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August 2009 Archives

Monday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Monday's practice

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An ever-growing cloud of smoke from the wildfires north of L.A. rises into the sky as players go through their stretching routine.

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Wideout Damian Williams looks the ball into his hands.

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With the plume of smoke in the distance, Matt Barkley passes deep.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield.

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Defensive end Nick Perry closes in as Matt Barkley goes up on his tiptoes to make a short throw.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- A short Matt Barkley completion to tight Blake Ayles on the final sudden-death play of the day gave the offense the 11-10 overall practice victory, as the Trojans kicked off the first game week of 2009 with an abbreviated, spirited workout. "We're officially into the game plan now," Coach Carroll said.

- Defensive lineman Averell Spicer returned to practice for the first time after spraining his ankle in the first week of Fall Camp.

- Billy O'Malley has won the punting job, Coach Carroll announced after practice.

- Coach Carroll, in the end-of-practice team huddle: "Let's make sure every day this week, we're stepping forward toward game day. Every day counts. Let's stay right on track and not miss a trick."

- In the post-practice team huddle, players joined in singing "Happy Birthday" to tailback Allen Bradford, who turns 21 today.

Wright deemed ineligible for 2009

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Cornerback Shareece Wright is academically ineligible and will be forced to sit out the 2009 season, Coach Pete Carroll announced tonight.

"Shareece didn't get it done," said Carroll, who learned of the news following Monday's practice. "He didn't get the GPA he needed to get."

Wright, a projected starter, will be replaced in the lineup by Josh Pinkard, a first-string cornerback in 2008 who had been slotted as a starting safety this season. Pinkard's move opens up a starting role for safety Will Harris.

A redshirt junior who sat out 2008 with a neck injury, Wright will be allowed to practice with the team this fall but will not be eligible to play in a game until the 2010 season.

"He's disappointed but he's going to make the most of it," Carroll said of Wright.

Starting the week off

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The season, the game week and the day are officially starting now, as the first in-season practice just began on Howard Jones Field.

"It's game week, boys!" Coach Carroll said in this afternoon's team meeting. "Let's get rolling!"

The goal of today's workout -- known as "Bonus Monday" because it's an extra day of preparation the team doesn't usually have following a game -- is to "get the game plan in motion," as Carroll says.

We'll return with a report following the helmets-only practice.

Looking back

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During this afternoon's team meeting, Coach Carroll gave a mini review of Saturday's mock game.

"You played in the scrimmage like it was lights-out game day," he said. "It was exactly what we needed to do."

Good memories

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Coach Carroll and San Jose State go back quite a few years.

Carroll, as the offensive coordinator at the University of the Pacific, took part in an epic come-from-behind victory against the Spartans in 1983, when his team scored on a Hail Mary on the final play of the rivalry game.

During today's team meeting, Carroll told the story of the crazy, funny and exciting finish to that game. And you can watch him share the story and see the memorable play in this USCRipsIt video from 2007:

Your turn to ask

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Have a question for Coach Carroll? Text "ASKCOACH" to 51234 with your question, and one fan's question will be answered at Carroll's noon press conference on Tuesday. If your question is picked, you will be entered in a drawing to win a prize.

Horsing around

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A Maryland-bred horse named "Petecarrol" finished second in the seventh race this afternoon at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. In case you were wondering, the horse has no relation to Coach Carroll (the name misspelling tips that off), though Carroll is jokingly upset that the 7/2 favorite didn't win the race.

Project Trojan: Episode 3

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The third episode of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" has been posted, so watch the sweet new episode here. It's for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers only, so if you're not one, register here for $9.95/month to get premium video content.

Football genius

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In a recent ESPN Magazine, a survey among 85 Football Bowl Subdivision players asked who the smartest coach is, and Coach Carroll earned that title.

On TV again

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FSN's USC preview show will re-air tonight -- but with a new feature on Matt Barkley being named the starter. Petros Papadakis will provide some new commentary. It's set to air at approximately 10:30 p.m. tonight, immediately following the "Dodgers Live" post-game show.

Carroll's Video Blog #2

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Coach Carroll checks in from his office today with another cool video blog, so don't miss this candid video to hear his thoughts on the mock game, the quarterbacks and the first week of the 2009 season, among much more:

For another good read

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Here's another insightful feature on Taylor Mays, from the New York Times this weekend. Thanks to RipsIt reader Antoine Rose for sending it in.

Four more in action

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The final game of the Week 3 of the NFL preseason is tonight at 5 p.m., when four Trojans will play in the Minnesota Vikings-Houston Texans matchup on ESPN:

  • Vikings: Quarterback John David Booty, offensive lineman Drew Radovich
  • Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody

Making it better

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A Better LA, the Coach Carroll-founded charity dedicated to creating a language of hope in inner-city Los Angeles, held two successful community events on Saturday. Become a part of the positive changes in L.A. by signing up on the charity's e-mail list or following them on Twitter.

Beginning and the end

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Every week, players get Sunday off from meetings, practice and workouts.

Coaches do not.

Sundays are hardly a day of rest for the coaching staff, which breaks down the previous game and then dives into the game plan and practice scripts for the coming week. While it's not the normal 14- to 16-hour schedule they work during the week, a Sunday still sees the coaches log much of the afternoon and evening in front of film or in the playbook.

It starts with a staff meeting at the beginning of the afternoon and continues with film breakdowns of the previous game for several hours before coaches turn their attention to the upcoming game plan. Yesterday, the coaches spent several hours examining the film from mock game as a whole staff and then as offensive and defensive staffs before devoting their full attention to San Jose State game week.

Ultimately, Sundays are key days for the weekly success of the team, as they're days that close out the previous week and start off the next. 

Closer look at Williams

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In the latest feature for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers, newly elected captain Damian Williams gets the spotlight. Watch it here.

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

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Happy days

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Over the weekend, we missed shoutouts for two birthdays. Assistant athletic trainer Chris Grosskopf celebrated his 39th birthday on Saturday, while offensive graduate assistant Justin Mesa turned 27 on Sunday.

This week in USC sports

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Find out what happened in Trojan athletics during the last seven days:

- The women's volleyball team went 2-1 in a round-robin tournament at Michigan State. The No. 12-ranked Women of Troy open their home schedule on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Florida Gul Coast at the Galen Center.

- The 12th-ranked USC women's soccer team lost 2-1 to St. John's on Sunday, a rare home defeat for the Women of Troy, who had not lost at McAllister Field since 2006.

- The defending national champion USC men's water polo team opens its season in a tournament at UC San Diego this weekend.

The opening week depth chart

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Below you'll find the Trojans' two-deep depth chart for the season opener. But be warned -- the two-deep is more fluid than the Pacific Ocean and coaches put less stock in it than in the Dow Jones earlier this year.

It'll always change multiple times during midweek practices, and then with game day rotations, the depth chart won't carry too much weight on Saturdays this fall -- coaches definitely aren't pulling it out on the sidelines and referring to it to make personnel decisions in the middle of games.

But without further ado, take a look at the depth chart for Week 1 of the 2009 season:

OFFENSE

SE - 9 David Ausberry (6-4, 235, Jr.*)
19 Brice Butler (6-3, 200, Fr.*)

LT -- 71 Charles Brown (6-6, 285, Sr.*)
68 Butch Lewis (6-5, 285, Jr.*)

LG -- 68 Butch Lewis (6-5, 285, Jr.*) OR
74 Zack Heberer (6-5, 290, Jr.*) OR
53 Jeff Byers (6-3, 290, Sr.*)


C -- 53 Jeff Byers (6-3, 290, Sr.*) OR
56 Alex Parsons (6-4, 300, Sr.) OR
61 Kristofer O'Dowd (6-5, 300, Jr.)


RG -- 56 Alex Parsons (6-4, 300, Sr.)
76 Nick Howell (6-5, 290, Sr.*)

RT -- 70 Tyron Smith (6-6, 285, So.)

75 Matt Kalil (6-6, 295, Fr.*)

TE -- 86 Anthony McCoy (6-5, 250, Sr.)
40 Rhett Ellison (6-5, 255, So.*)

FL -- 18 Damian Williams (6-1, 195, Jr.*)
17 Travon Patterson (5-10, 175, Jr.*)

QB -- 7 Matt Barkley (6-2, 230, Fr.)
15 Aaron Corp (6-3, 200, So.*)

FB -- 31 Stanley Havili (6-1, 230, Jr.*)
10 D.J. Shoemate (6-0, 220, So.)

TB -- 4 Joe McKnight (6-0, 190, Jr.) OR
13 Stafon Johnson (5-11, 210, Sr.) OR
2 C.J. Gable (6-0, 205, Jr.*) OR
21 Allen Bradford (5-11, 235, Jr.*)


DEFENSE

DE -- 96 Wes Horton (6-5, 255, Fr.*) OR
97 Malik Jackson (6-5, 245, So.) OR
8 Nick Perry (6-3, 250, Fr.*)


NT -- 44 Christian Tupou (6-2, 285, Jr.)
92 Hebron Fangupo (6-2, 330, Jr.)

DT -- 91 Jurrell Casey (6-1, 295, So.) OR
99 Averell Spicer (6-2, 295, Sr.*)


DE -- 93 Everson Griffen (6-3, 280, Jr.)
42 Devon Kennard (6-3, 255, Fr.)

SLB -- 17 Michael Morgan (6-4, 220, Jr.*)
10 Jarvis Jones (6-3, 225, Fr.)

MLB -- 54 Chris Galippo (6-2, 250, So.*)
35 Uona Kaveinga (6-0, 245, So.)

WLB -- 6 Malcolm Smith (6-1, 225, Jr.)
23 Shane Horton (6-1, 210, So.*) OR
37 Jordan Campbell (5-11, 230, So.*)

CB -- 15 Kevin Thomas (6-1, 190, Sr.*)
30 Brian Baucham (5-11, 180, Fr.*) OR
27 Marshall Jones (6-0, 190, Jr.)

FS -- 2 Taylor Mays (6-3, 235, Sr.)
19 Drew McAllister (6-1, 195, So.)

SS -- 36 Josh Pinkard (6-1, 215, Sr.*) OR
26 Will Harris (6-1, 210, Sr.*)


CB -- 24 Shareece Wright (6-0, 185, Jr.*) OR
36 Josh Pinkard (6-1, 215, Sr.*)

1 T.J. Bryant (6-0, 180, So.)

SPECIALISTS

P -- 48 Jacob Harfman (5-11, 200, Jr.) OR
39 Billy O'Malley (6-1, 190, Jr.*)


PK -- 38 Jordan Congdon (5-9, 175, Sr.*)--PAT, FG
30 Joe Houston (5-8, 175, Jr.*) OR
48 Jacob Harfman (5-11, 200, Jr.)--KO

SNP -- 85 Cooper Stephenson (6-3, 220, Jr.*)--P
62 Chris Pousson (6-4, 240, So.)--PAT, FG


HLD -- 14 Garrett Green (6-2, 210, Sr.)
39 Billy O'Malley (6-1, 190, Jr.*)

RETURNERS


KOR -- 2 C.J. Gable (6-0, 205, Jr.*) AND
8 Ronald Johnson (6-0, 190, Jr.)

22 Curtis McNeal (5-8, 190, Fr.*)
13 Stafon Johnson (5-11, 210, Sr.)

PR -- 18 Damian Williams (6-1, 195, Jr.*) OR
4 Joe McKnight (6-0, 190, Jr.)

It begins now

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After eight months of workouts, recruiting, office work, film study, spring practice, training camp and everything else in between, the 2009 season has arrived at last.

"It's finally here," a visibly energized Coach Carroll said during this morning's staff meeting.

The first game week of the fall has begun at Heritage Hall, with coaches already deep into the San Jose State game plan and players churning through morning workouts in the weight room. All the days, weeks and months of waiting and preparing are about to go on display, and the excitement in Heritage Hall is palpably building for Saturday's 12:41 p.m. kickoff at the Coliseum.

Take a deep breath and let the news sink in -- game week is here.

Trojans around the League

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See how the Trojan alumni performed in Saturday's NFL preseason games:

- Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) went 13-for-20 for 149 yards and a touchdown.
- Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks) had four tackles and a pass deflection.
- Safety Kevin Ellison (San Diego Chargers) had one tackle.
- Wideout Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina Panthers) had one catch for 10 yards.
- Wideout Keary Colbert (Detroit Lions) had two catches for 20 yards.
- Cornerback Terrell Thomas (New York Giants) had four tackles.
- Safety Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers) had a tackle.
- Tailback LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) rushed four times for 20 yards.
- Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland Browns) had three tackles and a pass deflection.
- Defensive end LaJuan Ramsey (Tennessee Titans) had a tackle.

Strength and honor

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Tailback Joe McKnight does squats during today's strength and conditioning sessions, which all players are attending this morning as game week officially gets underway.

Buzzworthy

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USC is No. 1 among college football programs in creating the most social media buzz, according to Vitrue.com in conjunction with USA Today.

For a good read

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Here's a great feature on Taylor Mays and why he decided to stay for his senior year, from today's L.A. Times.

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day (Saturday):


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Scrimmage photo album

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Check out this slideshow of fantastic images from Saturday's mock game at the Coliseum, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Just the facts

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Here's the stat sheet from Saturday's mock game.

Pictures from Saturday's mock game

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Here are some images from Saturday's mock game. Pictures from USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng will be published later.

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Coach Carroll addresses the team on the field just after arriving at the Coliseum.

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The Coliseum field is stenciled out in anticipation of next week's season opener.

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Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley go through warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley calls the play in the huddle.

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The USC Song Girls perform prior to the mock game.

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Nearby wildfires push plumes of smoke into the L.A. sky.

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Traveler walks down the tunnel before kickoff.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the team captains in the hallway outside of the locker room just before the coin toss.

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Coach Carroll talks to the team in the locker room before the game.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates watches the play on the field.

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Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. speaks to his players in the locker room at halftime.

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Though the temperature climbed into the 90s, the trusty Coliseum thermometer never budged from its usual spot at the 70 mark.

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The Trojans sing the fight song in the locker room after the mock game.

Drive by drive

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Check out all the drives for the first-unit offense in Saturday's mock game, all of which were against the service-team defense:

- 6 plays for 30 yards • Matt Barkley: 1-for-2, 13 yards, INT • Ended with Byron Moore INT
- 4 plays for 56 yards • Matt Barkley: 2-for-3, 53 yards • Ended with Stafon Johnson 2-yard TD run
- 7 plays for 59 yards • Matt Barkley: 2-for-3, 36 yards • Ended with Barkley 1-yard TD run
- 5 plays for 31 yards • Matt Barkley: 1-for-2, 20 yards • Ended with Stafon Johnson 3-yard TD run
- 6 plays for 18 yards • Matt Barkley: 2-for-4, 20 yards • Ended with a punt
- 2 plays for 20 yards • Matt Barkley: 2-for-2, 20 yards, TD • Ended with Blake Ayles 4-yard TD catch
- 12 plays for 75 yards • Aaron Corp: 3-for-4, 43 yards • Ended with Marc Tyler 1-yard TD run
- 9 plays for 59 yards • Aaron Corp: 2-for-3, 46 yards • Ended on turnover on downs at the 15-yard line

Just like the real thing

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The Trojans treated Saturday's mock game every bit like a real game. Let's count the ways:

- A police escort guided them from the downtown hotel to the Coliseum.
- The stadium thermometer read 70 degrees (even though it was well over 90).
- Players threw chairs, yelled and jumped around in the locker room prior to the game.
- The Trojans chanted "War time!" as they marched down the tunnel before kickoff.
- The Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls and Traveler were all in attendance.
- Crowd noise was louder than ever (though it was piped in over speakers).

Dispatch from the Coliseum

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

- Behind sturdy and oftentimes dominant performances by the first-team offense and defense, the Trojans beat the black-shirted service teams, 36-0, on a steamy afternoon at the Coliseum. In their final tune-up before the regular season opens next Saturday, the top-unit Trojan offense scored touchdowns on five of its eight drives in the two-hour scrimmage, while the first-line defense snagged three interceptions and completely shut down the scout-team offense.

- Matt Barkley was an efficient 10-for-17 for 159 yards and a passing and rushing touchdown. His one interception -- and only true mistake on the day -- came on the opening drive, when defensive end Devon Kennard tipped a pass that was eventually caught by cornerback Byron Moore. Of Barkley's six drives, four ended with a touchdown.

- Tailback Stafon Johnson scored two short touchdowns, while Barkley and Marc Tyler both had a short scoring run too. Tight end Blake Ayles snagged a four-yard catch for a touchdown for the offense's other score on the day.

- Drew McAllister, Kevin Thomas and T.J. Bryant each had an interception for the top-unit defense.

- In addition to the picks, the first-team defense also gang-tackled tailback Curtis McNeal in the end zone for a safety. Linebacker Jordan Campbell received credit for the safety.

- Wideout Brice Butler was the game's leading receiver, catching four passes for 66 yards.

- The first-team offense was ripe for the big play Saturday, with six plays going 20 yards or longer.

- In two late-scrimmage series, Aaron Corp went 5-for-7 for 89 yards and led one scoring drive.

- Wideout Ronald Johnson fractured his left collarbone during the scrimmage and is expected to miss six weeks.

- Heisman Trophy winner Charles White watched the mock game from the Coliseum sidelines.

Game time

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Meetings are just about done and the pre-game meal is complete, so it's time for the Trojans to leave their downtown hotel and head to the Coliseum for the 12:30 p.m. mock game. We'll return with an overflowing report, including behind-the-scenes info and pictures, following the intra-squad scrimmage.

Service team Q&A

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We've received several questions about the service teams and the schemes they'll play during today's mock game, so we'll answer them to the fullest here:

Are they in the team meetings at the hotel...or in separate meetings? Do they ride together in a different bus? Will they be in the away team's locker room, or in the Trojan's locker room?
Even though the service teams are the opponents for the first-unit offense and defense, they're still treated like the Trojans they are, so they are taking part in the pre-game meetings, are riding the same buses and will share the same locker room as the first-teamers. The mock game experience is also a rehearsal for the scout-team players, so they need to go through the typical routine as well.

Will they wear the black jerseys and white pants? If they score, should Traveler not run, and Conquest not be played?

The service teams will don black scout team jerseys to differentiate themselves from the top-unit offense and defense. And since they're still technically Trojans, "Conquest" and Traveler should definitely be in order for when the service teams score.

Will the service teams be running San Jose State's schemes?
Yes, nearly all of the service teams' plays will be what the Spartans use, just so the first-team offense and defense can further prepare for next Saturday's season opener.

On the agenda

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Check out the minute-by-minute schedule for the rest of today for the Trojans. Remember that the mock game (12:30 p.m., Coliseum) is open to the public and admission is free:

10:35 a.m. • Clap session at the hotel
10:45 a.m. • Depart hotel for the Coliseum
11 a.m. • Arrive at the Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
11:32 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:59 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:21 p.m. • Warm-ups end; team returns to locker room
12:37 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:41 p.m. • Mock game kickoff

Closing in on kickoff

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The final stages of game preparation are moving right along, as the Trojans just wrapped up their special teams meeting and offensive and defensive walk-thrus and are now eating their pre-game meal at a downtown hotel. The team is set to depart the hotel and head to the Coliseum in less than an hour.

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Matt Barkley leads the Trojan offense through a walk-thru in the ballroom of a downtown hotel this morning.

More preseason work

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Nine NFL preseason game featuring 27 Trojans are on tap for today, with three of the games set for national TV. Check out all the USC alumni on the rosters for today's games:

Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit Lions
10 a.m. (NFL Network)
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala
Lions: Linebacker Darnell Bing, wideout Keary Colbert

New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland Raiders
1 p.m. (NFL Network)
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, tight end Billy Miller, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas

Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns

4:30 p.m.
Titans: Tailback LenDale White, defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava

Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
4:30 p.m.
Bills: Cornerback Cary Harris
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers
5 p.m.
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil

San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys
5 p.m.
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal, offensive lineman Matt Spanos

San Diego Chargers vs. Atlanta Falcons
5 p.m. (CBS)
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

New York Jets vs. New York Giants
5 p.m.
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas

Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs
5 p.m.
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson, fullback David Kirtman, offensive lineman Kyle Williams
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel

Get it cracking

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The Trojans are gathering now for a quick team meeting in Heritage Hall before departing for more pre-game meetings at their downtown hotel. They'll also eat their pre-game meal there before busing to the Coliseum for the 12:30 p.m. mock game, with a stadium arrival set for 11 a.m.

Just a few hours away

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The mock game is set for 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Admission is free and you can enter at gates 1 and 4. Get more info here.

Training for success

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The players and coaches aren't the only ones arriving at Heritage Hall early this morning.

USC's athletic trainers -- Russ Romano, Paul Diaz, Chris Grosskopf and John Meyer -- and their hard-working student athletic trainers checked in to work at 8 a.m. this morning, as their usual game day preparations kicked into gear. Their duties won't end until well after this afternoon's mock game -- and they'll be working on Sunday, helping players through rehab assignments.

Early birds

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As the USC football team prepares to gather for its morning pre-game meetings, it's also mock game day for the members of the Trojan Marching Band, who began warming up and getting ready before 8 a.m. on Cromwell Field for the 12:30 p.m. end-of-camp scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Trojans around the League

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Check out how the Trojan alumni performed during Friday night's NFL preseason games:

- Quarterback Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) went 24-for-38 for 360 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
- Tight end Dominique Byrd (Arizona Cardinals) had one catch for 45 yards.
- Tight end Fred Davis (Washington Redskins) had one reception for nine yards.

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day:


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Pre-game speech

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With the mock game just 17 hours from kickoff, Coach Carroll speaks to the team tonight in the ballroom of a downtown hotel. "How awesome is this?" Carroll exclaimed during his 10-minute address. "Friday night in the hotel -- it's such a sweet thing!"

Bright and early

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The student equipment managers will arrive at the Coliseum at 7 a.m. on Saturday to begin locker room and field preparations for the mock game that kicks off more than five hours later. It's nothing out of the ordinary for the student volunteers, who normally arrive at the stadium up to six hours prior to game time.

"It's just like a regular game," head student equipment manager Adam Kossoff said.

Off to the hotel

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Having completed their on-campus preparation, the coaches and players are taking the show a few miles up the road to their downtown hotel, where they'll conduct their typical pre-game meetings. Here's what's on the schedule for tonight, a normal eve-of-game in anticipation for tomorrow's mock game at the Coliseum:

6 p.m. • Depart campus for downtown hotel
6:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
7 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
7:30 p.m. • Team meeting
7:45 p.m. • Snack
8:15 p.m. • Return to campus

Mock jock rally

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Garrett Green steps up on the ladder to speak at Friday's jock rally in Heritage Hall, where the Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls performed in front of the entire team.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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The Trojans just completed their typical pre-game Friday walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where they reviewed all special teams situations, 15 key offensive plays and 15 important defensive plays in preparation for Saturday's mock game.

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Coach Carroll watches on as Matt Barkley leads the first-team offense.

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The offensive service team gives the first-team defense a look.

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Tailback Joe McKnight looks out over the field near the end of the walk-thru.

One final review

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The Trojans just took the field for their usual pre-game walk-thru, which is followed by a jock rally at 5 p.m. in Heritage Hall, complete with the Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls.

Game day schedule

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Check out the minute-by-minute agenda for Saturday, also known as mock game day for the Trojans:

9 a.m. • Depart campus for downtown hotel
9:15 a.m. • Pre-game meetings
9:45 a.m. • Pre-game meal
10:35 a.m. • Clap session
10:45 a.m. • Depart hotel for the Coliseum
11 a.m. • Arrive at the Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
11:32 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:59 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:21 p.m. • Warm-ups end; team returns to locker room
12:37 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:41 p.m. • Mock game kickoff

Changing it up a little

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The mock game preparation will be taking a slight detour tonight.

Because of NCAA compliance issues, the Trojans are not permitted to stay in their usual downtown hotel tonight, but they will conduct all of tonight's and tomorrow morning's meetings there. The issue has arisen because school has started -- therefore it's not a "vacation period" right now, which limits how much the program can provide for players when it's not immediately leading into a competition.

The Trojans will conduct their usual eve-of-game meetings this evening at their traditional downtown hotel before busing back and staying in their dorms or apartments tonight. Then on Saturday morning, they'll bus back to the hotel for their pre-game meetings and meal prior to busing to the Coliseum at 10:45 a.m. for the mock game.

In previous years, the mock game and associated night in the hotel occurred before school had started, so the team wasn't restricted in terms of lodging and food provisions for the players.

Format for the game

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As much as the coaches are trying to make Saturday's mock game mirror a real game, there will be one aspect of it that'll be different.

The mock game should be much shorter.

The plan right now is to have the game flow under a running 60-minute clock, so there won't be any stoppages for incompletions or going out of bounds. Coaches might finagle the clock a little toward the end of either half to create a two-minute drill opportunity, but the game should mostly speed along on the running clock.

Also, the mock game will feature the first-unit offense face off against the scout-team defense (and vice versa for the first-team defense), which will give both sides of the ball similar looks to what they'll see next week against San Jose State.

All downhill from here

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Apparently, the Trojans are ready.

After a rambunctious meeting that included yelling, dancing and chanting "We ready," the Trojans have entered into their final stage of game preparation that'll carry them all the way up to Saturday's mock game at 12:30 p.m.

"It's a new phase of preparation we're going through from now until kickoff tomorrow," running backs coach Todd McNair just told the players in the team meeting.

Starting now

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The game day routine is just about to begin.

The Trojans are gathering now to kick off their afternoon slate of meetings, which is followed by a quick walk-thru and a jock rally at 5 p.m. in Heritage Hall. Here's the schedule for the afternoon:

2:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3 p.m. • Team meeting
3:15 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
3:30 p.m. • Position group meetings
4:15 p.m. • Walk-thru
5 p.m. • Jock rally at Heritage Hall
6 p.m. • Depart campus for their downtown hotel

Barkley's interceptions: Laying down the facts

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Much has been made of Matt Barkley's apparent penchant for throwing interceptions during Fall Camp 2009.

Crazy thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. In 486 passes during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills in training camp, Barkley threw just eight interceptions.

Yes, you read that correctly: eight picks in 486 throws -- against one of the country's best secondaries, to boot. Sure doesn't seem like an onslaught of interceptions or a slew of picks, as many members of the media are painting the picture.

Barkley's 486 throws -- he completed 301 of them for a 61.9% rate --  is a little bit more than a typical season's worth of attempts, so eight interceptions would be a phenomenally low number in the grand scheme of things. And to make it even more calming is the fact that Barkley won't be facing one of the nation's top defensive backfields week-in and week-out, like he does in practice each day.

When looking back at previous seasons, Barkley's stat line from training camp puts him on pace -- if not at an even better rate -- than USC's quarterbacks in the past seven years. Take a look:

Matt Barkley ('09 Fall Camp):    301-for-486 • 61.9% • 8 interceptions
Mark Sanchez (2008 season):   241-for-366 • 65.8% • 10 interceptions
John David Booty ('07 season):  215-for-340 • 63.2% • 10 interceptions
John David Booty ('06 season):  269-for-436 • 61.7% • 9 interceptions
Matt Leinart (2005 season):       283-for-431 • 65.7% • 8 interceptions
Matt Leinart (2004 season):       269-for-412 • 65.3% • 6 interceptions   *Heisman Trophy winner
Matt Leinart (2003 season):       255-for-402 • 63.4% • 9 interceptions
Carson Palmer (2002 season):   309-for-489 • 63.2% • 10 interceptions  *Heisman Trophy winner

Watch it

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Check out these two free videos from USCTrojans.com and producer Mark Haas:

- Barkley named starter
- Raw interviews from Thursday's post-practice media sessions

For a good read

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Here's an awesome feature on Matt Barkley, from CBSSports.com.

Best of the best

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USC has been named the top team in CollegeFootballNews.com's "5-Year Program Rankings," a list that examines the best squads in the last five seasons. "And it's not even close," the article states.

Thanks to RipsIt reader Ryan Swagerty for sending in the link.

Always connected

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Get real-time news about the Trojans, including key information straight from the Blog, by texting "Trojans" to 51234 to join the USC Trojan Text Alert program.

Mock game info

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USC's open-to-the-public mock game, the final preseason test for the Trojans, is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Here's all the info, so don't miss out on USC's final tune-up before the season opens Sept. 5:

  • Cost: FREE
  • Start time: Scrimmage will begin at 12:30 p.m., though warm-ups will commence around 11:30 a.m.
  • Gates 1 and 4 will be open starting at 11:30 a.m.
  • Coliseum parking lots 4, 5 and 6 will open at 9 a.m. Parking will cost $15.
  • Concession stands will be open along the south side of the stadium.
  • The Trojans Marching Band, USC Song Girls and Traveler will perform.
  • The team will proceed through the traditional pre-game Trojan Walk (from the Sports Arena to the peristyle) starting at 10:40 a.m.

Looking to the pros

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Two more NFL preseason games are on the docket tonight, with five Trojans set to make an appearance:

New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins
5 p.m (CBS)
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
7 p.m.
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui, tight end Dominique Byrd

Trojans around the League

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Find out how USC alumni did during Thursday night's NFL preseason games:

- Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had a team-high eight tackles.
- Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) had four tackles.
- Defensive end Kyle Moore (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) had one tackle.
- Tailback Chauncey Washington (Jacksonville Jaguars) had nine carries for 25 yards.
- Linebacker Thomas Williams (Jacksonville Jaguars) had three tackles.
- Defensive lineman Mike Patterson (Philadelphia Eagles) had two tackles, including one sack.

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Rey Maualuga had a team-high eight tackles in Thursday night's Bengals-Rams preseason game. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Catching up with Chilo

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Here's an insightful video interview with San Francisco 49er and USC alum Chilo Rachal, from 49ers.com. Thanks to RipsIt reader Brian Edwards for passing it along.

Davidson's inspiration lives on

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Ryan Davidson, the inspirational 16-year-old Trojan fan who passed away in February after a nearly 10-year-long battle with cancer, and his family will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony before next Saturday's San Jose State game. Check out this special video tribute to Davidson that includes a touching song entitled "Ryan's Theme," composed by USC alum Christopher Lennertz.

Also, be sure to visit Davidson's site that continues to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.

Only available at the mock game

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Less than 700 tickets remain for the special 3-D showing at the Galen Center of the Sept. 12 USC-Ohio State game, with the balance being given away on a first-come, first-served basis at the mock game at the Coliseum on Saturday. Tickets are no longer available at the ticket office or Heritage Hall.

Slow morning

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The Trojans continue to treat Saturday's mock game in every way like a real game.

Even in their plans for this morning.

As is tradition on the Fridays before home games, the coaches get the morning off to spend time with their families or catch up on sleep. Very few coaches will arrive before noon, when they'll kick into game mode with meetings, a walk-thru and more meetings -- with just a little sleep squeezed in -- leading into tomorrow's game at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum.

The players are also enjoying a restful morning, as they're off from workouts and meetings until a team gathering at 2:30 p.m.

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day:


ripsitminute.jpg

Thursday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Meet the press

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Matt Barkley faces a horde of media following Thursday's practice, his first as the USC starting quarterback.

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Punter Billy O'Malley connects with a kick.

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Matt Barkley throws to wideout Damian Williams during 7-on-7 drills.

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Aaron Corp throws to the right side as defensive end Devon Kennard closes in.

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As members of the offensive service team, tailback Ahmed Mokhtar receives a pitch from Garrett Green.

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The field goal block unit stretches for the ball.

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Taylor Mays sprints into the backfield as Aaron Corp jumps to throw.

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Matt Barkley passes during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In his first practice as the starter, Matt Barkley led a strong offensive output in the abbreviated practice that acted as the final full-speed tune-up prior to Saturday's mock game. "The offense was ripping it and the tempo was great," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "This day is about feeling really good about what we're going. It was a good-looking day."

- On one play during team period, tailback Allen Bradford thundered upfield after turning the corner around the right side of the line, igniting the offensive coaches. "No one can stop you with that speed and that power!" quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates exclaimed. "That's awesome, man!"

- Wideout Damian Williams turned a short receiver screen pass into a big gain for one of the highlight plays during team period.

- The workout, which was heavy on special teams review, featured extended work for the kickoff return, punt coverage and field goal block teams.

Tying it all together

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The Trojans are taking the field for their first "No Repeat Thursday" practice of the season, as the focus begins to shift toward game day with the completion of the game-plan installation.

"Now's when we bring it all together," Carroll told the team in this afternoon's meeting. "It's all about executing right."

We'll return with a report following the half-pads workout.

Looking good but feeling better

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Following this afternoon's practice, the Trojans will restart a peculiarly named tradition.

They'll enter the weight room and commence "TV Arms."

The super-quick workout conducted every Thursday night before a game is dubbed the funny nickname because players are trying to pump some last minute iron so they look strong on game day. But head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said the workouts are actually conducted for another, more important reason.

"After a hard week's work, the weightlifting flushes oxygenated blood through muscles to promote healing," Carlisle said.

And what about the appearance issue on game days?

"They look good already," Carlisle said while laughing.

Backing the starter

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Coach Carroll announced the quarterback decision to the world earlier this afternoon and then specially to the players during this afternoon's team meeting, issuing a statement of support to the newly tapped Matt Barkley.

"You've got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and all your teammates are behind you and supporting you," Carroll said during the meeting, speaking directly at Barkley. "Let's do something special with this."

Newest Trojans

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Two new walk-ons have been added to the USC roster:

- #41 Allen Noble • CB • 6-0, 190 • Junior • Centennial, CO (Eaglecrest/Colo. School of Mines/Mt. San Antonio JC)
- #51 Will O'Brien • SNP • 6-0, 195 • Freshman • Pleasanton, CA (Foothill)

Back to the task at hand

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Even in the wake of this afternoon's starting quarterback announcement, the show goes on at Heritage Hall.

It's a typical "No Repeat Thursday" for the Trojans, who are starting their block of afternoon meetings in a few minutes before a half-pads practice at 4 p.m. The mock game is less than 48 hours away.

BREAKING NEWS: Barkley tabbed as starter

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Matt Barkley has been named USC's starting quarterback, Coach Pete Carroll announced today.

Set to make history as the first true freshman quarterback to start a USC opener, Barkley earned the job following an impressive spring and fall after enrolling at the university a semester early. Still 18 and just months removed from high school, Barkley won the job over Aaron Corp.

"It's clear to us as a staff that Matt Barkley is ready to be the starting quarterback at USC," Carroll said. "He has exceeded all our expectations. He has all the physical ability, he has the mentality and temperament to handle the position, his personality is very well received by all the players and he's extremely talented.

"At this point, he's ready to be the guy for us."

Barkley will take the reins of the Trojan offense for Saturday's mock game at the Coliseum in anticipation of next week's season opener against San Jose State.

"We'll utilize this weekend to have Matt learn what it's like to go through preparations as the starter," Carroll said. "For our ability to perform at our very best next week, it helps us to express it now instead of game week."

After a spring rife with competition, Corp, who was named the starter in April, was temporarily knocked out of the heated battle at the onset of fall training camp, when he cracked the head of his left fibula on Aug. 10 and sat out of full-speed work for two weeks. Wearing a knee brace, he returned to practice Tuesday but will have a limited role in Saturday's end-of-camp scrimmage.

"Aaron has done a marvelous job of getting back from his injury," Carroll said. "By next Saturday, we'd expect him to be ready to play if needed, but he's not ready yet. The competition will continue at this position, but at this point, Barkley is our starting quarterback."

Though the competition, as always, will remain open, Carroll stressed that tapping Barkley as the No. 1 quarterback is not a temporary decision.

"He's the starting quarterback at USC -- it's not a one-game deal," Carroll said. "He seized the opportunity that was in front of him and took control. He deserves all the credit in the world and we expect nothing but great things from him."

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Freshman Matt Barkley has been named USC's starting quarterback, Coach Carroll announced today.

Saturday's the day

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USC's open-to-the-public mock game, the final preseason test for the Trojans, is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Here's the pertinent info, so don't miss out on USC's final tune-up before the season opens Sept. 5:

  • Cost: FREE
  • Start time: Scrimmage will begin at 12:30 p.m., though warm-ups will commence around 11:30 a.m.
  • Gates 1 and 4 will be open starting at 11:30 a.m.
  • Coliseum parking lots 4, 5 and 6 will open at 9 a.m. Parking will cost $15.
  • Concession stands will be open along the south side of the stadium.
  • The Trojans Marching Band, USC Song Girls and Traveler will perform.
  • The team will proceed through the traditional pre-game Trojan Walk (from the Sports Arena to the peristyle) starting at 10:40 a.m.

Hard knock life

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HBO's hit series "Hard Knocks" is profiling the Cincinnati Bengals this year, a team that includes four Trojans. Check out this teaser video that features Rey Maualuga and Carson Palmer.

Thanks to RipsIt reader Liz Gilmore for passing the link along.

Happy birthday

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is celebrating his 33rd birthday today, and he not only received a chocolate cake as a present.

He's also getting some playful barbs from his fellow coaches.

"You're just a pup!" the assistants are telling Bates, the second-youngest coach on staff. "I remember when I was 33!"

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is celebrating his 33rd birthday today, with the help from a chocolate cake brought into the office by executive assistant Joyce Hirayama.

Multi-sport families

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Football and volleyball prowess apparently come through the same genes.

Three Trojans -- quarterback Aaron Corp and linebacker Shane and defensive end Wes Horton -- have sisters playing Division I volleyball this season. Both freshmen outside hitters, Lauren Corp plays at St. Mary's while Taylor Horton is at Fresno State. Both teams' seasons start this weekend.

Coach Carroll's family proves the football-volleyball connection, as well. His wife Glena was a volleyball player at University of the Pacific in the '70s, while his daughter Jaime played defensive specialist at USC in 2000 and 2001.

Get them soon

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Tickets are going fast for the special 3-D showing at the Galen Center of the Sept. 12 USC-Ohio State game, so get your tickets before they're gone.

USC students can obtain tickets from the ticket office between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., while support group members can pick them up at Heritage Hall or during the mock game on Saturday at the Coliseum, assuming they have reserved tickets.

The general public can pick up their free tickets at the ticket office, but act fast, as officials are expecting the tickets to be gone by the end of this weekend.

NFL returns tonight

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Three preseason NFL games featuring 10 Trojans will take place tonight, with the Dolphins-Buccaneers game being televised nationally on Fox at 5 p.m. Check out the USC alumni in NFL action tonight:

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Philadelphia Eagles
4 p.m.
Jaguars: Tailback Chauncey Washington, linebacker Thomas Williams
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson

St. Louis Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
4:30 p.m.
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga

Miami Dolphins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5 p.m. (Fox)
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day:


ripsitminute.jpg

Wednesday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Wednesday's practice

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Tight end Blake Ayles receives a pass during individual drills.

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Garrett Green, as the service team quarterback, rolls out of the pocket.

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Joe McKnight makes a cut as offensive lineman Khaled Holmes blocks.

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Aaron Corp throws into the end zone during 7-on-7 period.

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The Trojans huddle up under a scorching sun.

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Matt Barkley throws over defensive end Kevin Greene.

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With his teammates circling him and trying to distract him, Jordan Congdon winds up to kick a 36-yard field goal on the last play of the day.

Setting the stage

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Just before the practice-ending team period, Coach Carroll called the players together for an unusual mid-workout meeting before setting a scenario for the last segment of the day. He told the players they were down, 17-3, at halftime and needed to turn things around in the second half -- one play at a time.

"That doesn't mean anything because you can't do anything about it," he told the players. "It's about what you're going to do next."

The team responded with a sharp 24-play period to close out the full-pads practice, leading to Carroll's final lesson of the day.

"There will be situations where you have to turn a football game around," he said in the post-practice huddle. "It's got to come from within, just one play at a time -- there's no mystery to it."

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- With smart decisions from the quarterbacks and strong protection by the ball carriers, the offense pitched a shutout on the first turnover-themed practice of the fall, officially claiming the day as theirs and renaming it -- for the next week at least -- "No Turnover Wednesday."

- Aaron Corp was a crisp 4-for-5 during his 7-on-7 snaps, with the one incompletion coming on a drop on a screen pass. Of the four completions, two were touchdowns, one each to Ronald Johnson and Damian Williams. It was the highlight of Corp's second consecutive day of performing well in a full-speed practice. "He did fine -- no fallout from yesterday, which is a positive," Coach Carroll said. "It's clear he's on a recovery. The fact that he's out here again today is progress."

- Tailback Allen Bradford stormed through a gaping hole and all the way to the end zone on the final snap of the day to give the offense a 12-9 overall practice victory. The win came thanks to a 9-2 run by the offense after being down 5-1 to start the period. "The offense is too hot right now!" Coach Carroll said in the midst of the streak.

- On one play in team period, wideout Ronald Johnson turned a short catch on a slant route into a touchdown behind his trademark speedy burst.

- Kicker Jordan Congdon made all three of his field goal attempts during special teams period, with his longest coming from 38 yards. Congdon also drilled a clutch 36-yarder with his yelling teammates surrounding him on the last play of the day.

- A warm breeze pushed the morning smoke out of the L.A. basin in time for the afternoon practice, though the blazing sun ratcheted up the heat to over 90 degrees Wednesday.

Out to practice

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On a hot, humid and smoky day in L.A., the Trojans are hitting the field for a full-pads, turnover-themed practice. We'll return after the workout with a report from Howard Jones Field.

All about the ball

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It's all about turnovers today at Heritage Hall, so Coach Carroll is emphasizing the all-important turnover margin stat during this afternoon's meetings and practice.

The Trojans finished the 2008 season at plus-7, while San Jose State, USC's opening-day opponent in 10 days, was one better at plus-8.

More importantly, the Trojans are 47-0 in the last 47 games they've had more takeaways than giveaways.

"I don't know how much clearer that we can be -- 47 straight wins," Carroll said in this afternoon's team meeting. "It is the most important factor in our football. We can't stress it enough."

More radio

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A Coach Carroll interview with Tim Montgomery will air on Sporting News Radio at 5:25 p.m. tonight. Though L.A. doesn't have an affiliate, it'll be streamed via the internet or it's also on Sirius 127.

Getting to work

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The Trojans are about to get their afternoon business started with a special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium. Here's a look at the schedule for the afternoon:

2:15 p.m. • Special teams meeting
2:45 p.m. • Team meeting
3 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
3:15 p.m. • Position group meetings
4:15 p.m. • Practice begins

Going on the radio

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Coach Carroll will appear on the "Petros Money Show" on 570-AM at 4:30 p.m. today. Listen live here.

Traveler will be there

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Along with the Trojan Marching Band and the USC Song Girls, Traveler will also be attending Saturday's mock game at the Coliseum (12:30 p.m., free admission).

Turnover time

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It's Turnover Wednesday at USC, so it's worth republishing this fascinating stat about how the Trojans' turnover margins directly correlate to the team's record in the past seven seasons (2002-08):

- With a plus turnover margin: 50-2 (.962) • 47-0 in the last 47 games when in the plus
- With an even turnover margin: 16-2 (.889) • Losses came in '03 vs. Cal and '06 vs. UCLA
- With a minus turnover margin: 16-5 (.762) • 13-5 (.722) in the last five seasons with a minus turnover margin
- Overall record ('02-'08): 82-9 (.901) • Nine losses have come by an average of four points

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Appreciating the scout team

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RipsIt reader Randy Martin sent in this excellent question about the service teams: "Can you define what the USC service teams are? Are these third and fourth string scholarship players who scrimmage against the first units, or are these more walk-on players? If they are walk-on players, do any of them ever get a chance to suit up and possibly play in a game, like in the movie 'Rudy'?"

The service teams, which mimic the schemes and plays of the upcoming opponent, consist primarily of redshirting or walk-on players, as the first- and second-string players spend practices preparing for the next opponent. Because of scholarship and roster limits, the black-shirted scout teams don't have too much depth, so those players are taking most, if not all, reps during the 30-play service team periods. That's a brutal daily task, especially when going against the top units.

There have been several success stories that have blossomed from the service teams. Recently, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey turned an awesome scout team effort early last fall into a spot on the line, while a few years back, linebacker Clay Matthews started out on the scout team before becoming a millionaire in the NFL this spring. More humble and unheralded successes also happen, such as players who flip a positive performance on the service team into playing time on Saturdays with special teams or in late-game action.

Above all, the work of the service team players is appreciated beyond measure by the coaches and their teammates.

"They're the guys who make us who we are," Coach Carroll said of the scout-teamers. "We wouldn't be able to perform at nearly as high a level if they didn't bring it every day during the week."

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Tight end Bryson Lloyd (left) goes down with safety Ryan McMahon closing in. Wearing black jerseys, both players play on the USC service teams to prepare the first-unit offense and defense for the upcoming opponent. [Photo by Po-He Tseng]

On the radio now

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Safety Taylor Mays is about to be interviewed live on ESPN 710-AM. Listen through an internet stream here.

An exact replica

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The Trojans are spending this week preparing for the Saturday's mock game.

The emphasis is definitely on the "game" part of that sentence.

Everything about this week, from practices to meetings to workouts, is timed out to fully prepare the Trojans for a typical game week, giving them a real-life dry run of the schedule they'll go through 12 times during the next three months. It all leads up to Saturday's mock game experience, which will be an exact mirror of a normal game day, including the Friday night in the hotel, the pre-game meetings, the bus ride to the Coliseum and the pre-game warm-up routine.

As Coach Carroll told the players, "This week is all about practicing game week."

"The rhythm of the week is what's important," Carroll said in Tuesday's team meeting. "We've got to become accustomed to the timing of this. Everything we do is orchestrated for your performance on game day, so by the time you get to the stadium on game day, you can be as great as you can be."

Only at USC

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USC sure is living up to its "Hollywood's team" moniker.

During the last week, there have been plenty of "Only at USC" moments. From legendary athletes to famous entertainers, the Trojans have been graced with the presence of many icons in the last five days alone:

Where there's smoke

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Even as fires rage on in nearby Angeles National Forest and the L.A. air is increasingly filled with pungent smoke, the show appears that it will go on.

A 750-acre fire in the mountains just northeast of downtown L.A. has been pumping thick, odorous smoke in the area's skies, but as of now, this afternoon's Trojan practice will continue on as planned.

As always, USC's athletic trainers are prepared. They're already watching the air quality and getting ready to monitor players during the 4 p.m. practice, which was already going to be facing high temperatures before the fires made things potentially more dangerous. Asthmatic athletes are at increased risk with the air quality rapidly decreasing, athletic trainers said, so they'll be on watch this afternoon.

"We'll keep a very close eye on certain players," head athletic trainer Russ Romano said.

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The L.A. skyline, just 2.5 miles from the USC campus, is hardly visible through the thick smoke that has blanketed the area as a wildfire scorches the nearby Angeles National Forest.

Explode

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Offensive tackle Tyron Smith does explosive strength exercises during the team's 40-minute workouts in the Heritage Hall weight room this morning.

Maintaining connections: From high school to USC

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Special feature by Jonathan Horowitz, USCRipsIt staff writer

When USC quarterback Aaron Corp completed a short two-yard pass to tight end Blake Ayles in the fourth quarter of last year's season opener at Virginia, it represented a new experience for both players -- Corp's first collegiate pass, and Ayles' first collegiate catch.

0826corphs.jpgHowever, the experience was not all that new. Before they came to USC, Corp and Ayles were teammates for three years at Orange Lutheran High School where they won a California state championship in 2006. Prior to that, they played Pop Warner football together as 13-year-olds. So even though they were wearing new jerseys and helmets, the sight of Corp throwing to Ayles had been a frequent occurrence for several years.

Corp and Ayles have a chemistry that also exists with other Trojan quarterback-receiver combinations. Quarterback Mitch Mustain and receiver Damian Williams were teammates in Pop Warner football as 10-year-olds, at Springdale High School in Arkansas, and at the University of Arkansas before transferring to USC. Incoming freshman quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robbie Boyer are cousins and played together at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. And USC quarterback Garrett Green used to throw to Trojan teammate Shane Horton at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., although Horton is now a linebacker at USC.

"I think for the two of us," Williams said about him and Mustain, "and the other quarterback and receiver pairings that played together -- I've seen each of those pairs throw together as well -- I think it's a lot different when you get up there and throw to a receiver you're not really familiar with. It's that trust, that bond that I know where he's going to put the ball [and] he knows when I'm coming out of my breaks.

This year's Trojan football roster USC has former teammates from 13 different high schools and two junior colleges in four different states (California, Arkansas, Florida and Utah). While college football teams unite players from all parts of the country, having high school teammates on the roster provides a degree of familiarity and continuity.

0826damianhs.jpg"For the younger guys," Notre Dame High School coach Kevin Rooney said, "having somebody that's been through it all, they can certainly get a lot of good advice from that person. Having this guy there to help advise them in all areas of school life and so on I'm sure is helpful."

Playing with new players all around them and in a new environment, Corp and Ayles found each other. Both of their fathers made the trip to Virginia just as they had done previously for many Orange Lutheran games.

"It was a cool experience to have that transformation happen in our first game," Ayles said. "That gives us something to build off of in these next couple years."

From years of playing together Ayles knows Corp's tendencies. Other receivers might not be as familiar.

"I know how Aaron likes to escape the pocket," Ayles said. "So I'm always going to try to be in his path, which I built through high school because I know what he's going to do. Every time he's under pressure he's going to drop out, so I might as well just get open outside. Just having a good relationship that we built over the last three, four years is definitely going to help."

Said their Orange Lutheran High School coach, Jim Kunau: "Aaron and Blake do have a good chemistry, and I think Aaron has a good feel for Blake's strengths and play-making abilities."

In their days of playing Pop Warner together with the Orange Chiefs, their roles were switched part of the time with Ayles at quarterback throwing to Corp at receiver.

0826blakehs.jpgQuarterback Mitch Mustain has yet to complete a pass to receiver Damian Williams at USC, but the two have connected many times over the past 10 years.

"As far as on the field, he's been a huge asset to wherever I've been, and not only just to me, but to the team," Mustain said. "He was extremely good in high school. He did a great job at Arkansas. Last year [at USC] he kind of broke out and took off as soon as he got his opportunity. He's been extremely valuable, and I see him staying that way for a long time."

Mustain and Williams' playing days also began in Pop Warner in Springdale, Ark., when Williams was a running back and Mustain was a fullback.

"That was back in the day," Williams said. "In junior high, we had two different junior highs, and he was the quarterback on one and I was the quarterback on the other.

0826mmhs.jpg"But he still threw me passes there, too, because I played safety as well," he joked.

At Springdale High School the two developed a rapport while working out together in the offseason. In their senior year they won the Arkansas state championship with Mustain throwing more than 20 touchdown passes to Williams during the season.

Then when Mustain and Williams played together for a year at the University of Arkansas, they connected for 42 yards on Mustain's first drive in the 2006 season opener against USC. ESPN commentator Todd Blackledge noted the chemistry between the two during the broadcast. The drive resulted in a touchdown.

"Damian Williams -- you can tell he's on the same page with his quarterback," Blackledge said. "He did a nice job. Once he got forced inside, he widened himself back out to stay away from the defenders, and that gave Mustain a nice place to throw the football."

Another quarterback-receiver combination from high school, Barkley and Boyer of Mater Dei, are now roommates at USC. In addition, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Khaled Holmes blocked for Barkley at Mater Dei and could have the opportunity to do the same at USC.

Below is a list of all the current USC football players who were teammates before coming to USC. Thus while members of the Trojan football team have diverse backgrounds, some of them were actually quite familiar with one another long before they became Trojans.

FORMER TEAMMATES REUNITED ON USC'S ROSTER

Birmingham (Van Nuys, CA): WR De'Von Flournoy, DE Malik Jackson
Bullard (Fresno, CA): OT Nick Howell, TE Anthony McCoy
Colton (Colton, CA): TB Allen Bradford, CB Shareece Wright
Cottonwood (Salt Lake City, UT): FB Stanley Havili, OL John Martinez
Lincoln (Tallahassee, FL): CB T.J. Bryant, DB Jawanza Starling
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, CA): DT Jurrell Casey, WR Travon Patterson
Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA): QB Matt Barkley, OG Khaled Holmes, WR Robbie Boyer, RB Ahmed Mokhtar
Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA) & El Camino JC (Torrance, CA): K Joe Houston, TE Ian Wandler
Mt. San Antonio JC (Walnut, CA): DT Hebron Fangupo, PK-P Jacob Harfman
Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, CA): S Michael Helfrich, WR J.B. Green
Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, CA): QB Garrett Green, S Shane Horton, DE Wes Horton
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA): S Marshal Jones, TB Marc Tyler
Orange Lutheran (Orange, CA): TE Blake Ayles, QB Aaron Corp, OL Michael Reardon
Servite (Anaheim, CA): LB Chris Galippo, OT Matt Kalil, WR D.J. Shoemate
Springdale (Springdale, AR) & U. of Arkansas: QB Mitch Mustain, WR Damian Williams

- Special feature written by Jonathan Horowitz, USCRipsIt staff writer

Gazing into the future

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The coaches just broke from their morning staff meeting, and today's included the return of a weekly tradition.

The recruiting meeting.

Fueled by Denny's omelets and pancakes, the coaches circled around the War Room table to watch highlight reels of prospects in the classes of 2010 and 2011, a weekly ritual they'll perform every Wednesday morning from now until Signing Day in February. It's a key time of making important decisions that will affect the Trojans for years to come.

Highlight video

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Check out this short highlight video featuring many of the Trojans in NFL action during last weekend, produced by the USC video operations department.

Sanchez named Jets starter

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Just eight months removed from his college career, Mark Sanchez has been named the New York Jets starting quarterback, according to FoxSports.com.

"This is exciting news for Mark, and we couldn't be more pumped up for him," Coach Carroll said. "We're all pulling for him."

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day:

Everywhere you look: Trojans in almost all NFL games
Monday Morning Quarterback info
Congdon named starting kicker
Dispatch from Howard Jones (Tuesday's practice recap)
Tuesday's practice photo album
Ferrell the fan: Comedian stops by

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Ferrell the fan

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No "Captain Compete" this time around.

Comedian Will Ferrell, a close friend of Coach Carroll, attended Tuesday's practice as a mere spectator, soaking in the action with his family from the sidelines.

The shenanigans were put on hold -- at least on this Tuesday.

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Will Ferrell chats with Coach Carroll at Tuesday's practice.

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Taylor Mays talks with comedian Will Ferrell after Tuesday's practice.

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Matt Barkley and Will Ferrell converse on the sidelines at Tuesday's practice.

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Will Ferrell watches Tuesday's practice from the sidelines.

Showtime stopping by

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Jamaal Wilkes, a former UCLA basketball player and member of the "Showtime Lakers," speaks to Coach Carroll after Tuesday's practice. Wilkes, who still lives in the Southland, attended the workout.

Tuesday's photo album

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USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng is back in action, and here's his slideshow of awesome images from Tuesday's practice:

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Wideout Damian Williams lunges for a pass.

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A swarming defense wraps up tailback Allen Bradford.

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Aaron Corp throws during 7-on-7 drills.

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Matt Barkley receives the shotgun snap during 7-on-7 period.

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Matt Barkley hands off to tailback Curtis McNeal.

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Aaron Corp throws from the pocket.

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As the pocket collapses, Matt Barkley steps up to throw.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Aaron Corp returned to full-speed practice for the first time since his leg injury on Aug. 10, throwing accurately and managing the offense effectively as he essentially split the workout's snaps with Matt Barkley in every period. Corp looked sharp for his first full day back, leading the offense to seven wins in his nine snaps in the practice-ending team period. "I thought he had a very positive day today," Coach Carroll said. "For him just to be out there involved and in a normal setting is a big step for him."

- Behind a strong running game and an efficient passing attack, the offense claimed the 14-10 blowout victory on the inaugural Competition Tuesday of the 2009 season.

- Defensive end Everson Griffen recorded the play of the day when he incredibly soared up like a basketball player going for a rebound and intercepted a Matt Barkley screen pass to a tailback, awing his teammates as he rumbled downfield for the touchdown.

- Earlier during team period, safety Drew McAllister picked off Barkley's first of two interceptions on the day when he snagged an errant pass deep over the middle.

- Even with the two picks, Barkley did have his typical flashes of greatness Tuesday, including one beautiful throw on a jump ball to wideout David Ausberry down the left sideline during team period.

- Watching the workout from the sidelines were comedian Will Ferrell, former NBA player Jamaal Wilkes and legendary Trojan quarterback and current USC Board of Trustees member Pat Haden.

- Scouts from five NFL teams attended the practice.

Compete to win

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The Trojans just took the field for the first official Competition Tuesday practice of the season, so we'll return with a report following the full-pads workout.

Erickson, Congdon receive scholarships

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jc2.jpegre.jpegDefensive back Rob Erickson and kicker Jordan Congdon have been awarded scholarships, Coach Carroll announced during this afternoon's team meeting. The upperclassmen are now a part of the 85-man scholarship roster for the Trojans, an immense honor for the two long-time walk-ons.

"We've always tried to help our guys who have been really hard working, performed in the classroom and done everything well," Carroll said. "We love to do this when we can. We're thrilled for them and their families."

Congdon, a senior, was named the starting field goal kicker today, while Erickson, a redshirt junior, is expected to contribute on special teams this fall.

Congdon named starting kicker

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After a battle that lasted throughout the spring and the recently completed training camp, senior Jordan Congdon has been named the starting field goal kicker for the season opener next Saturday, Coach Carroll announced today.

"The competition will remain open, but Jordan's performed very well during camp and he's won the job for the opener," Carroll said.

Following his sophomore season in 2006, Congdon transferred to USC from Nebraska, where he was a first-team All-American in 2005, making 19-of-23 field goals. He kicked a last-minute game-winner against Kansas State in 2005 that clinched a bowl berth for the Huskers.

After sitting out the 2007 and 2008 season, Congdon has beaten out fellow kickers Joe Houston and Jake Harfman for the field goal and extra point duties.

Introspective mindset

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The season opener is just 11 days away, but USC's focus isn't on San Jose State.

It's all about Competition Tuesday for the Trojans.

"We're not going to talk about San Jose State much," Coach Carroll told the players in this afternoon's team meeting, reiterating a common theme for USC. "They're not the issue; we're the issue.

"The emphasis is about us competing and making us who we are on game day."

Good news for iPhones

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Apple iPhone users are about to become a lot more connected with the Trojans.

A USCTrojans.com iPhone app, which will include the RipsIt Blog, is slated to be unveiled in early September. Other mobile and smartphone capabilities for USCTrojans.com and the RipsIt Blog are scheduled to be launched soon thereafter.

Monday Morning QB

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Sign up now for Monday Morning Quarterback, the weekly in-season event where you can join Coach Carroll as he reviews game film and conducts a Q&A with fans.

A season pass, which covers lunch and the program, for all 10 MMQBs is $375 and can be ordered through this form, while walk-ups for athletic support group members are $35 and $40 for non-athletic support group members. Program-only tickets, available on a limited walk-up basis, are $10 for athletic support group members and $15 for non-athletic support group members. For more information, call (213) 740-4155.

The weekly luncheon begins at 11:15 a.m. every Monday in the Galen Center Founders' Room, while the program starts at noon in the arena. Here are the dates for the 10 MMQBs:

  • Sept. 14 (following the Ohio State game)
  • Sept. 21 (following the Washington game)
  • Sept. 28 (following the Washington State game)
  • Oct. 5 (following the California game)
  • Oct. 19 (following the Notre Dame game)
  • Oct. 26 (following the Oregon State game)
  • Nov. 2 (following the Oregon game)
  • Nov. 9 (following the Arizona State game)
  • Nov. 16 (following the Stanford game)
  • Nov. 30 (following the UCLA game)

Back in black

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Black jerseys have been fitted over players' pads this afternoon, as the Trojan service teams are set to return to the practice field today for the first time since last season. The service team offense and defense mimic the upcoming opponent -- running the same plays and wearing the same jersey numbers -- so the reintroduction of the "black shirts" signal the official shift in focus from training camp to the San Jose State game.

Dog days of summer

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Just in time for the season to move to the front burner, the weather is heating up in L.A. this week.

Temperatures are climbing into the high-80s and then over 90 by Thursday, giving the Trojans their first taste of summer heat after a cooler-than-normal training camp during the last three weeks.

Saving their teammates

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RipsIt reader Sheri Lin e-mailed in with this pertinent question: "In mock games and scrimmages, does the defense tackle somewhat less aggressively so as to not hurt their teammates on the offense?"

Rule No. 1 in the program is "protect the team," so players are constantly reminded of that on the field, as they're told to refrain from tackling during practices. As a play winds down, the most common phrase you'll hear from coaches is, "Keep him up!" Players instead simply wrap up and the coaches blow the whistle to signal a "tackle" during practice.

Scrimmages, though, are different, as live tackling occurs. Players are still reminded to "protect the team," so you're never going to see Taylor Mays light up his teammate over the middle like he would in a real game.

Mock game coming

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The mock game, USC's annual end-of-camp scrimmage, is this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Admission is free, and get more info here.

Diving into the season

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The Trojans' mock game week begins today with a normal in-season day of meetings starting at 2:15 p.m. and a Competition Tuesday practice at 4 p.m. And today carries a little extra weight because the San Jose State game plan will be introduced and installed, with the service teams, which mimic the Spartan offense and defense for USC's first-units, seeing their first action of the year.

Shoe shopping

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With each passing season, the USC equipment operations department makes small changes in gear to give the players more comfort or keep up with technological advances.

This year's no different, as the offensive linemen have been outfitted with new cleats that are lighter, have a better width and are more comfortable, not to mention look a little more aerodynamic than the old cleats players say look like "moon boots."

"I'm excited because the O-linemen really like them," director of equipment operations David "Pops" Scott said of the new cleats that about three-quarters of the offensive linemen have now switched to. "They're usually very superstitious about what they wear, so we were really careful with these."

The most noticeable change to an outside viewer might be the splash of white on the shoe, a pretty big adjustment for the Trojans, who are renowned for wearing fully black cleats with white laces.

"It's just what Nike gives us," Scott said.

Though a more advanced shoe, the most appreciated aspect of the new cleats might be something completely unrelated to its functionality. Players are raving about the sharp, sleek look, which is a huge change from the clunky all-black cleats the players all used to wear.

"I like them," offensive lineman Alex Parsons said, "because they don't look like moon boots."

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New for this season, offensive linemen have been outfitted with a new style of cleats that's more comfortable, wider and lighter.

Inside the Life: Introduction

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Throughout the season, USCRipsIt will be taking you into the off-the-field life of a player, showing you what goes on behind the scenes through "Inside the Life." In this weekly series written by staff writer Courtney Kalisz, we'll bring you into the daily life of a player and reveal the details that fill a student-athlete's schedule while off the field. Here's the series introduction, with subsequent installments being published every Tuesday:

Being a student-athlete at a Division I school is both a rewarding and demanding experience. Here at USC, with one of the premier football programs in the nation, our student-athletes thrive in the rigorous environment that they know simply as their everyday life.

My name is Courtney Kalisz, a former swimmer at USC and on the USA National Team, whose career was cut short by a devastating ankle injury. I spent a year as a Trojan student-athlete, and in that time I experienced all the aspects of USC athlete life. From the training room fighting off injuries, to study hall, to dinner with other student-athletes at the Galen Café, and of course practice, I discovered the pride and challenges that comes with being a Trojan athlete.

With my unique insight into what it's like to be a student-athlete here, I will be composing a series that highlights all of the aspects that comprise the lives of the USC football players. The mission of this series is to allow the most passionate fans of the USC Trojans first-hand access into learning exactly what it's like to be a Trojan. We hope you enjoy!

- By Courtney Kalisz, USCRipsIt staff writer


Next week: An inside look at the Student-Athlete Academic Services 

Everywhere you look

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The stats show it more and more: USC truly is an NFL factory.

Only five NFL teams (Bears, Broncos, Ravens, Patriots and Rams) do not have a Trojan on the roster, meaning nearly every game this fall will showcase at least one USC alumnus.

A whopping 251 of the NFL's 256 regular-season games this season will feature at least one Trojan on one of the teams' rosters. That means 98 percent of the matchups will have a cardinal-and-gold flavor to them.

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Ups and downs for Sanchez

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Mark Sanchez went 3-for-8 for 43 yards, a touchdown and an interception in Monday night's Jets-Ravens preseason game. Though his pick was returned for a score, Sanchez rebounded with a beautiful touchdown throw on his fifth and final drive of the day. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day:


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The week ahead

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After a slow Monday around Heritage Hall -- no meetings and no practice will do that to the place -- the Trojan football machine resumes its usual hum Tuesday, when the program will kick off a mock game week in anticipation for the end-of-camp scrimmage on Saturday at the Coliseum (12:30 p.m., free admission).

The goal of this week is to learn by doing, so the Trojans will mimic a normal game week to a tee, with Competition Tuesday, Turnover Wednesday and No Repeat Thursday on deck, all leading into a typical Friday night of pre-game meetings at the team's downtown hotel and the mock game on Saturday (purposefully at the same exact time as the season opener next Saturday). Take a look at the Trojans' agenda for the week:

  • Competition Tuesday: Practice at 4 p.m.
  • Turnover Wednesday: Practice at 4 p.m.
  • No Repeat Thursday: Practice at 4 p.m.
  • Review Friday: Walk-thru at 4:15 p.m.; spend the night at the team's usual downtown hotel
  • Game Day Saturday: Mock game at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum

Straight to your phone

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Local AT&T U-verse customers can now watch free, on-demand videos from USCTrojans.com in the new "College Football Extras" category. Available to view are the 2008 season highlights, a 2009 season preview and more fresh content as the season unfolds.

Closing in

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The countdown to the season opener has dropped under 12 days:

Previewing the Trojans

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FSN West will air its USC Football Preview show tonight at 10:30 p.m., and it'll include a 1-on-1 interview with Coach Carroll, a Taylor Mays feature, a look at the QB competition and commentary from Petros Papadakis. Here's a brief preview:

Get them while you can

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Here's where you can pick up free tickets for the special 3-D showing of the USC-Ohio State game at the Galen Center on Sept. 12 (while they last):

  • The USC Ticket Office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
  • Heritage Hall (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays beginning Tuesday)
  • This Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage at the Coliseum (pick up inside Gate 4 from noon to 3 p.m.)
  • The Sept. 3 and 4 USC women's volleyball matches at the Galen Center (pick up at the box office from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
  • The Sept. 5 USC home game against San Jose State (pick up at Fanfest outside the Coliseum peristyle prior to the 12:30 p.m. kickoff)

Paint stroke

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A maintenance worker paints the yard line number on Howard Jones Field today. After 27 on-field sessions in 16 days of Fall Camp, the field has been recuperating with the help of the field maintenance staff in anticipation of Tuesday's practice. Only four workouts will be conducted on the field in the next week, the same number of sessions that would typically be conducted in just two days of Fall Camp.

Two birds with one stone

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We've received a few questions about what type of conditioning USC does during the season. Players work out for 40 minutes twice a week in the weight room, and their conditioning needs are taken care of during the Trojans' high-speed practices, which Carroll designs to feature constant movement to keep the players well-conditioned.

So you're never going to see the players conducting wind sprints after a workout, since all their running is accomplished during the daily action-packed practices.

Under the bright lights

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In the biggest test so far in his NFL career, Mark Sanchez will start tonight's Jets-Ravens preseason game. ESPN will broadcast the game at 5 p.m.

Mock game on Saturday

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USC's mock game, the final preseason test for the Trojans, is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Here's all the pertinent info, so don't miss out on USC's final tune-up before the season opens Sept. 5:

  • Cost: FREE
  • Start time: Scrimmage will begin at 12:30 p.m., though warm-ups will commence around 11:30 a.m.
  • Gates 1 and 4 will be open starting at 11:30 a.m.
  • Coliseum parking lots 4, 5 and 6 will open at 9 a.m. Parking will cost $15.
  • Concession stands will be open along the south side of the stadium.
  • The Trojans Marching Band and USC Song Girls will perform.
  • The team will proceed through the traditional pre-game Trojan Walk (from the Sports Arena to the peristyle) starting at 10:40 a.m.

0820coli.jpgUSC's end-of-camp mock game is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Admission is free.

Watching history

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Have you witnessed it yet?

In light of the team's Youtube-famous "Lean on Me" rendition two weeks ago, music legend Bill Withers pranked the Trojans on Friday night, providing the team with a lifetime of memories. Watch the special USCRipsIt video of the meeting, as it's bound to bring you joy, goose bumps and/or tears:

In the Red Zone

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Coach Carroll will be a part of Tony Dungy's "Red Zone '09," a special film outreach to high school football players across the country on Tuesday night. The event, which takes place in 400 theaters nationwide, will share tips from professional coaches and players, discuss conditioning and mental toughness and inspire young players to play with passion and character, along with challenging high school athletes to avoid drugs and work hard.

Find out where it's playing in a theater near you.

Reap what you sew

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Not only did the players experience some wear-and-tear during Fall Camp, but the equipment did as well. Here, football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez sits down at the sewing machine to reapply Garrett Green's jersey number and fix rips in other players' gear.

Perfectionists

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Though Fall Camp messed with the typical routine, the Trojans still conducted brief strength and conditioning sessions after practice on alternating days during the 16-day camp.

And not only did they conduct them, but they conducted them perfectly.

The players had a 100 percent attendance rate, going a combined 630-for-630 on workouts during Fall Camp, head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said.

Trojans around the League

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It was a busy Saturday for USC alumni in NFL preseason work, so check out all those who recorded stats in the day's 10 games:

  • Defensive end Kyle Moore (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) had three tackles, including one sack.
  • Linebacker Thomas Williams (Jacksonville Jaguars) had three tackles.
  • Tailback Chauncey Washington (Jacksonville Jaguars) had a team-best 32 rushing yards on four carries, as well as two catches for eight yards.
  • Safety Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers) had two tackles.
  • Tight end Fred Davis (Washington Redskins) caught two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown.
  • Wideout Patrick Turner (Miami Dolphins) had three catches for 25 yards.
  • Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland Browns) tied for the team-high with six tackles.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) had two catches for 30 yards.
  • Cornerback Terrell Thomas (New York Giants) recorded two tackles.
  • Defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis (New Orleans Saints) had two tackles.
  • Defensive lineman Shaun Cody (Houston Texans) had two tackles.
  • Tailback Justin Fargas (Oakland Raiders) had two carries for three yards.
  • Safety Kevin Ellison (San Diego Chargers) tied for a team-best with five tackles.
  • Quarterback Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) went 6-for-10 for 74 yards.
  • Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahwaks) had two tackles.

First day of school

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On the opening day of the fall semester at USC, linebacker Shane Horton walks into Kaprielian Hall for his first class of the year, a 300-level sociological statistics class. Horton, a sociology major, is one of 105 players, 600 student-athletes and 16,000 undergrads attending classes on the university's first day of the 2009-2010 school year.

For a good read

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It's a little old, but here's a great feature on wideout Ronald Johnson, from his hometown paper, the Muskegon (Mich.) Chronicle. Thanks to RipsIt reader Steve Ozinga for passing it along.

Working out

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Training camp's over, but training continues on.

Following a drastically modified regimen during Fall Camp, the Trojans are entering into their in-season strength and conditioning routine today, kicking off the two-days-a-week workout schedule that'll carry them through the fall and into January.

The 40-minute workouts twice a week focus on "aggressively maintaining strength levels," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said.

"We'll be stronger at the end of the season than at the beginning," Carlisle said.

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Tailback Allen Bradford does hamstring-strengthening exercises as part of the team's strength and conditioning sessions in the weight room this morning.

Popping out of the screen

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The USC-Ohio State game on Sept. 12 will be broadcast in 3-D in select locations, including the Galen Center.

It'll be the third-ever football game televised in 3-D.

Returning to action

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After a rare day off Sunday, coaches are already back to work this morning as they watch the scrimmage tape together as a staff in the War Room. They'll be in meetings all day as they transition out of Fall Camp mode and into game-week preparation, with the season opener just 12 days away.

RipsIt Minute

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In case you couldn't follow us live, "The RipsIt Minute" gives you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day (Saturday):


ripsitminute.jpg

Flipping to the next chapter

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Fall Camp is now over.

The players and coaches are off Sunday -- "the doors are locked and no one's allowed to work," Coach Carroll said -- and will return to Heritage Hall on Monday, when the players will have strength and conditioning sessions and coaches will have normal meetings.

The entire team will reconvene Tuesday afternoon for meetings and a 4 p.m. practice, kicking off a simulated game week in anticipation of the mock game at the Coliseum on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m.

After 380 blog entries over 16 consecutive days of around-the-clock Fall Camp coverage, USCRipsIt will also be taking a break Sunday, so we'll return Monday -- with the USC-San Jose State game just 12 days away.

 "The football season's here boys," Carroll told the players. "It is here."

Saluting the season

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A perfect way to end training camp and officially kick off the 2009 season, the always-fun Salute to Troy is happening now on Cromwell Field, where about 3,500 fans have come to hear speeches from coaches, player introductions and the Trojan Marching Band.

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Coach Carroll addresses the crowd of 3,500 at Saturday night's Salute to Troy on Cromwell Field.

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About 3,500 fans jam Cromwell Field for Saturday night's Salute to Troy, the annual Trojan football season kickoff banquet. [Click photo to see a full-sized version]

Oh captain, my captain

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Following this afternoon's players-only vote, the 2009 team captains were determined and announced tonight. They are:

  • Offensive lineman Jeff Byers
  • Safety Taylor Mays
  • Safety Josh Pinkard
  • Wideout Damian Williams

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Click image to expand

Believing in Magic

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NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson attended Saturday afternoon's scrimmage and spoke to the team for a few minutes afterward.

"'Championship' is written all over this place," Johnson said during his brief talk, with the players encircling him. "Everything you do, act like a champion, because that's who you are."

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Magic Johnson addresses the Trojans in the post-scrimmage team huddle on Howard Jones Field.

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With the L.A. skyline on the horizon, Magic Johnson (left) leads the team's huddle breakdown at the end of his talk.

Just the facts

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See the full stat sheet from Saturday's scrimmage.

Pictures from Saturday's scrimmage

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Matt Barkley passes over the offensive line.

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Linebacker Chris Galippo (54) changes direction to pursue tailback C.J. Gable.

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Mitch Mustain throws over defensive lineman DaJohn Harris.

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Matt Barkley hands off to tailback Stafon Johnson.

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Joe McKnight finds a hole in the line.

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Garrett Green passes to the left.

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Punter Jake Harfman connects on a kick.

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Mitch Mustain throws downfield.

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Matt Barkley stands in the pocket.

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The Trojans huddle up in the shadow of the goal post.

Peak performers

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Check out the standout performances during Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage on Howard Jones Field:

- Tailback Joe McKnight had a scrimmage-best 31 rushing yards on four carries, including a 22-yarder.

- Wideout Brice Butler was the leading receiver, snagging five passes for 39 yards.

- Defensive end Malik Jackson had a four tackles, including two sacks. Linebacker Jordan Campbell tied with Jackson for a team-best four tackles.

- On the day's first punt, cornerback T.J. Bryant masterfully downed the Jake Harfman pooch punt inside the 1-yard line.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The defense had its way in USC's final workout of Fall Camp 2009, scoring the intra-squad scrimmage's only points on a safety in front of 1,000 fans jammed around a festive Howard Jones Field. On a toasty afternoon, the defense heated up with the weather and shut down the Trojan offense in all phases, allowing just 180 yards in 61 snaps. In 12 drives, the deepest the offense got into the defense's territory was the 36-yard line. "It was a really good job of guys just battling," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "The defense obviously had a strong day. The offense didn't do poorly at all; they just went up against a really good defense."

- Linebacker Shane Horton's overpowering tackle on tailback Curtis McNeal in the end zone scored a safety and marked the 69-play scrimmage's only score.

- Safety Josh Pinkard recorded the day's single turnover, a beautiful leaping interception in the end zone on a deep Matt Barkley pass.

- Facing a stringent defense, the quarterbacks each managed to produce effective performances. Working with the first-unit, Matt Barkley went 7-for-13 for 56 yards and an interception; Mitch Mustain went 6-for-12 for 57 yards with the second-unit; and third-team quarterback Garrett Green went 3-for-6 for 12 yards.

- In his five series, all with and against the first-teamers, Barkley led three strong drives -- one going 39 yards in 11 plays before a punt; the second going 36 yards in six plays, ending in a punt; and the last traveling 38 yards in 6 plays before the Josh Pinkard interception.

- The flashiest play of the day came on the final snap, when Travon Patterson returned a punt 45 yards after a cutback-filled run across the field.

- The defense recorded 10 tackles-for-loss, including six sacks.

- Though the defense was downright dominant, the offense contributed to its scorelessness with seven dropped passes and three penalties.

Heading out

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After 18 practices in 15 days, the Trojans are taking the field for their final workout of Fall Camp 2009, an intra-squad scrimmage on Howard Jones Field.

"This is like a game opportunity for us," Coach Carroll said in today's team meeting. "We've got to max out on this. This is one of our preseason games."

We'll return after the scrimmage with a full report.

Playbook cover

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Here's the offensive playbook cover for Fall Camp 2009. Including every facet and play of the USC offense, the encyclopedia-thick playbook designed for camp will be turned in and replaced with a slimmer one containing just the San Jose State game plan next week.

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Master communicators

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Today's scrimmage is obviously a good test for the players.

It's also an ideal trial for the coaches.

To make it as game-like as possible, coaches will be on headsets and split between the field and the roof of the adjacent baseball complex during the scrimmage, as if they were in the press box during a game. It'll provide them with a great dry run in terms of in-game communication, which can often get hectic.

Lean on some history

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Whether you missed it or you've seen it a dozen times already, this cool video about legendary singer Bill Withers' appearance and associated escapades in Friday night's team meeting is a must-watch. Read the recap and see the photos, and also check out the Trojans' original "Lean on Me" performance two weeks ago.

Enjoy this special video that's sure to give you goosebumps and guaranteed to become a memorable part of the 2009 season, brought to you by USCRipsIt:

Captain crunch

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The Trojans will vote on the 2009 team captains during the team meeting at 2 p.m. today. The results will be announced tonight.

One vs. one

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Today's 3 p.m. scrimmage is not only important because it's the final scrimmage of Fall Camp, but also because it's the last chance for the first-unit offense and defense to face each other in a game-like scenario.

The top units will battle during this afternoon's scrimmage on Howard Jones Field for one final time before next week's mock game at the Coliseum features the first-unit offense and defense facing their scout-team counterparts in anticipation of the San Jose State game the following weekend.

"It's an important day for us," Carroll said.

Time to Salute

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Following the final practice of Fall Camp 2009, the Trojans will head over to Cromwell Field for tonight's Salute to Troy, the annual season kickoff banquet featuring the players, coaches, Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls. About 3,500 guests are expected for the first-class dinner event.

Band support

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Following Saturday morning's practice on Howard Jones Field, Coach Carroll ran over to the adjacent Dedeaux Field, where the Trojan Marching Band was practicing on its ninth day of band camp. He surprised them with a short pep talk before leading a "SoCal Spellout."

"Having you guys back and playing is just awesome," Carroll said with the 300-member band encircling him on the field. "The harder you work, the better you get and the more fun it is for everyone."

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With his arms spread out like a bird, an excited Coach Carroll runs toward the Trojan Marching Band during their practice on Dedeaux Field on Saturday morning.

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Long-time band director Dr. Art Bartner (left) welcomes Coach Carroll to the practice.

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Coach Carroll addresses the more than 300 members of the Trojan Marching Band.

Pictures from Saturday morning's practice

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Aaron Corp hands off to tailback Curtis McNeal.

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Matt Barkley throws over a jumping Derek Simmons (90).

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Punter Billy O'Malley winds up for the kick.

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Matt Barkley and the Trojan offense line up under the L.A. skyline.

Reminder about the scrimmage

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The Trojans scrimmage today at 3 p.m. on Howard Jones Field. It is open to the public.

Magic hour

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NBA legend Magic Johnson stopped by the practice field for a few minutes Saturday morning, about 12 hours after music icon Bill Withers attended the team meeting.

Just another "Only at USC" moment.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- On a muggy, cloudy morning, the Trojans proceeded through a walk-thru-esque practice, with just 30 combined plays of 11-on-11 snaps for the first and second units. The 50-minute practice acted as a review for the camp-concluding intra-squad scrimmage at 3 p.m. today.

- Aaron Corp took five snaps of 11-on-11 work, though "he wasn't moving very well," Coach Carroll said.

- Besides the walk-thru work for the offense and defense, the Trojans also reviewed all special teams situations during the practice.

Second to last one

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On the final day of Fall Camp 2009, the Trojans rather fittingly have a two-a-day, with the morning workout -- a short, no-pads affair on Howard Jones Field -- beginning now.

We'll return with a report afterward.

Big contingent

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Thirty-one Trojans will be participating in the 10 NFL preseason games tonight. Check out the lengthy list of USC alumni playing today:

Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns
4:30 p.m.
Lions: Linebacker Darnell Bing, wideout Keary Colbert
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava

Carolina Panthers vs. Miami Dolphins
4:30 p.m.
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
4:30 p.m.
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore
Jaguars: Tailback Chauncey Washington, linebacker Thomas Williams

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins
4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis

New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans
5 p.m.
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, tight end Billy Miller, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody

New York Giants vs. Chicago Bears
5 p.m.
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas

Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers
5 p.m.
Bills: Cornerback Cary Harris
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews

Oakland Raiders vs. San Francisco 49ers
5:15 p.m.
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal, offensive lineman Matt Spanos

San Diego Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals
7 p.m.
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui, tight end Dominique Byrd

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks
7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson, fullback David Kirtman, offensive lineman Kyle Williams

Trojans around the League

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See how USC alumni did in Friday night's NFL preseason games:

- Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) went 9-for-14 for 99 yards and a touchdown.
- John David Booty (Minnesota Vikings) went 6-for-8 for 61 yards.
- Tailback LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) had two carries for four yards.
- Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey (Tennessee Titans) had a tackle.
- Kicker David Buehler (Dallas Cowboys) kicked off five times.

RipsIt Minute

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A new daily feature we're unveiling this week, "The RipsIt Minute" will give you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day, just in case you couldn't follow us live.


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Leaning on a legend: Bill Withers and the Trojans

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The Trojans got pranked by a music legend on Friday night.

During the team meeting at Heritage Hall, Bill Withers -- the renowned songwriter famous for "Lean on Me" -- came in as an NCAA representative before breaking his cover and revealing his true identity as the man whose song the Trojans sang during a meeting two weeks ago.

"You guys have been punk'd big-time," Withers told the players after his serious 10-minute lecture about a made-up fungus.

Good times ensued, as Withers called linebacker Marquis Simmons to the front of the packed auditorium to hear him lead the same "Lean on Me" song that has become an internet sensation in recent weeks.

"I want the Youtube version," a grinning Withers told Simmons after giving him the first few notes of the song on the piano.

The Trojans then watched some of Withers' famous music videos before the 71-year-old music icon shared some thoughts.

"Don't lose sight of this camaraderie that you have now," said Withers, with whom Coach Carroll connected after Simmons' performance in the team meeting two weeks ago. "And lean on each other. It's macho -- you don't give up any of your machismo if you lean on each other."

Watch the full video featuring Withers at Friday's team meeting in the latest feature from USCRipsIt, produced by Rob McPherson:



Here are some photos from Friday night's Bill Withers appearance at the USC team meeting:

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Legendary singer Bill Withers addresses the Trojans during Friday night's team meeting. Withers pretended he was an NCAA representative before breaking the news that he had punk'd them.

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Players react with rousing applause after they find out their apparent guest speaker from the NCAA was actually legendary singer Bill Withers.

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Bill Withers puts his arm around freshman linebacker Marquis Simmons, who sang "Lean on Me" in USC's team meeting on Aug. 9 and again on Friday in front of the songwriter.

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Bill Withers, his daughter Kori and Coach Carroll chat in Carroll's office on Friday night.

And here's the original "Lean on Me" rendition from the team meeting on Aug. 9, the scene that inspired Friday night's guest appearance from Withers:


The day ahead

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Check out what's on the agenda for Saturday, the final day of Fall Camp 2009:

7 a.m. • Wake-up/breakfast
9 a.m. • Practice (Howard Jones Field)
11 a.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (full-pads scrimmage at Howard Jones Field)
5 p.m. • Salute to Troy

On tap

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Take a look at the schedule for the final night of Fall Camp 2009:

7:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8 p.m. • Team meeting
8:30 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:45 p.m. • Position group meetings
10 p.m. • Meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

On the big stage

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Following today's practice on Howard Jones Field, Taylor Mays records an interview with ESPN's Shelley Smith that'll air on an upcoming SportsCenter.

For a good read

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Check out this cool feature on Taylor Mays, from SI.com.

Special guest

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Traveler watches as wideout Robbie Boyer and the rest of the Trojans proceed through Friday's practice.

Pictures from Friday's practice

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Coach Carroll and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. spur defensive end Everson Griffen through agility bags.

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David Ausberry goes up for a catch, with graduate assistant Justin Mesa in coverage.

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Wideout De'Von Flournoy sprints to the catch during 1-on-1s.

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Aaron Corp throws during 7-on-7 period.

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Jurrell Casey (91) closes in on Matt Barkley in the pocket.

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Matt Barkley aborts the play and tries to run out of the pocket as the defensive linemen approach.

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Linebacker Michael Morgan chases after Matt Barkley.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Closing out their penultimate day of training camp, the Trojans glided through a situational-based workout on an oddly cool and gray afternoon on Howard Jones Field. Matt Barkley had yet another impressive and relaxed day, with his highlight play coming on a perfectly read and exceptionally thrown 97-yard touchdown-scoring bomb to wideout Travon Patterson during team period.

- Aaron Corp participated in 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 periods again on Friday, completing 4-of-6 throws and one touchdown against the second-unit defense during the latter drills.

- Against the first-team defense in 7-on-7 period, Matt Barkley went 6-for-9 with a touchdown, though two of the incompletions were drops by receivers.

- During team period, tailback Curtis McNeal scampered for a slicing 22-yard touchdown, one of the best plays of the day. The run came just a few plays after McNeal powered up the middle and bulled through the umpire, who tumbled to the ground, bringing laughter to many of the players.

- Kicker Jordan Congdon made a 30-yard field goal to end the practice, while Joe Houston hit a 43-yarder with plenty of room to spare earlier in the day.

- Coach Carroll in the post-practice team huddle: "We only got one day to go. We better bring it tomorrow."

- With the Trojan Marching Band belting its tunes throughout the practice, Traveler standing in the end zone for some of the workout and cool temperatures, football season was definitely palpable Friday at Howard Jones Field.

Piano man

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At the start of Thursday night's team meeting, players started encouraging Coach Carroll to start playing the piano, and it didn't take long to convince him to sit down and tap the ivories. Check out his player-pleasing musical talent in the latest video from USCRipsIt:

Time to work

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Let the countdown begin -- the Trojans' third-to-last practice of training camp is beginning now on Howard Jones Field, with players donning full pads for today's workout. We'll return with a report afterward.

Hoarse play

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Nine out of 10 doctors would all agree -- the USC coaching staff is suffering from a case of camp voice.

Following two weeks of yelling and screaming during meetings and on the practice field, the coaches' voice boxes are feeling the pain. Voices have become hoarse, with the sounds emanating from their mouths sounding less like words and more like scratching sandpaper.

Hot tea has alleviated some of the speech issues and sore throats, but the true remedy will come Sunday, when the coaches have the day off and can transition from camp mode to in-season mode.

"Our voices will come back soon," said offensive line coach Pat Ruel, probably the coach most affected by camp voice. "Camp is training; the season is game-planning."

Daily job interviews

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USC's practices might as well be a daily scouting combine.

Howard Jones Field this fall has been flooded with NFL scouts, with an astounding 16 teams already having been represented during the 16 Trojan workouts so far this month. It adds a special feel to practices when NFL personnel are watching closely. And the scouts are on campus to analyze USC's 11 top seniors who are all on track to play professionally next season:

  • OL Charles Brown
  • OL Jeff Byers
  • S Will Harris
  • OL Nick Howell
  • TB Stafon Johnson
  • S Taylor Mays
  • TE Anthony McCoy
  • OL Alex Parsons
  • DB Josh Pinkard
  • DL Averell Spicer
  • DB Kevin Thomas

Also in camp

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The Trojan Marching Band practices on Dedeaux Field today as their training camp marches on and the football season approaches.

Carroll's Video Blog #1

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Check out Coach Carroll's candid thoughts on Fall Camp's happenings in a cool new video blog recorded in his Heritage Hall office just now.

Like what you see? Comment on the Blog or Youtube page or send us an e-mail so we know whether to keep it up or change it up as the season goes on.

Reaching out to the kids

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About 100 middle-schoolers from the Kinetic Synergy Academy in South Los Angeles high-five the Trojans following Friday morning's walk-thru.

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Coach Carroll speaks to about 100 middle-schoolers from the Kinetic Synergy Academy in South Los Angeles after Friday morning's walk-thru.

Hike 'em up

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In an effort to spice up a mundane late-Fall Camp workout, linebacker Chris Galippo plays with hiked-up shorts Friday morning. Led by the running backs, many other players followed suit and pulled up their shorts past their bellybuttons, providing a comical scene as the field was filled with Steve Urkel lookalikes.

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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Check out some photos from this morning's quick walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where the Trojans reviewed special teams situations and ran through 20 plays for the offense and defense.

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The offensive line goes through drills with coach Pat Ruel.

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Tailback C.J. Gable takes the feigned pitch from quarterback Matt Barkley during the sans-football workout.

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Matt Barkley jumps to throw as linebacker Jarvis Jones (left) closes in.

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Mitch Mustain hands off to tailback Curtis McNeal.

Heading out to the field

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Kicker Jordan Congdon (38) and offensive lineman Garrett Nolan (64) walk up the tunnel from Heritage Hall to Howard Jones Field for this morning's special teams-centric walk-thru.

Breaking down the week ahead

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After a practice today and two on Saturday, the Trojans will break from the brutal Fall Camp schedule and enter into the normal routine of the season, with just one practice and a few hours of meetings a day.

But before that regimen kicks in, players will get two much-needed days off -- on Sunday and for the first day of the fall semester on Monday. It'll be their first time off in 16 days.

Take a look at the schedule for the next week:

- Today: Practice at 3 p.m.
- Saturday: Practice at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Sunday: OFF
- Monday: OFF (First day of classes)
- Tuesday: Practice at 4 p.m.
- Wednesday: Practice at 4 p.m.
- Thursday: Practice at 4 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 28: Practice at 4:15 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 29: Mock game at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum

Follow the script

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RipsIt reader and former USC offensive lineman Otis Page sent in this great question: "How much time goes into planning a practice schedule and how far in advance is it prepared?"

In July of every year, Coach Carroll plots out the schedule for each practice and walk-thru during Fall Camp, planning what scenarios and situations will be drilled on each day, how long each period will be and what the emphasis will be for every workout. It's a surprisingly exact science that has been sharpened in his nine years at USC and four seasons as an NFL head coach.

"We paint a big picture of Fall Camp and then slot things through the different practices," Carroll said. "We end up adjusting them sometimes but the overall world-view concepts remain the same."

The emphases and themes of each practice and walk-thru are set in advance, but the individual plays and drills in each workout are scripted out a day before. Offensive coaches decide the plays they want to run for each 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 period and then give the script to the defense so it can call its plays according to the personnel and down-and-distance. And if that sounds a little fishy -- the defense getting to see the offense's plays and then script accordingly -- it definitely is, and it often produces some good-natured joking between the offensive and defensive staffers on the practice field.

When the defense shuts down a play during practice, sometimes the offensive coaches will tease that it only happened because the defensive coaches knew the play. On the flip side, if the offense dominates the defense on a play, the offensive coaches will occasionally joke to their counterparts, "You knew the play and we still burned you!"

More NFL preseason action

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In three NFL preseason games tonight, seven Trojans will be on display. Check them out:

Tennessee Titans vs. Dallas Cowboys
5 p.m. (Fox)
Titans: Tailback LenDale White, defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler

Atlanta Falcons vs. St. Louis Rams
5 p.m.
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings
5 p.m.
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel
Vikings: Quarterback John David Booty, offensive lineman Drew Radovich

Almost done

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The end-of-the-tunnel light is definitely visible, but the grind churns on for another two days.

After 14 days, Fall Camp reaches its second-to-last day today, with the end getting closer and closer with each passing minute. The morning has already gotten started with a special teams meeting, which will be followed by position group meetings until a walk-thru at 10. Today's practice is set for 3 p.m.

Fall Camp is almost over, meaning the season is almost here.

Trojans around the League

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It was a defensive night for Trojans in NFL preseason work on Thursday, as five USC alumni from the defensive side of the ball posted stats:

- Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) had five tackles.
- Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had three tackles.
- Defensive end Frostee Rucker (Cincinnati Bengals) had a tackle.
- Defensive lineman Mike Patterson (Philadelphia Eagles) had a tackle.
- Defensive lineman Fili Moala (Indianapolis Colts) had two tackles.

RipsIt Minute

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A new daily feature we're unveiling this week, "The RipsIt Minute" will give you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day, just in case you couldn't follow us live.


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A night at the lanes

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The Trojans traded football for bowling Thursday night, spending the evening at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live instead of their usual film sessions and meetings in Heritage Hall. Check out some photos from the night:

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Players walk up to Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live on Thursday night.

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Fullback Stanley Havili unwinds on a roll.

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Tailback Curtis McNeal lets his bowling ball go.

Bowled over

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Coach Carroll keeps throwing curveballs.

Instead of a night full of meetings and film reviews, the Trojans will be enjoying an evening of fun as they go bowling at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live. Having already surprised them with a "District 9" screening, Carroll shocked the players once again tonight with his latest diversion.

Here's the photo used to break the news to the players during tonight's team meeting, featuring offensive coordinator John Morton and assistant head coach for the defense Ken Norton Jr. (the art was produced by Avi Kushlan of the USC Video Operations Department)

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By Avi Kushlan of the USC Video Operations Department

The day ahead

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Check out what's on the schedule for the penultimate day of Fall Camp 2009 -- Day 15 on Friday:

7 a.m. • Breakfast
8:30 a.m. • Meetings begin
10 a.m. • Walk-thru
11:15 a.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Getting back to work

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In about 10 minutes, the nightly block of meetings will begin with a special teams gathering, this time for the onside kick coverage unit, also known as the "hands" team. About two-and-a-half hours of meetings and film sessions are on the agenda for tonight.

For a good read

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Check out this insightful piece about quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, from today's O.C. Register.

Pictures from Thursday afternoon's practice

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The Trojan offense huddles up with the L.A. skyline in the distance.

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With Coach Carroll watching on, Aaron Corp throws during 7-on-7 period.

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

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Mitch Mustain winds up to throw.

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Fullback Stanley Havili finds a hole.

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Matt Barkley throws to the left over nose guard Jurrell Casey.

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Kicker Jordan Congdon prepares for the field goal.

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With defensive lineman Jurrell Casey approaching, Matt Barkley sprints out of the pocket.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- On a day the Trojans focused primarily on the intricate situations of the game, Matt Barkley showed he's got a very good handle on things -- especially for an 18-year-old freshman. To close out the practice, Barkley led a successful two-minute drill, guiding the first-team offense 53 yards in 10 plays for a field goal while managing the clock beautifully and making smart decisions, all with deafening crowd noise blaring from speakers around the field. The drive was just one of many bright spots for Barkley, who also directed a 14-play, 52-yard field goal-scoring drive in a scrimmage-like session earlier in the workout. "Matt had a very, very good day," Coach Carroll said. "He was in command of that thing."

- In his second practice on his first day back, Aaron Corp was again precise and looked comfortable during 7-on-7 period, going 4-for-5 including a touchdown. The one incompletion could have been called back for pass interference, to boot. "Aaron had two very good practices considering the circumstances," Carroll said. "That's a positive sign."

- Barkley also had an impressive effort in 7-on-7 drills, going 7-for-10, including two touchdowns.

- In a Hail Mary situational drill to conclude the practice, Taylor Mays intercepted a pass and ran it back 90 yards for a touchdown, looking a lot like a quick, bruising tailback in the process.

- On one play in 7-on-7 drills, cornerback Marshall Jones had a fantastic pass deflection on a deep ball in the end zone.

- Beat up and tired from 22 on-field sessions in the last 13 days, the Trojans were given a reprieve Thursday afternoon when Coach Carroll changed the attire to helmets-only, allowing the players a break from all-out contact.

- Coach Carroll in the post-practice huddle: "Let's make sure every time we go, we're making stuff happen. Let's get better every time we go."

Out to make it a good day

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Just a few hours after their opening practice of the day, the Trojans are capping off the third two-a-day of camp with a half-pads workout on Howard Jones Field right now -- but not before Coach Carroll shared one of his Carrollisms with the assistants.

"Let's make it a good day because we make it a good day," the head coach said during this afternoon's staff meeting.

Yogi Berra, be warned -- you have some competition. We'll be back with a report after the 16th practice of Fall Camp.

Armstead breaks bone in foot

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Defensive end Armond Armstead broke the fifth metatarsal (outer most bone) in his left foot during practice on Thursday morning and will require surgery. Armstead, a sophomore who has played on the first-unit defensive line during training camp, is expected to be out for six weeks.

His surgery is scheduled for Friday morning.

Just a small portion

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In light of today's post about the location of USC's seats for the Ohio State game in Columbus, the Trojan athletic department is receiving 5,000 tickets to the Sept. 12 matchup at 102,329-seat Ohio Stadium.

Join the Touchdown Club

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Touchdowns now mean even more this season.

Make a pledge for every touchdown USC scores this season, an offer that not only makes a difference in the Trojan athletic department but also enters you into special drawings for sideline passes and trips on the team plane.

Commit to a dollar amount per touchdown -- with all the funds going to the USC athletic department. Learn more here and pledge your support here. Join the Touchdown Club today!

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Bumped up

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Friday's practice has been moved to 3 p.m.

Scrimmage on Saturday

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The Trojans will conduct an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday at 3 p.m. on Howard Jones Field. That will be the final workout before the team breaks camp that evening.

The mock game, the official end-of-camp scrimmage, is set for Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m.

Getting a kick out of it

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RipsIt reader Jose Reyes e-mailed in asking whether the Trojans practice onside kicking in practice, even though they have hardly ever had to use it in a game.

In fact, USC practiced full-team onside kick drills during Wednesday's practice, one of several occasions throughout the season the Trojans will work on the situation. The team will walk through the scenario every Friday before a game, as well as occasionally during midweek practices. Beyond that, the kickers work on perfecting the onside kick in individual drills during workouts so that in case it's ever needed, they'll have it in their arsenal.

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Kicker Joe Houston's onside kick bounces off the ground and into the air during special teams work on Wednesday.

An hour earlier

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Just a reminder that the second half of today's two-a-day is at 3 p.m., not 4 p.m. as originally scheduled.

Sitting in enemy territory

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We've received several questions about where USC's ticket allotment is located for the Ohio State game on Sept. 12. The Trojan block of tickets are predominantly in the northeast corner of Ohio Stadium, with two sections in the southwest upper deck. USC's allotment is in sections:

  • 6aa, 8aa, 10aa and 12aa
  • 4b, 6b and 8b
  • 6c and 8c
  • 31b and 33b

Check out this seating diagram of Ohio Stadium, with the yellow dots signifying USC sections for the Trojan-Buckeye battle on Sept. 12 (click to expand):

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Click to expand

Watch out for O'Dowd

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Kristofer O'Dowd has been named one of 43 players on the watch list for the Rimington Award, given annually to the nation's best center.

Livin' the dream

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Emily and Joe Danelo -- the parents of Trojan kicker Mario Danelo, who tragically passed away in January 2007 after a record-breaking career -- are presented with a check in the team huddle after Thursday morning's practice. The Mario Danelo Kicking Academy in June raised $7,000 for the Mario Danelo Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Pictures from Thursday morning's practice

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Allen Bradford (21) and Kevin Greene (81) go through kickoff coverage drills.

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Tight ends coach Brennan Carroll hurtles through agility bags alongside fullback Stanley Havili.

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The defensive line, with end Everson Griffen at the front, goes through position group drills.

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Aaron Corp throws deep to Ronald Johnson during 7-on-7 drills.

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Mitch Mustain fakes a handoff to Joe McKnight.

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Matt Barkley jogs away from the play as tailback Allen Bradford takes the handoff.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The sharp return of Aaron Corp highlighted the short helmets-only workout, as the quarterback went 8-for-9 with four touchdowns during a red-zone 7-on-7 period, 10 days after a cracked fibula knocked him out of practice. "Obviously he was ready to throw the football," Coach Carroll said of the rust-free Corp, who threw with remarkable accuracy. "He had a great 7-on-7 period. It's awesome to see him back out here."

- Perhaps sensing the competition from Corp, Matt Barkley rose to the occasion Thursday morning, going 10-for-11 during 7-on-7 drills, including completions on his first 10 passes -- all against the first-team defense.

- Fueled by the near-perfect performances of Barkley and Corp, the offense blew out the defense, 18-4, during the 7-on-7 passing-focused period. On the very next play after the dominating period, the offense ran a QB kneel play to jokingly celebrate the big win.

- Behind a sack-happy frontline, the defense rebounded from the rough 7-on-7 drills with an 11-9 victory in the final team period.

- Wideout Brice Butler caught three touchdowns in 7-on-7 drills, including one leaping grab that saw him jump over the cornerback and pluck the ball out of the air on a fade route in the end zone.

- Scouts from five NFL teams attended the workout.

Out to the field

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The first of the day's two practice is beginning now on Howard Jones Field, so we'll return from the helmets-only practice in a few hours.

Mock game info

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The end-of-camp mock game is set for next Saturday (Aug. 29) at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Here's all the pertinent info, so don't miss out on USC's final tune-up before the season opens Sept. 5:

  • Cost: FREE
  • Start time: Scrimmage will begin at 12:30 p.m., though warm-ups will commence around 11:30 a.m.
  • Gates 1 and 4 will be open starting at 11:30 a.m.
  • Coliseum parking lots 4, 5 and 6 will open at 9 a.m. Parking will cost $15.
  • Concession stands will be open along the south side of the stadium.
  • The Trojans Marching Band and USC Song Girls will perform.
  • The team will proceed through the traditional pre-game Trojan Walk (from the Sports Arena to the peristyle) starting at 10:40 a.m.

0820coli.jpgUSC's end-of-camp mock game is set for Saturday, Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Admission is free.

Picking back up with the preseason

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The NFL preseason resumes tonight with two games featuring seven Trojans. Check them out:

Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots
4:30 p.m.
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts
5 p.m. (Fox)
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala

All-around athlete

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The Trojans are well aware of former kicker David Buehler's athletic prowess.

Now the Dallas Cowboys are getting a taste for themselves.

Buehler beat Cowboys defensive back DeAngelo Smith in a 50-yard sprint by a step on Tuesday, showing that his 4.57 40-yard time and 25 bench press reps were no fluke.

Thanks to RipsIt reader Rudy Quinonez for passing the link along.

RipsIt Minute

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A new daily feature we're unveiling this week, "The RipsIt Minute" will give you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day, just in case you couldn't follow us live.


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The day ahead

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Featuring the third two-a-day of camp, Day 14 of Fall Camp 2009 is upon the Trojans, so check out the agenda for Thursday:

7 a.m. • Breakfast
9 a.m. • Practice (helmets only)
10:30 a.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check  

Close to the end

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Only three days remain in Fall Camp 2009, and the heat is about to be turned up.

The Trojans have two two-a-days in their last three days of camp, including workouts at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday. Check out the remaining schedule before USC breaks camp on Saturday afternoon:

  • Thursday - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 3 p.m. (two-a-day)
  • Friday - Practice 4 p.m.
  • Saturday - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 2 p.m. (two-a-day)

Answer in the form of a question

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During tonight's team meeting, the players took a little detour off the normal schedule when offensive line coach Pat Ruel turned into Alex Trebek and hosted a USC version of Jeopardy.

Offensive lineman Jeff Byers represented the offense, safety Taylor Mays represented the defense and linebacker Jordan Campbell represented the special teams, with the categories dealing with everything from team philosophies to campus buildings to the summer's top pop songs.

The closely contested, yet extremely silly, battle was decided when quarterback/holder Garrett Green provided a lifeline on the Final Jeopardy question, giving a win that was split between the offense and special teams because of Green's dual status.

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Offensive lineman Jeff Byers, safety Taylor Mays and linebacker Jordan Campbell play a Trojan version of Jeopardy tonight during the team meeting.

Blind faith

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Playing quarterback for a defensive back drill, Coach Carroll apparently lacks the vision scouts look for from a signal-caller as he throws deep downfield.

Pictures from Wednesday's practice

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Aaron Corp participates in 1-on-1 drills Wednesday afternoon.

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Safety Jawanza Starling (left) goes airborne as he and Taylor Mays go through a fumble-causing exercise.

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Allen Bradford (21) squeezes through a hole.

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Matt Barkley throws over the line.

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Defensive end Malik Jackson flies around the corner in pursuit of Matt Barkley.

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Punter Jake Harfman prepares to receive the punt during special teams drills.

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Wes Horton (left) and Malik Jackson (right) bookend Matt Barkley, who steps up to throw in the pocket.

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With defensive lineman DaJohn Harris closing in, Mitch Mustain throws to the right flat.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Important lessons were learned during Wednesday's half-pads workout, as the offense discovered the power of grit and a never-say-die attitude. Down 8-2 and 14-6 in the final 31-play team period, the offense came roaring back with wins on eight of nine late-practice snaps to pull within one at 15-14. Though the defense ended up securing a 17-14 overall practice victory, the offense -- and defense -- learned that nothing's finished until it's officially finished. "As long as you keep executing and keep competing, it ain't ever over," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle.

- On the final snap of regulation in the turnover-themed practice, the defense finally got what they were looking for. Safety Ryan McMahon and tight end Bryson Lloyd experienced a brutal collision in the open field that knocked the ball loose and sent the defensive players into a celebratory riot. It was recovered by the defense for its only takeaway of the day, but it was more than enough to officially label it "Turnover Wednesday."

- Typical for a late-camp practice, players got extra chippy on Wednesday, and it was summed up on one play in particular. On a short completion to wideout Ronald Johnson, tight end Anthony McCoy laid a blindsided crack block that flattened linebacker Jarvis Jones and sent the offensive players into wild merriment. As the teams lined up for the next play, the entire offense and entire defense huddled up separately and started chanting "We ready!" in each others' directions, leading to a lighthearted brawl before the offense continued its winning streak on the next three plays.

- Wearing his helmet for the first time in nine days, Aaron Corp participated in more live throwing drills Wednesday, the second day in a row he has taken part in a non-contact portion of practice.

- In a simulated overtime session at the end of practice, kicker Joe Houston sank a 36-yard field goal for the second-team offense before Matt Barkley threw short to wideout Ronald Johnson, who sliced his way to a 25-yard touchdown on the opening play for the first-unit offense.

- Matt Barkley had an especially impressive 15-play streak during a pass-oriented red-zone team period, leading the offense to an 8-7 victory behind three perfect touchdown strikes.

- With his teammates forming a horseshoe and yelling around him, kicker Jordan Congdon coolly drilled a 37-yard field goal near the end of practice.

- Freshman James Boyd has switched from defensive end to tight end.

Hit the field

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Wednesday means it's turnover day for the Trojans, so the emphasis is especially on the football during this afternoon's half-pads practice. We'll return with a report following the workout.

Situational focus

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Each year, training camp allows the Trojans to focus completely on football.

And the emphasis is definitely on "completely."

The coaches make the most of the time during camp by installing plays and practicing for almost every imaginable situation they could encounter in a football game. The practices are scripted out so each scenario can be reviewed at least once during training camp, with many of them appearing routinely throughout the month. Take a look at the plethora of situations the Trojans review during Fall Camp:

  • Blitz
  • 1st and 10
  • 2nd and 7
  • 3rd down
  • Red zone
  • Fringe (50- to 30-yard line going in)
  • Backed-up against the goal line
  • Goal line and short yardage
  • 2-minute drill
  • 4-minute offense (running the clock out at the end of a half)
  • Hail Mary
  • Sudden change (offense tries to score after a turnover and the defense tries to get the stop on a short field)
  • Two-point plays
  • Overtime

Slip-n-slide

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The Trojans will be in half-pads for this afternoon's 3 p.m. practice.

The quarterbacks will not.

To give them an opportunity to practice their baseball-esque hook slides on keeper runs, the quarterbacks will wear full pads today, while their teammates will be in shoulder pads and shorts.

Feast, not famine

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Everyone knows football players eat a lot, but not many know what they eat. RipsIt reader Luis Vazquez sent in this question: "What kind of foods do the men in Cardinal and Gold eat during training camp to fuel their bodies? Do they have a buffet of foods to choose from or is there a specific menu for each meal?"

During Fall Camp, the Trojans eat three buffet meals a day in the athletic department-run Galen Cafeteria, gorging on a smorgasbord of foods that provide them with the fuel to get through the long days in August.

Breakfasts consist of pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit and pastries. Lunches and dinners feature veggies, rice, potatoes, chicken, beef, pork, fish, pizza, a sandwich bar, a salad bar, fresh fruit and desserts. All in all, it's a veritable feast every meal for the 16 straight days of camp.

With 105 players and around 80 football support staffers, training camp is a challenging time for the Galen Cafeteria workers. They make an estimated 8,550 meals during the 16-day Fall Camp, with many of the workers logging hours that rival the coaches' schedules.

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A buffet of meats, veggies and potatoes is produced in the Galen Cafeteria three meals a day for the Trojans during Fall Camp.

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The Trojans enjoy a full salad bar during Fall Camp.

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Mounds of fruit are served in Galen Cafeteria during Fall Camp.

Super models

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Here's a funny behind-the-scenes video from the ESPN Magazine photo shoot with Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen (thanks to RipsIt reader R.J. Kelly for passing it along):

It's coming

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Check out this FSN ad featuring Coach Carroll that'll air in advance of the USC-San Jose State season opener on Sept. 5:

Focusing on school

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The fall semester begins in just five days, and the Trojans are starting to get ready.

Players are in an academic meeting now in Heritage Auditorium, where they're going over classes and receiving their books for the coming semester. The meeting will last for much of the next two hours before the players dive back into football prior to today's 3 p.m. practice.

Technically savvy

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In Heritage Hall this morning, Taylor Mays records an interview via Skype that'll air on ESPN's "College Football Live" at 12:30 p.m. today.

Getting ready

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USC's student equipment managers put players' jerseys on their shoulder pads this morning in preparation for the 3 p.m. practice. It's a routine service the tireless volunteer student managers do before every practice to help the players with the often-challenging task of slipping a tight jersey over pads.

Oh say can you see

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates pauses for a goofy moment during this morning's walk-thru, as he stopped instructing to stand at attention and put his hand over his heart as the Trojan Marching Band played the national anthem at the adjacent Cromwell Field. An amused Mitch Mustain joins in with Bates, who quickly remembered to remove his hat during the rendition. The band is now in its sixth day of training camp, while the Trojans are on Day 13.

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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Check out some pictures from this morning's walk-thru, a quick hour-long workout that saw the Trojans review all special teams situations and go through 30 plays for the offense and defense, all without footballs in accordance with NCAA rules.

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Overcast skies and cool temperatures welcomed the Trojans to Wednesday morning's walk-thru.

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The kickoff unit storms down the field against a scout team kickoff return squad.

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The first-unit defensive line -- (from left to right) Everson Griffen, Jurrell Casey, Christian Tupou and Armond Armstead -- line up and listen to instruction from coach Jethro Franklin before the snap.

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Matt Barkley drops back as the offensive and defensive line battle at the line of scrimmage.

Off to the walk-thru

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This morning's special teams-focused walk-thru just began on Howard Jones Field, so we'll be back with a report soon after it's over.

Blast the music

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Coach Carroll just left his office and headed to the practice field for this morning's walk-thru, but not before following through on one of his most sacred -- and peculiar -- traditions.

Each day before going out to the field, Carroll turns his office stereo up as loud as it gets, blasting his iTunes mix so the entire campus can hear. Well, it's not that loud, but it still resonates around Heritage Hall, so this morning, everyone has had the pleasure of listening to Blue Oyster Cult, Bob Dylan and now Bob Marley.

When asked why he performs this daily ritual, Carroll didn't even realize he did it -- a subconscious rite of practice that has Heritage Hall rocking and Carroll singing all the way to Howard Jones Field.

Perhaps he thinks the tunes, if loud enough, will carry to the practice field. It's surely one of Trojan football's greatest unsolved mysteries.

Supporting the cause

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In the minutes before this morning's walk-thru, assistant athletic trainer Chris Grosskopf tapes the wrists of offensive tackle Matt Kalil in Heritage Hall's athletic training room.

RipsIt Minute

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The day ahead

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As the annual grind of August maxes out this week, Coach Carroll is urging his players to make the most of these last four days of training camp, knowing that every practice and every meeting add up to the larger picture that'll be on display this fall.

"You make yourself right by the way you go after it day after day," Coach Carroll said during tonight's team meeting. "We can't miss any opportunities to make ourselves great -- not good but great."

The Trojans will get their next opportunity to do just that on Wednesday, the 13th day of Fall Camp 2009. Here's the agenda for the day (and check out the full Fall Camp schedule):

7 a.m. • Breakfast
9 a.m. • Special teams walk-thru
11:15 a.m. • Lunch
12 p.m. • Academic meeting
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
11 p.m. • Bed check 

Chilling out

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While waiting for tonight's team meeting to start, the players not on the punt return unit lounge around on the plush carpet in the Heritage Hall lobby. Once the special teams film session wraps up in the next few minutes, everyone will be called together in Heritage Auditorium for the team meeting, which is followed by offense/defense and position group meetings until about 10 p.m.

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Offensive linemen Matt Kalil (left) and Zack Heberer (right) dive through cut-blocking drills.

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Wearing a knee brace on his left knee, Aaron Corp participated in a brief portion of Tuesday's practice.

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Wideout Travon Patterson and cornerback Marshall Jones compete for the ball during 1-on-1s.

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Mitch Mustain throws as defensive end Malik Jackson tries to deflect the pass.

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Matt Barkley throws in the pocket.

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Kicker Joe Houston connects on a short field goal.

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With linebackers Chris Galippo (54) and Jarvis Jones (far right) jumping to knock the pass down, Mitch Mustain throws to the right.

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As Matt Barkley throws, defensive lineman Derek Simmons eases up to avoid hitting the quarterback.

O'Dowd and Corp update

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USC received positive news on the injury front tonight.

X-rays confirmed center Kristofer O'Dowd dislocated his knee cap during Monday night's scrimmage and that he will not require surgery. Doctors estimate O'Dowd could return to action in two to three weeks.

Meanwhile, team doctors said Aaron Corp, who's been out since last Monday with a cracked fibula head, is progressing normally and could begin practicing next week.

Pulling his leg

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The prankmaster, finally, got pranked.

During the final team period in Tuesday's practice, players staged a fake fight that tricked Coach Carroll and his assistants into believing the scuffle was real. Following a short run play that ended with a pileup, several players stayed in the mass and pretended to push, shove and yell in a scene that looked like a legitimate extracurricular football fight. It caused the coaches -- and especially Carroll -- to start blowing their whistles while trying to frantically separate the players.

Once the players were pulled apart and the coaches caught on to the dupe, everyone had a good laugh, with players surrounding Carroll and chanting, "You got punk'd!"

"There will be retribution," a grinning Carroll said afterward.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Following an abnormally average performance in Monday's scrimmage, the offense rebounded with an all-around strong workout that featured superb quarterback play and a potent ground game. The offense would've also claimed the overall practice victory if it wasn't for a controversial call by Coach Carroll on the final tie-breaking play of the day, when Carroll -- who doubles as the referee -- ruled Matt Barkley down just outside of the end zone on a QB sneak. The ruling gave the defense a 28-27 win, though the offensive players protested by singing the fight song while the defensive players chanted, "scoreboard!"

- One day after his subpar effort Monday, Matt Barkley bounced back Tuesday. During one segment of 11-on-11 drills, Barkley showed off his accurate arm when he hit wideout Brice Butler down the left sideline and then tossed a perfect deep ball to tailback Allen Bradford along the right sideline. Also, in a five-play 1st-and-10 competition, the Barkley-led offense converted on four of its five snaps.

- Aaron Corp participated in 1-on-1 drills and a 7-on-7 period against air, throwing sharply in his limited snaps. "He ripped the ball around," Coach Carroll said. "That's a huge step."

- Tailback Allen Bradford turned in yet another amazing practice, churning out several long runs and also showing off his receiving skills. One of his catches, on a screen play to the right, was made possible by an awesome downfield block by offensive guard Khaled Holmes.

- On one play in team period, tailback C.J. Gable had a nifty 5-yard touchdown run when he changed direction while hopping over the fallen lineman before landing in the end zone.

- Scouts from four NFL teams attended the workout.

'Red Bull' is now a verb

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Less than 24 hours after a late-night scrimmage, the Trojan coaches and players are undoubtedly exhausted and beat up, especially when factoring in the 11 days of camp that preceded the scrimmage.

"Everyone's tired, we all feel it right now," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's staff meeting. "But let's Red Bull our way to practice. Get some Mountain Dew. Let's be humming out there."

We'll return with a report following the half-pads practice.

Good looking

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Coach Carroll has watched the Monday's scrimmage tape from both sides of the ball, from all angles and repeatedly since last night. He liked what he saw.

"The film's really encouraging," Carroll said.

Respecting his elder

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Brett Favre came out of retirement today, and one Trojan was specifically impacted by the legendary quarterback's return.

Former USC starter John David Booty, now a reserve quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, had his No. 4 jersey taken by Favre in the 39-year-old's first workout with the Vikings. Booty, who had No. 10 at USC, wore No. 9 in Tuesday's practice.

Wednesday's practice now at 3

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Wednesday's practice has been bumped up an hour to 3 p.m. It is open to the public and on Howard Jones Field.

Check out the full Fall Camp schedule here.

Another honor for Mays

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Taylor Mays has been put on the watch list for the 2009 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's best defensive player.

More watch lists

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Jeff Byers and Kristofer O'Dowd have been named to the watch list for the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation's top offensive or defensive lineman.

View from above

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Fifty-three feet above the practice field, Dave Scott performs work that is vital to the success of the Trojans, though you'd never know and he'll hardly ever be recognized.

Scott, the assistant director of video operations, tapes practice every day from a cherry-picker high above the field, recording every snap so coaches can watch and analyze the film and use it to instruct the players. Though it's an extremely valuable tool, it's one of the most unheralded aspects of the team's preparation.

But the lack of attention is the least of Scott's worries these days. With most practices either in the heat of the late morning or the brutal sun of the afternoon, Scott has to fight against a sunburn while being in the uncovered cherry-picker for more than two hours at a time. A white bath towel hung over his head helps in the battle.

"It's not that hot; it's more just a burning," Scott said. "And the sun only hits one side of your face up there."

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Assistant director of video operations Dave Scott videotapes practice 53 feet above the field, battling the brutal sun in the process. A towel over his head helps him stay unburned.

Generation gap

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Matt Barkley led the first-unit offense in last night's scrimmage alongside two players who are a stunning six years his elder.

Sixth-year lineman Jeff Byers protected the quarterback on the offensive line and sixth-year safety Josh Pinkard was facing the 18-year-old freshman across the line of scrimmage. When the two super-super-seniors were in their first seasons at USC -- playing for the 2004 national title in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma -- Barkley was in eighth grade.

Yes, that's eighth grade, while Pinkard was recording two tackles and recovering a fumble to set up a touchdown and Byers was logging plenty of snaps en route to a 55-19 national title-clinching victory against the Sooners.

Both Pinkard and Byers played in all 13 games as freshmen in 2004. Meanwhile, Barkley started as a quarterback and safety for the Mission Viejo Cowboys, a Junior All-American team that made it to the semifinals of the L.A. and Orange County area.

"That's crazy," Barkley said of the age gap.

Customized for you

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The USC Photo Store is now offering two cool new products called "The Personalizer" -- you can have either your name spelled out by the Trojan Marching Band or your name on a USC football locker in a framed photo. Get more info and place your order here.

All-nighter

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The graveyard shift was a success.

To clean up and do all the laundry from last night's scrimmage, assistant equipment managers Chris Dozal and Jim "Hammer" Davis worked from 9:30 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. this morning -- and everything went exactly as planned, even if it messed up their sleep schedules a little.

"It worked out well," director of equipment operations David "Pops" Scott said. "We gotta do what we gotta do."

For Dozal and Davis, there's no rest for the weary. They'll be back on their normal 4 p.m.-to-12:30 a.m. shift this afternoon, just 10 hours after finishing up last night's work.

Getting to the truth

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It's "Tell the Truth" day at USC.

Fresh off Monday night's scrimmage, coaches are sharing their thoughts on what the team did right and how it can improve during meetings this morning, just like they do on the first day of meetings after a game.

"Always after we play, we want to get to the truth of what happened so we're all on the same page," Coach Carroll said in the recently concluded team meeting.

And the truth from Monday's scrimmage? According to Carroll after breaking down the film, it was a lot of positives:

  • Defense: "The defense played lights out."
  • Offensive line: "In all our years here, I don't think we've ever been better upfront."
  • Running backs: "You guys are a force now. You've got speed, power, everything."
  • Special teams: "Is the improvement obvious or not? It's so cool and we're just getting started."
  • Defensive backfield: "This is as good a group as we've ever had. All night long, the quarterbacks were looking but couldn't find anyone open."
  • Low offensive turnovers: Only turnover of the day (a Joe McKnight fumble) should have been reversed since the replay showed the ground caused the fumble.
  • Individual offensive players who shined: Jeff Byers, Allen Bradford, Joe McKnight, De'Von Flournoy, David Ausberry
  • Individual defensive players who shined: Christian Tupou, Jurrell Casey, Malik Jackson, Taylor Mays, Rob Erickson

Overall, the coaches were very impressed with the performance -- but they're not satisfied.

"I'm fired up with where we're going right now," Carroll told the players. "But we want you to take where we are and go to the next level. What we just did doesn't mean a thing -- it's what we're going to do next.

"This is a really good start but we're going to keep stepping, keep pushing, keep marching."

Studying the scrimmage

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Offensive lineman Alex Parsons (near) and the rest of the Trojans listen to special teams coordinator Brian Schneider during this morning's special teams meeting and film review in Heritage Auditorium.

Going to the Big Apple

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USC's 2012 road game against Syracuse will be played in the new Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Originally scheduled to be in the Carrier Dome, the Trojans and Orange will play on Sept. 8, 2012 at the neutral site just outside of New York City.

Cameron catching on

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The articles keep coming today, as this Ventura County Star feature on wideout Jordan Cameron is the latest must-read. Thanks to RipsIt reader René Ponce for passing it along.

Making news in the northwest

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Seattle-based RipsIt reader and USC alum Keegan Fisher sent along this excellent feature about the Trojans from today's Seattle Times.

Making a difference

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Here are two cool A Better LA-centric news items:

- The August edition of the foundation's e-newsletter
- Fifty kids from A Better LA will be treated to a special night at the Dodgers-Cardinals game tonight, thanks to the Summa Children's Foundation

Mays days

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Don't miss this superb feature on Taylor Mays and his decision to stay for his senior season, written by Phil Collin of the L.A. Daily News.

Trojans around the League

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See how the USC alumni did in Monday night's NFL preseason action:

- Wideout Patrick Turner (Miami Dolphins) had a team-high three catches for 33 yards.
- Tailback Chauncey Washington (Jacksonville Jaguars) had five carries for 12 yards.
- Linebacker Thomas Williams (Jacksonville Jaguars) had five tackles.
- Wideout Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina Panthers) had one catch for three yards.
- Cornerback Terrell Thomas (New York Giants) had two tackles.

Getting after it

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Coming off a night that didn't end until it was close to morning for many of the players, the Trojans got a little boost when Coach Carroll effectively hit snooze for them by pushing this morning's meetings back 90 minutes. Originally scheduled for 8:30, the block of meetings set for reviewing scrimmage film won't begin until 10, allowing the players to sleep in a little.

The coaches, meanwhile, stayed late in the office last night or arrived early this morning -- or both -- to scour the tape from Monday night's 89-play scrimmage. There's lots to go over, both good and bad, and the lessons from the night at the Coliseum begin to be learned now.

RipsIt Minute

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A new daily feature we're unveiling this week, "The USCRipsIt Minute" will give you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day, just in case you couldn't follow us live.


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The day ahead

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Fall Camp has entered the backstretch, with just five days and seven practices left. Day 12, featuring only one workout at 3 p.m., will look like this for the Trojans (and here's the full Fall Camp practice schedule):

9 a.m. • Breakfast
10 a.m. • Scrimmage debrief meetings
12 p.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Pre-practice meetings begin
3 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
11 p.m. • Bed check

See it for yourself

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Here are the full stats from Monday night's Coliseum scrimmage.

Pictures from Monday's scrimmage

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Here are some pictures from Monday night's scrimmage at the Coliseum (photos by Ben Malcolmson):

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The Trojans begin the scrimmage with the sun setting over the Coliseum.

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The Trojans march down the tunnel toward the field.

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Players huddle up and bounce around to get pumped up before the scrimmage.

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The Trojans do their pre-game stretch routine in their traditional orderly fashion.

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As the scrimmage gets set to begin, the sky turns purple with the sunset.

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The offense lines up for a play.

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The offense huddles up.

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About 2,000 fans attended Monday night's scrimmage.

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During halftime, quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates chats with Matt Barkley.

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Mitch Mustain and Matt Barkley converse during the halftime break.

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Kicker Jordan Congdon connects on an extra-point attempt.

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Matt Barkley drops back to throw in his end zone.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the players on the field after the scrimmage.

Peak performers

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Check out the stat leaders from Monday night's intra-squad scrimmage at the Coliseum:

- Matt Barkley (playing against the first-team defense): 5-for-18, 109 yards
- Mitch Mustain (playing against the second-team defense): 10-for-16, 108 yards, 1 TD
- Garrett Green (playing against the third-team defense): 5-for-6, 67 yards
- Wideout De'Von Flournoy (leading receiver): 3 catches for 105 yards, 1 TD
- Tailback Joe McKnight (leading rusher): 6 carries for 77 yards
- Tailback Allen Bradford: 7 carries for 51 yards
- Safety Taylor Mays (leading tackler): 6 tackles

Dispatch from the Coliseum

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

- The defense displayed utter dominance during Monday's 89-play scrimmage in front of an estimated 2,000 at the Coliseum, shutting down the offense's passing attack and suffocating nearly all drives. Of the 14 total drives in the scrimmage, only three ended in scores for the offense (two touchdowns and a field goal) and five were three-and-outs. Led by the lockdown secondary, the Trojan defense limited first-team quarterback Matt Barkley to 109 yards on 5-of-18 passing. "The defense played really well in coverage," Coach Carroll said. "They made it hard on Barkley all night long."

- Freshman De'Von Flournoy had the play of the night when he caught a short pass from Mitch Mustain and juked his way free for a 53-yard touchdown.

- Though Barkley struggled against the vaunted top-unit defensive backfield, he led the first-team offense on a sharp-looking 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Stafon Johnson.

- Mitch Mustain continued his recent surge with another strong performance Monday, going 10-of-16 for 108 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. "Mitch has really come to life now," Carroll said.

- At the end of a simulated two-minute drill to close out the first half, kicker Joe Houston connected on a 34-yard field goal for the offense's only other points. Matt Barkley quarterbacked the drive, which went 58 yards in five plays.

- The Trojans also scored twice on special teams, with Ronald Johnson returning a kickoff 99 yards and Joe McKnight taking a punt back 78 yards, both against the scout teams.

- Joe McKnight had another SportsCenter-worthy play Monday night when he took the pitchout and sliced between defenders for a 54-yard run on the second play of the scrimmage. "Joe looked flashy tonight," Carroll said.

- Besides the secondary, another of the Trojans' major strengths -- the offensive line -- shined Monday night, providing outstanding pass coverage and run-blocking throughout the scrimmage. The O-line allowed only two sacks in 78 offensive snaps and created lanes for 207 rushing yards Monday.

- The thermometer read 72 degrees, a cool haze hung over the field, the "Monday Night Football" theme song played at the onset and dew formed on the pristine turf, all of which signaled the return of football season and created a perfect night for Trojan football. 

Going to the Coli

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With their meetings complete, their ankles taped and their minds right, the Trojans are boarding buses now to head to the Coliseum for tonight's intra-squad scrimmage, the second of Fall Camp 2009. We'll return with a full report after the full-pads, full-speed game-like session.

For a good read

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Check out this positive feature on wideout Dwayne Jarrett, from the Carolina Panthers' website. Thanks to RipsIt reader Sandi Contreras for passing it along.

Raise 'em up

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Tonight's clash might be just another intra-squad scrimmage during camp, but the Trojans are so full of energy and excitement that you'd think it was the biggest game of the season. Here, the players and coaches raise their arms and yell as part of a ritualistic chant during tonight's special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium.

Starting the night off

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The pre-scrimmage slate of meetings is about to begin in Heritage Auditorium, with a special teams gathering that acts as a crazy pump-up session set to start in a few minutes. Here's a look at the night's agenda:

5 p.m. • Special teams meeting
5:30 p.m. • Team meeting
5:45 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
6 p.m. • Position group meetings
7 p.m. • Depart for the Coliseum
7:30 p.m. • Scrimmage at the Coliseum
9:30 p.m. • Return to Heritage Hall

Location, location, location

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With move-out day today, RipsIt reader Rex Creekbaum sent in this question about player housing: "Are freshmen football players allowed to live off campus? I thought all freshmen were required to live on campus one year."

All freshmen players live together in a university-owned apartment complex just across the street from campus, only a short walk away from classes and Heritage Hall. After their first year, players then move to other residences around the university premises, with most of them living north of campus in the near vicinity of USC.

Scrimmage format

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Tonight's scrimmage will be as game-like as possible, with coaches going to be on headsets and in the booth and recorded crowd music being piped in to create a raucous environment. The first-unit offense and defense will face each other and the second-unit offense and defense will play against one another.

Matt Barkley is slated to take the first-team reps, while Mitch Mustain will lead the second-unit offense.

Your 2009 Trojans

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USC's Picture Day has come and gone, and here's the full-team photo from today (click the image to see a larger-sized version):

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Photo by Jason Pommier, USC Sports Information (Click image to see a full-sized version)

Say cheese

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It's Picture Day in Heritage Hall, and a lot more goes into it than just a team photo. Check out the other activities players are cycling through this afternoon:

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Safety Will Harris gets his individual photo taken, a picture that will be used for TV broadcasts.

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Cornerback Kevin Thomas introduces himself with his name, position and hometown for a camera. The clip will be used during pre-game intros at the Coliseum.

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Wearing football pants that won't be in the frame, walk-on defensive back Michael Helfrich poses for the traditional coat-and-tie headshot that will be used in game programs.

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Picture Day is also autograph day, as the players sign 100 commemorative balls that will be used for the athletic department charity and fundraising purposes.

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The coaching staff takes a group shot together.

Heading home

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The Trojans are just hours away from their first opportunity to play in the Coliseum this fall, so we figured it was an opportune time to post this awesome picture taken by assistant athletic trainer Chris Grosskopf before a game last season (click on the photo to see a larger-sized version):

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Photo courtesy of Chris Grosskopf, USC assistant athletic trainer (Click to expand)

Rivals before and now

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RipsIt reader Bob Brown sent in this great question: "Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez are competing to be the starting quarterback for the Jets. Did those two ever meet on the field when Oregon played USC?"

Clemens' collegiate career ended in 2005, which was Sanchez's redshirt freshman season at USC. The Trojans and Ducks faced off in Eugene in 2005, though Sanchez was not on the travel roster. So Clemens and Sanchez didn't meet until Sanchez attended his first organized team activity with the Jets in May.

Redeye shift

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The equipment room will be humming straight through the night tonight.

Following today's 7:30 p.m. scrimmage, all the laundry will have to be taken care of before players report back Tuesday morning, and two staffers will be holding down the fort on the graveyard shift. Assistant equipment managers Chris Dozal and Jim "Hammer" Davis will work from 9:30 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to finish all the laundry and unpack the equipment after the scrimmage at the Coliseum.

"Gotta keep things clean," director of equipment operations David "Pops" Scott said.

Byers' remarkable achievement

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USC's Marshall School of Business offers two different tracks to earn an MBA -- either full-time for two years or during evenings for three years.

Now, it might want to officially add a third -- the Jeff Byers track.

Byers, a sixth-year senior offensive lineman, is just three units shy of earning his MBA, which will give him a bachelor's and master's degree in just 5½ years at USC. That's a stunning accomplishment for any student, much less an All-Pac-10 football player.

Having truly made the most of his opportunity at USC, Byers will be able to concentrate almost entirely on football this fall. But with only one class, what exactly is he going to do with all his time?

"I'm going to get my MBA and be the best football player I can be," said Byers, who will turn 24 next month. "I'm going to study my opponent like nothing else -- know every blitz, every stunt."

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Sixth-year senior offensive lineman Jeff Byers, shown here shaking hands with Coach Carroll after a game in 2008, is only three units shy of earning his MBA. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Ready to go

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USC's cardinal jerseys have been pulled from storage and now rest on hangers in anticipation of team and individual pictures at 3 p.m.

Long-time teammates

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Kicker Joe Houston and tight end Ian Wandler go way back.

Way, way back.

The two redshirt juniors played together for three seasons at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach in 2003-05 and then a season at El Camino Junior College in 2006 before being reunited this fall at USC. Houston, who's competing for the starting placekicker spot, transferred in before the 2007 season, while the 6-4, 270-pound Wandler arrived at USC last week.

The beginning of it all

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Though it'll go completely unnoticed every game, the right hand of center Kristofer O'Dowd starts every offensive play for the Trojans. Wrapped in tape, it'll take a beating through the year as it's in the midst of the battles in the trenches during every practice and game.

Back in action

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After a Sunday void of pro football, the NFL preseason resumes tonight, with two games featuring seven combined Trojans:

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

4:30 p.m.
Jaguars: Tailback Chauncey Washington, linebacker Thomas Williams
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner

Carolina Panthers vs. New York Giants
5 p.m. (ESPN)
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, Offensive lineman Ryan Kalil
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas

Move it

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Move-out day is moving right along at Fluor Tower, as players relocate from where they stayed for the last 10 nights to their off-campus housing they'll live in for the next 10 months. The first order of business today is lunch at noon, so the players and coaches got a second consecutive much-needed morning off from football.

For a good read

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Check out this Q&A with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, from ESPN.com.

RipsIt Minute

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A new daily feature we're unveiling today, "The USCRipsIt Minute" will give you a quick rundown of the must-read Blog entries from the previous day, just in case you couldn't follow us live.

- For a good read: Mark Sanchez feature in L.A. Times that refers to a USCRipsIt video
- Dispatch from Howard Jones Field (Sunday's practice report)
- Pictures from Sunday's practice
- Monday Night Football at the Coliseum

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Ready for some Monday night football

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For the first time since the spring game nearly four months ago, the Trojans will be returning to their home for an intra-squad scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night.

How about some Monday Night Football?

"This is a big-time scrimmage for us, because we're going to the Coliseum," Coach Carroll said during tonight's team meeting. "Let's make sure we live it up and have fun doing that."

Admission is free for the scrimmage. Enter at the southwest corner of the stadium, where the tunnel rises to street level.

To get the players pumped up for the Monday scrimmage at the Coliseum, the Trojans watched this short USC-flavored Monday Night Football reel during Sunday night's team meeting. It was produced by Avi Kushlan and Dave Stephens of the USC Video Operations Department. Don't miss out on the adrenaline-infusing video:

The day ahead

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The Trojans have a full day lined up for Monday.

Much of the morning will be focused on moving out of their on campus dorms before the annual Picture Day begins at 3 p.m. Then, they'll have their second scrimmage of the fall at night at the Coliseum to round out a jam-packed Day 11 of Fall Camp 2009. Check out the full agenda for Monday (and here's the full camp practice schedule):

7 a.m. • Breakfast
8-11 a.m. • Dorm move-out
12 p.m. • Lunch
3 p.m. • Picture day
4:30 p.m. • Dinner
5 p.m. • Pre-scrimmage meetings
7 p.m. • Depart for the Coliseum
7:30 p.m. • Scrimmage at the Coliseum
9:30 p.m. • Post-scrimmage snack
11 p.m. • Bed check

Powerful thinking

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It was self-empowerment time during tonight's team meeting.

In one of his trademark from-the-heart, spur-of-the-moment philosophy speeches, Coach Carroll talked about the unlimited potential each player has as long as they stay dedicated to the calling -- a thought best encapsulated in his "Always Compete" poem written in 2007.

"No one can stop you but you -- you control it," a passionate Carroll told his players during the 10-minute address. "You have all the power. Call on yourself -- don't hold back now."

For a good read

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Here's a great feature about defensive end Armond Armstead and his family, from today's Sacramento Bee.

Learning from the best

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With the wide receiving corps looking on, wideout Ronald Johnson catches a pass from Coach Carroll in the minutes following Sunday afternoon's practice. Carroll was taking the wideouts through a pass-catching drill legendary receiver Jerry Rice used to employ.

Pictures from Sunday's practice

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The first-team offensive linemen -- (from left to right) Tyron Smith, Alex Parsons, Kristofer O'Dowd, Jeff Byers and Butch Lewis -- run downfield during early-practice walk-thru drills.

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Wideout Ronald Johnson and cornerback Shareece Wright go up for a ball during 1-on-1s. Wright successfully knocked it away.

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Tailback Allen Bradford finds the hole.

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Mitch Mustain drops back as linebacker Jordan Campbell (right) hops through a hole in the line.

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With nose guard Jurrell Casey approaching from the right, Matt Barkley steps up to throw.

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As offensive linemen Alex Parsons (56) and Matt Kalil (75) clear the way, tailback Stafon Johnson reaches the end zone before safety Josh Pinkard can reach him.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- An incredible deluge of big plays and a constant flow of sharp execution turned Sunday into an offensive masterpiece, as the offense became nearly unstoppable throughout the full-pads practice. The offense won every period, including scoring four touchdowns in four tries during sudden change period (a situational drill featuring a short field after a turnover) and three touchdowns in three goal-line situational drives. "That's the execution we need," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle. "Today was the offense's day -- no doubt about it."

- Matt Barkley produced another on-the-money performance Sunday afternoon, mixing long crowd-rousing touchdowns with short, smart passes that pleased the coaches. Though Barkley completed several nice balls, his most impressive play might have been an incompletion during a passing-focused team period. Hurried by the defensive line's rush, the freshman quarterback threw the ball away instead of forcing a risky screen pass. "Good, good, good!" quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates exclaimed. "That's a great play!"

- In the practice-concluding team period, the offense scored touchdowns on seven consecutive drives -- six of which came on the ground by the tailbacks. Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford scored twice, while Marc Tyler and Stafon Johnson each ran for one. Mitch Mustain threw a perfect bullet to wideout Brandon Carswell in the front right corner of the end zone for the seventh touchdown of that period.

- Not only was the offense producing a downpour of touchdowns, it was also handing out punishing hits. During team run, ball-carrier Allen Bradford powerfully ran through linebacker Chris Galippo, setting off a wild celebration by his fellow running backs, who playfully teased one of the Trojans' most vocal and hardest-hitting defensive players. "That play is over now!" linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said, coming to the defense of his player. Replied fullback Stanley Havili: "There's still an echo!"

- Mitch Mustain had yet another sharp day with the second-unit offense, even completing four straight high-difficulty passes during team period.

- The highlight-reel play of the day came when Matt Barkley tossed a short pass to freshman wideout De'Von Flournoy, who turned it into a 50-yard touchdown during 11-on-11 drills.

Heading to Howard Jones

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Fresh from a morning off from activity, the rejuvenated Trojans are taking the field for today's full-pads workout. We'll return with a report following the 11th practice of Fall Camp 2009.

Scrimmaging at the Coliseum

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Monday's 7:30 p.m. practice will be an intra-squad scrimmage at the Coliseum. Admission is free and you can enter where the tunnel rises to street level at the southwest corner of the stadium.

Check out the full Fall Camp schedule here.

Watching a legend

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In a few spare minutes between meetings and today's practice, Coach Carroll watches a Tiger Woods pitch shot during Sunday's final round of the PGA Championship. Carroll is an admittedly huge fan of Woods, who is currently tied for the lead through 12 holes.

Mock game coming

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The Trojans' end-of-camp scrimmage is set for Saturday, Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum. Admission is free and the Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls will be performing, so don't miss out!

One night left

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After 10 nights in the dorms, the Trojans will be moving out of Fluor Tower on Monday and into their housing for the school year, where they'll remain through the remainder of camp.

But dormlife for everyone will come to an end after tonight, so say goodbye to the broken air-conditioners, cramped quarters and communal bathrooms.

The roommate pairings of Fall Camp will also be split up, so the usual new-old matchup in the two-person rooms will be no more. Typically, coaches pair up a younger player with an experienced player in the same position group to show them the ropes during camp, though the quarterbacks are always matched with a receiver for chemistry's sake. This year, the QB-wideout roommate pairings are Aaron Corp and Damian Williams, Matt Barkley and Ronald Johnson and Mitch Mustain and Brandon Carswell.

Happy birthday

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Running backs coach Todd McNair is celebrating his 44th birthday today, and the Trojans have already showered him with a song during the team meeting this morning. Also, administrative assistant Joyce Hirayama bought a cake so the staff can rightly celebrate McNair's birthday, even in the midst of Fall Camp.

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Running backs coach Todd McNair turns 44 today.

Sunday sermon

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In case you missed it from last week, here's defensive coordinator Rocky Seto's guest sermon at Saddleback Church in mid-July. Don't miss this unique opportunity for Seto to share his thoughts about fear in an 18-minute address, broken up into three clips below:

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:

Trojans around the League

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Check out how the Trojans did during Saturday's NFL preseason action:

- Wideout Keary Colbert (Detroit Lions) had one catch for 28 yards.
- Linebacker Darnell Bing (Detroit Lions) tied for a team-high five tackles.
- Rookie cornerback Cary Harris (Buffalo Bills) had one tackle.
- Rookie linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland Browns) had two tackles.
- Tailback LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) had three carries for six yards.
- Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey (Tennesee Titans) had a tackle.
- Defensive lineman Shaun Cody (Houston Texans) had one tackle.
- Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) went 2-for-5 for 15 yards.
- Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks) had two tackles.
- Safety Kevin Ellison (San Diego Chargers) had two tackles.

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In his first game as a Kansas City Chief, Matt Cassel went 2-for-5 for 15 yards in a rain-soaked 16-10 loss. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

For a good read

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Check out this fantastic feature about Mark Sanchez's fast rise with the New York Jets, from today's L.A. Times.

The story mentions that Jets scouts studied a tape of Sanchez mic'd up while at USC to get a feel for how he handled himself on the field -- and that video from spring 2008 was produced by USCRipsIt. Check it out here:

Break's over

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Following a 14-hour break from football -- the longest so far this camp -- the Trojans are reconvening now for a block of meetings in Heritage Auditorium, starting with special teams and then moving on to team, offense/defense and position groups.

Sleeping in on a Sunday

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Coach Carroll just threw one of his trademark mid-camp bones to the players.

In an effort to give them rest and a pleasant surprise alteration of the Fall Camp agenda, Carroll declared Sunday morning effectively off for the Trojans, which allows them to sleep in and stay off their feet. By canceling the morning walk-thru and changing the meeting schedule, Carroll has ended a streak of eight straight camp days with two on-field sessions and nearly a half-dozen hours of meetings.

"You guys have done everything we've asked and you're working your tails off," Carroll said during tonight's team meeting. "You guys deserve a break. Everybody needs it right now."

Check out Sunday's adjusted schedule, which features only one practice at 3 p.m. (also, here's the full Fall Camp agenda):

10 a.m. • Brunch
11 a.m. • Meetings begin (special teams, team, offense/defense and position groups)
12:30 p.m. • Meetings end
3 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5 p.m. • Dinner
6:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
11 p.m. • Bed check

Closing out the night

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With camp's second two-a-day nearing its end, the night's business is about to get started in Heritage Auditorium. Here's a look at the evening's schedule:

7:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8:15 p.m. • Team meeting
8:30 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:45 p.m. • Position group meetings
10 p.m. • Meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Pictures from Saturday afternoon's practice

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Joe McKnight goes through a special punt-catching drill that uses two footballs.

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Receiver Jordan Cameron stretches out to catch a Matt Barkley pass, with offensive coordinator John Morton (near) and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates (far) watching closely.

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With Coach Carroll looking on, Mitch Mustain throws over the middle during 7-on-7 drills.

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In 7-on-7 period, Mitch Mustain throws to wideout Brandon Carswell.

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Matt Barkley rolls out.

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With Wes Horton (right) closing in, Matt Barkley leaves a trail of dust as he steps up in the pocket.

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The sun shines down on the Trojans' late-afternoon practice.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Behind a winning streak of seven plays near the end of the period, the defense captured an 18-15 overall practice victory in the practice-concluding 11-on-11 session. At the onset of the period, safety Will Harris stepped in front of a Matt Barkley pass to provide the highlight play of the day for the defense. "Will was in the right spot," Coach Carroll said. "That was a ball Matt shouldn't have thrown."

- Other than the one pick, Barkley produced another sharp performance Saturday afternoon. Two plays after his only turnover of the day, he found a gap in a closing window and threw a perfect 10-yard strike to wideout David Ausberry in the back of the end zone, earning praise from the coaches and applause from the several hundred fans surrounding the field. Earlier, during 7-on-7 period, Barkley made numerous wise decisions on short completions across the field, showing patience and maturity in the pocket.

- During a simulated overtime session at the end of the practice, the second-team defense pushed the second-team offense out of field goal range, lining up the victory for the first-team offense, which drove down to set up a 25-yard Joe Houston field goal.

- The offensive line continued to stand out, as it provided a near-seamless wall of protection for the passing and rushing attack for much of Saturday afternoon's workout. On one play in team period, the quarterback had so much time to throw that running backs coach Todd McNair yelled out during the play, "We're cooking steaks back here! Well-done steaks!"

- Linebacker Shane Horton had another highlight play, this time on a jump ball in the end zone when he knocked the ball out of tight end Anthony McCoy's hands to preserve a defensive stop.

- On one play during team period, tailback C.J. Gable and linebacker Nick Garratt barreled into each other in the open field for a mind-numbing impact that had both offensive and defensive players sprinting to the collision point to celebrate.

- Kickers Jordan Congdon and Joe Houston combined to go 6-for-6 on field goals during special teams period.

Keep on keeping on

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Deuces are wild at Heritage Hall this afternoon.

Practice No. 2 of the second two-a-day of Fall Camp 2009 is getting started in two minutes on Howard Jones Field, with the players donning half-pads for the workout. Besides the normal 11-on-11 work, the Trojans will also spend a good chunk of the practice on a simulated overtime drill.

We'll return with a report from the field in two hours or so.

Meet market

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Business is back on the front burner with short position group meetings in the 45 minutes leading into the second of today's two practices, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones Field.

Sanchez and Leinart shine

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Check out Mark Sanchez's initial passes as an NFL quarterback on Friday -- including a 48-yard bomb on his first throw -- and highlights from Matt Leinart's performance in Thursday's Cardinals-Steelers game in this video spliced together by the USC Video Operations Department:

Band camp

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The Trojan Marching Band drumline practices outside Heritage Hall today, the second day of band camp at USC. The band's training camp rivals the Trojans' in terms of hours, as instruments are playing at almost all hours of the day outside of the football headquarters.

Alumni fighting on in the preseason

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A whopping 17 Trojans are scheduled to participate in the six NFL preseason games today, including six rookies. Check them out:

Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions
1 p.m. (NFL Network)
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker
Lions: Linebacker Darnell Bing, wideout Keary Colbert

Chicago Bears vs. Buffalo Bills
4 p.m. (NFL Network)
Bills: Cornerback Cary Harris

Cleveland Browns vs. Green Bay Packers

5 p.m.
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans
5 p.m.
Buccaneers: Defensive Lineman Kyle Moore
Titans: Tailback LenDale White, Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey

Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
5 p.m.
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, Defensive lineman Shaun Cody
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Diego Chargers
7 p.m. (NFL Network)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, Defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson, fullback David Kirtman, Offensive lineman Kyle Williams
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison

Field day

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Maintenance workers apply a fresh coat of paint to the yard lines on Howard Jones Field between today's two-a-day practices.

USC's in the money

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With nine 10-figure earners, USC has the ninth-most billionaire graduates in the world, according to this Forbes study. Harvard, Stanford and Pennsylvania are the top three billionaire producers, with 54, 25 and 18, respectively.

Thanks to RipsIt reader Casey Cosgrove for passing the link along.

Buehler leaving his mark

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Here's a great article on Dallas Cowboys kicker/utility man David Buehler, from Friday's Dallas Morning News.

Pictures from Saturday morning's practice

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Offensive lineman Khaled Holmes (left) and defensive lineman Armond Armstead (right) tussle in 1-on-1 drills.

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Safety Taylor Mays (2) and linebacker Michael Morgan (17) go through agility bags.

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Matt Barkley jumps to throw a screen pass.

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Marc Tyler finds the hole between center Kristofer O'Dowd (left) and linebacker Chris Galippo (right).

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Matt Barkley throws downfield during team drills.

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The Trojan offense lines up in the shadow of the goal post during backed-up situational drills.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- On an uncharacteristically gray summer morning, the Trojans breezed through a brief workmanlike practice, reviewing several plays from Friday's scrimmage as well as focusing on a few special situational drills. In the final team period, the offense outdueled the defense, winning by a surprising 19-11 margin.

- In three "backed-up" situational series from the 2-yard line, the Trojan offense was successful (obtaining two first downs in the drive) on two occasions, with Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain each leading one winning drive.

- During a third-down situational period, the offense converted on 5-of-8 of their tries from various distances. Mitch Mustain's group went 3-for-3.

- Linebacker Shane Horton, less than 24 hours after his impressive performance in the scrimmage, intercepted a pass during 7-on-7 drills.

- Also during 7-on-7 period, Matt Barkley threw touchdowns to wideout Damian Williams and tight end Bryson Lloyd, along with several completions to receiver Ronald Johnson.

- Mitch Mustain and Ronald Johnson connected for a pretty 20-yard touchdown strike in the right corner of the endzone during team period.

- During 11-on-11 period, tight end Anthony McCoy made a stunning lunging catch while dragging his feet inbounds along the right sideline.

- Tailbacks Allen Bradford and Ahmed Mokhtar had the standout runs of the 30-play team period, with each finding a gaping hole and going about 15 yards.

Early morning business

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The Trojans aren't wasting any time in getting to work this morning.

They've already taken the field for the morning workout on the second two-a-day of Fall Camp, with a quick helmets-only practice set to go about 90 minutes. We'll return from Howard Jones Field with a report afterward.

Trojans around the League

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If Friday's NFL preseason games were a stage, then USC alumni were some of the principal actors. In four games, three Trojan quarterbacks shined, including Mark Sanchez in his professional debut. Check out the full list of USC alums in Friday night's NFL action:

- Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) went 3-for-4 for 88 yards in leading the Jets to a touchdown in his only series.
- Carson Palmer (Cincinatti Bengals) went 7-for-11 for 133 yards.
- John David Booty (Minnesota Vikings) went 4-for-7 for 23 yards.
- Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints) had three carries for five yards.
- Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) had five tackles.
- Defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis (New Orleans Saints) had a tackle.

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Mark Sanchez celebrates after leading the Jets to a touchdown in his first and only series on Friday night in his NFL debut.

For a good read

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Check out this excellent feature on USC's new linebacking corps, from today's L.A. Times.

The day ahead

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Here's a glance at the agenda for Saturday -- Day 9 of Fall Camp 2009 -- which features the second two-a-day of camp (also, check out the full practice schedule):

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
9 a.m. • Practice (helmets only)
10:30 a.m. • Lunch
2:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3 p.m. • Position group meetings
4 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5:45 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check 

Top performers

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During tonight's team meeting, Coach Carroll called attention to several peak performers from today's scrimmage:

- Safety Will Harris for his interception
- Linebacker Shane Horton for his team-high five tackles
- Safety Rob Erickson for his four tackles and a pass deflection; Carroll called him the MVP of the scrimmage
- Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey for a powerful effort; "No. 91 showed up a bunch of times on the film," Carroll said
- Defensive end Wes Horton for being very active at the line of scrimmage
- The entire offensive line
- Mitch Mustain for going 14-for-16
- Freshman wideout De'Von Flournoy for his touchdown and 55 receiving yards
- Tailback Curtis McNeal for his 59 rushing yards on seven carries, including a touchdown

Through the fans' eyes

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Each Fall Camp, more than 5,000 fans come out to Howard Jones Field to attend one of USC's open-to-the-public practices.

Wonder why? Check out their reasons in this cool new video from USCRipsIt, produced by staffer Katie Boggs. Then, be sure to look at the schedule and the USCRipsIt Practice Primer, and plan on coming out to one of the remaining 11 workouts in Fall Camp 2009:

Time to go

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The night's meetings are getting rolling 15 minutes later than normal with a kickoff return film session right now in Heritage Auditorium. Here's a look at the full schedule for tonight:

7:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8:15 p.m. • Team meeting
8:30 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:45 p.m. • Position group meetings
10 p.m. • Meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Congratulations

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Assistant sports information director Paul Goldberg and his wife Jenn welcomed their second child into the world this afternoon when Cameron Sawyer was born at 3:49 p.m. Congrats to the Goldbergs on their newest addition!

Pictures from Friday's scrimmage

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Matt Barkley releases the ball downfield.

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Jordan Congdon makes a 22-yard field goal.

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Mitch Mustain launches a ball downfield, resulting in a 28-yard TD to receiver De'Von Flournoy.

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Tailback Curtis McNeal (6) finds a hole.

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Defensive lineman Derek Simmons chases after Matt Barkley in the backfield.

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Matt Barkley throws over an impenetrable offensive line.

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Coach Carroll watches on as Mitch Mustain rolls out.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen turns the corner en route to a sack.

See it for yourself

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Here's the complete stat sheet from Friday's scrimmage.

Scrimmage stars

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Check out the top performers in Friday's scrimmage:

- Leading rusher: Curtis McNeal (7 carries for 59 yards)
- Leading receivers David Ausberry (3 catches for 73 yards, TD) and De'Von Flournoy (3 catches for 55 yards, TD)
- Matt Barkley: 10-for-17, 120 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD
- Mitch Mustain: 14-for-16, 154 yards, 1 TD
- Interception: Will Harris
- Sack: Everson Griffen
- Top tacklers: LB Shane Horton (5), S Drew McAllister (4), LB Nick Garratt (4), DL Malik Jackson (4), S Robert Erickson (4)

The scorers

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Here are the five scores from Friday's scrimmage:

- Kicker Jordan Congdon nailed a 22-yard field goal.
- Tailback Curtis McNeal ran for a 2-yard touchdown up the middle.
- Freshman wideout De'Von Flournoy, wide open over the middle, caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Mustain.
- Off his back foot with two defensive linemen closing in, Matt Barkley found receiver David Ausberry for a 19-yard touchdown in the middle of the end zone.
- On a designed quarterback run play, Matt Barkley scampered eight yards for a rushing touchdown.

Drive by drive

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Check out the drive-by-drive breakdown from Friday's 72-play scrimmage:

Scoring drives featuring the first-team offense vs. the first-team defense
- *Matt Barkley at QB: 12 plays, 61 yards, ending with a 22-yard Jordan Congdon field goal; Barkley went 4-for-6 on the drive
- Matt Barkley at QB: 4 plays, 20 yards, stalled
- Matt Barkley at QB: 2 plays, 4 yards, ending with an interception by safety Will Harris
- Matt Barkley at QB: Three-and-out

Drives featuring the second-team offense vs. the second-team defense
- Matt Barkley at QB: Three-and-out
- *Mitch Mustain at QB: 12 plays, 84 yards, ending with a 2-yard TD run by Curtis McNeal; Mustain went 6-for-6 on the drive
- Mitch Mustain at QB: 3 plays, 1 yard, ending with a missed 44-yard field goal
- *Matt Barkley at QB: 7 plays, 60 yards, ending with an 19-yard TD reception by David Ausberry; Barkley went 3-for-4 on the drive
- *Matt Barkley at QB: 6 plays, 56 yards, ending with an 8-yard TD run by Barkley; Barkley went 1-for-2 on the drive

Drives featuring the third-team offense vs. the third-team defense

- *Mitch Mustain at QB: 7 plays, 75 yards, ending with a 28-yard TD reception by De'Von Flournoy; Mustain was 5-for-6 on the drive
- Mitch Mustain at QB: Three-and-out

* = scoring drive

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The story of the first week of camp became the story of Friday's intra-squad scrimmage, as Matt Barkley continued to shine in leading the offense on three scoring drives. The freshman quarterback, who looked smooth and comfortable taking all the first-team snaps, went 10-for-17 for 120 yards, a touchdown and an interception, along with running for a score as well. "He handled himself beautifully," Coach Carroll said of Barkley. "All in all, he's made a tremendous impression."

- Mostly using smart check-down passes, Mitch Mustain went 14-of-16 for 154 yards and a touchdown Friday. He led two scoring drives and was turnover-free. "He made very smart decisions and did a very nice job," Carroll said of Mustain.

- The defense made a statement as well during Friday's 72-play scrimmage, as it held the offense scoreless on six of its 11 drives. A well-read interception by safety Will Harris was the defense's one turnover on the day. "All across the board, everyone was hustling and playing hard," Carroll said in the post-practice huddle.

- Perhaps the position group that made the biggest impact Friday was the offensive line, which allowed only one sack in 66 offensive snaps and forged the path for 115 rushing yards.

- Safety Josh Pinkard had an interception during pre-scrimmage 7-on-7 drills.

- Loud music played over speakers that surrounded the field and hundreds of fans packed the sidelines, giving the scrimmage a lively, festive atmosphere. 

Ready for some football

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The NFL has preseason games; the Trojans have scrimmages.

USC is heading out to Howard Jones Field for its first intra-squad scrimmage of the fall, which coaches are comparing to an NFL preseason game. Now that the Trojans are a week into Fall Camp 2009, the game-like session is an important mile-marker for the progress of the offense, defense and special teams, along with every individual player on the team.

"Today is opportunity day for everyone," Coach Carroll said in the pre-scrimmage team meeting. "It's how we're going to answer, where are we as a football team?"

Besides the usual "all about the ball" talk, Carroll is also emphasizing the team's style -- "great effort, great enthusiasm and play smart" -- for the scrimmage, which is expected to go about 75 plays.

"We're excited to see how far everyone's come, especially the young guys and Matt Barkley," Carroll said. "It's time for some real football -- offense trying to beat the defense and defense trying to beat the offense."

We'll return with a report following the full-pads scrimmage.

Project Trojan: Fall Camp Episode 1

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The first Fall Camp episode of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" has been posted online. It is for USCTrojans.com All-Access members only, but you can subscribe here if you're not one already.

Check out this 90-second sneak preview of the exciting episode that takes you inside the Trojan program:

An asylum from camp

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Heritage Hall's Varsity Lounge has been the site of many major press conferences, including the ones for Matt Leinart's return for his senior season, Mark Sanchez's decision to leave a year early and the hiring of Kevin O'Neill as the new USC men's basketball coach.

But during Fall Camp, it has a different, yet just as important, function.

Called "the sanctuary," Varsity Lounge turns into a quiet refuge for the offensive linemen, who watch movies, eat meals and take naps in the air-conditioned room between meetings and practices. Filled with comfortable chairs, "the sanctuary" has become one of the most secretive and valued parts of camp life, as the O-linemen carry on with a years-long tradition every day.

But why don't they just head back to their dorms during breaks in the schedule? For one, that's an unnecessary roundtrip walk for sore and tired players, who can stay in a cool place to rest and relax, all while being close to the training room and the cafeteria. It's also a great place to build camaraderie, since the dorm rooms don't offer enough space to have a whole position group come together.

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Offensive linemen watch "Tommy Boy" this afternoon in "the sanctuary," also known as Varsity Lounge in Heritage Hall.

Giving some love to the band

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In a short break between football meetings, Coach Carroll snuck out of the office to give a five-minute pep talk to the student leadership of the Trojan Marching Band in Bovard Auditorium this afternoon.

"We hope you know how reverently we refer to you guys," Coach Carroll told the band leaders. "There has never been anything but a high level of performance from you guys -- nothing but great stuff has come from you guys."

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As the student leaders of the Trojan Marching Band chant their trademark "Big Balls Pete" mantra, Coach Carroll speaks to the band in Bovard Auditorium this afternoon.

Williams on the watch list

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Wideout Damian Williams is one of 55 players on the watch list for the 2009 Maxwell Award, given annually to the nation's top offensive player.

Salute to Troy deadline

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Today is the last day to purchase tickets to Salute to Troy, the annual season kick-off banquet featuring the coaches, players, Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls on Cromwell Field. The $60-per-person charge covers a catered dinner and a fun-filled program. Players and coaches will be available for autographs before and after the event.

Sign up here before it's too late!

Family man

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Fall Camp is physically and mentally challenging for all Trojans. For one player, it's also emotionally challenging.

Fullback Adam Goodman, the only married player on the USC roster, has had to leave his wife Jessica and newborn baby boy Elijah and move into the dorms along with his teammates for Fall Camp 2009. The players are in the dorms for only 10 nights, but that can feel like an eternity for a new father, whose first child was born June 14.

But Goodman is keeping things in perspective. For his first training camp as a Trojan in 2007, he had gotten married just months before.

"Even though it's hard now, it's easier than my first camp," the 22-year-old senior said. "We were just married and everything was crazy the first time here."

Goodman's wife and son have been coming up to watch practice and eat dinner with him every other day so far during camp. And he has another memento on hand to constantly remind him of his family.

"I got a picture of them up in my locker and in my dorm," a smiling Goodman said.

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Adam Goodman, a senior fullback for the Trojans, has had a unique challenge during Fall Camp, as he is separated from his wife and newborn son for the better part of two weeks.

Important dates

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Fall Camp 2009 has reached its halfway point today, so remember to check the full practice schedule and plan on attending at least one of the remaining open-to-the-public workouts. Here are some key dates to keep in mind:

- Today: 4 p.m. scrimmage
- Saturday: Two-a-day (9 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
- Sunday: Practice at 4 p.m.
- Monday: Move-out day; 7:30 p.m. scrimmage
- Aug. 22: Last day of camp (practices at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.); Salute to Troy at 5 p.m.
- Aug. 29: Mock game at the Coliseum (12:30 p.m.; admission is free)
- Sept. 5: Season opener against San Jose State (12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum)

Bring it

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The Trojans have several hours off this afternoon to get ready for what's in front of them later today.

Namely, the first scrimmage of the fall, which will be a part of today's 4 p.m. practice on Howard Jones Field.

"It's about getting your minds right for this afternoon," Coach Carroll told his players after the morning walk-thru. "We're going all-out hitting and running and blocking.

"Let's bring it."

Staying away from the rays

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The heat has been weaker during Fall Camp this year.

The sun's rays have not.

To battle the strong sunrays during USC's walk-thrus and practices, many players (such as safety Will Harris, below) are applying sunscreen to their faces, necks and arms.

"The sun's been burning me," Harris said.

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Safety Will Harris wears sunscreen on his face and beard for this morning's walk-thru to combat the harmful effects of the sun's rays.

Making their preseason debut

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Several Trojans will be making their professional debuts tonight in four more NFL preseason games. Mark Sanchez, Fili Moala and Rey Maualuga will be playing as pros for the first time tonight, joining 10 other Trojans in NFL action. Check it out:

St. Louis Rams vs. New York Jets

4 p.m. (NFL Network)
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez

Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts
4:30 p.m.
Vikings: Quarterback John David Booty, offensive lineman Drew Radovich
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala

Cincinnati Bengals vs. New Orleans Saints
5 p.m.
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive End Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, tight end Billy Miller, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis

Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers
7 p.m. (NFL Network)
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal, offensive lineman Matt Spanos

Roster addition

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Walk-on tight end Ian Wandler, a transfer from El Camino Junior College, has been added to the roster. The 6-4, 270-pound Wandler attended Mira Costa High and has two years of eligibility remaining. 

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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This morning on Howard Jones Field, the Trojans hustled through a brief special teams-focused walk-thru, which also included 20 plays of 11-on-11 work and a Hail Mary attempt. Check out some pictures from the workout:

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Without a ball, Matt Barkley fakes a throw over the offensive line.

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Tailback Marc Tyler looks for a hole on a run play.

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Matt Barkley rolls out on a pass play.

Heading out

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The morning walk-thru is beginning now on Howard Jones Field, so we'll with return with a report in an hour or so.

Another big day for Green

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Garrett Green has done a lot in his USC career, and now you can add yet another accolade to his already impressive résumé.

He's played numerous positions, thrown a touchdown on a trick play in the 2008 Rose Bowl, been labeled as one of the most valuable and versatile players on the team by Coach Carroll and even graduated in May after only three years of undergrad work. He's currently in a joint master's program, going for an MBA from the Marshall School of Business and a master's of real estate development from the School of Policy, Planning and Development.

Then, yesterday, the 21-year-old Green was informed that he passed the California real estate broker exam that he took last week, moving him another step closer to becoming a full-fledged real estate professional.

"I just have to get fingerprinted and then I'll have my license," said Green, who's entering his final year of eligibility for the Trojans.

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Quarterback Garrett Green passed the California real estate broker exam last week, yet another achievement for the already accomplished senior.

Why walk when you can run?

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A day after their first two-a-day of the fall, the Trojans will conduct a walk-thru at 10 a.m. before practicing this afternoon at 4. Much of the morning session will focus on special teams before the offense and defense will run through 20 plays -- sans footballs of course, in accordance with NCAA rules.

As related to walk-thrus, RipsIt reader Mike Mitchell sent in this great question: "What exactly is the purpose of the walk-through practice without pads or footballs?"

The Trojans use the walk-thrus, which are held every day that there isn't a two-a-day, mostly as mental reviews. Though footballs and pads aren't present, the players run the workout at full speed so they can get what coaches call "mental reps," giving a physical reinforcement of the plays they're learning in meetings.

The walk-thrus also help review plays from the previous practice and introduce work that will be fully implemented in the afternoon session.

Family ties

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Besides the USC alumni in NFL games on Thursday, another player close to the Trojan family made a huge first impression last night.

Isaac Redman, an undrafted rookie tailback for the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Bowie State, is the cousin of USC running backs coach Todd McNair. Redman ran for 32 yards in 10 carries and scored two touchdowns in the Steelers' 20-10 win Thursday night as he tries to make an NFL roster.

Trojans around the League

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Check out how USC alumni did during Thursday night's NFL preseason action:

  • David Buehler made a 39-yard field goal and also had two tackles on special teams in the Dallas Cowboys' 31-10 loss to the Raiders.
  • Tailback Justin Fargas had just one carry for two yards in limited action in the Raiders' 31-10 win.
  • Safety Troy Polamalu recorded a tackle in limited action in the Steelers' 20-10 victory over the Cardinals.
  • Matt Leinart went 8-for-14 for 83 yards in the Arizona Cardinals' 20-10 defeat.
  • Tight end Dominique Byrd caught two passes for 29 yards for the Cardinals.
  • Tight end Fred Davis had two receptions for 17 yards in the Washington Redskins' 23-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Defensive lineman Mike Patterson posted one tackle in limited action in the Philadelphia Eagles' 27-25 loss to the Patriots.

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Matt Leinart went 8-for-14 for 83 yards in the Cardinals' 20-10 loss on Thursday. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Two thumbs up

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The general consensus among the Trojans is that Thursday's movie night was great.

Both in terms of the movie -- and the night off from meetings.

"District 9" earned several rave reviews for its entertainment value and for it simply being something different than another night of film sessions.

It's all part of Coach Carroll's carefully planned formula for camp. In previous years, the Trojans have seen newly released movies, gone to an amusement park or attended a beach volleyball tournament.

"We like doing things like that to make it fun and keep the guys mentally fresh," Carroll said. "It gives them a way to relax during the long days of camp."

The movie night also gave several associated with the program a much-needed night off. Many assistant coaches and supporter staffers got to go home early to see their families instead of working deep into the night.

Time to go again

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Another day has arrived.

Training camp reaches its halfway point today, and the Trojans are already getting it started with a special teams meeting at 8:30 and a team meeting at 9 a.m. The morning walk-thru will be at 10 a.m. on Howard Jones Field.

Movie night for the Trojans

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Tonight's slate of meetings started normal with a special teams film review and Coach Carroll giving a brief talk before splitting the team up.

But that's when things went haywire.

While players were quietly shuffling out of the team meeting room for the position group meetings, Carroll blurted out, instantly grabbing everyone's attention.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" a now-smiling Carroll bellowed while standing high on a chair. "We can go to meetings -- or we can go see a movie!"

The surprise worked.

Players erupted into celebratory applause, dance and a "Big Balls Pete" chant as they were now going to watch a Hollywood film instead of practice film, with a sneak preview of "District 9" waiting for them at the nearby University Village Theatres.

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With Coach Carroll (middle, white shirt) standing above the madness, players celebrate the night's change of plans, as they are going to see "District 9" at a local movie theater.

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Created by the USC Video Operations Department, here's the slide that showed on the screen in the team meeting room after Carroll made the surprise announcement about tonight's screening of "District 9." The graphic features an altered motto that now says, "For Trojans Only." 

The day ahead

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Here's a look at Friday's schedule for the Trojans, who are entering into Day 8 of Fall Camp 2009:

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8:30 a.m. • Meetings begin
10 a.m. • Special teams walk-thru
11:15 a.m. • Lunch
3 p.m. • Position group meetings
4 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
6 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check 

Returning to the grind

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Just a quick 90 minutes after practice ended, the Trojans have gotten back to work with their nightly block of meetings in Heritage Auditorium. Here's the agenda for the evening:

7:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8 p.m. • Team meeting
8:30 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:45 p.m. • Position group meetings
10 p.m. • Meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Pictures from Thursday afternoon's practice

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Kicker Joe Houston winds up for the kickoff.

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Wideout David Ausberry (9) and cornerback Shareece Wright (24) compete for the ball during 1-on-1s.

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Receiver Ronald Johnson prepares to catch the pass.

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Matt Barkley rolls out.

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With the pocket almost completely surrounding him, Matt Barkley looks downfield.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Just a few hours after a mediocre performance during the day's first workout, Matt Barkley rebounded with a solid show on Thursday afternoon. Barkley's deep ball was on the money and he made numerous smart decisions by checking down to a running back or throwing the ball away. He didn't give up a turnover all day to highlight an all-around exceptional bounce-back effort for the offense. "We came back and battled," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle. "We came back and got back on track."

- As a whole, the offense was on fire -- and it flowed from the top, as quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach for the offense Jeremy Bates was noticeably fired up throughout the workout. With the usually reserved Bates running around and yelling most of the day, the offense dominated goal-line and short-yardage situational series, along with scoring several touchdowns on the ground and through the air throughout the practice. "Bates is getting after it today!" a surprised Coach Carroll said between plays.

- Though the offense turned around after an average outing in the morning, the defense won a seesaw final team period, 16-15, with a sack by linebacker Michael Morgan on the sudden-death overtime play, prompting the defensive players to join in singing the fight song at midfield. The final set of plays went back and forth, with the offense winning five straight to make it 14-11 before the defense stormed back to win five of the next six snaps.

- During 7-on-7 drills, Matt Barkley scrambled to complete a 55-yard touchdown to wide-open tight end Bryson Lloyd, but the play that got the coaches excited was a simple 15-yard completion to wideout Travon Patterson along the left sideline. Barkley read the coverage perfectly and threw before his window closed. "That's what I'm talking about!" Jeremy Bates said while passionately high-fiving the freshman quarterback.

- Mitch Mustain completed numerous pretty throws of his own, including nice balls to tailback Joe McKnight and wideout Ronald Johnson during team period.
- On one play in team period, tailback Allen Bradford delivered a brutal block in the backfield on a blitzing linebacker, igniting his teammates and allowing Matt Barkley time to complete a 15-yard pass.

- During team drills, wideout David Ausberry laid a leveling block on the cornerback to pave the way for a lengthy Joe McKnight rush to the outside.

- One of the standout plays during team period came when wideout Ronald Johnson stiff-armed the cornerback on a receiver screen pass, which cleared the way for a huge gain.

Out to the field

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After a few hours' break and a short set of position group meetings, the Trojans have hit the field for the second half of today's two-a-day. We'll return with a report from the half-pads practice afterward.

Hall delayed more

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Incoming freshman defensive back Patrick Hall still has academic issues to resolve and will not be practicing this afternoon, as had been originally expected, Coach Carroll said.

Hall should be fully cleared "in a few days," Carroll said.

Double-dipping

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RipsIt reader Matt Rodriguez e-mailed in with this interesting question: "Why is it that there are a few players with the same number? Aren't there enough numbers for everyone to have their own?"

With between 105 and 110 players on the roster at one time and only 99 single- or double-digit numbers available, some players simply have to double up. Then add in the seven retired numbers of USC's Heisman Trophy winners, and you're down to just 92 available numbers for more than 100 players.

Besides the Heisman numbers, only 10 numbers aren't in use, and nearly all of them are vacant offensive lineman numbers (between 60 and 79), digits that are more or less reserved for that position group.

Currently, 26 Trojans double up their jersey numbers.

A closer look at Coach Franklin

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Episode 2 of "The Playmakers," the newest show on USCTrojans.com All-Access, is available for viewing. If you're an All-Access subscriber, watch the feature on defensive line coach Jethro Franklin here. It is produced by Mark Haas.

If you're not an All-Access member, you can sign up here for only $9.95/month.

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Hurry-up offense

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During today's two practices, the Trojans are installing their two-minute offense, though if the trends hold true, odds are they might not even use it this year.

According to Coach Carroll, USC has employed their two-minute offense "only about three or four times in our eight years here."

"But we've got to practice it so we're ready," Carroll said.

Mays on another watch list

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Taylor Mays is one of 55 names on the watch list for the 2009 Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's best defensive player. USC linebacker Rey Maualuga won the Bednarik in 2008.

Barkley on the radio

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A Matt Barkley interview played at noon on ESPN 710-AM will re-air at 2 p.m. Listen here.

Wrap up

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Here's the transcript of Taylor Mays' live chat on ESPN.com today.

Looking at the pros

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The NFL preseason ramps up with four games today, all of which include at least one Trojan. Nine USC alumni will be playing tonight, with rookie kicker David Buehler making his professional debut when the Cowboys face the Raiders at 7 p.m. on KTLA (Channel 5). Here's the full slate of NFL preseason games today:

New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
4:30 p.m.
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson

Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens
4 p.m.
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis

Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
5 p.m. (ESPN)
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui, tight end Dominique Byrd
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders
7 p.m. (KTLA Channel 5)

Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas

Turnover margins: It really is all about the ball

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Seemingly every day of every season, Coach Carroll places a monstrous emphasis on turnovers and the Trojans' turnover margin.

A look at the stats shows exactly why.

In the last seven seasons, USC is 50-2 when recording a plus turnover margin -- including winning the last 47 games when that happens. Conversely, when the Trojans have a minus turnover margin, they're 16-5. That's a winning-percentage difference of 20 percent.

"It's a simply fascinating stat that proves how important this whole turnover emphasis is to the success of our team," Carroll said. "It couldn't be more obvious."

Take a look at the Trojans' record as compared to their turnover margin in the last seven seasons (2002-08), when they've won seven consecutive Pac-10 titles, made seven straight BCS bowls, logged seven 11-win seasons in a row and finished the year in the top-4 seven consecutive times:

- Plus turnover margin: 50-2 (.962) • 47-0 in the last 47 games when in the plus
- Even turnover margin: 16-2 (.889) • Losses came in '03 vs. Cal and '06 vs. UCLA
- Minus turnover margin: 16-5 (.762) • 13-5 (.722) in the last five seasons with a minus turnover margin
- Overall record ('02-'08): 82-9 (.901) • Nine losses have come by an average of four points

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

For a good read

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Don't miss this great ESPN.com feature that gives well-earned attention to safeties Taylor Mays and Tennessee's Eric Berry.

Reaching out to the kids

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Children from the Torrance YMCA Hickory School pose with Coach Carroll following Thursday morning's practice.

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Wideout Damian Williams autographs posters for children from the Torrance YMCA Hickory School following Thursday morning's practice.

Teachable moment

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At midfield following a messy five-turnover practice for the offense, Coach Carroll speaks to his players about overcoming adversity and not letting negative occurrences dictate how one moves forward -- a "teachable moment," as he calls it. "We have the power, we choose how this will be," he told the players in a passionate five-minute speech. "What just happened, good or bad, has nothing to do with what happens next -- unless you let it."

Pictures from Thursday morning's practice

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Offensive players Travon Patterson (right), Ronald Johnson (middle, 8) and Matt Barkley (left, 7) hustle through agility bags at the start of practice.

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Tailback Ahmed Mokhtar takes a pitch out from Matt Barkley during individual drills.

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Tight end Rhett Ellison looks a ball into his hands.

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Matt Barkley lofts a ball up during 7-on-7 drills.

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Tailback Marc Tyler (right) prepares to take the sweep, with the offensive line paving the way for the rush.

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Mitch Mustain throws over the offensive line.

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Defensive end Devon Kennard (42) turns the corner and chases after Matt Barkley.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In the first workout of the day's twin-bill, the defense capitalized on a sloppy offensive output -- snagging three interceptions and recovering two fumbles -- en route to an overwhelming performance, including a 12-10 victory in the final team period. Defensive backs Josh Pinkard, a sixth-year senior, and Byron Moore, a freshman, recorded an interception apiece during 7-on-7 drills, opening the turnover floodgates. It was the first time all camp the defense posted more than one takeaway in a practice. "The defense finally started getting the ball and making plays," Carroll said.

- Well, first time for everything in this workout. Matt Barkley threw his first interceptions of Fall Camp, tossing three picks during the shorter morning practice. But he showed maturity and composure by bouncing back from each turnover with several shimmering plays. On the very next play following his initial interception in 7-on-7 period, Barkley rolled out to the right and, upon not finding an open receiving, tucked the ball and scampered four yards for the score. "That's a good decision, Q!" Coach Carroll exclaimed. Then, a few plays later, he completed 14-, 9- and 4-yard touchdowns on consecutive snaps, which had the coaches raving. Finally, at the end of practice during team drills, the freshman lobbed a perfect 45-yard strike to wideout Damian Williams for a touchdown deep over the middle.

- During team period, freshman linebacker Jarvis Jones had the third interception of the day off a pass that went through the receiver's hands.

- Kicker Joe Houston drilled a 40-yard field goal as the clock expired during a simulated two-minute drill.

- It was the first morning practice of the fall for the Trojans, but quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates put it in perspective. "I know it's early men, but it's already 12 o'clock on the East Coast!" he told his players while running around at the start of the workout.

- Scouts from the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins attended the practice.

First of two

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Wearing just helmets this morning, the Trojans are taking the field for their opening practice of the day, the first time in 2009's camp where they're not starting off the morning with a football-less walk-thru.

"We don't have a little walk-thru this morning -- we've got real, live practice," Coach Carroll excitedly said during the early-morning staff meeting. "We get to bring out the footballs!"

We'll return with a report from Howard Jones Field following the practice.

Listen to the tape

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If you missed Coach Carroll's segment on the nationally syndicated "Dan Patrick Show" this morning, you can catch it here. In the interview, Carroll talks about everything from the Rick Pitino situation, this season's expectations, the quarterback competition and Twitter.

Getting ready to go

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Assistant athletic training Paul Diaz tapes defensive end Everson Griffen's ankles in the athletic training room this morning prior to the day's first of two practices.

Let's roll

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Day 7 of Fall Camp 2009 is here.

The opening half of the first two-a-day of training camp will begin at 9 a.m., with players and coaches currently bouncing around Heritage Hall in eager anticipation for their business ahead.

Another day in the books

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After today's opening workout in pads, the days of firsts continue on Thursday, when the Trojans will conduct their initial two-a-day of Fall Camp 2009. Below is the full schedule for the day (and here's the entire camp schedule):

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
9 a.m. • Practice (helmets only)
10:30 a.m. • Lunch
2:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3 p.m. • Position group meetings
4 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5:45 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check 

Late-night film

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In a darkened team meeting room tonight, Coach Carroll leads the Trojans through highlight film from this afternoon's practice.

Back to work

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The night's slate of meetings and film sessions are well underway, so take a look at the evening's schedule:

7:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8 p.m. • Team meeting
8:30 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:45 p.m. • Position group meetings
10 p.m. • Meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Going viral

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USCRipsIt's video of the "Lean on Me" rendition during Sunday night's team meeting was the "Going Viral" video of the day on ESPN.com today. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it here:

Chatter box

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Taylor Mays will take part in a live online chat through ESPN SportsNation starting at noon on Thursday. Catch it here.

Programming note

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Coach Carroll will be interviewed live on the "Dan Patrick Show" at 7:20 a.m. Thursday, so tune in through this live internet stream.

Pictures from Wednesday's practice

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Defensive end Nick Perry goes through punt blocking drills, with punter Billy O'Malley kicking and defensive coordinator Rocky Seto watching on.

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Wideout David Ausberry prepares for the one-handed catch as defensive back Byron Moore defends during 1-on-1s.

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In 1-on-1 period, wideout Brandon Carswell (left) and cornerback T.J. Bryant (right) go up for a pass, with Bryant eventually knocking the ball away.

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Tailback Joe McKnight looks for the hole, as defensive lineman Christian Tupou (right) chases after him.

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Matt Barkley gazes downfield during 7-on-7 period.

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Defensive end Wes Horton closes in on Mitch Mustain during team period.

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Defensive end Armond Armstead (94) and linebacker Kevin Greene (81) approach Matt Barkley in the pocket.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In the first workout after the Aaron Corp injury announcement, Matt Barkley displayed poise in leading the first-unit offense, recording a few of his trademark big plays while remaining turnover-free. During 7-on-7 period, Barkley led two scoring drives from midfield, completing a 51-yard touchdown to tight end Anthony McCoy and a 47-yard completion to tailback Joe McKnight. He ended up going 3-for-3 for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the period. "He's out here playing football with these guys like he's been here a long time," Coach Carroll said of Barkley.

- Other than Barkley, Wednesday was a day for the defense, which put on an overall dominating show in USC's first full-pads practice of the fall. A hard-hitting and shutdown performance stymied the offense for much of the workout. During a scrimmage-like 11-on-11 period, the defense held the offense to no gain or a loss on seven consecutive plays, adding to a sack-happy performance throughout the day and a bruising effort in the team run period, which saw the linebackers and lineman deliver pounding hits left and right.

- On one play in team period, cornerback Kevin Thomas served up the hit of the day when he flattened tight end Blake Ayles, who caught a short pass and was battered immediately when he turned upfield.

- Ayles later dove to catch a 36-yard pass from Matt Barkley during the scrimmage-like session at the end of practice.

- During team period, safety Josh Pinkard made a beautiful full-extension diving pass deflection on a deep ball down the right sideline.

- During 7-on-7 drills, quarterback Mitch Mustain, who took all the second-team reps, completed several nice balls, one to receiver Brice Butler deep over the middle and another to wideout Jordan Cameron in the front corner of the end zone.

- Safety Ryan McMahon recovered a fumble in the practice-ending scrimmage-like session, the only turnover of the day.

- New men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill has become quite the Trojan fan, as he watched Wednesday's practice from the sidelines. He also attended the team meeting on Saturday.

All out workday

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The time has come.

After the offseason and four training camp practices without full pads, the Trojans are heading out to Howard Jones Field in complete gear for the first time this fall. The change in attire will allow the players to practice cut blocking and give them a full flavor of football season.

"We're a step closer to real football," Coach Carroll said. 

On the radio, again

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Coach Carroll is scheduled to appear on the "Petros Money Show" on AM-570 today at 5:30 p.m. Listen through a live internet stream here.

Frequent fliers

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Everyone's talking about the Trojans' difficult road schedule this season, as they face several marquee opponents away from home. But what about their brutal travel schedule that goes along with that challenging road slate?

For its six away games this fall, USC will fly to Ohio, Indiana and all up and down the Pacific coast, logging an incredible amount of miles. The Trojans will fly 12,404 total roundtrip air miles this season, up 34 percent from last year's 9,196 air miles. A nearly 4,000-mile roundtrip to Ohio State and a 3,500-mile roundtrip to Notre Dame will do that to you.

The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,902 miles, so the Trojans will have flown just 94 miles short of halfway around the world when the 2009 season is complete and their air miles are tallied.

Too bad the Trojans can't mark all those miles down for frequent flier points -- charter planes don't offer that program.

Hear it again

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If you missed Coach Carroll's interview on ESPN Radio's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" this morning, listen to the recording here.

BREAKING NEWS: Corp out 1-2 weeks

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Quarterback Aaron Corp has a small crack on the head of his left fibula and will be out for one to two weeks, doctors determined after an MRI today.

The redshirt sophomore, who entered camp as the starter, was rolled onto by a lineman during Monday's practice. Team doctors determined he has no ligament damage and will not need surgery.

"This is an unfortunate setback for Aaron but we're encouraged by the diagnosis and that he's going to return quickly," Coach Pete Carroll said.

Corp said he was thankful the injury is fairly minimal.

"It's the best-case scenario for this situation," Corp said. "I'll keep rehabbing and hopefully be back soon."

Corp has been competing with freshman Matt Barkley for the starting quarterback position. Barkley will take all the first-team reps during Corp's absence, Carroll said.

"Matt's going to try and make the most of this opportunity," Carroll said.

Said Corp: "While I'm gone, Matt and Mitch [Mustain] will do a great job. They're going to compete and make the team better."

Groundhog day at USC

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As the annual camp grind marches on, one thing always gets lost in the shuffle.

A normal person's sense of time and days.

Because the training camp schedule tends to be the same over and over, the days start blending together, creating a strange phenomenon that's a mix between jetlag and insanity. Add to it that there's no weekend or days off to break up the grind and the most common question you'll hear during the 16-day camp from players and coaches is, "What day is it?"

But when the clueless are answering the clueless, the response is typically crafted by a few questions and a white flag: "Monday? Wednesday? I have no idea."

"It's all a mishmash of days," defensive coordinator Rocky Seto said.

Countdown

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The first game of the 2009 season -- against San Jose State at the Coliseum on Sept. 5 at 12:30 p.m. -- is just 24 days away:

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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Here are some photos from the Trojans' quick morning walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where they reviewed plays without footballs in accordance with NCAA rules for training camp walk-thrus:

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The offense and defense battle off the line right after the snap.

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With Jurrell Casey (left), Chris Galippo (middle) and Hebron Fangupo charging after him, Matt Barkley jumps to fake a short pass.

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The Trojan offense huddles up before a play.

Walk it out

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The morning walk-thru is beginning now on Howard Jones Field, so we'll return with a report following the brief workout.

Feet up, music up

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Leaning back while listening to Metro Station's "Shake It" -- the iTunes shuffle feature can turn up some interesting songs -- Coach Carroll watches film from Tuesday's practice in his office this morning during the moments between meetings and the 10 a.m. walk-thru.

A numbers game

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RipsIt reader René Ponce e-mailed in asking which jersey numbers will be sold this fall. Nos. 2, 4, 13 and 18 will be available this season, with some of them already being offered online through the USC bookstore.

End of the week fun

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The Trojans' first scrimmage of the fall is slated to be on Friday at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones Field.

Not marginal at all

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Wednesday means turnover day for the Trojans, so there's no better time to examine USC's all-time turnover margin, one of Coach Carroll's most vaunted statistics. In Carroll's eight seasons, the Trojans have an astounding plus-107 turnover margin, so check out the year-by-year stats (click the graphic to see a larger size):

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Click to expand

Continuing on

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It seems like yesterday just ended, but now it's today already.

The Trojans, just a quick night's sleep separated from last night's meetings, have returned to Heritage Hall. The coaches have already broken from their staff meeting, and they'll join the players in position group film sessions in a few minutes. The morning walk-thru will be at 10 a.m.

The day ahead

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Here's a look at the schedule for Wednesday, the Trojans' first day in full pads of Fall Camp 2009:

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8:15 a.m. • Meetings begin
10 a.m. • Team walk-thru
11 p.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (full pads)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check 

It's only a day away

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Tonight's team meeting quickly turned into a meeting all about tomorrow.

As in the first day in full pads for the Trojans.

"We need to maximize what full speed football is all about," Coach Carroll told the players in a cramped Heritage Auditorium tonight.

The Wednesday afternoon practice, set to begin at 3 p.m. on Howard Jones Field, will be the first time USC has donned full pads since the spring game on April 25, a span of 109 long days. Needless to say, the players and coaches are itching for the heavy-hitting practice to come.

"Let's be ready to go tomorrow," offensive coordinator John Morton told the offense tonight. "Let's be ready to dominate."

Fall Camp 2009: The schedule

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Come on out to Fall Camp 2009 before it's too late.

Below is the remaining schedule for Fall Camp 2009, with all practices during camp (now until Aug. 22) open to the public and on Howard Jones Field, unless otherwise noted. And for those planning on coming out to a practice, be sure to check out the USCRipsIt Practice Primer for all the tips and pointers.

Aug. 12 - Practice 3 p.m.
Aug. 13 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 4 p.m. (two-a-day)
Aug. 14 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 15 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 4 p.m. (two-a-day)
Aug. 16 - Practice 3 p.m. (CHANGED FROM 4 P.M.)
Aug. 17 - Practice 7:30 p.m. (AT THE COLISEUM)
Aug. 18 - Practice 3 p.m. (CHANGED FROM 4 P.M.)
Aug. 19 - Practice 3 p.m. (CHANGED FROM 4 P.M.)
Aug. 20 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 3 p.m. (two-a-day) (SECOND PRACTICE CHANGED FROM 4 P.M.)
Aug. 21 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 22 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 3 p.m. (two-a-day) - Salute to Troy at 5 p.m.
Aug. 23 - OFF
Aug. 24 - OFF (First day of fall semester)
Aug. 25 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 26 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 27 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 28 - Practice 4:15 p.m.
Aug. 29 - Mock game at 12:30 p.m. (Coliseum)
Aug. 30 - OFF
Aug. 31 - Practice 4 p.m. (Normal game week commences)
Sept. 1 - Practice 4 p.m. (Competition Tuesday)
Sept. 2 - Practice 4 p.m. (Turnover Wednesday)
Sept. 3 - Practice 4 p.m. (No Repeat Thursday)
Sept. 4 - Practice 4:15 p.m. (Review Friday - CLOSED to the public)
Sept. 5 - USC vs. SAN JOSE STATE 12:30 p.m. (Coliseum)

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Check out the USCRipsIt Practice Primer for all the pertinent tips and pointers before coming out to a workout this August!

Back to work

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The night's meetings have gotten started with a film session for the punt return unit. The full-team gathering follows before offense/defense and position group meetings close out the night, with bed check at 11 p.m.

On the radio

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Coach Carroll will appear on ESPN Radio's nationally syndicated "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" at 8:25 a.m. on Wednesday. Listen through a live internet stream here.

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Wideout Brandon Carswell snags a pass during 1-on-1 drills.

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Coach Pat Ruel leads his offensive linemen through footwork drills.

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Cornerback Kevin Thomas attempts the catch during diving interception drills.

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Defensive lineman Averell Spicer hones in on Matt Barkley.

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Behind a stalwart offensive line, Matt Barkley lobs a pass to the corner of the end zone.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen pursues Matt Barkley, who jumps to throw downfield.

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Mitch Mustain winds up to throw.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In the first Competition Tuesday of the fall, the defense tried its best to rename it No Competition Tuesday, as it turned in an overpowering performance to capture the final team period 17-13, a veritable blowout in Coach Carroll's scoring system. Regardless of the score, Carroll was satisfied with the effort from both sides during the inaugural competition-themed practice of the season. "Everyday you go against guys who push you to get better and make you who you are," Carroll told the players in the post-workout huddle. "Because of that, we love the guys across from us."

- With Aaron Corp sitting out to nurse a bruised knee, Matt Barkley received nearly all of the snaps, and he made the most of his chances. During 7-on-7 period, Barkley threw two 40-yard touchdowns, one to Damian Williams over the middle and the other to tailback Joe McKnight down the right sideline. "It was a good opportunity for him to dig in play after play," Carroll said of Barkley.

- Throughout 11-on-11 work, the tailbacks logged an overall stunning performance. Curtis McNeal and Allen Bradford had lengthy runs up the middle, while C.J. Gable used a vicious juke to break past a linebacker during the first set of team drills. McNeal and Bradford had additional long runs later in the practice as well. And walk-on transfer Ahmed Mokhtar, who played at Oregon State in 2007, showed off his moves and speed on several long, impressive runs in the practice.

- Wideout Damian Williams dove to catch a Matt Barkley pass for a 25-yard touchdown during team period.

- During red-zone work in team period, 6-1 cornerback Kevin Thomas leaped up and made a terrific pass deflection on a fade route to 6-5 wideout Jordan Cameron in the corner of the end zone.

- Quarterback Mitch Mustain connected with receiver Travon Patterson for a deep completion down the left sideline during team period.

- For the first time this fall, the punt return unit got the spotlight, giving the Trojans' slew of speedy returners a shot at the starting role.

- Former starting linebacker Dallas Sartz attended the practice.

Corp sits out

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Quarterback Aaron Corp sat out of Tuesday's practice with a bruised left knee. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday, when doctors will be able to determine if the injury is more than a bruise.

On a freak play in Monday's practice, a lineman rolled into the legs of Corp, who took a few plays off before going back in to finish the workout. He was kept out of this morning's walk-thru for precautionary reasons.

Getting after it

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It's that time of the day, time for the Trojans to start hitting and running on Howard Jones Field. We'll return with a report from the half-pads Competition Tuesday practice in a few hours.

New jersey rule

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Under new NCAA rules passed this offseason, visiting teams can wear their home-colored jerseys as long as they receive permission in writing from the opponent prior to the season.

RipsIt reader Keith Jenkins e-mailed in to ask if any team has done that yet for USC.

Nope.

"There have been no formal requests that I know of," senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes said.

But what about when UCLA comes to the Coliseum and is expected to follow the tradition that Coach Carroll helped resurrect last season at the Rose Bowl?

Well, there's still four weeks until the season begins.

"Everyone just knows that the UCLA thing is just going to happen," Lopes said.

Virtual camping

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CampPete.com, a virtual football playground for kids and featuring Coach Carroll, has exceeded 10,000 users and was featured today on Virtual Worlds News. Check out the popular new site for yourself!

Brand new series

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USCTrojans.com All-Access is unveiling a cool new show this fall called "The Playmakers," an in-depth look at the players, coaches and position groups making a difference for the Trojans, produced by Mark Haas. The premiere episode focuses on the offensive line, and All-Access subscribers can watch it here.

Not an All-Access member? Become one today for only $9.95 per month to get unique video features and live streaming of most USC sporting events.


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Best machine yet

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One of the program's mottos is, "Do things better than they've ever been done before."

The slogan stretches from the football field, to the weight room, to the classroom and to the film room.

And now it even applies to a recently acquired ball machine that football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez calls the "most innovative ball machine on the market."

"It's absolutely the latest technology," Dominguez said of the Trojans' new ball-throwing machine used for throwing passes and simulating punts and kickoffs.

The machine, which was made by Sports Attack and delivered two days before Fall Camp opened, puts the Trojans light-years ahead of where they were with their previous, most basic ball-throwing device. The new machine can throw a left- or right-handed spiral, lob end-over-end kickoffs, launch punts and fire a ball more than 120 yards in the air. The capabilities with the new machine are essentially endless.

A change the new machine necessitated was the use of black footballs while utilizing the device. Made from a black swine leather, the balls are more durable and last longer through the machine, which would quickly tear up the less resilient red rawhide leather footballs used for on-field play. Plus, the black balls are a training tool, since they have gold tips that help players concentrate on watching the ball into their hands.

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Football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez launches a football through the team's new ball-throwing machine to fullback D.J. Shoemate.

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Because of the new ball-throwing machine, the Trojans now use gold-tipped black footballs when employing the device. The black balls are more durable and also act as a training tool for the players, who can focus on the gold tips as the ball comes into their hands.

Going to the tape

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The defensive coaches, with Coach Carroll and coordinator Rocky Seto at the head end of the table, watch film from this morning's walk-thru in the defensive staff room. Position group meetings start at 2 p.m. and a half-pads practice is at 3.

Look out for O'Dowd and Byers

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Center Kristofer O'Dowd and guard Jeff Byers were named to the 40-man watch list for the Outland Trophy, presented annually to the nation's top interior lineman (tackles, guards and centers on both sides of the ball).

Taylor's legacy lives on

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0811boheader.jpgBo Taylor, a key inner-city peacekeeper and one of the main motivators for Coach Carroll to found A Better LA, passed away one year ago today after a valiant battle with cancer. You can learn more about Taylor's incredible impact on the community in this article from last year.

One year later, Taylor's legacy lives on in the inner-city through A Better LA, Unity One and the countless other organizations dedicated to creating hope and change where sadness and despair once lived.

We will always miss you, Bo.

Beyoncé and the offensive line

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Pat Ruel knows how to get a college kid's attention.

Bringing laughter to all within earshot, the 58-year-old offensive line coach utilized a funny pop culture reference right in the heat of instructing his players during this morning's walk-thru.

Directly after safety Taylor Mays came up to the line of scrimmage and got into the backfield untouched because of a busted assignment, Ruel gave a lecture for his linemen who were in charge of protecting the particular gap in the line that Mays snuck through.

"I don't care who walks up there -- Beyoncé could walk up there! -- but you have to take the C gap!" Ruel shouted, eliciting chuckles from the coaches and the players, who were incredulous that Ruel knew who Beyoncé was.

Laundry day -- all day

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Football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez throws players' workout gear in the washer, one of the last loads of laundry following this morning's walk-thru. Dominguez and the rest of the equipment staffers have a short turnaround between the morning walk-thru and the afternoon practice, so time is of the essence in order to wash and dry the laundry -- shorts, shirts, socks and jerseys -- for all 105 players and 25-plus staffers before it's needed again.

Many thanks

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A special shout out goes out to the 2-9 Café, a USC institution that donated lunches for the football staff today.

Hey Budde

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Legendary USC lineman Brad Budde, who won the Lombardi Award and was a unanimous All-American in 1979, attended the Trojans' walk-thru on Tuesday morning.

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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Check out some photos from Tuesday's morning walk-thru, during which the Trojans went through 30 team plays and 10 minutes of individual instructional work on Howard Jones Field:

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Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto directs safety Will Harris and other defensive backs through drills.

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Matt Barkley feigns a handoff to tailback Joe McKnight. NCAA rules don't permit walk-thrus to include footballs.

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Offensive guard Jeff Byers (right) and defensive tackle Averell Spicer tangle in the backfield as Matt Barkley steps up to avoid the rush.

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Coach Carroll watches on as the Trojans go through their morning walk-thru.

Corp takes a break

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One day after a potentially scary injury, Aaron Corp was held out of this morning's walk-thru for precautionary reasons following a play Monday when a lineman rolled onto his leg. He bounced back up and finished practice, but soreness kept him out of the 45-minute on-field session this morning.

"There's no damage to his knee," Coach Carroll said. "It's just swollen."

Corp, who's competing with Matt Barkley for the starting role, walked around with a slight limp and an ice pack on his left knee for much of today's workout.

Gettting to work

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On a cool summer morning, the Trojans have just taken the field for their walk-thru, which will set the table for this afternoon's Competition Tuesday practice.

Time flies when you're having fun

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It's already Day 5 of Fall Camp 2009, meaning the Trojans are nearly a third of the way through training camp.

"The days are starting to fly by," Coach Carroll said.

Be sure to come on out to one of the remaining practices during camp, as they're all open to the public. Here's the full practice schedule.

Salute to Troy

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Friday is the deadline to RSVP for Salute to Troy, the annual season-kickoff banquet featuring players, coaches, the Trojan Marching Band and the USC Song Girls. The festivities, which include dinner and a fun-filled program, will be on Saturday, Aug. 22 at 5 p.m., immediately following the Trojans' open-to-the-public practice at 3 p.m. that day.

Sign up online now before it's too late! Enter "guest" in the box if you do not have a donor ID number.

Big day

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It's Competition Tuesday today for the Trojans, meaning the heat will be ratcheted up for this afternoon's half-pads practice.

Three-ring circus

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The Carroll Carnival is back.

After an offseason of dormancy, the circus that is Coach Carroll's on-field warm-up routine at the start of practice has returned.

If only a big top could house it.

While players churn through individual drills each practice, Carroll goes through a series of goofy, often-hilarious rituals at midfield alongside football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez. It starts with his attempt to catch as many packs of bubblegum in one toss and continues on with a throw (or two or three or eight) at a target along the west fence of the field. On Monday, the target was a bag of ice hanging over the gate to Dedeaux Field, but other days it's been a water bottle or a first down marker. He often misses -- it's hard nailing a small target from 40 yards away! -- so equipment managers typically have to scurry for the lost balls that fly over the fence and toward the baseball field.

It all ends with Carroll usually inserting himself as the quarterback in defensive back drills, as he shows off the drop-back steps and pump fakes that surely made him a standout quarterback at Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., in the late-'60s.

The one area of the Carroll Carnival -- as Dominguez has named it -- that the coach is trying to improve?

The gum catching event, as his record currently stands at snagging five packs at once. Miraculously, that's two hands snatching five small packs of bubblegum.

"I got four yesterday morning," Carroll said with childlike jubilee. "I ain't got six yet."

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Coach Carroll attempts to catch six packs of bubblegum at one time during Monday's practice, just one of the events in the daily "Carroll Carnival" on the practice field. Carroll's all-time record is five packs in one grab, and he's now striving for six.

Fun fact

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Since 2002, USC has a combined 11-3 record against teams that finished the season in the top-10, good for a .785 winning percentage.

In comparison, arguably the two other most successful programs in that time frame, Florida and LSU, were both under-.500 against teams that finished the season in the top-10. Since 2002, Florida has gone 10-12 (.455) and LSU has a 5-10 (.333) record against teams that finished the season in the top-10.

Thanks to this Sporting News article for the tip (and thanks to RipsIt reader Scot Obler for passing it along).

A new day

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With just enough time to get a night's rest, the Trojans are awake and back in business this morning with position group meetings, during which they'll review film from yesterday's practice. The walk-thru is set for 10 a.m.

"It's all football this time of year," Coach Carroll said. "Morning, noon and night."

For a good read

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Check out this excellent feature on USC alum and current New York Giants receiver Steve Smith, from today's L.A. Times.

The day ahead

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Tuesday's schedule will be an exact doppelganger of today's, so check out the agenda for tomorrow (and see the entire camp schedule here):

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8:15 a.m. • Meetings begin
10 a.m. • Team walk-thru
11 p.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (half pads)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Film study

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During tonight's team meeting, Coach Carroll (center) gets a close-up examination of the play on the screen as the Trojans watch the highlights from Monday's practice.

Back to work

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The night's business has gotten underway with a special teams film review in Heritage Auditorium that began 15 minutes ago. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings will round out the evening, which will end around 10 p.m. before bed check at 11.

Pictures from Monday's practice

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Freshman safety Jawanza Starling dives through the tackling bag in individual drills.

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Fullback D.J. Shoemate (left) and linebacker Jordan Campbell (right) collide and bounce off each other during 1-on-1 blocking drills.

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Wideout Ronald Johnson looks the ball into hands.

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

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Kicker Jordan Congdon winds up for a field goal, with punter Billy O'Malley holding.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield as defensive end Armond Armstead (right) raises up to try to deflect the pass.

Hat news

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Two days after a baseball cap and a day after no hat, Coach Carroll went with a black visor Monday. "It's a compromise," said Carroll, who's trying to give himself more sun protection this year.

Big first impressions

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When talking to the media following Monday's practice, Coach Carroll had nothing but praises to say about two freshmen in particular.

- Carroll on quarterback Matt Barkley: "He threw some terrific balls today. He's progressing. He had a very good day today."

- Carroll on linebacker Jarvis Jones, who moved to strong-side linebacker Monday: "He had a remarkable day. It looks like he's going to be in the middle of everything."

Spotlight on...

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Check out the standout performers from Monday's practice:

- Tight end Blake Ayles had the highlight play of the day when he stretched out for a one-handed catch on an over route before rolling to the ground near the left sideline during team period, drawing an ovation from the several hundred fans in attendance. "That was one of those, 'Oh, I caught it!'" Ayles told his teammates after the play.

- On a play during team period, safety Josh Pinkard had a huge blindside hit on tight end Anthony McCoy, a blow that decleated the tight end. "He got me," McCoy said while shrugging. "That's six years of experience right there."

- On one play during team period, tailback C.J. Gable laid a huge block on the blitzing defensive back to allow Matt Barkley time to compelte a 10-yard pass to Ronald Johnson down the left sideline. After the play, a smiling Barkley immediately went over and gave Gable a bear hug to show his gratitude.

- Joe McKnight had the ankle-breaking play of the day when he smoothly shifted directions, tripping up the pursuing linebacker on a run during one set of full-squad drills.

- Tailback Marc Tyler broke a long run around the right edge during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- For the third straight day, the Trojans turned in a highly competitive -- and remarkably crisp -- practice, with the offense and defense both producing highlight-reel plays on the team's first day in shoulder pads. And for the second time in three practices, the offense captured the overall practice victory, this time by a 16-14 score. "That's a hell of a first day in pads," Coach Carroll told the players in the post-practice huddle.

- Quarterbacks Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley both had their shining moments Monday. The play of the day for Corp, who had a minor scare when a lineman rolled onto his ankle near the end of practice (he quickly bounced back and took more snaps), came on a deep pass to Brice Butler that was made sweeter by the wideout's shifty moves after the catch. Barkley, meanwhile, became an automatic touchdown machine, throwing several TDs throughout the day.

- During one five-play set in red zone 7-on-7 drills, Matt Barkley went 4-for-5, including touchdowns to tight end Anthony McCoy and wideout Jordan Cameron.

- Other than one long run each from tailbacks Allen Bradford and Joe McKnight, the defense logged an overpowering performance in the rushing-focused 9-on-7 drill.

- Quarterback Mitch Mustain was not at the practice to attend a summer school class. A total of 22 players will have missed at least one walk-thru or practice this week, the final one of summer school classes.

Time to work

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The third practice of Fall Camp 2009 -- and first in shoulder pads -- just began on Howard Jones Field, so we'll return with a report following the workout.

Win some, lose some

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After every practice, we say whether the offense or defense "won" the day, and RipsIt reader Daniel Fuentes e-mailed in asking how the victor is determined each day.

In most practices, the winner is determined based on which side "wins" the most plays during the final team period -- a scrimmage-like session between the top units. The offense wins a play by rushing for four-plus yards or completing a pass, and the defense wins by holding the offense to a rush of less than four yards or if the offense throws an incompletion. On Saturday, the offense won 16-15, meaning it either rushed for four yards or completed a pass on 16 of the period's 31 plays.

Almost always, thanks to Coach Carroll's often controversial scorekeeping for the sake of tight competition, the tally will be tied between the offense and defense toward the end of the workout. And more often than not, the practice won't be decided until one final sudden-death overtime play, like what happened in Saturday's practice.

Only in turnover-themed practices will the day's winner not be determined by the play victories in the last team period. On those days, the offense wins if it doesn't allow a turnover during full-team or 7-on-7 drills, while the defense is victorious if it gets at least one takeaway.

Coming back shortly

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Have no fear -- USCRipsIt's faithful photographer will be returning soon.

RipsIt reader Terri Calpino e-mailed in with this communiqué: "Don't get me wrong....I love your pictures but I am just wondering if Po-He Tseng will be back as staff photographer this year. His albums are great!!"

USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng, whose spectacular online photo albums brought you through almost every practice and home game of the 2008 season, is scheduled to return to action Aug. 24. Tseng, a USC PhD computer science student, is traveling and working on schoolwork for much of this month.

Until Tseng's return, we'll continue to post pictures from practice taken by yours truly.

Fall Camp 2009: The schedule

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The Trojans are well into Day 4 of Fall Camp 2009, with just 16 practices remaining after today. All workouts are open to the public during training camp, so be sure to head on out to Howard Jones Field to catch the Trojans as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Check out the full practice schedule and don't miss out on all the important tips in the USCRipsIt Practice Primer.

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No rest for the weary

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Just a few hours removed from this morning's walk-thru, the Trojans are already entering into their next block of meetings and practice, with position group meetings starting now and a half-pads practice beginning at 3 p.m.

"One meeting to the next," special teams coordinator Brian Schneider said. "Meeting, practice, meeting, practice, meeting."

New kicks

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Joe Houston is trying something new this season.

Listening to the suggestion of some fellow kickers, Houston is wearing a cleat on his right kicking foot that's a full size smaller than his left foot, as he tries out a new equipment strategy during Fall Camp this year. Houston is now going with a size-8.5 cleat on his kicking foot and a 9.5 on his left foot to follow along with what most kickers do for comfort and to cut down on resistance.

While his foot is not nearly as restricted as fellow kicker Jordan Congdon, who wears a 7.5 on his kicking foot -- two sizes smaller than his left foot -- Houston said it'll take some time to become accustomed to it.

"It's tight enough for your foot to feel cramped," said Houston, who's entering his redshirt junior season. "I'm getting used to it."

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Trying something new this fall, kicker Joe Houston is wearing a size-8.5 cleat on his right kicking foot (all black shoe) and a size-9.5 cleat on his left foot.

Opposite day

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RipsIt reader Jose Reyes sent in a question about coaches' attire on sidelines: "I've noticed that during home games, coach wears an away color polo while the other coaches wear home colors, and at away games it's the opposite. Is there any special reason for that? Does coach have a superstition?"

All coaches wear the opposite-colored polos from the players' jerseys to stand out and give players an easy visual reference point when looking to the sideline for signals and instruction during the game. So for home games, when the players are in cardinal, coaches wear white, and vice versa for road games. Support staffers -- medical, equipment and strength personnel -- wear the same color as the players on sidelines.

So, it has nothing to do with superstition and everything to do with practicality and strategy.

A stadium of a different color

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The Coliseum has been spruced up with an extra touch of home-field advantage for the Trojans, as the outer ring of the stadium has been painted cardinal and gold to replace the Easter-like pastels that had ringed the outside of the arena since the 1984 Olympics.

Big afternoon on the way

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This afternoon's practice will be the first in pads since spring ball in April, so the juices are flowing around Heritage Hall.

"Today is a huge day for us," Coach Carroll said in the staff meeting this morning.

The only thing is that the practice shouldn't look or feel too different than the first two workouts of Fall Camp 2009.

"The tempo won't change," Carroll told the players during Sunday night's team meeting. "We've been full speed and that's what we'll go with again."

Also, the installation on both sides of the ball ramps up today, with red zone and fringe (50- to the 30-yard line going in) work being implemented. 

Seto's poignant sermon

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Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto was the guest preacher for four services at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest on July 18-19, and you can watch his from-the-heart 18-minute sermon about fear in three parts below. Thanks to Saddleback Church for the video:





Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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Check out some photos from Monday morning's walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where the Trojans sprinted through a 45-minute workout without pads and without footballs in accordance with NCAA rules:

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Defensive linemen Averell Spicer (99) and Hebron Fangupo go through position group drills.

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Defensive end Wes Horton flies around the corner in his pursuit of Aaron Corp, who shimmies out of the way.

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As Matt Barkley drops back, defensive end Everson Griffen gets his jersey pulled up over his head in a move commonly referred to as "holding."

To the field

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With the morning film sessions in the books, the Trojans have taken the field for a brief walk-thru to review plays from yesterday and introduce plays for this afternoon's practice.

Family matters

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As USC's long-time director of team security, Rick Carr has had an up-close view of big-time college football for more than two decades, but he's getting a whole new perspective this season.

Carr's son JR is in his first week of training camp at Tennessee, where he's competing for the Volunteers' starting long snapper role. JR, a freshman from South Torrance High, received several scholarship offers before choosing to attend Tennessee.

Rick Carr, who's also a detective for the Torrance Police Dept., has been the director of team security for 21 years. He can often be seen shadowing Coach Carroll on the sidelines before, during and after games each fall.

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As USC's director of team security, Rick Carr (left) has had a special perch to watch college football for the last 21 years, but now he's got a different view with his son JR a freshman long snapper at Tennessee this fall.

USC: An NFL factory

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NFL training camps are in full effect, and the Trojans are well-represented around the League.

A whopping 46 USC alumni are on NFL training camp rosters this summer, with at least one Trojan on 26 of the 32 teams. And even more stunning is that 45 of the 46 players are from the Pete Carroll Era (2001-present) -- only New Orleans Saints tight end Billy Miller (1995-98) isn't.

"Having this many guys play on in the NFL is a great source of pride for our program and it's something all our current players and fans love to see," Carroll said.

The positions most represented by the Trojans in the League? Eight USC linebackers and eight Trojan offensive linemen are on NFL rosters, while seven defensive linemen and five quarterbacks are battling through two-a-days as professionals this month.

With nearly enough Trojans currently in the NFL to fill a 53-man roster, training camps are a fertile time for USC. Check out the full list of Trojan alumni currently in NFL camps (research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant):

0810rey.jpgCincinnati Bengals
QB Carson Palmer
DL Frostee Rucker
LB Keith Rivers
LB Rey Maualuga

Buffalo Bills
DB Cary Harris

Cleveland Browns
LB Kaluka Maiava

San Diego Chargers
DB Kevin Ellison

Kansas City Chiefs
QB Matt Cassel

Indianapolis Colts
DL Fili Moala

Miami Dolphins
WR Patrick Turner

Jacksonville Jaguars
RB Chauncey Washington
LB Thomas Williams

New York Jets
0810sanchez.jpgQB Mark Sanchez

Oakland Raiders
RB Justin Fargas

Pittsburgh Steelers
DB Troy Polamalu

Houston Texans
DL Shaun Cody
LB Brian Cushing

Tennessee Titans
RB LenDale White
DL LaJuan Ramsey

San Francisco 49ers
OL Chilo Rachal
OL Matt Spanos

0810buehler.jpgDallas Cowboys
K David Buehler

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DL Kyle Moore

Arizona Cardinals
QB Matt Leinart
OL Deuce Lutui
TE Dominique Byrd

Philadelphia Eagles
OL Winston Justice
DL Mike Patterson

Atlanta Falcons
OL Sam Baker

New York Giants

WR Steve Smith
DB Terrell Thomas

Detroit Lions
DB Darnell Bing
WR Keary Colbert

Green Bay Packers
LB Clay Matthews

Carolina Panthers
WR Dwayne Jarrett
OL Ryan Kalil

0810lofa.jpgSeattle Seahawks
DL Lawrence Jackson
LB Lofa Tatupu
RB David Kirtman
OL Kyle Williams

Washington Redskins
TE Fred Davis

New Orleans Saints
RB Reggie Bush
TE Billy Miller
DL Sedrick Ellis

Minnesota Vikings

QB John David Booty
OL Drew Radovich

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Monday morning business

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Just 10 hours after finishing their meetings last night, the Trojans returned to work this morning for position group meetings prior to a 10 a.m. walk-thru. The hectic nonstop schedule of Fall Camp is now in its fourth of 16 days.

Fairway success

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Jennifer Song, a sophomore at USC, won the U.S. Women's Amateur golf tournament in St. Louis over the weekend, capturing the most coveted individual title in non-professional golf.

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USC sophomore Jennifer Song won the U.S. Women's Amateur golf title on Sunday. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Trojans around the League

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In Sunday night's opening NFL preseason game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, tailback LenDale White had 12 rushing yards on six carries and defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey posted a tackle. Rookie cornerback Cary Harris played but did not record any stats.

Sing along song

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It was American Idol night at the start of USC's team meeting Sunday.

In a scene made for a movie, freshman linebacker Marquis Simmons wowed the Trojans with a rendition of "Lean on Me" that had the roomful of players, coaches and staffers standing, singing along, locking arms and swaying to the tune.

What started off as an impromptu sing-off between Simmons and fullbacks Stanley Havili and D.J. Shoemate at the onset of the meeting turned into a runaway for Simmons, who easily won thanks to never-before-seen audience participation that brought laughter, smiles and joy to all crammed in Heritage Auditorium on this Sunday night. And to top it all off, Coach Carroll played piano during the song, making it quite a festive environment.

Be sure to watch this clip of the Trojans singing during Sunday's team meeting in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt:

The day ahead

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Monday's schedule mirrors today's almost to a tee, with the only change being the dress for the afternoon practice, as the Trojans will be in shoulder pads for the first time this fall. Here's the agenda for Monday (and here's the full Fall Camp practice schedule):

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8:15 a.m. • Meetings begin
10 a.m. • Team walk-thru
11 p.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (half pads)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Teaching the truth

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The lessons continued to be taught during Sunday night's team meeting.

Coach Carroll spoke to the players about the moral they learned from this afternoon's practice, which started with a slew of penalties and mistakes and ended with near-perfection. Carroll reinforced his philosophy about focusing on what the players can control and watching how success flows from that.

"It's about control and not worrying about things outside of our control," Carroll said. "The BCS isn't and the Pac-10 is in our control. We want to focus on the things we can affect. We want to control and own everything that's within our grasp.

"If you start worrying about everything else, you start giving your power away. But when you focus on what you can control, you have all the power."

Then he concluded the short lesson by bringing it back to the example set in Sunday's workout.

"We regained control today -- you guys did that," Carroll said. "It'll come up again this season. But if you embrace this idea, you'll be way more powerful."

Not done yet

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Everson Griffen wants more.

Too bad the schedule won't allow for it tonight.

"I feel good!" the defensive lineman stood up and wildly yelled to his teammates before tonight's meeting started in Heritage Auditorium. "Let's go again!"

Should be a good one

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A full-length Esquire magazine feature on Coach Carroll will be published in the October issue, which is set to hit newsstands on Sept. 15.

Night work

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With dinner over, the Trojans have already returned to work for the nightly block of meetings. They're currently in a special teams film review before team, offense/defense and position group meetings follow, lasting until about 10 p.m.

Pictures from Sunday's practice

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During 1-on-1 drills, wideout Damian Williams makes a catch against the coverage of cornerback Kevin Thomas.

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Safety Ryan McMahon flies over a tackling bag during special teams drills.

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Linebackers Chris Galippo (left) and Michael Morgan (right) push into the blocking sled with coach Ken Norton Jr. urging them on.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield to tight end Blake Ayles in 7-on-7 period.

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Defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo (middle, white jersey) -- all 330 pounds of him -- leaps through the line to pressure quarterback Matt Barkley.

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Freshman defensive back Byron Moore blocks a field goal during special teams period.

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Aaron Corp rolls out and looks downfield during team period, with defensive lineman Derek Simmons in pursuit.

All photos by Ben Malcolmson.

Spotlight on...

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See which players had standout performances during Sunday's practice:

- Quarterback Matt Barkley turned in another exciting performance Sunday, especially on one string of plays during 7-on-7 period. First, he connected with receiver David Ausberry on a beautiful 35-yard fade to score a touchdown down the right sideline, eliciting a rousing applause from the hundreds of fans in attendance. Then, on the very next play, Barkley displayed smarts when he checked down to tailback Allen Bradford for a short pass that went for a long gain. Later, on a broken play during team period, Barkley evaded the rushing defensive linemen, rolled right and threw off his back foot to connect with tailback Curtis McNeal for a decent gain.

- Freshman defensive back Byron Moore laid out and blocked a field goal during full-squad special teams drills.

- During team period, tailback Joe McKnight turned a short screen pass into a huge play when he sliced from the right sideline all the way across the field before slipping into the open. It was his second SportsCenter-esque play in as many days.

- On back-to-back snaps in team period, tailbacks Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford broke lengthy runs up the middle -- reaching the backfield untouched thanks to massive holes forged by the offensive line. Each play went for at least 40 yards.

- Playing with the first-unit during 7-on-7 period, walk-on wideout Scott Stephens made a fantastic catch on a slant route against tough coverage from the cornerback.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Following a sloppy first-half of Sunday afternoon's helmets-only practice, Coach Carroll called the team together for an unusual mid-workout meeting. He was tired of seeing his players jump offsides or hold on running plays, so he encouraged them to clean it up for the day's final 30 plays of full-team action. They listened, as not a single flag was thrown during the practice-concluding period, which became a teachable moment for the Trojans. "We control that stuff," Carroll told the team following the workout. "All we have to do is play the way we're capable of playing."

- For the second straight day, the final 30-play team period came down to the last two snaps, with the defense winning 16-14 on Sunday.

- During a 10-play blitz-focused segment of team period, the defense utterly dominated, recording six sacks and three pressures and allowing just one completion. The effort also turned up the heat between the offense and defense, leading to plenty of trash talk and several big hits during the remainder of the workout.

- Jack Ward, a legendary USC athletic trainer for 40 years, attended practice.

Off to the field

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The second practice of the fall is about to start on Howard Jones Field, and one of the big news items of Day 1 -- Coach Carroll's black hat -- is a thing of the past, as he has returned to his old cap-less ways.

We'll return with a report following the two-hour session.

Break time over

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The Trojans are back to work again with brief position group meetings right now to review film from this morning's walk-thru before a helmets-only practice at 3 p.m.

Number switch

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Tailback Curtis McNeal, a redshirt freshman expected to compete for major playing time this fall, is changing his number from 22 to 6 effective today.

Dressing right

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Fall Camp is all about preparing the Trojans for the upcoming season, and especially the first game of the year on Sept. 5 against San Jose State.

The practices, drills, workouts, film sessions and meetings all point to the season opener.

The players' practice attire even does so too.

To help the quarterbacks find their receivers among defenders, the offense always wears in practice the same color jersey the team will wear in the next game. So, with the next contest being at the Coliseum and the Trojans slated to wear their cardinal jerseys against the Spartans, the USC offense is in cardinal practice jerseys during Fall Camp 2009 and the defense is in white.

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The defense (left) wears white and the offense wears cardinal throughout Fall Camp and leading up to the season opener against San Jose State. It's all part of the exact science of preparation for the Trojans.

All about the ball

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RipsIt reader Vernon Villasenor e-mailed in asking what kind of football the Trojans use. It's a Nike 3005 Collegiate large girth football with a specially stamped "SC" interlock logo on one panel of the ball:

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Inside the numbers: USC's returning starters

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Much has been made of the fact that USC has just three starters returning from last year's record-setting defense.

But that stat is highly deceptive.

Five key players in various position battles have at least three starts each, making the defense surprisingly experienced considering the oft-used and misleading -- though technically correct -- "three returning starters" stat that's repeated in newspaper articles and on TV.

The three official returning starters on defense are safeties Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard and defensive lineman Christian Tupou, but five more players add some lesser-known experience to the defense.

Safety Will Harris and defensive end Everson Griffen have five previous starts each, cornerback Kevin Thomas has four, cornerback Shareece Wright has three and defensive tackle Averell Spicer has three previous starts. So, along with Mays and Pinkard, Harris, Thomas and Wright make a fully experienced defensive backfield, and Griffen and Spicer join Tupou to form a veteran frontline.

Even linebacker Michael Morgan has one previous start, meaning the defense is definitely not as depleted as the media is making it seem.

So the more realistic statement should read, "USC returns nine players on defense who have previous starting experience."

That stat is definitely much less worrisome -- and a lot more truthful.

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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Check out some photos from this morning's 45-minute walk-thru on Howard Jones Field:

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Members of the punt team go through footwork drills along the 50-yard line.

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With offensive line coach Pat Ruel watching, the offensive line and tight ends power through blocking drills.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen (left) and tight end Rhett Ellison (middle) tangle as Matt Barkley (7) throws an imaginary ball downfield. According to NCAA rules, walk-thrus are not permitted to include footballs, so the Trojans go through the workout while playing college football's version of make-believe.

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Aaron Corp gets the imaginary pass off before defensive linemen Everson Griffen (left) and Christian Tupou (right) close in, with offensive guard Jeff Byers (53) laying out to protect his quarterback.

All photos by Ben Malcolmson

Working on a Sunday

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The procession of camp business continues on with a short walk-thru starting in a few minutes on Howard Jones Field.

Sign of the season

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You know it's football season when the NFL Network is on the USC football office's lobby TV -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Beginning the NFL preseason

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The NFL's opening preseason game kicks off at 5 p.m. tonight when the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans battle in the annual Hall of Fame game on NBC.

Three Trojans will be in the game, with tailback LenDale White and defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey playing for the Titans and rookie cornerback Cary Harris suiting up for the Bills.

Good morning

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The Trojans are already working away this morning, as coaches and players are in position group meetings now leading up to the walk-thru at 10 a.m.

"Go get 'em," Coach Carroll told his assistants during a brief early-morning staff meeting in the War Room. "Let's rock and roll."

Must-see TV: Practice 1 of Fall Camp

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Check out this video recap of USC's first practice of Fall Camp, produced by Mark Haas of USCTrojans.com All-Access.

Full of life

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The players had gone through a practice, a walk-thru and several hours of meetings and film sessions before tonight's team gathering in Heritage Auditorium, though you would've thought they were all fresh from a nap and a week's vacation.

For several minutes at the start of the meeting, the Trojans bounced around the room, chanting, dancing, singing and otherwise goofing off, prompting an amused Coach Carroll to ask his team, "today didn't tire you guys out?"

Players eventually settled down and proceeded into team and position group meetings that'll last a little bit longer. Bed check's at 11 p.m. and the first meetings on Sunday are scheduled for 8:15 a.m.

"This is hardball camp time," Carroll told the team tonight. "Everyone's grinding now."

Here's a look at Sunday's agenda:

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8:15 a.m. • Meetings begin
10 a.m. • Team walk-thru
11 p.m. • Lunch
2 p.m. • Position group meetings
3 p.m. • Practice (helmets only)
5:30 p.m. • Dinner
7:30 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Hat day for Carroll

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0808pchat.jpgSaturday was the first practice of the fall, and it was loaded with several big-time plays from players all across the field.

It also included a surprising change of routine for Coach Carroll, who wore a hat on the practice field for one of the only times ever.

Carroll said it was to protect him from the late-afternoon sun, and he added that it "wasn't working" for him, so you might see something else from him come Sunday's practice.

But in the meantime, what are your thoughts on Carroll's cap? Should he stay with the fashion adjustment or ditch it for the simple gray hair everyone's come to expect from USC's 57-year-old coach?


New additions

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Six new walk-ons have been added to the roster for Fall Camp 2009. Find out more about them:

- FB Ahmed Mokhtar • #34 • 6-0, 210 • Laguna Beach (Mater Dei/Oregon State/Orange Coast JC)
- WR J.B. Green • #41 • 6-1, 195 • Newport Beach (Newport Harbor)
- LB Will Andrew • #43 • 6-2, 225 • Huntington Beach (Edison)
- S Michael Helfrich • #47 • 6-0, 190 • Newport Beach (Newport Harbor)
- FB Hunter Simmons • #48 • 6-3, 235 • Pasadena (Loyola)
- TE Bryson Lloyd • #82 • 6-3, 225 • Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara)  

Back to work

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It seems like practice just ended, but the players' dinner break is over and it's time for the night's meetings to begin. The evening gets started now with a punt unit meeting in Heritage Auditorium before the team, offense/defense and position group meetings round out the night. Bed check is at 11 p.m.

Pictures from Saturday's practice

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Punter Jacob Harfman, who transferred from Mt. SAC Junior College during the summer, connects on a punt during Saturday's practice.


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Tailback C.J. Gable provides the stellar block on the defensive lineman during team drills.

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Quarterback Matt Barkley throws over the middle in 7-on-7 period.

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Quarterback Aaron Corp readies goes through his cadence during 7-on-7 drills.

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Defensive lineman Derek Simmons leaps to attempt to deflect a Matt Barkley pass.

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Linebacker Michael Morgan taps Aaron Corp for the sack.

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With defensive end Everson Griffen in pursuit, Matt Barkley rolls out to his right.

Spotlight on...

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Check out the players, including many freshmen, who had standout performances during Saturday's opening practice of the fall:

- Tailback Joe McKnight broke a 75-yard touchdown run during team drills thanks to awesome blocking by the offensive line. "That a baby!" quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates bellowed after McKnight got into the open. McKnight also had another long run later in the day when he deftly squeezed between linemen to cut loose into the open field.

- During team period, Matt Barkley floated a perfect pass to freshman wideout De'Von Flournoy deep down the left sideline. "That was sweet!" running backs coach Todd McNair yelled after the completion.

- Flournoy was also impressive in 1-on-1s with several big-time catches.

- Wideout Jordan Cameron logged an all-around special day, turning several short completions into long gains by exhibiting a great yards-after-the-catch knack. "He had a terrific first day," Coach Carroll said of Cameron.

- Receiver Damian Williams recorded several pretty toe-dragging catches along either sideline.

- During team period, freshman fullback Simi Vehikite had an athletic catch on a short pass in the flat before turning it upfield.

- Nose tackle Christian Tupou had terrific pressure and a pass deflection in team drills.

- Defensive end Everson Griffen posted a handful of sacks and pressures on the quarterback in full-team work. 

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The Trojans opened Fall Camp 2009 with a competitive bang Saturday, closing out the action-packed workout with a tightly contested team period that didn't decide the victor until the final snap of the afternoon, when the offense clinched a 16-15 win on a 10-yard run by tailback Stafon Johnson. "That's exactly the way it should end on the first day," Coach Carroll excitedly said in the post-practice huddle, "coming down to the last play like that."

- Quarterbacks Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley both shined throughout the workout, smoothly leading the offense during the lengthened practice. Carroll on Corp: "He was comfortable today. He was having fun playing." Carroll on Barkley: "Barkley was a whole leap ahead of where he was [in the spring]."

- Carroll wore a black USC hat at Saturday's workout, one of the rare times he's donned a cap on the field. "Sun protection," Carroll explained.

- The Trojans did a team-wide punt coverage drill named after legendary NFL coach Bud Grant during special teams period. The sprinting-based exercise had the players in laughter after watching all the linemen race 50 yards downfield before being juked by a shifty punt returner.

- USC women's volleyball coach Mick Haley attended the workout. Haley's squad, which has made the Final Four in four of the last seven seasons, reports to their fall camp Sunday.

Start it up

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The first practice of Fall Camp 2009 could carry another superlative-based title.

It might also be the longest.

Fresh off more than three months away from football, the Trojans return to Howard Jones Field for the first time for an elongated helmets-only workout starting now. With two extra periods and more time allotted to each segment of practice, the players and coaches are looking at what could be their lengthiest session of the fall.

Not that they're complaining -- well the coaches, at least.

"This practice goes forever," Coach Carroll said during the afternoon staff meeting. "Oh, this is awesome."

We'll return in a few hours with a report from the opening practice of Fall Camp 2009.

Bring out the footballs

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The Trojans have entered into preparations for this afternoon's practice, the first of the fall and the first time since April that the players and coaches have been on the same football field.

With a ball, that is.

This morning's football-less workout got the juices flowing, but the Trojans are itching to retake the field with the most necessary piece of equipment once again.

"College football?" Coach Carroll said of the morning walk-thru during this afternoon's staff meeting. "It was more like college no football!"

Offensive line coach Pat Ruel had a joke of his own in response.

"There were no turnovers this morning!" Ruel said to Carroll.

"Yeah, 100 percent completion rate too," Carroll shot back.

The first practice of the fall -- including a football (imagine that) -- is just an hour away.

Fall Camp 2009: The schedule

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Fall Camp 2009 is underway -- will you be joining in on the fun?

Below is the full schedule for Fall Camp 2009, with all practices during camp (Aug. 8-22) open to the public and on Howard Jones Field, unless otherwise noted. And for those planning on coming out to a practice, be sure to check out the USCRipsIt Practice Primer for all the tips and pointers.

Aug. 8 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 9 - Practice 3 p.m.
Aug. 10 - Practice 3 p.m.
Aug. 11 - Practice 3 p.m.
Aug. 12 - Practice 3 p.m.
Aug. 13 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 4 p.m. (two-a-day)
Aug. 14 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 15 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 4 p.m. (two-a-day)
Aug. 16 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 17 - Practice 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 19 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 20 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 4 p.m. (two-a-day)
Aug. 21 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 22 - Practice 9 a.m.; Practice 3 p.m. (two-a-day) - Salute to Troy at 5 p.m.
Aug. 23 - OFF
Aug. 24 - OFF (First day of fall semester)
Aug. 25 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 26 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 27 - Practice 4 p.m.
Aug. 28 - Practice 4:15 p.m.
Aug. 29 - Mock game at 12:30 p.m. (Coliseum)
Aug. 30 - OFF
Aug. 31 - Practice 4 p.m. (Normal game week commences)
Sept. 1 - Practice 4 p.m. (Competition Tuesday)
Sept. 2 - Practice 4 p.m. (Turnover Wednesday)
Sept. 3 - Practice 4 p.m. (No Repeat Thursday)
Sept. 4 - Practice 4:15 p.m. (Review Friday - CLOSED to the public)
Sept. 5 - USC vs. SAN JOSE STATE 12:30 p.m. (Coliseum)

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Check out the USCRipsIt Practice Primer for all the pertinent tips and pointers before coming out to a workout this August!

Staying healthy

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The Trojans have at least three hours off everyday between the morning on-field session and the afternoon practice, and coaches are encouraging the players to make the most of the time.

Hydration and rest are constantly being pushed, as players are nearly drowning with the drink options in front of them. Gatorade and water are available essentially 24 hours a day, thanks to the tireless work of USC's athletic trainers. And to combat dehydration, the soda machines in Galen Café were shut off for camp so players will only be drinking liquids that promote a properly hydrated body.

In terms of rest, coaches encourage players to get off their feet and relax around Heritage Hall or their dorms during the down time each day. And, of course, eight hours of sleep is scheduled for each night to give the players a full night's rest.

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Players dig into a cooler filled with Gatorade following this morning's workout. It's just one of many ways athletic trainers are keeping players hydrated during camp.

Field of dreams

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When the Trojans entered onto Howard Jones Field for this morning's walk-thru, they were strolling onto a masterpiece that's taken the last six weeks to perfect.

The hallowed practice field resembled a fairway on a golf course, as pristine green turf spread from fence to fence. The field was completely re-sodded during late June and early July, preparing it for perfection for when Fall Camp 2009 opened. A close mow and freshly painted lines make the field look even sharper.

Take a glance at the immaculate field in this panorama photo from this morning (click on the picture to see it full-sized):

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(Click on the image to see it larger)

Dispatch from Howard Jones: Morning walk-thru

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The Trojans just completed their first on-field workout of the fall, a 45-minute walk-thru sans footballs on Howard Jones Field. The players now have a few hours off before the first official practice of camp begins at 4 p.m.

"That's a hell of a job working out here today," Coach Carroll told the players after the workout. "This is a great start."

Check out some photos from the morning walk-thru:

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(From top to bottom) Quarterbacks Mitch Mustain, Matt Barkley, Aaron Corp and Garrett Green go through dropback drills.

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Defensive linemen hustle through drills between USC-colored garbage cans, with coach Jethro Franklin directing.

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Aaron Corp hands the imaginary ball off to tailback Joe McKnight as the Trojans work on running plays in the ball-less workout.

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Matt Barkley drops back in the pocket on a pass play, even without a football. NCAA rules prohibit the use of footballs at walk-thrus during Fall Camp.

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Aaron Corp and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates watch on as Matt Barkley leads the offense at the snap. 

Working without walking

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Officially, the Trojans' first practice of the fall is at 4 p.m. today.

But USC's first on-field session of the season is at 11 this morning, and the tempo and energy will be just the same as what you'll see at the opening practice.

It'll be that way at every one of the walk-thrus during camp, meaning basically every day during Fall Camp is a two-a-day. A walk-thru is a complete misnomer for the Trojans -- about the only walking they do is going from Heritage Hall to Howard Jones field, because after that, it's all running and fast-paced work.

Per NCAA rules, the one difference between a walk-thru and practice is that walk-thrus cannot feature footballs, so players have to use their imaginations during the hour-long workouts. The focus then turns to precision and speed in lining up and running plays.

All fixed

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Our comments feature on the Blog was facing some technical difficulties recently, but the issue has been resolved, so please post away with your comments. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Feel it in the air

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Players are currently in position group meetings, and the buzz of excitement for the season ahead is palpable around Heritage Hall.

"Isn't this awesome, men?" offensive coordinator John Morton said at the start of the offense's meeting this morning. "It doesn't get any better than this."

Looking within for answers

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During this morning's team meeting, Coach Carroll broached a topic he almost never talks about -- the team's tough regular-season schedule.

But he brought it up just to prove why he doesn't need to bring it up.

"I don't care one bit about that stuff -- because that has nothing to do with us winning," Carroll told the players, referring to the 2009 schedule. "It's not about whether we play all ranked teams, whether we play in the Midwest, up north, in the rain, in the snow or what jerseys the other team is wearing. It is always about us and it is always about what we can control. That is all we're concerned with.

"It's only about us and how we take care of our business right here."

Soaking it all in

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New men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill sat in on this morning's team meeting.

Master of philosophy

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At precisely 8 a.m. this morning, Coach Carroll walked to the front of Heritage Auditorium cradling a football, automatically hushing the 105 players.

It was time for ball.

"Our philosophy of football is: it's all about the ball," Carroll bellowed to open the meeting, emphatically breaking the silence with the program's No. 1 emphasis. "No matter what it takes on offense, you're going to protect this ball. And on defense, there's no play where we're not trying to get the ball away."

Carroll then delved into the team's other mottos, repeating the dictums that players have heard over and over but doing it in a way that sounded fresh, new, exciting. It's one of Carroll's greatest strengths, the ability to plainly and powerfully articulate every philosophy of the program, and to somehow do it in an exciting way each time. They're philosophies such as:

  • Style: "Our style is that we play with have effort, great enthusiasm and we play smart."
  • Three rules: "Protect the team; No whining, no complaining, no excuses; Be early."
  • Practice is everything: "Practice is where we make us."
  • Everything counts: "You're either competing or you're not."

Carroll's talent for articulating every facet of the program is a huge reason for USC's long-term success and the quick melding of freshmen into the program, as the expectations and philosophies are unmistakably clear from Day 1. But not only clear, they also are fresh and carry an air of exhilaration each and every time they're repeated.

"Let's go," Carroll said to close the 30-minute meeting. "It all happens -- starting today."

Off and running

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Day 2 of Fall Camp 2009 is already in fifth gear, as players are awake, eating breakfast and just minutes away from entering Heritage Auditorium for the three-hour morning block of meetings before a walk-thru at 11 a.m. Here's the full schedule for the day:

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8 a.m. • Team meeting
11 a.m. • Team walk-thru
12 p.m. • Lunch
3 p.m. • Position group meetings
4 p.m. • First practice of the fall (helmets only)
6:30 p.m. • Dinner
8 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Inspirational

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It wasn't your typical football meeting, but that wasn't a bad thing.

Tonight's team meeting, the final task on today's opening-day agenda, was not permitted by NCAA rules to feature any football talk because it was reporting day. The Xs and Os will be unfurled Saturday, so tonight's hour-long gathering instead dealt with administrative issues.

The meeting ended with Coach Carroll showing a touching ESPN video about a pair of disabled high school wrestlers, a powerful example of two people working together and sacrificing for each other to do something great. Check the video out for yourself (it aired on ESPN last weekend):

Remembering a hero

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Check out this touching news piece on Ryan Davidson, the 16-year-old Trojan fan from Wisconsin who died in February after inspiring thousands.

The Davidson family -- dad Kirby, mom Amy and sister Mallory -- will be flying out for the season opener at the Coliseum for a special pre-game ceremony before USC takes on San Jose State.

The day ahead

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Saturday will feature the first practice of the 2009 campaign, along with several hours of meetings and a morning walk-thru. Here's the full schedule for tomorrow:

7 a.m. • Wake up/breakfast
8 a.m. • Team meeting
11 a.m. • Team walk-thru
12 p.m. • Lunch
3 p.m. • Position group meetings
4 p.m. • First practice of the fall (helmets only)
6:30 p.m. • Dinner
8 p.m. • Nightly meetings begin
10 p.m. • Nightly meetings end
11 p.m. • Bed check

Business meetings

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The administrative meetings are continuing on with a compliance review and paperwork session for the next 90 minutes. Then, it's dinner at 5:30 and the final administrative meeting of first day at 7 p.m.

Another watch list for Mays

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Taylor Mays has been named one of 30 players on the watch list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

Ignorance is bliss

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The Coaches Poll was released today, but the news hasn't made it to the USC football office yet.

In fact, it might not ever.

The college football rankings don't mean a thing to the Trojan coaches and players, who are about as oblivious as possible to whatever the latest poll news is.

And it's all a part of the plan. Coach Carroll emphasizes "controlling what you can control," and the rankings fall into the "out of control" category. So it's a waste of time and energy to even let the rankings enter into the players' and coaches' mindset.

"Why worry about something that has no bearing on how we go through meetings, practices and games?" Carroll said. "Thinking about that stuff goes against everything we stand for."

It's the same reason why the team's goal is to win the Pac-10 every year -- because the Trojans can win the conference by how they play on the field instead of relying on polls and votes, like the way the BCS works.

Let's get physical

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Players are currently in the midst of physicals in the basement of Heritage Hall, as they get inspected from head to toe so each of them can be cleared to begin practicing Saturday. They're going through orthopedic tests, heart tests and brain tests, among many others.

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This afternoon in the basement of Heritage Hall, fullback Adam Goodman goes through a computerized test that monitors his brain's capabilities so that athletic trainers have a reference point in case the player gets a concussion and his brain activity gets compromised.

And they're off

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Coach Carroll kicked off the 2009 campaign with a team meeting at noon today before handing the stage over to head athletic trainer Russ Romano, who gave a short presentation to the players about hydration, illegal supplements, injuries and the H1N1 virus.

Fall Camp 2009 is underway.

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The team fills Heritage Auditorium as Coach Carroll (front of the room) delivers his kickoff address.

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An animated Coach Carroll speaks to the team during the first meeting of the fall today.

It's time

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The first team meeting of Fall Camp 2009 is just minutes from starting in Heritage Auditorium. The campaign begins here and now.

Easing in the young guys

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USC is widely known as the most media-accessible college football program in the nation, but for this first week or so of camp, don't expect to read any quotes in the paper from the new Trojan players or watch a news clip of them being interviewed.  

That's because the new freshmen and transfer players are kept off-limits to the media while they get accustomed to life as a Trojan player.

"The new guys have so many things flying at them early in camp," Coach Carroll said. "They're just trying to figure out where to go for the next drill, meeting or class. They don't need to have to deal with the media right away.

"Plus, it gives them a chance to observe how our veterans deal with the media. Once the young guys get settled in after a week or so, the media will get all the access they need. We've always done it that way and it's worked out great for everyone."

Mays on the list

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Taylor Mays joins 30 other of the nation's top safeties and cornerbacks on the watch list for the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the country's best defensive back. Mays finished as a runner-up in 2008.

Step by step on move-in day

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Missed the live-blogging from dorm check-in this morning? Here's your one-stop shop for a behind-the-scenes chronology of what happened this morning as players moved into their training camp housing:

Closing time at the dorm

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Check-in has wrapped up at Fluor Tower, with the USC football administrative staffers packing up their table and heading back to Heritage Hall. Players will continue settling in to their temporary housing arrangements for the rest of the morning until a team meeting at noon.

Not your typical 21st birthday celebration

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At the very least, wideout Jordan Cameron is having a memorable 21st birthday.

Cameron turns 21 today, the first day of Fall Camp 2009 and a day loaded with administrative meetings. Bed check will be at 11 p.m. tonight, so how is he going to celebrate the typically big day for college students?

"Just go to sleep," Cameron said with a grin and a shrug.

Something's fishy here

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Of all the belongings players bring with them to the dorm during training camp, unwaveringly some will seem over-the-top and a little peculiar.

So far this morning, players have lugged in electric fans, overstuffed comforters and bedding, scooters, guitars and 30-plus-inch flatscreen TVs, just to name a few.

But offensive lineman Abe Markowitz might take the cake for the weirdest item brought into the dorm today. Markowitz carried in his pet fish in a fish bowl this morning, but the only issue was that the water was murky.

"I'll change it today," Markowitz said assuredly.

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Offensive lineman Abe Markowitz's pet fish will be bunking up along with the Trojans at Fluor Tower during training camp.

Fresh buzz

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Linebacker Chris Galippo goes through check-in with a fresh haircut this morning. Many players show up to camp with new 'dos to last them through the month.

His new home

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Tight end Blake Ayles moves into his seventh-floor dorm room at Fluor Tower, with his suite-mate Rhett Ellison welcoming him in.

Comfort inn

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Many players have unique preferences. Center Kristofer O'Dowd's just happens to be what he sleeps on -- and he's willing to go to great lengths to make sure he's comfortable during camp.

Apprehensive of sleeping on a generic dorm bed, O'Dowd carried in his own mattress to the dorm, squeezing the twin-sized through the doors and up the elevator to his ninth-floor room.

"I don't like the hard beds here," O'Dowd said.

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Center Kristofer O'Dowd carries his own twin-sized mattress into Fluor Tower today.

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Kristofer O'Dowd lugs his own mattress into the dorm for training camp.

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Kristofer O'Dowd squeezes his mattress into the elevator to take it up to his dorm room.

Tour de Camp

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Players come to