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September 2009 Archives

Wednesday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of 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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The defensive line goes through position group drills.


Tailback Allen Bradford rumbles upfield.


In 7-on-7 period, Aaron Corp throws with the setting sun behind him.


Matt Barkley passes in 7-on-7 drills.


Mitch Mustain leads the Trojan offense during team period.


Motivational speaker Sourena Vasseghi, a USC alum who has overcome the effects of cerebral palsy to become an influential figure to many, speaks to the team following Wednesday's practice.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The offense picked up another rare dual victory, pitching a shutout on Turnover Wednesday and capturing a 13-11 win in the final team period during the full-pads practice at the midpoint of game week. "This is a meaningful, emotional week for us," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "Let's make sure we keep bringing it."

- Matt Barkley had perhaps his most productive day since returning from a shoulder injury last week, as he completed several difficult downfield throws and guided a very effective offense. "Without question it was the best day for his arm motion," Carroll said. "He's still not 100 percent, but it's the best it's been."

- Defensive end Nick Perry, the Pac-10's sack leader, came back to practice after sitting out Tuesday with a knee bruise. "That's a great return -- he couldn't move yesterday," Carroll said. "I'm sure he's going to play."

- Linebackers Malcolm Smith (ankle) and Luthur Brown (back) practiced, and Carroll said both will travel and most likely play on Saturday.

- Wideout Ronald Johnson participated in some light running and rehab drills on a side field during practice, his first football-related work since breaking his collarbone more than a month ago. "It's great to see RoJo out here running around," Carroll said.

- Mitch Mustain continued to get more looks at the backup quarterback spot, and he's impressing the coaches in the process. "He's coming on, he's elevating his play," Carroll said. "He's on it." Carroll, though, did not say the depth chart had changed, as Aaron Corp remains in the second position. "Both those guys are ready," Carroll said.

- Kicker Joe Houston has been making noise in the placekicking competition as he attempts to put pressure on current starter Jordan Congdon. "He's hitting the ball the best he's hit," Carroll said of Houston. "He's competing. He's obviously ready to go if he gets a chance."

- On a fade route down the right sideline during team period, wideout David Ausberry had the catch of the day when he soared up over the cornerback to pluck an Aaron Corp pass out of the sky.

- Artificial crowd noise played during much of practice to get the Trojan offense acclimated to the loud environment at Memorial Stadium.

Off to work

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The Trojans just hit the field for their weekly Turnover Wednesday practice, so we'll be back with a report after the full-pads workout.

Room for improvement

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Besides today being turnover day, the emphasis is also on penalties and third downs.

And the Trojans are lagging in both.

In penalties, USC is averaging 73 yards per game, second worst in the Pac-10, while Cal is tops in the conference with just 38.8 yards of penalties per game. Third downs are much of the same, as the Trojans are converting just 25 percent of their opportunities (last in the Pac-10), with the Bears placing fourth in the conference with a 43.4 percentage on third downs.

"We have got to turn this thing around," Coach Carroll said in this afternoon's team meeting.

Thankful for the support

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As the mother of Stafon Johnson, Kim Mallory has had a heart-wrenching past 48 hours as she remains by the side of her injured son and only child.

But she said she is beyond thankful for the encouragement and well wishes from fans since the injury.

"Words cannot express the outpouring of love and support we've received," Mallory said this afternoon while in the hospital with her son. "It's overwhelming, and it means so much to me and Stafon."

Stafon now on Twitter

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Stafon Johnson joined the micro-blogging site Twitter this afternoon, so you can follow him by clicking to http://www.twitter.com/stafon13.

Climbing up the charts

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Defensive end Nick Perry leads the Pac-10 in sacks (1.5 per game) and linebacker Michael Morgan tops the conference in tackles for loss (2.13 per game).

In those respective categories, Perry is third in the country, while Morgan ranks sixth nationally.

Playing with the Stars

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The Trojan Marching Band appeared on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" last night, and you can see their amazing performance here:

Highly connected

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Here are three cool Trojan connections surrounding this weekend's game at California:

- Safety Drew McAllister's father, Ken, was a defensive back at Cal and led the team in punt returns in 1976-77. McAllister's mother, Tracy, was a Golden Bears cheerleader.

- Freshman center John Martinez and Bears defensive lineman Keni Kaufusi are brothers.

- Tight end Rhett Ellison, who grew up in the Bay Area town of Portola Valley, will celebrate his 21st birthday on Saturday.

Coverage of the game

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Just 19 percent of the country will receive Saturday's USC-California game, which will be broadcast on ABC starting at 5 p.m. Here's the full coverage map:

Trojan Walk goes north

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For those who are attending Saturday's game at California, you can meet the team as they arrive for the matchup at the southwest corner of Memorial Stadium at 3:25 p.m.

Uncomfortable visitors

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We received some questions about the visitors' locker room at the Coliseum, so here's a reposting of a USCRipsIt feature from last season:

Generally, going on the road means teams will receive not-so-fancy locker rooms, partly because of home-field advantage issues and partly for economic reasons, since it doesn't make financial sense to pour a bunch of money into a locker room that will be used by six different teams on six Saturdays for a few hours over the course of a season.

Meanwhile, at the Coliseum, it's all about creating a unique on-the-road disadvantage for the visitors. Both the home and away locker rooms were redone in 1991 under the guidance of Raiders owner Al Davis, and Davis demanded that the visitors' quarters be cramped and have no open area for a team meeting (unlike the home locker room, which features a large open area in the middle). So while the lockers, carpet and facilities are relatively new and comfortable, the locker room consists of a huge hurdle for the visitors.

The visitors' locker room at the Coliseum is only about 20-feet-by-30-feet and is stuffed with two banks of lockers in the middle of the room. Also, the lockers rise up almost to the ceiling, making the room seem very claustrophobic. But most importantly, there's no place for the team to gather and have a meeting, making it a major hindrance for the visitors during halftime or before the game.

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The visitors' locker room at the Coliseum, designed by Raiders owner Al Davis in 1991, is small and claustrophobic and features no area for the away team to gather.


The visitors' locker room contains three rows with five lockers on each side of the aisle, along with a ring of lockers around the room.

Sanchez the spokesman

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Already a GQ man, Mark Sanchez is now doing commercials.

Sanchez shows off his acting skills in this 30-second Toyota commercial that's currently airing in the NewYork-New Jersey area:

Case of the missing swoosh

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We received several e-mails wondering why Matt Barkley's jersey didn't have a Nike swoosh on it during Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

According to football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez, the small logo was ripped off the breast of his jersey at some point during the game. Because it wasn't a necessary part of the functionality of the uniform -- and because the equipment staff doesn't carry around extra swooshes -- Dominguez said they didn't reapply one during the game, but will do so before the next time the Trojans don their cardinal jerseys.

"He'll have a swoosh on there by the next game," Dominguez said with a laugh.

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Matt Barkley's jersey did not have a Nike swoosh on it for much of Saturday's game because it was ripped off at some point during the contest. [Photo by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer]

Better and better

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Coach Carroll spent more time with Stafon Johnson in the hospital on Tuesday night, and his health conditions continue to improve.

"He's feeling better and he looks really good," Carroll said. "He passed along lots of support for the team for this weekend and he wants the guys to play really hard and bring it to Cal."

Showing support at Tommy Trojan

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The student organization that set up a poster for people to sign to show their support for Stafon Johnson will be doing it again today.

Trojan Pride, which is organizing the effort, will be in front of Tommy Trojan from 11:45 a.m. until about 4 p.m. today with a massive poster, and all students, staff and fans are encouraged to come to write their messages of love and support to Johnson.

Looking at the recruits

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Coaches are currently in their weekly recruiting meeting in the War Room, where they're watching tape of prospects for the Class of 2010. With high school games every week, coaches have plenty of fresh film to look at as they make important decisions for the future of the program -- who to offer scholarships to, who to pursue and who to seal the deal with. Also, they view tape of the players who are already committed to USC just to check in on them.

Eligibility clarifications

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Coming off Tuesday's entry about the potential for a medical hardship and another year of eligibility for Stafon Johnson, Hebron Fangupo and Marshall Jones, here are some clarifications and corrections about the rule, straight from the USC compliance office:

  • The NCAA doesn't rule on medical hardship waivers. These waivers are submitted to the Pac-10 Conference.
  • Postseason bowl games are not included in the calculation.
  • Hardship waivers cannot be submitted until the season is completed.
  • The medical hardship doesn't give an extra year of eligibility in the sense that it extends the five-year clock; it essentially replaces the season used when the injury occurred, but the student-athlete still must use the extra year within five years of initial enrollment. The clock extension is required to use a season after the five-year clock has expired. Jeff Byers, Josh Pinkard and Hershel Dennis all received clock extension waivers from the NCAA to grant the sixth-year on the clock in which they could use the fourth season of eligibility. Some missed entire years due to injury so they didn't get hardship waivers for each year.
  • The student-athletes don't apply for the medical hardship waivers; the institution has to file the request on the student's behalf.

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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Tuesday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Wideout Brice Butler makes a catch during individual drills.



Matt Barkley throws during early-practice drills.



Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain pass downfield during a dual-quarterback drill.


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Matt Barkley looks downfield in 7-on-7 period.



Kicker Joe Houston connects on a field goal.



Under a magnificent sky, Matt Barkley throws during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Behind Matt Barkley's great command and effective performance, the offense dominated all day and closed out the full-pads workout with a 14-10 victory over the defense in the final team period of Competition Tuesday. The score was a lot closer than the battle actually was, as Coach Carroll's creative scorekeeping brought the defense back from a 10-4 deficit to make the final tally somewhat respectable. With the offense holding an overpowering early lead, Carroll whistled to pause practice while offensive coaches hooted in excitement. "Stop the bleeding!" tight ends coach Brennan Carroll exclaimed.

- Defensive end Nick Perry, the Pac-10's sack leader, sat out of practice with a bruised knee. His status for Saturday is up in the air.

- Mitch Mustain took several snaps as the second-team quarterback as he gets more of an opportunity to become the backup quarterback.

- During team period, cornerback Josh Pinkard snatched up an interception on a pass that ricocheted off a wideout for the defense's only turnover of the day.

- Also in team period, Damian Williams had an incredible soaring one-handed catch on a bullet pass from Matt Barkley -- with a cornerback all over him. Those in attendance cheered in awe of the play.

- Tailbacks Allen Bradford and Curtis McNeal turned in huge runs to propel the offense to a dominant performance in 9-on-7 period.

- Two seriously injured Trojan made it to Howard Jones Field on Tuesday afternoon. Defensive back Marshall Jones (cracked vertebra), wearing a neck brace, attended the first part of practice, while defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo (broken leg), using a walker, came out to the field at the end of the workout.

- The kickers and punters did work on the FieldTurf of Cromwell Field to acclimatize themselves to the surface they'll play on come Saturday.

Going to practice

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It's Competition Tuesday at USC, and the full-pads practice just began on Howard Jones Field. We'll return afterward with a report.

Making a difference

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See Coach Carroll's live appearance on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Monday night:

Reaching out to support

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At the start of this afternoon's team meeting, Coach Carroll updated the team about Stafon Johnson's injury, surgery and recovery, and he encouraged the players to offer their support to their teammate and his family.

"He needs us," Carroll said. "When you get your chances, send your love, support and messages. All the love and positive thoughts you can send, let's do that. It will be really uplifting for him and his family and all of us."

Then, Carroll addressed the Johnson news in light of Saturday's game at California, telling his players that they need to prepare and play in the same way their injured teammate would.

"What do you think Stafon would want us to do?" Carroll asked. "Kick some butt."

Potential exists for more eligibility

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Stafon Johnson, Hebron Fangupo and Marshall Jones could ultimately receive some positive news in the face of their devastating season-ending injuries.

USC's compliance office determined today that all three injured players have the potential of getting an extra year of eligibility because of a medical hardship.

According to NCAA rules, players can apply for a "medical hardship" to receive an extra year of eligibility if they play in 30 percent of the team's games (fractions are rounded up) during the first half of the season and then suffer serious season-ending injuries.

So, in the cases of Johnson, Fangupo and Jones, all played in either three or four games, which qualifies them for a hardship since 30 percent of a 12 game season is 3.6, which is rounded up to four games. A bowl game would make the season 13 games, and 30 percent of that is 3.9, which is again rounded up to four games. Either way, all three players meet the criteria for a medical hardship under the NCAA rules.

If the three players want to receive a medical hardship and an extra year of eligibility, the application process would begin either later this year or in the early offseason. The NCAA would rule on each of their cases soon thereafter.

Most recently, Jeff Byers, Josh Pinkard and Hershel Dennis each applied for and received medical hardships -- and consequently an extra year of eligibility -- because of season-ending injuries in previous years.

More good news concerning Johnson

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Just before this afternoon's meetings, Coach Carroll made a quick trip the hospital, where he visited with Stafon Johnson for a few minutes, and he has some encouraging news from the outing.

"He looked great and his spirits were remarkably good," Carroll said of Johnson, who underwent emergency throat surgery on Monday. "He really misses everyone and sends everyone good wishes for this week. He's very thankful for the support from everyone."

During the visit, Johnson wrote Carroll a note that said, "I'm going to be back soon. I miss you guys already."

Carroll's time with Johnson ended so the coach could return to campus for football meetings, but only after he accidentally made Johnson laugh a few times, an apparent no-no for someone just out of surgery.

"They kicked me out then," Carroll said with a smile.

Rallying behind Stafon

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In front of Tommy Trojan this afternoon, a USC student signs a "Fight on Stafon" poster that the student group Trojan Pride has made for the USC community to show its support for the injured tailback. [Photo by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant]

Going back to the archives

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Relive the epic 2004 USC-California game in this eight-minute "SC Classics" video from USCTrojans.com All-Access. If you are not an All-Access subscriber, you can become one here for just $9.95 per month.

Travel itinerary

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The Trojans will depart out of LAX at 3 p.m. Friday on a charter plane bound for Oakland International Airport, with arrival slated for 4:15 p.m. After a walk-thru at Memorial Stadium that evening, the team is staying at a hotel in Berkeley.

USC will return to L.A. immediately after the 5 p.m. game on Saturday, with an estimated departure from Oakland at 10:15 p.m. and arrival at LAX at around 11:30 p.m.

Watch it again

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If you missed Coach Carroll's press conference earlier today, watch a replay of it for free here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

To the minute

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Kickoff of Saturday's USC-California game is set for 5:12 p.m. The matchup will be televised split-nationally on ABC.

Send in your support

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If you want to send cards, notes or other well wishes to Stafon Johnson, Hebron Fangupo or Marshall Jones -- the three Trojans hospitalized with various serious injuries -- you can mail them to the USC Football office, and they will be delivered to the players:

[Player's name]
USC Football
Heritage Hall 203b
3501 Watt Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Talking the talk

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Coach Carroll addresses the media during his press conference in Varsity Lounge, where he's discussing Stafon Johnson's uplifting prognosis and the upcoming California game.

Meet the press

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Coach Carroll is about to begin his weekly press conference, and you can watch a live stream of it here.

UPDATE: Johnson recovering well after lengthy surgery

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Just a day after a tragic throat injury while weightlifting, Stafon Johnson is recovering well and his prognosis appears very good, trauma director Gudata Hinika said during a press conference at California Hospital this morning.

Johnson rested well on Monday night and is already communicating nonverbally with his family and friends. Hinika expects Johnson to make a full recovery and eventually return to playing football, though he did not give a timeframe.

The senior from Compton is expected to remain in intensive care at California Hospital for about a week, Hinika said.

For seven hours on Monday afternoon and evening, doctors performed a "very successful surgery" to repair Johnson's airway and reconstruct his voice box. Hinika said the anatomy of the structure around Johnson's vocal cord was "destroyed, fractured and displaced" after the freak weightlifting accident on Monday morning at USC. Hinika said Johnson was not able to breathe on his own when he arrived at the hospital, and he underwent the emergency operation right away.

Johnson now has a temporary tracheotomy and feeding tube.

"He's doing as well as expected," Hinika said.

Though he is writing and using hand signals already, doctors do not know when Johnson will be able to verbally communicate.

"We'll have to wait and see," Hinika said.

Hinika called the injury "very, very rare," but said his athletic background aided him.

"If anyone is not athletic like Stafon, maybe they don't survive," Hinika said. "His neck is so solid and muscular and [he has] the discipline of being an athlete. He was able to stay calm and took instruction very well. He's a brilliant guy who understood his situation and handled it well.

"Being physically fit certainly helped."

Along with the positive prognosis, Johnson also has an uplifting attitude considering the circumstances, Hinika said.

"His spirit was very good from the time he came in," Hinika said.

Johnson update coming soon

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California Hospital, where Stafon Johnson underwent emergency throat surgery on Monday, is conducting a press briefing at 10:30 a.m., so we'll have more information on his condition afterward.

Lean on

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So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on


Bill Withers' famous song couldn't have more impact than a time like this.

As Trojans near and far wake up on the day after Stafon Johnson's tragic throat injury, football carries on, but it's just not the same. The mood is heavier, the faces sadder and the hearts weighed down by this heartbreaking news. The pain stings.

When connected to a team -- a group of people who spend a majority of their time together for nearly six straight months each fall -- what happens to one happens to all. Everyone's hurting right now, especially the coaches and players who spend most of their days around Johnson and have seen him grow as a player and person over the last four years.

That's why Bill Withers' tune -- the one the Trojans sang together during Fall Camp and the one that eventually brought the musician to a team meeting a month ago -- means so much right now. All are in pain because of the connection fostered by USC football and the Trojan Family, so let those lyrics ring true as Johnson begins his recovery from this horrific accident and Trojans everywhere rally around him and the team for support.

Truly, we all need somebody to lean on.

Happy birthdays

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It's a double birthday in the Trojan football office.

Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. is turning 43 while receptionist Irene Puentes is celebrating her birthday as well.

See it for yourself

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You can watch Coach Carroll's weekly press conference today at noon live for free here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

'Keep Stafon in our thoughts and prayers'

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Coach Carroll, who went to visit Stafon Johnson and his family in the hospital late Monday night, is asking for continued support during this heart-wrenching time for the USC football program and the Trojan Family as a whole.

"Thanks for everyone's support and well wishes," Carroll said. "All we can do right now is keep Stafon in our thoughts and prayers."

We have no new information at this time, but when an update on Johnson's status becomes available, we will post it on the Blog.

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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Johnson out of surgery, in critical but stable condition

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Stafon Johnson is in critical but stable condition after a more than seven-hour surgery that ended late Monday night, according to a press release from California Hospital in downtown L.A., where the operation occurred.



The lengthy specialized surgery was required because of a threatened airway and "severe" injuries to Johnson's larynx, or voice box. The hospital says that his prognosis is "good."

Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital, said in the release that it is unlikely Johnson will be able to return to the football field this season, but doctors are expecting a full recovery.

Johnson, a senior tailback from Compton, suffered the throat injury while lifting weights Monday morning at USC's Heritage Hall. He was rushed to California Hospital and almost immediately underwent the emergency surgery.

We'll have more information in the coming days as it becomes available, but in the meantime, we ask that you keep Johnson in your thoughts and prayers.

Stafon Johnson surgery update

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As of 9 p.m. tonight, Stafon Johnson remains in surgery for the throat injury suffered late Monday morning.

We'll post new information on Johnson's status when it becomes available.

A Better LA getting pub

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Just a few minutes ago in Heritage Hall's lobby, Coach Carroll is interviewed live on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" to discuss the work of A Better LA in the inner-city.

Showing concern

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We've received several e-mails asking for a mailing address to send cards for Stafon Johnson, Hebron Fangupo or Marshall Jones, the three Trojans who are currently hospitalized with serious injuries. You can send mail to the USC football office and it will be delivered to the players:

[Player's name]
USC Football
Heritage Hall 203b
3501 Watt Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089

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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During a punt return drill, tailback Curtis McNeal jukes over defensive back Jawanza Starling (29), while linebacker Jarvis Jones (51) eyes the returner.


Tailback Joe McKnight, Matt Barkley and the Trojan offense line up as the sun sets on Monday's practice.


Garrett Green throws downfield as the service team quarterback.

Dispatch from Cromwell Field

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

- With heavy hearts from the news of Stafon Johnson's throat injury earlier in the day, the Trojans scurried through a routine Monday practice that reviewed plays from Saturday's win and introduced the game plan for the California game.

- Linebacker Jordan Campbell, who started Saturday's game, sat out of practice with a "substantial" ankle sprain, Coach Carroll said. Malcolm Smith, who Carroll called day-to-day while attempting to return from a sprained ankle suffered against Washington, is aiming to return to the starting lineup for this week's game at Cal. "He's determined to try to get back," Carroll said. Shane Horton or Luthur Brown would start in Smith's place if he can't return.

- Freshman cornerback Byron Moore took reps with the first- and second-team defense Monday as coaches audition him for a spot in the secondary rotation.

- To get acclimated for Saturday's road game, the Trojans practiced Monday on Cromwell Field, which features the same FieldTurf surface that Cal's Memorial Stadium has.

Johnson's injury in Carroll's words

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In this free video from USCTrojans.com, see Coach Carroll's explanation of the Stafon Johnson injury during the post-practice media session tonight.

Going to work

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The Trojans just started their quick Monday workout on Cromwell Field, so we'll return with a report following the helmets-and-shorts practice.

Carroll on 'Anderson Cooper 360'

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Coach Carroll will appear live on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" tonight at 7:30 p.m. as part of a segment on inner-city gangs.

Several years ago, Carroll helped found A Better LA, a charity dedicated to creating peace in the gang-ridden areas of inner-city Los Angeles.

BREAKING NEWS: Stafon Johnson suffers throat injury

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Tailback Stafon Johnson suffered a throat injury while weightlifting Monday morning and is undergoing surgery this afternoon.

Johnson, a senior from Compton, was bench-pressing with a spotter in Heritage Hall's weight room when the bar slipped out of his right hand and fell at an angle onto his throat. USC's athletic trainers and emergency personnel rushed to the scene, and Johnson was taken to a local hospital, where he's currently undergoing surgery on his throat.

"It was an unfortunate accident and Stafon is getting great care right now," Coach Pete Carroll said. "We don't have a lot of information at this point and we'll keep everyone updated, but our thoughts and prayers are with Stafon."

Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, who was within 10 feet of the incident, said he was shocked something like this could happen.

"I've seen players have the bar slip and fall onto their chest, but never in my 25 years of coaching have I heard of someone dropping a bar on their throat," Carlisle said. "We're fortunate he was being spotted."

The bench press is commonly regarded as one of the safest exercises in the weight room, especially with a spotter, Carlisle said. An assistant strength and conditioning coach was spotting Johnson this morning.

Johnson's recovery time from surgery is unknown at this time.

USCRipsIt will have more information as it becomes available.

In control of solving the problems

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As the Trojans look back at their win from this past weekend, they're doing it with one eye on the future -- namely, when it comes to correcting their issues, like the 13 penalties for 115 yards they racked up on Saturday.

"We can fix this," Coach Carroll told the players during this afternoon's team meeting. "This is in our control. We have all the power."

Digging up the truth

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Tell the Truth Monday's meetings have gotten started in Heritage Auditorium, where a special teams film review is happening now. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings follow as the Trojans review and break down the positives and negatives from Saturday's game.

A Trojan convert

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Once a Golden Bear hero, Tyler Fredrickson is now a Trojan.

Fredrickson made the game-winning 38-yard field goal in triple overtime in the 2003 USC-California game to give the Bears the 34-31 upset victory, but now he's in his second year in the School of Cinematic Arts' Peter Stark Producing master's program. The Santa Barbara native played four seasons at Cal (2000-03) and bounced around NFL camps for a few years before enrolling in USC's prestigious Master of Fine Arts film production track last year.

So apparently, even if you beat 'em, still join 'em. Chalk it up to the infectious nature of the Trojan Family and USC having the nation's No. 1 film school.

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Tyler Fredrickson, who made the game-winning 38-yard field goal to give Cal a 34-31 upset victory in triple overtime over the Trojans in 2003, is now in a Master of Fine Arts film program in USC's School of Cinematic Arts. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Remembering a Rose Bowl mainstay

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Gary DiSano, the president of the Tournament of Roses Association for the 2010 Rose Bowl game, tragically passed away last week after a battle with thyroid cancer. Coach Carroll and athletic director Mike Garrett recorded short messages that were aired at DiSano's memorial service on Sunday, and you can see them here:

Higher standards

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Four games into the 2009 season, and the Trojans are admittedly falling short of external expectations.

But they're also falling short in another, far more important area -- internal standards.

In the world of Trojan football, there's a major difference between expectations and standards. It's the distinction between the outside perceptions and in-house principles, reputation and character, opinions in the newspaper and feedback from coaches. The latter carries much more weight than the former, and it's those things that are creating a relentless drive for improvement.

For the third straight Monday, the mood around Heritage Hall feels like the team is coming off a loss -- even though the Trojans have won two out of the last three games. With a rash of turnovers, penalties and undisciplined play in each of the previous three contests, the coaches aren't happy with the team's performance so far this season.

"We can't give the other team stuff -- the ball or penalties," Coach Carroll said this morning. "Those things keep you from feeling any rhythm and playing good football. We just need to execute and get better."

The road to improvement doesn't start Saturday -- but right now, in the present. As Carroll always says, "everything counts," so every workout, every meeting and every practice will add up as the Trojans aim to get right in all areas.

"It's a critical time for us, but it's also a great time," Carroll said. "We're right where we want to be, right in the thick of things."

Explaining the travel roster

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RipsIt reader Zach Kelly e-mailed in asking about travel rosters and how they apply to home and road games, both in conference and out of conference. Here's the full explanation:

  • Pac-10 home games: The Trojans can have only 64 players at the team hotel on Friday night and Saturday leading up to a home game. All players suit up for the game regardless of whether they're on the 64-man travel roster or not. Players who do not make the roster take a bus from campus to the hotel prior to the game and then join the caravan from the hotel to the Coliseum for the Trojan Walk.
  • Pac-10 road games: Only 64 players can travel, stay in the team hotel and suit up for in-conference away games -- except for the UCLA game, during which every player can suit up (but only 64 stay in the hotel the night before the game).
  • Non-conference games: The Trojans don't face any restrictions, so for out-of-conference games, they usually put 85-90 players on the travel squad. For home games, upwards of 90 players stay at the team hotel on Friday night, and for road games, the Trojans are only limited by the number of seats on their charter flight, as Coach Carroll likes to joke. Injured players and a handful of freshmen typically do not make the non-conference travel roster. Like Pac-10 home games, all players can suit up for out-of-conference contests at the Coliseum.

Going to Galen

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Coach Carroll is taking a quick break from football meetings to host his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback session with fans at the Galen Center Founders Room.

To register or get more info on future MMQBs, click here.

Explaining the onside kick

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Saturday's "AT&T Ask Coach" question wonders why the Trojans went with the onside kick in the first quarter. See Coach Carroll's response here, and remember that you can send in your questions for Carroll's weekly press conferences and post-game pressers by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234.

Streaming live

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Along with being televised on ABC, the Trojans' game at California on Saturday will also be broadcasted live on ESPN360.com.

Half and half

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Saturday's USC-California game in Berkeley will be televised on ABC on a split-national basis, with the other part of the country getting the Oklahoma-Miami game. Both matchups are set to kick off at 5 p.m.

We'll post a coverage map later in the week.

Fake stuff

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To get acclimated for the surface they'll be playing on at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, the Trojans will practice on the FieldTurf of Cromwell Field this afternoon. It will be their third straight away game on artificial grass.

This week in USC sports

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Find out how Trojan athletics fared during the past seven days:

- The men's water polo team defeated Pepperdine and Long Beach City College this weekend to improve to 10-1 on the season. The Trojans are currently ranked third nationally and get set for games at California and Pacific this week.

- Women's soccer beat Pacific and Santa Clara this past weekend. The Women of Troy are currently 7-3 and have a home match this Friday at 3 p.m. against San Diego.
 
- The women's volleyball team lost at Arizona before beating Arizona State to push their record to 12-2. The Women of Troy are currently ranked 13th nationally and host California and Stanford this weekend at the Galen Center.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

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USC's J.W. Krumpholz takes a shot on goal for the No. 3-ranked Trojans, who went 2-0 over the weekend. [Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information]

Jones now 51

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Linebacker Jarvis Jones is changing his jersey number from 10 to 51.

The switch comes after Jones had been slipping a pullover No. 51 jersey over his normal jersey on special teams during many games this season because he shared No. 10 with fullback D.J. Shoemate. NCAA rules prohibit duplicate numbers on the field at the same time.

Fangupo, Jones out for season

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Defensive end Hebron Fangupo and defensive back Marshall Jones suffered season-ending injuries Saturday.

Fangupo broke his leg and required surgery, while Jones cracked a vertebra in his neck. Both are currently recovering in the hospital.

"These are devastating injuries for those two guys and we're going to miss them this season," said Coach Carroll, who visited both of them in the hospital on Sunday night. "We wish them the very best in their recoveries, and we look forward to seeing them healthy again soon."

The streak continues

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The Trojans have now won 49 straight games when having a positive turnover margin following their plus-1 mark in Saturday's victory over Washington State. The streak dates back to the early part of the 2002 season.

Sanchez impressing everyone, everywhere

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Mark Sanchez has set an NFL record for rookie quarterbacks by winning his first three starts, as he guided the New York Jets to a 24-17 victory on Sunday.

And one of his biggest fans is the man who once questioned his decision to leave a year early for the NFL -- Coach Pete Carroll.

"I couldn't be more fired up for what Mark is doing," Carroll said this morning. "As much as I worried about it being hard for him, he's absolutely proven that he's worthy, he can handle it and he belongs.

"He's proven all those worries wrong, and it's awesome to watch."

Just eight months removed from playing for the Trojans, Sanchez went 17-for-30 for 171 yards and three touchdowns (including one on the ground) on Sunday to lead the Jets to 3-0.

Film study

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Coach Carroll and special teams coordinator Brian Schneider review game film from the 27-6 win in Carroll's office this morning. Coaches are hard at work on Tell the Truth Monday, as they break down Saturday's game while also formulating the game plan for the matchup at Cal in five days.

Trojans around the League

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See the highlighted performances of USC alumni during Week 3 of the NFL season:

  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 17-of-30 passes for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Jets' win. Sanchez also rushed 4 times for 10 yards and 1 touchdown.
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) completed 14-of-18 passes for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Chiefs' 34-14 loss to Philadelphia.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 20-of-37 passes for 183 yards and 1 touchdown in the Bengals' 23-20 win over Pittsburgh.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) led the team with 7 receptions for 63 yards and 1 touchdown in the Giants' 24-0 win over Tampa Bay.
  • Tailback LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) rushed 7 times for 27 yards and 1 touchdown in the Titans' 24-17 loss to the Jets.
  • Linebacker Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) led the team with 8 tackles in the Texans' 31-24 loss to Jacksonville.
  • Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints) carried the ball 13 times for 64 yards and caught 3 passes for 17 yards in the Saints' 27-7 win over Buffalo.
  • Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) led the team with 8 tackles in the Bengals' win.
  • Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had 5 tackles in the Bengals' win.
  • Quarterback Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) completed 2-of-2 pass attempts for 7 yards in mop-up duty at the end of the Cardinals' 31-10 loss to Indianapolis.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

One stop for it all: USC 27, Washington State 6

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Get all the USCRipsIt coverage of Saturday's 27-6 victory over Washington State, here in one place:


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Reliving the game: Photo albums from the 27-6 win

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Check out these slideshows of incredible, insider images -- many taken in the locker room and on the sideline -- from Saturday's 27-6 win over Washington State, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pre-game:
Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

First half action:
Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Halftime:
Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Second half action:
Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Post-game:
Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from USC's 27-6 win

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Here are the behind-the-scenes photos from Saturday's 27-6 win over Washington State (all photos by Ben Malcolmson):


Holder Garrett Green and kicker Jordan Congdon go through pre-game warm-ups.

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Graduate assistant Kris Richard gives instruction to the kickoff and punt returners on the field during pre-game warm-ups.

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With the Goodyear blimp flying overhead, Matt Barkley looks downfield during pre-game warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley watches a warm-up pass soar down the field.

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Tailback Joe McKnight and the Trojan offense conduct pre-game warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley leads the offensive huddle in warm-ups.


Players' eye black, each containing personalized messages, are affixed to a mirror in the locker room prior to the game.

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An enthused Coach Carroll speaks to the team in the locker room before the game.

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During the second quarter, Coach Carroll watches on from the sideline.


Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates discusses halftime adjustments with his players in the locker room.


Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto shares adjustments with the defense in the locker room at halftime.

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In the head coach's room, Coach Carroll goes over his notes and the call sheet during halftime.


Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. gets the players pumped in the locker room, just before the second half began.

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The Trojans sing the fight song in the locker room after the win.

RipsIt Report: USC 27, Washington State 6

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Experience Trojan football in this special inside report from the locker room and on the sidelines before, during and after USC's 27-6 victory against Washington State on Saturday at the Coliseum:

In Carroll's words
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What Coach Carroll told the team at various points through the night:

- Right after arriving at the Coliseum, while standing at the top of the steps before descending down onto the field: "Before we take this first step, let's appreciate what we get to do."

- Standing on the 50-yard line right after first coming onto the field: "Let's play together as one from beginning to end and all night long."

- Walking around in the locker room before the game, talking to no one in particular: "From the very first play, don't give them anything! Absolutely nothing!"

- At halftime: "Let's play great, clean football. Enough mistakes. Let's go celebrate one more half of football!"


Before it all

Sights and sounds in the locker room before kickoff:

- The players were quiet at first, but the noise rose as the clock ticked down toward kickoff.

- While getting fired up just before leaving the locker room, the players created a new chant that mixed some sort of tribal rain dance with the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," with the bass provided by players who were banging their helmets against the lockers.

- Ken Norton Jr. while walking around the locker room: "We're in the Coliseum tonight! Make them feel you!"

- While the players alternated between humming and singing "Seven Nation Army," Coach Carroll delivered his pre-game speech in a freestyle rap amidst the tune. "Let's play real good football all night! Stay together! Give everything we got!"


What's in a name: The onside kick

USC's first-quarter onside kick was born during midweek meetings and practices, when special teams coordinator Brian Schneider noticed a tendency in Washington State's kickoff return unit that would allow for such a sneak attack.

And the name for the trick play? Dickey Pearce.

Schneider dubbed the play after the man who's widely credited for inventing the bunt in baseball, because kicker Jake Harfman's onside kick resembled a short little bunt down the third-base line.


On the sidelines

0926pcsl.jpgSeen and heard on the sidelines during the game:

- When Washington State missed a last-second field goal at the end of the first half, the USC sideline erupted. It was like the Trojans had scored -- instead of the Cougars not scoring -- and the players proceeded to essentially levitate up the tunnel for halftime thanks to a renewed energy.

- Linebacker Jarvis Jones, who shares the No. 10 with fullback D.J. Shoemate, had to don a pullover No. 51 jersey for the kickoff coverage team since both he and Shoemate were on the same unit.

- After defensive lineman Jurrell Casey recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter, he ran over to the sidelines and presented the ball to Coach Carroll like it was a Christmas gift from under the tree. Carroll smiled and laughed and said he would like one more turnover before the night was over.

- During a TV timeout in the fourth quarter, referees deemed the two-toned cardinal-and-gold sleeves of tailback Curtis McNeal to be noncompliant for the team's uniform, so tight ends coach Brennan Carroll hastily cut them off on the field with scissors from an athletic trainer.


Soaking in the victory

In the locker room after the game, Coach Carroll understandably had both good and bad things to say about the 27-6 victory on Saturday night.

0926fighton.jpg"Coming back to the Coliseum and getting a win is always awesome," he said, with the players surrounding him. "There was a lot of cool stuff tonight, but there are a lot of things we need to fix.

"But we can't fix this game -- we've got to fix it for the next one."

Carroll then brought up the penalty issue -- 13 for 115 yards -- that afflicted the Trojans for the second straight game.

"We aren't playing good football when we have that many penalties," Carroll said. "That has to get out of here because it clouds everything we do.

"We have a lot of stuff to talk about on Monday, but let's celebrate this win tonight."

The Trojans, now 3-1 on the season, then sang the fight song to commemorate the victory, the first time they've done so since belting out "Fight on!" in the cramped visitors' locker room at Ohio Stadium two weeks ago.

A win -- no matter how messy -- counts as a win, and it sure feels good to get back on track.

Notable numbers

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Check out some impressive stats from USC's 27-6 victory over Washington State on Saturday:

  • The Trojans had eight sacks and 14 total tackles for loss.
  • All four of USC's scoring drives were three plays or less, with the longest one taking just 1:02 off the clock.
  • Five of Matt Barkley's 13 completions were longer than 20 yards.
  • Removing Washington State's two garbage-time drives in the fourth quarter, the Trojan defense held the Cougars to 75 total yards in 54 plays.
  • The Trojans had 403 yards of total offense on only 51 plays (7.9 yards per play).
  • USC averaged 5.4 yards per carry (156 rushing yards on 29 attempts).
  • The defense held Washington State scoreless for the first 59:38 of the game.
  • USC forced a season-high three turnovers.
  • The Trojans' average starting field position was its 45-yard line, while Washington State's average start point was its own 22.

Peak performers

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See who shined for the Trojans in the 27-6 win over Washington State on Saturday at the Coliseum:

  • Matt Barkley went 13-for-22 for 247 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. He's thrown just one interception in 94 attempts this season.
  • Wideout Damian Williams had five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also had 80 punt return yards to average 13.3 yards per return.
  • Tailback Allen Bradford rushed for a team-high 55 yards.
  • Linebacker Jordan Campbell had a team-high eight tackles.
  • Linebacker Michael Morgan had 2.5 sacks.
  • Defensive end Nick Perry had two sacks.
  • Jake Harfman averaged 46.3 yards per punt and had two downed inside the 20. He also recovered his own onside kick in the first quarter.

Cruise control: Trojans coast to 27-6 win

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The Trojans stormed out to a controlling early lead before cruising to a 27-6 victory over Washington State at the Coliseum on Saturday night. Check out the AP recap and full statbook from the game.

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Wideout Brice Butler scores one of USC's four touchdowns in the Trojans' 27-6 victory over Washington State on Saturday night. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Game time

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The waiting is over.

"It's been a long afternoon, so we should be ready to rock and roll," Coach Carroll said as the day inched closer to tonight's kickoff.

After hours and hours of sitting around the team hotel and conducting meetings and walk-thrus, the Trojans are about to depart for the Coliseum, where their Pac-10 home opener will kick off at 7:23 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on FSN (and broadcast on a few other platforms as well).

We'll return after the game with a full behind-the-scenes report, but in the meantime, here's the Trojans' schedule leading up to kickoff:

5:20 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:14 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:41 p.m. • Stretching begins
7:03 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:19 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:23 p.m. • Kickoff

TV reminder

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Tonight's game will be broadcast nationally on FSN, which will be FSN West in the L.A. area. The telecast begins at 7:15 p.m.

Tradition of excellence

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At the start of this afternoon's pre-game meal, Coach Carroll had a few last-minute words for his team leading into the game tonight.

"What a tremendous tradition we get to live up to," Carroll said. "Let's answer the call."

Ready to go

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With chants of "We ready!" and "War time," the room rattled because of the Trojans' noise. And with the players' uncontainable jumping and bouncing, the second-floor hotel ballroom undulated like an earthquake was shaking downtown L.A.

All signs point to the Trojans being jacked up for the rapidly approaching kickoff.

USC just completed its final block of pre-game meetings, and they were all started by the energetic pump-up session in their downtown hotel before diving into offensive and defensive walk-thrus. Players are now eating their last meal before kickoff, a buffet feast in another ballroom. Then it's time to rest and relax for about 90 more minutes before the team departs for the Coliseum and kickoff of tonight's game.

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During their pre-game pump-up session in a second-floor hotel ballroom, the Trojans, infused with energy and adrenaline, come together as one.


The defense goes through a walk-thru in a hotel ballroom this afternoon, just four hours before kickoff.

Getting to work

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After waiting around all morning and much of the afternoon so far, the Trojans are about to gather for their final block of pre-game meetings. It starts with a special teams roll call and leads into walk-thrus for the offense and defense. The pre-game meal immediately follows.

Birthday boy

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Offensive lineman Abe Markowitz is celebrating his 19th birthday today. Markowitz, a redshirt freshman from Honolulu, is one of five Trojans whose birthday falls on a game day this fall.

Wait and see

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With a late kickoff, the Trojans are doing a lot of waiting.

And waiting.

So what do the players do with all that time? Most rest and relax in their hotel rooms, taking naps or watching TV. They're also allowed to order a movie from the hotel's in-room entertainment system, so many will get to watch some of the latest flicks.

In the end, they're just trying to get their minds off football -- and the associated anxiety -- so TV and naps become a player's best friend while waiting around the hotel on game days.

Captain crunch

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Along with the elected team captains (Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard), two honorary captains will represent the Trojans during today's game. Offensive lineman Mike Reardon will represent the service teams, while wideout Scott Stephens will represent the special teams.

Home sweet home

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For the only time in a seven-week span, the Trojans are playing at the Coliseum tonight, when Washington State makes a visit to USC's famed arena.

The homecoming is a much appreciated and highly anticipated occurrence for the players and coaches.

"That's where we're us," Coach Carroll said during Friday afternoon's team meeting in Heritage Auditorium, while pointing to a wall-sized photo of the grand stadium. "We're not going to have anything but a great performance there. We're going to come in rocking, and it's going to feel great.

"Let's celebrate a helluva night for football."

Good morning

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It's game day -- but first, let the Trojans sleep.

Two out of their first three games this season have been early (12:30 p.m.) starts, so the Trojans are enjoying the fruits of a late kickoff by sleeping in this morning. Wake-up calls are coming at 10:30, and a full day of meetings and walk-thrus ensue before tonight's game at 7:23 p.m. Check out the full schedule for the day:

10:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
11 a.m. • Position group meetings
2:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3 p.m. • Offensive and defensive walk-thrus
3:15 p.m. • Pre-game meal
5 p.m. • Clap session
5:10 p.m. • Depart downtown hotel
5:20 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:14 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:41 p.m. • Stretching begins
7:03 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:19 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:23 p.m. • Kickoff

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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Goodnight

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After a night full of meetings, the Trojans' bed check is just around the corner. Wake-up call on game day is set for 10:30 a.m., and here's the rest of the schedule for Saturday:

10:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
11 a.m. • Position group meetings
2:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3 p.m. • Offensive and defensive walk-thrus
3:15 p.m. • Pre-game meal
5 p.m. • Clap session
5:10 p.m. • Depart downtown hotel
5:20 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:14 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:41 p.m. • Stretching begins
7:03 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:19 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:23 p.m. • Kickoff

Friday night business

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Coach Carroll speaks to the players during the recently completed team meeting in the ballroom of a downtown hotel. "Give everything you got every step of the way -- let's hold nothing back," he said during his 10-minute speech. The Trojans have wrapped up their business for the night, with optional chapel and mass services being offered now before bed check at 10:30 p.m.

The night ahead

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Nothing like spending a Friday night in hotel ballrooms for pre-game preparations.

The players and coaches are eating pizza dinners before meetings get started soon at their downtown hotel. Check out the Trojans' schedule for the rest of this evening:

7:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:15 p.m. • Position group meetings
8:30 p.m. • Team meeting
8:45 p.m. • Snack
9 p.m. • Optional chapel and mass services at downtown hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Off to the hotel

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With their Friday afternoon block of meetings and practice in the books, the Trojans are now departing campus and heading to their downtown hotel to begin the final chapter of pre-game preparation, with meetings and walk-thrus until Saturday night's game against Washington State.

Rally time

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Here are some pictures from tonight's jock rally at Heritage Hall, where the Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls, players, coaches and fans gathered to kick off Washington State game weekend.


The Trojans squeeze into Heritage Hall, where the Trojan Marching Band was filling it with noise and energy for today's jock rally.


Senior cornerback Josh Pinkard speaks to teammates, band members and fans at today's jock rally in Heritage Hall.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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USC just completed its ritualistic Friday practice, which consisted of a walk-thru of all special teams situations and 15 game-important plays for the offense and defense. It ended with a Hail Mary attempt, which was won by the defense. Check out some photos from the quick workout:

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Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider leads a roll call.

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Matt Barkley throws downfield.

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Linebacker Jordan Campbell (left) and safety Taylor Mays (right) close in on tailback Curtis McNeal.

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The Trojan offense and defense compete for a Hail Mary in the end zone.

One last time

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The Trojans are taking the field for their short Friday practice on Howard Jones Field. The final on-field preparation before Saturday's game is now, so we'll return with a report afterward.

Life as Tommy Trojan: A Q&A with USC's drum major

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0925drummajor.jpgBy Paige Guritzky
USCRipsIt staff writer



We recently sat down for a Q&A with USC's newest drum major and face of Tommy Trojan, Kenny Morris. The fifth-year sociology major originates from Hawai'i and is thrilled to exchange his trombone for the Trojan sword. Check out some highlights from our interview, including his thoughts on what it takes to be drum major, how the experience at Washington was for him and how he is preparing for Saturday's match up against Washington State.

What does it mean to you to be drum major?
    
"It's huge, huge deal. I've always kind of looked up to the drum major as being someone who is the spiritual center of the University. You know, being "that guy," the student leader of the band, in charge of the band's spirit, in charge of really keeping the band energetic and focused. You can't ever be less than always pumped up. Being that guy is something I've always wanted to do. I had a roommate who did it. We tried out together, he beat me our senior year and coming back it really means a lot to be Tommy Trojan and the leader of the band."
   
How do you hype up yourself before you go on the field?
   
"I really look up to Pete Carroll and he's got all these great mottos and stuff like "Win forever," "Always compete," things like that. So I decided I was going to come up with my own personal motto and kind of use that to push myself. I said, "Never tired." To uphold that, I made that promise to everyone during band camp. Knowing that everyone expects you not to be tired makes it so much easier."
   
What is your time commitment to USC, the band and the football team?
   
"It's a huge commitment. Being drum major, everyone calls me, everyone texts me saying, 'I saw you on TV' and stuff like that. You have to be the face of the university essentially, even though Traveler is our true mascot. When the camera is on me, trying to not break character is one of the hardest thing ever, because you just want to be like 'OH YEAH!!! GO USC!!!' But it's all about being Tommy Trojan.

"It's really funny how the team and the band interact. It means something when after the Ohio State game, most hostile environment ever, Matt Barkley comes up and we talked for a second and he's like, "We couldn't have done it without you guys." Then Damian Williams says, "This band is what kept us going." My response is, "That's what our job is. That's why we work as hard as we do." No matter what, the job of the band is to support the team. Especially after a tough weekend like this, it doesn't change anything. What we do is what we do. One thing that will never change is the band will always support the team -- it's something that I know they appreciate."
   
What is your relationship with Pete Carroll?
   
"I've never actually met him. But talk about a guy that leads by example. I hugely respect him for that. A lot of coaches can get so down on their players, but for such a successful, all-around talented, charming guy, he's so humble and he always remembers that and gives that to his players. He's always working hard and I really appreciate that. I would love to meet him face to face. He's a great guy."
   
How was your experience at Washington and how are you prepping for Washington State?
   
"Ugh, it was tough! The game of football is a funny thing. Anything can happen. That being said, the Trojan Marching Band is not a variable, it needs to be a constant. No matter what the team does, the band always supports the team. We live in such a charmed era with Pete Carroll. A loss is just a bump in the road. It's something that you learn from. Something that you grow from. Something that you move on from. It's in the past.
   
"It's a new day, I told everyone after the game, I went on the buses, I said: 'This has been a tough weekend for the Trojans. It was cold up here, it was wet up here. We lost the game. But when it comes down to it. Everyone is going to go home and go to sleep tonight. The only difference is that we're gonna go home and go to sleep tonight, wake up tomorrow and we're still going to be Trojans.' That's the mindset we're taking. We know what we can do, we know how good we can be. We just gotta keep doing what we do."
   
What is your favorite memory to date while being drum major?
   
"My favorite memory to date, definitely after the Ohio State game, when Matt Barkley came up to me and was like, 'TOMMY!!! It's just the beginning, just the beginning.' That was awesome. It was so surreal, I have never see so many cameras surrounding me."
   
If you could say one thing to the USC community, what would it be?

"This band and this team are the hardest working band and team in this nation. Support them!"


• Paige Gurtizky is a USCRipsIt staff writer. Be sure to check back next week for more inside information on what it's like to be drum major at USC.

Photo courtesy of Brett Padelford

Finish line

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As the Trojans transition into the mental phase of preparation and "flip the switch," as coaches say, the emphasis hones in on one of the team's most foundational philosophies.

Finish.

"We've got to finish this preparation right," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "We've had a terrific week of work; now we've got to stay tuned in all the way through kickoff."

Diving in

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The countdown to kickoff officially begins now.

In Heritage Auditorium right now, the Trojans are gathering for a special teams meeting that doubles as wild fire-up session. More final pre-game meetings follow before a walk-thru-esque practice at 4:15 p.m.

The plunge into final pre-game preparation has started, and it essentially won't end until kickoff at 7:23 p.m. tomorrow night.

All hail to alma mater

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Check out this cool story about NFL players and their allegiances to their alma maters, from today's New York Times. It includes a photo of Terrell Thomas in a USC shirt and mentions of Thomas and Steve Smith.

Lights, camera, action

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Taking a quick break from football meetings, Coach Carroll tapes an interview with a producer in the Varsity Lounge this afternoon that'll air in pieces throughout Saturday night's FSN telecast of the USC-Washington State game.

Win a signed Pete Carroll football

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Win a football signed by Pete Carroll! Be the 100th person to bring the voucher below to the USCRipsIt booth in front of Tommy Trojan on Saturday afternoon -- and you'll be the proud owner of a football autographed by Carroll!

The booth will open at 2 p.m. in the heart of campus, so stop by to drop off your voucher, get a USCRipsIt sticker and say hi to the USCRipsIt street team.


Trojans in NFL action

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Yet again, all 16 NFL games this weekend feature at least one Trojan, so check out the slate of games and all the USC alumni involved during Week 3:

Washington Redskins vs. Detroit Lions
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis
Lions: Linebacker Darnell Bing

Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews
Rams: Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey

San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal
Vikings: Offensive lineman Drew Radovich

Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Titans: Tailback LenDale White
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson

New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore

Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody

New Orleans Saints vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis

Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson

Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga

Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas

Indianapolis Colts vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sunday at 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Colts: Defensive Lineman Fili Moala
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui

Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Monday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Over the airwaves

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or follow Saturday's USC-Washington State game at the Coliseum:

  • Kickoff: 7:23 p.m.
  • National TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis)
  • Local L.A. radio: ESPN 710-AM
  • Internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com Game Tracker

Weather watch

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Highs have stretched into the high-90s all week in L.A., and the same is expected for Saturday.

Thankfully, though, the Trojans are playing at night.

Temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid- to low-70s tomorrow night, perfect weather for some football under the lights at the Coliseum.

Back in cardinal

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USC's home jerseys, which have been on the shelf for three weeks, are out and ready to go for Saturday's game against Washington State. The student equipment managers have already begun the process of fitting them over the players' pads so they'll be set for tomorrow's contest.

Positive outweighing the negative

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With all the issues to address from last weekend's loss, Coach Carroll and his assistants have been using a unique strategy to fix the problems.

Call it positive self-talk or just not talking about it at all, but it seems to be working.

After Monday's "Tell the Truth" day -- during which all the dirty laundry from the game was aired -- any issues that arose last Saturday were essentially not even discussed. And it's all part of the plan to get the Trojans back on track.

So instead of repeatedly telling the players, "don't fumble" or "stop getting penalties," the coaches have turned it around to positive instruction, like showing how to better protect the football or teaching better focus and attention to detail.

"You've got to coach to what you want -- not what you don't want," Coach Carroll said.

As Carroll has said several times this week, the team has to leave the past behind, or else history will continue to have an ugly effect. When a player's concentration can turn from not performing an incorrect task to focusing solely on the correct duty, it's a freeing and ultimately positive experience, one that usually results in great rewards.

For example, in the three full-speed practices this week (Tuesday through Thursday), the Trojan offense did not turn the ball over once, and the penalty problem was reduced to almost nothing. That's coming on the heels of a three-turnover, 75-penalty-yard day in Seattle last weekend, and the change happened because the coaches diverted the attention away from the negative and toward the positive.

"It's about getting the guys to do the right thing," Carroll said. "It's not going to work if it's about not do the wrong thing."

On the agenda

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Check out the minute-by-minute schedule for the Trojans over the next 36 hours:

Friday
2:30 p.m. • Meetings begin
4:15 p.m. • Practice
5 p.m. • Jock rally
6 p.m. • Depart campus for downtown hotel
7:30 p.m. • Eve-of-game meetings begin at downtown hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Saturday
10:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
11 a.m. • Position group meetings
2:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3 p.m. • Offensive and defensive walk-thrus
3:15 p.m. • Pre-game meal
5 p.m. • Clap session
5:10 p.m. • Depart downtown hotel
5:20 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:14 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:41 p.m. • Stretching begins
7:03 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:19 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:23 p.m. • Kickoff

Sleeping in

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The USC coaching staff is enjoying a home-game tradition this morning.

On the Friday before every game at the Coliseum, the coaches are given the morning off -- and today is no different. They don't have to be in until a staff meeting at 12:30 p.m.

The Trojan staff will be getting a lot more rest than usual this weekend, especially coming off of two straight weekends with road games. The coaches have Friday morning off, get to sleep in and rest most of Saturday (thanks to the 7:23 p.m. kickoff) and then receive Sunday morning to relax before clocking in for meetings all afternoon. It's a far cry from the previous three weekends, when the Trojans were traveling twice and having two 12:30 kickoffs on game days.

Players also get this morning off and don't have to report until meetings that start at 2:30 this afternoon.

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 images from Thursday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Coach Ken Norton Jr. leads his linebackers through position-specific drills.

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Defensive backs Drew McAllister (left) and Josh Pinkard (right) go up to knock down a pass intended for wideout Steve Blackhart.

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Matt Barkley gets off a short pass under the warm sun.

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Tailback Stafon Johnson cuts through a hole.

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Matt Barkley lines up under center.

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Matt Barkley runs out of the play after Allen Bradford (21) took the handoff.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In the final major tune-up before the game, the Matt Barkley-led first-team offense looked precise in its limited work during the half-pads practice. "We had a lot of good work this week," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle. "Let's make sure it pays off. This is a huge opportunity to come back and play in the Coliseum."

- Taylor Mays will most likely start Saturday's game, his first one back since injuring his knee against Ohio State two weeks ago. "He's ready to play," Carroll said.

- In place of the injured Malcolm Smith, Jordan Campbell will start at weakside linebacker on Saturday.

- Jake Harfman won the punting duties for this weekend's game, Carroll announced after practice.

- Tight end Blake Ayles had the play of the day when he caught a bullet pass with one hand during team period.

- During 11-on-11 work, Mitch Mustain launched a bomb of a deep ball that, though incomplete, impressed his teammates. "Nice throw, punter!" players joked.

- Like every other Thursday workout, the Trojans spent a large chunk of practice focusing on all phases of special teams.

Final steps before the game

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USC's weekly No Repeat Thursday practice has just begun, and it's all about speed and execution today as the Trojans get primed for Saturday's game.

"Today is a day of performance -- just like Saturday," Coach Carroll said this afternoon.

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

In stock

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A rack full of No. 7 jerseys is on the floor at the USC bookstore on the first day they've been sold. The No. 7 jerseys are also available online.

Overcoming the penalty plague

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The focus on Thursdays turns to resolving any penalty issues, and coming off last week's 75-penalty-yard output, the Trojans have a lot to emphasize this afternoon.

"I know you're trying hard, but we've got to do stuff right," Coach Carroll told the players during today's team meeting.

And in terms of the boneheaded, unnecessary penalties, like blocks in the back on special teams?

"Make a pact and sign it in blood that you're not going to do that anymore," Carroll said.

Coming home

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For the first time in what seems like forever, the Trojans will be playing at home this weekend.

And they couldn't be more excited.

"We're going to the Coli, and there's only one way to play when we get there," Coach Carroll told the players this afternoon. "We've got to make sure we prepare ourselves to play our best there. We celebrate by performing our best when we are in the Coliseum."

Olden days

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Here's a hilarious old-school picture Coach Carroll showed on the screen during this afternoon's team meeting, containing current defensive line coach Jethro Franklin (middle) and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. (right) when they played in the '80s at Fresno State and UCLA, respectively. The player on the left is Terry Tumey, now the athletic director at Dominican University in San Rafael:

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Closer to the game

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No Repeat Thursday is underway.

The Trojans' day of refinement and perfection of the game plan has gotten started with a special teams film review, followed by more meeting before a half-pads practice at 4:15 p.m. It's USC's final full-speed workout of the week, so the emphasis goes toward precision more than ever this afternoon.

Fan support

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Here are two traditional fan experiences to attend leading up to Saturday's Washington State game at the Coliseum:

  • The jock rally, complete with the Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls, players and coaches, will be at 5 p.m. at Heritage Hall on Friday.
  • The Trojan Walk will begin at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday. The parade of players and coaches starts on the northeast side of the Sports Arena and winds a path toward the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

Sourena's Sentiments

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0908soureanasentiment.jpgBy Sourena Vasseghi
With Rich Finley
USCRipsIt Guest Bloggers



In trying to decide how to summarize my thoughts on USC's shocking loss to Washington last weekend, I looked back on some of the experiences I've had traveling the country and giving speeches.
 
I have given speeches in front of huge crowds; I have given speeches in front of just five or six people. I've spoken to audiences that weren't receptive, and then audiences that were just so excited. Rich and I gave a speech one time to a group of 5- to 9-year-olds who we could NOT make laugh one time! We tried and tried, and finally I looked at Rich and whispered, "Let's lose the jokes." Then, there was a speech we gave for a group of 600-700 students at a high school on a Saturday for kids who had behavioral issues and bad grades, and that audience was amazing! There have been times I've been sick, Rich has been sick (yeah, try to give a speech when your speaking assistant has laryngitis) and then we've had issues with travel, microphones that don't work, you name it!

My point to all of this, sometimes, you just have a clunker. You can't explain it. You know you're prepared, driven, ambitious, and then all of a sudden you feel like you're trying to catch Jake Locker in open space on an open field that's wet and you only have your socks on. Ugh.

The Trojans lost. It stinks. No one hated it more than me ... well, ok, almost no one. Yet, you have to just move forward. The worst thing that can happen is for a team to beat you twice, as the memory of the loss sticks with you and you alter your preparation and you lose to the next team.

The best thing to do in life is to always have perspective. For instance, this season in college football is off to an amazing start for the Pac-10. Wins by UCLA and USC over other teams in major conferences are only raising the credibility of the league. You have to think a team like Florida is going to be in the National Championship game. From there, who will they play? Well, they won't play another SEC school, the BCS would never allow the 2nd place team in the SEC who just lost in the SEC championship game to have a rematch. That leaves the ACC, Big East, and Big Ten. Nope, conferences aren't strong enough, can you really picture any team in those leagues playing for the championship?

So, really what this comes down to, the Big 12 and the Pac-10. The Big 12 doesn't look as strong as last year, but the league is still pretty good. Plus, if Oklahoma works itself back into contention, and possibly beats Texas, well now we have a good, old-fashioned race on our hands. With the strength of the Pac-10, a one-loss USC team is WAY more attractive than in recent years, due to overall improvement of the league.

So, be frustrated about the loss. We had a clunker. We had injuries, adversity and a bad game. But things aren't looking that bad. Four out of the last six national champions lost one game in their conference, and one year, LSU lost two! So have some perspective.

Now, if I could just make those 5-year-olds laugh!


• Sourena Vasseghi, a motivational speaker and writer, has addressed the USC football team on several occasions over the years. His book, "Love your life and it will love you back," is available here.

Approaching a full house

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Ticket sales are moving along quite nicely for Saturday's game at the Coliseum, as the number of tickets purchased or distributed is climbing near 90,000. You can still purchase tickets online or by calling (213) 740-GOSC.

Down but not out

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Frankie Telfort's time as a Trojan took a tragic turn in July because of a rare heart condition that prevents him from continuing his playing career. But even with the setback, Telfort, as a student coach, is still making a positive impact at USC. Read all about it in this superb feature in today's Daily Trojan.

Thanks to RipsIt reader Steve White for passing it along.

Leinart named player of decade

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Matt Leinart has been named the college football player of the decade by the Sporting News. Leinart went 37-2 as a starter, won two national championships and was the 2004 Heisman Trophy recipient.

Get it now

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The No. 7 USC jersey is now available online and, starting this afternoon, will be sold at the USC bookstore.

Carroll's Video Blog #5

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In his latest video blog, Coach Carroll talks about overcoming challenges in football and life and how to get back on track. Check it out:

LeBron James, Carroll meet up

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Icons in their own right, LeBron James and Pete Carroll crossed paths this morning at USC's Galen Center.

In town for the premiere of his documentary "More than a Game," James was on campus to work out and shoot around today, and Carroll and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. took a few minutes to meet one of basketball's preeminent players. The three chatted for a few minutes during a break in James' shoot-around at USC's basketball training facility before Carroll and Norton returned to Heritage Hall for football meetings.

Check out some photos from the rendezvous:

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Coach Carroll and LeBron James hug upon meeting at USC's Galen Center this morning.

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Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. meets LeBron James this morning.

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Coach Carroll and LeBron James chat for a few minutes during James' workout at the Galen Center this morning.

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With photos of USC's basketball stars behind him, NBA great LeBron James takes a shot during his shoot-around at the Galen Center this morning.

For another good read

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Check out this excellent feature on Mark Sanchez, from today's New York Times. Thanks to RipsIt reader Susan Yamada for passing it along.

Show your support

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Don't forget to vote for Coach Carroll daily for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award. If Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Over the hill

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Offensive coordinator John Morton is celebrating his 40th birthday today.

Morton's trying to keep it under wraps, but we're holding out hope that he will eventually announce his age in a similar fashion as the hilarious "I'm a man! I'm 40!" rant from a few years ago.

For a good read

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So far in 2009, rookie linebacker Brian Cushing leads the Houston Texas in tackles with 18. Check out this great feature on the former Trojan star, from the Texans' website.

Fond memories

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The Trojans have only one significant connection to Washington State, and it stretches back three decades.

0924gprpic.jpegUSC offensive line coach Pat Ruel held the same position for the Cougars in 1978-81, and was also the offensive coordinator in his final two seasons in Pullman. In 1981, Ruel helped coach Washington State to the Holiday Bowl, the team's first bowl game in 39 seasons.

USC is Ruel's ninth stop since Pullman nearly 30 years ago, and he said he enjoyed his four seasons in eastern Washington.

"In recruiting, other teams used to say that you could see the end of the earth from there," Ruel fondly recalled about his time at Washington State. "We'd tell the recruits, 'Yeah, the view's nice, you should come check it out.'"

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 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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Wideout De'Von Flournoy lunges for the catch.

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Tailback Stafon Johnson hops through the hole.

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Tailback Curtis McNeal looks for an opening between his offensive linemen.

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Quarterback Matt Barkley pitches out to tailback Allen Bradford.

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Mitch Mustain connects on a punt, which was downed on the 1-yard line.

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Matt Barkley throws during 7-on-7 period.

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Linebacker Michael Morgan closes in on Matt Barkley.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- On the day he was named the starter for the Washington State game on Saturday, Matt Barkley took essentially all the first-unit snaps and guided a turnover-free performance for the offense on Turnover Wednesday, giving the O the overall practice victory.

- Safety Taylor Mays participated in a healthy chunk of practice for the first time since spraining his right knee against Ohio State, and Coach Carroll said it was becoming more likely that the senior All-American could return to game action this weekend. "It looks like Taylor had a really good day today," Carroll said. "We'll see how he responds tomorrow."

- During 11-on-11 special teams work, Mitch Mustain took one rep at punter and showed off his touch. With the snap coming from near the 50-yard line, Mustain's punt landed inside the 10 and was downed at the 1. Following practice, Carroll said the coaching staff would wait until after Thursday's workout to determine who among Billy O'Malley, Jake Harfman and Mustain will have the duties in the game on Saturday.

- Though the defense didn't come up with a turnover all day, a pressure-filled rush from the line propelled the unit to a 13-11 victory in the final team period.

- During 9-on-7 period, the offense dominated to produce what coaches called "a massacre," as the slew of running backs manufactured an onslaught of big-time rushes both up the middle and around the outside. Tailback Allen Bradford had the most notable run of the day when he lowered his shoulder and leveled a defensive back in the open field.

Barkley to start Saturday

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Matt Barkley will start Saturday's game against Washington State, Coach Pete Carroll announced after practice Wednesday.

Eleven days after suffering a bruise in his right shoulder, Barkley took almost all the reps with the first-team offense Wednesday and completed a full practice for the first time since the injury.

"He's ready to go," Carroll said. "It's clear he had a very good day today.

"Off and running we go."

Carroll said both Aaron Corp, who started Saturday in place of Barkley, and Mitch Mustain would be ready if Barkley "has any problems" leading up to or during USC's Pac-10 home opener on Saturday night at the Coliseum. 

Heating up

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It's the first full day of fall, but the weather apparently didn't get the memo.

Temperatures are into the high-90s on campus this afternoon as the Trojans take the field for their weekly Turnover Wednesday practice. We'll return from steamy Howard Jones Field with a report following the workout.

Seven heaven

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At some point tonight, No. 7 USC replica jerseys will be available for the first time online through the USCTrojans.com store.

The No. 7 jerseys will also be available on the floor at the USC bookstore starting Thursday afternoon.

Good and bad on third down

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Besides the extra focus on turnovers, Wednesdays are also USC's day to emphasize third downs for both the offense and defense. While the Trojan defense ranks among the nation's best in limiting opponent's third down conversions, the offense is converting a disappointing 22.9 percent of third down opportunities, ranking the Trojans 112th out of 120 FBS teams in 2009. Here's a look at the full third down stat line this season for USC and Washington State:

Offense
USC:                      8-for-35 • 22.9 percent (112th in nation)
Washington State:  10-for-42 • 23.8 percent (109th in nation)

Defense
USC:                     12-for-44 • 27.3 percent (16th in nation)
Washington State:  14-for-37 • 37.8 percent (68th in nation)

Focusing on the football

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The coachspeak is the same as every Turnover Wednesday -- "Let's not miss this, we've got to make the most of this day," Coach Carroll said in this afternoon's team meeting.

But it sure seems to be carrying more weight this week.

After Saturday's three-turnover-and-no-takeaway performance at Washington, the facts are hitting hard during Turnover Wednesday today. Add to it that the Trojans have a minus-3 turnover margin in 2009, far below expectations for a team whose mantra is, "It's all about the ball."

"It couldn't be more poignantly clear," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "We've got ground to make up. Every single bit of our emphasis counts."

Going to the film

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Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider takes the USC kickoff unit through Washington State game film during this afternoon's special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium. More meetings are on deck before a full-pads practice at 4:15 p.m.

Punt it

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The Mitch Mustain experiment will reach a new stage this afternoon.

Mustain, USC's third-string quarterback, is slated to take all the reps at punter in the full-squad special teams period during today's 4 p.m. practice. 

On the radio

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Coach Carroll taped an interview this afternoon that will air on AM-570's "Petros and Money Show" at 5:30 p.m. tonight. You can listen to a live internet stream of it here.

Strong against the best

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In light of this morning's post about all-time victories and USC's latest five-year run, the Trojans have also fared quite nicely against the other traditional powers on the top-10 list in recent seasons. Get this -- since 2004, USC has gone a remarkable 12-1 against the other programs on the top-10 all-time victories list.

Media presence

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or follow Saturday's USC-Washington State game at the Coliseum:

  • Kickoff: 7:23 p.m.
  • National TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis)
  • Local L.A. radio: ESPN 710-AM
  • Internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com Game Tracker

Almost all of them

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With at least one Trojan on the roster of 26 of the 32 NFL teams, 248 of the 256 regular-season games this fall will feature one or more USC alumni. Only eight NFL games will not have a Trojan in them, meaning 97 percent of contests will include at least on USC alum.

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Appropriate conduct

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Last Monday was USC night at Dodger Stadium, and Coach Carroll was commissioned to do the fans' code of conduct video. See his slightly sarcastic rendition here, courtesy of the L.A. Dodgers:

Support the rookies

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Remember to cast your vote for linebacker Brian Cushing or quarterback Mark Sanchez for the NFL's Rookie of the Week. Both Trojans had standout performances during Sunday's games, so show your support for the two USC alums.

Recruit away

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As is the tradition for every Wednesday, the coaches took time out of game-planning for their weekly recruiting meeting in the War Room this morning. A big recruiting weekend is coming up, since it's just the second opportunity for USC to host official visits this season and the only chance for another month, thanks to the awkward home schedule this season.

Off the charts

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USC is 10th on the list of all-time victories for major college football programs, but the Trojans have been closing ground in recent years. According to a stat box in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, USC has the best record in the last five seasons among its counterparts at the top of the all-time wins list. Check it out:

Program: Record since beginning of '04 • (All-time record; Rank of all-time record)
USC:            61-7 • (768-304-54; 10th)
Texas:          59-8 • (835-317-33; 2nd)
Oklahoma:    56-14 • (793-290-53; 8th)
Ohio State:   53-13 • (809-307-53; 5th)
Penn State:   47-18 • (803-349-41; 6th)
Alabama:      44-23 • (802-316-43; 7th)
Michigan:      42-23 • (875-295-36; 1st)
Tennessee:   40-26 • (776-329-53; 9th)
Nebraska:     38-27 • (819-338-40; 4th)
Notre Dame:  37-28 • (833-285-42; 3rd)

NFL highlights

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Check out selected highlights of Trojans around the NFL during Week 2:

In the right direction

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The coaches have watched and re-watched the film from Tuesday's competition-themed workout, and they like what they see -- especially how the players are bouncing back.

"We had a really nice day of practice yesterday," Coach Carroll said this morning. "The guys are responding."

All about the defense

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This week's "AT&T Ask Coach" question wonders how the defense is performing this season. See below for Coach Carroll's response from his Tuesday press conference, and remember you can submit your questions by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234.

A different viewpoint

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Here's an interesting column from the O.C. Register that puts Saturday's loss in perspective.

RipsIt Minute

| No Comments
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

Tuesday's photo album

| No Comments
Check out this slideshow of images from Tuesday's practice, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Cornerback Kevin Thomas goes through tackling drills, as defensive coordinator Rocky Seto (right) watches on.

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As quarterback Mitch Mustain looks on, wideout Damian Williams (left) and cornerback Kevin Thomas (right) go up for a pass during 1-on-1 drills, with Williams coming down with the completion.

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Matt Barkley looks across the line of scrimmage.

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Kicker Jordan Congdon connects on a field goal.

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Aaron Corp drops back in the pocket.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

| 1 Comment
Thoughts from Tuesday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- Matt Barkley participated in the largest amount of practice since bruising his shoulder against Ohio State, taking half the reps in both the service team period and 7-on-7 drills. By design, he sat out of the team period with an ice pack on his right shoulder, giving way for Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain to take the 11-on-11 snaps. "He made a lot of throws today," Coach Carroll said of Barkley. "The difficult part is to manage this right."

- In his time at the helm, Barkley mostly shined, going a perfect 5-for-5 during 7-on-7 period and looking sharp in service team work. He utilized a mixture of short check-downs with longer touch passes throughout the day.

- Meanwhile, Corp took a majority of the snaps during the 24-play team period, guiding the offense to a 13-11 overall practice victory on Competition Tuesday.

- The starter for Saturday's game is still up in the air -- both quarterbacks are preparing to be the one -- but Carroll said Barkley would get the nod "if he could get through each day" without any major setbacks.

- Garrett Green continues to show just how valuable he is. The senior, who's a part of five of the six special teams units, also was the service team quarterback and caught a pass as a wideout during team period Tuesday, along with being the holder for field goals.

- During team period, wideout David Ausberry had a spectacular diving catch, which saw him trap the ball against the side of his helmet while he rolled to the ground.

- Coach Carroll in the post-practice team huddle: "Every day's got to count -- every single day -- if we want to get right. We need everybody to step up to that challenge."

- Kicker Jake Harfman connected on a 54-yard field goal in his only kick during 11-on-11 special teams work.

- About 30 students from Liceo Scientifico Europea, a high school in Bolzano, Italy, attended practice as part of their nationwide tour to learn about American football.

Working away

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On the first day of Fall, the Trojans are taking the field for their weekly Competition Tuesday practice, an all-out, full-pads affair on Howard Jones Field. We'll return in a few hours with a report from the workout.

Hit the road with the Trojans

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Four away games remain in the 2009 season, so check out the USC Alumni Association website for info on pep rallies, transportation, lodging and game day tailgates for each of the four road trips left this fall.

Getting back on track

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The message continues to be loud and clear.

Just 72 hours removed from their shocking loss at Washington, the Trojans are being reminded again today that they've got much to improve and a lot to work on as Competition Tuesday gets underway.

"We've got to get this thing right," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting, kicking off the competition-themed day. "This day is about battling against ourselves. It makes us better."

Carroll keeps making a special emphasis about being perfect and being right in every drill, every play and every practice. It's not a matter of picking and choosing when to do things correctly, but a philosophy of pursuing perfection in everything from stretching before practice to watching film to lining up correctly before the snap -- and all things in between.

"If you want to win, do it all the time -- not sometimes," Carroll said. "Let's elevate our mindset."

So another step in the bounce back happens this afternoon, as the Trojans one-day-at-a-time-it all the way to Saturday's game and their first of many opportunities for redemption.

"Let's capture this day," Carroll said. "It's all we got."

Starting it up

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Competition Tuesday has just commenced with a special teams film review in Heritage Auditorium. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings ensue prior to a full-pads practice at 4:15 p.m.

Conference of excellence

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The Pac-10 has had an impressive run in non-conference play so far in 2009. Its 19-6 overall out-of-conference record and 15-6 mark against FBS teams ranks among the top in the six BCS conferences. Also, the Pac-10 has played more games against teams from BCS conferences than any other of the six major leagues, compiling a 6-4 record for the second-highest winning percentage (the SEC's 5-2 mark is slightly better).

Take a look at how the Pac-10's non-conference record against FBS teams so far this season compares with the other BCS conferences:

1. SEC: 14-2 (.875)
2. Pac-10: 15-6 (.714)
3. Big Ten: 18-8 (.692)
4. Big 12: 17-9 (.654)
5. Big East: 9-5 (.643)
6. ACC: 9-8 (.529)

Archived presser

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The live stream of Coach Carroll's press conference today experienced some technical difficulties, so you can watch the presser in its entirety for free here. We apologize for the inconvenience for those who tried to watch it live.

Get them while you can

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Plenty of tickets are still available for Saturday's game against Washington State, so purchase them online or by calling (213) 740-GOSC.

Answering the questions

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Coach Carroll speaks to the media during his press conference in Varsity Lounge right now. 

Time for the presser

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Coach Carroll is about to take a break from a film session with the defensive staff for his weekly press conference, and you can watch it live for free here.

Onward they go

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The onward march and forward focus continues in Heritage Hall, as the past becomes an increasingly distant memory and all that matters now is preparing for Saturday's game against Washington State.

It's Competition Tuesday today, so the team's entire attention turns inward as the Trojans ready themselves for their Pac-10 home opener this weekend. And they'll take the appropriate steps toward victory by competing and working their best during today's meetings and practice. As coaches always say, "you win the game on Saturday by what you do today."

"Let's make it a really competitive day," Carroll told his assistants during this morning's staff meeting. "We need some juice. We've got to come out of the shoots flying today.

"Let's make it the best Tuesday we've ever had."

Looking for a cure

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During his weekly press conference at noon today, Coach Carroll will be wearing this patch commemorating the American Football Coaches Association's "Coach to Cure MD" initiative, which is aiming to raise support and awareness for the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Coaches around the nation will be wearing the patch during their press conferences and games this weekend.

Ask away

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Have something you want Coach Carroll to answer during his weekly press conference today? Then send in your question by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234, and one fan's query will be answered by Carroll at the noon presser. 

Future focused

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Safety Will Harris goes through a weightlifting circuit in Heritage Hall this morning. With their past behind them, players are getting to work this week to affect their future.

Inside the Life: Tutorial sessions

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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 a feature about the tutoring requirements for USC's student-athletes:

With all of the commitments that come with being a student-athlete at USC -- from class to practice to conditioning -- it can be hard to imagine that Trojan football players even have time to eat or sleep.

However, Trojans find the time to do not only those activities, but also to invest upwards of ten hours per week into tutoring. The USC athletic department places a lot of emphasis on academic success as well as athletic success. When it comes to school, athletes and advisement staff strive not only for the athletes to be eligible, but also to go above and beyond, striving to meet the highest possible potential.

Athletes meet with their academic advisors on a regular basis, discussing their classes and course load. The advisors assess the situation and then develop a tutoring schedule based on the athlete's need and availability during the week. The schedule consists of assigned times for either intensive tutoring on course material, or structure study time, which is supervised by a member of the tutorial staff.

The tutoring sessions are crucial to the success of the student athlete. They ensure the comprehension and retention of critical class material. Tutors are dedicated to the athlete's understanding of the material. The sessions are generally an hour. Tutors are highly qualified and provide a wide base of knowledge in the subjects that they tutor for. Athletes may bring in lectures, textbooks, or worksheets to go over with the tutor. The tutor addresses any questions that the athlete may have. They also can offer studying tips, course insight and even proofreading work. Working in conjunction with S.A.A.S. staff members, Tutors play the role of an academic support system for the athletes. They make sure that the athletes are up to date with their work and help them prepare for tests.

Structured study time is also critical to the athlete's success in the classroom. It provides a time for the athletes to commit to studying, homework or projects. Because the athletes already have very limited free time, it is often hard for them to assign time to their work. The structured study time is allotted for that purpose. This is a good time for athletes to get ahead in their courses, study, read their textbooks or just work ahead in their assignments. This program allows athletes to be not only up to date in their classes, but well ahead in their work.

As a motivational tool, the S.A.A.S. staff has created a point system. Positive points are awarded to those athletes who diligently attend tutorial sessions and have a positive attitude. Points are deducted for missing tutorial, or not being productive, but those situations are very rare. The points are taken into consideration when the staff is selecting "student-athletes of the month."

The academic success of the USC football team and other USC athletics is a testament to the effectiveness of S.A.A.S, the tutorial staff and the outstanding work ethic of the student-athletes.

- By Courtney Kalisz, USCRipsIt staff writer

Two Trojans up for an honor

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Linebacker Brian Cushing and quarterback Mark Sanchez make up two-fifths of the nominees for the NFL's rookie of the week award, so show your support by voting here.

Cushing had a team-high 10 tackles, including two for loss, in the Texans' 34-31 win at Tennessee, while Sanchez went 14-for-22 for 163 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 16-9 victory over the Patriots.

Meet the press

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Tuesday means it's media day for Coach Carroll, who has conference calls, one-on-one interviews and his weekly presser during the next several hours. Remember that you can watch his press conference at noon live for free, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Still an honor

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Although the December "60 Minutes" feature on Coach Carroll's work with A Better LA didn't end up winning during Monday's News and Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony, it was still one of five nominees, an incredible honor for CBS, the news magazine show and Carroll.

ABC News' "Living with Tourette's Syndrome" won the Emmy in the outstanding feature story in a news magazine.

See Carroll's "60 Minutes" piece here:


Watch CBS Videos Online

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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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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Wideout Brice Butler looks a pass into his hands, as wide receivers coach John Morton looks on.

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In his first full practice back, Matt Barkley throws downfield.

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Garrett Green leads the service team offense against the first-unit defense.

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Tailback Joe McKnight takes a pitch from Matt Barkley.


Aaron Corp hands off to tailback Stafon Johnson.

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Matt Barkley rolls out to his right.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Matt Barkley returned to practice and split the snaps with Aaron Corp, as he participated in full-speed drills for the first time since his shoulder injury on Sept. 12 at Ohio State. He completed many nice passes both from the pocket and on the run, showing very little rust throughout the helmets-only workout. "He's not 100 percent but he threw the ball pretty well," Coach Carroll said. "It was encouraging today that Matt's going to be alright. The fact he was at practice today was a great sign."

- Though Carroll did not rank the quarterbacks or name a starter, he said Barkley would be the guy if healthy. "I'd love for him to come back and start on Saturday if he's ready to go," Carroll said.

- Safety Taylor Mays did light rehab work but sat out of practice Monday, a designed rest day for the senior who has been sidelined with a knee sprain since the Ohio State game.

- Linebacker Malcolm Smith suffered an ankle sprain in the Washington game and did not participate in Monday's practice. Luthur Brown would most likely start in Smith's place if he's not ready to play by Saturday, Carroll said.

- Carroll in the post-practice team huddle: "It's Coli time -- we get to come back to the Coliseum this week!"

- The defensive line produced a notably overpowering rush during 11-on-11 drills on Monday, sacking the quarterback multiple times.

Getting back to work

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The air horn just sounded, meaning the Tell the Truth Monday practice has just gotten started. The Trojans have hit the field for their first football activity since Saturday's loss, so we'll return with a report following the helmets-only workout.

Ask Coach

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Have something you want Coach Carroll to answer during his weekly press conference tomorrow?

Send in your question by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234, and one fan's query will be answered by Carroll at Tuesday's noon presser. 

Watch it live

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Coach Carroll's weekly press conference will be streamed live for free on Tuesday at noon, so click here to see it when the time comes.

Lockdown defense

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Lost amid the weekend's game is the USC defense's stellar run so far in the 2009 season. Check out these astounding stats for the Trojan D in the first quarter of the '09 campaign:

  • No. 5 in the nation in rushing defense (51.0 yards per game)
  • Giving up just 1.63 yards per rush
  • Has allowed zero passing touchdowns (one of only seven teams in FBS to achieve that)
  • Has allowed only two touchdowns total (both rushing TDs)
  • No. 3 in the nation in tackles for loss (10 per game)
  • No. 12 in the country in total defense (226.0 yards per game)
  • No. 13 nationally in scoring defense (11.3 points per game)

Telling the truth: On the rebound

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Like every other Monday afternoon, the Trojans gathered for a "Tell the Truth" meeting in Heritage Auditorium.

But unlike every other Monday afternoon, the room was essentially silent while players waited for Coach Carroll to come to the front.

"The truth is," Carroll, holding a football, said to break the silence, pausing for effect. "The truth is, it's all about the ball. That's the truth. We've documented it, we've proven it and we've illustrated it in so many ways.

"We've got to own the football. We can't take liberties."

Carroll was referring to USC's three turnovers -- and zero takeaways -- in Saturday's still-shocking 16-13 loss at Washington. And that's not including the two additional fumbles the Trojans coughed up but wound up recovering.

So now it's all about "getting our stuff right," Carroll said.

"We can keep winning, we can get on a roll, because we know exactly how to get it done," Carroll said. "Let's do it how we know how to do it -- day after day after day. Are we going to go places? Heck yeah. Are we going to come back flying? Yes.

"But we need everyone together to make this happen, to bounce back like we know how."

Armstead recovering well

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The Trojan defensive line is close to receiving a huge boost.

Armond Armstead, a starting defensive end before breaking a bone in his foot on Aug. 20, is expected to begin running on a treadmill this week and said he hopes to participate in full-speed practices within two weeks. The sophomore's injury required surgery, and he has been in a protective boot since.

While the date of his return to game action is up in the air, Armstead said he is hopeful to be back to playing shortly after returning to the practice field.

"Definitely by Notre Dame," Armstead said.

Opening early

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Coliseum parking lots will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday in anticipation of that night's 7:15 p.m. kickoff for the Washington State game. There will be no overnight parking in Lot 2 (the RV parking lot), though it is expected to open a little earlier than the other lots (around 7 a.m.).

Next up

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The Trojans host Washington State at 7:15 p.m. at the Coliseum on Saturday. The game will be televised nationally on FSN.

Live from MMQB

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At the Galen Center's Founders Room right now, Coach Carroll speaks with the hundreds of fans in attendance at Monday Morning Quarterback, which includes a film session and Q&A with Carroll.

Time Out with Joyce Hirayama

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An occasional feature throughout the season, "Time Out" by USCRipsIt staff writer Elaine Cruz will give you glimpses into the lives of the people who support the Trojans and make the program run smoothly. Today, executive administrative assistant Joyce Hirayama gets the spotlight...


By Elaine Cruz
USCRipsIt staff writer



Anytime you walk into the football office in Heritage Hall, you're bound to see a vibrant atmosphere. With the 2009 football season underway, it comes as no surprise that there is a lot of buzz, as well as foot traffic. And no one knows how hectic it can get in the football office more than executive administrative assistant Joyce Hirayama.

joycehirayamaeditedmugmedium.jpgHirayama has worked for the football department for 12 seasons -- three years longer than Coach Pete Carroll. She started her position during Coach Paul Hackett's first year leading the Trojans. She didn't start out at the university working with the football program, however. Her first job at USC was in the School of Cinematic Arts working as an assistant in the Dean's office. She got referred to the football department and has been there since.

The main functions of Hirayama's job are to take care of the overall maintenance of the office and to help the assistant coaches with administrative tasks. At least that's what she did until this year.

"My job has changed this year," Hirayama says with a slight chuckle. "I have a lot more responsibility."

She goes on to explain that this is the first year in which she is directly assisting Carroll, along with assisting the other coaches. Hirayama describes that working for Carroll is a lot of fun and says there is "never a dull moment."

During the short interview for this story, Hirayama was constantly sought out by football staff and she answered every inquiry as if the answer was burned into her brain, proving how busy and important her job is. Though her environment may be one of high energy, she remains low-key, a quality which is noticeable about her personality.

Hirayama said she spends her spare time reading, being with her family and going to Disneyland. One thing about Hirayama that some may not know about is that she has an artistic nature.

"I love painting. I've been painting all my life," she says. Hirayama also hopes to one day start a business.

Other duties that she tends to in the office, apart from acting as an office manager, are knowing Carroll's schedule and making sure she keeps tabs on where he is.

"If I can catch him -- he moves fast," she said about Carroll. She also acts as an intermediary between the coaches' wives. And if this isn't all enough, she's the cheerleader of the office and is also the one that brings in the sweets. For example, she supplies all the cakes and cookies for birthdays and other special occasions.

0816tmaccake.jpgWhen asked how her family feels about her job she says that they are proud and supportive of her.

"They've all grown to be huge Trojan fans. They love my job. They never want me to quit," she says with a smile. Hirayama, who was born in Chicago, moved to Los Angeles before she turned five. She grew up in the South Bay area and now lives in Torrance with her husband. She has two daughters, one who lives in Torrance and the other in Seattle, as well as four grandchildren. Hirayama also has familial ties in Hawaii and makes a trip there once a year.

Hirayama's family is an athletic one. She isn't the only person in her family that has been involved in an athletic program. Her husband Dale, who is a teacher for the LAUSD, has coached high school football for 20 years. Her two daughters were both basketball players. Hirayama is very proud of working for the football department and she claims her grandchildren all want to go to USC. Talk about loyalty.

And Hirayama is loyal indeed. She and her husband attend all home games and try to go to at least one away game each season.

It is the type of atmosphere that surrounds her work that makes her job so enjoyable. What she likes the best about her job? The people. Hirayama enjoys the interaction with people from other departments. Of course she also enjoys working with the people from her own.

"We have great players and coaches. It's a fun place to work," she said.

Another reason she is fond of about her job is the diversity of it: "Every day is different, every season is different. That part amazes me."

As for her personal feelings towards her job, she offers this: "The players, staff and their families are my extended family and I feel very lucky to work here and really enjoy being a part of something very special."

They are lucky to have you there too, Joyce.


• You can contact USCRipsIt staff writer Elaine Cruz via email.

Healing up

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0921rojo.jpegRoJo is on the mend.

Wideout Ronald Johnson, sidelined since Aug. 29 with a broken collarbone, said today he's recovering nicely and will resume running soon. Even though he's still in a sling for precautionary reasons, the junior has already returned to a light weightlifting regimen and has kept in shape on an exercise bike.

The optimistic Johnson said he'd like to return for the California game in two weeks, though realistically he said he should be ready for the Notre Dame game on Oct. 17.

"I'm feeling better by the day," Johnson said.

Attitude adjustment

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The air is always different after a loss.

It's like clockwork on the Monday after a defeat -- instead of glee, the USC football office is filled with glumness. The coaches move around with sullen faces, music doesn't play during film sessions and the overall atmosphere is just plain heavy with sadness.

But as a somber mood hangs over Heritage Hall this morning, coaches are viewing Saturday's loss as a wake-up call of sorts. After watching the film, Coach Carroll and his assistants see glaring areas that need improvement (ball protection, for one), and they're already taking positive steps toward mending and healing the issues.

"It gives us an opportunity to really go back and fix our football," Coach Carroll said.

They get that opportunity today, with meetings at 2:15 and practice at 4:30. Then, the mood will begin the pick up and the Trojans can start returning to life as they knew it.

Join the world in the Human Race

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The Nike Plus Human Race -- "the day the world runs" -- will have one leg of the historic global event at USC on Oct. 24 at 12:01 a.m. The 5K and 10K courses will take place around the Coliseum, campus and Fraternity Row, so sign up now to participate in this inaugural late-night event.

And the best part of it all? Proceeds will benefit Coach Carroll's A Better LA charity, so don't miss out. Go here for more info, and also check out this funny 15-second commercial featuring Carroll:

This week in USC sports

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Find out how Trojan athletics fared during the past seven days:

- The men's water polo team beat Pomona-Pitzer and UC Irvine before losing to UCLA in the semifinal of the NorCal Tournament. The Trojans battled back to defeat Cal and finish third in the tournament. They are currently ranked first nationally and will host Pepperdine and Long Beach City College this Saturday.
 
- Women's soccer beat Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, both by scores of 1-0. The Women of Troy are currently riding a four-game winning streak and will play at Pacific and Santa Clara this week.
 
- Women's volleyball beat Portland and Fresno State this weekend. The Women of Troy are ranked 15th nationally and will hit the road this week to open Pac-10 play at Arizona and Arizona State.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Dealing with the future

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Football is a poignant allegory for life, especially when it comes to defeat.

No matter how good things may seem or how high confidence is, unexpected setbacks occur. But regardless of how startling and how devastating the setback, how you deal with it determines whether you grow from it or get buried by it.

In the world of USC football, if history is any indication (see '02, '03, '06, '07, '08), the Trojans have risen up and produced Pac-10 championships after losing a conference game.

So the process toward redemption in '09 begins this week. USC's response today, tomorrow and through Saturday will go a long way in determining how the rest of the season plays out.

"The season is not about that game unless we let it," Coach Carroll said. "We have the ability to control what we do from here and how we handle it."

Trojans around the League

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See the highlighted performances of USC alumni during Week 2 of the NFL season:

  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) caught 10 passes for 134 yards and 1 touchdown in the Giants' 33-31 over Dallas.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 15 of 23 passes for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Bengals' 31-24 win over Green Bay.
  • Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) had 6 tackles in the Bengals' win.
  • Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had 4 tackles, including 1 sack, in the Bengals' win.
  • Linebacker Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) led the team with 10 tackles in the Texans' 34-31 win over Tennessee.
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) completed 24-of-39 passes for 241 yards and 1 touchdown in the Chiefs' 13-10 loss to Oakland.
  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 14-of-22 passes for 163 yards and 1 touchdown in the Jets' 16-9 win over New England.
  • Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints) carried the ball 10 times for 33 yards and 1 touchdown in the Saints' 48-22 win over Philadelphia.
  • Defensive end Lawrence Jackson (Seattle Seahawks) had 4 tackles, including 2 sacks, in the Seahawks' 23-10 loss to San Francisco.
- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Rising up

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Recovery is already well underway at USC.

Coaches spent all of Sunday sifting through the game film from Saturday's loss, salvaging the lessons learned and beginning to move on from there. This morning, the staff is in offensive and defensive meetings, with the Washington State game plan already taking shape.

Players, meanwhile, are starting their rebound with workouts in the weight room this morning. Tell the Truth Monday meetings and practice get going at 2:15 p.m. today, and kickoff of the Trojans' next game is just five days away.

The bounce back has begun.

Washington photo albums

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SEATTLE -- Don't miss these awesome insider slideshows from Saturday's USC-Washington game, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:

Inside the locker room:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Game action:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Player portraits:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Coach Carroll:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Coaches/staff:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

'We're going to climb back'

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0919pcgetty.jpgSEATTLE -- As much as Saturday's 16-13 loss at Washington hurts and confounds, two things are absolutely certain.

For one, the game is history, and two, all that matters now is USC's response to the heartbreak, defeat, pain.

"We can't do anything about what just happened," Coach Carroll said in the sullen visitors' locker room after Saturday's game. "We must respond."

The past in the past and the future ahead, the bounce is what counts, as Carroll has said many times before.

"The challenge is coming back," Carroll told his players. "We've got to stay together, be one and have a championship response."

The same championship response the team has displayed in five out of the previous seven seasons that included a Pac-10 loss but ended with a Pac-10 title. The same response that gets back to work, gets back on board and plays out the long season ahead, where anything can happen as long as the players and coaches keep fighting. The reward at the race's finish line is still unknown, and the only way the team will get there and find out is by persevering, pressing on and not letting the past determine the future.

But before moving forward, they've got to understand what happened. So how did Saturday's defeat occur? Masochism, in a word.

Three turnovers, 75 penalty yards and 0-for-10 on third-down conversions. The stats are suffocating and glaring.

"The football lessons are obvious," Coach Carroll said. "If you turn the ball over like that and make all those penalties, it makes it really hard to win. You have to overcome when stuff like that happens, but we just couldn't today."

Carroll's words of truth kept piercing through the silent visitors' locker room in the bowels of Husky Stadium, stinging the Trojans with all the realities of the game.

"We just weren't a good enough football team to win today," Carroll said. "We're so much better than that, but we played like an ordinary football team. So we have to go back to our football and get better."

The ever-positive Carroll continued to turn his players' attention forward to what they can affect instead of back to what they can't -- "stay with us, no pointing fingers, we need everybody," he challenged.

"The important part now is: What're you going to do about it now?" Carroll said. "Where will your mind go? Where will your heart go? Will it go to the pits or will it go to what has to happen next?"

That "next" will begin Monday afternoon with meetings and practice for the Trojans. In the meantime, the shocked, somber looks and deep, painful expressions will tell the story.

Football is a cruel, often symmetrical game. One week after the highest of highs, the Trojans find themselves among the lowest of lows. Just seven days after capturing an epic three-point victory at Ohio State, USC dropped a three-point decision at Washington on Saturday. The Trojans go from the beautiful silence of a stunned Ohio Stadium crowd to the torturous silence heard on the walk up the tunnel, in the locker room after the game, on the bus ride to the airport and aboard the long flight home.

The silence hurts. It all hurts.

But as much self-inflicted pain they're feeling and will continue to feel until their next win, the Trojans are also building character. Losses such as Saturday's test a team's mettle, refine its purpose and bring the players together ever-so-tightly. Character wins championships, and the Trojans are in for an overload of character-creating moments as they take their next steps from here.

There's good in every situation, and the Trojans can take solace in the fact that they've been in this circumstance in years past -- and bounced back to do remarkable things.

"We know we can win championships after things like this," Carroll told his players, with no doubt in his voice. "We've been here before and we're going to climb back."

Pictures from the Washington game

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SEATTLE -- Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from USC's 16-13 loss at Washington on Saturday:

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Coach Carroll runs out of the tunnel and onto the field at the beginning of warm-ups.

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With head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle leading, offensive linemen Alex Parsons (left) and Kristofer O'Dowd (right) walk down the tunnel at the start of warm-ups.

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Coach Carroll and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian converse on the field prior to the game.

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Aaron Corp leads the huddle during pre-game warm-ups.

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The Trojan Marching Band plays from the sideline during pre-game festivities.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen stretches out while laying down in the locker room before the game.

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Coach Carroll taps the "I'm In" sign before heading out for the game.

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Offensive line coach Pat Ruel talks to his players on the sideline during the first half.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the team in the locker room at halftime.

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Coach Carroll watches the field during the second half.

Just the facts

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See the stats and read the AP recap from USC's stunning 16-13 loss at Washington on Saturday.

Back in L.A.

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Immediately after Saturday's game, the Trojans left for Seattle's Boeing Field, where their charter flight wound up leaving at 6 p.m. The team arrived at LAX at 8:15 and returned to campus by 9 p.m.

Players now have Sunday off, while coaches will be in the office reviewing the film and game-planning for next weekend's Washington State game.

Game time

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The Pac-10 opener is here.

The Trojans are about to depart their team hotel in suburban Seattle and head to Husky Stadium, where they'll begin warm-ups prior to this afternoon's matchup against Washington, which will kick off at 12:36 p.m.

The contest will be televised regionally on ABC (and broadcast on several other platforms, as well). Immediately following the game, the Trojans will board a charter flight and return to L.A., with an estimated arrival set for 8:30 p.m.

We'll have a full behind-the-scenes game report upon touchdown in L.A. tonight, but in the meantime, we'll be posting occasional updates from pre-game and the trip back to California at http://twitter.com/USCRipsIt. Below is the Trojans' minute-by-minute schedule for the rest of the day:

10:30 a.m. • Depart team hotel for Husky Stadium
10:45 a.m. • Arrive at Husky Stadium
11:27 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:54 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:16 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:33 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:36 p.m. • Kickoff
6 p.m. • Estimated departure from Boeing Field in Seattle
8:30 p.m. • Estimated arrival at LAX 

Clap on, clap off

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Just before the Trojans board buses and depart their team hotel for the game each week, they'll divide up in separate meeting rooms for the offense and defense to conduct "clap sessions."

RipsIt reader Stanton Neilson e-mailed in asking what a clap session is. They're short (five minutes or so) final reviews of key plays for the game. For all intents and purposes, they're last-minute walk-thrus of calls that'll be used in the game just a few hours later. And they've received the name because at the end of every play, the players clap one time in unison.

The session is conducted in near-silence -- save for the swishing of clothing and the quarterback's cadence -- so the unified clap creates an intense adrenaline-fueling effect.

Captain talk

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Besides the four elected team captains -- Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard -- coaches have selected two additional players to be captains for the Trojans during today's game. Tight end Rhett Ellison will represent the special teams, while Hebron Fangupo will represent the service teams.

Last meal

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The Trojans sit down to eat their pre-game buffet meal in a suburban Seattle hotel ballroom this morning. Coach Carroll (middle, standing, white shirt) addresses the players before the meal begins. After dining in silence, the players now have about 90 minutes to rest and relax before departing for Husky Stadium for today's Pac-10 opener.

Meeting of the minds

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The coaches assemble in a hotel meeting room for a quick staff meeting this morning, their final one before kickoff. It was immediately followed by a special teams roll call and walk-thrus for the offense and defense.

Calm before the storm

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It probably won't look like this today, but here's a cool photo from USC's walk-thru at Husky Stadium on Friday, when perfect weather covered Seattle.

Overcoming the elements

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The Trojans are waking up to a light rain in Washington this morning, though the precipitation is forecasted to clear out by kickoff.

Not that it matters much now, as the players and coaches will be inside their team hotel for meetings, a meal and time to rest and relax until leaving for Husky Stadium at 10:30 a.m.

And not that it matters much ever.

"Who cares?" Coach Carroll told his players on Friday night. "It rains on their side just as much as it rains on our side."

To prove his point, Carroll harkened back to the 2007 game at California, when it poured the entire contest.

"We handled it beautifully," Carroll said. "It's not a factor -- unless you let it be."

Good morning

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Wake-up calls just rang for the Trojans in the rooms of their suburban Seattle hotel, and meetings will get started at 8:15. A special teams roll call, walk-thrus for the offense and defense and the pre-game meal will occur between 8:15 and 9 a.m., and the team is scheduled to depart for Husky Stadium at 10:30 a.m.

Kickoff is just five hours away.

RipsIt Minute

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- 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

Turning point

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Before we call it a night, check out this video from the USCRipsIt archives that looks back at Coach Carroll's first trip to play Washington in 2001, when USC dropped a narrow 27-24 decision to the Huskies. Even though they lost, it's a game Carroll calls "the start of the turn" for the Trojans, who have gone 89-11 in the 100 games since that narrow defeat. Here it is in Carroll's words:

The day ahead

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Bed checks are coming now for the Trojans, and with an early wake-up call set for Saturday, players will be making the most of this rest time. Check out the agenda for the team on game day:

7:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
8:15 a.m. • Pre-game meetings begin
8:45 a.m. • Pre-game meal
10:30 a.m. • Depart team hotel for Husky Stadium
10:45 a.m. • Arrive at Husky Stadium
11:27 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:54 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:16 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:33 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:36 p.m. • Kickoff

Must-see TV

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Don't miss this spine-tingling insider highlight video recapping the Ohio State game that the Trojans watched during their team meeting tonight. The video is courtesy of the USC video production department.

Come together one last time

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In a tiny hotel meeting room in suburban Seattle, Coach Carroll speaks to his players tonight in their final team meeting before Saturday's Pac-10 opener against Washington.

Familiar face

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USC alum Lawrence Jackson, now a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, chats with current defensive end Everson Griffen at the team hotel tonight in suburban Seattle. Jackson was joined on the visit to his former team by two other Trojans in linebacker Thomas Williams and offensive lineman Kyle Williams, who both for the Seahawks.

Starting the night off

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- After an hour to rest, relax and eat pizza dinners at the team hotel, the Trojans are now gathering in a second-floor ballroom to commence their eve-of-game meetings, starting with a special teams film review. Here's a look at the schedule for the rest of the night:

7:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:15 p.m. • Position group meetings
8:30 p.m. • Team meeting
8:45 p.m. • Snack
9 p.m. • Optional chapel and mass services in the team hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

For a good read

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Here's an extremely complimentary feature on USC's current seven-year run atop the Pac-10, from the Seattle Times.

Odds and ends

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Here are a few news and notes from Friday's walk-thru at Husky Stadium:

- Coach Carroll did not announce a starting quarterback to the media following the workout. "You'll find out tomorrow," he said.

- Matt Barkley threw in both the morning practice in L.A. and the afternoon walk-thru at Husky Stadium, and "he threw pretty well, in fact," Carroll said.

- Safety Taylor Mays remains a game-time decision.

- Joe McKnight is slated to start at tailback Saturday.

Live from Husky Stadium

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Here are some images from USC's walk-thru at Husky Stadium on Friday afternoon:

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Safety Taylor Mays walks out of the tunnel and onto the Husky Stadium field.

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Coach Carroll surveys the field during Friday's walk-thru at Husky Stadium.

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A view of Husky Stadium from one corner.

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A view of Husky Stadium from the end zone.

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A view of Husky Stadium from another corner.

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A view of Husky Stadium from the 50-yard line.

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Coach Carroll throws deep.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen passes during the fatman football game.

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Offensive lineman Alex Parsons tries the kick during overtime of the fatman football game, which was won by the defensive line.

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Players participate in the football version of hacky sack during the walk-thru.

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A view of the cramped coaches' locker room.

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Wideout David Ausberry checks out Washington's Bank of America Arena, which is attached to Husky Stadium and is also the location of USC's locker room.

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A view of one segment of the 160-yard-long tunnel that goes from the field to the visitors' locker room.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the team at the 50-yard line at the end of the walk-thru.

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Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle shares a history lesson with the team at the end of the walk-thru.

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Coach Carroll tapes an interview that will air on ESPN on Saturday morning.

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Coach Carroll and director of team security Rick Carr walk up the tunnel at the end of the walk-thru.

Journey to Seattle

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The Trojans have arrived in Seattle.

USC's charter plane left LAX at 2 p.m. and arrived at Seattle's Boeing Field at 4:30 before the team bused to Husky Stadium for a walk-thru. Just now, USC checked into its team hotel in suburban Seattle. Check out some images from this afternoon's journey:

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Cornerback Kevin Thomas gets checked by security at LAX on Friday afternoon.

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Players walk across the tarmac to board their charter flight at LAX.

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The Trojans deplane at Seattle's Boeing Field.

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With Mt. Rainier in the distance, the USC equipment truck sits on the tarmac at Seattle's Boeing Field.

Heading to Seattle

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With a police escort guiding them through the traffic, the Trojans are departing campus soon and heading to LAX, where their charter flight is waiting at a side terminal. The plane is scheduled to take off at 2:15 p.m. and arrival at Seattle's Boeing Field is estimated for 4:45 p.m. The team will then head directly to Husky Stadium for a walk-thru before checking in at their suburban Seattle hotel in time for tonight's eve-of-game meetings.

We'll return to normal blogging activity after checking in at the team hotel tonight, but in the meantime, you can follow the team's progress on http://twitter.com/USCRipsIt. And lastly, here's the Trojans' schedule for the rest of this Friday:

1 p.m. • Buses depart for LAX
2:15 p.m. • U.S. Airways charter flight departs LAX
4:45 p.m. • Estimated arrival at Boeing Field in Seattle
5:30 p.m. • Walk-thru at Husky Stadium
6:30 p.m. • Check in to team hotel in suburban Seattle
7:30 p.m. • Eve-of-game meetings begin
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

McKnight on the rebound

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After being absent the last two days with an illness, tailback Joe McKnight returned to the practice field for today's short walk-thru, much to the delight of the coaches.

"Joe looked awesome today," Coach Carroll said. "It was great to see him back and flying around."

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Check out some photos from this morning's short walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where the Trojans reviewed all special teams situations and key offensive and defensive plays for Saturday's game before finishing with a Hail Mary play, which was won by the defense.

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The offense huddles up during this morning's walk-thru on Howard Jones.

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Linebacker Chris Galippo charges in toward service team quarterback Garrett Green.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the Trojans in the team huddle at the end of the walk-thru. 

Highly intellectual

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With all their major opportunities to physically train now in the past, the Trojans are performing their usual Friday routine and turning to the more cerebral side of game preparation.

"Visualize what you're going to do tomorrow," running backs coach Todd McNair told the team this morning. "The mental side of it starts now."

This morning's meetings and walk-thru on Howard Jones Field provide perfect opportunities for the players to get the "mental reps" of what they'll be doing come kickoff on Saturday. It's all about sharpening their minds today and tomorrow morning so their performance can be at its peak at 12:36 p.m. on Saturday at Husky Stadium.

"We've got to make sure we're right today," Coach Carroll said during this morning's team meeting, "so tomorrow, we can play how we're capable of playing."

The Trojans have just taken the field for their Friday walk-thru, so we'll return with a report afterward.

Geography class

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As the only Washington native on USC's roster, safety Taylor Mays gives a lighthearted geography lesson about the state to his teammates at the start of this morning's meetings in Heritage Auditorium.

Rain, rain, go away

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The weathermen are bringing some good news for the rain-averse men from SoCal.

The chance of rain on Saturday in Seattle has dropped from 90 percent to 40 percent over the last 24 hours, and forecasts are now even saying the precipitation should clear out by kickoff tomorrow. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-60s at game time, so it's lining up to be a very pleasant afternoon for football after all.

Let's go

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In a week-long race, the Trojans are going into their last lap of game preparation now.

An essentially nonstop stream of final prep starts now and ends with kickoff at 12:36 p.m. tomorrow. It all begins with a pump-up session, passed off as a special teams meeting, in Heritage Auditorium before going into team, offense/defense and position group meetings. A walk-thru is at 11 a.m., and the team will be on buses headed to LAX at 1 p.m.

Cheer them in

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For those planning on going to the USC-Washington game on Saturday -- and if you're not yet, there are still plenty of tickets available -- you can welcome the Trojans to the stadium in a Seattle-style Trojan Walk. The team buses will arrive at 10:45 a.m. on the west side of Husky Stadium, next to Bank of America Arena, before the players file into the locker room and begin pre-game preparations.

Media watch

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or follow USC's Pac-10 opener at Washington on Saturday:

Trojans in NFL action

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At least one Trojan will be involved in all 16 NFL games this weekend, so check out the full slate of games and the USC alumni on each team's roster for Week 2:

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Vikings: Offensive lineman Drew Radovich
Lions: Linebacker Darnell Bing

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews

Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody
Titans: Tailback LenDale White

Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel

New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez

New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson

St. Louis Rams vs. Washington Redskins
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Rams: Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis

Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison

Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday at 5:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler

Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins
Monday at 5:30 p.m (NBC)
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Start it up

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Take a deep breath -- it's the Day Before.

Coaches are about the convene for a staff meeting and the team will come together at 9:30 to commence a jam-packed day of final preparations for Saturday's game against the Huskies. Meetings and a short walk-thru this morning precede the team's afternoon flight to Seattle, where the Trojans will have a walk-thru at Husky Stadium and eve-of-game meetings at their suburban Seattle hotel.

Kickoff of USC's Pac-10 opener is a little more than 24 hours 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:


ripsitminute.jpg

Thursday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Coach Carroll urges his players on as they go through agility bags.

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Defensive end Wes Horton shuffles through position group drills.

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Coach Carroll throws over the middle while playing quarterback in defensive back drills.

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Mitch Mustain throws from the pocket.

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Aaron Corp gets rid of the ball before linebacker Michael Morgan can reach him.

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Mitch Mustain works on punting technique with special teams coordinator Brian Schneider (left, kneeling) after practice. For the second straight day, Mustain took part in punting drills as the experiment continues.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- For the fourth straight practice, Aaron Corp took the first-team reps, completing the game week prep with another on-target performance in the half-pads practice. "He's ready to go," Coach Carroll said. "He's had a very good week."

- As expected, Matt Barkley made short passes during the practice for the first time since injuring his right shoulder Saturday, and Carroll reiterated there is no timetable to announce the starter for Saturday's Pac-10 opener at Washington. "He threw the ball today without anything hurting," Carroll said of Barkley. "We'll wait and see."

- Taylor Mays sat out of a majority of practice again, with his status for the game still up in the air. "We'll find out on Saturday," Carroll said.

- Tailback Joe McKnight missed his second straight practice while suffering from the flu, but he's expected to play Saturday. "At this point, I'm absolutely counting on him being back," Carroll said.

- Coach Carroll in the post-practice team huddle: "This is Pac-10 championship time. Let's do this one step at a time."

- During team period at the end of the short practice, Aaron Corp made an impressive mid-level throw to wideout David Ausberry, drawing praise from the coaches. "Awesome!" quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates exclaimed. "Very good!"

- As is the norm for Thursday practices, the Trojans spent a healthy chunk of the workout focusing on all facets of special teams.

Going to practice

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The Trojans just hit the field for their weekly No Repeat Thursday practice on Howard Jones Field, where precision and sharpness are the name of the game today. The game plan is officially crystallizing in anticipation of Saturday's Pac-10 opener.

"Let's have a perfect day," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "It's all about execution for us today."

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

Baucham involved in accident

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Cornerback Brian Baucham was involved in an accident on the 110 freeway in Los Angeles on Thursday morning around 7 a.m. en route from his home in Torrance to USC, Coach Pete Carroll said this afternoon.

He suffered abrasions that will prevent him from practicing today or traveling for USC's trip to Washington this weekend. A redshirt freshman, Baucham is out of the hospital and recovering at home. His recovery time is unknown, but Carroll said he hopes to have Baucham back to practice soon.

Baucham was the Trojans' third cornerback in the Ohio State game, so T.J. Bryant and Marshall Jones will now move up and compete for the nickel cornerback role.

Hard hitter

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Check out this cool interactive Head and Shoulders promo featuring five-time Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu, who used to patrol the Trojan secondary earlier this decade.

A pair of perks

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The Trojans have two exciting things to look forward to after practice today:

  • TV Arms: The weekly rapid-fire workout will occur right after practice.
  • Chick-Fil-A: The popular fast-food restaurant is catering tonight's team dinner.

Update on Barkley

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After sitting out all three practices so far this week with a bruised right shoulder, Matt Barkley will throw during today's practice, Coach Pete Carroll said this afternoon.

Aaron Corp has taken all the first-team reps this week, but Carroll reiterated he's in no rush to name a starter for USC's Pac-10 opener at Washington on Saturday.

"We'll see how Matt throws today and go from there," Carroll said.

Carroll added the determination could come as late as kickoff on Saturday (12:30 p.m. on ABC).

"I don't feel any pressure at all to make this decision," Carroll said. "We're going to take as much time as we need."

History lesson

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Coming off a game that featured two outstanding goal-line stands by the defense, Coach Carroll continues to pound home the importance of a never-say-die attitude as the opposing offense works just inches from the end zone.

During this afternoon's meeting, Carroll showed a clip of an incredible goal-line play in a December 1995 game between the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills -- one that featured Carroll as the 49er defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. at linebacker for the 49ers. With the score tied at 10 and the Bills at first-and-goal from just a few inches out, the Buffalo running back got popped after receiving the handoff and fumbled the ball, which was picked up and returned 96 yards for a 49ers touchdown. San Francisco went on to win the game 27-17, and Carroll used the scenario to teach an important lesson to the Trojans 14 years after the fact.

"If you keep believing, keep scratching, there's always another chance," Carroll told his players. "Something good is just about to happen, as long as you keep fighting."

Carroll on '60 Minutes'

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Just a reminder that the Emmy-nominated "60 Minutes" feature on Coach Carroll's work with A Better LA will re-air on Sunday night at 7 p.m. Pacific time, just before the Emmys. Set your TiVos, watch it live or see it here:


Watch CBS Videos Online

Mummified

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While waiting in the athletic training room to get his ankles taped prior to this afternoon's meetings and practice, safety Will Harris goofs off by wrapping his head with gauze, along with the help of wideout Scott Stephens (left).

Young and old

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New to the team but USC's eldest player, defensive tackle Fangupo brings a wide array of experiences to the Trojan line.

By Pedro Moura
USCRipsIt staff writer



0916loniline.jpgThere are quite a few words to suitably describe junior defensive tackle Hebron "Loni" Fangupo.

Old is one of them. In his first season with the Trojans, Fangupo is 24 -- edging out Jeff Byers for the title of eldest statesmen.

Big also works. He's 6-foot-2 and 330 pounds -- the heaviest on the roster by a margin of 15 pounds.

There's more: humble, friendly, even young.

"I don't know what I am," says Fangupo, whose nickname is pronounced "low-nee." "I'm new. I'm old. But I'm also still a little young buck coming in here because everything is new to me, but then again there's a lot of people here I share experiences with."

He's untested at the FBS level -- having played only in the San Jose State game thus far -- but he racked up 71 tackles and eight sacks in two seasons with Mt. San Antonio College. Fangupo consistently overpowered offensive lineman at the juco level.

"He's big, he's strong, he's athletic," defensive line coach Jethro Franklin said. "He'll take up space. He has a lot of traits that you really admire in a defensive tackle. If he keeps going in the right direction, he's going to be a productive player for us."

Teammates know the value of a space-clogger on the defensive line who can also rush the passer.

"He's a big, solid guy," redshirt freshman defensive end Wes Horton says of his linemate. "He's huge, so once he starts really coming after guys physically, no one will be able to block him. He's still young in the system, and he's definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future."

The affable Fangupo likes to tell the story of how he became a Trojan.

0916lonirun.jpgIt started with a visit to a USC practice at Howard Jones Field with the Mt. SAC team. From there, Loni took control.

"I went up to coach Nick Holt and I told him that -- when Fili Moala leaves -- I want to be the one to come in and replace him," Fangupo said. "I think he thought I was joking. He just laughed and walked away, but I grabbed him by the arm and looked in the eye and said 'I really want to play here, and I know I can play here.'

"That was a Wednesday. Thursday they sent [former defensive line coach David Watson] to see me at practice. And then Friday morning, at 9 o'clock exactly, I got a call from Pete Carroll asking me if I wanted to be part of the Trojans."

That's the kind of initiative Fangupo shows.

At the end of Monday's practice at Cromwell Field, after putting in extra work with the defensive line, he walked over to the club rugby team setting up shop at the east corner of the field.

Making small talk, Fangupo eventually grabbed a ball and punted it, laughing even as it proved a powerful kick. He drew the surprised glances of numerous rugby players. He said rugby was his sport while growing up.

Born in Santa Ana, Fangupo spent five years of his childhood in his native Tonga before moving back to Orange County during high school. He played at Century High but had no scholarship offers, moved back to Tonga for a year and then served a two-year mission for his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the Phillippines. It's been a journey, to say the least.

Still, Fangupo says it's all been worth it.

"The best part of everything is to look to your right, to your left, and behind you, and you know your boys have got you," Fangupo said. "You see them giving their all, and all you can do is give your best as well."


• You can contact USCRipsIt staff writer Pedro Moura via email.

Weekend agenda

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For the second time in as many weekends, the Trojans are about to hit the road with a trip to Seattle to play Washington on Saturday. USC will leave L.A. early Friday afternoon and return a little more than 24 hours later, with plenty of activity in between. Check out the minute-by-minute schedule for the Trojans during this weekend's journey to play the Huskies:

Friday
9:30 a.m. • Normal Friday meetings start
11 a.m. • Friday walk-thru
1 p.m. • Leave campus for LAX
2:15 p.m. • Depart LAX
4:45 p.m. • Arrive at Boeing Field
5:30 p.m. • Walk-thru at Husky Stadium
6:30 p.m. • Arrive at team hotel
7:30 p.m. • Eve-of-game meetings begin
8:45 p.m. • Snack
9 p.m. • Optional chapel and mass services in team hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Saturday
7:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
8:15 a.m. • Pre-game meetings begin
8:45 a.m. • Pre-game meal
10:30 a.m. • Depart team hotel for Husky Stadium
10:45 a.m. • Arrive at Husky Stadium
11:27 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:54 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:16 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:33 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:36 p.m. • Kickoff
6 p.m. • Depart Boeing Field (estimated)
8:30 p.m. • Arrive at LAX (estimated)

Ask Coach: Facing a former colleague

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This week's AT&T Ask Coach question of the week solicits Coach Carroll's opinion on facing a former colleague, like he'll be doing Saturday when the Trojans face Steve Sarkisian's Washington team:

Surface-level relationship

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With four of USC's six road games on FieldTurf this season, RipsIt reader Tim Sandberg e-mailed in asking whether players like real grass or the artificial surface better. A majority of the players polled are indifferent or like grass over turf, but take a look at their opinions position by position:

  • Skill players: Without a doubt, skill players (wideouts, running backs, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs) face the biggest adjustments when going from grass to turf. Real grass is easier to plant and change directions on, while FieldTurf has less traction and produces more slipping. Basically all skill players like playing on real grass over artificial turf.
  • Quarterbacks: The signal-callers unanimously enjoy real grass more because footing is better, it's smoother to drop back and sliding is easier.
  • Linemen: Footing is better on artificial turf when the weather is bad (rain or cold), but otherwise most linemen don't have a preference either way.
  • Kickers: Some are indifferent, while others prefer one over the other. Real grass provides a better, less-forgiving surface to put down their plant foot, but FieldTurf is a more consistent surface for kicking off of.

Dealing with the issues

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With injuries to several key Trojans being the news of the week, Coach Carroll is reminding his team that it's not the action, but the reaction that matters.

"There will always be issues," Carroll said after Wednesday's practice. "It's how we deal with them that counts."

Carroll's Video Blog #3

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Coach Carroll checks in from his office this morning with another video blog, this one discussing everything from the Ohio State game to the Washington matchup to Kanye West and Phil Jackson. Don't miss this candid perspective from Carroll:

Poignant images

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Check out these incredible photos from a recent practice (and one from the Coliseum) by South Bay-based action sports photographer Bo Bridges:

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All photos by Bo Bridges, whose site is here.

Monte Clark passes away

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Monte Clark, a Trojan offensive lineman in 1956-58 and a long-time NFL player and coach, passed away on Wednesday night in Detroit. He was 72.

Clark was a three-year letterwinner and a co-captain during his senior year at USC before playing 11 years in the NFL. He then went on to become a renowned offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins before eight combined years as a head coach for the 49ers and Lions.

Clark died after an extended illness with bone marrow malignancy associated with lung and liver disease.

Title bout

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The Pac-10 doesn't have a championship game at the end of the regular season.

It has them every week of the year.

Every in-conference contest is heavy on impact, because the Pac-10 crown is determined by the body of work over nine league games. And defense of their seven consecutive titles all starts Saturday at Washington for the Trojans.

"This is as much a championship game as any other game this year," Coach Carroll told the team at the end of Wednesday's practice. "We've got to be clear about that."

For a good read

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Check out this superb feature on tailback Joe McKnight's growth on and off the field, from the O.C. Register.

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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Wednesday's photo album

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Check out this slideshow of 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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Mitch Mustain gets some punting work in at the start of practice. Mustain got a look at punter for the first time on Wednesday, and he didn't disappoint, with several kicks going longer than 50 yards.

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Tailback Allen Bradford braces for the fall as defensive end Malik Jackson goes horizontal for the tackle.

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The Trojan offense prepares for the snap at the line of scrimmage.

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Aaron Corp passes short to wideout Damian Williams.

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Aaron Corp winds up to throw in 7-on-7 period.

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Mitch Mustain rolls out during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- As Matt Barkley sat out with a bruised shoulder for the third consecutive practice, Aaron Corp continued to take all the first-team reps Wednesday, but a decision on Saturday's starter is still undetermined. "We'll just wait it out and see what happens," Coach Carroll said.

- Though he threw an interception for the second day in a row, Corp had an otherwise sharp workout, directing a dominating offensive performance in 7-on-7 period and leading the offense to a 14-12 overall practice victory in the final team period. "I'm happy with the way Aaron has taken advantage of this opportunity," Carroll said.

- Nursing a sprained right knee, safety Taylor Mays remained sidelined again Wednesday, but he did do some running at the start of practice. And Barkley, with an ice pack on his shoulder for much of the workout, remained involved in practice by staying close to quarterbacks coach and play-caller Jeremy Bates. "We're putting a sense of urgency around Matt and Taylor to see how quick we can get them back," Carroll said.

- Defensive back Marshall Jones snagged the interception off Corp in the final team period to officially label it Turnover Wednesday.

- Quarterback Mitch Mustain took reps at punter and stayed after practice to get in extra work as the redshirt junior experiments with a new position. He was booming 50-plus-yard punts during special teams period, though Carroll said he's still a few weeks away from working into the competition at punter. "He's got a really good leg," Carroll said.

- The running backs had an especially productive day Wednesday. Tailbacks Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable turned in lengthy runs up the middle during team period and, on the final play of the day, fullback Stanley Havili used a vicious stiff-arm to shed the linebacker and scamper in for a short touchdown around the left side.

- Offensive tackle Charles Brown returned to practice after sitting out the last two days with the flu. He is slated to start Saturday.

Going to work

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The Trojans are taking the field now for their weekly Turnover Wednesday practice, so we'll return in a few hours with a report from Howard Jones.

Get loud

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Husky Stadium is notorious for being one of the loudest venues in college football.

The Trojans are preparing correspondingly, with piped-in crowd noise playing for much of today's workout on Howard Jones Field.

Third time's a charm

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Besides today being the weekly turnover-focused day, it's also a time to examine third downs -- and Saturday's game should feature a great battle between the USC defense and Washington offense on the all-important down.

So far in 2009, the Trojan defense is allowing a third-down conversion rate of just 17 percent (sixth-best in the nation), while the Husky offense is converting 67 percent of its third-down chances, ranked No. 2 in the country.

When two powerful forces collide, which one comes out on top? We'll find out on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Film session

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The kickoff return unit watches film of Washington's kickoff coverage squad during this afternoon's special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium. Turnover Wednesday is underway, with meetings lasting until a full-pads practice at 4:15 p.m.

Vote on

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Vote for Coach Carroll for Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year through the widget below. Also, you can share the widget on Facebook or your personal site.

Sourena's Sentiments

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0908soureanasentiment.jpgBy Sourena Vasseghi
With Rich Finley
USCRipsIt Guest Bloggers



"We're Trojans, that's what we do." - Matt Barkley immediately after USC's 18-15 win over Ohio State.

Was there ever any doubt? Ummm, well...for a while there, I won't lie to you, it was nervous time. I had a group of good friends at my house on Saturday for the Ohio State game, and by the time Matt Barkley was facing a 2nd-and-19 from the USC 5-yard line, we were all frustrated, yet hopeful, that somehow, someway, the Trojans could pull it out. Well, by now, you all know what happened. Joe. Matt. Anthony. Damian. Stafon. Defense. Plane ride. So, I won't break down the game, nor tell you about how rowdy my place got -- but it DID, let me tell you.

But Matt's post-game quote got me to thinking, how many times in life do we have daunting odds pile up against us? We can all feel momentum in life, good and bad. And the challenge in life often times is to recognize momentum and not get swept up in it. What do I mean by this?

Well, we've all been having a great day, a great week, whatever in the past and it seems like nothing can go wrong, but invariably, it does, either because that's life or, possibly, you rest on your laurels and stop doing the things that got you going in the right direction in the first place. I think it's easier in life to take steps to maintain positive momentum, but the most difficult thing in life to battle is negative momentum. When things are going bad for you, and it feels like everything you're trying is in vain, the most challenging thing is to proceed with a short-term memory. It's like a quarterback 'shaking off' an interception. If you linger on what WENT wrong, and start drawing inferences from it about what MIGHT go wrong in the future, that's how self-fulfilling prophecies and losing cultures get established. You HAVE to keep moving forward, always charging ahead, and never looking backwards. You ever see those people that look back after escaping the psycho killer? What happens every time? That's right! Splat!

Give it to the guys for never resting on their laurels (that's how you win seven straight Pac-10 titles and have seven straight top-5 finishes) but also for never losing faith, even when things look their bleakest.

"We're Trojans, it's what we do."


• Sourena Vasseghi, a motivational speaker and writer, has addressed the USC football team on several occasions over the years. His book, "Love your life and it will love you back," is available here.

Recognizing Carroll's work

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The Westcoast Sports Associates, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for disadvantaged youths to play sports, is honoring Coach Carroll at a banquet at the Galen Center on Nov. 18. Get more info and purchase tickets to the event here.

Wright plays on

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Defensive lineman Manuel Wright, who played for the Trojans in 2003-04, has been signed by the UFL's Las Vegas Locos.

Regional coverage

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USC's game at Washington on Saturday will air on 52 percent of the country's TV sets as part of ABC's three-pronged regional coverage during the 12:30 p.m. slot. Check out the coverage map below to see if you'll be getting the Trojans' Pac-10 opener where you live:

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Keeping score at practice

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We've received several questions about how the practice scoring system works and how the victory is determined each day.

In the final scrimmage-like period of each practice, the offense and defense go head-to-head to determine a victor for the day. One side gets the "win" and a point for each play. The offense wins if it rushes for four yards or more or completes a pass of any length. The defense wins if it stops the offense short of four yards on a rush, causes an incompletion or forces a turnover. All the play wins are scored, with one side in a 24-play team period having to reach 13 points to gain the overall victory.

Because Coach Carroll places a premium on competition and just happens to be the ultimate judge and scorekeeper on each play, the overall practice victory is almost always determined on the final few snaps of the day. In his creative, sneaky and often controversial ways, the playful Carroll usually finagles the score so it can be tied near the end of each practice.

The reason for keeping score each practice? It's all about creating an atmosphere of competition, where every play and every rep counts.

Ready for rain

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The weather could be rainy in Seattle this weekend, so the USC equipment staff is packing appropriately.

Plenty of light rain gear for the coaches and extra long-sleeved shirts for the players are being added to the travel trunks for this weekend's trip to the Northwest. Even though forecasts say rain is only a 30 percent possibility, the equipment staff is preparing for the worst.

"We're always ready," director of equipment operations David "Pops" Scott said.

Long journey up the coast

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The Trojans leave for Washington on Friday, but their equipment is getting a two-day head start.

USC's appropriately decorated equipment truck -- loaded with all the game, practice, medical and other gear needed for the team's trip to Seattle this weekend -- is leaving at 12:30 p.m. today to begin a 1,150-mile, roughly 24-hour drive up Interstate 5, with a scheduled arrival set for Thursday afternoon.

The truck, operated in shifts by two USC bookstore drivers, will then make the return journey immediately after the game on Saturday night.

For another good read

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Check out this great article on Matt Barkley, from today's Seattle Times.

More of the same

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This week's theme continues to be reinforced.

With two former USC coordinators in charge of Washington's attack -- head coach Steve Sarkisian with the offense and defensive coordinator Nick Holt with the Husky defense -- the Trojans will be very familiar with what they'll see on the other side of the ball come Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

With one very big, very quick and very dynamic caveat -- Husky quarterback Jake Locker.

"You're going up against our offense and up against our defense," Coach Carroll told the players during Tuesday's team meeting. "It's almost like we're scrimmaging ourselves -- with one exception. They have Jake Locker. He's a war daddy and he's really fast."

But even with Locker at quarterback, the Trojans still have the familiarity with Washington's schemes, and Carroll's making sure no one -- coaches and players included -- is overanalyzing the matchup.

"You have a lot of knowledge, but let's not think too much," Carroll said Tuesday. "We've just got to go play football."

Huge first impressions

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In Saturday's Ohio State game -- the biggest stage of the college football season so far -- Trojans were propelled in part by players just three months from earning their high school diplomas.

And we're not only talking about Matt Barkley.

0916kennard.JPGFour first-year freshmen saw significant playing time in USC's 18-15 win at Ohio Stadium, a remarkable feat for players who were competing as high-schoolers last season. Safety T.J. McDonald, a few months removed from Fresno's Edison High, had a valuable role on the kickoff and punt return units. On the line, defensive end Devon Kennard, from Phoenix's Desert Vista High, rotated in and played 20 out of the 55 snaps, notching a tackle and proving he belonged.

"He's playing really well, especially for a freshman," defensive line coach Jethro Franklin said.

A freshman from Columbus, Ga., linebacker Jarvis Jones appeared at home in Columbus, Ohio, as the true freshman was a vital part of the goal-line unit that produced two huge stands against the Buckeyes. Jones also started on the punt and punt return units.

"He's knocking people around and he's really smart," linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said. "He's definitely one of the guys already."

And then there's Matt Barkley, who took all 72 snaps from center and coolly directed the dramatic 86-yard game-winning drive in the final minutes Saturday. Overall, the freshman from Mater Dei went 15-for-31 for 195 yards in his first road game, a matchup in front of 106,033 fans and the largest TV audience for a college football game in ESPN's history.

All that for a few guys who were at their proms just a few months ago.

Small crowd

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It looks like the Trojans will be going from a packed Horseshoe in Ohio to an unfilled stadium in Washington.

Only about 59,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's USC-Washington game at the 72,500-seat Husky Stadium. Just a week after playing in front of more than 106,000 at Ohio State, the Trojans could be competing in front of roughly half that total in a partly empty stadium at Washington.

USC received 2,500 tickets for Saturday's matchup and distributed or sold all of them. The Trojan allotment is in the west end zone of the stadium, with most tickets in section 6.

All that goes to say, there are still many seats available for the Pac-10 opener in Seattle. So if you're planning a last-minute trip up the coast or are a displaced Trojan fan in the Northwest, you can buy your tickets for Saturday's game here.

Throwing his age

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Coach Carroll continued a decades-old tradition Tuesday, one that becomes more incredible with each passing year.

Carroll, who turned 58 yesterday, makes it his annual goal to throw a football as many yards as his age, and on Tuesday after practice, he heaved a ball from the 50 that landed exactly two yards from the back of the end zone.

That's exactly 58 yards in the air -- and a perfect birthday present for Carroll.

Weather watch

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The Trojans could be playing in the rain this weekend.

But what else would you expect in Seattle?

A slight chance of precipitation and temperatures in the 60s are forecasted for Saturday at Washington. With about 150 days of rain per year in Seattle, odds are that the prognostication for wet weather could come true.

"Anything can happen up there," Coach Carroll said. "But as long as it rains on both sides of the field, we'll be fine."

Vote for Sanchez

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Mark Sanchez, who went 18-for-31 for 272 yards in Sunday's 24-7 win for the New York Jets, is up for the NFL rookie of the week, so vote for him here. Sanchez's passing yards are the third-most for a rookie in Week 1 in NFL history.

Radar detector

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After Tuesday's practice on Howard Jones Field, USC baseball coach Chad Kreuter (left) pulls out the radar gun on the Trojan football ball machine, as football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez stands ready to fire off a football. Kreuter and his trusty device determined the machine was chucking footballs at an astounding 80 mph.

For a good read

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Check out this interesting -- and entertaining -- feature on USC's historically successful QB sneak play, 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:


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Tuesday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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The offensive line goes through position group drills.

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Wideout Damian Williams prepares to receive the punt.

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Wideout Brandon Carswell stretches out for the catch during 1-on-1s.

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Matt Barkley, who sat out most of practice with a bruised shoulder, hands off to tailback Stafon Johnson in his limited work Tuesday.

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Aaron Corp throws over the middle in 7-on-7 period.

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With the offensive line blocking, Aaron Corp passes downfield.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In place of the injured Matt Barkley, Aaron Corp took nearly all the first-unit snaps in the full-pads workout, stepping up with an impressive all-around performance. "He had a very good day today," Coach Carroll said of Corp. "He looked sharp."

- Meanwhile, Carroll said Barkley remains "day-to-day" as he tries to come back from a bruised right shoulder suffered in Saturday's 18-15 win at Ohio State. "We'll make a determination when it seems right," Carroll said of picking the starter for Saturday's game at Washington.

- Thanks to some creative, off-the-script play-calling on the final snap of the day, the offense clinched a 13-11 victory over the defense in the practice-ending team period, capturing the Competition Tuesday crown. Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates called for a designed quarterback run with Corp on the final play of the team period to secure the offense's hard-fought victory. "That's a solid win for the offense," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle.

- Safety Taylor Mays sat out of the practice and watched with an ice pack on his sprained knee for much of the day.

- On the first play of the practice-ending team period, cornerback Josh Pinkard played excellent coverage and stepped in front of an Aaron Corp pass over the middle to snag the interception. But on the very next play, Corp bounced back with a perfectly placed deep ball to Damian Williams over the middle and, near the end of the period, completed another sweet pass to Williams for a touchdown.

- On one play in the final team period, linebackers Luthur Brown and Shane Horton combined for a sack on Aaron Corp, prompting a boisterous celebration from coach Ken Norton Jr. "That's what Competition Tuesday is all about!" Norton bellowed. "They just swallowed him up!"

- Aaron Corp went 5-for-6 and Mitch Mustain went 4-for-4 to give the offense a dominating performance in the 10-play 7-on-7 period. "This is officially a no-competition period!" running backs coach Todd McNair playfully yelled during the blowout.

- To add versatility to the tight 64-man Pac-10 travel roster this weekend, Garrett Green took reps at wideout and even caught a pass during the final team period.

- Former Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone and two renowned southern California pastors -- Francis Chan of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley and Todd Proctor of Rockharbor Church in Costa Mesa -- attended the practice.

Sharpening their game

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Since the Trojans will be going up against almost a mirror image of themselves in Saturday's game at Washington, this week's practices carry utmost importance -- because every rep counts as dual credit for the offense and defense.

It's also the perfect opportunity to sharpen and clean up the Trojans' own game, since playing at their peak on Saturday will be even more vital when going against a team that employs similar schemes.

"With all the familiarity, we have to dig in and get our stuff right," Coach Carroll said this afternoon. "Adjustments, alignments, calls -- we need to get our stuff right. Let's be really focused on this today."

The Trojans just started their Competition Tuesday practice, so we'll be back with a report following the full-pads workout.

The quest begins

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As the Trojans officially plunge into the Washington game plan during this afternoon's meetings and practice, their attention turns to the singular goal the team has each season.

To win the Pac-10.

Conference play opens this weekend at Washington, where the Trojans will begin defense of their seven straight Pac-10 titles.

"The conference championship run begins Saturday," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "Every single game is a conference championship game, because every one has the power to determine what happens at the end."

Older than he looks

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At the start of this afternoon's team meeting, players joined in singing "happy birthday" to Coach Carroll, who's turning 58 today.

When the song ended, the players incessantly asked Carroll how old he was. When he finally revealed his age, the players were dumbfounded.

"No way!" several of them responded in shock.

"You're 47!" a few of them guessed.

Meanwhile, Carroll, with a huge smile on his face, brushed the compliment aside and carried on with the meeting.

Going to the books

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Tuesday means it's distribution day for the offensive playbooks, as administrative staffers are assembling them in time for this afternoon's offense meeting. USC's offensive game plan for Saturday's contest at Washington has been set and neatly organized into three-ring binders that each player will receive this afternoon.

Media presence

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Here's the basic info on Saturday's Pac-10 opener for the Trojans:

Paint the stadium cardinal

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Plenty of tickets are still available for USC's matchup at Washington on Saturday, so if you're thinking about heading up or are already in the Seattle area, purchase your tickets here.

The weekend ahead

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The Trojans are hitting the road again this weekend, so check out the team's travel schedule for the trip to play Washington in Seattle:

Friday
1 p.m. • Leave campus for LAX
2 p.m. • Depart LAX
4:45 p.m. • Arrive at Boeing Field
5:30 p.m. • Walk-thru at Husky Stadium

Saturday

10:30 a.m. • Depart team hotel for Husky Stadium
10:45 a.m. • Arrive at Husky Stadium
12:36 p.m. • Kickoff
6 p.m. • Depart Boeing Field
8:30 p.m. • Arrive at LAX

Starting early

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Parking lots for next Saturday's home game against Washington State, set to kick off at 7:15 p.m., will open for tailgating at 8 a.m. There will be no overnight parking in Lot 2 (the RV lot).

Have cake and eat it too

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Heritage Hall seems like a cake bakery today, as numerous cakes are flooding the football office in celebration of Coach Carroll's 58th birthday. The most elaborate one, seen below, is a replica of the Coliseum, given by a group of hard-core USC fans:

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About to go on

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Coach Carroll's weekly press conference is about 10 minutes from getting started, so watch it live here.

Nice and snug

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Just when you think you've seen it all, something like this comes along.

Snuggies have become the joy of late-night infomercial watchers, and now they're stretching into the Trojan universe. Now available is a USC Trojan Snuggie, the blanket with sleeves with the Trojan logo all over it.

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Ask Coach

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Have a question that you'd like Coach Carroll to answer at today's press conference? Text "ASKCOACH" to 51234 to send in your query, and one lucky fan's question will be answered at Carroll's noon presser.

Tightening down

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With the first conference game this weekend, the Trojans are preparing for a crunch.

A roster crunch.

For all Pac-10 games, teams are limited to traveling only 64 players, so USC coaches are already performing the delicate juggling act of readying a shrunken roster for this weekend's trip to Washington. With two-deep at every position and all the special teams players, 64 men is a tight fit and a challenge to squeeze every needed player on.

The final decisions don't have to be made until Friday when the team leaves for Seattle, but the coaches are already starting to sift through and figure out what the 64-man roster will look like on Saturday.

A different kind of 'Fight on' spirit

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We received this neat photo from Trojan fans in the U.S. Army, troops who are currently stationed in southern Iraq as part of the 2nd Battalion 29th Field Artillery. Thanks to all the men and women who are valiantly serving our country.

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Inside the Life: Galen dining center

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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 a feature about the Galen Center, the USC student-athlete's luxurious dining hall:

0915galen.jpgNot to be confused with the Galen basketball arena, a café of the same name is one of the most popular hangouts for USC student-athletes.

Located next to Heritage Hall, the Galen Center is a state-of-the-art dining hall complete with computers at the booths and large projection televisions always broadcasting sports. The walls are plastered with large-scale photos of contemporary Trojan sports heroes. Most notably, Galen is exclusive to athletes and athletic staff during dinner hours. But never fear, loyal USC fans, the Galen café is open to the public from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., so this unique dining experience is open to everyone. Galen café plays host to the football team for multiple meals nearly every day.

Daily hot cuisine options are abundant, rotating daily. From steak to fish to chicken, complemented with an array of sides, the menu never disappoints. During lunch hours, food is served a-la-carte style. There are several hot entrees offered, as well as a fully stocked sandwich bar, and grill options such as barbeque chicken sandwiches and burgers. Lunchtime draws an assorted crowd of students, professors, businessmen, athletic staff and of course, athletes.

The dinnertime crowd is exclusive, consisting solely of members of the athletic community. Trainers, coaches, S.A.A.S. staff members, and of course, the athletes themselves, make up the nighttime assembly at Galen. The system of the café is different for dinner services. A flat rate is paid, and diners may select whatever they choose from the buffet-style arrangement. Among the food options is a fully stocked salad bar, including a fresh fruit salad. There is always a delicious soup de jour, located next to the salad bar.

The hot buffet typically features multiple selections of meat, vegetables, pastas, and starches such as the ever-popular baked potato and toppings bar. Additional options include pizza and a self-serve sandwich bar. The most dangerous aspect of Galen café is the freshly baked cookies. Athletes and staff have been known to wait up to 20 minutes after the conclusion of their meals in order to get their daily dose of deliciousness, fresh out of the oven. For members of the athletic community in a rush, Galen offers to-go boxes, which frequently make appearances alongside athletes during nighttime classes.

Galen café also features "theme nights" such as Mexican night, complete with tacos, tamales, nachos, and even non-alcoholic margaritas.  Such nights are highly anticipated by athletes and staff alike, and all parties leave satisfied, except the occasional grumble regarding the excessive sweetness of the current batch of "margarita."

The café accommodates the needs of all the athletic teams at USC and is frequently utilized as the meeting spot for many team functions, such as team dinners, meetings or banquets. So when planning their next trip to Galen, members of the athletic community should always expect the possibility of dining alongside a team meeting, or one of the other USC athletic teams celebrating that day's victory. Serving as the stomping grounds for the Trojan football team, Galen café is a great venue to experience great food, great company and a great environment rich in Trojan pride and tradition, and should be on the to-do list of every loyal USC athletics fan.

- By Courtney Kalisz, USCRipsIt staff writer

High ratings

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Saturday's USC-Ohio State game earned a 7.33 rating and was the most-viewed college football game -- regular season or bowl -- in ESPN's history.

Coming to you live

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Coach Carroll's weekly press conference at noon today will be streamed live for free on USCTrojans.com. Watch it here.

Happy birthday, Coach!

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Coach Carroll is celebrating his 58th birthday today.

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Trojans and Dodgers

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Monday night was USC night at Dodger Stadium, and the Trojan Marching Band was in full force. Check out this awesome slideshow of images from the evening, courtesy of USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:


Photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Cool opportunity

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Former USC women's basketball player and sister of current Trojan wideout Jordan Cameron, Brynn Cameron interviews Coach Carroll after Monday's practice as part of her internship at ABC-7.

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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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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Matt Barkley hands off to C.J. Gable during running back drills.

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The defensive line goes through their drills.

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Tailback Allen Bradford takes the handoff from Matt Barkley.

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Aaron Corp throws deep to the right sideline.

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With the defensive line closing in, Aaron Corp goes airborne as he looks for a way out of the pocket.

Dispatch from Cromwell Field

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

- Nursing a bruised right shoulder, Matt Barkley didn't participate in any passing drills or passing plays during Monday evening's workout, though he did remain steadily involved in the practice. The freshman quarterback ran the offense on running plays and took part in hand-off drills for the first half of the workout before handing it over to Aaron Corp, who took all but one of the snaps during the practice-ending team period.

- After injuring his knee in Saturday's win, safety Taylor Mays sat out of Monday's practice to rest his mild knee sprain.

- Safety T.J. McDonald snagged an interception during the final team period.

- The Trojans, who practiced without any helmets or pads, conducted the quick workout on Cromwell Field to get accustomed to the FieldTurf they'll be playing on at Washington's Husky Stadium on Saturday.

Out to the field

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The Trojans just took the field for their short Monday practice, so we'll return with a report following the workout.

See it again: Carroll on '60 Minutes'

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The 60 Minutes feature on Coach Carroll, which has been nominated for an Emmy, will re-air this Sunday night at 7 p.m. on CBS. The piece, seen below, was originally shown in December 2008:


Watch CBS Videos Online

Moving on

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At the end of the team meeting this afternoon in Heritage Auditorium, Coach Carroll made sure his players were done living in the past.

"We have the Ohio State win in our back pockets -- I don't want you to ever forget that," Carroll told the team. "But it's gone now. Today we've got to have a hell of a day. We can't do anything about tomorrow or Wednesday or Washington. We've got to take care of business today so we can play how we're capable of playing this weekend."

Telling the truth

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It was not all roses and rainbows during this afternoon's team meeting.

Instead, it was all truth -- some of it good, some of it bad.

"We deserved it, we won the game," Carroll told his players this afternoon. "But we need to understand how close that was."

The Trojans were kept in the game by an awe-inspiring defense, one that produced two goal-line stands that wound up saving eight points (two field goals instead of two touchdowns) and being the difference-maker in the game.

"Thank God for a defense that just would not back down," Carroll said. "It had to be a defensive night, and they got it done."

Although the game was painfully closer than anyone would have liked, Carroll emphasized how impressive the achievement was for the Trojans, with the 2009 season now just two games old.

"Let's make sure we own this accomplishment," Carroll said. "One-hundred six-thousand and thirty-three people -- we will never play in front of a bigger crowd. Know we can go place like that and get it done."

Reunited in the NFL

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Here are two cool photos (action shot and post-game) of Mark Sanchez and Brian Cushing together in their NFL debuts on Sunday, from the Houston Texans' website.

Coming to the team's defense

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It's Tell the Truth Monday at USC -- meetings got started at 2:15 -- and after watching the film, coaches are raving about the Trojan defense in Saturday's 18-15 victory at Ohio State.

"It was a pretty powerful effort by the defense," Coach Carroll said.

The defense packed an especially potent punch in the game's final three quarters. After the first quarter, the USC defense...

  • Gave up just 117 yards (3.3 yards per play) after allowing 148 yards in the first quarter.
  • Allowed only five first downs (after giving up five first downs in the opening quarter).
  • Forced four three-and-outs.

Also, the defense showed remarkable perseverance and poise in the face of repeatedly short fields. Of Ohio State's 11 offensive drives in the game, four started in USC territory, but the Trojan defense allowed just six points and forced two punts in that quartet of series. A total of seven Buckeye drives began outside of their own 30, but in those series, the USC defense stunningly gave up just two field goals and forced four punts and a turnover-on-downs.

Injury update on Barkley, Mays

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Further tests have revealed that Matt Barkley has a bruised right shoulder and safety Taylor Mays has a mild right knee sprain, Coach Carroll said this afternoon.

Carroll said Barkley "will be OK" and both he and Mays are expected to practice this week in anticipation of Saturday's Pac-10 opener at Washington.

Washington State game time set

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The USC-Washington State game at the Coliseum on Sept. 26 will kick off at 7:15 p.m. and be televised nationally on FSN.

Birthday boy

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Offensive guard Alex Parsons' 22nd birthday is today.

To the turf

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Routine or superstition?

Coaches say the former, though you might have a case for the latter.

The Trojans will practice on the FieldTurf of Cromwell Field this afternoon, following in line with a years-old tradition the team employs on the Mondays prior to road games at stadiums with artificial turf. It's a strategy the team used last week before playing -- and winning -- on the FieldTurf at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

Live from MMQB

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Coach Carroll goes through film from the Ohio State game during Monday Morning Quarterback today at the Galen Center's Founders Room, where more than 350 fans have assembled to hear Carroll's thoughts on Saturday's 18-15 win.

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Coach Carroll conducts a Q&A session during today's Monday Morning Quarterback in the Founders Room at the Galen Center.

Mays making waves

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Taylor Mays has been recognized as the national player of the week by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

McKnight named player of the week

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Tailback Joe McKnight, who had 105 yards of offense and played a vital role in the game-winning drive at Ohio State, has been named the Pac-10's offensive player of the week.

Off to Galen

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The first Monday Morning Quarterback of the year is about to begin in the Founders Room of the Galen Center, so Coach Carroll is leaving Heritage Hall now for the weekly film session and Q&A with fans.

Get more info and sign up for future MMQBs here.

Double vision

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As the Trojans turn their attention from Saturday's victory toward this weekend's matchup at Washington, they're essentially looking in the mirror.

With the Husky coaching staff loaded with former Trojans -- including head coach and offensive play-caller Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt -- Washington's offensive and defensive schemes are almost exactly like USC's.

"We're playing against ourselves this weekend," Coach Carroll said.

Besides Sarkisian and Holt, Washington has more Trojan ties in defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin, head strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis, director of football operations Dennis Slutak and director of player personnel Jared Blank, who all worked at USC during the last several seasons.

Worth 1,000 words

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Savor the dramatic win over Ohio State with these excellent photos available for purchase through USCTrojans.com's official photo store.

Special day

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Tuesday marks Coach Carroll's 58th birthday.

Must see

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Probably lost in this weekend's shuffle was this touching ESPN piece on the inspiration of "Lean on Me" for the team:

Live internet stream

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Saturday's game at Washington, which will be regionally televised on ABC, will also be available online at ESPN360.com. The Trojans' Pac-10 opener is set for 12:30 p.m.

Big debut for Buehler

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One Trojan we neglected to mention is this morning's NFL report was Dallas Cowboys rookie kicker David Buehler, who had six of his seven kickoffs reach the end zone, including three that went for touchbacks. That's three more touchbacks than the Cowboys had all of last season.

Buehler's efforts neutralized the impact of Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl returner, Clifton Smith, and helped deliver the Cowboys a 34-21 victory over the Buccaneers. 

Returning to work

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Linebacker Michael Morgan does bench press reps this morning, with assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar spotting. After getting Sunday off (or what was left of it after returning to campus around 5 a.m.), the Trojans are back to work this morning with movement-based workouts in Heritage Hall's weight room.

Lots of pub

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We received numerous e-mails asking why some USC helmets have "Schutt" and some have "Trojans" on the back. Here's the blog entry from last week that explains it all.

On a related note, it's becoming increasingly obvious that Schutt, a football equipment manufacturer, sure is getting its money's worth on the agreement to have its name on the back of some Trojan helmets.

Happy birthday

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Senior associate athletic director for football Mark Jackson is celebrating his 37th birthday today.

Game time coming

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The kickoff time and TV arrangement for the Sept. 26 Washington State game at the Coliseum will be announced today, so be checking the Blog for the info when it becomes available.

This week in USC sports

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

- The top-ranked men's water polo team won their only match this week, 12-3, over Long Beach State. The Trojans are a perfect 5-0 and head to Palo Alto this weekend for the NorCal Tournament.
 
- Women's soccer defeated Gonzaga and Michigan at McAlister Field this past weekend to improve their record to 3-4 on the season. The Women of Troy will travel to Oklahoma this week to face Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
 
- The women's volleyball team won four times this week, defeating UC Irvine, Idaho State and Utah Valley twice. The 15th-ranked Women of Troy will play Portland on Friday and Fresno State on Saturday at the Galen Center.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Sanchez connects for first TD

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In his NFL debut, rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez went 18-of-31 for 272 yards and one touchdown in the New York Jets' 24-7 win over Houston, and see his first career touchdown pass here:

Trojans around the League

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Check out the highlighted performances of USC alumni during Thursday and Sunday's action in Week 1 of the NFL season:

  • Safety Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers) recorded six tackles and one interception on Thursday night in the win over Tennessee.
  • Tailback LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) rushed eight times for 28 yards in the Titans' loss.
  • Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints) rushed seven times for 14 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards in the Saints' 45-27 win over Detroit.
  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 18-of-31 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the Jets' 24-7 win over Houston.
  • Linebacker Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) led the team with eight tackles in the Texans' loss.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 21-of-33 passes for 247 yards in the Bengals' 12-7 loss to Denver.
  • Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had eight tackles in his NFL debut.
  • Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) had five tackles in the Bengals' loss.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) led the team with six receptions totaling 80 yards.
  • Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks) had three tackles, including one sack, in the Seahawks' 28-0 win over St. Louis.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Looking forward

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With the glow of Saturday night's memorable victory still brightly gleaming -- after all, the team returned to campus just a little more than 24 hours ago -- the Trojan coaches are already deep into Washington game plan work, as all of their Ohio State game review was done on Sunday afternoon.

Sleep-deprived but buoyed by excitement and energy, the Trojans are getting to work this morning with essentially all their focus now on Washington.

One stop for it all: USC 18, Ohio State 15

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Get all of the USCRipsIt coverage from the Trojans' 18-15 win at Ohio State on Saturday night:


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Pictures from the 18-15 victory

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Check out some behind-the-scenes photos from Saturday's 18-15 comeback victory at Ohio State (all photos by Ben Malcolmson, USCRipsIt):

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Coach Carroll and Jim Tressel chat at midfield prior to the game.

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Special teamers Jordan Congdon (38), Jake Harfman (48) and Joe Houston (30) run onto the field for warm-ups.

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With a full stadium behind them, the players walk up the ramp from the field toward the locker room after warm-ups.

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The linebackers sit and wait in the locker room before the game.

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Defensive backs Will Harris, Kevin Thomas and Josh Pinkard take some moments to themselves in the locker room before the game.

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Offensive guard Alex Parsons taps the "I'm In" sign before leaving the locker room and taking the field.

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Offensive line coach Pat Ruel holds the team at the ramp leading down to the field before kickoff.

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The Trojans come together before entering the field to start Saturday's game.

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At the start of halftime, Coach Carroll gets up and shares a few thoughts with his team.

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Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. talks with his players during halftime.

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At the end of halftime, Coach Carroll brings his team together.

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Coach Carroll watches the second-half action.

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The final score after a wild ending.

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Coach Carroll shares his thoughts and excitement with the players in the locker room after the victory.

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The Trojans sing the fight song in the locker room after the win.

'We came through -- just like Trojans do'

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just minutes after USC had secured an improbable triumph against the stunned Buckeyes, the Trojans stuffed into their tiny locker room at Ohio Stadium, filling it with excitement, joy and achievement.

A win of utmost satisfaction was theirs.

0912pclrafter.jpg"Let's cherish the moment," a jubilant Coach Carroll bellowed in the locker room after the dramatic 18-15 comeback victory at Ohio State on Saturday night. "We came through -- just like Trojans do."

A game for the ages, one that will most likely be remembered forever, could be summed up with two rhetorical questions from Coach Carroll.

"Doesn't it feel great?" Carroll, grinning ear to ear, said to his players in the locker room. "Now wasn't that cool?"

He was referring to the team's three-point victory as well as the stunning final drive, which saw Matt Barkley lead the Trojans from their own 5-yard line all the way to the game-winning touchdown with 1:05 remaining. The USC sideline became electric during the drive, with players dancing, chanting and singing "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes as the Trojan offense charged downfield toward the victory.

The song later provided the background for a freestyle rap-like rundown of the game by Carroll, who rattled off one lesson after another while his players raucously hummed the catchy tune in the locker room.

"It doesn't matter what happens out there early in the game," Carroll said, his players grooving along around him. "As long as you keep battling, keep believing, it will come true.

"It just shows us how important it is to finish."

0912scoreboard.jpgSo as the raspy-voiced Trojans hugged, yelped and smiled their way off the field and out of Ohio Stadium on Saturday night, Carroll had a few more words for his buoyant team.

"Two-and-oh doesn't mean anything unless you go 3-0," Carroll said. "This game's over, we can't do anything about this game now. Let's celebrate tonight, but we've got to come back to work on Monday."

The wild celebration continued on, but the Trojans knew the future was just around the corner.

After all, many more memories and wins are waiting to be captured in 2009.

Images of a budding star

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here are photos from Matt Barkley's impressive night at Ohio State on Saturday, when he led the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter (all photos by Ben Malcolmson, USCRipsIt):

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Matt Barkley sits silently at his locker prior to the game.

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With center Kristofer O'Dowd snapping, Matt Barkley goes through warm-ups.

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As the Goodyear blimp flies overhead, Matt Barkley stands at midfield during warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley leads the huddle during warm-ups prior to kickoff.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates goes over adjustments with Matt Barkley in the locker room at halftime.

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Standing on the sideline after the game-winning drive, Matt Barkley is all smiles.

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After the win, Coach Carroll walks into the locker room with Matt Barkley.

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Matt Barkley appears on ESPN's "College GameDay" on the field after the miraculous win.

What about the noise?

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just how loud was it on the field at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night?

Earsplitting, painful and maddening, just to name a few descriptors.

The noise at Ohio Stadium, a 106,000-seat bandbox and madhouse wrapped into one, was the most sustained and thunderous sound that a consensus among the Trojans had ever experienced. While Oregon's Autzen Stadium can reach epic noise levels and Nebraska's Memorial Stadium got pretty loud, nothing quite matches what the Ohio Stadium crowd produced for about 59 straight minutes on Saturday night.

Because the Trojans captured the win, Coach Carroll officially declared in the locker room afterward that the crowd was a nonfactor, though the offense's communication was definitely altered during the game. When Matt Barkley was at the line of scrimmage, oftentimes his guards and almost always his tackles couldn't hear his cadence. The linemen would go off the movement of the center, creating a chain reaction at the snap.

It was so loud whenever the Trojans had the ball that coaches and players had to strain to even have a conversation on the sideline, usually being forced to yell into the other person's ear to overcome the din.

But the greatest and most poignant sound of all came with 1:05 left in the game.

Utter silence.

The crowd of 106,033 turned off as Stafon Johnson ran into the end zone, allowing room for the Trojans to wildly celebrate and soak in the unbelievable game-winning drive.

Inside the game-winning drive

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0912mbsmilesideline.jpgCOLUMBUS, Ohio -- Check out some behind-the-scenes tidbits from the sidelines during and after USC's incredible game-winning drive at the end of the fourth quarter:

- With the Trojans down, 15-10, going into what ended up being their final drive, the USC sideline became renewed with excitement, as the players and coaches knew this could be the chance to snatch a victory. And even when the first two plays went for a loss, the players and coaches on the sideline remained fervent in support of the offense. It paid off, with the next 13 plays leading the Trojans 95 yards to the game-winning touchdown.

- The sideline was buzzing with so much energy as the drive marched onward, each completion or run increasing the excitement and anticipation for what felt almost certain. The players on the sideline chanted and sang throughout the series, creating a powerful force that seemingly propelled the offense to the end zone at the closed end of the horseshoe.

- As Stafon Johnson bounced outside and had a clear path to the end zone for the touchdown, the ear-ringing noise that had filled Ohio Stadium for nearly four quarters was instantly vacuumed out, with the only din coming from the celebratory Trojan sideline. Even though it was coming from only about 100 players and coaches, it seemed like enough noise to fill the stadium to deafening levels.

- When the game ended, the players went over to the Trojan Marching Band and the USC section in the corner of Ohio Stadium to celebrate before running up the ramp to the locker room -- while chanting "We are SC!" the whole way up.

- After the game-winning drive and post-game celebration, the Trojans were riding such a high that they probably could've gotten home early Sunday morning without the charter plane.

News and notes

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here are some odds and ends from the sidelines and in the locker room before, during and after USC's miraculous 18-15 comeback win at Ohio State on Saturday night:

- Coach Carroll's halftime speech packed a punch and provided the players with some perspective. "Just do things right one play at a time," Carroll told the team. "We don't need to make stuff up. You can't win this game in the first or second quarter. Let's be patient with this and we'll come out and win this in the second half."

- Trojan greats Marcus Allen, Anthony Munoz and Charles White watched the game from the USC sidelines, along with comedian Will Ferrell.

- Four portable light standards were brought in to illuminate the field for Saturday's game, since Ohio State hardly ever hosts night games and therefore doesn't have permanent light fixtures. It created a poorly and oddly lit arena on Saturday night, at least more so than the Coliseum or another stadium with permanent stadium lights.

Notable numbers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Check out some key stats from Saturday night's 18-15 victory at Ohio State:

  • Wideout Damian Williams led the Trojans with five catches for 51 yards.
  • Taylor Mays had a team-high eight tackles, while linebacker Michael Morgan had seven, including two for loss.
  • The Trojan defense limited Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor to just 177 yards on 11-for-25 passing and 36 rushing yards on 10 carries.
  • The attendance of 106,033 set a new Ohio Stadium record.

Peak performers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here are USC's stars during Saturday night's come-from-behind 18-15 win at Ohio State:

- The defense: Facing short fields all night (four Ohio State drives started inside USC territory), the defense held stout and limited the Buckeyes to only 13 points and just 265 total yards of offense. After Ohio State's 72-yard scoring drive in the first quarter, USC's lockdown defense kept the Trojans in the game and eventually put them in position to win.

- The offensive line: While the rushing yardage doesn't look too pretty (just 118 yards on the ground), the USC offensive line became the driving force in USC's game-winning series. After the sack to open the drive, the O-line protected Matt Barkley (he didn't get touched again) and paved the way for several big rushes, including two third-down quarterback sneaks that demoralized the Buckeyes. In total on Saturday, Barkley had four successful sneaks up the middle in key situations, all thanks to USC's overpowering offensive line.

- Joe McKnight: The stud tailback ran for 60 yards and had 45 receiving yards on the night, with 53 of those total yards coming on the game-winning drive. He also scored the two-point conversion to give the Trojans a three-point lead.

- Matt Barkley: On the game-winning drive, the freshman quarterback went 3-for-5 for 55 yards and smoothly guided the Trojans 86 yards in 14 plays over more than six minutes.

- Stafon Johnson: For the second straight game, Johnson scored two touchdowns, providing a near-guarantee for the Trojans in short-yardage situations.

Just the facts

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Check out the stats and read AP recap of the Trojans' incredible 18-15 victory at Ohio State on Saturday night.

Triumphant return to L.A.

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After a night that included an unforgettable 18-15 win and a cross-country flight, the Trojans have arrived back in L.A.

Their charter flight left Port Columbus International Airport at 2:30 a.m. Eastern time and landed at LAX at 4 a.m. Pacific time after a very quiet trip void of any wild celebrations (players were tired after the long day and tough game). Buses then brought the team back to campus, where the Trojans arrived after 4:45 a.m.

The players are now off to bed and will get Sunday off, while the coaches will be back to work to dive into the Washington game plan on Sunday afternoon.

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In a hangar-turned-security checkpoint at Port Columbus International Airport, safety Taylor Mays gets checked by security. The Trojans departed Columbus around 2:30 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday morning, about three hours after their 18-15 victory over the Buckeyes.

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Players deplane their charter flight at LAX a little after 4 a.m. on Sunday morning after their trip back from Columbus.

Game time

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DUBLIN, Ohio --  The time has come.

After hours, days and weeks of restless waiting, the Trojans are close to departing their team hotel in suburban Columbus and heading to Ohio Stadium, where they'll begin warm-ups prior to tonight's game against Ohio State, which will kick off at 8:10 p.m. Eastern time.

The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN (and broadcast on several other platforms, as well). Immediately following the game, the Trojans will board a charter flight and return to L.A., with an estimated arrival set for 3 a.m. Pacific time.

We'll have a full behind-the-scenes game report upon touchdown in L.A. early Sunday morning, but in the meantime, we'll be posting occasional updates from pre-game and the trip back to California at http://twitter.com/USCRipsIt. Below is the Trojans' minute-by-minute schedule for the rest of the night:

5:30 p.m. • Depart hotel
6:10 p.m. • Arrive at Ohio Stadium
6:59 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
7:26 p.m. • Stretch begins
7:48 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
8:05 p.m. • Trojans take the field
8:10 p.m. • Kickoff
2 a.m. • Estimated departure from Port Columbus International Airport
3 a.m. (PDT) • Estimated arrival at LAX

Leaning on each other

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Don't miss this touching ESPN "College GameDay" feature about the Trojans, Bill Withers and "Lean on Me." It aired on the popular show this morning:

Busy day

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Today might be the longest day of the year for the Trojans.

It started in central Ohio this morning and will end Sunday morning in L.A. -- with meetings, meals, a nationally televised game and a cross-country flight in between. With the game not expected to end until close to midnight Eastern time, the team's charter back to LAX is estimated to depart Columbus around 2 a.m., making the arrival back in southern California well after 3 a.m. Pacific time.

A short bus ride later, and the Trojans should be back on campus around 4 or 5 a.m. Pacific time, about 21 hours after Saturday morning's wake-up call.

Almost there

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- USC is one step closer to kickoff.

The Trojans just wrapped up their final pre-game meetings at the hotel, churning through a wild pump-up session, a special teams roll call and offensive and defensive walk-thrus before sitting down for their pre-game meal, which they'll eat in silence.

"What a beautiful day for playing ball," Coach Carroll said at the start of the pre-game meal while strolling between the tables of players. "Let's celebrate being Trojans today."

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In a hotel ballroom this afternoon, the players come together for a "Trojans" chant at the end of the special teams roll call.

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The defense conducts its walk-thru in the parking lot of the team hotel this afternoon, just four hours before kickoff.

Final steps

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- The Trojans are about to convene in a hotel ballroom for their final block of pre-game meetings, consisting of a chaotic pump-up session, a special teams roll call and walk-thrus for the offense and defense. The pre-game meal follows, and the team will depart its suburban Columbus hotel at 5:30 p.m.

All set for 3D

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Today at Ohio Stadium, a worker sets up one of the eight 3D cameras that will be used for the special 3D showing of tonight's USC-Ohio State game at five locations around the U.S., including one at USC's Galen Center. [Photo courtesy of Bob Whitehill of Pixar]

Captain talk

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Besides the player-elected team captains -- Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard -- two other Trojans have been selected by coaches as today's game captains. Linebacker Shane Horton will represent the special teams and offensive lineman Kevin Graf will represent the service teams during tonight's game.

Beautiful day

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The weather is absolutely perfect in central Ohio this afternoon, with temperatures in the mid-70s and bright sun shining. It's forecasted to get into the 60s during the game tonight, with clear skies and no rain expected.

Family guy

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Rick Carr is trying his best to wear two hats today.

A Tennessee one and a USC one.

As the Trojans' director of team security, Carr is with USC in Columbus today, but his son JR is a freshman long snapper for Tennessee, which is playing UCLA in Knoxville this afternoon.

"At least it's on TV," Carr said of the Tennessee-UCLA game, set to kickoff on ESPN at 4 p.m. Eastern. "I'll be able to catch the first half before we leave."

Carr, in his 21st year with USC, has been forced to subscribe to the SEC satellite package and will watch nearly all the Volunteer games on TiVo after returning from his duties with the Trojans, which include being Coach Carroll's bodyguard on road trips and game days. Carr said he's planning on flying out to see his son play during USC's two bye weekends later this season.

"And hopefully I'll get to go to their bowl game," Carr said.

Over the airwaves

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or follow tonight's USC-Ohio State game:

  • Kickoff: 8:10 p.m. Eastern time (5:10 p.m. Pacific)
  • National TV: ESPN (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters)
  • Local L.A. radio: ESPN 710-AM
  • National radio: Touchdown Radio
  • Internet stream: ESPN360.com
  • Internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com Game Tracker

Killing time

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tom Petty was right: Waiting is the hardest part.

With tonight's game being their latest kickoff time in nearly five seasons, the Trojans are doing a lot of sitting and waiting today, and most of it quite anxiously, as the players and coaches pass the hours away toward the 8:10 p.m. kickoff.

"We've got to be patient about this," Coach Carroll told the players in the team meeting on Friday night. "It's going to take a while for this day to happen."

The full day of waiting -- the team doesn't leave its hotel until 5:30 p.m. tonight -- is magnified when put in comparison to last week's game day, when the Trojans woke up, had meetings and went to the Coliseum for the 12:30 p.m. season opener. So how are players spending the waiting time? Movies on the hotel network, football games on TV or a good old-fashioned nap are the favorite pastimes for the Trojans.

Going to the film

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Players are currently scattered around their suburban Columbus hotel in short position group meetings. After watching some film and spending some time reviewing plays and schemes for tonight's game, they'll have more time to rest and relax before meetings get going again at 3:30 p.m.

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Defensive linemen watch Ohio State game film in a hotel meeting room.

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Offensive linemen view tape in a hotel ballroom early this afternoon.

Good morning

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Thirteen hours after bed check, wake-up calls are arriving now for the Trojans, who are fresh from a full night of rest and are now eating an abundant breakfast buffet. Short position group meetings at noon are the first and only order of business until 3:30 p.m., when the team will dive into final pre-game preparations.

The present is a gift

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- You no longer have to refer to it in the future.

It's not tomorrow, next week or in a few months.

The USC-Ohio State game is today.

Game day has come, and the excitement will only climb higher as the clock ticks on toward kickoff tonight. The hype and buildup are history, and now all that's left are a few hours until the Trojans take the field at Ohio Stadium.

As Coach Carroll said during the team meeting last night, "Are you fired up or what?"

RipsIt Minute

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- 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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Time for bed

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Bed check is coming now for the Trojans, which is odd considering it's only 7:30 p.m. in L.A.

But in their when-in-Rome style, the team is simply following in line with their pre-game Friday tradition of a 10:30 p.m. bed check, no matter when kickoff is the next day or what time zone they're in. Also, it's been an exhausting and full day, so everyone is surely ready for some rest.

The players and coaches are in for a good night's sleep, as wake-up calls aren't arriving until 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Here's a look at the Trojans' minute-by-minute schedule for game day (all times Eastern):

9 a.m. - 12 p.m. • Breakfast
11:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
12 p.m. • Position group meetings
3:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
3:45 p.m. • Offense/defense walk-thrus
4 p.m. • Pre-game meal
5:20 p.m. • Clap session
5:30 p.m. • Depart hotel
6:10 p.m. • Arrive at Ohio Stadium
6:59 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
7:26 p.m. • Stretch begins
7:48 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
8:05 p.m. • Trojans take the field
8:10 p.m. • Kickoff 

Friday night highlights

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Check out the cool highlight video the Trojans watched tonight during their team meeting, a reel that includes the top plays from last week's 56-3 season-opening victory and music from the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army."

Closing out the week

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- In a nondescript hotel ballroom on just another Friday night, Coach Carroll started off tonight's team meeting with a powerful, energizing question.

"Are you guys fired up or what?" a giddy Carroll yelled out, with the players heartily responding in unison, "Yeah!"

Carroll then delivered his weekly pre-game speech, another poignant message giving the players final morsels before Saturday.

"It is these types of challenges that make us who we are," Carroll said. "Let us capture what this is."

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Coach Carroll speaks to the team during Friday night's team meeting in the ballroom of a suburban Columbus hotel.

Thinking while waiting

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Coach Carroll sits pensively in the hotel lobby just before he gives his weekly pre-game speech during the team meeting, which is set to begin in a few minutes.

Night's work

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- With a BBQ dinner and some rest time in the books, the Trojans are about to gather again, this time to commence their normal eve-of-game meetings. The night starts with a special teams film review and is followed by meetings for the offense/defense, position groups and finally the full team.

A buffet snack is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. and then optional Protestant chapel and Catholic mass services are offered at 9 p.m. in the hotel. Bed check will be at 10:30 p.m.

Ready for GameDay

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The set for ESPN's "College GameDay" has been constructed just outside of the horseshoe end of Ohio Stadium. The show, which will feature a special story on USC's "Lean on Me" renditions around 10:50 a.m. Eastern time, will air from 10 a.m. until noon Eastern time (7-9 a.m. Pacific) on Saturday morning.

Dispatch from Ohio Stadium

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On Friday evening, the Trojans conducted a typical hour-long walk-thru at Ohio Stadium. During the light-hearted session, players goofed around, the offensive and defensive linemen competed in the always entertaining "fatman football game" and the quarterbacks and wideouts participated in some simple passing drills. It all ended with a motivational speech from head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, who discussed Crazy Horse and the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The point of the jocular walk-thru is to acclimatize the players to the stadium and also get their minds off football for a little, letting them unwind after a hectic week of preparation.

Here are 17 insider photos from the walk-thru:

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Coach Carroll and a friend walk down the ramp from the visitors' locker room to the field.

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Players walk down the ramp from the locker room to the field.

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Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider and utility man Garrett Green converse on the field.

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Tailback Joe McKnight runs around on the field toward the closed end of the famed horseshoe stadium.

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Kickers Jordan Congdon (left) and Joe Houston (middle) and linebacker Jordan Campbell (right) participate in an altered game of hacky sack on the field on Friday.

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The offensive and defensive linemen compete in the road game tradition of "fatman football." The defensive linemen captured the season-opening victory in overtime.

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Matt Barkley and Coach Carroll share a moment near midfield during the walk-thru.

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An overview of Ohio Stadium, from the once-open end of the arena.

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An overview of Ohio Stadium, from the corner.

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An overview of Ohio Stadium, from the horseshoe end.

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The view from the visiting coaches' box high above the Ohio Stadium field.

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Matt Barkley throws during the walk-thru.

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ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback, and Matt Barkley, USC's current quarterback, converse on the field near the end of the walk-thru.

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Coach Carroll (middle, white shirt) addresses the team on the 50-yard line at the end of the walk-thru.

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Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle shares a story about Crazy Horse and the Battle of Little Bighorn on the 50-yard line at the conclusion of the walk-thru.

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Coach Carroll meets the throng of media after the walk-thru.

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Student equipment managers begin cleaning up the cramped visitors' locker room after the team had left Ohio Stadium.

Back at the hotel

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- After a quick walk-thru at Ohio Stadium, USC just arrived back at its suburban Columbus hotel, where the Trojans are eating a BBQ dinner before the routine eve-of-game meetings start in 45 minutes at 7:30 p.m. A full report from Ohio Stadium is coming shortly.

Leaving for Ohio Stadium

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- In about 10 minutes, the Trojans will depart their suburban Columbus hotel and head to Ohio Stadium, where they'll conduct a short walk-thru before returning to the hotel. The walk-thru will feature very little football-specific work and instead acts as a time to get familiarized with the building the Trojans will be playing in on Saturday night.

We'll return with a full report after the walk-thru, but we'll also be posting occasional updates at http://twitter.com/USCRipsIt, so follow along there for up-to-the-minute info until we resume normal blogging in a few hours.

Super troopers

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Everywhere the Trojans go in central Ohio this weekend, a six-motorcycle escort from the Columbus Police Department is leading the way, keeping the three-bus caravan together and slicing through whatever traffic may arise.

It's obviously a huge benefit for the USC traveling party -- and it's also a perk for the police officers as well.

Receiving the assignment of escorting visiting teams around the city is one of the most coveted gigs in the Columbus Police Department, the officers said. It takes so much seniority to even be considered for the task that the junior officer on this weekend's crew has 22 years of experience in the department.

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Offensive line coach Pat Ruel chats with officers in the police escort for the Trojan caravan today.

Always something to do

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- USC's student equipment managers are putting in a full day of work today, as they left the team hotel for Ohio Stadium at noon so they can fully set up the Trojans' locker room and make other preparations for today's walk-thru and tomorrow's game. The crew of six students will be working into the night and then have to return to Ohio Stadium early Saturday afternoon to finish game prep.

More praises for Barkley

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Here are two more excellent features on Matt Barkley, who's just a little more than 24 hours from making his first road start at USC:

Drink up

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Hydration is the name of the game for the Trojans.

Athletic trainers had 60 cases of Gatorade and 50 cases of water drop-shipped to the team's suburban Columbus hotel for this weekend's stay, according to assistant athletic trainer Paul Diaz. That's 1,440 bottles of Gatorade and 1,200 bottles of water -- or 52,800 fluid ounces of liquid that the team will consume in just 48 hours in Columbus.

Never forget

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All across Ohio and the U.S., flags are at half-staff today in recognition of the eighth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Odds and ends

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News and notes from the Trojans' quick workout in Dublin, Ohio today:

- The team held the closed-door practice in the football stadium at Dublin Coffman High School, the alma mater of former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn.

- Chester Caddas, Coach Carroll's coach when he played at Pacific in the '70s, attended the workout.

- Throughout the practice, a team of personnel -- including director of team security Rick Carr, several uniformed police officers, strength coaches and administrative staffers -- relentlessly patrolled the perimeter of the Coffman Stadium football facility, ensuring that no onlookers could get a glimpse of the Trojans during their most sacred workout of the week.

- On the 2.5-mile bus ride to and from the practice, the Trojans watched a replay of the Ohio State-Navy game on the buses' TVs.

Dispatch from Friday's practice in Ohio

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- The Trojans just returned to their team hotel following a quick practice on a perfect day at nearby Dublin Coffman High School. The players now have two hours off to eat pizza lunches, rest and relax before departing again for a walk-thru at Ohio Stadium.

Check out some photos from this afternoon's workout in suburban Columbus:

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The Trojans conduct their typical Friday practice at Coffman Stadium in Dublin, Ohio.

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The kickoff unit sprints down the field.

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Tailback Joe McKnight readies to catch a punt.

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Matt Barkley throws downfield.

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The offensive line paves the way for Matt Barkley and the Trojan offense.

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Punter Billy O'Malley, an Ohio native, practices receiving snaps from kicker Jordan Congdon.

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Coach Carroll watches the practice on a picture-perfect day in central Ohio.

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Director of video operations Eric Espinosa films the workout from high above the field.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the team on the field following the workout.

Heading out to prepare

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- Pushed back 15 minutes to accommodate more meeting time, the Trojans' short Friday practice is about to begin at a nearby high school. The team is now boarding buses at its suburban Columbus hotel and will then make a short drive to the local school, where the Trojans will conduct their typical 45-minute walk-thru-esque workout.

We'll return with a report following the practice.

Taped up

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In anticipation of this afternoon's practice at a nearby high school, offensive lineman Butch Lewis gets his ankles taped by assistant athletic trainer Chris Grosskopf in a hotel ballroom-turned-training room.

For another good read

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Here's a great feature on wideout Brice Butler and other Trojans with NFL genes, from today's O.C. Register.

Getting their minds right

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- They know what's coming.

During the recently completed offensive meeting, some 32 hours before kickoff, quarterbacks coach and play-caller Jeremy Bates unveiled the scripted first 18 plays for Saturday night's game at Ohio State, meaning the players know what to expect and can begin to mentally prepare for the calls that will come on Saturday night.

And on top of that, every play that will be called on Saturday has been run multiple times during practices this week, which allows the Trojan offense to be mentally sharp come kickoff tomorrow night.

Thomas to start

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Second-year cornerback Terrell Thomas, a key player for the Trojans in 2004-07, will start for the New York Giants in their season opener on Sunday. Thanks to RipsIt reader Paul Blakely for passing the news along.

Honing in

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The Trojans come together in a dimly lit hotel ballroom this morning in suburban Columbus, kicking off their slate of routine Friday meetings with a special teams film session. "It's not different now that we're on the road," running backs coach Todd McNair told the players at the start of the meeting, which included several minutes of rowdiness to wake the team up. "We've still got to handle our business. It's about focus, so everybody stay in tune." 

Getting to work

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- The Trojans are about to gather in a hotel ballroom for their usual Friday block of meetings, starting with a wild special teams meeting to get the players pumped up and then going into more businesslike film reviews for the offense and defense.

The team will board buses and depart their suburban Columbus hotel at 12:45 p.m. Eastern time, with a short practice set for 1 p.m. at a nearby high school.

Set up

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A makeshift locker room has been set up in a hotel ballroom, with each player's practice gear sitting on a chair waiting to be picked up prior to today's 1 p.m. workout at a nearby high school.

Morning work

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In the team's hotel lobby this morning, offensive graduate assistant Justin Mesa makes final fixes to the offense's call sheet that will be used in Saturday night's game. The Trojans pack a printer and laminator for long road trips like this one so that coaches can make last-minute adjustments to the call sheet all the way up until they leave the hotel for the game on Saturday.

Sunshine in Ohio

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The Trojans are waking up to a perfect morning in central Ohio, where clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures are welcoming the players to the "Day Before." Breakfast is being served now in a hotel ballroom, and meetings start at 11:15 a.m.

'Lean on Me' on GameDay

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Looks like "Lean on Me" and the Trojans are becoming even more inseparable.

The team's renditions of the famous song -- and songwriter Bill Withers' surprise appearance -- during two team meetings this August will be highlighted in a special feature on ESPN's "College GameDay" on Saturday morning. Linebacker Marquis Simmons, who sang the song in the first place on Aug. 9, is featured, along with tailback Stafon Johnson, wideout Damian Williams and others.

The show airs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday morning, so set your TiVos or tune in live.

Where in the world

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- They have only one player from Ohio, but the Trojans all know where they're waking up this morning -- and the historical significance of the state -- thanks to head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle.

During Thursday afternoon's team meeting in Heritage Hall, Carlisle gave a light-hearted geography and history lesson to the players, drawing a map of the U.S. and delivering an interactive, fact-filled exposé on the state of Ohio.

Carlisle is the Trojans' resident historian, as he routinely shares powerful narrations from the country's past during meetings, workouts and on Friday nights before road games.

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Coach Carlisle's sketched map of the U.S., including the state of Ohio, remains on the whiteboard in the team meeting room after his geography and history lesson on the Buckeye state during Thursday's team meeting.

For a good read

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Don't miss this very interesting article on USC's mystique in nonconference games, from today's Wall Street Journal. Thanks to RipsIt reader and Trojan Marching Band member Kevin Krause for passing it along.

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 day ahead

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- After a long day on Thursday that started in L.A. and is ending now in Columbus, the Trojans have another hectic schedule lined up for Friday. Check out what's on the busy USC agenda for the "Day Before" in central Ohio (all times Eastern):

10:30 a.m. • Wake-up calls
11:15 a.m. • Special teams meeting
11:45 a.m. • Offense/defense meetings
12 p.m. • Position group meetings
12:45 p.m. • Load buses; depart hotel
1 p.m. • Practice at local high school
2 p.m. • Return to hotel; lunch
4:40 p.m. • Load buses; depart hotel
5 p.m. • Arrive at Ohio Stadium; conduct walk-thru
6 p.m. • Return to hotel
7:30 p.m. • Eve-of-game meetings begin
9 p.m. • Optional chapel and mass services at the team hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Feast away

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- USC sure knows how to eat well.

On Thursday night, the Trojans started off with Chick-Fil-A sandwiches to get them from campus to the airport. Then, they ate endlessly on the flight to Columbus, an airborne smorgasbord that included lasagna, enchiladas, desserts, fruits, cheeses, crackers and more. Then, upon arrival at their suburban Columbus hotel, a full buffet of meats, pastas, breads and desserts -- somehow labeled as a "snack" -- was waiting, a perfect nightcap at 3 a.m.

And then on Friday, the team will wake up and do it all over again, with three meals and another overflowing buffet "snack" on the docket.

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It's 3 a.m. in Ohio, but that's not stopping players from gorging on a full buffet -- known as a "snack" in the Trojans' world -- upon arriving at the team hotel late tonight.

Time note

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- All our blog entries this weekend will be time-stamped in Eastern time and all references to time will be in Eastern Daylight Time throughout the trip until the Trojans return to L.A. late Saturday night.

Journey to Ohio

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- The Trojans have arrived in central Ohio.

Their charter flight departed LAX at 6:30 p.m. and, after a quiet trip that saw players nap and watch movies on their personal DVD players, touched down at Port Columbus International Airport at 1:45 a.m. Eastern time. A 30-minute bus ride later, and the team had reached its hotel in suburban Columbus, where the Trojans checked into their rooms, ate a buffet snack and are now heading to bed around 3 a.m. Eastern time.

While it's awfully late right now, two factors are softening the blow -- wake-up calls don't come until 10:30 a.m. Friday and the three-hour time difference between L.A. and Ohio makes things better than they appear.

Check out some photos from tonight's journey from southern California to central Ohio:

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A security worker waves the wand over Matt Barkley before the team's charter flight departed from LAX on Thursday night.

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Offensive tackle Charles Brown watches as security personnel go through his bags at LAX's Imperial Terminal.

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Tight end Blake Ayles boards the team's charter flight at LAX.

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The Trojans rest, relax and watch movies during their four-hour flight from L.A. to Columbus on Thursday night.

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Under a half moon, players disembark their charter plane at Port Columbus International Airport near 2 a.m. Eastern time tonight.

Heading to Columbus

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With a police escort leading the way, the Trojans are departing campus now and heading to LAX, where their charter flight is waiting at a side terminal. The plane is scheduled is take off at 6 p.m. and arrival at Port Columbus International Airport is estimated for 1 a.m. Eastern time.

We'll return to normal blogging activity after checking in at the team hotel late tonight, but in the meantime, you can follow the team's progress on http://twitter.com/USCRipsIt. And lastly, here's the Trojans' schedule for the rest of this Thursday night:

5 p.m. • Buses depart for LAX
6 p.m. • U.S. Airways charter flight departs LAX
1 a.m. (EDT) • Estimated arrival at Port Columbus International Airport
1:30 a.m. (EDT) • Check in to hotel
2 a.m. (EDT) • Bed check

Thursday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Offensive linemen Charles Brown and Jeff Byers go through position group drills.

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Coach Carroll plays quarterback during defensive back drills.

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Tailback Allen Bradford takes the pitchout.

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The Trojan offense lines up under the city skyline on their last day in L.A. before leaving for Columbus.

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Defensive end Nick Perry turns the corner and closes in on Matt Barkley.

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The Trojans huddle up under the warm sun.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- On a toasty afternoon, the Trojans accomplished exactly what they needed to accomplish on this day, as the offense and defense were both sharp in a short, yet highly productive practice just before departing for LAX and their trip to Ohio State.

- USC was in full-on game mode Thursday, with coaches signaling all calls into the quarterbacks and wrist bands containing all the plays being used.

- Tight end Anthony McCoy had the play of the day when he snagged a Matt Barkley pass with one hand during team period.

- Besides crisp performances by the offense and defense, the special teams also got extended reps, as is the norm for Thursday practices.

Going to work

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The Trojans are taking the field now for their weekly No Repeat Thursday workout, during which speed and precision are emphasized. We'll return with a report following the quick practice.

All in the details

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With the team just hours from departing L.A. for Columbus, a lot of behind-the-scenes logistical work has gone into the trip. Check it out:

High praises

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Check out this fantastic feature on Matt Barkley, from SI.com. Thanks to RipsIt reader Robert Sur for sending it in.

Coaching them up

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Coach Carroll speaks to the Trojans during this afternoon's team meeting in Heritage Auditorium, with their Thursday practice set to begin at 2:45. "It's so important we finish this week off right," Carroll said.

For a good read

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Here's a cool Houston Chronicle feature on Mark Sanchez and Brian Cushing, who will face off this weekend when the Jets and Texans meet in their season opener on Sunday. Thanks to RipsIt reader Harlan Martens for passing it along.

Starting it off

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The weekend is starting now for the Trojans, who are convening for a special teams meeting now to commence an essentially nonstop slate of preparations carrying the team into Saturday night's game in Columbus. This afternoon's meetings lead into practice, departure for the airport and a cross-country flight to Ohio, where bedtime awaits.

Then it's time for more meetings, practice, a walk-thru and even more meetings all day on Friday, and after more meetings and final preparations on Saturday, it'll be time for kickoff.

The Trojans have officially entered the home stretch for the Ohio State game.

Getting ready for 3-D

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In the Galen Center today, workers assemble the screens and speakers that will be used for Saturday night's special 3-D showing of the USC-Ohio State game. Three screens will show the 3-D broadcast of the game at USC's basketball and volleyball arena, one of five locations around the country with the 3-D presentation. A full house is expected at the Galen Center, as all tickets for the viewing have been distributed and no tickets will be available at the door.

Staying in the League

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In light of this morning's entry about the Trojans on NFL teams, here's news on several Trojans who were cut from the 53-man rosters but signed to practice squads, and one more USC alumnus who will be on the injured reserve (big-time thanks to RipsIt reader Jonathan Bates for the tips):

Small world

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USC wideout Spencer Vigoren and Ohio State's Grant Schwartz have a special bond.

Vigoren, a redshirt junior, used to catch passes from Schwartz when the two were at Dana Hills High in south Orange County, with Schwartz blossoming into a stellar dual-threat quarterback and Vigoren impressing enough at receiver to earn a walk-on spot on the USC roster. Schwartz is now in his redshirt junior year as a scholarship receiver for the Buckeyes.

But that's not the only connection the Trojans have with Schwartz, whose dad Brian was a senior safety for Ohio State in 1979 when Coach Carroll was the Buckeyes secondary coach.

Stay connected

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We'll be posting occasional Twitter updates from the road whenever we're away from a computer this weekend, so follow the Trojans throughout their trip to Ohio State by going to http://twitter.com/USCRipsIt. There, you'll be able to stay in the loop with the Trojans when they're leaving LAX, landing in Columbus, going to Ohio Stadium and more.

And as always, the Blog will be posting info and photos around the clock during the entire trip this weekend, including the usual behind-the-scenes pictures and stories at all hours of the day.

Perfect 10

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RipsIt reader Sean Shevlin e-mailed in asking about the "10" sticker that's on the back of Taylor Mays' helmet.

The number is in recognition of an award that honors Bob Chandler, a legendary USC wideout in 1968-70 who died of cancer in 1995. At the team banquet last December, Mays won the Bob Chandler Award, given to an underclassman based on his athletic ability, academic scholarship and character on and off the field, and will wear the "10" sticker in Chandler's honor throughout the season. Chandler wore No. 10 when he played for the Trojans.

Donated by the Bob Chandler Foundation, the award funds a scholarship for the player's full tuition, room and board for the following year. It's in its 14th season, and previous winners include Sammy Knight, Chad Morton, Keary Colbert, Lofa Tatupu, Ryan Kalil and Keith Rivers.

Chandler played 12 seasons in the NFL and was the league-leader in receptions for three straight seasons in 1975-77. He was also the MVP of the 1970 Rose Bowl, when he scored the game-winning touchdown.

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Safety Taylor Mays wears a "10" sticker on the back of his helmet in honor of the Bob Chandler Award he received last December. The award recognizes Chandler, a USC legend who died of cancer in 1995.

SC Classics: 1990 USC-Ohio State

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In a blog entry yesterday, we mentioned the strange 1990 USC-Ohio State game in Columbus, the last time the Trojans visited the Buckeyes.

Now you can see it for yourself in the latest "SC Classics" video piece produced by Mark Haas of USCTrojans.com. For All-Access subscribers only, the 8½-minute piece looks back at the wild game that ended with 2:36 remaining because of a thunderstorm, with Mike Garrett and Tom Kelly providing the commentary.

If you're not an All-Access member, you can sign up for $9.95/month here.

NFL's opening weekend

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The 2009 NFL season begins today with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tenneesee Titans locking horns. The game features two well-known Trojans in LenDale White and Troy Polamalu, and check out the full list of NFL matchups showcasing USC alumni this weekend:

Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Titans: Tailback LenDale White
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga

Minnesota Vikings vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Vikings: Offensive lineman Drew Radovich
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala

Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Lions: Linebacker Darnell Bing
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis

Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Eagles: Offensive Lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel

New York Jets vs. Houston Texans
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody

Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui

St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
Rams: Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

Sunday at 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews

San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders
Monday at 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Traveling partner

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His arm in a sling and still weeks away from returning to the field, wideout Ronald Johnson will be traveling with the Trojans to Ohio State this weekend. His presence will give him a chance to remain a valuable part of the team, but he said it will be tough not suiting up.

"It's going to be hard to just watch," Johnson said.

Playing on

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John David Booty, while cut from the team's 53-man roster, was signed to the Vikings' practice squad this week. Thanks to RipsIt reader Jonathan Bates for passing the news along.

Head and shoulders above the rest

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Former USC safety Troy Polamalu, now a five-time Pro Bowler for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been signed on as a spokesman for Head & Shoulders shampoo, a perfect fit for the man with renowned long locks.

Polamalu appears in this funny 30-second ad, which also has two more Trojan connections. Not only was it filmed in the Coliseum, but USC assistant athletic trainer Chris Grosskopf was brought in to tape the ankles of all the actors in the spot:

A wealth of Trojans in the League

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NFL teams made their 53-man roster cuts this week, and an astounding 37 USC alumni will be playing on Sundays this fall.

Ten Trojans were cut from training camp rosters, leaving at least one Trojan on 26 of the 32 teams. All 37 players who survived the cuts are from the Pete Carroll Era (2001-present).

The positions most represented by the Trojans in the League? Seven USC linebackers and seven Trojan defensive linemen are playing as pros this fall.

Check out the full list of Trojan alumni currently on NFL rosters (research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant):

Cincinnati Bengals
QB Carson Palmer
DL Frostee Rucker
LB Keith Rivers
LB Rey Maualuga

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

New York Jets
QB 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

San Francisco 49ers
OL Chilo Rachal

Dallas 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

Green Bay Packers
LB Clay Matthews

Carolina Panthers
WR Dwayne Jarrett
OL Ryan Kalil

Seattle Seahawks
DL Lawrence Jackson
LB Lofa Tatupu

St. Louis Rams
DL LaJuan Ramsey

Washington Redskins
TE Fred Davis

New Orleans Saints

RB Reggie Bush
DL Sedrick Ellis

Minnesota Vikings
OL Drew Radovich

Players who got cut from training camp rosters:
WR Keary Colbert
RB David Kirtman
OL Kyle Williams
OL Matt Spanos
LB Thomas Williams
RB Chauncey Washington
QB John David Booty
TE Billy Miller
DB Cary Harris

- Research by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

For a good read

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Here's a neat feature on cornerbacks Josh Pinkard and Kevin Thomas, from today's Ventura County Star. Thanks to RipsIt reader Konstantin Obenland for passing it along.

A special weekend

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Check out the Davidson family's recap of their weekend with the Trojans on Ryan Davidson's website, which has raised more than $50,000 for cancer research.

Travel day starts now

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One of the busiest, most hectic days of the season has begun.

Coaches are already in staff meetings this morning, and the team will convene for its normal Thursday meetings at 1 p.m., bumped up 75 minutes from their usual slot. Following a quick practice, the Trojans will then board buses, head to LAX and take off for Columbus, Ohio, where they're set to arrive around 1 a.m. Eastern time (remember that the team is leaving and arriving so late because of the NCAA's 48-hour rule).

USC's frenzied Thursday is starting on a calm L.A. morning but will end well past midnight in central Ohio. Here's a look at the team's schedule for their first travel day of the 2009 season:

1 p.m. • Meetings begin
2:45 p.m. • No Repeat Thursday practice
4 p.m. • Practice ends
5 p.m. • Board buses for LAX
6 p.m. • U.S. Airways charter flight departs LAX
1 a.m. (EDT) • Estimated arrival at Port Columbus International Airport
1:30 a.m. (EDT) • Check in to hotel
2 a.m. (EDT) • Bed check

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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Here's a slideshow of 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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Matt Barkley practices lofting a short pass to fullback Stanley Havili as quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates pretends to be an approaching defensive lineman.

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Tailback Allen Bradford finds the hole.

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Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider sprays water on the ball as snapper Chris Pousson winds up to snap, all for the sake of preparing for a wet ball in case it rains on Saturday.

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Wearing No. 2 to imitate Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor, Garrett Green rolls out during service team period.

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Matt Barkley passes during 7-on-7 period.

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Kicker Jordan Congdon hits a field goal.

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With defensive lineman DaJohn Harris (98) reaching out, Matt Barkley passes over the line.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Twenty-four hours after losing Competition Tuesday, it was the offense's day on Turnover Wednesday, as it pitched a shutout on the turnover front and also captured a 13-11 overall practice win in the final team period. "That's a decisive victory for the offense!" Coach Carroll said after the full-pads workout that featured plenty of fiery battles between the two sides of the ball.

- Besides the two aforementioned achievements, the offense also had a sharp and productive performance in 7-on-7 period. Matt Barkley and Aaron Corp both went 4-for-5 for two touchdowns apiece, producing a dominating 8-for-10, four-touchdown output from the offense.

- Just three weeks removed from a kneecap dislocation, center Kristofer O'Dowd participated in his third straight full-speed practice. "He's getting tons of reps and he feels great," Carroll said of O'Dowd.

- On one play in team period, wideout David Ausberry sprung free for a huge gain thanks to an awesome downfield block by offensive tackle Charles Brown on an overmatched cornerback.

- To prepare the offense for what it'll face on Saturday, piped-in crowd noise played from speakers during service team period for the second consecutive day.

Off to work

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The week is rapidly inching closer to game day, as the Trojans are already taking the field for their weekly Turnover Wednesday practice, the final heavy-duty workout prior to kickoff.

"We're preparing so when we get to Saturday, we can perform like we're capable of performing," Coach Carroll told the players during this afternoon's team meeting.

We'll be back with a report following the full-pads workout.

A Spike Lee joint

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USC has once again lived up to its "Hollywood's team" nickname.

Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee stopped by the team meeting this afternoon and is planning on attending this afternoon's practice as well. After being introduced by Coach Carroll, Lee spoke to the team for a few minutes and shared a story of when he met Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis at a Yankees game this summer. Lee said Weis invited him to come to an Irish game in South Bend this season, and Lee requested to go to the USC-Notre Dame game in October.

"I told him, 'Coach, let me be honest with you, Southern Cal's my team,'" a smiling Lee said, eliciting laughter from the players. "'I'll go, but I'll be standing on the 'SC sidelines.'"

Lee, long-time friends with Carroll, is yet another celebrity to come around the team so far this season, following after Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell and Bill Withers, to name a few.

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Spike Lee stands next to linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. during today's team meeting in Heritage Auditorium.

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Spike Lee sits and smiles while watching USC's team meeting this afternoon.

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Spike Lee stands and claps as the Trojans cheer to welcome him to the meeting.

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In front of the team, Spike Lee speaks during this afternoon's team meeting in Heritage Auditorium.

Ready to roll

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Prior to this afternoon's meetings and practice, fullback Stanley Havili gets his ankles taped by head athletic trainer Russ Romano in Heritage Hall's athletic training room.

Practicing with refs

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We received a question about the purpose of having officials at practice each day. The Trojans hire eight referees per day to work the practices like a game, so the players and coaches can practice within the rules. Offsides, false starts, illegal formations and pass interference calls are routinely flagged by the refs during practice, and it helps the Trojans adequately get ready for the game.

The hired practice officials are from a variety of backgrounds, including from the Division I, junior college or high school ranks. Coming to the USC practice field also acts as training for the officials, who get extra work refereeing during the week.

Monday Morning QB coming

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The first Monday Morning Quarterback of the season is set for this coming Monday at noon at the Galen Center, so get more info and sign up here.

Burning up

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Just outside of Heritage Hall this afternoon, Coach Carroll tapes an interview that'll air on ESPN's "Rome is Burning" at 1:30 p.m. today.

Weathering the trip

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The weather forecast is boding well for this weekend's trip to Columbus.

Forecasts are calling for highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s on Saturday, with a very slight chance of rain.

In enemy territory

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Here's a reposting of where USC's ticket allotment is located for this weekend's Ohio State game in Columbus. The Trojans received 5,000 seats for the game, and the block of tickets is 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 Saturday (click to expand):

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Click to expand

Helping the community

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Trader Joe's, as part of its Feed Families in Need program, donated $1,200 to A Better LA after Saturday's season-opening win. Trader Joe's will contribute $150 per made field goal or extra point by the Trojans throughout the season.

Spotlight game

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ESPN's "College GameDay" will originate from Ohio Stadium on Saturday. It will air live from 7 until 9 a.m. Pacific time on ESPN.

'Thundering heard'

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The last time the Trojans played at Ohio State, the game didn't end.

Well, it did, but just not like a normal game.

The 1990 USC-Ohio State contest was suspended with 2:36 left in the fourth quarter because of lightning and thunder in the area. The Trojans captured the 35-26 victory, and the L.A. Times headline the next day was, "Thundering heard."

Sports information director Tim Tessalone, in his 31st season at USC, vividly remembers the game.

"The fourth quarter came and all the impending storms were swirling around the stadium," Tessalone said. "You could see it, feel it, hear it. And then the storm was right on top of us and I remember the officials huddling and making their decision, and our guys ran off the field.

"The Ohio State fans and team didn't agree with that, but it was obviously the right decision by the referees and Ohio State game management people."

Media presence

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or follow Saturday's USC-Ohio State game:

  • Kickoff: 8:10 p.m. Eastern time (5:10 p.m. Pacific)
  • National TV: ESPN (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters)
  • Local radio: ESPN 710-AM
  • National radio: Touchdown Radio
  • Internet stream: ESPN360.com
  • Internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com Game Tracker

Travel squad

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Not limited by Pac-10 travel restrictions, the Trojans will travel 84 players to this weekend's game at Ohio State. Some of those going are injured or redshirting, so not all will be available to play.

"We're pretty much limited only by the number of seats on the plane," Coach Carroll said.

Meanwhile, for Pac-10 Conference games, teams are permitted to travel just 64 players.

Straight to your phone

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Sign up for Trojan Text Alerts by texting "TROJANS" to 51234 to receive important RipsIt Blog updates and other USC news straight to their phone.

Behind the scenes at the GameDay commercial

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You've probably seen the "College GameDay" commercial featuring Coach Carroll and Kirk Herbstreit.

You probably don't know what went into the shoot, though.

Carroll, Herbstreit and a 50-person production crew descended on Carroll's Heritage Hall office on June 9, spending nearly all morning filming 12 takes for two different commercial plots, along with bonus material that's online. The produced commercial spot is about Herbstreit asking Carroll for the building's bathroom key, while the unused ad was about Herbstreit pestering Carroll until they could leave work and go to lunch.

Two fun facts about the shoot: A scissor lift was set up outside of Carroll's second-floor office and two massive stage lights shined through the windows to provide artificial bright sunlight on a cloudy morning in L.A.; and construction at the adjacent School of Cinematic Arts was halted for about a half-hour while the commercial was being taped in Carroll's office, which allowed for silence during the shoot.

Below are behind-the-scenes pictures from the June 9 shoot and the finished product, the commercial itself:

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With a flurry of activity around him, Coach Carroll stands in his office -- fitted with lights and cameras -- before the June 9 "College GameDay" commercial shoot.

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Kirk Herbstreit and Coach Carroll wait between takes of the "College GameDay" commercial shoot on June 9 in Heritage Hall.

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Coach Carroll and Kirk Herbstreit prepare for one of their takes during their "College GameDay" commercial shoot this summer.

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Football receptionist Irene Puentes (foreground, at desk) finds herself in the midst of intense commotion during the June 9 commercial shoot for ESPN's "College GameDay." The setup and crew took over the entire football office and Heritage Hall in general, with loads of equipment unfurled all over the athletic headquarters that morning.

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Two huge stage lights, raised up on a scissor lift, shine through the window of Coach Carroll's Heritage Hall office to provide artificial sunlight on a cloudy morning in L.A. during the June 9 "College GameDay" commercial shoot.

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Producers and directors watch Coach Carroll as he goes through a take during the "College GameDay" commercial shoot this summer.

And here's the actual commercial, which debuted Saturday, nearly three months after it was shot:

Getting ahead

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Two members of USC's equipment staff headed out to Columbus today, getting a jumpstart on the weekend and preparing the way for the team's arrival tomorrow night.

Assistant equipment managers Seth Svendsen and Tre Limbrick took off on a Cincinnati-bound flight out of LAX early this morning and, upon touchdown in Ohio (well, northern Kentucky, to be exact), will make the two-hour drive to Columbus to begin game preparations. They'll unpack the 1,700-pound shipment of gear that was sent out on Tuesday, rent trucks and vans for the team's equipment needs, set up the ballrooms and meeting rooms in the team hotel and begin working in the visitors' locker room at Ohio Stadium.

"We're going to take care of the odds and ends and nick-knack type of stuff so when the team gets there, it's like home," Limbrick said.

Svendsen and Limbrick will be joined by the remainder of the equipment staff when the team arrives late Thursday night. 

Very businesslike

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USC will be all business this weekend.

During their 48-hour stay in Columbus, Ohio, the Trojans won't be doing any sightseeing or tourist activities, instead devoting all their time to practices, walk-thrus, meetings and rest. It's the same routine the team employs for all its road trips, which prevents the Trojans from getting a local flavor but forces them to remain focused on the game -- the reason for the trip in the first place.

Coach Carroll has made road trips strictly business since the team's journey to Notre Dame in 2001, when the Trojans spent some of their Friday afternoon touring the College Football Hall of Fame. USC lost the game the next day, and ever since, Carroll has kept the team to a methodical, professional mindset on road trips.

Known territory

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At least they know what to expect.

Though the current Trojans have never played in Ohio Stadium, they're preparing for what they'll hear -- and consequently won't hear -- come Saturday night in Columbus. During practices this week, four high-powered speakers are ringing the field and blasting artificial crowd noise at a stunning 130 decibels, roughly the same level as a jet engine and referred to as the "threshold of pain." That's louder than a fireworks display and just slightly softer than gunfire.

The noise level at Ohio Stadium is expected to max out at 120 decibels.

Playing at a loud stadium isn't anything new for the Trojans. In USC's 2007 game at Oregon's Autzen Stadium, a decibel level of 127.2 was recorded, which has been widely accepted as the all-time record for noise intensity at a college football game.

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Speakers such as this one are surrounding Howard Jones Field this week as the Trojans prepare for the noise they'll be hearing in Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

Zebra watch

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Referees from the Big Ten conference will officiate Saturday's USC-Ohio State game, in accordance with the contract signed between the two schools.

Last year, Pac-10 officials called the matchup at the Coliseum.

Ask Coach: Ohio State

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Here's the "AT&T Ask Coach" question that Coach Carroll answered during Tuesday's press conference. It was submitted by Mike Frese of Keller, Texas:



Remember that you can submit your questions by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234, and Carroll will answer one lucky fan's query at his weekly press conference.

Loving football

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As is their ritual for every Wednesday at 8 a.m., the coaches are gathering now in the War Room for their weekly recruiting meeting, during which they'll watch film of prospects in the classes of 2010 and 2011.

"If you love football, you love recruiting!" Coach Carroll exclaimed as he rounded up his assistants for the meeting.

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

Tuesday's photo album

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

Photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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The punt squad lines up against a scout team punt return unit.

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Wideout De'Von Flournoy looks a ball into his hands.

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Matt Barkley throws over the line.

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With offensive lineman Butch Lewis paving the way, Joe McKnight makes his cut.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In a seesaw final team period, the offense stormed out to an 8-4 lead before the defense came back to capture the 13-11 overall practice victory in the competition-themed, full-pads workout. Behind several sharp Matt Barkley completions all over the field, the offense took the early lead -- prompting several offensive players to shout, "Not too much competition today!" -- but the defense stormed back for the triumph, with linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. hilariously singing Jay-Z's "Run This Town" throughout the comeback. "That's a big win for the defense!" Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd participated in his second consecutive practice after returning from a knee injury, including playing all 30 snaps of service team.

- Tight end Rhett Ellison made a spectacular diving reception during 7-on-7 period, earning praises from his coaches. "That's a big-time catch right there!" offensive coordinator John Morton exclaimed.

- On a deep completion during team period, tailback Allen Bradford laid a brutal block on the blitzing linebacker to allow Matt Barkley time to throw. "AB! You made that play happen," quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates yelled out while running over to high-five Bradford.

- Long runs by Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and Stanley Havili highlighted the rushing-focused 9-on-7 period.

- Linebacker Michael Morgan had a pretty leaping pass deflection at the line of scrimmage during team period.

- The kickers, punters and snappers spent most of practice on the FieldTurf of Cromwell Field to get acclimated to the surface they'll be on at Ohio Stadium this weekend.

- Artificial crowd noise played over speakers surrounding the field throughout the 30-play service team period to get the offense used to making calls in the huddle and at the line while facing loudness.

Out to compete

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The Trojans just hit the field for their Competition Tuesday practice, so we'll return with a report following the full-pads workout.

Experience Trojan football

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Be sure to follow the Trojans throughout the week and into the weekend on USCRipsIt, as we continue to let you experience Trojan football from the inside. We'll bring you on the team plane, through the travels, with the team in Columbus on Friday and all the way through Saturday night's game in ways that no site has ever done before.

So don't miss out on any of it and stay tuned to the Blog for all the latest info, pictures and video from Ohio State game week.

Doing his best impression

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USC senior Garrett Green has the tricky task of imitating Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the service team offense this week, as the Trojan defense prepares for what it'll face on Saturday night in Columbus.

"Work your magic, GG, just like always," Coach Carroll told Green in front of the team this afternoon.

Five-minute synopsis

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For one of the only times all week, today the Trojans talked about Ohio State in a meeting.

For all of 5 minutes, 43 seconds.

During this afternoon's team meeting, Coach Carroll gave a very brief overview of the Buckeyes to his players, sharing information about their schemes, style of play, stadium, coaching staff, history and previous game. Then after just a few minutes, it was time to return to focusing on what truly counted -- the Trojans and their competition-themed practice at 4 p.m.

"It's about how we prepare," Carroll told the players. "It's not about them; it's about us.

"If we want to win this game, we've got to win today."

To the minute

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Kickoff for Saturday's matchup at Ohio State has been set for 8:10 p.m. Eastern time. It will be the latest the Trojans have started a game since the 2005 Orange Bowl, which kicked off at 8:24 p.m. Eastern time.

Live on the web

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Besides being nationally televised on ESPN, the USC-Ohio State game on Saturday at 5 p.m. will also be broadcast live on ESPN360.com.

Special meeting

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Competition Tuesday has gotten started, as special teams coordinator Brian Schneider leads a meeting for the punt unit right now in Heritage Auditorium. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings follow before a full-pads practice at 4 p.m.

See it for yourself

| 1 Comment
Watch Coach Carroll's 20-minute press conference from today in full here, courtesy of USCRipsIt and USCTrojans.com.

Sourena's Sentiments

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0908soureanasentiment.jpgBy Sourena Vasseghi
With Rich Finley
USCRipsIt Guest Bloggers



Hello Trojan Nation! This is Sourena Vasseghi along with my speaking partner Rich Finley joining you for another year of Sourena's Sentiments!

When my last post went up before the 2009 Rose Bowl, Mark Sanchez was looking ahead to a possible Heisman Trophy senior season, the Lakers hadn't won an NBA title in seven years, and if you said you 'tweeted' all the time, people would think you were a crazy bird person.

My, how the world has changed.

Well, let me catch you all up on what's been going on in my world. The last eight months or so have been really great. It started out with ESPN Gameday's piece on me the day of the Rose Bowl, which you can see here. That link is part of my new site.

Not only that, but Rich and I have gotten into the two largest speaking bureaus in the world: Washington Speakers Bureau and Eagles Talent Speaking Bureau. Being a part of these organizations just gives us a chance to travel and spread the message of Win Forever along with my personal story to even more people, which is so exciting! On our new site, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well as see videos of our speaking for audiences, see a special message from Pete Carroll, and lots of other cool stuff!

Ok, enough self-promotion, onto this season. Wow, what an opening game for the Trojans this weekend. Wow! USC looked GREAT this weekend! We may end up having a much more explosive offensive team than anyone expected, and the new defense looked a lot like the old defense. I had a great time Saturday and got to hang out in the locker room afterwards.

Something I'll let you guys in on, Taylor Mays has promised me a game ball upon getting either an interception or fumble recovery this season (I tried to wrangle a date with a Song Girl, but Taylor is a tough negotiator). So, you, the fans, can join me in Taylor Watch '09 which now stands at one week! Let's go Taylor! And let's go Trojans! Fight On Saturday!


• Sourena Vasseghi, a motivational speaker and writer, has addressed the USC football team on several occasions over the years. His book, "Love your life and it will love you back," is available here.

Ohio connections

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Punter Billy O'Malley is the only Trojan from Ohio, as he attended St. Ignatius High in the Cleveland suburb of Novelty, about 160 miles from Ohio State's campus.

Kicker Jake Harfman also has a connection to Ohio, as he spent his 2007 freshman season at Urbana University, an NAIA school about an hour outside of Columbus.

Heavy load

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USC's equipment is getting a head start for this weekend's trip to Ohio State.

The Trojans aren't leaving for Columbus until Thursday, but a portion of their gear is already en route. About 1,700 pounds of the team's equipment -- everything from medical to video to football gear -- departed as U.S. Airways cargo at 6:30 a.m. this morning and will arrive in central Ohio later today. The shipment will be delivered to the team's hotel and be waiting for when the team arrives on Thursday.

The remainder of the equipment will go in two waves on Thursday, some on the Trojan Marching Band's charter plane on Thursday afternoon and the majority on the team's charter that evening. About 1,600 pounds of gear is going with the band, while a whopping 9,800 pounds are going with the team on its charter.

All in all, the USC equipment staff is responsible for getting more than 13,000 pounds -- 6½ tons -- of stuff from L.A. to Columbus for this weekend's trip, which includes a practice, walk-thru and game.

But the fun part of it all?

Getting everything back after the game.

Full press

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Coach Carroll addresses the media during his weekly press conference right now in a jam-packed Varsity Lounge.

Programming note

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Coach Carroll's weekly press conference will begin in a few minutes, and you can watch it live here.

Loud noises

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To prepare for what they'll face on Saturday night in the 102,000-seat Ohio Stadium, the Trojans will practice with piped-in crowd noise during practice today and Wednesday. The artificial noise will allow the offense to call plays in the huddle and practice hand signals in anticipation for the deafening din that is expected on Saturday.

Just another game

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As the Ohio State matchup inches closer, the just-another-game message continues to shine through at Heritage Hall.

"We don't want to make a big deal about this game," Coach Carroll said in the staff meeting this morning. "We just need to get ready to play football."

Media daze

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Tuesday means it's Media Day for Coach Carroll, and it all just started with a conference call for reporters from around Pac-10. Carroll will also conduct several more radio, TV and print interviews surrounding his weekly press conference at noon, which you can watch live for free here.

Inside the Life: Athletic Training Room

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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 a feature about the athletic training room and its faithful place in the regimen of a USC student-athlete:

0908atr.jpgWhether it's for an ice bath, serious injury rehab or just physical examinations, every member of the USC football team has experienced the training room. The training room is the epicenter of the most important factor for the performance of the football team: the health of the players' bodies. As a former Trojan athlete who suffered a career-ending ankle injury, being injured is one of the most difficult challenges an elite athlete can face. Besides the obvious physical discomfort, the disappointment of being unable to compete is often times more devastating than the injury itself.

It's 2 p.m. on a Thursday, and the usual assortment of athletes is present in the athletic training room. Much like Student-Athlete Academic Services, the training room is the designated healing spot for all of USC athletics, with the exception of basketball and volleyball players, whose training room is located within the Galen Center. Some athletes are stretching before their afternoon workouts. Others are unwinding in the ice bath after a hard weight room session. Alongside the ice bathtubs and therapy tables, several members of the football team are sprinkled throughout the weight room. They are taping limbs before practice, stretching out and socializing. The mood is light, but the focus of the players is impossible to miss.

This time in the day is peak traffic for the athletic training room, and it is managed by the talented athletic training room staff. Led by head athletic trainer Russ Romano, the training room staff never fails to attend to the needs of all of the student-athletes.      

The levels of injuries amongst the athletes range from minor to devastating. Among the mix of athletes in the training room on this Thursday was sophomore safety Ryan McMahon. McMahon was stretching out before the afternoon workout. "Have you seen my bruise?" he asks. McMahon has a bruised hip. I assume this means a small bruise, no larger than the size of an orange. He pulls up the lower half of his shirt revealing a helmet-sized bruise on his side, boasting every shade of red, purple, and blue imaginable. McMahon is allowed to practice, he says, but will not be subjected to contact. When asked about when he will be cleared for regular play, he lights up. "Saturday," he says with a smile, referring to the first game of the season for the Trojans.

0908atrtables.jpgAlso present in the weight room was McMahon's fellow sophomore teammate Blake Ayles. Ayles, a tight end for the Trojans with incredible potential, suffered a serious knee injury last year. The onset of this injury was in early November, launching an ordeal that affected him until as late as spring training. Ayles underwent surgery in December to combat the injury, but faced many long months of therapy to become healthy. "I tried to get into the training room whenever I could," he recalls. "I would come in two to three times a day to ice."

With all of the time off the field and the stress of being injured, it is sometimes hard for the players to maintain a positive attitude. Ayles attributes his successful recovery to his positive outlook on the situation and motivation to return to practice and competition. "Thinking about getting back on the field helped me stay positive," he says as he prepared for his first game of the 2009 season.

The hardest time in the process of being injured is often the beginning stages. Ronald Johnson, a valuable wideout for the Trojans, is amongst the most recent victims of injury. Johnson broke his collarbone during the Aug. 29 scrimmage at the Coliseum and will be sorely missed at the beginning of this season. "I'm looking at it as 'everything happens for a reason,'" Johnson said.

- By Courtney Kalisz, USCRipsIt staff writer

Long road to travel

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Because of NCAA restrictions, the Trojans will travel down a tough and tiring road this weekend.

NCAA regulations dictate that teams can depart campus no sooner than 48 hours prior to kickoff of the game, and with Saturday's game not starting until 8 p.m. Eastern (5 p.m. Pacific), the Trojans are being forced to wait until 5 p.m. Thursday to depart campus for LAX. Their charter flight is scheduled to take off at 6 p.m., which puts them into Port Columbus International Airport sometime around 1 a.m. Eastern time. Then with a bus ride and a meal later, bed check is slated for 2 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday night.

Fortunately, wake-up calls won't come until 10:30 a.m. Friday (that's 7:30 a.m. Pacific time), and the schedule allows for a nap in the afternoon, along with a full night's sleep on Friday night and most of Saturday to rest and relax. And the three-hour time difference between L.A. and Columbus is making the travel itinerary look hairier than it actually is.

"It's not as bad as it looks," director of football operations Matt Capurro said.

The flight home will be just as tough as the trip there, if not more so. The game won't end until around midnight Eastern time, and the charter flight back to L.A. isn't scheduled to depart Columbus until 2 a.m. That makes for a scheduled 3 a.m. arrival back at LAX, and a 4 a.m. arrival back on campus.

Making a determination

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USC still has two TBDs on the schedule -- home games against Washington State and Stanford -- but one is about to be determined.

The time and TV arrangements for the Sept. 26 USC-Washington State game at the Coliseum will be announced on Monday. The Nov. 14 matchup against Stanford will be announced on Nov. 2.

Though the exact time for USC's Sept. 26 home game on won't be determined for six days, we do have some idea as to what time it'll kick off. The available television windows for the Washington State game are 4:30 p.m. on Versus and 7:15 p.m. on FSN. Then for the Nov. 14 contest against Stanford, the available TV windows are 12:30 p.m. on ABC, 4 p.m. on Versus and 7:15 p.m. on FSN.

Prior planning

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One person vital to the Trojan football machine isn't doing too much Ohio State preparation this week.

He took care of that months ago.

In May, director of football operations Matt Capurro visited Columbus, Ohio, and finalized nearly all of the logistics for the Trojans' 48-hour stay there this weekend, leaving him very little work to do this week in anticipation of the team's first road trip of the season. This week, he's just tying up loose ends here and there, like setting the seating arrangement for the plane and confirming times and logistics for transportation and walk-thrus while in central Ohio.

Even the young get old

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Matt Barkley is celebrating his 19th birthday today.

Ask Coach

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Have a question for Coach Carroll that you'd like answered at his noon press conference today? Send in your question now by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234, and Carroll will answer one lucky fan's query at his weekly presser later today.

Product placement at its finest

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Several readers e-mailed in asking about the Trojans' helmets this season, as many of them feature "Schutt" on the back flap instead of the usual "Trojans."

While the helmets may seem different this year, nothing has changed beyond the word that appears on the back flap. Schutt, a national football equipment manufacturer, has been a long-time provider of helmets for the Trojans and, just this year, agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to the program to have its name appear on the back instead of being covered up by a "Trojans" sticker.

The team's other provider of helmets, Riddell, remains virtually anonymous, though. USC's equipment staff affixes a "Trojan" sticker over the name and logo on the back of Riddell helmets, like what had happened for all helmets up until this season.

And for both brands of helmets, a "USC" sticker is placed over the name on the front of the helmet just on top of the facemask.

In terms of the distinction between the two helmets, they're simply made for different-shaped heads, and players choose whichever one is more comfortable.

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Schutt, a national football equipment manufacturer, has paid to have their name appear on the back of some USC helmets this season.

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Meanwhile, equipment staffers place a "Trojans" sticker over top of the back flap of Riddell helmets.

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All Trojan helmets, regardless of whether they're made by Schutt or Riddell, feature a "USC" sticker over the company's name on the front of the helmet.

For a good read

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Check out this great feature on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga, 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:


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Pictures from Monday's practice

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Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin leads Malik Jackson (left) and Averell Spicer (right) through a position drill.

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As offensive lineman Jeff Byers and defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo battle at the line, Matt Barkley throws to the left.

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Aaron Corp hands off to Stafon Johnson.

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Taylor Mays gets demonstrative to prove that he's staying off quarterback Matt Barkley, who's protected from contact by his gold jersey.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen lunges for tailback Stafon Johnson.

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Matt Barkley rolls out under the late-afternoon sun.

Dispatch from Cromwell Field

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

- A short, non-contact workout on Cromwell Field initiated the Trojans into game week No. 2 of the 2009 season, as the team hustled through a fast-action practice that acted as a review of Saturday's win and an introduction into the Ohio State game plan.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd, who has sat out since dislocating his knee cap on Aug. 17, returned to full-speed practice Monday, participating in 11-on-11 drills and taking reps at center. "Tomorrow's a big day for him," Coach Carroll said.

- Coach Carroll, in the post-practice team huddle: "The week is officially underway. It'll go quickly now, so let's make sure everyone stays tuned in the whole way."

- The Trojans practiced on the FieldTurf of Cromwell Field to prepare them for the surface they'll see at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

- Two silly uniform peculiarities occurred during Monday's workout -- offensive linemen Charles Brown and Butch Lewis switched jerseys, creating some funny confusion for their coaches and teammates, and Aaron Corp rolled up his sleeves sun's-out-guns-out style, prompting several lighthearted verbal jabs from his teammates. Also on the fashion front, the offense (now in white) and defense (now in cardinal) switched jersey colors for the first time since the opening week of December, when the team last prepared for a road game.

Starting the week off

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The Trojans just took the field for their brief Monday practice, a helmets-only affair on Cromwell Field. We'll return with a report afterward.

Ask Coach: Barkley's debut

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Check out the "AT&T Ask Coach" question from Saturday's post-game press conference, this one wondering how Matt Barkley's debut compared with Matt Leinart's, John David Booty's and Mark Sanchez's.

Remember that you can send in your question by texting "ASKCOACH" to 51234 for Carroll to answer at either his weekly Tuesday presser or post-game press conference. Send in your questions now, and one lucky fan will have his query answered by Carroll at tomorrow's presser!

Teaching a lesson

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Coach Carroll became Professor Carroll during this afternoon's team meeting as he taught lessons gleaned from Saturday's game that can be immediately applied to the upcoming matchup against Ohio State.

"I hope we learned that it doesn't matter who we play," Carroll told his players. "And this week is exactly the same. It doesn't matter who we're playing, where we go or what they look like. It's not about them; it's about us."

With media mayhem already swirling around this weekend's game, Carroll downplayed the magnitude of the matchup today in his own unique just-another-game kind of way.

"I want you guys to be comfortable and handle it all gracefully, like we know how," Carroll said. "We've just got to get ready to go play football."

Frequent flier program

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0907musburger.jpgTo do his homework for this weekend's broadcast, Brent Musburger is going the extra mile.

Or extra 4,000 miles, give or take a few.

As the play-by-play man for Saturday's national ABC broadcast of the USC-Ohio State game, Musburger is watching film, attending practices and meeting with coaches and players around Heritage Hall today and Tuesday. He flew into L.A. on Sunday from Atlanta, where he called the Alabama-Virginia Tech game on Saturday night, and he'll be leaving on a flight headed to Ohio on Wednesday morning.

That's a roughly 4,000-mile trip from Atlanta to L.A. to Columbus, all so Musburger can fully prepare for the nationally televised broadcast on Saturday night.

Telling the truth

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After watching highlights from the TV broadcast of the season opener, the coaches then shared with the players the truths -- both the positives (+) and negatives (-) -- from the game in all facets:

Offense
+ 620 total yards
+ 278 yards through the air on 82% passing
+ Offensive line paved the way for 342 rushing yards, allowed just one sack and hustled downfield on every play
+ 6-for-6 with 6 touchdowns in the red zone
+ 1-for-1 on fourth down
+ Great effort and physicality
- 3 fumbles, 2 lost
- Third-down conversion just 32%

Defense

+ 16 tackles for loss
+ 5 sacks
+ Allowed just 9 rushing yards
+ Josh Pinkard and Chris Galippo especially stood out
+ Freshmen Devon Kennard and Jarvis Jones "showed they can go out there and play," Coach Carroll said
+ Nick Perry had two sacks
- Tackling needs to improve

Special teams
+ Average starting field position after kickoffs was 10 yards better than San Jose State (32- to 22-yard line)
+ Garrett Green led the team with three tackles on special teams
+ Perfect punt and field goal protection
- Two penalties 

Clear vision

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RipsIt reader Doug Huennekens sent in this interesting question: "I thought the tinted visors were not allowed to be used during games. While watching the Oregon game [on Thursday], I noticed a couple players, Masoli and Matthews, wearing tinted visors. They weren't tinted super dark, but they were definitely tinted. What's the deal?"

A rule enacted after the 2005 season, players are prohibited from wearing tinted visors so that medical personnel can see their eyes and appropriately diagnose after spinal injuries or concussions. Since the rule was put in place, players have used clear plastic visors, though some of Oregon's players employed slightly tinted visors during their game at Boise State last Thursday.

And USC's equipment staffers, who affix only clear plastic visors on Trojan helmets, definitely noticed Oregon's oversight last week.

"Other schools aren't as strict with adhering to that rule as we are," football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez said. "And the referees aren't doing anything about it or enforcing it yet."

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Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli had a slightly tinted visor during Thursday night's game at Boise State, though NCAA rules prohibit players from doing so. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Truth seekers

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The latest edition of "Tell the Truth Monday" is getting started in Heritage Hall right now, as the Trojan special teams units are gathering for a film review covering Saturday's game. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings are on tap before a helmets-only practice at 4:45 p.m.

In the meantime, though, it's all about finding the facts -- both good and bad -- from the win on Saturday.

"We've got to get to the truth of what happened so we're all on the same page and can move on to the next game," Coach Carroll said.

Wide angle

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Check out this cool "Gigapan" panoramic photos from Saturday's game, courtesy of photographer Greg Flowers:

Musical chairs

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The Coliseum locker room has become a little homier this season.

A new shipment of black leather chairs emblazoned with the USC logo was delivered just in time for the Trojans' season opener, giving the locker room a much more blatant USC feel to it in addition to the wallpaper and cardinal-and-gold carpet. The new chairs are also more sanitary and health-conscious than the previous cardinal-colored cloth chairs.

And here's an odd trivia question for you -- the old locker room chairs had "Dallas Convention Center" stenciled across the backs. No one knows how long ago they were transported from Texas to the Coliseum, but they're history now.

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New for this season, black leather chairs are sitting in USC's locker room at the Coliseum.

Changing places

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The Trojans will practice on the FieldTurf of Cromwell Field today to acclimate them to the surface they'll play on come Saturday at Ohio Stadium. While the rest of the week's practices are slated to be on the natural grass of Howard Jones Field, the kickers will continue to work out and kick on Cromwell Field's FieldTurf for the remainder of the week so they can get used to the different surface.

Remembering Ryan

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The pre-game ceremony for Ryan Davidson was especially moving on Saturday, as the Davidson family and entire USC team gathered to recognize an inspiration to so many. Here's the short video tribute that was played on the Coliseum video board during the ceremony, so don't miss this touching homage to a friend and hero to the Trojan Family:


Produced by Mark Haas, USCTrojans.com

Putting the 'sweat' in sweatshirt

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Perhaps the most commented on and questioned aspect of Saturday's win didn't have anything to do with what happened on the field or on the scoreboard.

It had everything to do with the sideline attire of quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.

On an 89-degree day, Bates wore a gray USC sweatshirt during Saturday's game, prompting countless readers to e-mail in asking about his clothing choice. The reasoning behind it is both an inconsequential routine and a thought-out plan.

Reason 1 is personal preference -- "I just like to sweat," said Bates, who has worn a sweatshirt during games throughout his previous seven years of coaching. He also wears a sweatshirt in practice for the same purpose.

The second motive is so that Bates can be the same in the game as he is in midweek practices -- in terms of both his mindset and his clothing. Everything he does on game day mimics what he does on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so he wants even his gray-sweatshirt-and-black-hat attire to mirror that as well.

"Practice should be the same as the game," the 33-year-old said.

And lastly, Bates played down the sweatshirt choice, even with the Coliseum being drenched with sun and the nearly 90-degree weather on Saturday.

Said a smiling Bates: "It's California -- it's not that hot."

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Because of routine and personal preference, quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates (left) wore a sweatshirt during Saturday's game at the Coliseum, where temperatures climbed near 90.

Inward emphasis

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As the focus begins to shift from the season-opening win to the Trojans' game at Ohio State on Saturday, the main focus does not shift from what Coach Carroll always emphasizes.

The Trojans.

"It's not about Ohio State," Coach Carroll told the players in the Coliseum locker room after Saturday's game. "It's always about us and how we perform. It's never about who we're playing or where we're playing. We just need to be us and perform how we're capable of playing."

And that focus will be sharpened during this week's meetings and practices, which all lead into Saturday night's nationally televised matchup in Columbus.

Lots and lots of film

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One of the best things to come from Saturday's 56-3 win didn't happen on the field. Instead, it's reaping its rewards in the film room.

The Trojans racked up loads of precious game tape from the victory, and a lot more than usual for the offense and special teams in particular. The offense ran a higher-than-normal 73 plays Saturday, up 15 to 20 percent from what's expected in a game. And the special teams had a whopping 39 plays, way more than the usual 25 or so for the kicking and punting game.

Pull up

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Tailback Stafon Johnson does a clean pull during this morning's strength and conditioning sessions, which are aligned with the normal routine even with today's holiday. "It's a regular workday for us," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said. "We're laboring today."

This week in USC sports

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See how Trojan athletics fared over the past seven days:

- The men's water polo team beat Pomona-Pitzer, Air Force, Loyola Marymount and UCSB en route to winning the Triton Invitational this past weekend. The team is currently ranked No. 1 nationally with a 4-0 record. The Trojans' next game is Saturday at Long Beach State.
 
- Women's soccer beat Cal State Fullerton, 4-0, before losing, 1-0, to Ohio St. in the USD Nike Classic. The team currently holds a record of 1-3 and will face Gonzaga and Michigan this weekend at McAlister Field.
 
- Women's volleyball defeated Florida Gulf Coast, Pepperdine and Northern Arizona to capture the Holiday Inn LA City Center Trojan Invitational. The 16th-ranked Women of Troy will play UC Irvine, Idaho State and Utah Valley this week.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

A different week ahead

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For more than one reason, it's a funky week for the Trojans.

The weirdness is starting today, because of Labor Day. Players don't have class but they do have workouts, meetings and practice. And then because the team leaves for Ohio State on Thursday evening, it's making for a very short week at USC. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the only "normal" days, with Thursday's meetings and practice being bumped up 90 minutes to accommodate the travel schedule. The team will then have a short practice on Friday morning in Columbus before conducting a walk-thru at Ohio Stadium that evening.

And then USC's '09 road opener at Ohio State will be at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday night.

Barkley's first go-round

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Here's a bonus photo album from Saturday's game, this one featuring pictures of Matt Barkley. All images by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:


Photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff writer

Positive returns

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Coach Carroll has gone through the film from Saturday's game -- repeatedly, from every available angle -- and his mini review of what he saw?

Two thumbs up.

"What a clean-looking win once we got going," Carroll said. "Guys were making plays all over the place."

Shoemate with the hit

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We've received several questions and comments about the monstrous hit levied on a San Jose State kickoff return in the fourth quarter. And just to set the record straight (because USC has two No. 10s), it was fullback D.J. Shoemate who delivered the punishing blow.

Strong start

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Matt Barkley is the fourth starting quarterback to make his debut under Coach Carroll. Check out how his stats from Saturday's game compare with the lines of the previous three starters in their first games at the helm of the Trojan offense:

  • Matt Leinart (2003): 17-for-30, 192 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT (W 23-0 at Auburn)
  • John David Booty (2006): 24-for-35, 261 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT (W 50-14 at Arkansas)
  • Mark Sanchez (2007, filling in for Booty): 19-for-31, 130 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT (W 20-13 vs. Arizona)
  • Matt Barkley (2009): 15-for-19, 233 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT (W 56-3 vs. San Jose St.)

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Praiseworthy

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Matt Barkley has been getting a lot of positive ink and pixels following USC's 56-3 victory on Saturday. Here's one of the best features on the freshman QB, from ESPN.com.

Work day

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While most of the country has today off, the Trojans are laboring away in Heritage Hall.

After all, their next game is just five days away.

Coaches are already ensconced in meetings, while players will report for short workouts in the weight room throughout the morning. The Labor Day holiday is having no impact on the Trojans' normal Monday schedule -- unless you count the change in the coaches' breakfast routine. They typically get a breakfast delivery from Armando's Truck, a catering truck that sets up daily on campus, but with it being closed for the holiday, coaches are dining on Denny's pancakes and omelets this morning.

For the habit-loving coaches, that's a big enough change in the routine for them to realize that while it's a typical Monday for the team, today isn't a normal day for the rest of the world.

One stop

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Get all of the USCRipsIt coverage of Saturday's 56-3 victory, here in one place:


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Photo albums from the 56-3 win

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Here are several awesome slideshows from USC's 56-3 victory on Saturday, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pre-game:
All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

First half action:
All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Second half action:
All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Post-game:
All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Reliving the game: San Jose State

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Check out these slideshows of incredible images from Saturday's 56-3 win, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo. The albums include numerous behind-the-scenes pictures you won't see anywhere else:

Pre-game:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Behind the scenes:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Game action:

All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pictures from USC's 56-3 win

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Check out some photos from USC's 56-3 victory to open the 2009 season on Saturday at the Coliseum (all pictures by Ben Malcolmson, USCRipsIt):

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The Trojans gather on the top of the steps at the peristyle end of the Coliseum after arriving on Saturday morning.

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Seemingly everywhere Matt Barkley went on Saturday, cameras were there.

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The Trojan offense huddles up in pre-game warm-ups.

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The Trojans gather in the locker room before the game.

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USC's captains lock arms on the sideline prior to walking out to midfield for the coin toss.

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Matt Barkley and Coach Carroll share a moment before kickoff.

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The Goodyear blimp casts a welcomed shadow over a segment of the stands during Saturday's game.

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Coach Carroll celebrates USC's first touchdown of 2009.

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The offensive coaches congregate for a quick meeting in the staff locker room during halftime.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates shares adjustments with the offense in the locker room during halftime.

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Players jump around in the locker room at the end of halftime.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates speaks with Matt Barkley on the sideline in the third quarter.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is amused after players dumped a Gatorado bucket filled with water on him at the end of Saturday's 56-3 win.

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The Trojans win, 56-3.

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Coach Carroll talks to the team in the locker room after the victory.

RipsIt Report: USC 56, San Jose State 3

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Experience Trojan football in this special inside report from the locker room and on the sidelines before, during and after USC's 56-3 season-opening win against San Jose State on Saturday at the Coliseum:

Quoting Carroll

0905topofsteps.jpg"As we go forward, let's remember the great performers and great performances that have come before us," Carroll said at the top of the peristyle steps as the team entered the Coliseum.

"Let's begin '09 right from the heart. Let's have a hell of a day," Carroll said with the team gathered around him at the 50-yard line, just minutes after arriving at the Coliseum.

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Pre-game: Getting pumped

The banter in the locker room in the minutes before kickoff:

- Tight ends coach Brennan Carroll: "We all work so hard and for so long not to do this right today!"

- Offensive line coach Pat Ruel: "We're going to be relentless today!"

- Tailback Allen Bradford: "Don't let anyone come into our house and push us around!"

- Coach Carroll: "All day long, let's play with all our hearts! All our hearts!"

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How's this for intimidation?

After warm-ups and at halftime, the Trojans sprint up the tunnel, while other teams, like San Jose State, slowly walk up to the locker room. Also, at the end of halftime on Saturday, the Spartans went down the tunnel first, but the Trojans weren't too far behind -- and they were chanting "War time!" the whole way down.

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The first points of the year

0905pctd.jpgAfter going scoreless for the entire first quarter, the Trojans finally got on the board with a Stafon Johnson rushing touchdown at the onset of the second quarter.

It felt like the team's self-inflicted pressure evaporated immediately after Johnson crossed the goal line.

Following an opening 15 minutes of futility, the Trojans were getting frustrated and annoyed. But the Johnson touchdown opened the floodgates for USC, which went on to score 28 points in the next 10-plus minutes. The Trojans were relieved after the first score, feeling good after the second, rolling by the third and partying after the fourth touchdown, which put the team up 28-3 at halftime.

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No challenge necessary

After what appeared to be a San Jose State fumble in the second quarter, the officials waited to make a decision.

Linebacker Chris Galippo didn't want to wait.

While the referees were deliberating how to rule the play, an animated Galippo sprinted over to Coach Carroll and repeatedly yelled, "Challenge it!" Carroll told him to calm down and wait, and the linebacker's patience was eventually rewarded when the referee signaled a first down for the Trojans.

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'Not Tebow'


When Matt Barkley rolled out and ran for one-yard gain on a busted pass play in the second quarter, his teammates had a field day.

As Barkley tumbled to the ground after getting smacked by two Spartans defenders, several Trojans on the sidelines chided the freshman quarterback, saying things like, "You're not Tebow!" and "You're not that fast!"

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In the trenches


Seen and heard on the sidelines during the game:

0905jbwater.jpg- Near the end of the fourth quarter, two offensive linemen poured a Gatorade bucket filled with water on quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates in celebration of the play-caller's first game at USC -- one that produced a whopping 56 points for the offense.

- Linebacker Jarvis Jones wore a pull-over No. 61 jersey on the kickoff team in the second quarter because fullback D.J. Shoemate, who shares No. 10 with Jones, was on the same coverage unit. NCAA rules prohibit players with the same number from playing in the same play. In the third quarter, though, Jones was back in his No. 10 jersey on the punt return team since Shoemate was not on that unit.

- It's a good sign when the first-team players can remove their pads, put away their helmets and ice their bruises -- in the third quarter, like they did on Saturday.

- Players were entertained by the shade-producing effect the Goodyear blimp had on the crowd Saturday. When the blimp flew over the west part of the Coliseum during the second half, it provided shade for a good chunk of the crowd, which would cheer loudly when receiving the respite from the hot sun.

- Sixty-nine players played at least one snap in the game -- nearly every healthy and non-redshirting player -- though none as worthwhile as kicker Joe Houston, who kicked an extra point in his only play Saturday.

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At the half


Coach Carroll gave a typically inspiring halftime speech:

"Can you believe it? We get to play another 30 minutes!" Carroll exclaimed as the players cheered. "This is what we love. Let's not give them nothing. Don't back off for nothing. We're just getting warmed up, boys!"

---

Like a point guard

After the Trojans posted their fifth touchdown of the day at the start the second half, Matt Barkley returned to the sidelines in awe of his tailbacks, who had scored all of the team's points on the ground up to that point.

"How do you like those assists?" a grinning Barkley said on the sidelines. "That's five of them now!"

---

Looking ahead


0905finalscore.jpgAs the fourth quarter wound down, quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates turned to his players and had some powerful words.

"It's Ohio State now," Bates said as he patted the pads of his players. "Let's get our minds right."

---

Closing it out

Coach Carroll's post-game speech was characteristically chipper.

"We did it exactly like we wanted to," Carroll said, with his giddy players encircling him in the locker room after the 56-3 win. "We performed how we're capable of performing. This is the way we wanted to start the season and represent who we are. That's an awesome day today!"

Notable numbers

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Here are some surprising stats from the Trojans' 56-3 win on Saturday at the Coliseum:

  • The defense gave up nine rushing yards and only 121 total offensive yards. USC, conversely, had 620 total yards of offense.
  • The Spartans averaged just 2.0 yards per play, while the Trojans gained an average of 9.1 yards per play.
  • The Trojans scored 56 unanswered points after being shut out 3-0 in the first quarter.
  • After the Spartans scored their only points of the game in the first quarter, the Trojans locked them down, holding them to just 80 yards in the final 13 drives.
  • The Trojans scored touchdowns on six consecutive drives between the second and third quarters.

Peak performers

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Check out the top performances from Saturday's 56-3 season-opening victory:

  • In his first start, freshman Matt Barkley went 15-for-19 for 233 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. On one third-quarter drive, he went 6-for-6 for 93 yards, finishing with a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison.
  • The running backs -- four tailbacks and fullback D.J. Shoemate -- scored seven touchdowns.
  • San Jose State went 1-of-16 on third-down conversions.
  • Six receivers had at least two catches.
  • Three rushers--tailbacks Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford--averaged more than 10 yards per carry. McKnight was the team's leading rusher with 145 yards in 14 carries.
  • Linebacker Chris Galippo had a team-high nine tackles, including three for loss, and one forced fumble.

Storming out of the gate: USC wins 56-3

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The Trojans rolled to a season-opening 56-3 win over San Jose State on Saturday at the Coliseum. Check out the game recap and see the stats.

Game time

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The Trojans are just minutes away from departing their downtown hotel and taking a police-escorted trip two miles down the 110 to the Coliseum. They'll then proceed through the Trojan Walk, normal pre-game warm-ups and a few special pre-kickoff ceremonies before the 2009 season officially begins at 12:41 p.m. Here's how you can follow along today:


After the season opener, we'll return with an overflowing report from the Coliseum -- complete with insider info and photos. Enjoy the game.

Captain watch

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Besides the four elected team captains -- Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard -- coaches have selected two additional captains for today's game. Garrett Green will represent the special teams and linebacker Dan Deckas will represent the service teams.

Closer and closer

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The final pre-game meetings have just been completed, as the Trojans went through a special teams roll call and offensive and defensive walk-thrus in hotel ballrooms over the last half-hour. They're now sitting down to eat their pre-game meal, a buffet of eggs, pancakes, waffles, omelets, fruit, steak, breads and more.

The Trojans now have about 90 minutes to rest and relax in their hotel rooms before clap sessions -- final walk-thrus for the offense and defense -- at 10:20. Departure for the Coliseum is set for 10:30 a.m.

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The USC coaches gather for a staff meeting in a hotel ballroom this morning.

GameDay actor

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Coach Carroll puts on his acting hat in this funny ESPN "College GameDay" commercial that's debuting today. Carroll appears with Kirk Herbstreit in the 30-second spot:

Special tribute

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Ryan Davidson will be honored during a pre-game tribute today, and his family is in town to help recognize the teenager who became an inspiration to so many. The Davidsons -- dad Kirby, mom Amy and daughter Mallory -- spent Friday afternoon with the Trojans at the walk-thru and jock rally, and John Pings, a family friend and USC alum, captured their experience on video. Check out it all out here:

It all begins today

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Since their last game, the Trojans have run 1,500 plays in 44 practices, completed almost 100 workouts and waited 247 days, but the 2009 season has now arrived.

Finally.

Players are getting up now and will soon pour into a hotel ballroom for a rowdy wake-up and pump-up session beginning at 8:15. Offensive and defensive walk-thrus follow before the pre-game meal at 8:45.

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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Almost time

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Their night done, the Trojans are now just a sleep away from game day.

After an evening that included dinner, meetings, a buffet snack and optional chapel and mass services at the team's downtown hotel, the players and coaches are tucking in for the night. And when they awake in the morning, kickoff will be just five hours away.

That's if they can even sleep through the adrenaline and excitement flowing through their veins.

Wake-up calls are set for 7:30 a.m., with meetings starting at 8:15 and the pre-game meal at 8:45. They'll depart the hotel at 10:30 and arrive at the Coliseum -- their stage for the season opener -- at 10:40 a.m.

Kickoff is just around the corner.

Friday night highlights

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Produced by the USC Video Production Department, check out the Fall Camp highlight video the Trojans watched during tonight's team meeting. Please be advised that it contains adult language.

In addition, be sure to watch the latest episode of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team," which is also produced by the USC Video Production Department. It's for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers only.

Wrapping up the week

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After more than eight months, the Trojans returned to a familiar time and place: A game's eve in a hotel ballroom once again. And it doesn't get much better than that.

"It is so good to be here on a Friday night," Coach Carroll said during tonight's team meeting, grinning ear to ear.

The Trojans cycled through their usual regimen of meetings and film sessions in hotel ballrooms this evening, finishing it off with a typically poignant speech from Carroll.

"Don't hold back now," Carroll said to the players and coaches who were sitting silently, soaking in every word in his 10-minute speech. "Tomorrow, I want to see the picture of us playing with all our heart."

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Offensive line coach Pat Ruel takes the offense through some San Jose State film during meetings in a downtown hotel ballroom on Friday night.

Playbook cover

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Here's the offensive playbook cover for the San Jose State game. It was designed by Aldo Palma:

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Congratulations to Udeze

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Former USC and NFL defensive lineman Kenechi Udeze, who fought through leukemia in recent years, has been hired as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Washington.

Arriving at their second home

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A police escort shuts down a downtown L.A. street and guides Coach Carroll (right) and the Trojans to their hotel, where eve-of-game meetings are set to begin in less than an hour.

Away they go

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The Trojans are departing in a few minutes for their downtown hotel, where they'll eat pizza dinners and commence their weekly pre-game Friday night meetings at 7:30 p.m. Here's the schedule for the rest of the night:

6 p.m. • Depart campus
6:20 p.m. • Arrive at downtown hotel; eat dinner
7:30 p.m. • Special teams meeting
8 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
8:30 p.m. • Team meeting
8:45 p.m. • Snack
9 p.m. • Optional chapel and mass services at hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Pepped up

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Holding the sword, Jeff Byers leads the Trojan Marching Band, the USC Song Girls, his teammates and hundreds of fans in the playing of the school's fight song on Friday night during the jock rally at Heritage Hall.

Dispatch from the walk-thru

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This afternoon's walk-thru, like always, featured 15 minutes of special teams review, 15 key offensive plays and 15 vital defensive calls before ending with a Hail Mary, which was won by the defense. Here are some photos from the brief walk-thru on Howard Jones Field:

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Matt Barkley steps and throws during the Friday afternoon walk-thru.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen (near) and linebacker Malcolm Smith line up for a play.

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Players go up for the Hail Mary pass on the goal line, with the defense knocking away the ball and getting the win on the play.

One final step

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After months of getting ready, the Trojans are now entering their final stage of preparation for the season opener with a short walk-thru on Howard Jones Field.

"Let's make sure we're tuned in and let's be really sharp today," Coach Carroll said in the team meeting this afternoon. "This is a cool deal now."

We'll return with pictures following the quick walk-thru and 5 p.m. jock rally.

On the agenda

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Here's the team's schedule for Saturday, the first game day of 2009:

7:30 a.m. • Wake-up call
8:15 a.m. • Meetings begin
8:45 a.m. • Pre-game meal
10:30 a.m. • Depart downtown hotel
10:40 a.m. • Arrive at the Coliseum, commence Trojan Walk
11:28 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:55 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:17 p.m. • Ryan Davidson tribute
12:21 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:35 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:41 p.m. • Kickoff (FSN national broadcast) 

Always prepared

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USC's athletic trainers Chris Grosskopf (bottom left), Russ Romano (bottom middle) and Paul Diaz (bottom right) and their student assistants go through an emergency preparedness drill on Howard Jones Field this afternoon, as they practice spine-boarding and stabilizing the neck of what would be an injured player (this time, it's a completely healthy student athletic trainer). The athletic trainers go through the drill, which includes strapping a person to the board and cutting off the facemask, every Friday afternoon before a home game.

Broadcasting to the world

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Coach Carroll tapes an interview in Varsity Lounge this afternoon that'll air in pieces during FSN's broadcast of the USC-San Jose State game on Saturday.

Excited to go

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The players raise their arms, chant "We ready!" and generally get pumped up during this afternoon's special teams meeting, with running backs coach Todd McNair at the front of the room leading the charge. Heritage Auditorium is overflowing with energy and excitement, as kickoff is less than 22 hours away.

Here they go

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The Trojans are just seconds away from beginning their Friday afternoon meetings, setting off an almost nonstop chain of final preparations that'll take them right up until kickoff at 12:41 p.m. tomorrow. It all starts with a special teams meeting -- doubling as a wild and crazy pump-up session -- now in Heritage Auditorium.

Cable guys

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RipsIt reader Jordan Yousem e-mailed in asking about the ramifications of DirecTV's removal of Versus from its lineup: "With the Versus and DirecTV deal falling through are DirecTV subscribers going to miss any SC games?"

As of now, no USC games in 2009 are scheduled to be aired on the Versus network, though two games have the possibility of doing so. The TV broadcast arrangements for the home contests against Washington State (Sept. 26) and Stanford (Nov. 14) are still to-be-determined, so one, none or both of those matchups could be aired on Versus. That could mean DirecTV subscribers would not get to watch the Trojans in action.

For both of those games, though, the possibility remains that they either one could be aired on ABC or FSN. The broadcast arrangements will be worked out and announced 12 days prior to each game.

DirecTV subscribers can contact the satellite provider for more details on the dispute. Also, all USC games are offered as replays for USCTrojans.com All-Access members.

Geared up

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The equipment room is buzzing this afternoon as preparations for the season's first game shift into fifth gear. Student equipment managers and full-time staffers are fitting the game jerseys over players' pads and a crew of them will head over to the Coliseum this afternoon to begin setting up the locker room for tomorrow's game.

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Football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez affixes Velcro to linebacker Jordan Campbell's shoulder pads. The Velcro is used so that a player's jersey will stick to his pads, preventing opponents from holding him or tackling him by pulling on his jersey.

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Student equipment manager Brian Wagner fits David Ausberry's game-day jersey over his pads this afternoon in the equipment room. Because of the Velcro on player's pads, putting the tight-fitting jersey over the gear takes several meticulous minutes, so the student equipment managers perform the duty for the players every Friday before a game.

Fun fact

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USC's Matt Barkley will become the first true freshman quarterback to start the opener for a preseason top-5 team since Rick Leach did it for No. 3 Michigan in 1975, according to ESPN Research.

Gazing into next week

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While the team's focus is set on Saturday's season opener, it's worth looking ahead a few days to the beginning part of next week.

Players will receive Sunday off, while coaches will examine the San Jose State game tape and dive into the Ohio State game plan all day that day. And then on Monday, even though it's Labor Day, coaches and players will proceed through their normal first-day-of-the-week routine. Players will have workouts in the weight room all morning, coaches will have staff meetings and the team will come together for film sessions at 2:15 and practice at 4:30 p.m.

In addition to working on the holiday on Monday, it'll be a funky week also because it's lining up to be a quick one. The team will leave for Columbus on Thursday afternoon, altering the usual game week schedule and making Wednesday the last normal day of the week for the Trojans.

Pre-game events

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Ryan Davidson, the late 16-year-old Trojan fan who captured the hearts of USC players, coaches and fans during the past five seasons, will be recognized in a special pre-game ceremony featuring his family and a video tribute.

Also, the two teams will participate in a sportsmanship initiative when they're scheduled to meet at midfield prior to the coin toss for a pre-game handshake.

Through Barkley's eyes

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Wondering what's going through Matt Barkley on the eve of his first collegiate start? Find out in this Q&A from ESPN.com.

The day before

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Here's the schedule for the rest of the afternoon, with the "Day Before" and its accompanied excitement sinking in around Heritage Hall:

2:30 p.m. • Meetings begin
4:15 p.m. • Walk-thru (closed to the public)
5 p.m. • Jock rally at Heritage Hall
6 p.m. • Depart campus for the downtown hotel
7:30 p.m. • Eve-of-game meetings begin at hotel
8:45 p.m. • Snack
9 p.m. • Optional chapel and mass services at hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Trojans around the League

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

- Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) went 5-for-5 passing for 67 yards and 1 touchdown in the Jets' 38-27 win over Philadelphia.
- Tailback Chauncey Washington (Jacksonville Jaguars) carried the ball 4 times for 9 yards in the Jaguars' 24-17 win over Washington.
- Defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (Cincinnati Bengals) recovered 1 fumble along with his 3 tackles and 1 sack in the Bengals' 38-7 win over Indianapolis.
- Linebackers Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) and Rey Maualuga each had 1 tackle in the Bengals win.
- Wideout Patrick Turner (Miami Dolphins) had 1 reception for 7 yards in the Dolphins' 10-7 win over New Orleans.
- Tight end Billy Miller (New Orleans Saints) had 2 receptions for 16 yards in the Saints' loss.
- Linebacker Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) had 2 tackles in the Packers' 27-13 loss to Tennessee.
- Wideout Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina Panthers) had 4 receptions for 44 yards in the Panthers' 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh.
- Quarterback Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) went 1-for-4 for 4 yards in the Cardinals' 19-0 loss to Denver.

- Compiled by Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

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Mark Sanchez went 5-for-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown in Thursday night's Jets game. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Big traveling party

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Because the team isn't restricted by conference traveling rules, the Trojans are taking 92 players to the hotel tonight, nearly the entire roster. For in-conference games, USC is limited to traveling only 64 players (taking them to the hotel for home contests and bringing them on the road for away games).

Coaches are toting so many players to the hotel tonight to give them the pre-game experience, since many of those coming tonight are freshmen or walk-ons who have not been through the routine yet.

The Trojan Walk

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The players and coaches will amble through the crowd from the Sports Arena to the Coliseum peristyle entrance -- also known as the Trojan Walk -- at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday. So line up in that 150-yard stretch to get a glimpse at the team and high-five the players and coaches in the moments before the season opener.

Total familiarity

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The offense's game plan is set and the call sheets are ready to be printed in anticipation of tomorrow's season opener.

And the cool thing is that every play that will be called Saturday has been run at least once during this week's practices, so the players -- and freshman quarterback Matt Barkley -- know exactly what to expect in the game. They've rehearsed the plays to the point that the calls will be rote knowledge when they take the field at 12:41 p.m. tomorrow.

L.A.'s football team

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Don't miss this fascinating comparison between USC and the NFL's San Diego Chargers, from today's L.A. Times.

Happy birthday

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Kicker Joe Houston is celebrating his 23rd birthday today.

For a good read

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Check out this first-person diary from Jeff Byers in this morning's Sporting News Today. Thanks to RipsIt reader Jonathan Chambers for passing it along.

Keep on truckin'

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The Trojans will be riding in style this season.

Or at least their equipment will be.

The team's equipment truck has been outfitted with a new design for the 2009 season, featuring six players and utilizing a similar look that's on the schedule poster. Associate athletic director for marketing Craig Kelley and assistant athletic director for marketing DeSha' Runnels worked together, along with Ryder trucks, to produce the new redesign.

"We really appreciate what they've done to make this come together," director of equipment operations David "Pops" Scott said of Kelley and Runnels.

Check out some photos of the newly redesigned truck:

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Morning break

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Coaches are off this morning, as is the tradition on Fridays before home games. It gives them time to spend with their families before embarking into an almost continuous 24-plus-hour segment of preparation leading into Saturday's game. A staff meeting is set for noon and the entire team will report for a meeting 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:


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