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.

ASU, Arizona Game Times Set

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USC's home football game this Saturday (Oct. 4) against defending Pac-12 South Division champion Arizona State will kick off at 4:30 p.m. PT in the Coliseum.  It will air live nationally on FOX.

Click here for tickets.

And the following week on the road, USC's Oct. 11 game at Arizona will kick off at 7:30 p.m. PDT/MST.  The game will air live nationally on ESPN2.

Marqise Lee's greatest individual performance came in Tucson in 2012.
Lee-TD-Reach-AZ-SH.jpg(Photo by Jon SooHoo)

McGillen Galleries: USC vs. OSU

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From the pick-six to the Hail Mary, USC's 35-10 win over Oregon State featured some indelible moments, which John McGillen captured through his lens. 

Click here for the "USCquence" of the week.

Here are McGillen's photos starting with pregame then first half and finally second half:

6-Points: USC 35, Oregon State 10

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The Trojans are 2-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2007.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the post-game press conference.

FINAL-osu-score.jpgPrayer Answered

The Trojans appeared destined to head into the half with a narrow 14-10 lead after a cagey start from both sides.  Instead, head coach Steve Sarkisian decided to let Cody Kessler give it a heave towards the end zone, and as it turned out, fate had something else in mind.  WR Darreus Rogers leaped up to catch the ball, landed cleanly on his feet, and shuffled into the end zone for a game-changing and crowd-pleasing six.  "We practice it once a week, but I didn't think it would come to perfection like that," said Rogers, who called the play "a dream come true."

Su'a the Spark

For the first time this season, Su'a Cravens was listed as the starter at outside linebacker.  The safety is now making his future living closer to the line of scrimmage, and whatever the title, he is the Trojans top playmaker on defense.  He provided the first highlight of the night with a pick-six off Sean Mannion, and then proceeded to add a team-leading 6 tackles, including a sack among two tackles-for-loss.  "I love it. I love being next to the ball," said Cravens about his new role. "Once I learn all my stuff, I should be there primarily. That's the plan, but as of now, I say I'm a safety."

Mr. Efficiency

After four games, QB Cody Kessler is putting himself in elite company.  He joins Oregon's Marcus Mariota as the only two FBS quarterbacks to boast a completion rate of 70% or better and at least 10 TD passes without an interception on the season.  Kessler was a sparkling 24/32 for 261 yards and 2 TD/0 INT tonight, including several athletic escapes from danger.  "He's a better athlete than people give him credit for," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "He's very accurate. He's in great command. And, I love coaching him."


Super Bowl champion Malcolm Smith, along with Michael Morgan, led the Trojans on the field tonight.  Smith secured Seattle's Super Bowl berth when Richard Sherman tapped him an interception in the end zone to seal the NFC Championship Game last year.  Adoree' Jackson strives to be in Sherman's company, and he pulled off a decent impression tonight tipping an interception to teammate Leon McQuay in the end zone.  "I didn't really know he was there, but it just worked out perfect," said Jackson, who broke up two passes on the night.

Challenge Accepted

The USC defense took its lumps after the Boston College game, but the Trojans responded tonight holding the soon-to-be all-time Pac-12 passing leader Sean Mannion to 123 pass yards and 0 TD/2 INT.  In fact, the only Beavers' touchdown came on a kickoff return, so the USC defense with Cravens' pick-six actually outscored OSU's offense.  The Trojans held the Beavers to 1/10 on third downs, which was the key stat to Sarkisian. "Two weeks ago, we were busting assignments. That's all it was," said Cravens. "We know we are a great defense. And, we know we can play like it every week."

Stop Start Affair

While the game featured several memorable plays, the rest of the contest will be easily forgotten.  Between Oregon State's injuries (countless) and 27 penalties (14 for USC), the game lacked any kind of rhythm and got completely bogged down in the third quarter.  Sarkisian explained that the game plan was to be physical with the Beavers' receivers, which led to being "too physical" on occasion drawing flags for defensive holding, but they never let Oregon State's offense get comfortable. "The beauty of it is I know we can play a lot better too," said Sarkisian. "We need to improve. We need to be better next Saturday night."

Here are tonight's SnappyTV highlights...

Rapid Reaction: USC 35, OSU 10

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Here are RB Justin Davis, LB Anthony Sarao, DE Leonard Williams, OLB J.R. Tavai, RB Buck Allen and WR Darreus Rogers discussing the victory over Oregon State right after the game...

Infographic: USC 35, Oregon State 10

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2014 Game 4: USC vs. Oregon State

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Oregon State Beavers (3-0, 0-0) at No. 18 USC Trojans (2-1, 1-0)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN and WatchESPN

Beaver to Watch: Senior QB Sean Mannion

sean-mannion-vs-colorado.jpgAssuming he stays healthy, Mannion will vault USC greats Carson Palmer and Matt Barkley to become the all-time Pac-12 passing leader in the next month.  He broke the Pac-12 record for single season passing yards with 4,662 in 2013.  Mannion is a prototypical pocket passer with an NFL future.  He will stand tall, look over his line and deliver the football accurately, but he is no threat in the run game.

Click here for more on the Beavers.

3 Keys

Crush the Pocket

Boston College QB Tyler Murphy sprung the upset over USC by breaking free with his legs for 191 yards rushing despite only throwing for 54 yards on 13 attempts.  Mannion will likely have 13 passes under his belt by the end of the first quarter, but he has negative rush yards in every game this season.  The Trojans forced Mannion into three interceptions last year by punishing the quarterback in the pocket.  The USC pass rush will be unleashed Saturday, and the Trojans need to get home or Mannion will control the game with his arm.

1st and 10, 2nd and Manageable, 3rd and Extend

USC has converted 47.9% of its third downs, which ranks a respectable 34th in the nation. Unfortunately, the Trojans have been forced into too many third down situations because the offense has struggled on first and second down in the previous two games.  Head coach and offensive play-caller Steve Sarkisian is putting the onus on 1st and 10 to setup more manageable and less predictable second and third downs.  Meanwhile, QB Cody Kessler is focused on extending drives to enforce the Trojans high tempo and give the USC defense some rest. 

Home to Heal

The BC loss left a bitter taste in USC mouths and the bye week let the pain linger longer than usual.  The last time the Trojans played in the Coliseum, the atmosphere was overwhelmingly positive including a standing ovation after the first quarter.  After nearly a month, USC returns home looking to rediscover its electricity under the Coliseum lights.  If the Trojans can defend their home turf over the next two weeks, they will have a leg up on the Pac-12 South.