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April 2009 Archives

On tour

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Sign up here for the 2009 Coaches Tour, which features Coach Carroll and Tim Floyd on seven highly entertaining stops around California. All athletic department support group members will need their eight-digit donor ID number to receive the member rate (if you don't have it, you can call 213-740-4164). All non-members should type in "Guest" as their ID. Here are the dates and locations of the 2009 Coaches Tour:

Wednesday, May 27 • Irvine
Friday, May 29 • Indian Wells
Monday, June 1 • Pasadena
Thursday, June 4 • Bay Area (Burlingame)
Monday, June 8 • San Diego
Wednesday, June 10 • Manhattan Beach
Thursday, June 11 • Westlake Village

Test results

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Check out the top 15 performances during today's 225-pound bench press rep test:

T1. OL Jeff Byers - 33 reps
T1. OL Nick Howell - 33 reps
3. DE Everson Griffen - 32 reps
4. DL Averell Spicer - 31 reps
5. TB Allen Bradford - 28 reps
T6. OL Zack Heberer - 27 reps
T6. DL Derek Simmons - 27 reps
T8. OL Tyron Smith - 26 reps
T8. S Taylor Mays - 26 reps
10. OL Matt Kalil - 25 reps
T11. OL Butch Lewis - 24 reps
T11. FB Stanley Havili - 24 reps
13. LB Nick Garratt - 23 reps
14. DL Christian Tupou - 22 reps
T15. DL DaJohn Harris - 21 reps
T15. WR David Ausberry - 21 reps
T15. S Shane Horton - 21 reps

And here are the best performers by class:

Sixth-year: OL Jeff Byers - 33 reps
Fifth-year: OL Nick Howell - 33 reps
Fourth-year: TB Allen Bradford - 28 reps
Third-year: DL Everson Griffen - 32 reps
Second-year: OL Tyron Smith - 26 reps

Riding the bench

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With assistant strength coach Bryan Bailey spotting, receiver Damian Williams does his 225-pound bench press rep test in the weight room this morning. The Trojans went through the combine test this morning, and we'll post results later today.

Robinson elected to the Hall of Fame

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Former USC coach John Robinson, who coached the Trojans for 12 years over two stints, has been elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Robinson had a career record of 104-35-4 at USC and won one national championship.

Hitting all the points

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Check out this all-encompassing video recap of Spring Practice 2009, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

High-stakes rivalry

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The Lexus Gauntlet Trophy -- given annually to the winner of the all-sports competition between USC and UCLA -- will most likely be decided this weekend with three head-to-head rivalry events taking place.

As USC currently holds a 50-45 lead, the Trojans need victories in two of the three events this weekend -- men's track and field, women's track and field and women's rowing, all worth five points each -- to clinch the eight-year-old trophy for the second consecutive year and fifth time overall.

Read about all the scenarios, including tie-breaking procedures, in this release.

Must-see TV

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It was taped a few years ago, but don't miss this powerful video feature on Chris Carlisle and the USC strength and conditioning program, courtesy of FoxSports.com.

Exam period

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The Trojans will complete their annual spring combine testing on Thursday when they each will do 225-pound bench press rep tests during morning workouts in the weight room. We'll be posting the top results on the Blog afterward.

Flying high

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Fullback Stanley Havili goes airborne as he does a hang snatch workout during the strength and conditioning sessions in Heritage Hall's weight room this morning.

Cardinal and gold (and green)

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The annual USC-UCLA dual track and field meet is this Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. at USC's Cromwell Field. Besides valuable Lexus Gauntlet points being on the line, the head-to-head matchup will also be the university's first-ever green-themed sporting event. Find out more info about the historic event here and be sure to watch this cool promo video for the meet:

Fighting on

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Army veteran and Trojan alum Jim Wade (left) sent in this picture of him wearing a USC shirt in Iraq last fall:

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Do you have a similar picture of the Trojans being represented overseas in the service? Send it in to the e-mail address at the top of this page along with your story, and we'll post it on the Blog to honor the men and women who serve this country.

Report card time

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The 2009 Academic Progress Rate will be released Friday, and USC athletic department officials are expecting positive results for football on the latest APR, an annual NCAA report that examines each team's academic status on a 1,000-point scale.

Last year, the Trojan football team earned a 948 on the APR, good for third place among Pac-10 schools. 

Don't miss it

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Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com has written this very complimentary piece on Aaron Corp.

Alumni news

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Jonathan Himebauch, a center for the Trojans in 1994-97, was recently hired as the offensive line coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

The newest Texan

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Here are some awesome video features on Brian Cushing, from HoustonTexans.com:

- Cushing mic'd up during his first day in Houston.

- A Q&A between Cushing and USC alum Brooke Bentley

- Cushing's press conference after arriving in Houston

For a good read

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Check out this neat column about the impact of sports on the Trojan Family, from today's Daily Trojan.

Save a horse...

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David Buehler has already garnered the attention and amusement of his new hometown's newspaper, as the Dallas Morning News has produced this hilarious featurette about the Cowboys' fifth-round draft pick.

Summer camping

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Summer kids camps are fast approaching, so check the dates and sign up today! All camps are hosted by the USC coaching staff and are conducted on Howard Jones field:

June 5 • Mario Danelo kicking camp
June 13 • Skill position camp
June 14 • Offensive/defensive lineman camp
June 20-21 • 7-on-7 camp
June 22 • Trojans in Training Kids Camp (3rd-8th graders)
June 24-25 • Rising stars camp (overnight camp)

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On the phone

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Go behind the scenes with this audio clip of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones calling kicker David Buehler on Sunday to tell him he was now a member of America's Team.

Big smiles

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Patrick Turner is still glowing.

Selected in the third round of this weekend's NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, the wide receiver has come by the USC football office this morning to say hi to his old coaches and teammates, who are showering him with endless congratulations.

"It's crazy," said Turner, who's buoyant with joy even two days after the Draft. "I'm so excited."

Turner departs for Miami on Wednesday and will take part in the Dolphins' minicamp beginning Thursday.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day is "Imagine" by John Lennon:

For a good read

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It's a couple of days old, but here's a cool Yahoo sports article that looks at the interwoven stories of Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer.

On the Network

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NFL Network will air "Life on the Road to the NFL," a one-hour documentary featuring the stories of Brian Cushing, Matthew Stafford and Michael Crabtree, tonight at 5 and 8 p.m. (Pacific). This behind-the-scenes show captures their three lives in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, concluding with the waiting game this weekend in New York.

Mr. Met

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Mark Sanchez threw out the first pitch at Monday's Mets game in New York, and check out the video of it and an interview with the Jets' No. 1 draft pick.

For a good read

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Check out this interesting and uncommon Q&A between Coach Carroll and Tennis.com.

Giving thanks

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With another Spring Practice in the books, we'd like to thank the people who helped make our coverage unique and special for yet another period on the Trojan football calendar. Endless thanks go to USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng, who provided a photo album for all 15 workouts, including an awesome three-part slideshow from the Trojan Huddle.

Also, we'd like to express our gratitude to Mark Haas and Rob McPherson in the video department and student assistants Katie Boggs and Carley Prendergast for their video and marketing work.

Playing on

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Defensive end Gerald Washington was signed today by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.

Selling cards

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Packs of 2009 schedule cards featuring 12 players, Coach Carroll and a 25% discount to the Trojan Online Store are now available by calling (213) 740-4170. They're $5 per pack plus a one-time fee of $5 for shipping and handling. A limited quantity is available, so call in your order now.

Looking closely

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Coaches have been in offensive and defensive staff meetings all morning as they break down film from Saturday's end-of-spring scrimmage. It's the last fresh tape they'll have until Fall Camp opens in August, so they're meticulously analyzing all 110 plays from the mock game.

Don't miss out

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Nine game-worn USC road jerseys from the 2008 season are being auctioned off at USCTrojans.com through Tuesday afternoon, so take a look, join the internet auction and own a genuine piece of Trojan history.

The Mark Sanchez game-worn jersey is only at $525 right now, while the Clay Matthews jersey is only at $330 currently.

Not slowing down

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Spring Practice is officially over, but the preparation process for the 2009 season continues.

Players are reporting to 40-minute strength and conditioning sessions this morning in the weight room as they begin a three-workout-week that culminates in the 225-pound bench press rep test on Friday.

"We're keeping the bodies trained," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said. "The workouts also help the recovery process from the scrimmage because their bodies are used to coming in on Mondays."

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Cornerback Kevin Thomas goes through workouts this morning in the weight room.

Newsmakers

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Many of USC's 11 draft picks are already making a splash in their new hometowns. Check out some features on a few of the Trojans drafted this weekend:

- Mark Sanchez [New York Times]

- Brian Cushing [Houston Chronicle]

- Clay Matthews [Green Bay Press-Gazette]

- Fili Moala [Indianapolis Star]

- Patrick Turner [Miami Herald]

- David Buehler [OC Register]

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Linebacker Brian Cushing was selected with the 15th pick by the Houston Texans in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Talking the talk

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Never at a loss for unique speaking engagements, Coach Carroll is a featured speaker at the 2009 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills this morning. He's talking about "leadership lessons from the world of sports" along with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, with NBC sportscaster Jim Gray moderating.

Eleven heaven

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USC is tops again.

Six more Trojans were selected during the NFL Draft's second day on Sunday, giving USC a nation-best 11 players chosen. It's the third time in the last four years that the Trojans were the most represented program in the Draft. Here's a list of this year's USC draftees:

- QB Mark Sanchez • New York Jets, 1st round (5th overall pick)
- LB Brian Cushing • Houston Texans, 1st round (15th overall pick)
- LB Clay Matthews • Green Bay Packers, 1st round (26th overall pick)
- LB Rey Maualuga • Cincinnati Bengals, 2nd round (38th overall pick)
- DL Fili Moala • Indianapolis Colts, 2nd round (56th overall pick)
- WR Patrick Turner • Miami Dolphins, 3rd round (87th overall pick)
- LB Kaluka Maiava • Cleveland Browns, 4th round (104th overall pick)
- DL Kyle Moore • Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4th round (117th overall pick)
- K David Buehler • Dallas Cowboys, 5th round (172nd overall pick)
- CB Cary Harris • Buffalo Bills, 6th round (183rd overall pick)
- S Kevin Ellison • San Diego Chargers, 6th round (189th overall pick)

The 11 Trojans selected -- who make up more than a third of the Pac-10's 32 players chosen this weekend -- were the talk of the 2009 NFL Draft.

"If you want to play pro football and you are a high school athlete, you know USC gives you the best opportunity system-wide and competitive-wise on the field," ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards said during Sunday's broadcast. "That's what USC brings to the table."

The news has also been well received back at Heritage Hall, where coaches and players are buzzing with excitement.

"Our guys have so much to be proud of," Coach Carroll said. "Having that many players drafted is a statement of how hard they work and how much NFL teams respect the Trojans."

In Carroll's eight seasons at USC, 53 Trojans have been drafted by the NFL, including 14 in the first round.

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New York Jets owner Woody Johnson presents Mark Sanchez, the NFL Draft's fifth overall pick, with his new jersey Sunday. [AP photo]

Scrimmage photo albums

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Check out this three-part slideshow of incredible images from Saturday's Trojan Huddle -- including several behind-the-scenes shots -- brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pre-scrimmage:



Scrimmage action:



Post-scrimmage:

Going pro

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Five Trojans have been selected on the first day of the NFL Draft today, including three in the opening round to give USC 74 all-time first-round draft picks. The Trojans were well represented on the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft:

- QB Mark Sanchez • New York Jets, 1st round (5th overall pick)
- LB Brian Cushing • Houston Texans, 1st round (15th overall pick)
- LB Clay Matthews • Green Bay Packers, 1st round (26th overall pick)
- LB Rey Maualuga • Cincinnati Bengals, 2nd round (38th overall pick)
- DL Fili Moala • Indianapolis Colts, 2nd round (56th overall pick)

The second day of the Draft, which features the third through seventh rounds, will be on Sunday beginning at 7 a.m. on ESPN. Six more Trojans are expected to be drafted.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell announces a pick during the first round of today's Draft in New York. Five Trojans have gone on the first day, with six more expected to be selected on Sunday.

Just the facts

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Get the full stat sheet from Saturday's end-of-spring scrimmage here.

Must-see TV

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Here's a video recap of today's Trojan Huddle, produced and edited by Mark Haas of USCRipsIt and USCTrojans.com:

Always competing

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With Coldplay blaring from his iTunes and his feet propped up on the desk, Coach Carroll spends the early part of the evening watching film from today's scrimmage in his office. Spring Practice 2009 is over and the Trojans won't practice again until August, but Carroll's not wasting any time in the breakdown and analysis process.

Pictures from Saturday's Trojan Huddle

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Check out some photos from Saturday's Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum. The full album from USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng -- including several cool behind-the-scenes images -- will be published later.

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Aaron Corp calls the play in the huddle during warm-ups on Saturday.

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Matt Barkley drops back during warm-ups.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the Trojans in the locker room prior to Saturday's Trojan Huddle.

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With Averell Spicer in his face, Aaron Corp throws downfield.

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Joe Houston connects on an extra-point attempt.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen chases Aaron Corp on a rollout.

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A crowd of 22,565 flocked to the Coliseum on a perfect Saturday to watch USC play its annual end-of-spring Trojan Huddle game.

It's all about the ball

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Check out who recorded the defense's four takeaways during Saturday's Trojan Huddle:

- Cornerback T.J. Bryant dove for an interception on a slant route on a pass from Matt Barkley
- Cornerback T.J. Bryant recorded a fumble recovery following a botched handoff
- Linebacker Nick Garratt had a diving interception on a pass from Mitch Mustain
- Cornerback Marshall Jones stepped in front of a Barkley pass on a post route for an interception

By the numbers

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Here are the scoring plays and drives from Saturday's end-of-spring scrimmage at the Coliseum:

- A 29-yard field goal by Jordan Congdon (closing a 5-play, 48-yard drive led by Mustain)
- Aaron Corp rolled out and connected with wideout Jordan Cameron on an eight-yard pass (closing a 7-play, 67-yard drive led by Corp)
- A 43-yard field goal by Joe Houston (closing a 12-play, 29-yard drive led by Corp)
- A 37-yard field goal by Joe Houston (closing a 9-play, 50-yard drive led by Corp)
- A 23-yard field goal by Jordan Congdon (closing a 15-play, 64-yard drive led by Matt Barkley)
- Marc Tyler ran four yards for a short touchdown (closing an 8-play, 75-yard drive led by Mustain)

In the spotlight

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Check out the standout performers and notable numbers from the Trojan Huddle:

- Aaron Corp went 14-for-23 for 157 yards and a touchdown
- Matt Barkley went 12-for-20 overall for 124 yards and two interceptions
- Tailback C.J. Gable rushed for a game-high 53 yards on five carries
- Tailback Marc Tyler had 44 yards on seven carries, including a four-yard touchdown
- Tight end Rhett Ellison had a game-high 64 receiving yards on three catches
- Wideout Travon Patterson recorded seven receptions for 57 yards
- Wideout Brice Butler had five catches for 50 yards
- Defensive end Nick Perry had seven tackles, including six for loss, and four sacks
- Cornerback Kevin Thomas posted seven tackles, including three for loss, and three pass deflections
- Defensive back Marshall Jones had seven tackles
- Defensive linemen Averell Spicer and Wes Horton had two sacks each
- 110 total plays in the scrimmage
- 22,565 fans in attendance

Dispatch from the Coliseum

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Thoughts from Saturday's Trojan Huddle, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- A turnover-hungry defense controlled a mostly methodical offense to give the cardinal team -- featuring the first-unit offense and second-unit defense -- a 16-10 win in the low-scoring 110-play end-of-spring scrimmage, wrapping up Spring Practice 2009 for the Trojans. "We had a fantastic spring," Coach Carroll said in the team huddle after the game. "Guys were elevating their game all over the place and you brought it one more time today -- like you always do in the Coliseum."

- The offense turned the ball over four times Saturday (three interceptions and a fumble), providing the defense with spectacular stats but drawing the ire of Carroll afterward. "We cannot turn the football over like that and expect to win football games," he said to the players.

- Tailback C.J. Gable had a 45-yard run down the left sideline during the first half of the scrimmage for the longest play of the day.

- Coach Carroll, to the team in the locker room before the scrimmage: "Let's celebrate spring football '09 with our effort today."

- Coach Carroll's claim that the Huddle would be the largest Draft party in the country came true when the Coliseum video board showed a clip of NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell announcing that the New York Jets selected Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick. The crowd and players erupted into cheers upon seeing the news. Carroll also got to speak to Sanchez on the phone immediately after the scrimmage.

- USC alum Willie McGinest and NFL legend Joe Montana were among the 22,565 in attendance at the Coliseum.

Off to the Coliseum

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All signs point to today being game day for the Trojans.

The players are pumped, the pads are on and Coach Carroll has delivered a fervent speech to the team this morning.

"You battle! You fight!" Carroll passionately yelled during the team meeting. "That's how this works. We have to compete better and longer than anyone we play. That's who we are."

The principle is magnified even more since the Trojans are heading out for the Trojan Huddle in the Coliseum, a special opportunity the players and coaches most certainly cherish -- especially today.

"Never take it for granted," Carroll said of playing in the Coliseum. "Never."

We'll return with a bursting-at-the-seams report following the end-of-spring scrimmage.

Last-minute reminder

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The NFL Draft begins at 1 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN or streamed online at NFL.com. The first and second rounds will be today, with the third through seventh rounds set for Sunday.

Dream on

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During this morning's team meeting, Coach Carroll showed this powerful video to get the Trojans in the proper mindset for the end-of-spring game this afternoon. It's an ESPN production featuring Aerosmith's "Dream On" and will surely move you as much as it did the players and coaches:

Splitting the squad

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The Trojans will be divided up into the Cardinal and White teams for today's end-of-spring scrimmage. Here's what the teams will look like:

Cardinal team: First-unit offense and second-unit defense
White team: Second-unit offense and first-unit defense

With those allotments, the first units will always be matching up and the second units will always be going head to head. Some players will be switching jerseys and going between the squads.

Airing live

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Today's Trojan Huddle, set to officially kickoff around 1:30 p.m., will be a full-scale broadcast on USCTrojans.com, complete with announcers and multiple camera angles. It will be streamed live to All-Access subscribers, who can watch it here.

If you're not an All-Access member, subscribe here.

Getting excited

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The players raise their arm and yell to infuse energy into the pre-scrimmage meeting in Heritage Auditorium this morning.

Game day

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The Trojans are just about to gather for their pre-game slate of meetings in Heritage Auditorium, where they'll go through a special teams review along with a rowdy pump-up session.

"Let's go!" Coach Carroll said just now while walking down to the meeting room. "We've gotta wake 'em up!"

For a good read

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Check out this interesting story on freshman quarterback Matt Barkley and his "greenshirt," from the front page of today's L.A. Times.

Trophy time

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Kicker David Buehler (middle) receives the 2008 Kickoff Specialist Trophy during a ceremony Friday in Heritage Hall. [Photo courtesy of Timothy Lutes]

Support a good cause

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A bone marrow registration drive will be held in the Coliseum concourse before, during and after Saturday's Trojan Huddle. Find out more info through this flyer.

See it for yourself

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Read the transcript and see the video of Coach Carroll's end-of-spring press conference.

On the agenda

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Here's a look at the Trojans' minute-by-minute schedule for game day -- also known as the Trojan Huddle, USC's end-of-spring scrimmage on Saturday at the Coliseum:

10 a.m. • Special teams meeting
10:30 a.m. • Team meeting
10:45 a.m. • Offense/defense meetings
11 a.m. • Position group meetings
12:05 p.m. • Clap sessions
12:15 p.m. • Buses depart Heritage Hall for the Coliseum
12:25 p.m. • Buses arrive at the Coliseum tunnel
12:33 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
1 p.m. • Players gather in the tunnel and take the field for pre-scrimmage drills
1:24 p.m. • Players return to the locker room
1:35 p.m. • Trojans take the field

Special honor

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NFL-bound kicker David Buehler is being presented with the 2008 Kickoff Specialist Trophy during a ceremony in Heritage Hall this afternoon. The award, one of 14 handed out to the various positions on offense, defense and special teams, is based on "meta-algorithms derived from differential equations," employing data from the previous nine college football seasons.

Speaking to ROTC

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Coach Carroll delivers a motivational speech in Heritage Auditorium this afternoon to more than 75 USC students in the university's Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

Entering the Draft

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The 2009 NFL Draft is Saturday and Sunday and will be televised live from New York's Radio City Music Hall all weekend on ESPN and NFL.com. Catch all the picks through a live online stream at NFL.com or on TV at ESPN at these times:

- Saturday: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Rounds 1 and 2)
- Sunday: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Rounds 3-7)

Looking back at history

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USCTrojans.com just posted a 30-year anniversary video feature about the 1978 national championship-winning Trojans. This half-hour special recaps the road win over No. 1 Alabama, a thrilling come-from-behind 27-25 victory over Joe Montana and Notre Dame and a 17-10 Rose Bowl win against Michigan.

It's for Trojans All-Access members, so check it out (or join the All-Access program to see it).

Almost game day

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The Trojan Huddle, USC's end-of-spring scrimmage, is Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum. Here's a quick-hitting guide for game day:

- Gates open at noon
- Tickets are $10 (USC students and children under 12 get in for free); buy online or at the gate
- A garage sale of USC apparel will be in the south concourse prior to the Huddle
- Parking will be available at the Coliseum for $10
- Concession stands will be open
- Players will be available for autographs for one hour after the scrimmage
- All the rest of the pertinent info can be found here

Talking spring ball

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Coach Carroll conducts his end-of-spring press conference in the Varsity Lounge right now.

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Cameras are rolling during Coach Carroll's spring-ending press conference right now. Watch it live or archived here.

Meet the press

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Coach Carroll is minutes away from descending from the second-floor football office and entering into Heritage Hall's Varsity Lounge, where he'll conduct his end-of-spring press conference with reporters. You can watch a live stream of it for free here (click on the link on the top right of the page under "Live Events").

Nothing special

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Media and fans will fawn over the end-of-spring depth chart that will be released at Coach Carroll's press conference at noon today.

But it means next to nothing for the Trojan coaches and players. The first game is still more than four months away, and plenty can change between now and then.

"It's just a statement of where guys are right now," Carroll said of the depth chart. "There are a ton of dead heats and there's no reason to finalize the future right now. It's simply shows where the guys are at if we were playing a game today."

Winning forever

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It took a YouTube video and a relentless campaign via radio, TV and the internet, but Coach Carroll is finally victorious.

Will Ferrell is now on Twitter.

Carroll's month-long pursuit to get the comedian, a longtime buddy and USC alum, on the trendy micro-blogging site has ended in a big-time recruiting triumph, as Ferrell made an account and began "tweeting" on Thursday. Needless to say, Carroll is as giddy as ever this morning as he soaks in the news.

The response from the Twitter nation has been overwhelming -- and funny. One tweeter wrote, "I guess that goes to show Pete Carroll can recruit ANYONE he wants," another typed, "Pete Carroll apparently NEVER loses" and another said, "That's what I call a lesson in perseverance."

Follow Carroll at http://twitter.com/PeteCarroll and Ferrell at http://twitter.com/WillFerrell.

Here's a recap of some of the coverage of Carroll's campaign to get Ferrell on Twitter:

- Carroll on ESPN's "First Take" on March 26
- The original YouTube video from March 27
- Carroll on "On Air with Ryan Seacrest" on Tuesday

See it for yourself

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Coach Carroll's end-of-spring press conference kicks off at noon today, and you can watch it live for free on USCTrojans.com (look under the "Live Events" section on the right side of the page).

What's in a name?

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With three linebackers expected to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, there has been much talk inside and outside of Heritage Hall that USC has become "Linebacker University."

"I've always known it's L.B.U., the linebackers have always known it's L.B.U., and the only people it's news to are the people who haven't been watching USC football for the last three to four years," stone-faced linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said with a hint of jest. "The linebackers came in with a mission to change USC from Tailback U. to L.B.U., where the highest grade of linebackers come to dominate."

Even running backs coach Todd McNair, one of the biggest adversaries of the L.B.U. moniker, has yielded some ground in the name game.

"They've got a heck of a claim to that title -- they can say that with the three horses who are going to be picked in the first round," McNair said in a rare moment of complimenting the linebackers.

But what about the five Heisman Trophies that have been awarded to Trojan running backs over the last 40-plus years? There's a reason USC has been known as "Tailback U." for decades, right?

"When those linebackers were here, I could concede that title," McNair said. "But now that those established stalwarts have departed, the reigning position group of note is the running backs."

McNair paused, taking a deep breath for effect before offering a more all-encompassing nickname for his position group at USC.

"This is R.B.U."

For a good read

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Here's a cool story about USC's three linebackers who are projected to be picked in the first round of this weekend's NFL Draft.

Thursday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Thursday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Cornerback Shareece Wright dives for the ball during an interception drill.

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Tailback Marc Tyler runs into Taylor Mays and the Trojan defense during team run period.

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Kicker Joe Houston connects on a field goal.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield with heavy defensive pressure in his face.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Thursday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- On the final Turnover Thursday of the spring, an athletic interception by nose guard Jurrell Casey on an Aaron Corp screen pass sealed the victory for the defense, which won three of the four turnover-themed workouts over the last month. Casey read the play perfectly, tipped the short throw to himself and hurtled upfield toward the end zone.

- Other than that one snap, the offense produced an impeccable performance, dominating the final 30-play team period to win 19-11 behind a fiery, hard-hitting effort from all phases. Tailback Marc Tyler logged several big runs and quarterbacks Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley coolly completed numerous impressive passes all over the field. Corp even sprinted for a 30-yard touchdown on a bootleg to cap off a wowing offensive output. "Somewhere after that turnover, this offense really got rolling," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle.

- Barkley had a pair of notably stunning deep balls Thursday, one to Brandon Carswell about 40 yards downfield with two defensive linemen closing in and the other to Brice Butler on a beautiful 25-yard fade into the end zone.

- On the final play of the day, kicker Jordan Congdon calmly hit a 39-yard field goal with all his teammates surrounding him and trying to distract him.

Bring the energy

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The Trojans just took the field for a half-pads, turnover-themed practice on Howard Jones. It's their second-to-last workout of the spring, so coaches are pulling for a high-energy effort from the team today in anticipation for Saturday's end-of-spring scrimmage at the Coliseum.

"Remember the first day of spring ball?" offensive coordinator John Morton asked his players in meetings this afternoon. "The energy, the excitement -- I want it to feel like the first day today. Finish this day on the right note so it carries over to Saturday."

We'll be back with a report in a few hours.

Get the ball

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Today marks Turnover Thursday for the Trojans, the last one of the spring, so coaches are emphasizing "high and tight" for the offense and a massive number of strip attempts for the defense.

"We've got one last shot to make a point about turnovers," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "We've emphasized this more than any team in football. Let's make it a great last day."

Saying the right thing

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Loyal RipsIt reader Amy Dam e-mailed in with an interesting question: "Does Coach Carroll teach the players how to answer questions from the media and everyone else? What does he tell them?"

For the Trojans and the media, it all comes down to one guideline -- the team's "Rule No. 1," which is "always protect the team." That rule applies to everything, whether it's on the field or off, and especially with the media and what the players say. Coach Carroll doesn't give any seminars or tips on how to deal with the media other than to constantly refer back to that all-important tenet.

"Rule No. 1 is all about having a conscience and our guys have a really strong conscience about protecting the team in everything they do," Carroll said. "You've got to have a humility in dealing with the media and the guys have really taken hold of that principle."

A pipeline to the League

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Projections are calling for as many as 11 Trojans to be selected in the NFL Draft this weekend, with a handful more in line to get picked up as free agents following the draft.

As impressive as that stat is, those numbers will merely follow a remarkable trend that has been established at USC since Coach Carroll arrived in 2001.

In the seven NFL Drafts since Carroll's tenure began, 43 Trojans have been drafted and 36 more have been signed to free-agent contracts immediately after the draft. In total, 79 Trojans have gone on to an NFL camp following the seven Drafts in Carroll's time at USC. In that span, a Trojan has been drafted by or signed to 27 of the 32 NFL teams.

The last few years have witnessed a windfall of Trojans in the NFL. The previous three drafts have seen 26 USC players picked and 10 more signed as free agents, an average of 12 NFL-bound Trojans per year.

"We love seeing our players not only excel while at USC, but also for a ton of them to go on to careers in the NFL," Carroll said. "This is something we take great pride in."

So the NFL Network's recent declaration appears to be true -- USC might just be the "No. 1 NFL Factory:"

Cover stats

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With three USC linebackers on this week's Sports Illustrated cover, a Trojan football player has now appeared on 71 SI covers and an athlete or coach with USC ties has now been on the national magazine cover 122 times in the 55-year history of the periodical.

Also, with Mark Sanchez's appearance on the cover of EA Sports' "NCAA Football '10," three Trojans have been featured on the cover of the popular video game in the last seven years -- Carson Palmer in 2004, Reggie Bush in 2007 and now Mark Sanchez in 2010.

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Today's the day

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It's Turnover Thursday at USC today, and the Trojans will battle in a half-pads practice at 4 p.m. this afternoon in the penultimate workout of the spring -- and the final one before Saturday's Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum. Meetings will get started at 2:15 before the open-to-the-public practice gets going at 4 p.m.

Going on tour

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The highly entertaining USC-hosted Coaches Tour, featuring the insight and shenanigans of Coach Carroll and Tim Floyd, will make seven stops across California in late May and early June. More info is coming shortly, but in the meantime, here are the dates and locations so you can plan accordingly:

Wednesday, May 27 • Irvine
Friday, May 29 • Indian Wells
Monday, June 1 • Pasadena
Thursday, June 4 • Bay Area (Burlingame)
Monday, June 8 • San Diego
Wednesday, June 10 • Manhattan Beach
Thursday, June 11 • Westlake Village

Split screen coverage

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The Trojan Huddle and NFL Draft will begin at exactly the same time Saturday -- 1 p.m. -- but have no fear, there's a solution to the dilemma.

Just a few minutes after each Trojan is selected, the Coliseum video board is scheduled to show a replay of the pick while the end-of-spring game is going on. Since the first round should last more than four hours and the Huddle will only go about two hours, Trojan fans will have the opportunity to watch the early USC selections at the Coliseum and then get back to a TV to watch the latter part of the first day of the NFL Draft.

Alumni support

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The Trojan Football Alumni Club is hosting a golf tournament and fundraiser on May 22 at Industry Hills Golf Club. Find out more info, including how to register and/or sponsor the event, here.

Educated guesses

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Almost every expert and non-expert has produced a mock draft in anticipation of Saturday's NFL Draft.

And now even the USC coaching staff has a slew of opinions.

The football staff took an informal poll during this morning's staff meeting about several USC-related aspects of the Draft, with a wide range of estimates coming from the coaches.

When asked which Trojan linebacker would be selected first, 10 staffers said Rey Maualuga, six said Brian Cushing and one said Clay Matthews.

All agreed that Mark Sanchez and the three linebackers would be the first four USC alums chosen Saturday, but the fifth Trojan drafted was up for debate. Eight staff members said Fili Moala would get picked next, five said it was going to be linebacker Kaluka Maiava and four thought it would be wideout Patrick Turner.

All of the staff members polled believed 11 Trojans would be selected in the Draft, which would top last year's 10 USC players selected.

For better or worse, their prognostications will be proved right or wrong come Saturday when the NFL Draft begins (1 p.m. on ESPN).

For a good read

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Check out this cool feature on Coach Carroll and Twitter in today's Daily Trojan.

Make an appearance

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The Trojans' second-to-last practice of the spring is Thursday at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones field. It is open to the public.

Liking what they see

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Signing Day is more than nine months away, but it's never too early to recruit.

Coaches are currently in their weekly recruiting meeting, during which they watch highlight reels of prospects in the Class of 2010 -- and subsequently fill the War Room with plenty of ooo-ing and ahhh-ing.

Catch it live

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Saturday's Trojan Huddle will be streamed live online at USCTrojans.com for All-Access members. If you're not a member, here's how.

The Twitter Coach

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Here's the transcript from Coach Carroll's "Twitterview" with FoxSports.com this afternoon.

Innovation

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Coach Carroll conducts a "Twitterview" with FoxSports.com this afternoon as he answers questions from a reporter via his Twitter page, apparently a first-of-its-kind interview. The transcript of the interview can be found here.

Blazing a trail

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Coach Carroll is about to commence a "Twitterview," a first-of-its-kind live interview via Twitter with FoxSports.com. Follow along on Twitter or you can see the results on FoxSports.com afterward.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day is "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon:

Laying it on thick

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The USC offense has a legendarily thick and complex playbook.

But the crazy thing is, it gets beat out by someone in the same building.

The Trojan strength and conditioning program has an 890-sheet record book of all the workouts the players completed during 2008, a manual that's more than double the size of the 2008 offensive playbook, which includes every play and formation for the USC offense.

The 890 sheets of paper in the four-inch-thick strength and conditioning program's 2008 record book easily outdistance the offense's 360-sheet-thick playbook and more than quadruple the size of the USC defense's 195-sheet 2008 playbook, showing just how detailed and precise the Trojan strength and conditioning staff trains the Trojans throughout the year.

"Everything's accounted for -- it's not just something we make up as we go," ninth-year head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said. "The workouts are something we carefully plan day-by-day for the whole year's preparation process."

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The 2008 USC strength and conditioning manual (left) is more than double the size of the Trojan offense's 2008 playbook (middle) and more than quadruple the size of the defense's 2008 playbook (right).

Pregame party

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In case you're craving that full game day experience at the Trojan Huddle, the Coliseum parking lots will open early Saturday (around 8 a.m.) and tailgating will be permitted.

The end-of-spring game kicks off a little after 1 p.m. Get all the info here.

Say it like you see it

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A few readers have e-mailed in asking about the pronunciation of Aaron Corp's name. For the record, the "p" is spoken, so you pronounce "Corp" exactly like it's spelled (unlike "corps," which is pronounced like "core").

Half-empty or half-full?

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We received a question from reader John Ferguson about the difference between half-pads and full-pads practices: "I understand what that means in terms of equipment, but how does that effect the level of contact in the practice?  How do half pads practices differ from full pads or helmets only?"

In reality, the discrepancy between the half- and full-pads is minimal. Regardless of whether the Trojans are in just shoulder pads or in full gear, pads are popping and hits are flying. The only noticeable difference is that players only cut block when they're in full-pads, meaning half-pads saves the legs from taking a pounding. But in either dress, players are discouraged from tackling during practice, as coaches always tell them to "stay up."

Meanwhile, "helmets only" practices see very little contact, as those workouts emphasize speed and precision over brute strength.

Three musketeers

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NFL-bound linebackers Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews appear on this week's cover of Sports Illustrated:

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Motivating the leaders

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On campus this morning, Coach Carroll delivers a speech about "leading winning teams" as part of the Professional Development Executive Leadership Series for high-ranking staff members at USC. Roughly 400 people are attending the hour-long address at Town and Gown Ballroom.

Resolving the QB competition

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Hear from all three quarterbacks and Coach Carroll in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

Straight from the source

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See Coach Carroll and Aaron Corp talk to the media following Tuesday's practice in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt, courtesy of producer Mark Haas:

Tuesday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Tuesday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Wideout Jordan Cameron leaps to catch a pass against the coverage of cornerback Shareece Wright in 1-on-1s.

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With safety Taylor Mays in coverage, receiver David Ausberry attempts to make the catch in 1-on-1 drills.

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In his first practice as starter, Aaron Corp talks with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates between plays with the L.A. skyline behind them. "It's a dream come true," Corp said.

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Matt Barkley throws downfield during team drills.

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Aaron Corp tries to squeeze out of the grasp of nose guard Averell Spicer in team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Tuesday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- With the offense and defense tied at 16 in the last period of the final Competition Tuesday of the spring, a pressure-packed field goal by Joe Houston delivered the 17-16 victory to the offense on a scorching afternoon on Howard Jones field.

- The offense had a superb day from top to bottom Tuesday, logging several big-time plays and dominating 7-on-7 period. Led by Aaron Corp's near-perfect performance on his first day as the announced starter, the three quarterbacks went a combined 16-for-20 with seven touchdowns in the passing-focused 7-on-7 drills.

- The practice-ending team period was ripe with primetime plays -- linebacker Chris Galippo's fumble recovery and return for a touchdown, tailback Marc Tyler's pair of long runs up the middle, wideout Ronald Johnson's touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone on a pass tipped by the defensive back, safety Taylor Mays' rangy downfield coverage on a deep ball along the left sideline and cornerback T.J. Bryant's speedy sack.

- Aaron Corp on being named the starter: "It's a dream come true."

- Several special guests attended practice, including Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, former Major League Baseball player Tim Salmon, former Trojan tailback LenDale White and USC provost C.L. Max Nikias.

BREAKING NEWS: Corp named starter

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Sophomore Aaron Corp will open at quarterback in Saturday's end-of-spring scrimmage and be the starter through the summer and into Fall Camp, Coach Pete Carroll announced Tuesday afternoon.

"We have to name a starter for the spring game and Corp is in the lead at this point," Carroll said.

Though the decision, which was shared with the quarterbacks during Tuesday's meetings, sorts out the depth chart for the time being, Carroll emphasized that the announcement isn't a final one.

"We're going to carry the competition on through Fall Camp," Carroll said.

With Corp as the starter for the Trojan Huddle, newcomer Matt Barkley will be in the backup role after an impressive set of workouts this spring as a first-semester freshman.

"Matt had a great spring and was right there pushing for the job, but he just hasn't had enough time to learn everything," Carroll said. "But on the field, he played like a starter."

Junior Mitch Mustain will be slotted in the third quarterback position and "will continue to battle his way up," Carroll said.

To the field

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With today's workout, the Trojans are entering the fourth and final week of Spring Practice 2009.

That can only mean one thing -- it's finish time.

"We've always understood and championed what 'finish' means," Coach Carroll told the players during this afternoon's team meeting. "It's fourth quarter time -- the closer we get to the end, the better we get."

The players and coaches are taking the field now, so we'll return with a report following the half-pads practice.

For your computer

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Download the 2009 Trojan football desktop wallpaper here.

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Telling the truth

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Since today's meetings are the first for the players since Saturday's scrimmage, it's a little bit of "Tell the Truth" day for the Trojans. And there are plenty of pleasant truths going around, especially for the USC offense. Take a look at three encouraging stats for the Trojan offense from Saturday:

- Only one penalty
- Only one turnover
- 45 percent third-down conversion percentage

Game day's approaching

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The Trojan Huddle, USC's annual end-of-spring game, is Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum. Get all the info here (including how to get tickets) and also check out the flyer:

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Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "Shout" by the Isley Brothers:

On the radar

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Check out some news and notes concerning today's practice, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones field:

- It's the last of four Competition Tuesday practices this spring.

- Unlike the previous three Tuesday workouts when they weren't in pads, the Trojans will be in half-pads this afternoon.

- Extra 1-on-1 work for all positions will be featured, along with an emphasis on red zone situations.

- To incite even more competition, coaches have hailed today as "Matchup Tuesday," with several to-be-announced top-flight 1-on-1 battles on tap for the workout.

Cover boy

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Mark Sanchez will appear on the cover of EA Sports' "NCAA Football '10" video game, set to be released this summer:

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Rowdy, proud and loud

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After an oddly quiet morning of dissecting film, coaches are bustling with energy all of a sudden now that Coach Carroll has called everyone together for a staff meeting in the War Room. During this meeting, coaches will discuss the day's plan, including details regarding this afternoon's Competition Tuesday practice.

Method of payment

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Cash and credit will be accepted at the USC athletic equipment department's "garage sale," which will begin at noon in the Coliseum's south concourse on Saturday.

Reaching out to kids

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Aiming to bring his "Win Forever" philosophy to kids, Coach Carroll has launched CampPete.com, an online gaming world for children as young as 5. Proceeds from the site go to A Better LA.

The home stretch

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Believe it or not, Spring Practice 2009 is almost over.

The Trojans have entered the third-to-last practice day of the spring, as Competition Tuesday takes hold at Heritage Hall this morning. Coaches are currently in offensive and defensive staff film sessions, team meetings will get going at 2:15 and an open-to-the-public practice will be at 4 p.m. as the fourth quarter of spring ball officially commences.

Tough memories

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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, and the date hits close to home for one member of the USC coaching staff.

First-year special teams coordinator Brian Schneider grew up in the Denver suburb of Arvada, Colo., and attended Colorado State. But the tragedy had an even closer connection to Schneider because his dad was the principal of a high school in the same district as Columbine and his cousin was a freshman at Columbine when the shooting occurred.

"It's just a funky day," Schneider said.

Must-see TV

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The 2009 NFL Draft is Saturday and Sunday and will be televised live from New York's Radio City Music Hall all weekend on ESPN and NFL.com. Catch all the picks live online at NFL.com or on ESPN at these times:

- Saturday: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Rounds 1 and 2)
- Sunday: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Rounds 3-7)

Hot hot heat

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Temperatures are approaching 100 degrees today in L.A., and fortunately for the Trojans, they're enjoying an off day from practice.

But Tuesday will be a different story.

Practice resumes tomorrow afternoon, and while temperatures will only reach the low-90s, athletic trainers are already taking precautionary measures for the unseasonably hot weather. They've been pushing proper hydration for the players in anticipation of the workout and they'll be encouraging extra rest and water breaks during the practice to avoid any potential heat-related health issues.

"We'll be keeping a close eye on the guys for sure," head athletic trainer Russ Romano said.

Making news

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Here's some more info about Coach Carroll's new book "Win Forever," from today's Wall Street Journal.

Adding to the fanfare

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Besides all of the other festivities surrounding Saturday's Trojan Huddle, both Traveler and the Trojan Marching Band will also be in attendance.

On air

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Coach Carroll will appear on 102.7 KIIS-FM's "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. If you live outside of the L.A. area, find an affiliate near you.

Hitting the books

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"Win Forever," Coach Carroll's first book, will be published by The Penguin Group and is planned to be released in spring 2010, the publishing company announced today. "Win Forever" will feature:
... previously untold details and anecdotes about USC football, as well as Coach Carroll's advice for building teams that stick together and consistently outperform expectations.  He will also discuss leadership off the field, based on his charitable work with kids on the toughest streets of L.A.  And he will show how the five principles of the Win Forever philosophy can be applied to any kind of endeavor. [Penguin press release]
A portion of the proceeds from the book sales will go to A Better LA.

Tell the Truth Monday

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In the latest video feature from USCRipsIt -- entitled "Tell the Truth Monday" -- we ask the players some silly questions to give you a glimpse into their personalities off the football field. Check out the results in this funny video brought to you by editor Mark Haas and producers Katie Boggs and Carley Prendergast:

Coming soon

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The Trojan Huddle, USC's annual end-of-spring game, is on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum. Get all the details here.

Going to the tape

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Following a Sunday away from the office, coaches are deep in offensive and defensive staff meetings this morning as they break down the film from Saturday's scrimmage. They'll be in those meetings for much of the day.

Heavy lifting

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Tailback Marc Tyler goes through his workout this morning in the weight room. All players are conducting quick 40-minute strength and conditioning sessions on an off day from practice for the Trojans.

Sad day for L.A. football

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The Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League announced Sunday it has ceased operations after nine years in the league. The Avengers, which had been L.A.'s only professional football team, were coached by former USC quarterback Pat O'Hara.

Looking ahead

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The Trojans will take Sunday off before returning to work Monday, when the players will conduct strength and conditioning sessions and coaches will break down the film from today's scrimmage. USC now enters the fourth quarter of the spring, as only three practices remain until Fall Camp. All of them are open to the public:

Tuesday • 4 p.m., Howard Jones field
Thursday • 4 p.m., Howard Jones field
Saturday - Trojan Huddle • 1 p.m., Coliseum (get tickets here)

Swim fans

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Following Saturday's scrimmage, the Trojans headed over to the adjacent McDonald's Swim Stadium to support the Swim With Mike fundraiser by competing in a light-hearted relay race. Eight teams of four players each pushed a Song Girl in an inner-tube 100 meters. Check out some pictures from the event:

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Eight teams of Trojan football players push a Song Girl in an inner-tube during Swim With Mike on Saturday at McDonald's Swim Stadium at USC.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen paddles through the water while pushing a Song Girl in an inner-tube.

Saturday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Saturday's scrimmage, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Saturday's scrimmage

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Offensive lineman Matt Kalil (left) and defensive end Nick Perry battle in 1-on-1 drills prior to the scrimmage.

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Matt Barkley calls the play in the huddle during Saturday's workout.

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Offensive coordinator John Morton sits on top of the adjacent baseball complex during Saturday's scrimmage to mimic what he does in the press box during games.

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Coach Carroll gathers the Trojans together off the field during a mock halftime in the middle of Saturday's scrimmage.

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Defensive end Malik Jackson rises up to attempt to deflect an Aaron Corp pass.

Drive by drive

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Here's a detailed look at the offense's six scoring drives Saturday, including the quarterback who led each one and other pertinent info:

- Matt Barkley (first unit offense/defense): 14 plays for 75 yards, ending in a 23-yard Joe Houston field goal. Barkley went 5-for-7 in the drive.

- Aaron Corp (second unit offense/defense): 7 plays for 61 yards, ending in a 22-yard Jordan Congdon field goal. Corp went 4-for-5 in the drive.

- Mitch Mustain (second unit offense/defense): 6 plays for 46 yards, ending in a 5-yard touchdown run by tailback Curtis McNeal. Mustain went 1-for-1 in the drive.

- Barkley (second unit offense/defense): 9 plays for 68 yards, ending in a 14-yard touchdown pass to wideout Jordan Cameron. Barkley went 6-for-8 for 61 yards in the drive.

- Corp (first unit offense/defense): 4 plays for 88 yards, ending in a 4-yard touchdown run by tailback Stafon Johnson. Corp went 2-for-2 for 80 yards in the drive.

- Corp (first unit offense/defense): 8 plays for 34 yards, ending in a 35-yard Congdon field goal to conclude the scrimmage. Corp went 2-for-4 in the drive.

In the spotlight

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Check out the standout performers from Saturday's scrimmage:

- Matt Barkley: 15-of-21, 186 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Aaron Corp: 13-of-18, 170 yards
- Mitch Mustain: 3-of-6, 33 yards
- RB Curtis McNeal: 10 carries for 62 yards, 1 TD
- RB Marc Tyler: 9 carries for 49 yards
- RB Stafon Johnson: 5 carries for 14 yards, 1 TD
- WR Damian Williams: 4 receptions for 129 yards
- WR Jordan Cameron: 4 receptions for 49 yards, 1 TD
- DE Everson Griffen: 3.5 sacks for a total loss of 20 yards
- DE Malik Jackson: 42-yard INT return for a TD, 2 tackles-for-loss
- LB Malcolm Smith: 8 tackles
- LB Chris Galippo: 7 tackles

(NOTE: Barkley's stats were originally reported incorrect as having only 18 pass attempts. The numbers have been corrected.)

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Saturday's scrimmage, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- A week after allowing 39 points in a mock game at the Coliseum, the Trojan defense clamped down with a strong performance in Saturday's scrimmage, allowing only three field goals and three touchdowns -- while scoring one on its own -- in the 99-play session on a toasty afternoon. "We took a great step again today," Coach Carroll told the players in the post-workout huddle. "I really appreciate how we bring it every single day."

- Quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Aaron Corp had flashes of utter brilliance Saturday, especially when both led a pair of lengthy scoring drives. Barkley led the top-unit Trojan offense 75 yards in 14 plays on the first series of the day (finishing with a 23-yard Joe Houston field goal) and then guided a nine-play, 68-yard drive later in the scrimmage that ended with a perfect 14-yard touchdown strike to Jordan Cameron in the front right corner of the end zone. Corp, meanwhile, had two impressive drives himself -- the first going 61 yards in seven plays (concluding with a 22-yard Jordan Congdon field goal) and the last traveling 88 yards in only four plays thanks to stunning 34- and 46-yard completions to Damian Williams that set up a short touchdown run by Stafon Johnson.

- Defensive end Malik Jackson intercepted a Matt Barkley screen pass attempt and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown for the defense's score.

- Safety Ryan McMahon blocked a punt and walk-on tight end Eric Childs returned it for a touchdown, while wideout Ronald Johnson had a 96-yard kickoff return for a score during special teams segments of the scrimmage.

- A carnival atmosphere set the stage for Saturday's scrimmage, as the Trojan Marching Band made an appearance, Traveler strode down the sideline, pop music blared from speakers and the nearby Swim With Mike fundraiser added to the festiveness. "The music, the band -- that was pretty cool," said quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, whose entire career had been spent in the straight-laced NFL until this spring.

- To make the scrimmage very game-like, some coaches sat on top of the adjacent baseball complex to simulate the press box at a football stadium. All the coaches communicated via headsets during the scrimmage.

- Recent alumni Rey Maualuga and David Buehler were among the several hundred fans in attendance.

Going to work

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The Trojans are about to hit the field for Practice No. 12 and Scrimmage No. 3 of the spring, but not before assistant head coach for the offense Jeremy Bates has given his players some last words of advice for the game-like simulation on Howard Jones.

"Play fast and have fun," Bates said.

Following the scrimmage, the Trojans will head over to McDonald's Swim Stadium to participate in Swim With Mike, the annual swim-a-thon that raises money for the USC Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. We'll return in a few hours with a report from the scrimmage and fundraiser.

Fun times

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On a perfect spring day in Southern California, USC's third of four spring scrimmages is less than an hour away from commencing, and Coach Carroll gave a passionate pep talk to the players during this morning's team meeting.

"We like to capture these opportunities," Carroll said. "This is a big day for you guys. I want you to have fun celebrating our football. Have a blast playing ball today."

They're ready

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Just another Saturday for the Trojans?

Hardly.

From the looks of it, you'd think it was a game day in the fall, as the players and coaches just charged through a riotous pump-up session to kick off a day that will include meetings and a lengthy scrimmage on Howard Jones field. The Trojans got pumped for the activities ahead just like they do in the hours prior to a game -- by chanting "We ready," by yelling and jumping around and by calling out coaches to dance, with linebacker coach Ken Norton Jr. and Coach Carroll headlining the performance with some incredibly awesome jigs.

The calendar might say it's April, but the Trojans' mindset says otherwise. Welcome to game day.

Waking up

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It's Saturday morning, but you wouldn't know it by observing the USC coaches.

They just broke from their pre-practice staff meeting and are now loudly clapping, yelling about less-than-hot coffee and pounding the walls as they get their juices flowing in time for the slate of meetings, which begins at 9 a.m.

Rooting 'em on

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Offensive linemen Alex Parsons (left) and Jeff Byers (right) sit and watch the USC women's tennis team take on UCLA at Marks Tennis Stadium on Friday afternoon. Following the Trojans' practice on Howard Jones field, the football players headed over to the adjacent tennis courts to support the No. 9-ranked Women of Troy in their season-ending match against the Bruins.

Friday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Friday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Friday's practice

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Nose guard Christian Tupou leaps up to deflect an Aaron Corp screen pass.

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Mitch Mustain passes to Travon Patterson on a wide receiver screen.

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The ball gets tipped up as the Tojan offense and defense battle on the practice-ending Hail Mary attempt, with tight end Anthony McCoy (not pictured) coming in for the reception in the end zone.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Friday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- The no-pads workout acted as a quick review and refresh session, though it wasn't at a lack for special plays. Linebacker Chris Galippo forced a fumble with a powerful strip, wideout Jordan Cameron made an acrobatic catch on a jump ball in the end zone and tailback Marc Tyler produced a long run up the middle to highlight the 30-play practice that was doused with tons of special teams work.

- The long list of big-time plays doesn't even include the perfect ending to the day, as tight end Anthony McCoy, standing innocently in the end zone, snagged a tipped ball on a Hail Mary attempt from Matt Barkley at the conclusion of the practice.

- During team period, Barkley also threw a beautiful 20-yard touchdown-scoring strike to wideout Brice Butler, who was running a post route from the right. "That was gorgeous!" Coach Carroll proclaimed.

- In the huddle after the practice, Carroll praised the team for its efficient work Friday: "We got a lot of good looks and a lot of stuff done today," Carroll said, before turning his attention to Saturday's scrimmage. "We're going to have a hell of a day tomorrow. It's one of the last big opportunities to show who you are and where you fit on this team, so you've got to bring it."

Bouncing back

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A day after what coaches have hailed as one of the best all-around practices of the spring, the Trojans are taking the field for a quick no-pads workout on Howard Jones.

"It's really easy for a football team to have a good practice," Coach Carroll said in the team meeting this afternoon. "It's hard to come back and do it again. So let's come out humming today."

We'll return with a report in a few hours.

On the agenda

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Here's a look at the schedule for the Trojans leading up to Scrimmage No. 3 of the spring on Saturday:

9 a.m. • Special teams meeting
9:30 a.m. • Team meeting
9:45 a.m. • Offense/defense meetings
10 a.m. • Position group meetings
11:05 a.m. • Clap session
11:15 a.m. • On the field
11:30 a.m. • Full-pads scrimmage begins on Howard Jones field

Perfectionists

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The Trojans are going through today's meetings and practice with one eye on the present and one on the future.

"Let's make sure we're crisp today -- tomorrow is test time," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "It's full go, there's no drills, we're ripping."

Practice this afternoon -- the 11th of the spring -- will act as a review session so that the Trojans can refine their game in time for Saturday's all-out scrimmage on Howard Jones field.

"You want to be perfect today," offensive coordinator John Morton told his players this afternoon. "Shifts, motions, everything -- it's all got to be perfect so we can be ready for tomorrow. Let's be perfect today."

Inside the numbers

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Numbers don't lie, and that's the exact reason why coaches are so excited about the potential from the quarterback position group.

Through the first two-thirds of Spring Practice 2009, the quarterbacks as a collective group have produced some remarkable numbers. In the 10 workouts over the last three weeks, Matt Barkley, Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain are a combined 256-for-346 in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods, racking up a stunning 74.0 percent completion rate. And together, they've only thrown seven interceptions in those 346 pass attempts.

"The quarterbacks are having an awesome spring," Coach Carroll said. "The numbers along with their film add up for some really impressive practices for all three of them."

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "I Feel Free" by Cream:

The red coats are coming

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Green jackets are synonymous with the Masters, orange jackets with the Orange Bowl and cardinal jackets with USC's program pictures.

OK, so maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but you get the point.

In light of Thursday's post about Matt Barkley's profile picture, we received a question about the coats the players wear, and upon further investigation, the story goes much deeper than a simple answer.

While other programs take their head shots in jerseys or polo shirts, the Trojans don a cardinal coat and tie for theirs to continue a decades-long tradition, one that spans at least to the '70s when the players traveled in cardinal-colored polyester suits. The custom for profile pictures started then and has continued to this day.

"We've always felt it's a lot classier in a coat and tie," said sports information director Tim Tessalone, who's been in his role for more than 25 years.

It's not always an easy task getting the players all gussied up, though. The players share a handful of coats (anything from size 40 to 52), shirts (neck sizes range from 15 to 21.5) and ties, and the sizes have to fit the smallest of kickers to the biggest of linemen. The sports information office provides the attire, making picture day each August "pretty hairy," Tessalone said, as the players change in and out of a small selection of coats, shirts and ties.

"But the hardest thing isn't getting them into a coat and tie -- it's getting them to smile since football players don't like to smile," Tessalone said.

Every once in a while, there is one major challenge in getting the players into the attire. It started when 330-plus-pound offensive lineman Faaesea Mailo, whose last season at USC was in 2001, came through and needed a coat for the picture. Only problem was that none of the coats fit, so the sports information staff tore the back (see the picture below) so Mailo could squeeze in and take the photo.

All in a day's work for the sports information department.

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The sports information staff keeps a torn coat on hand for oversized linemen who can't fit in the normal coats on picture day.

Almost game day

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The Trojans will conduct a full-pads intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on Howard Jones field. It is open to the public.

A different type of practice

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Today's no-pads practice -- the middle of a three-practice set -- will act as a review day for the Trojans, with an extra emphasis on special teams work. The first-team offense and first-team defense will get only 15 plays each, along with a two-minute simulation and a Hail Mary attempt. The bulk of the workout will be focusing on USC's punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return units.

Drumming away

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Check out this cool article explaining the connection between Coach Carroll and a drumline of kids who attended last weekend's scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Splish splash

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Swim With Mike will occur all day Saturday at McDonald's Swim Stadium on campus, and the football players and coaches will head on over to the annual fun-filled fundraiser after practice concludes around 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (both the 11:30 a.m. practice and Swim With Mike are open to the public).

And as is tradition, four-man teams of players will compete in a swim relay Saturday afternoon, so take a look at some of the notable names who are scheduled to be in the pool:

- QB Matt Barkley
- RB Curtis McNeal
- WR Jordan Cameron
- TE Rhett Ellison
- DE Everson Griffen
- LB Malcolm Smith

Multitasking

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In his office this morning, defensive coordinator Rocky Seto eats breakfast while watching film from Thursday's practice.

A look ahead

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The Trojans are in the midst of a back-to-back-to-back set of practices, with a workout at 4 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday before rounding the corner into the final week of Spring Practice 2009.

Friday's workout will be a review session and players will not be in pads as the Trojans prepare for a full-pads scrimmage on Howard Jones field on Saturday morning. All five remaining practices this spring are open to the public, so check out the schedule here.

Thursday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Thursday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Wideout Damian Williams reaches out in an attempt to catch the pass with one hand.

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Matt Barkley passes over the middle during 7-on-7 period.

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Shadows fall as long as the field goal, as Coach Carroll watches on with Joe Houston drilling a field goal Thursday.

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Defensive end Malik Jackson deflects a Mitch Mustain pass.

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Aaron Corp dumps off a screen pass before nose guard Jurrell Casey could get the deflection.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Thursday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- One fatal snap -- or lack thereof -- killed the offense near the end of today's turnover-themed practice, as a botched exchange between Aaron Corp and center Jeff Byers led to a Michael Morgan fumble recovery and a victory for the Trojan defense on Turnover Thursday.

- Other than that one play, the offense had an exceptional overall performance Thursday, winning 15-13 in 7-on-7 drills and turning in several stellar plays throughout the half-pads workout. "The offense was as sharp as we've been all spring," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "It was a really good day for us."

- The fateful turnover on the penultimate drive of the practice ended what was lining up to be an epic series for Corp and the first-team Trojan offense against the first-unit defense. Starting at his own 2-yard line, Corp went 4-for-4 while leading the offense 74 yards in nine plays before the fumbled snap. During the drive, tailback Stafon Johnson had a few long gains and tight end Anthony McCoy had a pair of lengthy receptions to give the offense major momentum prior to the turnover.

- During 7-on-7 period, Matt Barkley produced a spectacular completion down the right sideline that had coaches heaping praises on him. "Oh, that's so good!" Coach Carroll exclaimed while high-fiving the freshman.

- Wideout Travon Patterson turned a short reception into a 15-yard touchdown after he juked the cornerback to squirt free for the score in the final team period of the day.

Time to work

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Practice No. 10 of the spring is starting now on Howard Jones field, so we'll return with a report in a few hours.

In the ESPN spotlight

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Check out this Taylor Mays interview that aired on ESPN last week:

Teaching lessons, having fun

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Coach Carroll loves teaching lessons, but know what he loves even more?

Teaching lessons while utilizing some fun.

Showing that showboating isn't a useful or accepted part of sports, Carroll played the following fight scene during this afternoon's team meeting to both educate and have fun with the players:

Talking the talk

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Turnovers are the name of the day, though the offensive coaches might think otherwise.

Usually titled "Turnover Thursday," it's "No Turnover Thursday" today thanks to the offense's clean slate during last Thursday's practice. And coaches on both sides of the ball are talking some smack leading up to this afternoon's workout.

Defensive coaches are loudly promising some takeaways, while the offensive staffers aren't so sure about that.

"You're not going to get the ball!" offensive line coach Pat Ruel exclaimed during this afternoon's team meeting

Rocking out

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While the special teams meeting currently churning along in Heritage Auditorium, Coach Carroll is spending the precious minutes before the team meeting in his office preparing for this afternoon's activities, including meetings and practice.

And what's the soundtrack for this essentially meditative time?

None other than Eminem's "Lose Yourself," which is also played when the Trojans take the field at the Coliseum six times each fall.

Rolling along

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Turnover Thursday just got started, and it began with a special teams film session focusing on the kickoff and kickoff return units. The team, offense/defense and position group meetings follow before a half-pads practice at 4 p.m.

Picture day

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Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley gets his head shot taken in the lobby of Heritage Hall this afternoon. The profile picture will be used in the media guide, for programs and to fill other media-related requests in the coming months and years.

For a good read

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Check out this cool article about the USC student equipment managers, from today's Daily Trojan.

Trojan Huddle tips

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With the April 25 Trojan Huddle quickly approaching, here's a tip sheet of pertinent info for fans planning on attending the annual end-of-spring scrimmage at the Coliseum:

Cost
Tickets cost $10, with USC students and kids under 12 getting in for free. Buy your tickets at the gate or online.

Timing
The Trojans will take the field slightly before 1 p.m., and the scrimmage itself will begin around 1:30. The Huddle usually last until around 3:30 p.m.

Getting there
Parking will be available in the Coliseum lots for $10. Gates 1 and 4 will open at noon, one hour prior to the scrimmage. Seating is first-come, first-served, so if you arrive closer to noon, you'll have your pick of prime seats.

Diversions
Bounce houses for kids will be set up in the east end zone (where the Sun Deck usually is). Also, player schedule cards will be sold for $5 per pack and a garage sale of unused team apparel will take place at the Coliseum prior to the Huddle.

Food
Normal concession stands will be operating during the Huddle.

Autographs?

All players will be available for autographs in the south concourse following the Huddle.

How many people will be there?
Officials are estimating around 20,000 fans will attend. In 2008, 22,000 fans attended the Huddle, while 15,000 came in 2006 (no numbers were available for 2007).

Get the gear

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The USC athletic equipment department is hosting a "garage sale" prior to the Trojan Huddle next Saturday, with drastically discounted team apparel -- including jerseys, warm-ups, shoes and much more -- being offered. The sale will occur in the Coliseum concourse and will begin when the gates open at noon.

Practice notes

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The Trojans will conclude the second trimester of Spring Practice 2009 with today's workout, which is set for 4 p.m. on Howard Jones field. Here are some news and notes for the session:

- The players will be back in shoulder pads for the first time since Saturday's scrimmage as they don half-pads this afternoon.

- It's "Turnover Thursday" -- or more appropriately, "No Turnover Thursday," since the offense pitched a shutout during last week's turnover-themed workout.

- A 1-on-1 period between the wideouts and cornerbacks will be featured once again after a one-week hiatus.

- During a situational segment of practice, the Trojans will install the "four-minute offense," which is used to run out the clock when USC has the lead at the end of games.

- Today's practice is open to the public, like the rest of the workouts this spring.

Card games

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As if you needed another reason to attend the Trojan Huddle (April 25 at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum; buy your tickets here), a 13-card pack of player schedule cards will be sold for $5 each at the end-of-spring game. Including 12 players and Coach Carroll, these packs also include a 25 percent online store discount on USCTrojans.com. Here's a sneak peak at the cards:

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Catching attention

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Check out this latest USCRipsIt video feature on the wide receiver competition, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

Oh happy days

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Today is a dreaded one for much of the nation (thanks, Tax Day), but for the USC coaches, it's a joyous day of celebration.

That's because, after more than two months of quietness, it's the first day of a 45-day evaluation period on the recruiting schedule, meaning coaches are allowed one phone call per prospect and four weeks of in-person evaluation (which will begin after Spring Practice for the Trojan coaches).

To commemorate the momentous occasion, coaches are currently walking around the office with cell phones attached to their ears as they talk to prospects and their families.

Keeping score at practice

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We've received some questions about the scoring system at practices that determines the "winner" on each day.

The offense wins the play if it rushes for four-plus yards or completes a pass of any length, while the defense wins the play if it holds the offense to a rush of less than four yards, produces an incompletion or forces a turnover. That way, throughout a 7-on-7 or team period, the Trojans can "keep score" by tallying the wins on each play, making the practice more exciting and competition-driven.

The funny thing about the whole scoring system is that way more often than not, the score is extremely close and usually tied before the last play. Coach Carroll has a special way of ensuring the practices are evenly matched up to the final snap -- even if technically one side is dominating the day.

"We have a formula -- securely sealed -- to make sure the scoring always ends close," Carroll said with a grin. "It's called competition -- that way there's always something at stake."

New and improved

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Coach Carroll welcomes you to the new USCRipsIt.com:

Photo star

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Surrounded by (from left to right) soccer player Ashley Nick, tennis player Robert Farah, water polo player Kami Craig, basketball player Jackie Gemelos and tennis player Maria Sanchez, assistant sports information director Darcy Couch participates in a photo shoot this afternoon for an upcoming ESPN The Magazine feature on "cool jobs for women in sports."

Laundry day

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USC's practice jerseys -- cardinal for offense, white for defense and gold for the quarterbacks -- sit in a stack in the equipment room today after being washed and dried following Tuesday's practice. The 48-hour turnaround between practices allows the equipment staffers extra time for laundry, which is unlike the season, when the washers and dryers are churning seemingly nonstop.

Boss-ing around

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The Boss is in town.

Not that the USC coaches don't know.

A large group of Trojan coaches and their wives have tickets for tonight's Bruce Springsteen concert at the Sports Arena and, needless to say, they're getting excited about their night out.

It's been the talk of the morning and several coaches are even dressed for the occasion already, as they're in button down shirts instead of the usual grungy coaching attire.

"We're Boss-ready," several coaches said with a chuckle at the start of this morning's staff meeting.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day is a special version of "Stand By Me:"


Stand By Me on Vimeo

Playing on

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Defensive end Alex Morrow, who played for the Trojans from 2004-07, has been signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League and will report to camp in June.

Morrow made it to New York Giants training camp in 2008 but was released before the season.

Quantity and quality

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Defensive end Malik Jackson goes through workouts in the weight room this morning as assistant strength coach Jamie Yanchar spots. The Trojans are flying through two loops of a rapid-fire 38-station circuit today, an off day from practice at USC.

Getting schooled

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Less than three weeks remain in the spring semester, and Coach Carroll is making a massive academic push with his players.

The grades and units the Trojans earn this semester will determine their eligibility for the fall, so every exam, paper and project add up for the players, who are constantly being reminded that finishing strong applies off the football field too.

"If you think you can be disciplined only in football and then everything else can be a mess, you're wrong," Carroll said during Tuesday's team meeting. "In your class work, don't be just good -- let's be great. Let's do it better than it's ever been done before in everything."

USC's last day of classes is May 1 and finals will wrap up on May 13.

Excited about the future

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The coaches are starting their weekly recruiting meeting in the War Room right now, and excitement is flaring for the staff, and especially Coach Carroll.

"Let's go, we've got to find some players!" a giddy Carroll just yelled out while roaming the football office. "We haven't found a player all day!"

On the radio

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Coach Carroll is scheduled to appear on the Tony Bruno Show around 8:25 p.m. tonight. That'll air on AM-570 in L.A., or you can listen live over the internet.

Tuesday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Tuesday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Safety Taylor Mays goes up to intercept the pass during defensive back drills.

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With Coach Carroll running down in coverage, kicker Jordan Congdon nails the kickoff.

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Mitch Mustain dodges the reach of defensive lineman Armond Armstead.

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Matt Barkley dumps off a screen pass with linebacker Malcolm Smith tries to deflect it.

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As defensive end Malik Jackson approaches with his arm raised, Aaron Corp gazes downfield.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Tuesday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- With the final team period tied at 22, the Trojans went to an overtime simulation to settle the score on Competition Tuesday, with Matt Barkley leading the second-team offense to a touchdown to capture the victory after Aaron Corp and the first-team offense managed just a field goal. Rolling out to the right, Barkley completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to wideout Brice Butler, who was zooming across the back of the end zone, to conclude the no-pads practice on a blustery afternoon.

- Chilly crosswinds provided some interesting challenges for the Trojans, who had to battle through off-kilter throws and curve-ball kicks throughout the practice. Field goal tries turned into lessons on algebraic parabolas, while errant passes were littered all over the field and spirals often turned into wobbly balls. "That throw looked like a kickoff," wideout Damian Williams said half-jokingly after one unsteady pass during team period.

- Even with the winds, kickers Joe Houston and Jordan Congdon combined to go 6-of-6 on field goals Tuesday, including a 38-yard boomerang field goal by Houston in the overtime session.

- Coach Carroll used the difficult conditions as a teachable moment for the team. "Sometimes things aren't going to go our way and it's going to be hard," he said in the post-practice team huddle. "You've got to keep staying with it, keep battling. These are good lessons to learn."

- Though the offense earned the overall practice victory, the defense had a quality performance with numerous sacks and several pass deflections.

- Coming off a big-time effort in Saturday's scrimmage, tailback Curtis McNeal churned out a few more long juke-filled runs in Tuesday's practice.

Let's go to work

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Spring Practice No. 9 -- the weekly competition-themed workout -- is beginning now on Howard Jones field, so we'll return with a report in a few hours.

"Competition Tuesday is on!" Coach Carroll said to the players this afternoon. "Every single guy must take responsibility for making this a hell of a day today."

A good sign?

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Through the first eight workouts of the spring, the ball-hawking Trojan defense is averaging three takeaways per practice (about 60 plays per day, counting the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods only).

Positive returns

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Besides today being Competition Tuesday, it's also "Tell the Truth" day in Heritage Hall, as the Trojans review Saturday's scrimmage and understand what went right and what went wrong at the Coliseum.

"It felt game-like," a glowing Coach Carroll told the players during the team meeting this afternoon. "And that's a really good sign, because how much more could we ask for than to play it like a game?"

Carroll praised the defense for logging three turnovers, but also showed his displeasure for the 39 points it gave up (five touchdowns, a field goal and a two-point conversion).

"Our defense gave up 19 points in the Coliseum all of last year," Carroll said. "Let's not settle on anything."

Carroll then showed film of the scrimmage, going through numerous offensive and defensive highlights from a day that was filled with them.

"Everyone in America wishes they could scrimmage like that," Carroll told the team. "But we've got so much stuff we can work on. We need everyone on board in this -- are you in?"

On the overhead

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During this afternoon's special teams meeting, special teams coordinator Brian Schneider introduces a new scheme for the Trojans' kickoff return unit that will be practiced today and fully installed in time for Saturday's scrimmage.

Now you know

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The Trojans will be in helmets and shorts for today's practice, No. 9 of the spring.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "You're Gonna Go Far Kid" by The Offspring:

Nonstop action

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It's a busy week for the Trojans, as the third quarter of Spring Practice ramps up with four workouts in the next five days, culminating in a scrimmage on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on Howard Jones field. Below is the schedule for the rest of the spring (all practices are open to the public and on Howard Jones field, unless otherwise noted):

Today • 4 p.m.
Thursday • 4 p.m.
Friday • 4 p.m.
Saturday • 11:30 a.m.
April 21 • 4 p.m.
April 23 • 4 p.m.
April 25 • 1 p.m. (Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum)

Get it at the garage sale

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Just a reminder about the USC athletic equipment department's garage sale at the Coliseum prior to the Trojan Huddle on April 25. Get more info here. Don't miss out!

Working overtime

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Adding another situational review to the spring playbook, the Trojans will simulate an overtime session at the end of today's practice, which begins at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones field and is open to the public.

A legend passes through

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Rich Glover, winner of the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award for best lineman while at Nebraska in 1972, is sitting in on coaches meetings today. Glover, who's regarded as one of the most dominant defensive linemen in college football history, is now the head coach at Dickinson High in Jersey City, N.J.

Breaking it down

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Coaches have been rooted in offensive and defensive staff meetings for the last two hours as they break down film from Saturday's scrimmage. They were off Sunday and at the Pete Carroll Heritage Golf Classic on Monday, so today is the first opportunity to watch the tape of the 87-play mid-spring scrimmage. 

Easter in the Park

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A Better LA hosted an Easter event this weekend, and volunteer Scot Obler has checked in with a recap and photos from the day:

A Better LA helped sponsor and host Easter in the Park at Queen Anne's Recreation Center on Saturday. Hard-working volunteers for A Better LA and Unity One worked together with the Parks and Recreation department to host approximately 1,000 people. All guests enjoyed carnival snacks and listened to a live band, while the kids hunted Easter eggs, were treated to a puppet show and were given an Easter basket at the end of the day. The park itself had beautiful facilities and all the kids there seemed to know the park director. It was really cool to see the results when a community invests in itself.

A Foundation For Kids, who has participated in each event with A Better LA was on hand again to provide the food, games, crafts and bounce houses. Each event that A Better LA hosts gets better, and the volunteers carry Pete Carroll's philosophy of doing things better than they have ever been done before as they look to improve every facet of making the event welcoming and enjoyable for the neighborhood families who attend. If you would like to see first hand what A Better LA is accomplishing in these community events, you are invited to volunteer by registering on www.abetterla.org (enter your contact information and check the volunteer box) and be a part of helping change communities from within. You can also stop by our table to learn more about ways you can be involved at Swim With Mike (April 18) or the Trojan Huddle (April 25).

Even if Will Ferrell hasn't extended his coolness to Twitter yet, A Better LA has and you can follow them at: www.twitter.com/abetterla.

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A family poses with the Easter bunny during A Better LA's "Easter in the Park" event on Saturday.

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A boy flies through a bounce house on Saturday.

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A choir comes together to sing during "Easter in the Park" on Saturday.

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A volunteer for A Better LA cooks hot dogs for more than 1,000 people at "Easter in the Park" on Saturday.

Photos by Kyle Obler and Jim Helm

Drive by drive

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We've received some requests to further break down the scoring drives from Saturday's scrimmage, so here are the units, quarterback and drive info on a more in-depth scale:

1. First-team offense/defense; Matt Barkley at QB; 11 plays, 72 yards; 15-yard TD pass to Stanley Havili
2. Second-team offense/defense; Aaron Corp at QB; 5 plays, 50 yards; 29-yard Joe Houston field goal
3. Second-team offense/defense; Aaron Corp at QB; 6 plays, 59 yards; 14-yard TD run by Brandon Carswell
4. Second-team offense/defense; Matt Barkley at QB; 1 play, 60 yards; 60-yard TD pass to Travon Patterson
5. First-team offense/defense; Matt Barkley at QB; 9 plays, 81 yards; 8-yard TD pass to Damian Williams
6. Second-team offense/defense; Aaron Corp at QB; 3 plays, 61 yards; 61-yard TD pass to Ronald Johnson

As you can see, the first-team offense had two touchdown drives on the first-team defense (both led by Matt Barkley), while the second-team offense recorded four scoring drives on the second-team defense (three guided by Aaron Corp and one by Barkley).

Snyder passes away

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Former Arizona State and Cal head coach Bruce Snyder, who was also an assistant at USC in 1974-75, passed away Monday at age 69.

Simply the best

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Safety Taylor Mays was selected as the Pac-10's No. 1 player by ESPN.com.

Time for the weekend

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The weekend has now arrived for all associated with the Trojan football program, as players and coaches are off on Sunday to celebrate Easter with their families. Players will return to work with strength and conditioning sessions on Monday morning, while coaches will be out of the office all day Monday at the Pete Carroll Heritage Golf Classic at Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club in Orange County.

We'll return with normal Blog activity on Tuesday, when the Trojans will next practice at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones field. It is open to the public.

Scrimmage photo album

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Check out this slideshow of awesome images from today's clap session, bus ride and scrimmage at the Coliseum, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Saturday's scrimmage

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The Trojans scrimmage on a beautiful Saturday at the Coliseum.

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Mitch Mustain gets the screen pass off before defensive ends Everson Griffen (left) and Malik Jackson get the sack.

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Matt Barkley evades the arms of defensive end Malik Jackson.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield.

Defensive stars

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Check out the highlighted defensive performances during Saturday's scrimmage:

- Cornerback T.J. Bryant had a team-high six tackles.
- Defensive end Malik Jackson had two sacks for a combined loss of 14 yards.
- Defensive end Wes Horton recorded two sacks for a total loss of 10 yards.
- Defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and Nick Perry posted five tackles apiece.
- Twelve different players recorded a tackle-for-loss (for a total loss of 59 yards), including five sacks.
- Six players had a pass deflection.

Divvying it up

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Take a look at the quarterbacks' stats and the allotment of drives they got with the various offensive units:

- Mitch Mustain (7-of-10, 42 yards, 1 INT): Two drives with the 1s, three with the 2s and one with the 3s

- Matt Barkley (10-of-13, 195 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT): Four drives with the 1s, two with the 2s and one with the 3s

- Aaron Corp (8-for-15, 146 yards, 1 TD): Three drives with the 1s, four with the 2s

Dispatch from the Coliseum

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Thoughts from Saturday's scrimmage, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- Freshman orientation appears to over, as first-semester quarterback Matt Barkley shined during USC's 87-play mid-spring scrimmage Saturday, completing 10-of-13 passes for 195 yards, three touchdowns and an interception to headline an impressive all-around day for the Trojans. "There was a lot of playmaking today," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle. "A lot of good stuff happened -- so many guys have a lot of plays to be proud of."

- Barkley led the Trojans on three long touchdown-scoring drives, one that went 11 plays for 72 yards before ending with a 15-yard touchdown toss to fullback Stanley Havili, the second that went one play for 60 yards on a shifty catch-and-run by wideout Travon Patterson and the last going nine plays for 81 yards, finishing with an 8-yard touchdown pass to wideout Damian Williams on 3rd-and-goal.

- While the stats and his three scoring drives speak for themselves, it was Barkley's cool demeanor and command of the offense that truly shimmered Saturday. On several occasions, Barkley was resourceful in the pocket by either dumping off a short pass to a running back, scrambling to create time for his receivers downfield or running for a short gain. And to top it all off, on an across-the-field cut-back run by tailback Curtis McNeal near the end of the day, Barkley used his hefty frame to lead block on the 27-yard run.

- Though Barkley's play was the talk of the scrimmage, Aaron Corp also had a stellar performance, going 8-for-15 for 146 yards and a touchdown while quarterbacking three scoring drives. One drive ended with a 29-yard Joe Houston field goal, another featured a 14-yard end-around rushing touchdown by wideout Brandon Carswell and the final drive of the day concluded with a 61-yard catch-and-run into the end zone by Ronald Johnson.

- Even with the bevy of scores, USC's defense didn't disappoint Saturday, as it mostly controlled the run game, recorded several sacks and forced three turnovers. Linebacker Malcolm Smith recovered a fumble at the start of the scrimmage, linebacker Uona Kaveinga dove to intercept a pass on the right side of the field and defensive back Marshall Jones had a pick of his own later in the day on a deep ball across the middle.

- Tailback Curtis McNeal also stood out Saturday, running for a team-high 101 yards on 13 carries (7.8 yards per rush). Damian Williams led the receivers with four catches for 43 yards (and a touchdown), while wideout Brice Butler (3 for 45 yards) and Stanley Havili (3 for 51 yards) weren't far behind.

- The sidelines were filled with celebrities Saturday, including alums Troy Polamalu, Steve Smith and Mark Sanchez; USC men's hoops coach Tim Floyd; and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Going to the Coliseum

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The Trojans are meeting now for a quick clap session before boarding buses headed to the Coliseum. The mid-spring scrimmage kicks off at 11:30 a.m., so we'll return with a report in a few hours.

Going public

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Georgia's spring game is airing now on ESPN, leaving Coach Carroll flabbergasted, to say the least.

The Bulldogs' televised end-of-spring scrimmage is just one of many that will air this month on national or local airwaves, and it makes no sense to Carroll.

"Now every team in America can break down their film and see what they do," Carroll said.

The Trojans aren't going completely in the dark for their end-of-spring scrimmage though. USC's spring game, the Trojan Huddle on April 25, will be streamed online for subscribers on USCTrojans.com.

Guessing game

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Like they do for every scrimmage and game, the offensive coaches scripted the first 18 plays of the day and then presented the slate of calls to the offensive players during meetings this morning.

One major change though -- the offense will be starting on Play No. 10 instead of 1, and for one good, funny reason.

Because the offensive and defensive coaches share meeting rooms, a printer and computers, the defense probably already knows what the script is. So assistant head coach for the offense Jeremy Bates is switching things up to keep his counterparts guessing -- and to make today's scrimmage even more game-like.

"I don't trust those guys," Bates joked during the offense's meeting this morning. "It's like sleeping with the enemy."

Special opportunity

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The Trojans are heading to the Coliseum -- and they couldn't be happier.

"It's a hardball day today," Coach Carroll told the players while twirling a baseball in his hands during this morning's team meeting. "We're going to the Coliseum!"

Playing at the revered arena is always a special experience for the Trojans, and Carroll is emphasizing the importance of making the most of it today, the first time in the Coliseum since the Notre Dame game last November.

"We want to make sure you always have an eye for opportunity because one's coming today," Carroll said. "It's an awesome day for a scrimmage and we get to do it at the Coliseum."

Energy rising

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The Trojans raise their arms and yell during a raucous team meeting this morning as they get pumped for the mid-spring scrimmage at 11:30 at the Coliseum.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day -- one that has been blaring from his office stereo on repeat all morning -- is "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana:

Get excited

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The coaches are pumped.

Now it's time for the players to join them.

The coaches just broke from a rambunctious morning staff meeting, with the team meeting -- one that acts as a rowdy wake-up session -- set to begin in a few minutes before a scrimmage at the Coliseum kicks off at 11:30.

For all intents and purposes, it's game day at USC.

A closer look at Barkley

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Check out this USCRipsIt video profile on freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

 




















A look ahead

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Saturday will be a jam-packed day for the Trojans, as it includes a full slate of meetings before a practice and controlled scrimmage at the Coliseum. Here's the minute-by-minute schedule for Saturday:

9 a.m. • Special teams meeting
9:30 a.m. • Team meeting
9:45 a.m. • Offense/defense meetings
10 a.m. • Position group meetings
10:55 a.m. • Clap session
11 a.m. • Board buses headed for the Coliseum
11:10 a.m. • Arrive at the Coliseum
11:30 a.m. • Full-pads practice begins (Coliseum

On the agenda

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Saturday will be a jam-packed day for the Trojans, as it includes a full slate of meetings before a practice and controlled scrimmage at the Coliseum. Here's the minute-by-minute schedule for USC on Saturday:

9 a.m. • Special teams meeting
9:30 a.m. • Team meeting
9:45 a.m. • Offense/defense meetings
10 a.m. • Position group meetings
11:05 a.m. • Clap session
11:15 a.m. • Board buses headed for the Coliseum
11:20 a.m. • Arrive at the Coliseum
11:30 a.m. • Full-pads practice begins at the Coliseum

Oh so similar

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Saturday's scrimmage at the Coliseum will be treated like a game in many ways. Piped-in crowd noise will be played over speakers, the scoreboard and game clock will be in use and coaches will be in the press box and on the headsets during the workout.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "Spaceman" by the Killers:

April 18 set for 11:30

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Next Saturday's practice, which is open to the public, will be at 11:30 a.m. and take place on Howard Jones field. The workout will occur in conjunction with Swim with Mike, the charity event that happens all day on April 18 at the adjacent McDonald's Swim Stadium.

Get the full Spring Practice schedule here.

Bring it

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On Saturday, USC will be practicing and scrimmaging at the Coliseum for the first time this spring, meaning much is expected of the Trojans when they enter the hallowed arena.

"We only go one way when we go to the Coliseum -- all out!" Coach Carroll told the players on Thursday.

Week's end

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T.G.I.F. is the phrase of the day in Heritage Hall.

Players have the day off from workouts, meetings and practice, while the coaches are spending just a half-day in the office before getting the afternoon off. But it's not a total slacker mentality for the Trojans, as Saturday calls for a full morning of meetings before a controlled scrimmage at the Coliseum at 11:30 a.m.

Thursday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of pictures from Thursday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Wideout Brice Butler goes through the gauntlet, a piece of equipment that's used on turnover-themed practice days.

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Defensive linemen Averell Spicer (left) and Nick Perry (right) proceed through position-specific drills.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield during 7-on-7 period.

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Mitch Mustain rocks back in the pocket in team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Thursday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- Today was an utter whitewash for the offense, as it won literally every phase of the day, including team run, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods, along with -- most importantly on this day -- the turnover battle. "Can we get some resistance?" running backs coach Todd McNair jokingly exclaimed during the domination.

- For the first time since Practice No. 1 of the spring, the offense pitched a shutout by not fumbling or throwing an interception all day. That labeled the day "No Turnover Thursday" and incited a wild celebration and cheerful rendition of the fight song by the offensive players at the end of practice.

- The offense won team run 12-3 and went 12-of-17 during 7-on-7 drills before winning the practice-ending team period 16-15 behind clutch quarterbacking from Matt Barkley. The freshman brought the offense back from a 15-13 deficit with wins on the final three plays, including a nifty pass to fullback D.J. Shoemate while rolling out to the left on the last snap of the day.

- Tailback Marc Tyler had a huge all-around performance, compiling a number of long runs throughout the day and turning short screen passes into lengthy gains on several occasions.

- On one goal-line play during team period, tailback Curtis McNeal powerfully plowed through a linebacker, who was waiting in the hole, and plunged into the end zone for a short touchdown.

- Barkley had one of the throws of the day when he threw a perfectly timed pass to wideout Travon Patterson, who ran a corner route and caught the ball in the back of the end zone.

- Aaron Corp tossed a pretty ball to Brice Butler on a slant route during team period.

- Television personality Roy Firestone attended practice.

Early birds

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Today's turnover-themed practice got bumped up 15 minutes, so the Trojans have already taken the field for a half-pads workout on a chilly afternoon (65 degrees is cold in L.A. at this time of the year, right?). We'll return with a report in a few hours.

Amped up

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates has gone through his first six-pack of practices at the college level, and it's safe to say he's mightily impressed with the energy the Trojans bring each day to Howard Jones field.

"It's like game day every day," said Bates, who coached in the NFL for seven years before coming to USC this January.

Tough task

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The focus is on the football during today's practice, as the second Turnover Thursday of the spring is upon the Trojans.

"The challenge is on," Coach Carroll told the players during today's team meeting.

And -- no surprise -- the challenge has been accepted.

"It's No Turnover Thursday in my mind," offensive coordinator John Morton said during the offense's meeting. "That's the mindset we have to have."

Honor roll

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Associate athletic director Ron Orr, a founder of the annual Swim with Mike fundraiser benefiting the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund, will receive the Fred B. Olds Award at the 76th annual USC Alumni Awards Gala on May 2. The award is presented "on special occasion to USC alumni for their extraordinary and unparalleled service to the university over a long period of time."

Orr was a six-time USC All-American swimmer in the '70s and started Swim with Mike in 1981. To date, the event has raised more than $8.7 million and provided more than 77 scholarships to physically challenged athletes at universities around the country.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" by Coldplay:

On the agenda

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Turnover Thursday will get started in about an hour with a block of meetings leading up to a half-pads practice at 4 p.m. Here's a look at the schedule for the seventh workout of Spring Practice 2009:

2:15 p.m. • Special teams meeting
2:45 p.m. • Team meeting
3:00 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
3:15 p.m. • Position group meetings
4:00 p.m. • On the field
4:15 p.m. • Practice No. 7 officially begin

Interviewing for a job

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NFL-bound kicker David Buehler goes through an individual workout with Kansas City Chiefs special teams coach Steve Hoffman on Howard Jones field this morning. Buehler has caught the eye of several NFL teams as the Draft, set for April 25-26, inches closer.

Playing keep-away

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Today is Turnover Thursday at USC, and if things follow the spring-long trend, it could be another day for the defense.

But don't judge too soon.

The defense has won the turnover battle in five of six practices this spring, and Coach Carroll is making sure the offense doesn't settle for following the trend and instead rises up to the challenge for this afternoon's 4 p.m. half-pads practice.

"The offense needs to pitch a shutout today," the defensive-minded Coach Carroll told his assistants during this morning's staff meeting, saying it as a challenge to the offensive coaches. "You guys need this bad."

Lofty company

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Vicente Fox, who was the president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, meets with Coach Carroll for a few minutes this morning in the football office. Now a public speaker and the co-president of Centrist Democrat International, Fox is touring the campus and meeting with various USC officials today.

Talking football

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In case you missed it, here's Coach Carroll's 13-minute interview on the "Petros Money Show" on AM-570 on Wednesday night.

Working for the future

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The season doesn't start for another five months and a bowl game isn't for another nine, but the coaches undoubtedly have one eye on the present -- namely, Practice No. 7 of the spring today at 4 p.m. -- and one eye on the future as they churn through offensive and defensive staff meetings this morning.

"We're trying to win championships in here!" the very quotable Ken Norton Jr. shouted while walking around the office.

Live from New York

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New York's Newsday.com did featurettes on USC's four quarterbacks this week, so take a look at what outlets removed from the day-to-day bustle are saying.

On the radio

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Coach Carroll will appear on the "Petros Money Show" on KLAC AM-570 tonight at 5:30 p.m. Listen live here.

Recharge the brain

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An off day from practice doesn't mean a day off of work for the USC coaches.

Instead, it allows them to devote time to one-on-one meetings with players, dissecting film and scripting plays for the next practice. Off days carry great significance in the process of developing the team during Spring Practice, since it gives the coaches and players a chance to focus on the mental side of the game.

The olden days

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Here are some funny photos of Coach Carroll during the glory days his time at Redwood High in Marin County, from the L.A. Times via the Redwood Log. This one is Carroll showing off his wingspan on the basketball court and this one is the teenage version of Carroll in his No. 40 football jersey.

Speaking tour

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The offseason for Coach Pete Carroll has been anything but "off."

If anything, he's been totally "on."

With football season over and the winter months mostly open until Spring Practice began March 28, Carroll turned into a touring motivational speaker for an extremely wide-ranging audience -- anyone from volleyball coaches to teenage surfers to business leaders.

"The opportunity to reach coaches at all levels is something I'm very humbled by," Carroll said. "The influence these coaches have on their teams, businesses and families is very powerful as I can remember every coach I had as a kid. In fact, I still talk to my high school coach over the phone before every game."

Over the past several months, Carroll has partnered with Nike to speak at a diverse spectrum of events in an effort to motivate, inspire and share his "Win Forever" philosophy. Take a look at the audiences the ninth-year USC coach has been spoken to during the last few months:

- CIF high school football coaches at the Home Depot Center in December.

- High school volleyball coaches in January.

- Track and field coaches in February.

- Members of the Junior USA Surf team in Huntington Beach prior to the World Championships in February.

- High school and junior college football coaches during the 6th annual USC/Nike Coach of the Year Clinic on campus in March.

All told, Carroll addressed and inspired thousands of coaches and athletes from four distinct sports, earning some high praises from those associated with the events.

"The feedback from the coaches has been overwhelmingly positive," said Tanya Lopez, media relations manager for Nike. "Pete's talks inspired them and made them think about what their own coaching philosophies are."

These speeches don't even include the seminar Carroll gave to professional and amateur golfers in Burbank in February, a motivational talk he delivered to a council of businesspeople in February and an internet video chat he conducted last weekend with a football team in England. All told, it's been a busy, highly productive -- and exciting -- offseason for Carroll.

"While the spring was busy it was exactly how I wanted it -- fast paced, competitive, and extremely motivating," Carroll said. "I've loved being able to connect with coaches and athletes from so many different sports and arenas of life. It's been a great experience for everybody."

All coaches, athletes and fans are invited to USC's practices this spring. They're open to the public and offer a unique glimpse into the workings of the Trojan football program. Get the schedule here.

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Coach Carroll speaks to CIF football coaches in December.

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Coach Carroll and Nike teamed up for several of his speaking engagements.

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Coach Carroll addresses volleyball coaches at an event in January.

Photos courtesy of Nike.

Recognition

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Counting down

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Only nine workouts remain in Spring Practice 2009, so check out the schedule and be sure to attend at least one of the open-to-the-public sessions. The annual Trojan Huddle will be at 1 p.m. on April 25 at the Coliseum (buy tickets now!).

Special visitor

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Former NFL quarterback and current TV analyst Boomer Esiason (right) chats with Coach Carroll in the football office this morning. Esiason is on a college visit with his daughter, who's a junior in high school.

House of cards

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The USC football office receives its fair share of gifts and packages from fans, some more precious than others.

And every once in a while, a gem arrives, bringing everyone hours of entertainment and joy.

One instance of that has come in the form of a three-ring binder containing 197 trading cards of seemingly every Trojan that has played in the NFL in the last 50 years. It's a gift to Coach Carroll from Rod Poteete, a longtime Trojan fan and a high school teacher in Pahrump, Nev., who spent 20 years gathering the cards into a collection he values at around $100. The binder contains cards of notable USC alumni, both coaches and players, who have been in the NFL since the '60s, including legends such as Ron Yary and Jon Arnett and recent alums such as Steve Smith and Matt Leinart.

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Trojan fan Rod Poteete sent a binder containing 197 USC-related trading cards to the football office.

From water to field

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If Boomer Roepke seems like a fish out of water, that's because he is, in a sense.

A newly minted walk-on punter, Roepke was a member of the USC swimming team in 2008 before quitting so he could train for football tryouts this spring. He raced in three events at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships and was a four-year All-American swimmer at Reno (Nev.) High, but he wanted to stop swimming and give the gridiron a try, especially since he won all-state honors as a punter in high school.

And lo and behold, the 5-9, 180-pound sophomore made the team on March 28 and has been practicing ever since.

"It's been amazing -- a dream come true," Roepke said of his new-found USC football career.

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Boomer Roepke has gone from a member of the USC swim team to a walk-on punter for the Trojans. [Photo by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt.com]

Gone camping

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Sign up now for USC football summer kids camps in June. Get all the info here.

Like clockwork

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There are few certainties in life -- death, taxes and...

The USC coaching staff's weekly recruiting meeting.

As is strict custom for every Wednesday morning, the future-focused film session is beginning now in the War Room, as coaches will watch highlight tape of prospects for the class of 2010 for the next hour-plus.

"We're up, coaches, we're up!" Coach Carroll yelled while walking by each assistant's office just now. "Let's go, we've got to get some players!"

Tuesday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of awesome images from Tuesday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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(From left to right) Scott Stephens, Chris Galippo, Marc Tyler and Jordan Campbell go through punt coverage drills with special teams coordinator Brian Schneider.

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Punter Billy O'Malley and the Trojan punt unit proceed through drills.

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Aaron Corp throws over a leaping Daniel Harper (22).

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Behind a stalwart offensive line, Matt Barkley passes over the middle.

Honored guests

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Six Marines, many of whom had at least one Purple Heart, from the Camp Pendleton's Wounded Warrior Battalion attended Tuesday's practice, joined the post-practice team huddle and met with Coach Carroll after the workout:

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Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Tuesday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- Tied at 19 with two plays left in the helmets-only workout, the defense clamped down and didn't give the offense even a whiff of the overall practice victory, riding a sack and excellent downfield pass coverage on the final pair of snaps to clinch a 21-19 win on Competition Tuesday.

- Though the offense lost the team period, it blew out the defense during 7-on-7 drills, capturing a 29-16 victory and recording eight touchdowns, three of which went to wideout Damian Williams.

- Safety Will Harris swooped in for a beautiful interception along the right sideline on one play during team period.

- On one play during 11-on-11 drills, defensive end Everson Griffen came screaming off the left edge and chased down the quarterback, who was rolling out to the right, for an impressive sack that drew praises from his coaches and teammates. "That is so good!" Coach Carroll exclaimed while high-fiving Griffen. "Wow, that is so good!"

- During field goal period, kicker Joe Houston went 4-for-4 and connected on a 48-yarder, while Jordan Congdon went 3-for-4 and made a 47-yarder.

- Garrett Green, wearing a gold quarterback jersey, took his first reps at wideout this spring and caught a few passes during 7-on-7 and team periods.

- The offense installed screen passes for today's workout and caught the defense off-guard several times, including one C.J. Gable catch-and-run down the left sideline during team period.

Getting to work

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The second Competition Tuesday practice of the spring just started on Howard Jones field, so we'll return in a few hours with a report from the helmets-only workout.

Protect the ball

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This afternoon's team meeting was a lesson in the basic philosophy of the USC football program: It's all about the ball.

Always.

The scrimmage on Sunday was a breeding ground for turnovers, so Coach Carroll used meetings today to address the issue and work toward improving the loose footballs and wild throws.

"Everyone's got to do everything they can to protect this football," Carroll said while flipping through film from Sunday's scrimmage, which included three turnovers. "Don't give the ball up -- we can't be a good football team if we do.

"You've got to come through with this; it can't be more clear. This is what makes us. If you want to be normal, keep doing this stuff. We've got to set our standards high all across the board."

Film study

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Coach Carroll (right) and defensive administrative assistant Pete Dalis review film in Carroll's office this afternoon to determine which highlights to show during today's meetings, which get started at 2:15.

Tale of the tape

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Assistant athletic trainer Paul Diaz tapes offensive tackle Charles Brown's ankles in Heritage Hall's training room this afternoon in preparation for today's practice.

Mays on the Lott watch list

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Safety Taylor Mays has been named one of 42 nominees for the 2009 Lott Trophy, which recognizes a top defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT on and off the field. IMPACT stands for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

Hash it out

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Even when it seems like practice is just a bunch of players playing and coaches coaching, the details of the preparation shock you into a deeper appreciation of the process.

Coaches painstakingly script every play for each practice -- but it's more than just the play they're planning out. The yard line, down and distance and even the hash mark is plotted before the Trojans take the field for each workout, and it all happens with surprising science, especially regarding which hash mark the ball is placed on.

For every set of five plays, two snaps are taken from the left hash, one from the middle of the field and two from the right hash. And why is that, exactly?

"In the history of football, 77 percent of the time the ball is on one of the hashes, so that's why we do this system," Coach Carroll said.

Time to compete

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Today is Competition Tuesday at USC, and the coaches are already getting in the mood.

During the recently completed staff meeting, Coach Carroll and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. tangled in a funny and playfully heated verbal exchange.

"It's Competition Tuesday!" Carroll exclaimed. "Time to battle!"

"Coach, the linebackers always battle, we don't need Tuesday," Norton shot back with a competitive glare directed at the offensive coaches.

The coaches burst out in laughter, but the tone has been set for this afternoon's competition-themed practice.

Practice notes

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Practice No. 6 of the spring starts at 4 p.m. this afternoon and it's open to the public. Here are some notes on today's workout:

- The Trojans will be in just helmets (no pads).
- To take advantage of teachable lessons, much of the practice will focus on reviewing plays and scenarios from Sunday's scrimmage.
- The scrimmage-like team period will spotlight plays from backed up against the goal line.

Swimming for a good cause

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The 29th annual Swim With Mike charity fundraising event will be Saturday, April 18 at McDonald's Swim Stadium on USC's campus. Get more info here and take part in the special day.


Inside the program

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Here are two great opportunities to get closer than ever to the Trojan football program:

- Trojan Chalk Talk: A two-day seminar with the USC coaching staff on June 10-11
- Trojan Flashback Football: A three-day fantasy camp for grown-up kids on June 10-12

Hoop it up

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Two weeks ago, the USC coaches battled in a basketball game between the offensive and defensive staffs, with the defense pulling out a 46-41 victory. But it wasn't without comedy and controversy. Check it out in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

 



















Programming note

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Coach Carroll will appear live on ESPN Radio's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" at 9:40 a.m. Tune in or listen to an internet stream of it here.

High tech

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The RipsIt Blog's RSS feed is now up and running, so click on the link on the right side of the page. Also, follow the RipsIt Blog on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uscripsit, where you can set it up to receive text alerts every time a new entry is posted.

Title time

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Per NCAA rules, coaches aren't allowed to participate in NCAA bracket pools, but that doesn't mean they're lacking opinions on tonight's national championship game between North Carolina and Michigan State, which tips off at 6:21 p.m. on CBS.

Offensive coordinator John Morton, who grew up in a suburb of Detroit and has relatives who attended Michigan State, is rooting for the Spartans tonight, while Coach Carroll is picking the Tar Heels to take home the title because his daughter-in-law -- and mother of his grandson Dillon -- is an alum of UNC.

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The USC coaches are finding themselves on both sides of the fence for tonight's NCAA national championship game between North Carolina and Michigan State at Detroit's Ford Field.

Calling all Houston Trojans

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The USC Alumni Club of Houston is hosting Trojan Family Night at the April 23 Dodgers-Astros game at Minute Maid Park. All Houston-area Trojans are invited to take advantage of the discounted field box seats and the chance to hang out with fellow USC folks at the 7:05 game.

Contact Harlan Martens to RSVP and for further information. The reservation deadline is April 17 and everyone is welcome.

Turning 18

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While the Trojan offense isn't undergoing any drastic changes this offseason, it does feature one noticeable alteration.

The script -- or first set of plays that will be called during a game, but not necessarily in strict order -- is now 18 plays long instead of just 15, like it has been for the last several years.

And what's the purpose of the increase?

"What happens when you're 18?" quarterbacks coach/assistant head coach for the offense Jeremy Bates asked his players while presenting the script during Sunday's meeting prior to the scrimmage. "When you're 18, you sign up for war. And when we take the field, we're declaring war.

Back to work

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After a morning off, coaches have arrived at work and begun their offensive and defensive staff meetings to analyze the film from Sunday's scrimmage. 

Golfing with the coaches

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The Pete Carroll Heritage Golf Classic is next Monday at Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club, and a few spots are still available for the fundraising event that includes the entire coaching staff. Check out the fact sheet and register now!

Playing cards

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Limited edition USC football schedule cards will be sold at the Trojan Huddle on April 25 (1 p.m. at the Coliseum). The 2,500 packs will go for $3 each, and they include 13 cards: Pete Carroll, Jeff Byers, C.J. Gable, Everson Griffen, Ronald Johnson, Stafon Johnson, Taylor Mays, Anthony McCoy, Joe McKnight, Kristofer O'Dowd, Josh Pinkard, Kevin Thomas and Damian Williams.

Wow

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Check out this incredible aerial photo of the Coliseum construction site roughly 90 years ago (thanks to RipsIt reader Morgon for passing that along).

Hall of famers

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Coach Carroll and USC baseball coach Chad Kreuter will be inducted into the charter class of the Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fame on April 23.

Carroll attended Redwood, in Marin County, from 1965-69 and played football, basketball and baseball, winning Senior Athlete of the Year honors in 1969. Kreuter attended Redwood played baseball from 1980-82.

Rave reviews

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Coach Carroll just finished watching film from today's scrimmage, and he's glowing about several facets of the team.

"The defense is really hawking the football," he said. "It might be better than we've seen in a long time -- they legitimately forced two fumbles today.

"And it was a great crowd and great energy out there for the scrimmage."

Only 10 workouts remain in Spring Practice 2009. Check out the schedule and plan on coming out to one of the practices.

On deck

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Coaches have been given Monday morning off, with staff meetings beginning around lunchtime tomorrow. USC's next practice will be Tuesday at 4 p.m., and it's open to the public.

All the facts

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Check out the recap and look at the stats from Sunday's scrimmage here.

Sunday's photo album

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Here's a slideshow of fantastic images from Sunday's scrimmage, courtesy of USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Sunday's practice

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Aaron Corp throws over the middle during 7-on-7 drills.

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Mitch Mustain throws as defensive end Nick Perry goes airborne after the cut block in Sunday's scrimmage.

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With defensive linemen in his face, Matt Barkley pulls the ball back and prepares to run with the ball during the scrimmage.

In the spotlight

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Check out the standout individual performances during Sunday's scrimmage:

- Tailback Curtis McNeal had a special performance Sunday, running five times for a team-high 48 yards and scoring the final touchdown of the day on a barreling six-yard run.

- Tailback Stafon Johnson had a 26-yard run and 41 rushing yards total.

- Defensive linemen Armond Armstead and Averell Spicer combined to sack the quarterback on a fourth-down conversion attempt.

- Garrett Green threw a six-yard touchdown to wideout David Ausberry on a slant route in the end zone.

- Safety Josh Pinkard made one of the most clutch plays of the day when he tackled tailback Stafon Johnson at the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-inches near the goal line.

- Cornerback Kevin Thomas soared up to intercept a short pass into the end zone and returned it 56 yards before being pushed out by Matt Barkley. Also, Thomas and safety Shane Horton tied for the most tackles with five.

- David Ausberry made a spectacular grab when he jumped over the cornerback and tipped the ball to himself for a 19-yard catch along the right sideline.

- In a two-minute drill simulation near the end of practice Aaron Corp went 6-of-8 and led the offense to the 10-yard line, but the field goal attempt was wide left. Corp was 8-for-13 for 70 yards on the day.

- Fullback Stanley Havili had a 15-yard run that was aided by the downfield blocking of Matt Barkley.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Sunday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- The Trojan defense picked up where it left off in 2008 during the first intrasquad scrimmage of the spring with a dominating performance that included three takeaways, a touchdown and an overall suffocating effort in the 63-play game-like session. "It was a real nice day to battle and find our tempo," Coach Carroll told the team in the post-practice huddle.

- Linebacker Malcolm Smith had the play of the day when he scooped up a fumble, sprinted downfield and stiff-armed Mitch Mustain to the ground before gliding into the end zone after a 70-yard return.

- Wideout David Ausberry caught a six-yard touchdown pass, tailback Curtis McNeal ran for an 18-yard score and kicker Joe Houston nailed a 33-yard field goal for the other points in the scrimmage.

- Before the scrimmage, the Trojans conducted a normal set of practice periods, including a 7-on-7 period that saw several highlight plays. Aaron Corp went 5-for-5 on an array of passes, Matt Barkley went 3-for-3 and Garrett Green threw a 45-yard touchdown to Brice Butler, who streaked down the right sideline to catch the bomb. Also, linebacker Ross Cumming intercepted a pass during the 15-play period.

Got to go

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The Trojans just took the field for the fifth workout of Spring Practice 2009 -- and the first one in full pads. A competitive scrimmage-like session will occur at the end of the practice, so it's the first major opportunity of the spring for the players to show who they are in a real game-like environment.

"A great competitor isn't going to miss an opportunity -- he's always looking for the next shot," Coach Carroll told the Trojans during this morning's team meeting. "Today's one of those opportunities. It's a performance day for everyone."

We'll return with a report in a few hours.

Clap happy

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The Trojans are treating today like a game day in so many ways.

First, the boisterous team meeting this morning, then the scripted "First 18" for the offense and finally, a clap session for the offense and defense before heading out to the field, where a scrimmage-like period will ensue at the end of practice. The clap sessions act as final walk-thru reviews of key plays, with each snap ending with one unified clap from all the players and coaches.

"The most important day is today!" defensive line coach Jethro Franklin yelled to the defensive players before the clap session began. "Right now -- it's time!"

Roared linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.: "It's 2009 -- what do you got?"

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The defense gathers for a clap session in the Varsity Lounge just minutes before taking the field for today's practice.

Recruit away

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Signing Day won't come for another 10 months, but there's no better time than the present for the Trojans.

More than 20 prospects for the Class of 2010 will be attending today's practice and then meeting with individual coaches afterward, making this day -- and several others throughout Spring Practice -- hugely important in the recruiting process.

Spring practices provide ideal opportunities for coaches to connect with local high school prospects way before recruiting heats up since the players' schedules this time of the year usually allow for them to make it out to USC.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "What You Got" by Colby O'Donis.

Showing some fire

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If first impressions go a long way, then first-year quarterbacks coach/assistant head coach Jeremy Bates should be quite the leader for the Trojan offense.

During this morning's meetings, Bates spoke in front of the entire offense for the first time since being hired in January, providing a fiery and energizing speech to get the players pumped for today's practice, which will include a lengthy scrimmage-like session.

Several times during his 10-minute address, the normally reserved Bates had the offensive players standing, clapping and cheering with his stirring words in anticipation of practice today. Even offensive coordinator John Morton, who normally speaks to the offense as a whole, came to the front of the room after Bates' speech with obvious excitement following the rousing pep talk from USC's play-caller.

But as impressive as Bates was today, one person thinks the best is yet to come.

"Wait 'til it's the day before a game," said Keary Colbert, a former USC wideout who was sitting in on this morning's meetings and someone who played under Bates at the Denver Broncos. "They haven't seen the half of it."

Inspiring across the pond

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Coach Carroll's inspiration now spans oceans, time zones and cultures.

On Saturday afternoon, Carroll conducted a 30-minute online video chat with the players and coaches of England's University of Birmingham Lions football team on the eve of its national title game matchup against the Newcastle Raiders today in Leeds, which the Lions just won, 42-2.

Carroll said he greatly enjoyed utilizing the technology to share his thoughts and conduct a Q&A with the players and coaches on the night prior to their big game.

"That was a really cool experience for everyone," Carroll said of his iChat with the team. "The guys were really jacked up and it was exciting to be with them before they went out to play for the championship."

Birmingham is one of the dominant forces in American football among English universities, as the Lions won 90-0 to reach the championship game and have won six straight division titles.

"You've already proven who you are and now you get to show it again," Carroll told the team. "It doesn't matter who you're playing; you're totally in control of going out there and performing how you're capable of playing."

Do a little dance

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Energy is bursting out of Heritage Hall this morning.

The Trojans kicked off today's meetings with a rambunctious pump-up session that included signing, chanting and dancing, with players calling each other out one-by-one to get up and do a jig at the front of the auditorium.

And even Coach Carroll got into the action when players began chanting, "Do the Trojan!" You see, "the Trojan" is the name the players have given to a funky youthful dance Carroll performs occasionally during meetings and after wins.

It goes without saying, but Sunday is off to a rowdy and fun start at USC.

Good morning

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The Trojans are set to begin their Sunday business with a special teams meeting in a few minutes. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings follow before a full-pads practice begins at 11:30.

Friday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Friday's practice, courtesy of USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Coming up next

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The Trojans now have Saturday off and will return for meetings at 9 a.m. Sunday prior to a full-pads, open-to-the-public practice at 11:30 a.m. 

Pictures from Friday's practice

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Linebacker Michael Morgan goes through position drills.

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Aaron Corp winds up to throw over the middle during 7-on-7 period.

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Matt Barkley rolls out in team run period.

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With a persistent rush in his face, Aaron Corp passes to wideout Brandon Carswell.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Friday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- Several standout plays turned a potentially ho-hum middle-of-the-spring practice into an impressive highly competitive workout, as the quarterbacks and wideouts logged several highlights on a perfect afternoon at USC.

- During an 11-on-11 run-focused period near the start of practice, Mitch Mustain launched a pass deep to receiver Damian Williams, who hauled it in with one hand while tapping his toes inbounds along the left sideline.

- Later, in 7-on-7 drills, wideout Brice Butler used just one hand to snag a bullet from Aaron Corp in the corner of the end zone. Corp, who was noticeably energized throughout the practice, proceeded to run down the field toward Butler with his arms spread like wings to celebrate the play.

- Matt Barkley got into the highlights when he threw a perfect 10-yard fade to wideout David Ausberry in the back left corner of the end zone. Then, with the pocket collapsing around him on one play during team period, Barkley magnificently tossed a deep ball off his back foot to receiver Ronald Johnson about 30 yards downfield.

- The defense was not at a loss for big-time plays, either, as the pressure-packed defensive line recorded eight sacks in only 15 plays during one segment of 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice, with nearly every lineman posting a sack.

- On a run play during the practice-ending team period, safety Taylor Mays had a vicious forced fumble on a gang tackle, and the defense recovered the ball in the dog pile.

- The offense took over the 20-play 7-on-7 period, completing 15 passes and throwing five touchdowns.

- The Trojans finished practice with a two-minute drill for the first and second units. Aaron Corp, at the helm of the first-team offense, guided the unit to within short field goal range with no time left (though the kick went wide right). Then to end the day, the Mitch Mustain-led drive ended prematurely after a botched shotgun snap.

- Former coach John Robinson attended practice.

Striving for more

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Practice just started on Howard Jones field, with the focus today on putting another quality workout in the books.

"Yesterday was a hell of a day," Coach Carroll told the players during the team meeting this afternoon. "But can we play that well one day and come back and do it again the next? Not many teams can be great day after day and practice after practice, so let's meet this challenge and come back and do it again."

We'll return with a report in a few hours.

Homecoming

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An old friend has returned to USC.

Jared Blank, the former director of player personnel for the Trojans, has come back to campus today to give a presentation about overcoming learning disabilities to several middle school students (like he did last spring). He also stopped by the football office this afternoon to catch up with his friends and former colleagues.

Blank now holds the same position at Washington.

Memories on tape

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During this afternoon's team meeting, the Trojans watched highlighted film from Thursday's practice, including one head-to-head battle between offensive lineman Jeff Byers and nose guard Jurrell Casey in 1-on-1s. The handful of intense matchups had the players on their feet while bellowing "boom" for every big hit or block.

Also in the highlight reel was a comical flashback to the game film of the 2006 USC-Arkansas game with the Trojans leading, 44-7. The game footage showed Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams (both of whom were playing for Arkansas at the time) connecting for a deep completion down the right sideline before safety Josh Pinkard pushed Williams out of bounds. Then film from Thursday's practice reappeared, with almost the exact same play happening on Howard Jones field -- with Mustain and Williams now in USC jerseys. Needless to say, the players were howling while looking at the tape.

Start it off

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The fourth day of Spring Practice 2009 will soon be up to bat, and it begins with a punt return film session at 2:15. Here's a glance at the afternoon's schedule:

2:15 p.m. • Punt return meeting
2:45 p.m. • Team meeting
3 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
3:15 p.m. • Position group meetings
4 p.m. • Practice on Howard Jones field (half-pads)

Equipment matters

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Players aren't the only ones competing for their spot this spring.

The team of student equipment managers -- a group of volunteer undergrads who take care of all of the Trojans' equipment needs before, during and after practices -- is auditioning its newest members this spring. With five returners on the 12-man squad, 16 students are competing for only seven spots on the roster.

Cuts will be made at the conclusion of Spring Practice later this month.

"They try out for a place on the team just like the football players do," said football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez, who coordinates the student manager program.

Carroll: Cushing, Matthews rumors false

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Coach Carroll has come to set the record straight.

Rumors have been circulating around the Internet today that USC linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews tested positive for steroids at the NFL Combine in February. Thing is, the report is fallacious, and Carroll is fighting back with the truth.

"These rumors are absolutely false," Carroll said this afternoon. "If they were found positive, Clay and Cush would have been notified three weeks ago, which they weren't, and all of the NFL teams would have been notified too, which they weren't."

Carroll said he spoke with the NFL testing service this morning and verified that both Cushing and Matthews are clean.

"They're both men of outstanding character and they never tested positive for anything here," Carroll said. "This is a major example of irresponsible reporting, and the site that published this report should be ashamed of themselves."

Meeting of the minds

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Coach Carroll and quarterbacks coach/assistant head coach Jeremy Bates watch film and converse in Bates' office this afternoon as Day 4 of Spring Practice inches closer to beginning.

Garage sale season

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The USC athletic equipment department will be hosting a "garage sale" at the Coliseum prior to the Trojan Huddle on April 25. Unused Nike apparel, game- and practice-worn jerseys, shoes and much more will be offered at drastically reduced prices at the rebirth of an event that was last held in 2004.

More information, including the exact time and location, will be coming in the next few weeks.

News and notes

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Here are some notes on this afternoon's practice, an open-to-the-public affair that starts at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones:

- The workout will be shorter than the spring's first three practices since today is the second half of a back-to-back.

- To keep the defensive line guessing and to further progress the quarterbacks, the offense will diversify the cadence at the line of scrimmage starting today.

- Emphasis will be placed on the 40-second play clock for the first time this spring.

- The Trojans will be in half-pads today before moving to full pads on Sunday.

Bells will be ringing

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The 2009 senior gift to the University is going to be the restoration of the VKC bell tower carillon, which has been silent for six-plus years now. Contribute yourself and/or spread the word about this exciting opportunity to bring back a very valuable part of USC's history.

Good first impression

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Coaches just ended their morning staff meeting and then divided into offensive and defensive film sessions -- but not before Coach Carroll raved about the first three workouts of Spring Practice 2009.

"I'm really fired up about this thing right now," Carroll said. "The energy is almost out of control, and that's perfect -- it's what allows us to practice at such a high level every day out there.

"Things look great. We're rolling!"

Speed racers

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We reported last week that safety Taylor Mays (with a 4.25 40-yard dash) is the fastest player to play at USC in Coach Carroll's eight seasons.

Needless to say, there were a lot of doubters.

Most people didn't believe it, saying Reggie Bush had to have been faster. Well, the truth of the matter is that Mays, actually, is the speedier one.

According to head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle (who runs all the testing each offseason), Bush's fastest 40 at USC was a 4.28, which officially gives Mays the title of "fastest Trojan under Carroll."

Thursday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of images from Thursday's practice, courtesy of USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Offensive lineman Zack Heberer (left) and Butch Lewis dive through cut-blocking drills.

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Aaron Corp gazes downfield during 7-on-7 period.

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With special teams coordinator Brian Schneider looking on, Joe Houston connects on a field goal.

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Linebacker Chris Galippo closes in on Matt Barkley during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Thursday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- With an interception by linebacker Malcolm Smith during 7-on-7 drills, the defense captured the victory during an extremely spirited, hard-hitting workout on the first Turnover Thursday of Spring Practice 2009. "A lot of nice things happened today," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "We're in Day 3 and we're already playing game situations -- that's awesome."

- Matt Barkley led an 11-play, 38-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard Joe Houston field goal during a mini controlled scrimmage to close out practice. Barkley went 4-of-7 during the game simulation, but his most impressive work came during 11-on-11 team drills, when he threw a perfect deep fade to wideout Ronald Johnson before smoothly rolling out, avoiding the blitzing safety and jumping to throw to fullback Adam Goodman in the flat for a long pickup.

- Aaron Corp recorded several scrambles for long gains on broken pass plays Thursday, flashing mobility that often caught the defense out of position. "I haven't seen a quarterback run that fast!" Coach Carroll said after one run.

- On one of the highlight plays of the day, Mitch Mustain connected with wideout Damian Williams, who soared over the cornerback for a stunning catch. Offensive coaches and players wildly sprinted down the field to rejoice with Williams.

- The competitive juices were flaring up throughout the day, but they reached a crescendo during the 9-on-7 run-oriented period, when the offensive and defensive players partook in a back-and-forth battle of machismo. Between nearly every snap, the two sides rumbled, trash-talked and burst into a mosh pit in a display of energy and excitement presumably brought on by Thursday being the first day in shoulder pads this spring.

- Players took full advantage of the shoulder pads Thursday, as big hits were scattered all over the field -- and even the quarterback Corp took a jarring hit on a fumbled snap during 9-on-7 drills. One of the most crushing blows came during team period when cornerback Brian Baucham and defensive end Nick Perry combined to level fullback D.J. Shoemate on the right sideline.

- Tailback C.J. Gable had several big rushes Thursday, but none bigger than a touchdown-scoring cutback run to the left to close out the 9-on-7 period and incite a crazy celebration by the offense.

- Also, on one play in team period, Gable posted a huge block on a blitzing linebacker that allowed Mitch Mustain to step up in the pocket and complete a 25-yard pass to Brice Butler down the left sideline.

- The offense utterly dominated the 10-play 11-on-11 blitz period, winning 9-1.

- Former All-American center Ryan Kalil, who played for the Trojans in 2003-06, attended practice.

Turnover day

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Today's turnover-themed practice is getting started now on Howard Jones, so we'll return with a report after the half-pads workout.

It's all about the ball today -- will the offense avoid giving the football up or will the defense record at least one takeaway? -- and the day's winner will be determined in a matter of hours.

"Let's pitch a shutout today," offensive coordinator John Morton said to his players this afternoon.

Staying on board

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Tim Floyd is remaining as the USC men's basketball coach, and the news has stirred up some excitement in the football office across campus from the Galen Center, where Floyd just made his announcement.

"We're so jacked that Tim is sticking around," Coach Carroll said. "He's the most productive basketball coach in the history of the school, and it's awesome to see that he's staying a Trojan."

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith:

Push it back

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Looks like we spoke too soon on Sunday's practice, which has been bumped back a half-hour to 11:30 a.m. It is open to the public.

All about the ball

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Day 3 of Spring Practice 2009 is underway, and the Trojans have already completed specials teams, team and offense/defense meetings, with the players now in position group meetings before a half-pads practice at 4 p.m.

It's Turnover Thursday today, and Coach Carroll started the team meeting off with one stat to emphasize how important turnovers are for the Trojans.

The overhead slide read "+107" -- referring to the total turnover margin in Carroll's eight seasons at USC -- and it surely got everyone's attention.

"That is a remarkable number," Carroll told the team. "No team in the history of football has had a run like that."

So the emphasis is smack dab on the football today, which is providing a challenge for an offensive unit that threw a few interceptions and had several loose balls during Tuesday's practice.

"We've got to take care of the football," Carroll said.

Offensive coordinator John Morton stressed the philosophy of ball protection with an impassioned speech during the offense's meeting.

"It's not about the defense; it's about us and having a conscience about the ball," Morton said. "It ain't about them; it's about us always."

Sunday set for 11

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Sunday's practice, which will include a lengthy controlled scrimmage, will begin at 11 a.m. on Howard Jones field. It is open to the public.

Here is the schedule for the remainder of Spring Practice 2009.

Professional mindset

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RipsIt reader Alfredo Guitron e-mailed in a question for Coach Carroll concerning his thoughts on the NFL's future place in Los Angeles.

And Carroll is not at a lack of opinion on the subject.

"There should be an NFL team in L.A. -- no doubt," Carroll said. "The people here deserve to have the NFL experience. That doesn't mean I think I know how it should go, but there are so many people here and it only takes 70,000 people in the stadium to support a team."

And when it comes to a potential NFL team encroaching on the Trojans' territory in the L.A. market?

"I'm not worried about it threatening USC -- college football is a totally different fan experience than the NFL," Carroll said, before cracking a smile. "Bring 'em on."

Fashion statement

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When the Trojans take the field for practice this spring, almost everything is calculated, scripted and purposeful.

Even the attire.

For each of the 15 practices this spring (along with all of Fall Camp), the offense will be wearing cardinal practice jerseys and the defense will be in white practice jerseys since the next game for the Trojans is a home game. Last year, since the first game of 2008 was a road contest at Virginia, the Trojan offense practiced in white (and the defense in cardinal) throughout spring and fall camp.

The Trojans follow that formula -- the offense practices in the color the team will wear on the coming Saturday, while the defense wears the opposite during practice -- throughout the season so that the quarterbacks can develop a visual connection with their receivers' jersey colors.

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The Trojan offense wears cardinal and the defense wears white during Spring Practice as a method of training the quarterbacks for the first game of 2009, when they'll be throwing to receivers in the team's home cardinal jerseys.

Alum in the house

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Former USC fullback Lynn Cain, who's now the head football coach at East Los Angeles College, is sitting in on coaches meetings today. Cain was the starting fullback in 1979 and also played for the 1978 national championship-winning Trojans.

No. 3 on its way

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Practice No. 3 of the spring will be at 4 p.m. today on Howard Jones field (it's open to the public). Check out a few notes on the third of 15 workouts during Spring Practice 2009:

- This afternoon's workout will be the first day in shoulder pads this spring, meaning the hits should be flying.

- It's "Turnover Thursday" at USC, the spring's version of the in-season "Turnover Wednesday" practice. Ball protection for the offense and takeaways for the defense are at a premium today.

- Today is the first half of a back-to-back set of practices (Friday's workout is at 4 p.m.). It's one of only two occurrences of practices on consecutive days this spring.

- Installation of plays for the offense will be scaled back drastically today, as the first two days of Spring Practice feature the heaviest loads for playbook implementation during practice.

Talk of the town

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Coaches are in a recruiting meeting right now, watching film of prospects for the Class of 2010. But the water cooler talk at the start of the meeting centered on Wednesday's Pro Day.

"Yesterday was huge," Coach Carroll opined. "That was the best our guys have done across the board in improving their standing.

"And the NFL guys were saying it was the best set of linebackers they've ever seen at one school."

More videos

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Several NFL Network interviews from Pro Day can be found here.

Morning sunshine

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The morning staff meeting is set to begin, and Coach Carroll is ensuring his assistants are not only leaving their offices and heading toward the War Room, but also that they're wide awake today.

"If you love football, then let's go!" a gleeful Carroll bellowed as he paraded around the football headquarters while clapping and banging whatever wall, desk or door in his path. "It's one of those days -- a football day!"

Must-see TV

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Here are four great USCRipsIt videos focusing on the top Pro Day performers, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

- Mark Sanchez

- Rey Maualuga

- Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews & Fili Moala

- Patrick Turner & David Buehler

Pro Day pictures

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Want to feel like you were at Pro Day today? Then check out this slideshow of stunning images from USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Renewing old ties

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Legendary NFL linebackers and longtime competitors Ken Norton Jr. (left) and Mike Singletary (right) converse during today's Pro Day at USC. Norton now coaches linebackers for the Trojans, while Singletary is the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Big-time guests

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Twenty-nine of the 32 NFL teams sent 102 scouts, coaches and front-office personnel to today's Pro Day at USC. Here's a list of the notable attendees:

- 49ers head coach Mike Singletary
- Lions head coach Jim Schwartz
- Vikings head coach Brad Childress
- Saints head coach Sean Payton
- Packers general manager Ted Thompson
- Vikings general manager Rick Spielman
- Cardinals general manager Rod Graves
- Cardinals president Michael Bidwell

A second chance

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A reader sent in a question about the older players participating in Pro Day. For the four previously graduated Trojans who took part in today's Pro Day -- tight end Dominique Byrd, tailback Hershel Dennis, wideout Jason Mitchell and tailback Desmond Reed -- the workout acted as a second chance for their post-college careers. With 100-plus NFL scouts, coaches and front-office types on hand at USC, it was an ideal opportunity to get a look and hopefully land a spot on an NFL roster.

Shining stars

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A quick glance at a few of the Trojans who impressed NFL personnel the most during Pro Day:

- Mark Sanchez put on a show during his individual workout, firing accurate passes all over the field and displaying excellent footwork.

- Wideout Patrick Turner ran fast (a 4.59 40) and looked smooth in pass-catching and route-running.

- Linebacker Rey Maualuga quelled any doubts by running a 4.69 40 and having a quality performance during position drills.

- Linebacker Clay Matthews looked athletic and sharp during individual drills and even had a soaring catch that had the crowd in awe.

- Safety Kevin Ellison turned out a stellar performance in individual position drills, presumably solidifying his place as a safety on draft boards.

For your information

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During his more than 45-minute individual workout this afternoon on Cromwell Field, Mark Sanchez threw to Patrick Turner, wideout Jason Mitchell (USC '05), tailback Desmond Reed (USC '07) and tight end Dominique Byrd (USC '05).

40 times

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Check out the official scouts' times from today's 40s at Pro Day. Only these eight players ran this afternoon, while the rest of them declined to participate because of either injury or they were satisfied with their times from the Combine in February:

- LB Brian Cushing: 4.67 and 4.73
- S Kevin Ellison: 4.75
- CB Cary Harris: 4.68
- LB Kaluka Maiava: 4.66 and 4.68
- LB Clay Matthews: 4.58
- LB Rey Maualuga: 4.69
- DE Kyle Moore: 4.77
- WR Patrick Turner: 4.59

On the field

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Here are some pictures from the nearly three-hour on-field portion of today's Pro Day, with a full slideshow from USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng coming later:

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Linebacker Brian Cushing gets off the line to start his 40-yard dash. He ran a 4.67 and 4.73.

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Wideout Patrick Turner finishes his 40 in 4.59 seconds.

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Defensive end Kyle Moore sprints through the three-cone drill.

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Mark Sanchez throws during his individual workout.

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Linebacker Rey Maualuga shuffles through a drill with a Cincinnati Bengals coach.

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Defensive lineman Fili Moala goes through individual drills with a coach from the New Orleans Saints.

Heading out

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The on-field portion of Pro Day is set to begin now on Cromwell Field, with players going through 40s, pro agility drill, 3-cone drill, 60-yard shuttle and position-specific football drills under the direction of the NFL coaches in attendance.

Inside work

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The weight room portion of Pro Day just wrapped up, with the activities now moving out to Cromwell Field for running and football drills. The weight room was filled with a palpable nervous energy, with more than 100 NFL personnel watching on as anxious players shuffled through the various tests. Check out some images from the initial tests of USC's Pro Day:

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Cornerback Cary Harris flies through the air during a standing long jump test.

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Linebacker Kaluka Maiava preps to do the standing long jump.

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Linebacker Rey Maualuga soars during the vertical jump.

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More than 100 scouts and NFL personnel watch as defensive end Gerald Washington does the 225-pound bench press.

Onto the next activity

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The inside portion of Pro Day is beginning now in Heritage Hall's weight room. Players will be tested on height, weight, arm length, hand width, standing long jump, flexibility, vertical jump and bench press before on-field drills commence around 11:45 a.m.

Rolling right along

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Coach Carroll just began Pro Day 2009 with a 15-minute introductory meeting in Heritage Auditorium, during which he gave a short snapshot/marketing presentation on all 17 players participating in today's workouts. Here are some highlights from his talk:

- On linebacker Clay Matthews: "He's the best special teams guy we've ever seen here. He's a hell of a football player."

- On linebacker Brian Cushing: "He's been an outside linebacker his whole career but you could easily put him at inside backer."

- On linebacker Kaluka Maiava: "If you ask all our guys, they all think he's the toughest player here by far."

- On safety Kevin Ellison: "He's a leader and everyone looks up to him and thinks he's a stud. He's a middle-of-a-career football player for you right now."

- On wideout Patrick Turner: "As a senior, he had a great year. He really blossomed."

- On quarterback Mark Sanchez: "I love this kid. He's an awesome guy with a great head on his shoulders, he studies his butt off, he's a competitor and he's just a terrific all-around athlete."

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More than 100 NFL personnel stuff into Heritage Auditorium to hear Coach Carroll (front of room) kick off Pro Day 2009.

Let's go

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Pro Day is seconds away from beginning, as Coach Carroll and the rest of the USC coaching staff are about to kick off the pre-Draft showcase with an introductory meeting for NFL personnel in Heritage Auditorium. The Trojan coaches will open the floor for a Q&A about their NFL-bound players before the meeting concludes, with measurements and testing starting at 11 a.m.

No. 100 in the books

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Pro Day activities don't get started for another 20 minutes, and already 100 NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel have checked in. The record of 88 NFL types in 2008 has been shattered, with many more yet to register.

Additionally, dozens of agents, personal trainers and other player-related employees are roaming Heritage Hall, which, along with the 100 NFL personnel, gives the building a unique buzz this morning.

Pumping iron

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Most of the focus around Heritage Hall is on Pro Day today, but life moves on normally for the current players. Fast-paced 40-minute workouts are on the agenda this morning for the Trojans, who are going through core exercises and a weights circuit, much like an in-season workout.

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Nose guard Jurrell Casey does a core exercise with a medicine ball during workouts this morning in the weight room.

Squeezing in some work

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Before the Pro Day circus gets started at 10:30, coaches are making the most of the morning by watching film from Tuesday's practice in offensive and defensive staff meetings. Once 10:30 strikes, the rest of today for the coaches will be consumed with Pro Day workouts and talking with NFL personnel about their League-bound players.

On the agenda

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Here's the schedule for today's Pro Day activities. Just a reminder that everything throughout the day is closed to the public, per NCAA rules.

- 10:30 a.m. • Introduction by Pete Carroll (Heritage Auditorium)

- 11 a.m. • Player measurements/testing (Weight room): Height, weight, arm length, hand width, standing long jump, flexibility, vertical jump, bench press

- 11:45 a.m. • Running and agility drills (Cromwell Field): 40s, pro agility drill, 3-cone drill, 60-yard shuttle

- 12:30 p.m. • Individual position-specific workouts (Cromwell Field). Mark Sanchez is slated to work out at 1 p.m.

Dwelling on the future

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Pro Day has arrived, with 17 Trojans showcasing their skills in front of about 100 NFL personnel throughout the day. Though the workout includes everything from weight room exercises to running to football-specific drills, not all of the players will take part in every event. Here's a list of players participating during USC's Pro Day today:

- K David Buehler

- TE Dominique Byrd (last season at USC in 2005)

- LB Brian Cushing

- TB Hershel Dennis (last season at USC in 2007)

- S Kevin Ellison

- CB Cary Harris

- LB Kaluka Maiava

- LB Clay Matthews Jr.

- LB Rey Maualuga

- WR Jason Mitchell (last season at USC in 2005)

- DL Fili Moala

- DL Kyle Moore

- TB Desmond Reed (last season at USC in 2007)

- QB Mark Sanchez

- WR Patrick Turner

- DL Gerald Washington
- P Greg Woidneck