Pat Haden Banking on USC, Lane Kiffin

LOS ANGELES — As college football games go, USC’s matchup against top-ranked Oregon on Saturday will go a long way toward determining the immediate future for controversial coach Lane Kiffin’s program.

An upset victory over the high-scoring Ducks and USC is back in the national spotlight.

An ugly defeat to Oregon — 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in both human polls — and the Trojans’ Kiffin-led journey through NCAA probation becomes that much tougher.

“People have talked about this game like it’s a [bowl game for USC],” fifth-year senior cornerback Shareece Wright told FanHouse on Monday. “In a way, I understand. But I just see it as another opportunity for us to prove ourselves. We get a chance to show what we’re about.”

With a 5-2 record, a defense ranked 87th nationally (allowing a whopping 402.4 yards per game) and a tough probation stretch to endure, USC is generally considered a program in decline and facing Oregon at the L.A. Coliseum will be a major challenge.

“It’s difficult when you go against an offense that plays so fast,” said Wright, who has faced former Oregon quarterbacks Dennis Dixon and Jeremiah Masoli.

“You’re trying to get calls from the sideline and get lined up at the same time. When you have to do that play after play after play, it’s hard to catch your breath at times.”

“Not only do they play faster now, their offense is more developed than it was a few years back with more plays and more route combinations.”

fanhouse.com
10/27/10