2016 Spring Practice #12: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Saturday was a special practice for the USC Trojans with 29 legendary alumni in attendance (pictured below) followed by a big Trojan Family barbecue for both current and former players.
  • USC_spring_ball_alumni_040916_9890.jpgThe former players that returned to Howard Jones on Saturday were Marcus Allen, Sam Cunningham, Willie McGinest, Anthony Davis, Keith Rivers, Mike Williams, John Jackson, Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, Paul McDonald, Michael McDonald, John David Booty, Teddy Baker, Sam Baker, Lawrence Jackson, Chris Barrett, Shaun Cody, J.K. McKay, Brandon Hance, Alex Holmes, Kyle Moore, Terrell Thomas, J.R. Tavai, Kyle Moore, Al Cowlings, Chris Hale, Marvin Pollard, Elic Mahone and Will Poole.
  • Head coach Clay Helton invited all the players to come on Saturday and any future practices to continue to establish a relationship between former and current players. "It really showed our players what a tradition of excellence that we stand for and where the bar is set," said Helton. "There's so much knowledge that can be given from a big brother and they're our big brothers."
  • Clancy Pendergast's defense continues to impress, winning yet another finish challenge at the end of practice with a goal-line stand. "The kids are having fun just playing ball and competing against one another, bouncing around, dancing," said Helton. "They're understanding to the winner goes the spoils, to the loser we're running. A loss should hurt."
  • Earlier in the scrimmage period, DB Isaiah Langley came up with a huge interception from Sam Darnold that he ran back for a touchdown.
  • In the best of five play finish challenge, the offense did manage to score on a Ronald Jones II run. Helton mentioned an emphasis this spring on developing Jones into a more physical runner rather than just relying on his speed. "He's really becoming a more powerful runner in between the tackles," he said.
  • Here is the head coach after Saturday's rainy practice...
College basketball season may have ended four days ago, but writers across America are already assembling their projections for the 2016-17 season that begins in eight months. After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years this March, USC men's basketball is ranked anywhere between No. 12 and No. 21 in four different "way too early" Top 25 polls, an early but promising sign for a team that returns a lot of talent.

Check out the rankings here:

While four members of last year's team have elected to transfer (Darion Clark, Malik Marquetti, Malik Martin and Katin Reinhardt), the Trojans return the entirety of their late-season starting lineup and are bolstered by the addition of now-eligible transfer Shaqquan Aaron and three incoming freshmen. Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright shined in their inaugural seasons this past year and are expected to make even bigger strides in their sophomore campaigns.

The biggest question mark for USC right now is junior point guard Julian Jacobs' impending decision to enter the NBA Draft. Should Jacobs return, the Trojans will have their top four scorers back on the court and their dynamic point guard duo of Jacobs and Jordan McLaughlin at the helm once again.

There will be plenty of updates and storylines to follow in the upcoming eight months, so be sure to follow @USC_Hoops!


The Gauntlet

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From the national champs to the Conference of Champions, USC will test itself against the best in 2016. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Trojans will play the toughest schedule in the country next season.

Click here for ticket information.

USC opens the campaign in Texas against Alabama, the reigning national champions, and closes the regular season with Notre Dame in the Coliseum. In between, the Trojans will face a difficult Pac-12 slate, featuring trips to Stanford, Utah, Washington and UCLA as well as home showdowns with Oregon and Arizona State.


Showdown Saturday

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No. 1 USC women's water polo will put its perfect record on the line on Saturday against No. 2 UCLA at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The match will begin at 1 p.m. followed by a second match against Redlands at 2:30 p.m.

Click here for the complete preview.

The Women of Troy have already defeated the Bruins twice this season, besting them in the Triton Invitational final, 8-6, and the UCI Invitational final, 10-7. With two wins in hand, USC controls all 10 Crosstown Cup points regardless of Saturday's result.


USC to the MLB 2016

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Major League Baseball kicked off its season this week with four Trojans on Opening Day 25-man rosters. Representing the Trojan Family are Brad Boxberger (Rays), Ian Kennedy (Royals), Tommy Milone (Twins) and Lucas Duda (Mets).

Kennedy (pictured below by Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports) joined the reigning World Series Champions in the offseason after posting a 4.28 ERA in 2015 with the San Diego Padres. He signed a whopping 5-year deal with the Royals worth $70 million. Duda squared off against the Royals last season in the World Series, and he's off to a solid start, batting .250 through two games. Milone will get his first start of the 2016 season this Sunday against Kennedy's Royals, while Boxberger (abdomen) begins the 2016 season on the 15-day DL with an expected return in mid-May.


2016 Spring Practice #11: Notes

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On a rare wet and gray Los Angeles day, the Trojans focused on situational football.
  • Head coach Clay Helton referred to the basketball national championship in his press conference today as a great example of practicing and then executing situational plays. "Those special plays can win or lose championships," he told his team.
  • ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis was at practice today. He tweeted that he was impressed with Uchenna Nwosu, Marvell Tell III and Iman Marshall on the defensive side of the ball and the quarterbacks and wide receivers offensively. More than anything, he was impressed with Helton and the coaching staff running a "crisp, organized practice" and having "great chemistry with each other and the players."
  • Without an experienced or massive defensive line, USC will play to its strengths under Clancy Pendergast. Helton explained that the defense has "to win by playing in the offense's backfield with penetration."
  • Nwosu is one of the explosive edge athletes that is expected to thrive in Pendergast's pressure-heavy scheme and cause disruption on the other side of the line of scrimmage. "We're kind of young and this is a new defense for most of us, but we're going to be alright," Nwosu reassured. "We have to keep studying and keep learning. We're all savages on the field."
  • If the Trojans do bring a lot of blitzes or an eighth man into the box, the corners will be under a lot of pressure to hold up in man-to-man coverage. "I like the aggressiveness," said Marshall about Pendergast's defense. "He has blitzes coming from everywhere. He's got us in receiver's face, getting physical, making sure we're the aggressors, not being passive."
  • Pendergast is willing to live with aggressive mistakes. "We're told if you're going to make mistakes, make them going 110 percent," said Marshall. "They let us be athletes and then emphasize the techniques and the fundamentals."
  • While Helton reiterated that he cannot stand the word "talent," especially in regards to USC football. He had to use it to describe his quarterbacks, Max Browne and Sam Darnold. In a recent practice, Darnold completed 94 percent of his passes, according to Helton.
  • Here's more from Helton:

Track & Field #TBT

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Seventy-eight years ago this summer, legendary USC Track & Field coach Dean Cromwell won his fourth straight NCAA title led by pole vaulter Loring Day. 

Check out Pac-12 Networks most recent Centennial Moment released on Thursday...

Famous Dave

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USC women's swimming head coach Dave Salo was named the Pac-12 Women's Swimming Co-Coach of the Year, sharing the honor with Stanford's Greg Meehan, after leading the Women of Troy to the program's first Pac-12 title.

Click here for more.

Now in his 10th season, Salo collected his first Coach of the Year award. He used a balanced approach to build his championship team, which paid off when all 27 competitors scored at Pac-12's. The Trojans thrived at the NCAA Championships as well, finishing sixth, headlined by their first NCAA relay title since 1994.


Marquetti Transferring

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USC men's basketball sophomore Malik Marquetti has announced that he will transfer out of the program. By NCAA rules, he will have to sit out a year and then have two years of eligibility remaining.

Marquetti was a captain on this year's team, but he averaged only 7.3 minutes per game this season. As a freshman, he played in all 32 games and started 15.


Spring Forward - Tommie Robinson

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Running backs coach Tommie Robinson has come home to Tailback U.

While he knows the talent at USC is always plentiful, Robinson's style is not to pre-judge anyone based on reputation or recruiting stars. He credits this tactic for his greatest success story during his first tenure as a Trojan, unearthing Buck Allen from the bottom of the depth chart.

As he learns more about what makes each of his tailbacks unique, Robinson focuses on the common threads that he wants to tie the whole unit together, technique and toughness.