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Kiffin: 'It's not a video game'

Matt Barkley's rated a 98 out of 99 in the popular NCAA '13 video game, released last month to excitement from college football fans and players nationwide.

Robert Woods is a 96, the best receiver in the game to go along with Barkley's best signal-caller-in-the-game status. Marqise Lee, T.J. McDonald and Khaled Holmes are all 90s and up.

It all sounds appealing.

But Trojans coach Lane Kiffin provided an important -- if obvious -- reminder for his team Wednesday. Asked how he'd been managing expectations within his team considering their national hype at this early point in the preseason, Kiffin referenced something many of his players know quite well.

"It's not a video game," Kiffin said of the upcoming season. "It's not 11 players who can play every snap. You've got to have some other guys ready to go, and so they're understanding that and they're helping those guys, as well."

He's right. The Trojans have a ton of talent, but they don't have a ton of depth. And they need both to actually be successfully in 2012.

So Kiffin has been resorting to other pop-culture references to get through to his team in recent weeks. He's not stopping at video games, using the failures of hyped teams from years past among other devices.

"We talked about Oklahoma at preseason No. 1 last year and where they ended up," Kiffin said. "We talked about the Philadelphia Eagles and the announcement of the dream team in the offseason and what happened to them."

The Eagles finished last year 8-8, without a ticket to the playoffs. The Sooners ended up 10-3, with an Insight Bowl appearance.

USC's hoping to avoid similar results. But Kiffin is confident he and his players are on the same page.

"It’s always about the preparation and I think they understand that," Kiffin said. "I think they also understand we’re not going anywhere if we don’t get these backups ready."

Well, the Trojans' backups have definitely been getting their time during the last 10 days of USC's fall camp, with so many starters out for a day or two or three at a time. The question is whether their overall depth will be enough as the season wears on.