Kiffin: Barkley's Heisman campaign not on backburner

LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin says he doesn't believe Matt Barkley's Heisman campaign has been hurt by the Trojans quarterback's lack of standout statistics so far this season.

He also doesn't think Barkley's campaign will suffer because of USC's early-season loss to Stanford.

Asked Thursday on 710 ESPN's "ESPNLA Now" radio show if he felt he was putting Barkley's chase for the Heisman on the backburner by going away from the pass.

"I wouldn't say that," Kiffin told hosts Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson. "The way you'd put Matt Barkley's Heisman hopes on that backburner is lose three or four games. That's how you do that. Knowing who Matt is, Matt understands that and Matt wants to win games, so that's what we're gonna do."

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Kiffin also took the opportunity to expand on his view of his stars' statistics. After the Trojans' 27-9 win over Cal last weekend, he revealed that he had earlier stressed to his team's five key skill-position players that he was unconcerned about their numbers this season and they should be too.

On Thursday, he took a slight step back, saying he cared about the stats from a recruiting perspective but kept them secondary to winning on his list of priorities.

"First off, there is something to stats," Kiffin said. "If you are going to, as a head coach, take a CEO approach to what you are doing and you take into account recruiting and what kids see nationally, stats are important. So what we did the first two years here and what happened with Robert (Woods') numbers and then Marqise (Lee) and Matt and these numbers of record breaking performances, that's a big deal for recruits.

"Kids see that, especially when young guys are doing that. But, this year, we took the approach with these guys to make sure that they understood that these two tailbacks and two receivers and quarterback that our job is to win."

Kiffin also discussed a moment last week in which he cut short a post-practice media session after a reporter asked a question in reference to injured player, Khaled Holmes.

In response to a question from Willard about it, Kiffin said the reason he jogged off has been misinterpreted. The reporter asked about Holmes' status in front of several cameras and in doing so revealed the injured center had practiced that day in preparation for Cal.

"It wasn't that it was a question about injuries," Kiffin said. "It was that we had discussed all this and that's still happened."

Kiffin admitted that his intention to minimize the discussion of the Trojans' injuries in the news has "backfired."

"It created more distractions," Kiffin said. "The goal was to create less."

USC (3-1), ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, has its lone bye of the season this week before facing Pac-12 South rival Utah in Salt Lake City next Thursday.