Holmes' absence an issue
The Trojans were without their best offensive lineman against Stanford, and it really hurt them.
Center Khaled Holmes appeared to hurt his right ankle in the fourth quarter of last week's win over Syracuse. He dressed and warmed up with his teammates Saturday and was treated as a game-time decision, but he was limited to an assistant-coach role, not playing at all against the Cardinal.
It was unfortunate luck for USC, who would've already had trouble blocking Stanford's tough front seven but found it virtually impossible without Holmes.
"If there was a game on the schedule you'd pick that you wouldn't want to be missing your senior center, this is it," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said after the game. "I think any time you miss what I think is an All-American center who has been there a lot and played with Matt a lot, he misses a hard game."
Right guard John Martinez said he and his offensive line mates had confidence in Holmes' replacement, redshirt freshman Cyrus Hobbi, going in, but admitted they missed "Khaled's presence and his intangibles."
Quarterback Matt Barkley refused to accept Holmes' absence as a reason his team lost.
"I don't think you can put the blame on that," Barkley said. "There's a lot that can go on besides that."
The running play clock
Two USC players said there was an additional issue they had to deal with at Stanford Stadium on Saturday: the play clock.
Time operators at the stadium started the play clock significantly quicker than normal after every play, tight end Randall Telfer said. Barkley realized it soon after the game's start, but it took longer than that to get adjusted to it.
"Usually they start it once they put the ball down, but they didn't, they started it immediately," Telfer said. "We were a little behind there."
Said Martinez: "Matt kept saying, 'We need to get up to the line,' because the play clock was starting a lot faster than we're normally used to."
Of course, both USC and Stanford had to deal with the same clock practice. But the Cardinal probably had more experience with it than the Trojans did.
"We're not really used to that style, but there's really nothing we can do about it," Telfer said. "That's just how it is."
A hit to Barkley's Heisman hopes?
Barkley's final numbers weren't exactly Heisman Trophy material.
He ended up completing less than half of his passes for the first time since his freshman season and threw two interceptions to zero touchdowns -- the worst such ratio of his career.
But Stanford coach David Shaw went out of his way after the game to praise USC's signal-caller.
"Regardless of what happened tonight, that is the best quarterback in the country," Shaw said. "If you give him too much time, he will kill you."
Still, Barkley will surely drop out of Heisman favorite status after the weekend. He'll now face an uphill battle to win the end-of-year award this season.
USC running back Silas Redd said he suffered another shoulder stinger on the play in which he fumbled in the second quarter.
His left shoulder went numb when he was hit by a Stanford defender, forcing the ball out of his arm, and he had to come out of the game for a "good little while," he said.
The shoulder has been an issue for Redd dating to his Penn State days, and he also experienced a problem with his shoulder during fall camp last month.
"There's really nothing you can do about it until the feeling comes back," Redd said.
Final notes: USC had just 91 yards total offense in the second half and 26 net yards rushing in the entire game. ... Barkley was sacked four times Saturday after being taken down eight times all of last season, and Stanford had another that wasn't counted because it resulted in the fumble that Marqise Lee recovered and returned. ... The Trojans have now lost their Pac-10 or Pac-12 road opener in four of the last five seasons and either their first or second conference road game in each of the last six seasons. ... Redd said left tackle Aundrey Walker did indeed push him into the end zone on one of his first-half touchdowns, as it appeared. "I got stuck behind him and I said, Aundrey go, and he just kind of grabbed me, took me along for the ride," Redd said. ... USC defensive end J.R. Tavai and receiver George Farmer did not participate in Saturday's game and were not seen on the sideline at all. Defensive end Wes Horton, who missed the second half of the Syracuse game because of an injury, did play against Stanford.