Colorado Week: Wednesday Notes

USC's Starting Tailback!

Its hard enough to post about a Saturday game...it's even tougher fro a Friday Night game so I apologize for the lack of content.

It was announced earlier today that Curtis McNeal will be the starting Tailback on Friday. Marc Tyler is pretty much on the shelf with his shoulder injury.

Curtis McNeal will start at tailback in place of the injured Marc Tyler (shoulder). Lane Kiffin is still holding out hope Tyler will be able to play, although he hasn’t been cleared.

There is no question that Moody has earned the right to start. He pretty much single-handedly brought the USC running game back to life.

Tyler on the other hand has fought through his injury but it is pretty clear that it has taken its toll.

The biggest question some of us have is how will USC respond to last Saturday's slug fest.

Kiffin addressed that question yesterday.

"We have moved on from last week's game and we are preparing for a very challenging conference game this Friday at Colorado," the statement read.

There's a game this week? It was pretty easy to forget in the haze of Kiffin's comments after the Stanford game over the weekend. But there is indeed a contest for the Trojans to play -- on Friday, no less -- a game they have to win to continue a three-week string of good performances.

And that's the biggest challenge for USC this week: not letting up in the face of its weakest 2011 opponent. On the surface, the Buffaloes have a 1-8 record and their two best skill-position players have missed several games because of injuries. But letdowns happen. As Kiffin also mentioned over the weekend, the end of Saturday's game was a letdown -- at least defensively. The Trojans couldn't stop Stanford at all in the final minutes of regulation and the three overtime periods.

No offense but if USC stumbles against Colorado there are going to be a lot of pissed off people out there. Some will see it as a step back.

With all this team has been through I have a hard time believing that this team will falter.

Which leads me to this....

Is this team at the crossroads?

Well, we were wrong. They took the in-between route.

Kiffin's Trojans put up such a fight against Andrew Luck and the Cardinal that the outcome doesn't necessarily take them in a given direction from here. They'll face Colorado in five days, and they obviously need to win that comfortably to keep up the momentum, but they'll likely be ranked higher after beating the Buffaloes than they were entering the Stanford game, which is saying something.

Noter Dame may not be all that, but ND is still USC's biggest rival and that game always means something. Stanford may be becoming a bitter rival...there is certainly a history there going all the way back to John McKay.

Over those last two games USC has emerged as a much different team than what we saw earlier in the season and definitely better than last season.

There were many who buried this team.

At times, things looked a bleak with some ugly wins and an ugly loss against ASU. But things look to be coming together. USC is hardly out of the woods but this team has responded pretty well with all that it has faced.

I think 'SC needed a win last Saturday. Sadly, it didn't happen but this team really answered the bell when many thought they would get dump trucked. I don't think that not winning sets them back, but winning would have set the sky on fire. Of course, there are those who continue to not be impressed and will nit pick at anything negative (Plaschke).

This team is not going to accept any moral victories and neither will USC's fans. But that doesn't mean that the fans can't be pumped with the effort we have seen the last two weeks...especially when so many showed a lot of disregard for this team.

Even Matt Barkley wasn't impressed...

"I played all right," USC’s junior quarterback said, "but definitely not my best game."

Apparently, that’s a minority opinion.

Coach Lane Kiffin said Barkley played "really well." Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC opined on the network’s "Football Night in America" show Sunday that Barkley was great. King quoted an NFL pro personnel director as saying that Barkley "played himself into the top 10 of the draft with that terrific performance."

Barkley’s numbers were respectable enough: 28 of 45 for 284 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. But Barkley knows he left some plays on the field. The offense scored only six points in the first half and went three-and-out twice in the second.

"We moved the ball down the field, but when we needed to, we weren’t connecting on crucial plays," Barkley said Tuesday.

That is some hard criticism.

Like I said no moral victories for these guys.

I am not yet ready to say that this team has turned the corner...how they play Friday against a team that many have so little regard for will say a lot.

Keeping their chins up after a such a tough loss and not letting themselves fall prey to having an off game is key.

We find out Friday...

- - -

Some links...

Could Kiffin controversy unify Trojans? - The Orange County Register

Production belies pain for USC’s Woods - The Orange County Register

Trojans Spotlight: USC vs. Colorado - ESPN Los Angeles

Kiffin after Wednesday's practice - ESPN Los Angeles

The dark clouds were moving - ESPN Los Angeles

Kiffin talks after Tuesday's practice - ESPN Los Angeles

Colorado Tuesday: Notes - USC Trojans

Colorado Wednesday: Notes - USC Trojans

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