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2014 USC Spring Game: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley and Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributors

The White team (defense) defeated the Cardinal team (offense), 19-15, in front of an estimated 15,000 fans at the Coliseum on a perfect Saturday afternoon.  
  • Saturday marked the culmination of Steve Sarkisian's first spring as USC head football coach, and as he reflected over the past 15 practices, he believes the team accomplished everything it needed to. "I really feel like we've got our schemes implemented," said Sarkisian. "For what we do offensively and defensively, which are relatively complex schemes on both sides of the ball, we got the majority of both those two things installed."
  • There were three big sacks on the day as a part of the defense's dominating performance. Redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Scott Starr tallied one of the sacks and was encouraged by his team's victory. "We won so it was definitely a great day," said Starr. "It was good to get a sack, but I wanted to get even more. We've got a long way to go, but this is a great building point for us. We have our chemistry down as a defense, and now we've just got to put the final pieces together to be ready for fall."
  • In the interest of keeping the team healthy, players on both sides of the ball only saw action in the first few series. For example, LB Hayes Pullard was replaced early on in the day allowing him to take on the role of a "player-coach," something the senior has focused on all spring.  "They pulled me out early so I tried to capitalize as much as I could when I was out there," said Pullard. "Then, I just tried to keep the younger guys motivated because you know it is a long day when you're practicing the whole day." 
  • Each quarterback completed five passes on the day. Kessler was 5 for 10 for 86 yards, Max Browne was 5 for 15 for 65 yards and Jalen Greene was 5 for 12 for 72 yards. On the receiving end, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick had 3 catches for 53 yards, Victor Blackwell had 2 catches for 51 yards and Darreus Rogers had 2 catches for 40 yards. The offense ran 85 total plays throughout the course of the game.
  • According to Kessler, the offense approached Saturday's game conservatively considering 23 players were unable to participate due to injury. However the quarterback says he's satisfied with the team's progress this spring. "As a team we made huge strides this spring," explained Kessler. "From practice number one to number 14 I think we've made so many different improvements. Guys got better and guys started getting healthy. For me personally, I just feel a lot more comfortable with this offense."
  • Sarkisian explained that the offense's performance on Saturday doesn't concern him heading into the fall. "We will be a great red zone offense. Historically, we've been and wherever I've gone we've been really good in the red zone. Obviously, this was a bit of a vanilla game plan. We just wanted to let the guys go play."
  • Now that Spring Ball is officially over, the Trojans have come a long way from where they were just 15 practices ago. "This spring wasn't just about today," said WR Nelson Agholor. "It was about the 15 practices that we got to get better. So for me, I got better every practice that I had the chance to whether it was weightlifting, fieldwork...it didn't matter."
  • Sarkisian expects all 23 currently injured players to be healthy and ready to go for fall camp noting that a limited roster restricted the Trojans ability to play to their full potential. "I'm hopeful the next time we have a scrimmage like this in the middle of fall camp that we are a little more efficient on both sides of the ball," explained the head coach. "There will be a lot more guys participating by then too which will be key."
  • Here is Coach Sarkisian's final spring presser...

Men's Tennis Takes Pac-12 Title

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No. 3 USC men's tennis overcame No. 5 UCLA to win the outright Pac-12 regular season crown in front of a packed house at Marks Stadium.  After dropping the doubles' point, the Trojans rallied back in singles with No. 1 Yannick Hanfmann, No. 3 Roberto Quiroz, No. 4 Max de Vroome and No. 5 Eric Johnson accounting for the winning total.

Here are the SnappyTV highlights:


Spring Game Rundown

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The Trojan Family will be in for a fun day tomorrow at the Coliseum.  The action starts at 3 p.m., and tickets can be purchased at the stadium.  The parking lots will open at Noon. 

For those of you watching at home or with mobile streaming devices, our Tunnel Vision pregame show will start at 2:30 p.m. with interviews and an exclusive field level look.  Pac-12 Networks takes over the coverage from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Inside the stadium, all fans will receive the FREE spring poster (below) with an opportunity to get autographs after the game.  We will also have special giveaways inside the stadium and via social media, so follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@USC_Athletics).

Throughout the warmup and game, we'll have hosts on the field explaining the drills, interviewing coaches and players, and putting microphones in the action.  Sarkisian said the team will play "real football" for about an hour.

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2014 Spring Game Depth Chart

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Steve Sarkisian released his first depth chart as USC head coach in anticipation of Saturday's Spring Game (3 p.m. at the Coliseum). The depth chart is specifically for the game, so it does not include the 23 injured players nor the incoming freshmen.

Click the link to see the depth chart: 14depth.sfb.pdf

On the offensive side, Cody Kessler is the starting quarterback, while Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers are the lead receivers.  Buck Allen and Tre Madden (pictured) split the top spot for tailbacks.

Defensively, the outside linebacker spots are still up for grabs, and DL Claude Pelon has earned a starting spot in the absence of Leonard Williams, who will be back this fall.

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Sarmiento's Last Serve

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 Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

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The USC men's tennis team is perfect in Pac-12 play this season and is riding a 15-match win streak coming into its final regular season match on Friday. The match is important for many reasons including the potential for a perfect regular season, the chance for the top seed in next week's Pac-12 Championships and the celebration of seniors Ray Sarmiento and Michael Grant. According to Sarmiento, the past four years have gone by like a speeding bullet train, and while it's bittersweet to see his time at USC nearing its end, he's looking forward to finishing the best way possible.

"It's my last match and obviously I want to go out with a W. Beating UCLA is the best way to finish the season. We just need to give it our all and leave it on the court," said the senior. "UCLA is a talented team. But we've just got to take care of ourselves and do what we do."

Focusing on the team seems to have worked out well for the Trojans in the 2014 season as they boast a 24-2 record with just one regular season game left to play. Sarmiento, ranked No. 9 in the nation in ITA singles, led the team all season and continued to build on the Trojan legacy he will soon be leaving behind.

"I always call him pound-for-pound the greatest tennis player I've ever coached," describes head coach Peter Smith. "He's like Pacquiao."

A comparison like that is hard to come by, but Sarmiento's career at USC has been nothing short of impressive. The senior helped the Trojans win an NCAA Team Championship in his first two seasons and he's racked up a 101-31 overall record, All-Pac-12 and All-American honors.

"He's going to finish a four-time All American. And what he's done here over the course of four years, winning two team NCAA Championships, being a great leader and being the most competitive guy out there every single day is remarkable. Friday is really going to be quite a day," explained the head coach.

Photo Gallery: Strahan Twirls Shutout

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USC baseball received a huge lift from junior ace Wyatt Strahan who tossed a five-hit complete game shutout Thursday night to lead the Trojans to a 1-0 victory.  The right-hander silenced the Arizona Wildcats lineup, which is considered the best in the Pac-12.

Click here for the SnappyTV highlights.

The win lifted USC to 18-17 overall with two more big games coming to Dedeaux Field tonight (7 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.) against Arizona.  Both games will be aired live on Pac-12 Networks.

Here are the John McGillen photos of the first shutout of Strahan's career:


Baseball v UA gallery - Images by John McGillen

2014 Spring Practice #14: Notes

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian closed practice to the media and public today, so the coaching staff could prepare the team for players-only summer workouts.
  • Sarkisian did speak to the media after practice to introduce the freshmen that were made available for the first time today (Meet the Freshmen coming soon), and he also announced that the Trojans will play about an hour of real football at the Spring Game on Saturday.
  • Here is the entire press conference:


Hoops Class of '14: SF Malik Marquetti

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USC men's basketball added to its first recruiting class under the direction of Andy Enfield, which ranks in the national Top 25.

Malik-Marquetti.jpgName: Malik Marquetti

Position: SF

Size: 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds

High School: Millikan Senior HS (Long Beach)

Scout.com: 3-Stars

Scouting Report: Marquetti came on strong his senior year after missing part of his junior season, and greatly improving during the summer.  He is a rangy athlete who can effect the game on both ends of the floor and works hard on the glass.  He thrived in an uptempo system at Millikan, which fits well into what Enfield is trying to implement at USC.  At the high school level, he dominated games with his non-stop motor, but he made great improvement on his jumper which will help him at the next level.

Andy Enfield's Take: "Malik is a versatile player that can play multiple positions. Offensively, he can score and make plays for his teammates. His long wing span and toughness make him an excellent defender and rebounder. We are excited for Malik to join our program."

Here is an example of Marquetti's athleticism:


"Do What We Do"

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The words of USC men's tennis captain Ray Sarmiento come from a place of experience.  As a key member of one of the greatest dynasties in collegiate tennis history, he knows exactly what to do in big matches.

The Trojans will get their chance to follow their leader in Friday's Pac-12 decider between No. 3 USC and No. 5 UCLA.  The action starts inside Marks Stadium at 10:30 a.m. with doubles followed by singles play at Noon.

Here is a Crosstown Showdown preview with Sarmiento and Yannick Hanfmann:


Mic'd Up: Marques Tuiasosopo

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Former Rose Bowl MVP Marques Tuiasosopo was one of the many key offseason additions to the USC coaching staff.  The former NFL quarterback is now grooming the Trojans' tight ends.

Here is "Tui" mic'd up for spring practice: