The Day Before, The Day Before

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Josh Shaw Admits to USC Officials That He Lied

Here is the official statement from the USC Athletic Department on Josh Shaw:

USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw came to USC athletic department officials this afternoon (Wednesday, Aug. 27) and admitted that he had lied about how he suffered his ankle injuries over the weekend.

He said that the story he told of rescuing his nephew in a pool in Palmdale, Calif., was a complete fabrication.  He apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates, athletic department officials and the public.

"We are extremely disappointed in Josh," said USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian.  "He let us all down.  As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.

"I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized.  Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable.  Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program.  I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him."

Sarkisian said that Shaw has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities.

Shaw has retained Donald Etra as legal counsel.  Etra will issue a statement on Shaw's behalf soon.

USC regrets the posting of the initial story on Monday (Aug. 25).

Shaw Makes Statement Through Lawyer

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Here is Josh Shaw's official statement via his lawyer Donald Etra:

My client, Joshua Shaw, has asked me to make the following statement on his behalf:

"On Saturday, August 23, 2014, I injured myself in a fall.  I made up a story about this fall that was untrue. I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to USC for this action on my part.

"My USC coaches, the USC Athletic Department, and especially coach Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career and for that, I am very grateful."

Trojans Live - Fresno State Week

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Thank you to all the fans who turned up and tuned on Trojans Live for the first episode of the new season.  Be sure to come to The Lab every Tuesday at 6 p.m. this fall to enjoy the live radio show featuring Steve Sarkisian, his team and special guests plus drink and food specials for you.

Here are selected clips from this week's show:

Click here to watch USC women's soccer head coach Keidane McAlpine.

Click here to watch Director of Football J.K. McKay.

Here are RB Buck Allen and OLB J.R. Tavai:

Fresno State Wednesday: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Despite the off-the-field controversy, the Trojans have a football game to prepare for on Saturday, and the players showed up Wednesday ready to go.
  • "I thought the guys came in with a real intense attitude," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "You could feel the energy in the air. You could feel the passion they had for it...So, a lot of the physical work is done. We'll come back tomorrow for Thursday and start really cleaning some stuff up and get ourselves prepared to play on Saturday."
  • Defensive captains DE Leonard Williams and LB Hayes Pullard stressed that the off-the-field distraction is not affecting the team's mentality and preparation at all. "We're not going to let something on the outside affect what we have to work on. Our goal is just to beat Fresno and that has nothing to do with us beating Fresno," said Williams. 
  • The most experienced player on the team, Hayes Pullard added that the team is "blocking it out" and focusing on taking things one day at a time. "Coach said the first day, 'the game is played between the lines, so anything that goes on outside the sidelines, we don't worry about it."
  • The Trojans have faced a lot of adversity throughout the fifth-year senior's time here at USC, but he hasn't let that affect his performance or role as a leader. "We're still close as heck. We keep everything in the locker room," said Pullard. "Our team has our bond together and even though we're off the field we still have that bond as well."
  • Sarkisian really had nothing new to report regarding the Shaw situation also saying the main focus is preparing for the Trojans' home opener on Saturday. "It's pretty clear there are quite a few conflicting stories out there," said the head coach. "Any information that we've been provided up until this point, we've pushed along to campus authorities. We're really going to let it play out in their hands up until this point and quite honestly, we're in somewhat of a holding pattern."
  • The head coach is adamant that his team will be ready to go come Saturday. He said, "We've put in too much work over the last nine months to let an hour or two of social media and internet reports distract us from being a great football team. If it does, then that's not a good sign moving forward. We have to be strong enough to handle adversity whether it's on the football field or off the field and continue to hang together, to be together and go out and play great football."
  • Injury report: OG Khaliel Rodgers is a game time decision with a knee injury, and RB Tre Madden is still in a walking boot, so his availability remains questionable due to turf toe.  OG Jordan Simmons (knee) will likely not be cleared for Saturday, so he will be a week-by-week decision.
  • Here is the head coach addressing the swarm of media after practice...

Smith Named Coach of the Year

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC men's tennis head coach Peter Smith earned national recognition on Saturday when the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) named him the 2014 College Coach of the Year for the second time. 

Led by Smith, the Trojans won their 21st national title and USC's 100th NCAA championship in 2014. The victory marked Smith's fifth NCAA title in the last six seasons making him the second winningest coach in program history. 

Smith enters the 2015 season with a record of 270-70 at USC and his Trojans have made eight straight NCAA appearances. The two-time recognition by the USPTA is yet another honor to add to Smith's resume as he is also a two-time ITA National Coach of the Year and five-time PAC-12 Coach of the Year.


Heritage Hall Open on Game Days

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During the 2014 season, Trojan fans will be able to enjoy USC game days on campus in even more locations. The first floor, or museum level, of Heritage Hall will be open on game days in which fans will able to explore interactive exhibits, view the school's Heisman trophies and more. 

The patio behind Heritage Hall will also be open and available to fans as a picnic area. Grills and/or any open flame are not allowed. The adjacent Brittingham Field will be open to families who want a place for children to play but it is not open for tailgating. Also, Galen dining center will be open and serving food several hours before each game. 


Meet Damien Mama

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Name: Damien Mama

Position: OG

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot-5, 370 pounds

Age: 19 

High School: St. John Bosco

Scouting Report: Quite simply, the freshman is massive.  He is a traditional road grater in the run game who is expected to contribute immediately.

Prep Career: Mama was a highly touted Southern California prospect racking up numerous accolades including a spot on the ESPN 300 list and the 2013 USA Today All-USA First Team, plus he was named the Los Angeles Times All-Area Lineman of the Year. In high school, he absolutely dominated opponents on both sides of the ball leading St. John Bosco to victory at both the 2013 CIF Pac-5 Division championship and the CIF State championship Open Division bowl. 

Fall Camp: After two weeks of camp, the big offensive lineman has dropped 20 pounds, which he credits to the outstanding strength and conditioning coaches and nutritionists who have worked with him all summer to get him in proper condition to work in the offensive line rotation. With Sarkisian's fast-paced offense, the Trojans expect a lot of lineman to rotate in to keep their legs fresh and with the potential absence of OG Khaliel Rodgers, Mama has filled in adequately at the right guard position as he continues to improve and adjust to the pace of college football. 

Sark on Mama: "He's a really mature guy. He's a big human being in there at right guard and he's hard to run around. He does remind me of Deuce Lutui when Deuce played for us, real mild-mannered, fun-loving guy off the field, but he gets between the lines and he is physical and tough and plays the game the right way."

Here is Caroline Deisley meeting Mama:

Fresno State Tuesday: Notes

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USC begins its game week preparation for the season opener as Josh Shaw's story looms over the practice field.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the media after practice about football and then Shaw.  Regarding the injured senior cornerback, Sarkisian said, "Josh Shaw first and foremost is a good person, he's a good kid. He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night. I have no reason, no history, to not believe Josh and his story with what has occurred."
  • However, USC received phone calls contradicting the story, said the head coach, so the vetting process continues before Shaw addresses the media himself.  "Josh is adamant with what occurred and we are going to continue to vet the other stories that have come across our desks, and see where we can go from there," said Sarkisian.
  • Shaw's teammates continued to rally support behind him.  "I pray for him for a speedy recovery.  If he needs anything, I am here for him," said RB Buck Allen. "I'm going to motivate him and I know he's going to motivate us the best he can."
  • On the field, the Trojans will definitely be without Shaw, the team's best cornerback, against Fresno State.  "I've been talking about Chris Hawkins since spring ball.  I think that he's really improved for us," said Sarkisian about the next man up. "It really pushes Adoree' [Jackson] to the forefront. It pushes Jon Lockett to the forefront and Lamont Simmons has to be ready to play."
  • As for this week's opponent, Fresno State is something of a mystery offensively since the Bulldogs have not name a starting quarterback.  Head coach Tim DeRuyter is expected to give both junior Brian Burrell and senior transfer Brandon Connette opportunities to lead the team on Saturday.  So, the Trojans are focused on preparing for Fresno's system and focusing on themselves. "When you focus on yourself, generally, you go out and you perform well," he said. "Let's not lose sight of ourselves and get caught up in our opponent."
  • The final depth chart of Fall Camp sprung a few surprises, but Sarkisian said, "We're going to run a lot of plays, and everybody is going to play." 
  • The Trojans are back in school, so the morning practice schedule and a long day ahead made for a sluggish start, but Allen explained that the team pushed through it.  "We're tired of beating up on each other. Game week is here. Everybody is excited to go with Coach Sark's game plan," he said. "To be a great team, we've got to come out and do the little things."
  • Here is Sarkisian on football and Shaw:

2014 Fall Camp Depth Chart

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian released a depth chart at the conclusion of Fall Camp.

Of note: 
  • Freshmen guards Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama are listed as first string at left and right guard respectively. If the pair starts on Saturday, it will be only the second time in USC history that two freshmen have started on the offensive line, and the first time in a season opener.
  • Freshman Ajene Harris is listed at one of the first string wide receiver positions alongside Nelson Agholor and George Farmer.
  • Scott Felix nabbed the first string SOLB spot with Hayes Pullard and Anthony Sarao listed at the ILB positions, and J.R. Tavai as the RUSH end.
  • Redshirt senior Gerald Bowman and sophomore Leon McQuay III are both listed atop the free safety list.