The Trojans are coming off back-to-back double overtime victories leading the head coach to say, "We finally saw what we've been wanting to see all season. We played two games with great intensity, showed unbelievable fight in some tough conditions against some tough opponents, so I was really pleased with the weekend."
Here is McAlpine's entire weekly update:
Click here to watch Sarkisian on Trojans Live.
The always entertaining USC women's basketball head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke stopped by the show to give us a preview on the upcoming season.
Click here to watch Cooper-Dyke on Trojans Live.
"The Big Cat" aka USC DE Leonard Williams also joined the show to talk lions, preparing for Washington State's potent pass attack and leading the Trojans in 2014.
- DE Leonard Williams (shoulder) and DT Antwaun Woods (illness) did not actively participate in practice, but both are expected to play. WR George Farmer (hamstring) and S Gerald Bowman are positively on the mend, while WR Ajene Harris (hamstring) and FB Soma Vainuku (hamstring) could take more time.
- After evaluating his practice film, Toa Lobendahn is the projected starter at left tackle. "He looked really good. He looked athletic," said head coach Steve Sarkisian who suggested this could be Lobendahn's future position. "We've always thought his strength were his feet at guard, and at tackle, I thought it really showcased his feet."
- With Lobendahn vacating his left guard spot and Damien Mama (knee) dealing with an injury, Khaliel Rodgers is in line for his first career start. "Khaliel is really back 100% healthy again," Sarkisian said. "He's an excellent puller. That's one of his strengths to his game."
- Senior Aundrey Walker will fill a Swiss Army role backing up at four different positions.
- Connor Halliday attempted an astounding 79 passes last week against Arizona. "They might throw the ball 85 times on Saturday," said Sarkisian. "That could conceivably happen, which is hard to even say never mind watch. We just have to be patient. We can't get hung up if they complete some balls."
- The defensive backs know they are in for a busy day. "We've just got to be ready and when the ball is in the air, we've got to make plays, win our one-on-ones and come down with the ball," said CB Kevon Seymour.
- With another tough offense on deck, Su'a Cravens spoke with urgency about the USC defense, "Grow up. Do your job. That's all you have to worry about. We haven't been doing that, especially in the fourth quarter, and that's why we've been losing games."
- Cravens is one of the leaders of this team that continues to set the tone by bringing high intensity to practice despite the heartbreaking losses. "Our guys, 'the marquee guys,' they probably practice harder than anyone else and that sends a great message to their teammates," Sarkisian said.
- In place of J.R. Tavai, Charles Burks and Quinton Powell will get opportunities this week because they are "natural pass rushers," so they have a chance to "play to their strengths," said Sarkisian.
- While Utah did not test the Trojans young secondary much, the Cougars will make John Plattenburg, Jonathan Lockett and Chris Hawkins show what they can do. "When you get thrown in the fire, you've got to make plays," said Seymour. "We trust each other and we trust the freshmen, they've come a long way from camp. We're confident in each other."
- If the Trojans end up in another close game, they have to fight the "here we go again" feeling. "It's going to take one of these games for us to really do it the right way...to start to shift the thought process there," said the head coach. "We're all at our best when we play with belief and not hope."
- Here is Sarkisian's morning press conference...
The NCAA today released the latest Graduation Success Rate data, which measures how many student-athletes in the classes of 2004 through 2007 graduated within six years of their enrollment.
USC student-athletes who entered Troy in those years had an overall GSR of 80%, up 3 percentage points from last year. Of USC's 21 sports, a third had a team GSR above 90%, including 100% for women's golf and women's volleyball.
The Trojan football team's GSR of 58% was up 5 percentage points from the previous year. That number is projected to rise into the 70% range in the next few years' GSR announcements.
Of the 65 football players in the current 2004-07 cohort, 33 played in the NFL and 17 of those NFLers (including Mark Sanchez, Malcolm Smith, Jordan Cameron and Jeff Byers) got their USC degrees within the six-year GSR calculation period. The other 16 NFL Trojans from that cohort left school after their final fall season in order to prepare for the NFL and didn't finish their graduation requirements in that six-year window. But four of those 16 have since returned to campus and graduated while another will graduate this fall, bringing to 66% of the cohort's football players to get a USC degree. And five others likely will re-enroll at USC in the spring to complete their degree work, which means that 74% of the 2004-07 cohort will be USC graduates.
The USC men's basketball team's GSR rose 12 percentage points from last year to 67%, just shy of the national average of 71%. The Trojans turned out a number of NBA players during that 2004-07 era, including Nick Young, Taj Gibson, O.J. Mayo and Gabe Pruitt. Every USC men's basketballer in that cohort who didn't play in the NBA has graduated.
"The 2004-07 period was a golden era for football and men's basketball at USC, with many future professionals on those rosters," said Dr. Magdi El Shahawy, USC senior associate athletic director in charge of Student-Athlete Academic Services. "Our GSR in those sports is somewhat a victim of our athletic success during that time frame."To get a true snapshot of our academic performance then, one needs to look at our sports programs across the board. Our overall 80% figure is very close to the national rate, which is at 82%. And if you take football and men's basketball out of the equation, our GSR would be 87%, which would place us among the Pac-12's top four schools if every school's GSR was calculated without those two sports."
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals - 20/42 for 329 yards and 2 TDs
Ever since his days at USC and maybe even before, Palmer threw one of the best deep balls the sport has ever seen. He has a natural talent to use his arm cannon to launch footballs high into the air and drop them softly in a receiver's hands without the pass catcher having to break stride. If any further evidence was needed, the veteran pulled off the trick again Sunday to beat the Eagles. Down late in the fourth quarter, Palmer hit John Brown for a 75-yard game-winning touchdown pass to move Arizona to 6-1 on the season.
Best of the Rest
Robert Woods, WR, Bills - 3 catches for 50 yards and a TD
Troy Polamalu, DB, Steelers - 6 tackles (5 solo) including a sack
Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings - 4 solo tackles including two for loss and a sack
Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns - 3 catches for 40 yards
Nickell Robey, CB, Bills - 7 tackles (5 solo)
Malcolm Smith, LB, Seahawks - 8 tackles (4 solo)
T.J. McDonald, S, Rams - 7 tackles (6 solo)
Shareece Wright, CB, Chargers - 4 solo tackles and 2 passes defended
Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers - 2 tackles including a sack
Click here for the complete list.
The Pac-12 accounts for a third (5/15) of the Butkus Award semifinalists.
But the Trojans are not without tradition. Among the retired jerseys hanging in the Galen Center rafters, Bill Sharman's No. 11 lives in suspended perpetuity.
Sharman had the most successful professional basketball career of any Trojan. He was a four-time NBA champion as a player with the Boston Celtics and also coached the Los Angeles Lakers to the 1972 title.
Sharman died a year ago this month. But before he departed, he gave his consent to Pat Haden that his No. 11 could be passed down to McLaughlin, the bright future of the USC basketball legacy that Sharman helped build, and he was looking forward to seeing him play.
For his part, McLaughlin is honored to wear the number, which he donned in high school, and would have worn another uniform if No. 11 was not made available. While a lot of expectations are being heaped on the youngsters shoulders, he has embraced the responsibility every step of the way.
"He came to USC to be relied upon as a freshman, and he'll get that opportunity," Enfield said about McLaughlin at Pac-12 Media Day.
The Trojan Family can meet McLaughlin and the team this Sunday at the Trojan Tip-Off beginning with Fan Fest inside Galen Center at 11:30 a.m. Scrimmages start at 12:30 p.m. and admission is FREE.