and sometimes you have a better week of practice,” Kiffin said. “[Steve Sarkisian] has always subscribed to the theory that a win is a win, and a loss is a loss. So he’s kind of always talked that way, and that’s how they’ve been -- they’ve won a lot of really big games, and sometimes the losses have been blowouts. And he’s right, at the end of the day, you’ve either got a win or you’ve got a loss. So they’ll be ready to go, and as you can see, they’re a completely different team when they play at home and when they play on the road.”
Looking for answers at cornerback
The possible move of Josh Shaw from safety to help solidify the cornerback spot opposite Nickell Robey was brought up by Kiffin on his Friday night conference call, and on Sunday he talked about it again.
“We’re just kind of searching every avenue, and obviously he’s got a little background in it,” Kiffin said. “It’s something that he wanted to do a while ago, and we did do it with him at one point in camp. So it’s not that hard of a move -- to put him back there and see what he can do out there.”
But is Kiffin concerned that such a move could impede Shaw’s development at safety?
“Sure, that’s always a concern, but he’s a very smart kid, very aware -- he knows both of our safety spots -- so I don’t think it would be an issue with him,” Kiffin said.
While the potential move of Shaw didn’t exactly catch anyone off guard, one name that was brought up certainly did: Marqise Lee. On Sunday, Kiffin clarified that his comment was not necessarily made in jest, and that the possibility of the added role for his star receiver has been seriously thrown out there, but concerns do exist and no move has been made at this point.
“We have discussed it,” Kiffin said. “We just don’t want that to take away [from] what he does on offense. He’s one of the best players in the country, and he’s so dynamic. Even when you don’t throw him the ball, he changes the defenses that you see. So he helps the run game that way and helps the other receivers and tight ends. So that’s where we’re at. It’s pretty hard to put him over there very much if [it’s] going to have to take reps away from offense.”
Woods good to go
USC’s other standout receiver, Robert Woods, was involved in one of the most violent collisions of Thursday’s contest during a punt return -- causing him to have some trouble getting to his feet immediately afterwards.
But Woods was cleared by team doctors after the play and he was back in action later in the game. As Kiffin explained, he was examined again after the game with the same result.
“Yeah, they checked him out again,” Kiffin said. “He was fully cleared to go back in. That’s not my call at all, that’s our doctors, and they’re very safe with it. As I said on the conference call, we had another player -- a significant player -- not play because of not passing the test. I know as bad as the hit looked and what happened afterward with the hit, he passed all of the tests and they put him back in.”