Mock Game Wednesday: Notes

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The Trojans continue to put together the game plan in preparation for the No. 1 team in the country.
  • Injury news per head coach Clay Helton: S Marvell Tell III (hamstring) returned to team work, and he is expected to progress in time for the season opener. LT Chad Wheeler (plantar fasciitis) is on the road to recovery as well. He has a "50-50" chance to play against Alabama.
  • USC_FOOTBALL_FALL_CAMP_080416-5537.jpgSenior Michael Hutchings was listed atop the depth chart at inside linebacker alongside sophomore Cam Smith. "It's a great feeling to have that depth chart come out and be at the top," said Hutchings. "I prepared every day knowing that there was nothing for me to really lose and nothing for me to get back after this year."
  • As a veteran in the room, particularly of Clancy Pendergast's defense, Hutchings explained that he does a lot of "passing down information to the younger guys." But, he only has two career starts, so sometimes he looks to Smith to take the leading role. "I also lean on him a lot too for little details and little advice."
  • All the linebackers enjoy playing behind grad transfer DT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (pictured), who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 320 pounds. "Stevie takes up two guys a play," said a grateful Hutchings. "He's not just a big body in there taking up space, he's a guy that's active."
  • Tu'ikolovatu was a reserve at Utah, but he graded out extremely well during his snaps and quickly earned a likely starting role at USC. "I knew they had a lot of guys," said the redshirt senior. "When you come in, you don't expect to get treated like, 'Oh, this guy's going to start.' I'm willing to put in the work and try to earn it for myself so it can mean something when you finally get the starter tag on you."
  • The Trojans were desperate for his size, especially after the loss of Kenny Bigelow in the spring, but Tu'ikolovatu's experience has been the biggest difference maker. He is 25-years-old, married and has a child, so he brings a completely different dimension to an otherwise young defensive line room. "I think the biggest difference would be kind of having a mindset that you're out here for a purpose," he said. "You're not out here to be in college life. I'm here to try to build a life for my family, support my wife, so it gives me a more motivational drive to come out and practice, because I have a purpose behind it."
  • It's not often that you hear a college player utter the words, "It's easier to play football when you have a happy wife," but Tu'ikolovatu explained that he made the move to USC in part to help his marriage and family grow away from most of their family in Utah. And, his wife has taken to Los Angeles quickly.
  • While Utah has built a reputation for stout defensive lineman recently, Tu'ikolovatu is looking forward to the playmaking opportunities in Pendergast's defense. "The biggest difference is learning to get off blocks and make plays," he explained. "At Utah, we would try to occupy all the blockers and let our linebackers go free. We wouldn't make any plays and we'd let them make all of them. But over here it's OK to get off blockers and try to make plays for yourself, so I think that's pretty cool."
  • At the other two defensive line positions, Helton expects to consistently rotate three players: Noah Jefferson, Rasheem Green and Malik Dorton.
  • Reminder, USC opens its season in 10 days. Click here for ticket information. Here is more from Helton:

Tommy Pass

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USC men's basketball has created a special season ticket which guarantees you a spot in the Galen Center for all 17 home games at the low price of $89. The Tommy Pass will deliver your tickets to your phone 24 hours prior to tip-off and seat location will vary from game-to-game.

Click here for more on the Tommy Pass!

USC is selling a limited number of Tommy Passes, so act quickly. There is a maximum of four passes per account.


Rosy Ricky

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The Tournament of Roses announced today that Ricky Ervins, the Trojan who won the 1990 Rose Bowl MVP award, has been named a member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

Click here for the full story.

Ervins' 126 rush yards and a TD, in addition to 44 receiving yards, helped USC beat Michigan, 17-10, in the 1990 Rose Bowl. It was the Pasadena native's third straight Rose Bowl appearance.

Ervins currently ranks 12th on USC's all-time rushing list, with 2,337 yards and 17 TD.

Ervins, along with Bobby Bell, Tommy Prothro and Art Spander, will be inducted in a ceremony outside the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2017 and will also be honored during the Rose Parade and at halftime of the game the next day.

Ervins, Ricky.jpg

10 Days to Kickoff

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In 10 days, USC will suit up to battle Alabama in Arlington, Texas. The following week, the Trojans return home to emerge out of the Coliseum tunnel for the first time in 2016 against Utah State.

Click here for tickets!

The first 50,000 fans through the gates for the home opener will receive a Marcus Allen bobblehead. Don't miss out on this coveted collectible.


Mock Game Tuesday: Notes

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The Trojans suited up on Tuesday for their first practice of the school year, and the first since the official depth chart was released.
  • USC_FOOTBALL_FALL_CAMP_080716_mcgillen_9186 (1).jpgHead coach Clay Helton noted that the Trojans "really feel healthy right now," having returned a few players who were rehabbing injuries throughout Fall Camp. Only S John Plattenburg (concussion) and LT Chad Wheeler (foot) were held out with injuries.
  • Helton is conducting a mock game week, so he game-planned for Alabama on Sunday and gave the team a day off Monday. "We're treating it just like a typical work week this week, like we're playing this Saturday," Helton said. "Hopefully that keeps us ahead for the game."
  • Three days after naming Max Browne (pictured) the starting QB over Sam Darnold, Helton praised the way "both of them did their job today," calling them "two of the finest young men [he's] ever been associated with."
  • Browne said "it was awesome" when Helton told him he'd be the starter. "Emotionally, I felt like I'd played an entire season, to be honest, with the competition," he said. Browne sent a group text to his three brothers upon getting the news on Saturday, so that they could all be the first to find out.
  • In his first day of practice since being named the starter, Browne said, "To be brutally honest, it wasn't this totally different feeling or this totally different atmosphere. It was like, 'Alright. Next step. Let's go.'"
  • Browne believes the years he's spent as a backup will help him lead the team this season. "I've had my fair share of falling short and then coming back, battling back, which I think is a great life lesson and will serve us well this season, because it's not going to go perfect, and the ability to respond and lead these guys is huge," he said.
  • Darnold acknowledged his disappointment at not being named the starter, but said that he respects Helton's decision and admires Browne's work ethic. "He prepared every single day as if he was going to be the starter," Darnold said. "It really showed me how much hard work he put in, and I think that gave me even more closure as to why he should be the starting quarterback here."
  • When asked if he would consider transferring, Darnold reaffirmed his desire to be a Trojan for life. "I want to get my degree, first and foremost," he said. "This is my dream school. There's no way I'm going to leave this place. I love this place."
  • Helton announced that the team would select its captains at the end of the week and they'd be announced next week.
  • Here is Helton's full press conference:

Reserve Your Tailgate Spot Now

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USC fans can now begin purchasing their tailgate permits for the upcoming season.

While reserved spaces are optional, tailgate permits are required for groups with:
  • 50+ people
  • Common source container(s) of alcohol/keg(s)
  • Electrical needs (excluding personal generators)
  • A tent larger than 10'x20'
  • More than three 10'x10' tents
Fans who do not wish to purchase a $20 permit may still tailgate on campus on a first-come first-served basis.

Click here to reserve your tailgate spot!

All-American Aspirations

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USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and DB-WR-RET Adoree' Jackson were named preseason All-Americans by ESPN over the weekend.

Smith-Schuster ranked 4th in the nation last year in receiving yards (1,454) and has been tabbed to the Biletnikoff Award (top receiver) and Maxwell Award (top player) watch lists this season as well.

Jackson is one of the most versatile athletes in the country, having scored touchdowns four different ways during his USC career (reception, interception, punt return and kickoff return). Jackson has also been named to the watch lists for the Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Nagurski Award (top defensive player) and Thorpe Award (top defensive back) for the upcoming season.

Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster were named preseason All-Americans by @espn. #FightOn

A photo posted by USC Trojans (@usc_athletics) on

Arrivederci, Italia

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USC's women's basketball team recently returned from its 10-day, six-city whirlwind trip to Italy. After visiting Milan, Lake Como, Bellagio, Venice and Florence, they ended their trip by touring Rome. They marveled at the Pantheon and the Vatican as well as the Colosseum, which they couldn't help but compare to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in which USC plays its football games.

In addition to their sightseeing, they faced off against BC Silute, a team from Lithuania. Despite a strong start from the Trojans, Silute emerged victorious thanks to a game-winning shot with three seconds to go.

Check out the final video blog here:

Meet C.J. Pollard

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POLLARD.jpgName: C.J. Pollard

Position: S

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds

Age: 18

High School: Serra (Gardena, CA)

Game: Another spring enrollee, Pollard is battling with the vets for playing time at the safety position. The freshman is a strong, physical safety who has a great pedigree as the son of a former Trojan defensive back.

Prep Career: Pollard earned 2015 Prep Star All-American, USA Today All-California second team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team honors, and more, as a senior DB-WR at Serra. Pollard had 62 tackles, including 2 TFL, and 5 deflections in 2015.

Secondary coach Ronnie Bradford on the freshmen defensive backs: "They're young kids. It's one of those things where, one, you gotta just make sure that they're not overwhelmed with the situation, being next to good players. On this roster, you're gonna be playing against some guys who are going to be playing on Sunday. And they've done a good job of coming in and understanding that probably in high school when they were shutting down and no one was throwing to their side of the field. Guess what? They're throwing to their side of the field. So it's gonna be one of those things where you hope the kids don't get overwhelmed, but like I told somebody earlier, we're giving them this defense, it's kind of like trying to get a drink of water through a fire hose. And the kids are absorbing it. They're paying attention in meetings and they have questions. They come back with questions written on, 'Hey, Coach, how do we do this vs. this motion?' and that's all you can ask for from a coach is that they're absorbing what you're teaching."

Fun Fact: Both of Pollard's parents, Marvin and Pam, attended USC. His father was a CB on the football team from 1988-91.

Here is C.J. Pollard on learning Clancy Pendergast's defense, and more:


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Clay Helton preaches toughness to keep the Trojans in relentless pursuit of their ultimate goal.