Winner Kiffin frowns at USC
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 3:56 pm
By: By JAYMES SONG, AP Sports Writer
HONOLULU (AP) — Southern California was all smiles, except for coach Lane Kiffin.
Matt Barkley and Ronald Johnson had record nights, connecting on three touchdowns to make Kiffin a winner in his Trojans’ coaching debut.
No. 14 USC beat Hawaii 49-36 on Thursday night to start the post-Pete Carroll era.
Barkley had 257 yards passing and tied a school record with five TD passes while Johnson matched a USC mark with his three TD catches.
Johnson also returned a punt 89 yards for another score in USC’s first game after being hit hard with sanctions by the NCAA that includes a postseason ban this season.
When asked how he was feeling after the inaugural win, Kiffin answered: “not very well.”
“We didn’t do it in the style that we wanted. We want to be tough, we want to be disciplined,” he said. “I thought we were tough today. I thought that we played physical in parts of the game, but we weren’t disciplined.”
Besides big performances by Barkley and Johnson, Marc Tyler finished with 154 yards on 17 carries.
While his players racked up career numbers, Kiffin pointed to a different stat: 11 penalties for a grand total of 100 yards worth of setbacks.
“I’m really disappointed with everything in general, but more important than anything was the (lack of) discipline,” said the 35-year-old coach.
The players, however, were thrilled with the victory after going through a tumultuous offseason.
“It’s huge for our whole team, for Coach Kiffin, for the program, for all of the guys, it’s big time,” Barkley said. “It’s awesome, but it’s just a start.”
While USC’s offense looked as potent as ever, the defense allowed Hawaii to hang in the game and showed some holes.
The Trojans couldn’t stop the Warriors, who gained 588 yards to USC’s 524.
“Defensively, we didn’t play very well obviously,” said Kiffin, who rejoined the program after a year with the University of Tennessee and 20 games with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
Before that, he served as a USC assistant for six seasons under Carroll, including the last two as offensive coordinator.
Carroll left the program in the offseason to become the head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, setting the wheels in motion for Kiffin to return to the Trojan sideline as the latest skipper.
With USC’s depleted roster, Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said he could tell the Trojans were “gassed,” so the Warriors kept rotating in fresh players.
The problem was that USC’s offense never tired out.
“We ended up winning the game, which was good, but obviously as you can see, we’ve got some depth concerns and issues,” Kiffin said. “We’re got a lot of work to do, which was obvious.”
Kiffin raised some eyebrows early in the game when he decided to go for two-point conversions after USC’s first three touchdowns.
Only one was successful.
He said when the first one failed, it put his team in a position of going for it again.
“I thought that if we had some good plays lined up, we’d be able to make it and we kind of kept going with that for a while and after the score was up to a certain number we went back to extra points,” Kiffin said.
Barkley, who was spotty last year as a freshman starter, was sharp and efficient in the first game of his highly anticipated sophomore season.
He completed his first seven passes and finished 18-of-23.
He became the fifth USC player to toss five TD passes in a game and the first since Mark Sanchez in 2008.
“It was a good start for Matt, five touchdowns passes and no interceptions,” Kiffin said of his QB. “Ronald had four overall touchdowns, which was good to see and Marc, in his first start, got probably nine or 10 yards a carry.
“So we had some good things. We’ve got a long way to go, but the good thing is we didn’t have any injuries and we’re 1-0.”