Trojans Live - Arizona State Week

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A Pac-12 South showdown looms this Saturday, so we had an all-star Trojans Live to match Tuesday night. 

John Jackson and I were joined at The Lab on Figueroa by head coach Steve Sarkisian, QB Cody Kessler and men's volleyball captain Micah Christenson plus we heard from New York Giants OLB Devon Kennard

ASU Wednesday: Notes

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The preparation continues for Arizona State as game day draws closer.
  • WR Ajene Harris strained his hamstring, but the severity of the injury is unknown at this time. 
  • In his place, Steven Mitchell will get an opportunity to work back into the mix.  "I've been talking about Steven Mitchell now for a couple weeks," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "He's a really good slot receiver. When he's at full speed, he's a dynamic athlete."
  • The Trojans also got Aundrey Walker back into the game last week, and he could play a big role Saturday spelling Zach Banner at right tackle. "It was good to get him in the rotation and to kind of get his feet wet in the system and the tempo of it all, but we're going to need him to play better," said Sarkisian about Walker. "I think it will be beneficial to Zach, especially Saturday with the temperature we are anticipating."
  • Two Trojans have friends on this week's foe.  DT Antwaun Woods went to Taft High School with Mike Bercovici, the Sun Devils likely starting quarterback this week. "I'm super excited. I've been waiting for a long time since we left Taft High School so we finally get to play against each other," said Woods about playing against his buddy. "When I first met him the reason we became friends was because he was just so passionate about being a quarterback and football and leadership. He kind of rubbed off on me so we started hanging out every day, weekends. I'm close to his family and he's close to mine."
  • Woods does not know how he'll celebrate if he gets to sack Bercovici, but he could not resist the temptation to FaceTime him this week despite vowing not to talk to him before the game.
  • Senior safety Gerald Bowman goes way back with ASU WR Jaelen Strong. "It's going to be fun," Bowman said. "Especially seeing as though we grew up in the same neighborhood, same little league team, same junior college. We've always competed against each other."
  • Bowman and Strong made no such pact not to talk. "We text and talk throughout the week, we talk almost every day," Bowman said. "We are both so humbled and so blessed to be in the situation we are in. Especially where we come from. We constantly remind each other how blessed we are to have this opportunity."
  • However, Bowman won't be pulling his punches Saturday. "He knows I'm coming for him. He knows," Bowman said. "At the end of the day, when we get on the field, that's the other team. There's no remorse. I'm looking for him to come out and play hard and he's looking for the same from me."
  • Bowman likely won't be matched up directly with Strong, who is a big, physical receiver.  The Trojans' corners will have to defend the back shoulder throws that ate them up last year. "At the moment of truth, we have to make the play," said Sarkisian. "That's what we are going to find out here at 4:30 on Saturday if we can make those plays because they'll test us for sure."
  • The Sun Devils hung 62 points on the board against the Trojans last year, which has little to do schematically with this team, but does have some emotional carryover.  "Hopefully it factors into our pride," said Sarkisian. "Nobody likes giving up 62 points at any level."
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice press conference...

Basketball Mini-Plans

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USC men's basketball season is coming up fast.  The Trojans have an exciting young team ready to light up Galen Center, so hoops fans will want to secure their tickets now.

If you're not ready to commit to season tickets, mini-plans are the next best bet.  You can customize your mini-plans to see the best games that fit your schedule.

Click here for more.

The Trojans home schedule includes Pac-12 showdowns with Stanford, Cal and UCLA.  The fun starts November 15 against Portland State at Galen Center.


2014 NFL Week 4

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The Best

Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys

smith-tyron.jpgNow in his fourth season, Smith has developed into a franchise left tackle earning his first Pro Bowl berth in 2013.  Now, he is the star of one of the NFL's best offensive lines as the Cowboys lead the league in rushing through four games.  Dallas is off to a 3-1 start after dominating New Orleans on Sunday Night Football.  With Smith protecting his back side, Tony Romo passed for 262 yards, while DeMarco Murray ran behind him for 149 yards and 2 TDs.

Best of the Rest

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - Team-leading 9 tackles (8 solo) and a pass defended

Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers - 5 tackles (3 solo), a tackle-for-loss and a pass defended

Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans - 4 tackles (2 solo) and 2 QB hits

Shareece Wright, CB, Chargers - 6 tackles (5 solo) including one tackle-for-loss

Rhett Ellison, TE, Vikings - 19-yard catch

Robert Woods, WR, Bills - 3 catches for 17 yards

Wes Horton, DE, Panthers - 3 tackles and a pass defended

UNFILTERED: Oregon State

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The Trojans showed their true character Saturday night by bouncing back after the loss at Boston College.  Here's an UNFILTERED look at how they did it...

ASU Tuesday: Notes

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Tre Madden made his padded return to the practice field to highlight the start of ASU prep week.
  • Madden did "minimal work," said head coach Steve Sarkisian, but he called it a "positive" sign just to get No. 23 back out on the practice field as more than a spectator.
  • Madden: "I just came out here and tested it out to see how it felt. It felt sore. I'm just taking it day-by-day. It's very frustrating, but it's football."
  • Otherwise, "We appear relatively healthy," said Sarkisian, who noted that OL Jordan Simmons is out with a bone bruise.
  • The Trojans will need all hands on deck given the projected mid-90s temperatures on tap for Saturday's late afternoon start. "We all see the forecast," said Sarkisian, who recognized that rotations will be critical this week. The Trojans are focused on "playing all of our available people" in practice and then in the game this week.
  • The heat will be compounded by two fast paced teams.  The Sun Devils ran 105 plays against UCLA last Thursday to tie USC's Pac-12 record 105 plays against Fresno State.  "Both teams are going to go fast," said Sarkisian. 
  • Cody Kessler has been remarkably efficient leading USC's offense.  He leads the nation in passing attempts without throwing an interception, yet he has not received the same national attention as other Pac-12 quarterbacks. "That's the last thing I am focused on," said Kessler. "You have to win. People can write whatever article they want about you, but what matters is you go out and perform on the field."
  • RB D.J. Foster is ASU's most dangerous weapon.  The Pac-12's leading rusher is also a major threat as a receiver. "I don't know if there is a better word than versatile," Sarkisian said about Foster. "He's all over the place."
  • The Sun Devils' offense deceived the Trojans with misdirection last year en route to scoring 62 points.  Sarkisian explained that ASU uses nearly every possible formation and the offense incorporates running backs extremely well in the passing game.
  • ASU has the worst run defense in the Pac-12, so the Trojans could have opportunities to gash the Sun Devils.  USC's running backs have been good this season, but they have not made the game breaking plays consistently.  "It's just that last little piece to their game that we want to take them to another level," said Sarkisian.
  • USC broke some long runs last year in Tempe, but it was mostly a hard night, which ended in Lane Kiffin losing his job. "Last year was tough, it was a rough loss," said TE Randall Telfer. "But Coach Sark is emphasizing that there's nothing we can do about that. We don't want that blemish on our resume two years in a row. Our preparation is the same that it's been all season, we're going to go out and compete our tail off, but in the back of our minds, we know what we have to do."
  • Telfer has been utilized more in the passing game the last two weeks as well as fellow TE Bryce Dixon. "It felt good. I haven't done that in a while," he laughed. "It was good to get the ball in my hands and contribute."
  • In looking at the Sun Devils' defense, Sarkisian described them as a "very aggressive unit," and expects all the missed tackles against UCLA will be considered an "aberration" going forward. The head coach is focused on the line of scrimmage this week as the place the game will be decided.
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice press conference including some praise for Adoree' Jackson:

Sarkisian Q&A: ASU Week

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USC head coach Steve Sarkisian sat down with us for his weekly Q&A to recap the win over Oregon State and look ahead to Saturday's Pac-12 South showdown with Arizona State.

Ford Trojan of the Game: Su'a Cravens

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Sophomore safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens was voted the SoCal Ford Dealers Trojan of the Game by the Trojan Family via social media.

In his new outside linebacker position, Cravens dominated the contest.  He started the scoring by baiting Sean Mannion into a pick-six and then went on to add a sack and another tackle-for-loss.

Second Half Team

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No. 18 USC women's soccer responded to its first loss of the season by getting right back on track with a road win in Tucson.  The Women of Troy defeated Arizona 3-0 thanks to three second half goals and a dynamic performance by freshman Sydney Sladek, who had a goal and an assist.

Click here for more.

The Trojans were stymied in the first half, but as has become a trend with this team, they found another gear in the second 45 minutes to secure the first Pac-12 win of the season.

"I am really proud of the way we finished the game," head coach Keidane McAlpine said. "All the credit goes to Arizona on their approach to the game. It was another hard-fought Pac-12 game. I am proud of the adjustments we were able to make at the half in order to get the result."

The Trojans begin a five-match home stand this week with Colorado (3 p.m. on Friday) and Utah (3 p.m. on Saturday) coming to McAlister Field.

Photo Gallery: Volley Facing Adversity

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USC women's volleyball has long been a powerhouse program, but the Women of Troy are still searching for their game this season in the midst of five losses in six matches.  The Trojans dropped a four-setter to Arizona State on Friday (John McGillen photos below), and they head to Washington and Washington State this week.