By Jordan Moore on November 26, 2014 3:19 PM
USC has played 11 true freshmen this season, including eight that started at least one game, in part out of necessity, but also because this class is filled with exceptional talent. While young players are prone to growing pains, the Trojan phenoms have flashed brilliance throughout the campaign led by CB Adoree' Jackson, WR JuJu Smith and OL Toa Lobendahn, who are all legitimate Freshman All-America candidates.
"It's helped us win
this year, but I really think for our future, it really sets the stage
for what an opportunity we have coming down the road," head coach Steve Sarkisian said about this freshman class.
By Jordan Moore on November 26, 2014 2:25 PM
The Trojans remained physical and energetic at practice.
"If a Wednesday practice, 12-13 weeks into the season, is any indication of the type of team we have, these guys were awesome today. They competed like crazy," said head coach Steve Sarkisian after another spirited session.
Leonard Williams body slammed RB James Toland IV during a scrimmage period, which put everyone on notice that the Trojans will not be pushed around this week. "He only knows one way to play the game," said Sarkisian about the All-American. "He has not been 100% healthy, but he comes out and plays his tail off."
Williams is an obvious candidate to declare for the NFL after this season, so he wants to make sure that he gets a win over Notre Dame before leaving USC. If he is not able to beat the Irish, he said it would be "something I would regret for the rest of my life."
In order to get that coveted rivalry win, the Trojans will need to force turnovers. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson is explosive, but he is also prone to tipped balls and strip-sacks, both of which Sarkisian is emphasizing this week.
The head coach sees a lot of similarities between these two 7-4 teams. They both could be 9-2 if they made a couple winning plays to finish close games. "We're two teams that unfortunately for us have found a way to lose a
couple of those games," said Sarkisian. "It will be a huge point of emphasis of ours when
we come back in January for the next nine months leading up until next
Senior captain Hayes Pullard has only one more chance to run out of the Coliseum tunnel, but the Crenshaw Cougar, who wore his high school jersey today, has not wrapped his head around the finality of it all just yet. "It probably won't sink in until Saturday," Pullard said. "I'm just focused on day-by-day and making sure I make every day count."
Sarkisian gave the team a homework assignment to write down what they are thankful for. "I am thankful to have the group of brothers that I have on this field since I stepped foot on this campus," said Pullard.
TE Bryce Dixon is "on pace to be ready to play" as he recovers from a concussion.
Finally, Sarkisian was asked his favorite Thanksgiving dish. "Look at me, I like it all," the head coach laughed.
By Jordan Moore on November 26, 2014 11:01 AM
Saturday's match-up between USC and Notre Dame is the 86th rendition of the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. It is also the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest games in the historic rivalry, the epic comeback of 1964 in which the Trojans defeated the Fighting Irish, 20-17.
Coming into that game, Notre Dame quarterback John Huarte had just been named the Heisman winner, and the 9-0 Irish, led by legendary head coach Ara Parseghian had their sights set on a potential national championship. As the nation's top ranked team, Notre Dame looked to have a commanding lead over the unranked Trojans at the half, up 17-0. But, USC came roaring back in the second half to make it 17-13, and on fourth-and-eight, with just 1:33 to play, quarterback Craig Fertig hit Rod Sherman for the winning touchdown.
The 1964 Trojan team featured Fertig, who set eight school passing records that season as well as All-American halfback Mike Garrett (who would win the Heisman the following season). USC was coached by the great John McKay who would lead the Trojans to four national titles and five Rose Bowl victories in his 16 year tenure as head coach.
By Jordan Moore on November 26, 2014 5:04 AM
On the season finale of Trojans Live, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian looked back at the UCLA loss and broke down the challenge ahead with Notre Dame coming to the Coliseum. Plus, we heard from two all-time greats, All-American QB Rodney Peete and All-American S T.J. McDonald.
The Trojans found their best offense in the paint tonight going inside to Darion Clark (10 points and 14 rebounds) and Nikola Jovanovic (13 points and 11 rebounds) who each recorded double-doubles for the first time this season. Clark was the more efficient of the two making 5/7 shots. Head coach Andy Enfield called the sophomore a "big time competitor" who "throws his body everywhere." Clark feels like he is finally getting back into game shape after sitting out last season.
USC had great success in its 2-3 zone defense forcing the Titans to shoot 32.1% as a team. The Trojans also won the turnover battle taking advantage of 17 Fullerton giveaways. "Overall, we played good defense, challenged shots and rebounded the ball," said Enfield. Clark and Jovanovic dominated inside defensively as well combining for seven blocks, including a huge one late by Clark. The Trojans needed several key stops down the stretch before sealing the victory on a Julian Jacobs breakaway dunk in the final seconds.
Time to Get Better
While the head coach was happy with the win, he knows it was not artistic. USC played four games in six days with a cross-country flight yesterday leaving the team "exhausted," according to Enfield. However, he still expects them to make the easy shots that they are missing including wide open layups and free throws. "At some point, you have to step up and make shots," said Enfield bluntly after the game. USC does not play again until Sunday at New Mexico, so the coaching staff is looking forward to "digesting" the torrid first two weeks of the season and helping the team learn from its mistakes.
By Jordan Moore on November 25, 2014 3:29 PM
Robert Woods, WR, Bills - 9 catches for 118 yards and a TD
Playing in Detroit on Monday night because of the brutal snowstorm in Buffalo, Woods warmed up the building with several remarkable catches highlighted by a one-hand snag on his helmet (pictured), which earned the top spot on SportsCenter's Top 10. In the end, the second-year receiver enjoyed a career-night in terms of catches and yards at the expense of the New York Jets in a 38-3 Bills win.
Best of the Rest
Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals - 6 tackles (4 solo) plus an interception
Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars - 3 catches for 52 yards
Mark Sanchez, QB, Eagles - 30/43 for 307 yards and 1 TD
Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - 8 tackles (3 solo)
Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals - 4 tackles (2 solo) including one for loss
T.J. McDonald, S, Rams - 7 tackles (6 solo)
Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans - 4 tackles (3 solo) including 2 for loss and a sack
Devon Kennard, LB, Giants - 5 tackles (2 solo)
Shareece Wright, CB, Chargers - 4 solo tackles and a pass defended