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November 2009 Archives

Pictures from Monday's practice

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Linebackers Malcolm Smith (6) and Chris Galippo go through stretching at the start of practice.

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Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin conducts a drill with Nick Perry (8) and Armond Armstead.

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The Trojans go through practice under the L.A. skyline.

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Matt Barkley lines up for the shotgun snap.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Kicking off their final week of practice of the regular season, the Trojans sprinted through a traditionally brief no-pads practice that both reviewed plays from the UCLA win and introduced the Arizona game plan.

- Tailback Joe McKnight, who sustained a quadriceps bruise Saturday, sat out of Monday's workout. Coach Carroll said his status for the Arizona game will be determined later this week. "We'll wait and see how he responds," he said.

- Carroll continued to emphasize the importance of the completing the season on a strong note. "We have always been about finishing," Carroll told his players after practice. "Let's make sure we do this right all week long."

- In the post-practice team huddle, Carroll called his players' attention to the L.A. skyline as a reminder of what Saturday's win represented. "It's ours!" several players exclaimed.

Heading out

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Fresh off a day off, the Trojans are taking the field now for a light, helmets-only workout, so we'll return afterward with a report.

One final time

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Amazingly, the last week of the regular season is here.

And Coach Carroll is making sure his players are making the most of these days by giving it up for the outgoing seniors.

"This is a huge week for us -- it's our last shot," Carroll said this afternoon. "This week is for the seniors -- we owe it to them, because you'll be there too someday. Make this really special for our seniors."

Pump you up

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Check out this awesome intro to FSN's telecast of the USC-UCLA game on Saturday:

Up and down

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As the Trojans examine the truths from Saturday's win, one positive and one negative are worth highlighting above the rest.

For one, the offensive line played a spectacular game, even if the rushing stats didn't show it. No sacks were allowed and on USC's two goal-line plays, the Trojans scored both times.

On the flip side, the penalty plague reared its ugly head again. USC was stricken with 12 penalties for 107 yards in the game, with 10 different players drawing a flag. On each of the Trojans' nine non-scoring drives, at least one penalty was called, which stalled the offensive momentum and helped lead to eight punts.

"We weren't as precise as we should be," Coach Carroll said in this afternoon's team meeting. "Something was screwed up."

High praises

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Coming off the most humbling defeat in Coach Carroll's tenure at USC, the Trojans responded "magnificently" -- among several other flattering modifiers -- in Saturday's 28-7 victory, according to the head man.

"It was a great opportunity to show how you could bounce back," Carroll told his team during this afternoon's meeting. "You answered the call and handled it beautifully."

A special day

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It's been an uplifting meeting for the USC special teams, a phase that Coach Carroll said "was absolutely flying on Saturday."

Other than a missed 51-yard field goal and a so-so kickoff return effort, the Trojan special teams had an outstanding performance in Saturday's 28-7 win.

"It's been so good to watch the film because you guys did stuff right," special teams coordinator Brian Schneider said.

Schneider highlighted several players who made an impact on the special teams in the game, including punter Jake Harfman (averaged 45.4 yards on eight punts), linebacker Ross Cumming (played glowingly on four special teams units), returners Joe McKnight and Damian Williams (combined to average nearly 15 yards on five punt returns), safety Ryan McMahon (downed a punt inside the 1-yard line) and safety Jawanza Starling (played significant roles on several units).

Oh Canada

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Oddly enough, several Trojan coaches are celebrating as if they won the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup.

Well, at least as if their good friend won it.

Marc Trestman, a former coworker of two USC coaches, led the Montreal Alouettes to the Grey Cup title with a wild 28-27 win over Calgary on Sunday night. Trestman worked alongside Coach Carroll for four seasons at two different NFL teams, including being offensive coordinator while Carroll was defensive coordinator at the 49ers in the mid-'90s. Trestman also coached alongside current USC offensive coordinator John Morton at the Oakland Raiders for three seasons earlier this decade.

Seeking the truths

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For the first time in three weeks, the Trojans are heading into their Tell the Truth Monday meetings following a win. And for the first time in more than a month, they're going into the afternoon block of film reviews feeling good after a win.

It all starts with a special teams film session before the Trojans dive into team, offense/defense and position group meetings. A helmets-only practice is set for 4:45 p.m.

Turnover time

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With a plus-3 turnover margin in Saturday's game, the Trojans have now won an astonishing 52 consecutive games when recording more takeaways than giveaways, dating all the way back to the 30-27 overtime loss at Washington State in 2002.

Against UCLA, USC posted three interceptions and a fumble recovery to go against just one interception thrown. The Trojans now have a zero turnover margin in 2009.

Smith named Pac-10 player of the week

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Linebacker Malcolm Smith, who already was honored as Walter Camp national defensive player of the week, has been named Pac-10 defensive player of the week following his 15-tackle, 1-interception-for-a-touchdown effort in Saturday's win over UCLA.

Text for toys

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Giving back couldn't be easier this holiday season. Thanks to A Better LA and Causecast, you can text "TOY" to 85944 to donate $10 to the foundation's inner-city toy drive.

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Great returns

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With Damian Williams' average leading the way, the Trojans have the nation's seventh-best punt return unit. And the punt coverage unit is even better, as opponents are averaging just 2.06 yards per return in 17 attempts this season. That's just 35 total punt return yards for opponents through 11 games this year.

USC's stingy punt coverage squad will be up for quite a challenge this weekend against Arizona. The Wildcats' William Wright leads the nation with 19.2 yards per return. USC's Williams is sixth in the country with a 16.1-yard average per return.

Driving to the win

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While most of the media and fan attention has centered on the Trojans' last touchdown of Saturday's win, the coaches are raving about the team's second-to-last score of the game.

Allen Bradford's two-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left capped a nine-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 4:11 off the clock and pushed the USC lead to 21-7. On the drive, Matt Barkley went 4-for-5 for 43 yards, Bradford ran for 30 yards on four carries and the Trojans effectively put the game out of reach by killing the clock and creating a two-touchdown buffer.

"That was the drive of the game," Coach Carroll said.

Man of the people

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Coach Carroll addresses the 300-plus fans at today's Monday Morning Quarterback event at the Galen Center's Founders Room.

Off to Galen

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Coach Carroll is breaking from a film session with the defensive staff to attend the season's final Monday Morning Quarterback, his weekly review of the previous game with hundreds of fans at the Galen Center.

This week in USC sports

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See what happened in Trojan athletics during the past seven days:

  • Men's water polo finished third in the MPSF conference tournament after defeating Stanford in the third-place game. The Trojans now await the NCAA Tournament selection to find out their next opponent.

  • Men's basketball defeated Coppin State by a score of 74-43 on Friday before losing to Nebraska 51-48 on Sunday. The Men of Troy are currently 2-2 and hit the road this week to face Texas and Georgia Tech.

  • Women's basketball defeated two top-25 opponents this week with wins over Texas and Mississippi State. The Women of Troy are currently 2-3 and play at Long Beach State and Duke this week.

  • Women's volleyball finished the regular season with wins over Arizona State and Arizona at home this weekend. The Women of Troy will now make their 19th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament as they host first- and second-round action at the Galen Center. They will face Oklahoma in the first round on Friday at 5 p.m., with the winner of that matchup playing the winner of Hawaii vs. New Mexico in the second-round match.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Will Ferrell and A Better LA

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Tickets for the Feb. 20 Will Ferrell comedy event to benefit A Better LA are on sale and going quickly, so be sure to purchase yours before it's too late.

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Endless bowl scenarios

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Unlike the previous seven years, the Trojans go into their final game with absolutely no idea where they'll be headed afterward.

Far from controlling its own destiny, USC must play Saturday and then wait until Sunday to find out which bowl it'll be playing in, a far cry from previous seasons when the Rose Bowl (or another BCS game) has either been clinched or was one win from being so.

The team's bowl placement hinges obviously on whether the Trojans win or lose against Arizona on Saturday, but it also depends on the Oregon-Oregon State game on Thursday night.

If Oregon beats Oregon State, the Ducks are Pac-10 champs and play in the Rose Bowl. Then, if the Trojans win on Saturday, they'd be tied for second place with at least two other teams. The Holiday Bowl in San Diego gets first pick after the Rose Bowl, so the Trojans could be headed there if this scenario plays out.

Otherwise, it's a total crapshoot for Trojans in the conference's bowl lineup. A win and an Oregon State victory would most likely send the Trojans to El Paso's Sun Bowl, San Francisco's Emerald Bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl. A USC loss this weekend would mean the Trojans would go bowling in San Francisco, Las Vegas or San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl.

Here's a look at the Pac-10's bowl arrangements:

Rose Bowl • Pasadena • Pac-10 #1 vs. Big Ten #1
Holiday Bowl • San Diego • Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 #3/4
Sun Bowl • El Paso • Pac-10 #3 vs. Big East #2
Emerald Bowl • San Francisco • Pac-10 #4/5 vs. ACC #5/6/7
MAACO Bowl • Las Vegas • Pac-10 #4/5 vs. Mountain West
Poinsettia Bowl • San Diego • Pac-10 #6 vs. Mountain West

Streaming live

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Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game against Arizona, which will be televised nationally on ABC, will also be streamed live online at ESPN360.com.

Green's injury a major setback

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The Trojans won the game but they suffered a painful loss this weekend.

Garrett Green, a backup quarterback, wideout and do-everything special teams player, tore his ACL on a punt return Saturday night, most likely sidelining him for the rest of the season and putting an end to his Trojan career. Coach Carroll called the senior one of the team's MVPs this season.

"Garrett has been an amazing competitor and leader," Carroll said. "He represents everything we stand for, and we're really going to miss him on the field."

Punter Billy O'Malley will take over the holding duties in place of Green.

Trojans around the League

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Find out how USC alumni performed during Week 12 of the NFL season this weekend:

  • Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) completed 19-of-31 passes for 178 yards and 1 touchdown in the Chiefs' 43-14 loss to San Diego.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 13-of-24 passes for 110 yards and 1 touchdown while also rushing 4 times for 15 yards in the Bengals' 16-7 win over Cleveland.
  • Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had 4 tackles in the Bengals' win.
  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 13-of-17 passes for 154 yards and rushed 3 times for 27 yards in the Jets' 17-6 win over Carolina.
  • Wideout Dwayne Jarrmett (Carolina Panthers) had 2 receptions for 43 yards in the Panthers' loss.
  • Tight end Fred Davis (Washington Redskins) had 4 receptions for 43 yards and 1 touchdown in the Redskins' 27-24 loss to Philadelphia.
  • Linebacker Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) led the team with 11 tackles to go along with 1 interception in the Texans' 35-27 loss to Indianapolis.
  • Quarterback Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) completed 21-of-31 passes for 220 yards in the Cardinals' 20-17 loss to Tennessee.
  • Linebacker Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) had 2 tackles, including 1 sack, in the Packers' 34-12 win over Detroit.
  • Tailback Justin Fargas (Oakland Raiders) carried the ball 12 times for 63 yards in the Raiders' 24-7 loss to Dallas.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) had 7 receptions for 71 yards in the Giants' 26-6 loss to Denver.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

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Matt Leinart started in place of the injured Kurt Warner and went 21-for-31 for 220 yards in the Cardinals' 20-17 loss to the Titans on Sunday. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Enjoying the win while moving on

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Spirits, as you can imagine, are as high as the sky this morning in Heritage Hall.

Battle-worn from the previous month of rough games, coaches are relishing Saturday's 28-7 victory, especially because of the challenge of bouncing back from a humbling loss two weeks prior.

"This was a fantastic, fantastic win," Coach Carroll said during this morning's staff meeting. "That was as hard a game to prepare for mentally as I can remember."

But as much as they'd like to continue soaking in the victory, the coaches' focus has already shifted toward the upcoming matchup against Arizona, which is already five days away.

"We've got a difficult challenge coming up," Carroll said. "We've got to capture this one last time. Let's get right and get ready."

Must-see TV

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Perhaps lost in the shuffle of this weekend's game were these two must-see videos:

Reliving the game: UCLA

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You've got to see this special six-part photo album, including several insider images and amazing action shots, from Saturday's 28-7 win over UCLA, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:

Pre-game


First-half action



Locker room at halftime


Second-half action



End-of-game drama



Post-game locker room scene


All photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Photo albums from the UCLA game

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Check out this five-part photo album from Saturday's 28-7 win over UCLA, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pre-game

First half action


Halftime


Second half action


Post-game

All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Smith named national player of week

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Linebacker Malcolm Smith, who had a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown and 15 tackles in Saturday's 28-7 win over UCLA, has been named Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week.

RipsIt Report: USC 28, UCLA 7

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Experience Trojan football through this special inside report from the locker room and on the sidelines before, during and after USC's 28-7 win over UCLA on Saturday at the Coliseum:

ALSO SEE: "Taking timeout to spice up the win"


Tunnel vision

1128tunnel1h.jpgThe near-melee in the fourth quarter was nothing compared to what happened in the tunnel before kickoff.

After warm-ups, UCLA scampered up the Coliseum tunnel to its locker room, but because the Bruins walked the 100 yards, the two-minute gap between teams didn't create enough of a cushion before the Trojans came running up. The two squads began trading verbal barbs as officials, armed police officers and coaches from both programs formed a wall to separate the Trojans and Bruins.

The visitor's locker room is closer to the field than the home locker room, which caused a backup to allow for the jawing and testosterone to flow. Only words were exchanged -- no punches were throw nor physical altercations occurred -- but it got the juices flowing among the players, especially the Trojans, who poured into the locker room heated with energy.

That excitement carried through the 15-minute break between warm-ups and kickoff -- and carried through the next four quarters, culminating in the shenanigans at the end of the game.


Before it all


Seen and heard with the team before the game:

- "Let's celebrate this night," Coach Carroll said at the top of the peristyle-end steps before the team descended onto the Coliseum floor.

- "Let's maximize this opportunity," Coach Carroll said at the 50-yard line after arriving at the Coliseum. "Just be us tonight."

- Jake Olson spent all of pre-game on the field with the Trojans, walking alongside his twin sister Emma and tight end Blake Ayles. Olson even held a field goal kick for Joe Houston during warm-ups.

- On the field during warm-ups, Coach Carroll had civil yet extremely brief interchanges with both UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who used to work for Carroll at USC.


In the locker room

1128abprehuddle.jpgSeen and heard in the locker room before the game:

- "Be relentless," offensive line coach Pat Ruel told his players. "Make them submit!"

- Stafon Johnson, still restricted from talking, walked around the locker room shaking his teammates' hands and giving encouragement to fellow players simply through his presence.

- "Let me feel you tonight -- all night long!" Coach Carroll said during his pre-game speech. "Let's have a ball all night long. Nothing's going to stop us. Bring everything you got -- heart and soul."


Stafon comes back

Exactly two months after his freak weightlifting accident and major throat injury, Stafon Johnson attended Saturday's game, watching from the sidelines with his teammates in the second half and visiting the locker room during pre-game.


At the half

1128pchalf.jpgHere's a glimpse at the scene in the locker room at halftime:

- "It's nothing-nothing -- we don't care about the score," Coach Carroll told the players immediately after walking into the locker room and his team up, 7-0. "Let's get it going now. We're going to come out flying."

- After being shut out in the first two quarters, offensive coaches kept reminding their players, "It's a new half. Let's keep our heads up."

- Defensive coaches called upon their players to produce much of the same that had limited the Bruins to zero points in the first half. "Keep doing stuff right!" linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. exclaimed.

- Coach Carroll's halftime speech featured a little more pizzazz than usual: "Let's kick the crap out of them one play at a time. Let them walk away with their heads down. Let's do this with our hearts beating out of our chests, together as one."


Stop, drop and roll

Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider got into the game action at one point in the third quarter.

But not by choice.

On a USC punt, gunner Jawanza Starling was violently pushed into the Trojan sideline by two Bruins as he ran down to cover the kick. Starling went flying, and Schneider bore the brunt of the play, as he took a tumble and rolled down the sideline.

Players and staffers on the sideline jokingly called out for the athletic trainers to come to his assistance. But Schneider popped back up with grass stains on his khakis and a smile on his face -- even though he missed the exceptional tackle by Ross Cumming on the 0-yard return.

"That was an all-time highlight," Schneider said with a grin.


Sample-sized address

As is his custom, USC president Steven B. Sample was in the locker room after the game. But going against tradition, he spoke to the team following the win, since it was the final time he'll preside over a USC-UCLA game. Sample is set to retire in August after 18 years as president.

"This was a great going-away present for us," Sample told the Trojans.


Relishing the win

As hugs and smiles abounded in the USC locker room after the 28-7 win over UCLA, Coach Carroll called his team together for a few final words.

"It was really important to get this win," Carroll said. "It's such a huge gift to win these games."

Carroll lauded the defense for its dominating performance.

"The defense never, never gave up," Carroll said. "The defense was frickin' awesome tonight."

Then the coach turned his team's attention ahead to next Saturday's game against Arizona, the seniors' final contest at the Coliseum.

"This week will be 1,000 percent dedicated to our seniors," Carroll said. "They deserve it."

The Trojans then broke into a hearty rendition of the fight song, filling the home locker room of the Coliseum with joyful music for the first time in five long weeks.

Taking timeout to spice up the win

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1128onfieldmelee.jpgThe 79th edition of the USC-UCLA rivalry took awhile to get exciting.

But once it did -- whoa nelly, this one will be remembered for a long time.

The game went from ho-hum to hog-wild in the span of minutes at the end of the fourth quarter. It all started when the Trojans, up 21-7, regained possession of the ball at the Bruin 47-yard line with 54 seconds remaining. Hoping to run out the clock in two plays, USC coaches called for Matt Barkley to take a knee. He did so, but then UCLA, down two touchdowns with less than a minute remaining, immediately and inexplicably called timeout.

Play-caller Jeremy Bates, who had already taken off his headset assuming the game would be over in a matter of seconds, turned to Coach Carroll and, with a smile, asked, "Can we?"

Carroll, who later called Bates and himself "two of the most competitive people you've ever seen," happily consented, and a play-action pass was signaled in to Barkley. The quarterback launched a perfect 48-yard bomb to Damian Williams in the end zone to give the Trojans a three-score lead and set off a riotous celebration on the USC sideline. Once the extra point was nailed, the knife had been dug into the UCLA wound, the fork had been stuck into the Bruins and the coffin had been sealed shut.

The Trojans' party continued on along the sideline, as players hopped around chanting the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" song. The USC party reached a boiling point, though, when the players turned away from themselves and toward the UCLA sideline, creating a scene that closely mirrored what happened during the 2008 rivalry matchup at the Rose Bowl, when both teams marched out toward midfield threatening a fight after the Trojans celebrated on their sideline.

Referees and coaches were able to keep the players at bay, but the chaos definitely turned a workmanlike win into a memorable night.

From that point on, coaches were adamant with the team about maintaining composure during the final seconds of the game. Carroll called the players together to remind them that fighting would result in a suspension by the Pac-10, so everyone had to be responsible for one another and keep teammates out of trouble.

"Be smart," Carroll said.

Offensive line coach Pat Ruel had some words of his own to share with the team: "Don't do anything stupid. Represent this university with class."

Coaches also restricted players from participating in the usual handshakes with the opponent after the game, instead funneling the Trojans to the east end zone for the traditional post-victory fight song with the band.

Once in the locker room, Carroll was both remorseful and excited for what transpired in the game's final minute, especially regarding the touchdown pass following the UCLA timeout.

"In the heat of a competitive moment like that, sometimes you don't think as clearly," Carroll told his team. "But it was a hell of an executed play from start to finish.

"And you're either competing or you're not."

Pictures from the 28-7 win

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Check out some behind-the-scenes images from USC's 28-7 win over UCLA on Saturday night at the Coliseum (all photos by Ben Malcolmson):

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The Trojans wait at the top of the steps at the peristyle end after proceeding through the Trojan Walk about two hours before kickoff.

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Coach Carroll speaks to his team at the 50-yard line immediately after arriving at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

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Defensive end Everson Griffen and offensive tackle Charles Brown go head to head during warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley stretches out during warm-ups.

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Stafon Johnson and running backs coach Todd McNair share a moment in the locker room before the game.

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Players gather around tailback Allen Bradford in the locker room before the game.

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Players run out of the tunnel and onto the field for the first half.

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Coach Ken Norton Jr. speaks to his linebackers on the sideline during the first half.

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Kicker Jake Harfman lines up for a 51-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates addresses the offense at halftime.

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Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto goes over adjustments in the locker room at halftime.

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Players lock arms toward the end of the halftime break.

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A jubilant Coach Carroll yells out during his halftime speech in the locker room.

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The Trojans jump around and get pumped up on the field at the end of halftime.

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Cornerback Josh Pinkard, who was battling an illness all game, bundles up with jackets and heat packs on the sideline after his second-half interception.

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The Trojans and Bruins begin to separate after the fracas on the field near the end of the game.

Peak performers

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Check out the standout efforts from Saturday night's 28-7 win for the Trojans over UCLA:

  • Tailback Allen Bradford scored two touchdowns and ran for 62 yards.
  • Wideout Damian Williams had 82 receiving yards and a touchdown to go along with his 62 yards on four punt returns.
  • Matt Barkley went 18-for-26 for 206 yards and a touchdown.
  • Linebacker Malcolm Smith returned an interception for a touchdown to go along with his game-high 15 tackles.
  • Cornerback Josh Pinkard forced and recovered a fumble before recording an interception.
  • Safety Taylor Mays had nine tackles.
  • Punter Jake Harfman averaged 45.4 yards on his eight punts.

USC runs the town with 28-7 win

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The Trojans own L.A. once again.

USC controlled the game from start to finish en route to a 28-7 victory over UCLA at the Coliseum on Saturday night, the Trojans' 10th win over the Bruins in the last 11 years. Get the AP story and full stats from the game.

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Tailback Allen Bradford, who scored two touchdowns in USC's 28-7 win, stiff-arms a UCLA defender. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Game time

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The rivalry resumes now.

In a few minutes, the Trojans will leave their downtown hotel and head down the 110 to the Coliseum, with a California Highway Patrol escort leading the way. Kickoff is set for 7:12 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally on FSN (along with being broadcast on several other platforms). We'll have a full, behind-the-scenes report tonight after the game, but in the meantime, follow USCRipsIt on Twitter for occasional updates.

Here's a look at USC's schedule for the rest of the night:

5:10 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:03 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:30 p.m. • Stretching begins
6:52 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:08 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:12 p.m. • Kickoff

A must-watch story

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In case you missed the live airing of the Jake Olson feature this morning on ESPN's "College GameDay," here's the piece in its entirety. You've got to watch this spine-tingling story:

Almost to kickoff

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One step closer.

The Trojans just finished cycling through their traditional pre-game meetings, including a rambunctious pump-up session, a special teams roll call and walk-thrus for the offense and defense. The players are now eating the pre-game meal before getting about 90 minutes to rest and relax before a clap session at 4:50.

Departure from the team's downtown hotel is set for 5 p.m.

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Coaches, with Coach Carroll at the center, gather for a staff meeting with less than five hours to go until kickoff.

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The players and coaches come together in a darkened ballroom for a "Trojans" chant at the end of the special teams meeting this afternoon.

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Coach Carroll watches as his first-team defense conducts a walk-thru in a hotel ballroom this afternoon.

Last meetings

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After waiting all morning and the early part of the afternoon, the Trojans are finally diving into their last pre-game business in second-floor hotel ballrooms with a special teams roll call, walk-thrus for the offense and defense and the pre-game meal. 

Media watch

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or otherwise follow tonight's USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum:

Waiting is the hardest part

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Night games are way different than day games, and not just because the sky is a different color.

A late kickoff means players will be sitting around a hotel all day, napping and watching football games to pass the time. Meanwhile, early afternoon games mean players essentially wake up and play, affording little time to relax before leaving for the stadium.

And which start time do the Trojans prefer? Players, even though they have to kill a lot of hours in a hotel room, typically enjoy the night games because it gives their bodies a whole day to warm up and their minds extra time to get right. Coaches, for the most part, enjoy the day games because they don't have to wait around even more after a full week of 16-hour days in preparation for the matchup. Also, earlier kickoffs give them extra time after the game to watch film back at the office, if they desire.

Hello captain

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Alongside the four elected team captains (Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard), coaches have selected two other players to serve as honorary captains for tonight's game. Garrett Green will represent the special teams and linebacker Ross Cumming will serve as service team captain.

Come to the tailgate

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Here's your reminder to stop by McKay's Restaurant near the Radisson for USCRipsIt's pre-game tailgate all day and going all the way up to the 7 p.m. kickoff. We'll be handing out cool mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

So come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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Good morning

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The wake-up calls are ringing and the sun is shining, meaning one thing.

Game day is here.

Players are awaking from a long night's sleep at the team's downtown hotel, with an overflowing breakfast buffet waiting in a second-floor hotel ballroom. Brief position group meetings will be at 11 a.m. and then the players will have more time to rest and relax, since the final chunk of pre-game meetings isn't until 2:45 p.m.

Goodnight

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The Day Before has come to a close.

With the day and week of preparation now complete, the Trojans are going to bed soon, and when they wake up, it'll be game day. The players are on tap for a full night's rest, as wake-up calls aren't arriving until 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Check out USC's full schedule for game 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
4:50 p.m. • Clap session
5 p.m. • Depart downtown hotel
5:10 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:03 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:30 p.m. • Stretching begins
6:52 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:08 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:12 p.m. • Kickoff

Friday night highlights

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You've got to watch this incredibly compelling video containing Trojan highlights from the USC-UCLA rivalry over the years, with Jay-Z's "Run This Town" as the soundtrack. It was masterfully produced for tonight's team meeting by the USC video production department.

Master motivator

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Coach Carroll gives his Friday night address to the team in a second-floor hotel ballroom tonight. Carroll's pre-game Friday speech is always his most philosophical and inspirational of the week, and tonight was no different. "Whether we won all our games or lost all our games up to this point, we'd still be saying the same thing tonight, because we need to win this game tomorrow," Carroll said.

Fight on remix

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Check out this cool remix of the USC fight song, featuring Brett Bakman on the guitar and Mike Mac on production:

Sleeping with the enemy

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The UCLA men's water polo team is staying at the same downtown as the Trojans tonight. UCLA and USC face off in the semifinals of the MPSF conference water polo tournament at McDonald's Swim Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Hanging at the hotel

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The Trojans have arrived at their downtown hotel and are now eating dinner and relaxing before meetings get rolling at 7:30 p.m. Here's a glance at the team's schedule for the rest of the 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 in the hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Heading downtown

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USC's on-campus prep work is now finished, as game week now transitions into its ultimate stage at a downtown hotel. The trip up Figueroa should be quicker compared to other weeks since the holiday weekend has eliminated downtown traffic congestion, and upon arriving at the hotel, players will eat pizzas and chicken wings, the same meal they eat -- without fail -- every Friday before a game.

Meetings will get started at 7:30 p.m.

Rally time

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Here are a couple of photos from tonight's jock rally featuring the Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls, players, coaches and hundreds of fans at Heritage Hall. Wideout Damian Williams and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., a former UCLA linebacker, spoke during the event.

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The Trojan Marching Band's tuba section plays just outside Heritage Hall during tonight's jock rally.

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Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., a UCLA alum, pours forth Trojan spirit during the rally.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Check out a few photos from Friday afternoon's walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where the Trojans reviewed all special teams situations, 15 important play calls for the offense and defense and a two-minute drill before ending the short workout with a Hail Mary attempt.

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Tailback Allen Bradford lines up in the backfield during Friday afternoon's walk-thru.

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Matt Barkley and the Trojan offensive line goes against air during a goal-line drill.

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Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto watches his squad go through the walk-thru.

Finishing the work week

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The Trojans are heading to Howard Jones for their final on-field preparation before tomorrow night's game at the Coliseum. Afterward, the team will head to Heritage Hall for the jock rally. We'll have a report following both events.

Above it all

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Coach Carroll stands on the armrests of the chairs in Heritage Auditorium to get his players' attention during the traditionally wild opening portion of this afternoon's meetings. The Trojans have officially transitioned into the "mental phase of preparation," as coaches say every Friday afternoon, with numerous meetings and a short walk-thru remaining before kickoff tomorrow night.

Lunching before working

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As if the last day hasn't featured enough of a feast, the Trojans were welcomed back from their Thanksgiving break this afternoon with a brimming barbeque lunch catered by Out of This World BBQ, a team favorite.

The Trojans will gather shortly to commence their final stage of pre-game preparation, starting with a special teams meeting before team, offense/defense and position group meetings and a walk-thru at 4:15 p.m.

Media presence

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

Don't miss this one

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The ESPN "College GameDay" feature on Jake Olson, a 12-year-old Trojan fan who has been hanging around the team this season prior to losing his sight two weeks ago because of eye cancer, has been pushed back to roughly 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. It's such a touching story that it'll be the longest feature in "GameDay" history, so be sure to tune it live or set your TiVo.

The USCRipsIt tailgate

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Stop by McKay's Restaurant near the Radisson for USCRipsIt's pre-game tailgate starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and going all the way up to the 7 p.m. kickoff. We'll be handing out cool mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

So come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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Weekend itinerary

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Check out the Trojans' schedule for the next 30 hours leading up to tomorrow night's 7:12 p.m. kickoff of the USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum:

Today
1 p.m. • Lunch
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
4:50 p.m. • Clap session
5 p.m. • Depart downtown hotel
5:10 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:03 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:30 p.m. • Stretching begins
6:52 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:08 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:12 p.m. • Kickoff

Eventful weekend

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This is a big weekend for both the present and the future.

Obviously, the Trojans have a primetime matchup against UCLA on Saturday night, and it's a game that coincides with one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the year for USC. A whopping nine high-caliber prospects are making their official visits this weekend, starting today and going through Sunday as the coaches make their strongest pushes with these high school seniors.

Because of our affiliation with the team, we're not permitted to disclose the names of the prospects.

Returning from the holiday

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Shaking off the drowsiness-inducing effects of Thanksgiving dinner, the Trojans are getting back to work and getting set to dive into the final stage of preparation for tomorrow's UCLA game.

Coaches are streaming into the office now and players will be in for a barbeque lunch at 1. The usual slate of Friday meetings will begin at 2:30 p.m.

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

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Closing out the physical part of game week preparation, the Trojans zoomed through a brief half-pads workout on a toasty Thanksgiving day. The practice, heavy on service-team work to allow coaches the final on-field look before completing the game plan, sent the Trojans into the final stage of game preparation. "We practiced our tails off and got ourselves right all week," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "Everyone should be revved up and ready to go for Saturday."

- Damian Williams participated fully in the workout, putting him one step closer to seeing significant playing time on Saturday after sitting out of the Stanford game.

- Offensive guard Alex Parsons will start at offensive guard, Carroll said.

- The practice, as is tradition for Thursdays, featured a large dose of special teams work to provide one last review of the schemes that will be employed on game day.

- Players and coaches now have the rest of the holiday afternoon off and don't have to report back until Friday afternoon. With the game just 48 hours away, Coach Carroll lightheartedly warned his players to not stuff themselves during Thanksgiving dinner. "It shouldn't be an eating circus," Carroll said half-jokingly. "It shouldn't be about, 'how much can I eat tonight?'"

Holiday football

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With perfection and precision on their minds, the Trojans are taking the field for their usual Thursday practice, this week happening at midday on Thanksgiving. We'll return with a report after the half-pads workout.

Come on out to the USCRipsIt tailgate

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Stop by McKay's Restaurant near the Radisson for USCRipsIt's pre-game tailgate starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and going all the way up to the 7 p.m. kickoff. We'll be handing out cool mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

So come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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Must-see TV

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A moving feature about Jake Olson, a 12-year-old boy who has been hanging around the Trojans this season prior to losing his sight because of eye cancer two weeks ago, will air on ESPN's "College GameDay" on Saturday around 7:30 a.m. You do not want to miss this especially poignant story.

Discussing the game

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Hear what Taylor Mays, Allen Bradford, Matt Barkley, Everson Griffen and Coach Carroll are thinking about the UCLA game in this free video feature from USCTrojans.com, produced by Mark Haas.

Trojans in NFL action

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Thirty-six Trojans will be in action during the NFL games this weekend, including five USC alumni in today's Thanksgiving matchups. Check out the full slate of Trojans around the League during Week 12:

Green Bay Packers (6-4) vs. Detroit Lions (2-8)
Today at 9:30 a.m. (FOX)
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews

Oakland Raiders (3-7) vs. Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
Today at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler

New York Giants (6-4) vs. Denver Broncos (6-4)
Today at 5:20 p.m. (NFL)
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas

Miami Dolphins (5-5) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-7)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner

Seattle Seahawks (3-7) vs. St. Louis Rams (1-9)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson
Rams: Defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey

Washington Redskins (3-7) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (6-4)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-9) vs. Atlanta Falcons (5-5)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

Indianapolis Colts (10-0) vs. Houston Texans (5-5)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody

Cleveland Browns (1-9) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga

Carolina Panthers (4-6) vs. New York Jets (4-6)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez

Kansas City Chiefs (3-7) vs. San Diego Chargers (7-3)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) vs. San Francisco 49ers (4-6)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
49ers: Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal

Arizona Cardinals (7-3) vs. Tennessee Titans (4-6)
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui
Titans: Tailback LenDale White

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) vs. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
Sunday at 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

New England Patriots (7-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (10-0)
Monday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Patriots: Linebacker Junior Seau
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

For a good read

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Check out this powerfully touching L.A. Times feature about Kim Mallory, Stafon Johnson's mother who has stood by her son every second of the journey.

Managing a rivalry win

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The USC football student equipment managers are hoping they set the tone for the weekend ahead.

During Wednesday night's rivalry matchup against UCLA's student equipment managers, the Trojan contingent stormed out to an early 14-0 lead en route to a dominating 27-6 victory over the Bruins on Howard Jones Field. Senior manager Brent Cochran threw four touchdowns, one each to Eloy Ledesma, Eric Ziskin, Adam Kossoff and Jarone Ashkenazi. Junior manager Brian Wagner had an interception on the final play of the game to give the USC squad its second consecutive victory in the series.

The game wasn't conducted without some faithful fans. Players Taylor Mays, Shane Horton and Michael Morgan and staffers Brian Schneider, Matt Capurro and Tino Dominguez stopped by to cheer on the Trojan managers.

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The USC student equipment managers celebrate their 27-6 win over the UCLA student equipment managers on Wednesday night on Howard Jones Field. [Photo courtesy of Brian Wagner]

Butler on the clock

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Get to know wideout Brice Butler through this "On the clock" video feature, hosted and produced by Katie Boggs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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On this holiday, we'd like to express our gratitude to you and all our readers who help make USCRipsIt what it is. Thank you for your continued support and for following along on the ride with the Trojans through RipsIt.

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This holiday greeting, made by USC's team of student athletic trainers during downtime before Wednesday's practice, was constructed with rolled-up athletic tape and placed on the wall surrounding Howard Jones Field. The four names are the Trojans' athletic trainers -- John Meyer, Paul Diaz, Chris Grosskopf and Russ Romano.

Turkey ball

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The Trojans will be playing some football today as they continue to prepare for Saturday's UCLA game, and although they're working on a holiday, isn't what they're doing something most red-blooded Americans do on Thanksgiving anyway?

"If you were worth a lick as a kid, you played football on Thanksgiving with the family," a grinning Coach Carroll said during Wednesday's team meeting. "We get to play our own form of turkey ball on Thanksgiving this year."

Meetings will get started at 9 a.m. and practice is up at 11.

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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The kickoff team runs through a rep.

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Players go through a gauntlet drill under the moon and sunset-colored sky.

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

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Though the offense won the day's emphasis by not allowing a turnover, the defense downright dominated otherwise, soaring to a 13-7 victory in the 20-play final team period to go along with a 10-8 win in 7-on-7 drills. The final period was closer than the score indicated, too, as the defense opened with eight straight wins and held a 13-3 lead before the offense won the last four plays. "The defense was kicking butt," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "They made every play out here."

- Wideout Damian Williams (ankle) continued to make great strides as he looks to come back and be available on Saturday, developments that Carroll called "thrilling." "He's not 100 percent yet but he's going to play in the game," Carroll said.

- The hits were flying during the rushing-focused 9-on-7 period. On the two closing plays of the segment, linebacker Uona Kaveinga and tailback Curtis McNeal smacked for a booming collision at the line before linebacker Marquis Simmons and tailback Allen Bradford crashed into each other to incite a riot among the offensive and defensive players. "That's how you get ready!" defensive end Everson Griffen repeatedly exclaimed after the play.

-Williams and fullback Stanley Havili each had bobbling circus catches during 7-on-7 period.

- Joe McKnight is slated to return punts for the second straight game, Carroll said.

To the field

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Coming off what Coach Carroll is hailing as one of the best Tuesday practices of the season, Carroll is now calling on his players to bring it to the practice field again today.

"When you practice like that, you can't help but feel right," Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "Let's have a lot of juice today. Let's cash in on every shot."

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

Archive footage

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As part of NFL Network's "Greatest High School Rivalries" series, relive the 2008 Mater Dei-Servite game on Friday at 1 p.m. The classic matchup saw then-senior QB Matt Barkley lead the Monarchs to a win over their Orange County archrival.

Moustache for a cause

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Using -- of all things -- his facial hair, Garrett Green is doing his part to help raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research.

The senior quarterback/wideout/all-around utility man is taking part in "Movember," a month-long moustache-growing campaign to bring attention to and raise money for men's health issues such as prostate cancer research. He's already raised $690, with a few days remaining in November.

So when's the moustache going to disappear from Green's face?

"December 1," Green said with a smile.

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Garrett Green shows off the moustache he's been growing all month to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer research, an international campaign referred to as "Movember."

Looking to the kids

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To continue with the week's theme of showing crazy Youtube videos during team meetings, Coach Carroll might've topped them all with this incredible highlight video of "the hardest hitting 6-year-old." Check out this insane and hilarious video of a Pop Warner superstar, the same highlight the Trojans watched during this afternoon's team meeting:

Farmer passes away

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Herb Farmer, who was involved with USC athletics for eight decades, passed away Sunday. He was 89.

Farmer videographed and photographed football and basketball games, among other athletic events, in more than 70 years on campus. The former cinema professor also shot coaches film from the roof of the Coliseum press box.

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Herb Farmer, a USC legend, passed away on Sunday at age 89. [Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information]

Rivalry sideshows

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Saturday's USC-UCLA game will be getting a little appetizer tonight on Howard Jones Field.

The student equipment managers from the two programs will battle in a 6-on-6 touch football game tonight at 8:30 p.m., setting the stage for Saturday's matchup at the Coliseum, where all of today's competitors will become tireless workers.

Tonight's rivalry football game is one in a line of battles between various USC and UCLA student groups in the week leading up to the annual gridiron contest. The ROTC groups traditionally play each other, but perhaps the most notable rivalry is between the staffs of the two student newspapers, a violent touch football game adequately named, "the blood bowl." The Daily Trojan captured a 39-38 victory last Friday to clinch an undefeated decade for the USC squad against the crosstown paper. Records indicate the last time UCLA's Daily Bruin beat the Trojan representatives was in 1996.

Down to business

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The Trojans will be getting Turnover Wednesday started soon with a special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium. As kickoff quickly approaches, the energy is picking up significantly around the Trojan football machine.

Practice is up at 4:15 p.m.

Sourena's Sentiments

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



Well, it's been a couple weeks since I've written you. I needed a bye week myself. I decided to get out of town and go to Vegas. My old USC roommate Sami and I loaded up my van and got some much needed play and relaxing time.

Vegas is great, it's pretty compact, which allows for my wheelchair to go anywhere I want, and if I am winning at the tables, everybody thinks I'm Rainman and wants to bankroll me. After a hot streak (and if you've seen the Hangover, you know you never walk away from the table when you're on a heater...now, I never WALK away from the table period, but that's not the point), Sami asked me to play for him. Now THAT was pressure. Luckily, I turned $150 of Sami's money into $650 and we had a great time. Saw Men Who Stare At Goats by the way, funny but random movie. Thought it deserved an awkward, random mention.

Going on that trip was really good. This year has been a great one, but stressful at times too. I know all of us have readjusted with the economy, etc. So, sometimes, it's good to step away and enjoy yourself. USC football has always been a great source for that for me. When the program is rolling, you all know how wonderful it is. When we're battling injuries, and still breaking in newer people, and stumble a little, it becomes frustrating as well, because we all care so much.

But, at this time of Thanksgiving, we all have so much to be thankful for. So, in no particular order, here are a few things my writing/speaking partner Rich and I are thankful for. Feel free to e-mail us yours, we love hearing from you!

  • Sourena's sister bought her first condo this year.
  • Bill Belichick's arrogance was highlighted on the grandest stage in the best game of the NFL season to this point. Junior Varsity version of this goes to LSU's loss to Old Miss last weekend.
  • It's good to see Brett Favre enjoying his well-deserved retirement. That enshrinement ceremony in the Packers Wall of Fame should be amazing next year...what? Really? Oh....that's weird.
  • Seriously though, how amazing is it the old gun-slinger having...yes, HIS BEST SEASON at age 40!  He has 21 TDs and 3 INTS....3! FAVRE! That's ridiculous. Just don't put us through another agonizing offseason, keep playing Brett.
  • It's fun catching Rich saying "we" about USC when HE went to West Virginia. Just sayin'.
  • We're grateful for the many professional milestones we reached this year: ESPN GameDay doing a piece on Sourena for the Rose Bowl, Sourena winning numerous acknowledgments and in particular a Man of the Year award, as well as radio, TV, and print pieces, but we also got accepted into the Washington Speakers Bureau for touring engagements, which is the most prestigious bureau in all the world.
  • Grateful for the friendships that have grown this year with Trojan players, most notably Taylor Mays. The other day we were at practice and while talking to Taylor, a nice man with a sharpie interrupted us, thinking I (Sourena) wanted an autograph from Taylor. Taylor immediately just said "No, he's my friend." That made me feel incredible, because there is that fine line where you wonder if people are being kind to you and just placating you or if they are truly consider you a friend. That meant a lot to me.
  • We had the honor of speaking to USC Marshall's Dean Ellis' class for parents' weekend. We just got done reading all the incredible essays written by the kids who attended. It was a wonderful experience, and we all had a blast.
  • The Carl's Jr Chicken Parm sandwich. Seriously. Put down this blog and go get one. We'll wait...see? Great huh?
  • The dedication of Coach Carroll is amazing to watch. Our friendship with him has grown so much. And we've been humbled enough to have some very candid and deep conversations with him about the program and life in general, and we cannot express to everyone how much this guy cares about each and every one of his players, the supporters of Trojan Nation and just people in general. While everyone always sees what a great guy Coach is, we wish everyone could see what we see when we get to talk with him about so many different topics because Pete Carroll is an even better man than he is a coach, if that is even possible.

Many blessings and Happy Thanksgiving Trojan Nation, we love you! (Now kick the stuffing out of UCLA....stuffing? Get it? See what we did there?)


• 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.

The ultimate tailgate

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Stop by McKay's Restaurant near the Radisson for USCRipsIt's pre-game tailgate starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and going all the way up to the 7 p.m. kickoff. We'll be handing out cool mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

So come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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National telecast

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Saturday's USC-UCLA game, slated for a 7:12 p.m. kickoff, will be televised nationally on FSN. Here's a list of networks that will be carrying the game live or joining it in progress:

  • FSN Arizona
  • FSN Detroit (Plus)
  • FSN Houston
  • FSN Midwest (St. Louis area will join in progress)
  • FSN North (Joining in progress at 11 p.m. Eastern)
  • FSN Northwest
  • FSN Ohio
  • FSN Pittsburgh (Joining in progress at 10:30 p.m. Eastern)
  • FSN Rocky Mountain
  • FSN South
  • FSN Southwest
  • FSN Wisconsin (Joining in progress at 11 p.m. Central)
  • FSN Prime Ticket
  • Comcast Bay Area (Plus)
  • Comcast Chicago
  • Comcast Mid-Atlantic
  • Comcast New England
  • Comcast Philadelphia (Joining in progress at 10:30 p.m. Eastern)
  • MSG Plus
  • Sun Sports

Make it better with Will Ferrell

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Tickets for the Feb. 20 Will Ferrell comedy event to benefit A Better LA are on sale and going quickly, so be sure to purchase yours before it's too late.

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A divided family -- to the max

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Saturday's rivalry game carries special significance for center Abe Makowitz and his family, as the family's past four generations have flip-flopped between USC and UCLA. Abe and his grandfather Larry have played football for the Trojans, while Abe's father Barry was a linebacker at UCLA in the '70s and his great-grandfather Richard Love played basketball and tennis for the Bruins in the 1920s.

Read all about this unique story in the latest edition of Midweek, a newspaper from the Markowitz' home state of Hawaii.

Special holiday guests

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With more than a third of the USC roster not from southern California, many players will be without their families for Thanksgiving on Thursday.

But they've got another family that's taking care of them -- the Trojan family.

For most of the 26 out-of-state players and 10 other non-southern Californians on USC's squad, they're being welcomed into the homes of various teammates' families for the holiday, a tradition that happens every other year before the Notre Dame home game and one that just happened to get a bonus run this year.

Text to give

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Giving back couldn't be easier this holiday season. Thanks to A Better LA and Causecast, you can text "TOY" to 85944 to donate $10 to the foundation's inner-city toy drive.

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A Trojan weekend

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It's a busy weekend for USC sports, so check out all the ways you can support the Trojans in action at home during the next few days:

  • The men's basketball team will host Coppin State on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Nebraska on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Both games will be at the Galen Center and you can purchase tickets on a special two-for-one basis here.
  • The women's volleyball team closes out the regular season with two home matches at the Galen Center -- Friday at 3 p.m. against Arizona State and Saturday at 2 p.m. against Arizona. Tickets are available at the gate or online.
  • The No. 1-ranked men's water polo team is hosting the MPSF conference tournament Friday through Sunday at McDonald's Swim Stadium. USC's first match is Friday at 10 a.m., and the complete tournament schedule is here.
  • The traditional pre-game jock rally will be on Friday at 5 p.m. in Heritage Hall, complete with the Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls, players and coaches. Admission is free.

Guarding the traditions

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At least for this week, Tommy Trojan might be the only statue in America with 24-hour bodyguards.

To prevent any rivalry shenanigans -- like the one that happened to UCLA's bruin statue last night -- the USC icon in the middle of campus has been wrapped in duct tape and is being guarded 24 hours a day for the week leading up to Saturday's game at the Coliseum. The faithful, round-the-clock protection is an annual rite of the Trojan Knights, a USC spirit organization that also keeps watch over the Victory Bell and other Trojan traditions. Couches, music and the Victory Bell have been set up around Tommy Trojan to help pass the time.

Also, the George Tirebiter statue on the southern portion of campus has been enclosed with a makeshift doghouse by the Trojan Knights, guarding it from any rival pranks.

Troy Week has a different feel this year because it falls around Thanksgiving, when most students skip out on classes and head home for all or most of the week. But the Trojan Knights are adding a little flavor to the slower week by hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at Tommy Trojan on Thursday -- to coincide with their 24-hour protection of the statue.

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To protect it from rival pranks, Tommy Trojan has been shrouded with duct tape and is being guarded by Trojan Knights 24 hours a day. The Victory Bell, awarded to the winner of the USC-UCLA game, is at the foot of the iconic statue.

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The George Tirebiter statue on the south part of campus has been covered by a doghouse to shield it from pranks.

Media coverage

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

  • Kickoff: 7:12 p.m.
  • National TV: FSN
  • TV announcers: Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis
  • Local L.A. radio: 710-AM
  • National radio: ESPN Radio
  • Live internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com GameTracker

Holiday workers

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As much of the country prepares for a few days off, it's quite the opposite at USC, where things are essentially business as usual for the Trojans through the Thanksgiving holiday.

After all, it's still a game week, and as masters of routine, the Trojans will carry on almost as normal. Its schedule bumped up five hours from the typical Thursday routine, the team will convene on Thanksgiving for meetings at 9 a.m. and then practice at 11 a.m., which will give players and coaches much of the afternoon and evening off to celebrate the holiday with their families. And to make the brief break a little sweeter, the team doesn't have to report back until 1 p.m. on Friday.

The earlier schedule on Thursday will only affect the coaches, who will have a few hours less than usual to prep for practice. But the bye last week allowed coaches to get a head start and prepare for the abbreviated agenda on Thanksgiving, so the adjustment shouldn't disturb them too much. 

Stafon tweets on

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Continuing his journey on the road to recovery, Stafon Johnson sent out this inspiring message through his Twitter account this morning:

"Grind and shine Twitter world.... This is a new day 2 prove ur own legacy in whatever you do.... Love, live, learn, God has a plan. SJ." 

On the agenda

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Check out the Trojans' schedule for this weekend leading up to Saturday night's 7:12 p.m. kickoff of the USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum:

Friday
1 p.m. • Lunch
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
4:50 p.m. • Clap session
5 p.m. • Depart downtown hotel
5:10 p.m. • Arrive at Coliseum; commence Trojan Walk
6:03 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
6:30 p.m. • Stretching begins
6:52 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
7:08 p.m. • Trojans take the field
7:12 p.m. • Kickoff

Closer to the future

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Signing Day is just 70 days away, and the ticking time bomb that is recruiting has found its home in the War Room this morning, as it does every Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Coaches are poring over highlight reels of prospects in the Class of 2010 and discussing their commitments and the players they're pursuing as the National Letter of Intent Day inches closer and closer to its anticipated annual appearance. The year-round recruiting process, oftentimes a tempestuous, up-and-down journey, is raging on in Heritage Hall.

NFL Trojan highlights

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Check out this highlight video of USC alumni during Week 11 of the NFL season, courtesy of Eric Espinoza and the USC video operations department. It's the same video the Trojans watched during Tuesday afternoon's team 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:


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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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Snapper Cooper Stephenson readies to snap the ball back to punter Jake Harfman (48).

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Under the watch of coach Pat Ruel, the starting offensive line goes through individual drills.

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Defensive end Nick Perry flies through agility bags.

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Linebacker Shane Horton (23) lines up against the offense in a rushing-focused drill.

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Tailback Joe McKnight and Matt Barkley fill out the backfield during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Wideout Damian Williams, out since the Arizona State game with a sprained ankle, returned to practice with a surprisingly strong performance. He took part in a majority of service team work, played significantly more than anticipated and felt "way better than expected," Coach Carroll said. "Damian really surprised me," Carroll said. "He got some stuff done today. It's a big plus for him and he's really upbeat about it."

- Tuesday was the defense's day -- and in a big way. During 7-on-7 period, the defense shut down the offense en route to a 14-3 obliteration before storming back to win the final team period, 8-7. The defense captured wins on the day's final five plays to climb back from a 7-3 deficit and clinch the overall practice victory. "I really like how we were battling all day long," Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle.

- The one redeeming play for the offense in the lopsided 7-on-7 period happened when wideout Travon Patterson snagged a deep ball while falling backwards to the ground in between defensive backs.

- Offensive lineman Nick Howell continued to make a push for game snaps at guard with another noteworthy effort on Tuesday. "To his credit, he's battling for playing time at the end of the year," Carroll said.

Work time

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Competition Tuesday is starting now on Howard Jones Field, so we'll return with a report following the half-pads practice.

Into the wild

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Coach Carroll utilized the animal kingdom to introduce the Trojans to Competition Tuesday today.

During this afternoon's team meeting, Carroll showed a popular Youtube clip of a safari battle between lions, buffaloes and an alligator to show what fierce competition looks like, using the video as a motivator for the team's 4 p.m. practice.

Said a smiling Carroll: "Now that's some competing right there!"

Watch it for yourself here:

See it again

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In case you missed it, here's the full archived video of Coach Carroll's press conference from earlier today, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Ask Coach: Staying loose

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Today's AT&T Ask Coach question wonders how and why Coach Carroll keeps his team loose leading into a high-stakes rivalry game such as Saturday's:

L.A.'s NFL team

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The L.A. Times compiled a starting lineup of USC and UCLA players in the NFL, and the Trojans dominate the squad. Of the 24 starting positions (11 offense, 11 defense and two specialists), there are 18 Trojans, including nine on offense and eight on defense.

Chasing them down

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Just in time for this weekend's rivalry game, check out this funny t-shirt from the good people at Tres Propaganda. The cardinal-colored shirt costs $22 and is available here.

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Show your support

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Looking back

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Relive the 2003 USC-UCLA game in the latest episode of "SC Classics," produced by Mark Haas of USCTrojans.com. In this 47-22 victory for the Trojans, Mike Williams caught two touchdowns and 181 yards and the defense scored twice. The video is for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers only, so if you're not an All-Access member, become one for $9.95/month here.

Coach speak

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The final week of the fall semester is already next week, and Coach Carroll is making a push for his players to finish strong in the classroom as if the lectures, tests and papers were football work. For all intents and purposes, you could swap his academic encouragements for a halftime pep talk -- word for word.

"We've got to compete in everything we're doing -- everything's a competition for us," Carroll told his players during Monday afternoon's team meeting, referring to their schoolwork. "We've got to take care of business and finish in the right fashion."

Streaming to your computer

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Coach Carroll is about to begin his weekly press conference in Varsity Lounge, so be sure to tune in live through this free internet stream of the presser.

Weekend sale

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For four days this weekend, the PeteCarroll.com shop is offering a 25 percent discount on all items. Use "blkfr5sale" as the coupon code during your order to take advantage of the savings from Friday through Monday.

Watch it live

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Watch Coach Carroll's press conference today at noon through this live stream, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Coaching connections

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Besides all the USC-UCLA family connections, the coaching staffs also feature several bonds, as eight coaches have a tie to the rival school. Check it out:

  • Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider held the same position at UCLA in 2003-05.
  • Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin coached UCLA's interior defensive line in 1999.
  • Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. played at UCLA in 1984-87.
  • Defensive graduate assistant Kris Richard's mother, Patricia, is a UCLA graduate.
  • UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel earned his law degree from USC.
  • UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow held the same position at USC in 2001-04.
  • UCLA running backs coach Wayne Moses was an assistant at USC in 2001.
  • UCLA offensive line coach Bob Palcic was an assistant at USC in 1992.
  • A combined six members of the two staffs participated as players in the intra-city rivalry matchup: USC's Norton, Richard and Rocky Seto and UCLA's Neuheisel, Carnell Lake and Reggie Moore.

Super graduate

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Jeff Byers almost has his MBA.

The sixth-year senior offensive lineman took his last final on Monday night, leaving just two papers to turn in over the next 10 days before he has wrapped up his graduate degree from the prestigious Marshall School of Business. He's planning on finishing the papers before the Arizona game next Saturday so that he'll have nearly the entire month of December to focus completely on football.

Cardinal and blue

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Both USC and UCLA will be wearing their colored home jerseys during Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

Weather watch

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A rivalry game at the Coliseum in perfect weather. What more could you ask for?

The forecast is calling for ideal conditions for the USC-UCLA game on Saturday night, with clear skies, a low of 50 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain projected. 

Family matters

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As you might expect for schools that are 12 miles apart, the connections abound between USC and UCLA. Five current Trojans have familial ties to UCLA, while four UCLA players have family bonds to USC. Take a look at all the connections between the two programs:

  • Linebacker Michael Morgan's brother, Steve, was a defensive tackle at UCLA from 1999 to 2002.
  • Tailback Marc Tyler's father, Wendell, was a running back at UCLA from 1973 to 1976, winning All-Conference honors in 1976.
  • Linebacker Shane Horton and defensive end Wes Horton, brothers on USC's roster, are sons of Myke Horton, who was a UCLA offensive tackle in 1973-74.
  • Center Abe Markowitz's father, Barry, was a UCLA linebacker in 1974.
  • UCLA tight end Jeff Miller is the brother of former USC tight end Jimmy Miller (2005-08).
  • UCLA center Kai Maiava is the brother of former USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava (2005-08).
  • UCLA running back Demetrius Papadakis is the son of former USC linebacker John Papadakis (1970-71) and the brother of former Trojans Taso (1994-96) and Petros (1997-2000).
  • UCLA defensive back Brandon Sermons is the brother of former USC tailback Rodney Sermons (1994-97).

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 players shuffle through agility bags at the start of practice.

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Matt Barkley and fullback Stanley Havili line up in the backfield during 7-on-7 period.

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Kicker Joe Houston lines up for a field goal.

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Tailback Allen Bradford and Matt Barkley fill out the backfield in team drills.

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Andrew McMahon (left), the lead singer of Jack Mannequin who fought through leukemia and is now in full remission, chats with Coach Carroll and Matt Barkley following practice.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- A hard-hitting, pads-thumping practice officially introduced the Trojans to UCLA game week, with the coaches and players feeding off the heavy contact to create a neat buzz on a cool night on Howard Jones Field. "I liked the way we brought it today," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "There was some nice hitting going on."

- The players were coming off a more than 72-hour break from football, and Carroll said he noticed the difference, especially in the quarterbacks' arms. "I thought you could see a little pace in the football," he said.

- Matt Barkley was a crisp 8-for-10 during 7-on-7 period.

- In just his third week at a new position, linebacker Devon Kennard was one of the standout players in Monday's workout, as he flew around making big-time hits and tackles throughout the workout. "He kind of took over practice today," Carroll said.

- Sidelined since the Arizona State game, wideout Damian Williams (ankle) sat out again Monday but is slated to return in "limited fashion" for Tuesday's practice, Carroll said.

- Defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) participated in Monday's entire workout and is "full go" for Saturday, Carroll said.

- Andrew McMahon, the lead singer of Jack Mannequin who fought through leukemia and is now in full remission, attended practice.

To the field

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The Trojans just took the field for their first practice of UCLA game week, so we'll return with a report after the helmets-only workout.

All's quiet on the home front

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Looking for some bulletin-board material in advance of Saturday's rivalry game at the Coliseum?

Don't look in Heritage Hall, where Coach Carroll is reaffirming a tight-lipped characteristic that has been a common trait of his USC teams over the years.

"That has never been our style," Carroll warned the Trojans this afternoon. "We're not going to do that. We're going to take care of our business this week and perform like we want to on Saturday."

Basketball bloviating

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A debate has been raging among the players over the past few weeks over which NBA superstar is the greatest of all-time -- Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Tailback Joe McKnight has been lobbying teammates for Jordan, while fellow back Curtis McNeal has been campaigning for Bryant.

The heated, team-wide discussion reached a boiling point during this afternoon's team meeting when Coach Carroll showed a clip of Bryant's unbelievable behind-the-basket shot from Sunday night's Lakers game. McNeal rose up like a lawyer in court, with the video being his closing argument. The MJ-vs.-Kobe debate thundered on as Carroll watched with amusement.

In case you missed it, here's Bryant's circus-like shot:

Championship mentality

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Coach Carroll's the-next-game-is-the-biggest-game mentality is in full force this week as the Trojans look to capture the L.A. crown for the 10th time in 11 seasons.

"Every game is a championship game for us," Carroll told his team this afternoon. "This game just happens to be a championship game of a different sense."

And the battle is magnified because of the two programs' familiarity with each other, as coaches recruit the same players and several members of each staff know one other from their years on the coaching circuit.

"We know almost every player and coach on the other team," Carroll said. "We have a familiarity with the coaching staff and players like no other team."

Strong men

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With this afternoon's team meeting, Coach Carroll welcomed his players back from a 72-hour break from football.

"You should feel strong -- you are strong," Carroll told his team. "Let's take advantage of this break and let's kick this week off right."

Scouts honor

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Players listen on as special teams coordinator Brian Schneider goes over the scouting report for the UCLA punt return unit during this afternoon's punt team meeting in Heritage Auditorium.

Keep on voting

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Ticket talk

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About 1,500 tickets remain for the USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum on Saturday, so be sure to buy yours online or by calling the ticket office at (213) 740-GOSC before the contest sells out.

Media presence

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

  • Kickoff: 7:12 p.m.
  • National TV: FSN
  • TV announcers: Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis
  • Local L.A. radio: 710-AM
  • National radio: ESPN Radio
  • Live internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com GameTracker

Now you know: Why the late start?

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The USC-UCLA game has traditionally been a day game on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and recent years have seen the matchup fall on the afternoon of the season's final Saturday.

This year, though, has thrown tradition out the window -- at least when it comes to the kickoff time. The 7:12 p.m. start time on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend bucks the trend, but it didn't happen for no reason.

According to a contract between the Pac-10 and FSN, the cable sports network receives rights to the USC-UCLA game one out of every five years, and the rotation dictated 2009 would be the game for FSN. The Pac-10 slotted the game on Nov. 28, and since FSN wanted it to be a nationally televised contest, the only remaining nationwide slot on that day was 7 p.m. Pacific time.

The late-November home night game will be nothing new for the Trojans, who have hosted Notre Dame at night on the last Saturday of November nine out of the rivals' last 10 meetings at the Coliseum.

Help make it better

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Tickets for the Feb. 20 Will Ferrell comedy event to benefit A Better LA are on sale and going fast, so be sure to purchase yours before it's too late.

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The week ahead

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The Trojans are so thankful that they'll be working on Thanksgiving.

The Thursday holiday won't adjust too much for the Trojans as they prepare for Saturday's game against UCLA, with the meetings and practice times just being bumped up a few hours to allow players and coaches the late afternoon to spend with their families. Here's a quick glance at USC's schedule for the entire week leading up to the UCLA game on Saturday night at the Coliseum (practice times subject to change):

Monday • Meetings at 2:15 p.m., practice at 4 p.m.
Tuesday • Meetings at 2:15 p.m., practice at 4:15 p.m.
Wednesday • Meetings at 2:15 p.m., practice at 4:15 p.m.
Thursday • Meetings at 9 a.m., practice at 11 a.m.
Friday • Meetings at 2:30 p.m., practice at 4:15 p.m.
Saturday • Kickoff at 7:12 p.m.

Down to the minute

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Kickoff of Saturday's USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum will be at 7:12 p.m. The matchup will be televised nationally on FSN.

This week in USC sports

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

  • Men's water polo stayed undefeated in conference play with its win over UC Irvine this past weekend. The Trojans now get set to host the MPSF conference tournament as the top seed this weekend.

  • Women's volleyball defeated Oregon and Oregon State on the road to improve its record to 19-9. The Women of Troy are currently ranked No. 15 nationally and will host Arizona and Arizona State this weekend to conclude the regular season.

  • Men's basketball opened the season with a win over UC Riverside before losing to Loyola Marymount on Saturday. The Trojans will host Coppin State on Friday and Nebraska on Sunday, with both games at the Galen Center.

  • Women's basketball lost to Gonzaga by a score of 70-58. The Women of Troy will now travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands this weekend for the Paradise Jam to play Rutgers, Texas, and Mississippi State.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Trojans around the League

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It was the weekend of the Trojan quarterback in the NFL, as four USC signal-callers found themselves in action on Sunday. Check out how the four QBs and other USC alumni performed during Week 11 of the NFL season this weekend:

  • Tight end Fred Davis (Washington Redskins) had 2 receptions for 24 yards in the Redskins' 7-6 loss to Dallas.
  • Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland Browns) had 4 tackles in the Browns' 38-37 loss to Detroit.
  • Linebacker Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) had 3 tackles in the Packers' 30-24 win over San Francisco.
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) completed 15-of-30 passes for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Chiefs' 27-24 win over Pittsburgh.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) had 4 receptions for 79 yards in the Giants' 34-31 win over Atlanta.
  • Defensive lineman Kyle Moore (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) had 3 tackles in the Buccaneers' 38-7 loss to New Orleans.
  • Quarterback Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) completed 10-of-14 passes for 74 passes in relief of Kurt Warner in the Cardinals' 21-13 win over St. Louis.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 14-of-22 passes for 207 yards in the Bengals' 20-17 loss to Oakland.
  • Tailback Justin Fargas (Oakland Raiders) rushed 8 times for 32 yards in the Raiders' win.
  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 8-of-21 passes for 136 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions in the Jets' 31-14 loss to New England.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant


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Matt Leinart helped lead the Cardinals to a 21-13 win as he completed 10-of-14 passes for 74 yards in relief of the injured Kurt Warner. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

A conference of quality -- and confusion

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Stanford's loss to California on Saturday further muddied the Pac-10 race and also caused several people to scratch their heads in confusion.

What is going on in this conference?

USC beats California by 27 points, Stanford beats USC by 34 points and then Cal goes out and beats Stanford by 6 -- in Palo Alto? What a wacky season this has become along the Left Coast, where six teams are within two games of the conference lead and strange occurrences happen on a weekly basis.

The tight race and regular oddities might be a result of the all-around excellence of the conference. The strength of the Pac-10 could be unprecedented this year, as it's rated No. 1 by Jeff Sagarin and seven teams -- 70 percent of the conference -- are already bowl eligible.

And Coach Carroll has surely taken notice.

"Teams are so loaded, they're just so good, that you could sense that this was going to be an extraordinary year," Carroll said. "And it definitely has been one so far for the Pac-10."

You know, it looks and plays a lot like the NFL, where the perceived great teams are never shoe-ins for wins and parity rules the roost. For example, the 6-2 Cincinnati Bengals beat the 6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers last week before falling to the 2-7 Oakland Raiders on Sunday. It's been a similar story in the Pac-10 this season, as the hottest teams are just 60 minutes away from dropping way down the standings and getting their Rose Bowl dreams crushed. Call it parity or across-the-board strength, but the Pac-10 has inarguably been a wild race this season.

Thanks to California and Oregon, Stanford and Arizona were the latest victims of the Pac-10 parity party this weekend. And with six conference games involving nine Pac-10 teams remaining in the season, the party is more than likely far from over. 

Technologically sound

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With his iTunes blaring a random mix of techno songs, Coach Carroll reclines in his office chair and watches film of UCLA's offense right now in Heritage Hall. Coaches spend the initial part of every morning working individually before coming together as a staff around 9 or 10 a.m. each day. 

Enjoying the break

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Coaches spent a majority of the bye weekend on the recruiting trail, but how did the players use the 72 hours off?

An early-morning practice on Friday gave players almost three days off, since they didn't have to be back until workouts this morning. So, most of them went home, even the out-of-staters who live as far away as the East Coast. High school football is in the playoffs, giving many players the chance to return to see their alma maters play on in the postseason. Above all, though, the weekend gave players an opportunity to recuperate physically and recharge mentally for the final two games of the regular season and the six weeks of football remaining in the 2009 campaign.

Tough to respond

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The Trojan hangover is alive and kicking.

For the third time this season, the team that beat USC followed it up with a loss in its next game after Stanford fell, 34-28, to California on Saturday. Washington and Oregon, the other squads that beat the Trojans this season, both lost to Stanford in their subsequent games after taking down USC.

Stanford's loss is the sixth time in the last seven such circumstances that a team has been defeated immediately after topping USC, and the Trojan hangover trend spans all of Coach Carroll's nine years with the Trojans. Teams are now 4-12 in games immediately after a win over a Carroll-coached USC squad (not including the two programs that beat the Trojans in a bowl game, since their next contests happened nine months later).

Rivalry time

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Welcome to UCLA game week.

Coaches, who spent most of Sunday in the office, are already planted in front of film of the Bruins this morning as they script plays for practice and continue to formulate the game plan for Saturday. Players, fresh off a 72-hour break from football, have returned to work with strength and conditioning sessions in the weight room this morning.

The week's opening meetings get started at 2:15 p.m., with the first official practice of UCLA preparation set for later this afternoon.

Break at the bye

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The bye week is now reaping its true reward.

After a week of practice, players now have the weekend off and don't report back until strength and conditioning sessions on Monday morning. Coaches, on the other hand, will use the weekend to recruit around the area, state and nation.

UCLA game week officially gets rolling Monday afternoon when the Trojans will convene for their usual block of meetings and practice starting at 2:15 p.m.

Special award

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Special assistant to the head coach Ricky Rosas, standing between Mallory (left) and Kirby (right) Davidson and director of football operations Matt Capurro on Thursday in the football office, shows an award of excellence he recently received from the American Cancer Society. Rosas overcame cancer as a child and has joined with the Davidsons, who lost Ryan (Mallory's brother and son of Kirby and Amy, who's not pictured) to cancer last February, to raises tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research. Rosas is also a nominee for the FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award. The Davidsons were in town this week to be honored at the American Cancer Society's annual conference. [Photo courtesy of John Pings]

Pictures from Friday's practice

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Defensive backs Josh Pinkard (36) and Will Harris (26) stretch with a light fog hanging over the field at the start of Friday morning's practice.

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Linebackers Uona Kaveinga (35) and Will Andrew (43) go through position group drills as the sun comes up.

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Coach Carroll orchestrates practice with the sun glistening off the L.A. skyline in the distance.

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The Trojans start their scrimmage with the sunrise producing a picture-perfect sky.

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Matt Barkley winds up to throw as defensive end Nick Perry closes in.

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The sun rises up over Friday morning's scrimmage on Howard Jones Field.
 
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Defensive lineman Armond Armstead pressures Mitch Mustain.

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As linebacker Chris Galippo (54) and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (91) jump, Matt Barkley passes to the right.

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Aaron Corp throws downfield as the dawn turns to day.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- During a sunrise practice on a dew-soaked Howard Jones Field, wideout Jordan Cameron caught 13 passes for 111 yards to headline the Trojans' 81-play no-pads scrimmage that closed out the bye week and sent the team into a two-day break. To tie a bow on the scrimmage and his week, Cameron, who Coach Carroll called the player of the bye, snagged a jump-ball touchdown from Matt Barkley in the left corner of the end zone on the final play of the day. "He's going to play in the game and get more reps," Carroll said of Cameron. "That's a great example of what we hope can happen in a week like this."

- Other than Cameron's standout performance, the defense dominated from start to finish in the lively minimal-contact scrimmage. Cornerbacks Kevin Thomas and Josh Pinkard each had an interception to lead a defense that allowed just three touchdowns and a field goal in 14 drives.

- Besides Cameron's touchdown reception, tailback C.J. Gable ran for a short score, wideout Travon Patterson caught a touchdown and kicker Joe Houston nailed a 30-yard field goal for the scrimmage's other scores.

- In the post-practice huddle, Carroll drew attention to Cameron, offensive lineman Nick Howell and safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald for their performances during the bye week's four practices. "I'm proud of how you guys took advantage of your opportunities this week," Carroll said.

- Carroll said defensive end Everson Griffen, who has missed a majority of the workouts since injuring his toe against Oregon, should resume practicing full-speed on Monday.

- As is his tradition before a lengthy break from football, Carroll sent the players into the 72-hour weekend respite with counsel about how to approach the days off. "We've got to have a conscience and a mindset to make the right decisions wherever we are," Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "Rule No. 1 is in effect -- always protect the team in everything you do."

Off to work

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As the sun begins to peek over the horizon and light up the morning sky, the Trojans are taking the field for their final practice of the bye week. We'll return with a report after the helmets-only workout.

Coaching in the morning

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While it's undeniably rather early for the players, the early wake-up call was a different story for the coaches.

Many staffers are early birds and can be found quietly working in the office before sunrise every morning, so the only thing unusual about the 6 a.m. call time was the increased number of people at Heritage Hall. For some coaches, the pre-dawn meeting and practice caused them to sleep in their offices, saving them a commute. And the early wake-up was even a positive for the coaches who made the drive to work from home this morning.

How's that? Well, there isn't any traffic on the L.A. highways at 5 a.m.

Wake-up call

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With linebacker Michael Morgan leading the cheers at the front of the room, players raise their arms and shout during this morning's team meeting. The Trojans spent several minutes horse-playing, chanting and calling teammates up for impersonations during the laughter-filled meeting, which rustled them wide awake even though it's still dark outside and they're all used to sleeping at this hour.

Waking up in a fog

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Just in time for practice, a thick fog has crept in over USC, which could create a fun element for this morning's workout.

"Fog bowl!" offensive coordinator John Morton exclaimed. "We're not going to be able to throw any deep balls -- you can't see the ball!"

Early in the morning

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With brisk 52-degree weather well before 6 a.m. this morning, the gate to USC's practice field is illuminated by nothing more than a distant street light. That will change shortly, though, as the Trojans will turn on the lights and begin their sunrise practice at 6:30 a.m. A team meeting at 6 a.m. will kick the morning off.

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

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Punter Jake Harfman gets off a kick during warm-ups.

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C.J. Gable readies to receive a kickoff during return work.

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Aaron Corp leads the Trojan offense during 11-on-11 drills.

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Kicker Jordan Congdon watches his kick soar through the uprights.

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C.J. Gable lines up in the backfield just prior to scoring a touchdown. 

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The defense is sweeping its way through the bye week, as it shut down the offense with a 7-3 victory in the final team period before holding the offense scoreless on two of three drives in a practice-ending scrimmage session. The half-pads workout put the Trojans one step closer to closing out the off week, with just a light early-morning practice on Friday remaining in the bye. "This has been a very good bye week so far," Coach Carroll said. "We feel like we've put together a really successful week."

- Several starters received minimal work for rest purposes, which opened up numerous opportunities for younger players for the third straight practice. Carroll said safety Jawanza Starling and wideout Jordan Cameron have stood out the most this week. "He's made a good impression," Carroll said of Cameron.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd continues to progress as he makes a push to return to the starting lineup after missing the last four games because of lingering effects of a preseason knee injury. "He's the healthiest he's been all year, and it shows," Carroll said. "He's really ready to play good football again."

- Tailback C.J. Gable scored on a short touchdown run in the final scrimmage-like session and Mitch Mustain connected with tailback Joe McKnight on a deep bomb down the sideline for the highlight plays of the day.

- Hobbled with a toe injury since the Oregon game, defensive end Everson Griffen sat out of Thursday's workout. Carroll said he plans to rest him through the weekend so he can be healthy by Monday.

- Wideout Ronald Johnson missed practice to go home to Michigan for a sister's graduation, Carroll said.

- Keith Erickson, who won two national championships at UCLA before a 13-year NBA career, attended practice.

Getting to work

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Practice just got underway on Howard Jones Field, so we'll return with a report following the half-pads workout.

About to feel real good

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This afternoon's practice will be the Trojans' last in pads until next Tuesday, so the players are in line for a healthy respite from blocking and hitting after today.

"You've got a great break coming up," Coach Carroll told the team this afternoon. "You're going to be stronger going into this game and you'll feel better than you have in weeks."

Charging on: 'We don't have a choice'

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With the loss officially in the rearview mirror and the future out ahead, the pedal is to the metal for the Trojans as the bye week rolls on closer to its end -- and the UCLA game inches closer by the minute.

"It's not time to do anything but keep charging," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "Let's go -- we don't have a choice."

Though the team's next game isn't for another nine days, Carroll is ensuring the players' focus is on the next matchup by how they perform in each and every practice leading up to next Saturday.

"This is the battle for L.A.," he told the team. "We win this game by how we practice today, tomorrow and next week."

Daily double

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In their annual compliance review session, the Trojans play a modified game of "Jeopardy" to go over the various NCAA rules for eligibility, amateurism and recruiting in Heritage Auditorium this afternoon. Football meetings, which have been pushed back to accommodate the required rules review session with the USC compliance staff, will begin shortly, and practice is up at 4:15 p.m.

Sunrise special

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The Trojans have just two practices remaining during the bye week, and oddly enough, both will fall within the next 16 hours. USC will conduct its normal routine of meetings and practice this afternoon before reconvening just 12 hours later for a 6 a.m. team meeting and 6:30 a.m. practice on Howard Jones Field.

In case you're wondering, sunrise will be at exactly 6:30 a.m. on Friday, so the timing will work out perfectly (though the lights will be on for the initial part of the workout). The practice will be a brief, helmets-only affair, with the Trojans playing a small scrimmage to review game situations and give them productive mental reps.

Players will then be off the remainder of Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday. UCLA game week will begin in earnest with strength and conditioning sessions Monday morning before meetings and practice on Monday afternoon.

Students and athletes

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Besides rest, health and more opportunities for younger players, the bye week also serves an important role in the off-field lives of the players.

With less film to study, shorter practices and a decreased amount of game-related stress, bye weeks offer players significantly more time to focus on their schoolwork, and coaches have been driving the point home all week. Only two weeks remain in the fall semester before finals, so every little bit counts as the grade and eligibility reports inch closer to being released.

Vote for Coach

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Hitting the trail

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The future will come into focus just a little more after this weekend.

Trojan coaches are spending all day Friday and Saturday -- with one already out and about -- on the recruiting trail, as they visit high schools and playoff games around the area, state and nation and make final pushes on several prospects for the Class of 2010. Running backs coach Todd McNair is already out of town and will miss practice this afternoon and Friday, and most of his colleagues will join him on the recruiting trail for the remainder of the weekend.

With Signing Day less than three months away and this being the final open weekend until January for the Trojan coaching staff, it's a tremendously vital time for the USC recruiting efforts.

Run with Tirebiter, for A Better LA

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The first annual "Tirebiter Run" will be on Saturday at 11 a.m. on campus, with all money raised going to A Better LA. The unique event will see participants run around campus, down a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and sprint through a tire obstacle course to reach the finish line at Tommy Trojan.

Special prizes, food, t-shirts and gift bags will be available, and registration is only $10. Sign up here. The event is hosted by the Trojan Knights, a USC spirit organization.

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Nearing the end

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The bye week is getting close to closing out, with just this afternoon's practice and a brief early-morning workout on Friday before the Trojans take two days off and head into UCLA game week.

The light's at the end of the tunnel for the bye, but Coach Carroll is making sure the team is getting every last drop out of this week.

"Let's make sure we get these guys going today," Carroll told his assistants during this morning's staff meeting. "We've got to go."

The new Linebacker U?

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1119cushing.jpgThe linebacker pipeline is flowing quite freely between USC and the NFL.

With four linebackers drafted last year and eight selected in the last three seasons, the Trojans are becoming an NFL linebacker factory and making a strong case to be Linebacker U.

"We love seeing our guys take it to the next level," Coach Pete Carroll said. "It's a testament to our program when guys can excel in the NFL like our linebackers have been doing recently."

The 2009 NFL draft saw Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava get picked, with the four Trojan rookies already holding starting spots during all or part of the season. Cushing has won two AFC defensive player of the week honors and leads all rookies with 78 tackles, while Maualuga, Matthews and Maiava are all the in top eight tacklers among rookies this season.

And then add to that quartet Lofa Tatupu and Keith Rivers, two other recent USC alumni who now star and start in the NFL. Tatupu has been a three-time Pro Bowler and has started 68 games in his four-plus seasons in the NFL, and Rivers has started 15 games in less than two full seasons.

So why the smooth transition and early success for Trojan linebackers in the NFL?

"We have a pro-style defense here," sixth-year linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said. "It's a proven scheme that has been tested over the years."

That's not the only reason USC linebackers are growing and developing into standout pros. It also helps that Norton had a 13-year career in the NFL and won three Super Bowls, and Carroll spent 16 years as a defensive or head coach in the League.

"I played it, Coach Carroll coached it," Norton said. "We understand the type of people that make this work."

And even before the recent flux of Trojan linebackers in the NFL, greats such as Junior Seau, Willie McGinnest and Chris Claiborne starred, combining for 43 seasons, 14 Pro Bowls and six Super Bowl appearances (and Seau is still active).

"It's a remarkable tradition of USC linebackers in the NFL, and it's something we hope continues well into the future," Carroll said.

Will Ferrell tickets on sale tomorrow

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Will Ferrell is headlining a special comedy event to benefit A Better LA on Feb. 20 at Nokia Theater at L.A. Live. Tickets will go on sale for the event tomorrow at 10 a.m. -- don't miss out!

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Carroll honored with prestigious award

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All-time greats John Wooden, Wayne Gretzky, Cal Ripken Jr., Arnold Palmer, Hank Aaron and Jerry West have won the Roy Firestone Award.

Now you can add Pete Carroll to the esteemed list.

During a star-studded gala at the Galen Center on Wednesday night, Carroll was honored by the Westcoast Sports Associates with the Firestone Award, recognizing his inspirational and effective work in the inner-city through A Better LA. Carroll was the 14th recipient of the prestigious honor, following a line of sports legends who have made monumental impacts in both the community and their respective athletic arenas.

But Carroll was lauded during the two-hour ceremony like he had topped them all.

"No one has ever earned this award more than you, Pete," Firestone, the event's host, said while presenting the award to Carroll.

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Coach Carroll is interviewed by Roy Firestone during the Westcoast Sports Associates Firestone Award gala at the Galen Center on Wednesday night. Carroll is the 14th recipient of the prestigious award.

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

Pictures from Wednesday's practice

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The kickoff team runs through drills.

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Offensive line coach Pat Ruel watches as Matt Kalil (left, 75), Kevin Graf (top) and John Martinez (59) go through blocking drills.

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The Trojans line up for an 11-on-11 period.

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Defensive end Armond Armstead runs past quarterback Mitch Mustain in the pocket.

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Mitch Mustain and Curtis McNeal line up in the backfield during 7-on-7 work.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Turnover Wednesday? More like Trash Talk Wednesday. During a half-pads practice this afternoon, the Trojans partook in a hard-hitting, loquacious workout that turned what could've been a ho-hum session into a fiery, passionate one instead. Players and coaches on both sides of the ball were handing out powerful hits and playfully lobbing verbal jabs throughout the practice, and it culminated in a booming collision between tailback C.J. Gable and defensive lineman Armond Armstead during the final team period. It was a play that had both sides claiming victory and talking equal amounts of trash, providing the perfect image of the second practice of the bye week.

- It was a seesaw day for the offense and defense. The offense protected the ball perfectly, labeling the day "No Turnover Wednesday," and also produced a dominating 16-6 victory in 7-on-7 period. The defense, meanwhile, won, 11-9, during the final team period and turned in an overpowering performance in 11-on-11 rushing-focused drills, including tackles in the backfield on the final two plays. "Crumple up that play and throw it out!" linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. exclaimed to the offensive coaches after each tackle-for-loss.

- If only SportsCenter could get today's practice tape, you'd be seeing the completion Matt Barkley tossed to wideout Ronald Johnson on the first play of team period. Barkley dropped back and launched a bomb to Johnson, who caught the pass in stride about 40 yards down the left sideline with a cornerback hanging all over him. The pass was perfect and the catch was even better.

- Mitch Mustain is making the most of his increased workload during the bye week. The junior quarterback threw three touchdowns in his five snaps of 7-on-7 work and then tossed a beautiful touchdown pass to fullback Stanley Havili during team period.

- In 11-on-11 work, Aaron Corp connected with wideout Jordan Cameron on a jump ball down the right sideline for one of the highlight plays of the day.

- Tailback Joe McKnight sat out of practice with migraine symptoms, Coach Carroll said.

- Wideout Damian Williams (ankle) attended practice and was out of the walking boot. He even played a casual game of catch with Carroll during the workout, but his status remains up in the air, Carroll said.

To the field they go

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Turnover Wednesday's practice just began on Howard Jones Field, so we'll be back with a report following the half-pads workout.

Keep voting

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

So fresh and so clean

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The USC pants and jerseys from Saturday's game are now clean and on their way to storage in anticipation of next week's UCLA game.

But the washing process wasn't a quick 40-minute spin cycle.

In fact, try two days.

To get the paint stains out of the game-worn pants and jerseys, equipment managers soaked the gear for a whopping 48 hours following the matchup. The wait was worth it, as the equipment is now good as new and being set aside for the next home game in 10 days.

But why the lengthy cleaning process? The Coliseum field features heavily painted areas in the end zones and midfield, so the players' gold pants were stained with cardinal paint. Also, as many don't know, many parts of the field are painted green to give the turf a picturesque look, but that aesthetic shortcut wreaks havoc for the equipment staffers, who have to get green paint stains out of the gear after every home game.

Capturing the moment

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With the second practice of the bye week less than an hour away, coaches are preaching a sense of urgency in meetings this afternoon. Every rep, every period, every practice count as the Trojans aim to redeem themselves during the final games of the season.

"These days are crucial," Coach Carroll said of the bye-week workouts. "We have got to get right."

Business meetings

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USC's afternoon slate of meetings just got rolling with a special teams film review focused on the kickoff coverage unit. A full-team meeting, along with offense/defense and position group gatherings, will follow before a half-pads, turnover-themed practice at 4 p.m.

Rivalry tailgate at L.A. Live

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L.A. Live, in conjunction with Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket, will be hosting a crosstown rivalry tailgate party on Nov. 28 starting at 2 p.m. and leading into the USC-UCLA game that night at the Coliseum. Admission is free, and a live concert, food, ticket giveaways, parking and shuttles to the game will be available.

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A look ahead

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The bye week is already at its midpoint, with the UCLA game now just 10 days away. Check out the Trojans' schedule leading up to the rivalry matchup next weekend:

  • Today and Thursday: Normal meetings and practice
  • Friday: Practice at 7 a.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Players off
  • Monday through Wednesday (Nov. 23-25): Normal meetings and practice
  • Thursday (Nov. 26, Thanksgiving): Meetings and practice in the morning
  • Friday (Nov. 27): Convene at 2:30 p.m. for meetings and practice
  • Saturday (Nov. 28): UCLA game, 7 p.m. at the Coliseum 

Carroll to speak at the Rotary Club

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Coach Carroll will be speaking at the L.A. Rotary Club's 59th annual USC-UCLA luncheon on Friday at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A. Get all the details and registration info here.

Conquest coming

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Conquest, the annual pre-UCLA game pep rally, will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. at McCarthy Quad on campus. A Ferris wheel, food fair, vendor village, a bonfire, fireworks and an entertaining program -- complete with guest appearances by Jamie Kennedy, OK Go and the Trojan Marching Band -- will help students and fans kick off rivalry week. Get more info on the free, fun-filled event here.

Home cooking

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RipsIt reader Kyle Miyamoto e-mailed in with this interesting question about squad sizes for home games in light of last week's post about home roster numbers: "In the movie Rudy, the coach tells Rudy that they were extremely limited in their dress squad size (even for home games). Has that rule changed or is that just another Hollywood drama piece?"

According to the rulebook, home teams are not limited on how many players they can dress out for home games. The entire roster -- in USC's case, that's 108 players -- can suit up and be available for home contests, which the Trojans do for all non-injured players. Allowing all players to dress out is a way Coach Carroll shows appreciation for the walk-ons and lower-rung players who most likely won't see any game action.

Some schools, though, limit the dress squad for home games for various reasons. Redshirting players at some programs do not suit up, while certain walk-ons at other programs don't dress out. Many schools in the south have enormous rosters -- Georgia, for example, has 131 players on its squad -- so the dress list is often pared down for game days since that many suited-up players is completely unnecessary.

Apply to become a Spirit Leader

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Applications for the 2010 Spirit Leaders are being taken until Friday, so get the application and find out more info about one of USC's newest traditions, a co-ed spirit squad that performs at all athletic games.

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The 2009 Spirit Leaders

NFL Trojan highlights

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Check out the big-time highlights of USC alumni during Week 10 of the NFL season in this video courtesy of Eric Espinoza and the USC video operations department:

Opening with a win

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The Kevin O'Neill era has started off on the winning foot.

On Tuesday night at the Galen Center, the Trojans clinched a 77-67 season-opening win over UC Riverside in the new head coach's first game. Check out some behind-the-scenes photos from the victory on the Trojan Fever basketball blog.

Forward thinking

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With Denny's omelets as breakfast, the coaching staff is entrenched in the weekly recruiting meeting in the War Room, where they're poring over film and discussing prospects for the Class of 2010. This morning's meeting carries a little extra weight because of the bye, since coaches will be hitting the recruiting trail all weekend.

"We've got to compete," Coach Carroll said during the meeting. "We've got to compete our tails off with this stuff."

The pressure is rising, as Signing Day is less than three months 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

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Tailback Joe McKnight tosses a ball up as he readies to receive a punt.

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Punter Jake Harfman takes the snap as protector Garrett Green (14) and snapper Cooper Stephenson (85) drop back during protection drills.

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Coach Pat Ruel watches as his offensive linemen go through position-specific drills.

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With the L.A. skyline in the background, Aaron Corp calls the play in the huddle.

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Mitch Mustain throws to the right as defensive lineman Jurrell Casey closes in.

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Matt Barkley lines up for the snap during 7-on-7 period.

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The Trojans wrap up practice with 11-on-11 work under the lights.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The Trojans returned to practice for the first time since Saturday, commencing their road to redemption with a workout rife with opportunities for younger players. "We need to earn our way back to where we can play a game like we're capable of playing," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "We've got to work at this."

- Carroll was impressed with the way his players responded in their initial practice back following the loss. "We're starting the process of fixing the issues," he said. "The only guys who can fix it are us. Guys were tuned in."

- With several big-time catches, wideout Jordan Cameron had perhaps the best performance in Tuesday's practice, and fellow receiver Travon Patterson also recorded numerous receptions.

- Safety T.J. McDonald recovered a fumble during 11-on-11 work, while cornerback Shareece Wright levied the hit of the day when he knocked wideout Ronald Johnson off his feet on a short reception in the flat.

- The offense and defense split the two main periods on Competition Tuesday, with the offense capturing a 12-7 victory in 7-on-7 drills and the defense clinching a 12-10 triumph in team period.

- Wideout Damian Williams (ankle) is expected to sit out of practice all week, Carroll said.

- Tailback Allen Bradford, who was sidelined for much of Saturday's game and watched Tuesday's practice in street clothes, has a bone bruise in his foot, Carroll said, and his prognosis is undetermined at this point.

- Safety Drew McAllister (hip) returned to practice and participated in most full-speed drills.

- Scouts from four NFL teams attended the practice.

Working away

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The Trojans just hit the field for their first practice since the loss, so we'll return with a report following the half-pads, competition-themed workout.

Got to compete

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Sign No. 1 that the Trojans are still Trojans and that life has gone on following the loss over the weekend?

Competition Tuesday has come, just like it has every week during the past nine falls.

"This is clearly opportunity time," Coach Carroll told the players during the team meeting this afternoon. "Let's get better, let's improve ourselves. Make each other work like crazy to get this done."

Turf club

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New sod has been rolled out between the hashes on Howard Jones Field and is ready to go for this afternoon's practice, the team's first since last Friday. The fresh turf replaces the worn-down grass and dirt that had overtaken the heavily used parts of the practice field after more than three months of continuous wear-and-tear.

Maiava starts

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Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Kaluka Maiava made his first career NFL start in Monday night's game against the Ravens, recording eight tackles in the 16-0 loss.

Back on track

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While opponents have struggled to a 4-11 record after beating the Trojans, USC has performed quite the opposite during Coach Carroll's nine seasons. Following a loss, Carroll-coached Trojan teams are 12-3, including wins in the last 12 such contests. That record doesn't include season-opening victories following the two losses in bowls, which would put the mark at 14-3.

Raising funds

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So far this year, more than $58,000 has been raised for the athletic department through the "Touchdown Club," a special fundraiser that sees fans pledge a certain dollar amount for every touchdown the Trojans score during the season. Join the Touchdown Club here!

Trojan hangover?

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Is there really such a thing as a Trojan hangover? The facts might say so.

Teams have gone just 4-11 in games immediately following a win over a Pete Carroll-coached USC squad, suggesting that a victory against the Trojans takes a serious toll. That record doesn't include Stanford's matchup this weekend against California nor the results of Utah and Texas after their bowl wins over the Trojans, since their next games didn't occur for another nine months.

Here's the listing of the teams that have beaten Carroll's Trojans and the result of their subsequent game:

2001
Kansas State • lost to Texas Tech
Oregon • beat Utah State
Stanford • lost to Washington State
Washington • lost to UCLA
Notre Dame • lost to Boston College
Utah • end of season (won 2002 season opener)

2002
Kansas State • lost to Colorado
Washington State • beat Stanford

2003
California • lost to Oregon State

2005
Texas • end of season (won 2006 season opener)

2006
Oregon State • beat Arizona State (then lost next game)
UCLA • lost to Florida State

2007
Stanford • lost to TCU
Oregon • beat Arizona State (then lost next 3 games)

2008
Oregon State • lost to Utah

2009

Washington • lost to Stanford
Oregon • lost to Stanford
Stanford • ??? (vs. California on Saturday)

A multicolored rivalry

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Renewed last season, a colorful L.A. tradition will continue next Saturday.

UCLA has obtained the appropriate clearances from USC and the Pac-10 and will be wearing its powder blue home jerseys during the rivalry matchup at the Coliseum next weekend, continuing a tradition that was restarted at the Rose Bowl last year.

One thing will be different this year -- other than the late-night start of the game, which won't create the same pop with the jerseys as last season's mid-afternoon matchup under the sun. The NCAA amended the rulebook during the offseason to allow visiting teams to wear colored jerseys without penalty (USC, as you remember, incurred a loss of a timeout at the start of the UCLA game last year). All that has to happen to avoid the penalty is that the home team has to agree in writing prior to the game and the conference has to certify that the jersey of the visiting team is of a contrasting color, both of which have occurred.

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USC fullback Lynn Cain runs up the middle in the 1977 UCLA game at the Coliseum, where both teams wore their colored jerseys to follow along with a rivalry tradition that had died out until last season. [Photo courtesy of USC sports information]

Hoop it up

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The future begins now for the USC men's basketball team, which opens its season tonight at 7:30 against UC Riverside at the Galen Center. You can but your tickets, which are being sold on a 2-for-1 basis for the season opener and select other non-conference games, here for just $10.

Young and restless

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Howard Jones Field is about to become a land of opportunity.

Several younger players will be on full display during the bye week as coaches put them in places to move up the depth chart and position themselves for starring roles in future years. The extra practice reps for the inexperienced players also give the older guys more rest so they can be healthy for the stretch run of the season. It's a strategy Carroll has used for bye weeks in each of his nine seasons at USC.

"It's development time," Coach Carroll said of the bye.

With several starting spots opening up just three games from now, the players Carroll and his assistants will be watching the most this week are:

  • Safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald
  • Offensive linemen Matt Kalil, Khaled Holmes, John Martinez and Kevin Graf
  • Wideout De'Von Flournoy
  • Defensive lineman Kevin Greene

Make it better with Will Ferrell

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Will Ferrell is headlining a comedy event to benefit A Better LA on Feb. 20 at Nokia Theater at L.A. Live. Tickets will go on sale for the event on Friday at 10 a.m. -- don't miss out!

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More into focus

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After a week of extra attention, third downs will again be getting the royal treatment during the bye.

The Trojans spent double the usual amount of time on third downs during last week's practices, and USC coaches are planning to do the same again this week as they hope to create more third-down success on game days.

The defense is holding opponents to a third-down conversion rate of 37 percent, the country's 43rd-best mark. But on Saturday against Stanford, the Trojans allowed successful conversions on 8 of 11 third-down opportunities (73 percent), including one particular back-breaker late in the game.

The offense, even after a 6-for-12 effort on Saturday, is limping along with the nation's 100th-ranked third-down rate of 34 percent. Last week's extra practice appeared to pay off against Stanford, so the coaches are prescribing more of the same ointment over the next several workouts in anticipation of the UCLA game.

"We've got to get better on third downs," Coach Carroll said during this morning's staff meeting. "Got to."

Run with Tirebiter

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The first annual "Tirebiter Run" will be on Saturday at 11 a.m. on campus, with all money raised going to A Better LA. The unique event will see participants run around campus, down a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and sprint through a tire obstacle course to reach the finish line at Tommy Trojan.

Special prizes, food, t-shirts and gift bags will be available, and registration is only $10. Sign up here. The event is hosted by the Trojan Knights, a USC spirit organization.

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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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'Super Bowl' coming

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The Trojans have spent much of the afternoon digging through film and discussing the realities from the loss on Saturday, and facing the music today has freed them to turn their focus forward.

The UCLA game is just 12 days away.

"We have a huge championship game coming up," Coach Carroll said of the rivalry matchup during this afternoon's team meeting. "If you want to own this city, this is it. Let's go win this city.

"It's the Super Bowl for us."

Teaching life skills

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In conjunction with the NFL, the Trojans took their preparation to a new level this afternoon.

Two representatives from the League office spoke to the players during an informative meeting in Heritage Auditorium this afternoon, giving the athletes a fuller understanding of life as a professional. The hour-long session is part of a unique partnership between USC and the NFL that brought Chris Henry, the League's director of player development, and Troy Vincent, a 15-year NFL veteran, to Heritage Hall for an enlightening talk and Q&A about the challenges and facts of playing and living at the next level.

"It's a proactive way of educating our players about the life skills needed in the NFL," said senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson, who helped organize the event.

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NFL veteran Troy Vincent (center), with NFL director of player development Chris Henry at right, speaks to the Trojans during a special "NFL life skills" presentation this evening in Heritage Hall.

Fight to the finish

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One part of this weekend's defeat is not up for debate among the coaches and players -- the Trojans competed hard and remained unified even in the face of essentially insurmountable scores at the Coliseum on Saturday.

"You played really hard, you stayed together -- that's the truth," Coach Carroll told the players this afternoon. "We did not lose this game because we didn't try hard."

Third time's not a charm

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Besides turnovers -- USC had four giveaways to Stanford's one -- another key factor in Saturday's loss was third downs.

The Trojans offense played "really sharp" according to Coach Carroll, as it converted 6-of-12 third downs.

But the USC defense, on the other hand, did just the opposite. Stanford was successful on a stunning 8 of its 11 third-down chances, including going 5-for-6 in the second half. The Cardinal's effectiveness on third downs kept drives alive, crippled any USC defensive momentum and paved the way for 55 points.

"That murdered us in this game," Carroll said of Stanford's third-down success.

A closer look at the finish

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The 55-21 final score didn't reflect how narrow the game's margins were for much of the matchup.

But that fact is just making it hurt even more.

The Trojans were down just seven points going into the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, with Stanford looking at a third-and-4 from its own 44-yard line on the first snap of the final period. Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck scampered for 16 yards on the play and, three snaps later, connected for a 24-yard touchdown to make it 35-21. USC got the ball back, but in just three plays the score was 42-21 after an interception return for a touchdown.

"That's how close this game was," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "It was that close."

Moving on, pressing forward

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Shock and bewilderment remained on the faces and in the hearts of the Trojans at the onset of this afternoon's team meeting, the first full-squad gathering since Saturday's defeat.

"Never in my wildest dreams could I ever fathom that happening to one of our teams," Coach Carroll told his players, referring to the 55-21 loss. "You all find this really hard to accept, and I feel exactly the same way. But the truth is, it happened.

"The fortunate part is, we get to move on."

Then after Carroll shared his basic thoughts on the game, the attention turned to bouncing back and correcting the wrongs. The operative phrase became "move on" during the 15-minute meeting in Heritage Auditorium, where players were actively listening and visibly responding to Carroll's message.

"I hope we can put the embarrassment, the discomfort, the shame somewhere where it can help us as we move on," Carroll told the players. "We've got to put our care into something that can help our team."

Carroll then addressed the high expectations -- the self-imposed ones being the most important -- the team has fallen short of in light of this weekend's loss, the Trojans' third this season.

"We have marvelous, extraordinary expectations that we live with here -- it's the only way we want it to be," Carroll said. "But it brings pressure and attention when we're not like that."

So as the emphasis then turned to bettering their football -- "we need to get right," Carroll said -- the Trojans could do so with a newly bestowed sense of freedom from their past failures because of Carroll's soothing, liberating words. Moving on, thankfully, was in effect.

"Last week was last week," Carroll said to conclude his address, cracking a tiny, relieved smile. "We can do nothing about that except respond. So let's go out and capture everything that's out there for us."

Fact-finding mission

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The Trojans are gathering now for their Tell the Truth Monday meetings in Heritage Auditorium, where the painful truths from Saturday's loss are about to be unfolded, dug up and addressed so that the team can move forward from here in a positive direction.

Resiliency

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In the face of challenges not seen around USC in years, Coach Carroll is focusing on fighting through the heartache and getting things back on track.

"Let's be resilient," Carroll said during this afternoon's staff meeting. "We have to keep going, we have to keep moving. We've got no other way to do it."

Hello bye

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The bye week is a welcome sight for the Trojans.

Loads of rest and an extra few days of preparation for the UCLA game are adding up to be a boon at Heritage Hall this week. Today, the team has just meetings and is off from practice, with light practices scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday before heavier workouts on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The players will then be off after the early-morning practice on Friday through meetings on Monday afternoon, more than three restful days away from football before diving into UCLA game week.

The USC roster has been depleted by injuries, both big and small, so the extra rest and lighter practices should help greatly in shortening the length of the injury report by the time the UCLA game prep kicks into fifth gear next Monday. Several banged-up players -- wideout Damian Williams, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebacker Malcolm Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen and linebacker Michael Morgan, among others -- should be a lot healthier come Nov. 28 at the Coliseum.

And of course, the bye is affording the Trojans extra time to get their football right and get back on track without having the burden of a normal game week.

Peak performers

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While there are obviously several glaring concerns for the Trojans following Saturday's defeat, a few players and areas of the game had standout performances that have been lost in the shuffle of the game:

  • Wideout Brice Butler, who started in place of the injured Damian Williams, caught six passes for 96 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown.
  • Tailback Joe McKnight ran for 142 yards on 16 carries and scored a touchdown.
  • Receiver Ronald Johnson recorded seven receptions for 69 yards.
  • Safety Will Harris led the team with 12 tackles, while safety Taylor Mays and cornerbacks Kevin Thomas and Josh Pinkard had 11 each.
  • The kickoff coverage team held Stanford's return unit, the nation's No. 1-ranked squad with an average of 30.8 yards, to just 19.2 yards per return.
  • USC went 6-for-12 on third downs, a major improvement from their season-long mark that has hovered around 30 percent.
  • The Trojans had just two penalties for 19 yards.

Opening the season

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The USC men's hoops team opens the 2009-10 season on Tuesday when UC Riverside comes to the Galen Center for a 7:30 p.m. matchup. Tickets, which are being sold on a 2-for-1 basis for the season-opener and select other non-conference games, are available here for just $10.

Off to Galen

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Coach Carroll is heading into one of his toughest challenges of the week.

Taking a break from staff meetings, Carroll is departing Heritage Hall now to conduct his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback event with fans at the Galen Center. Thing is, he's about to face the questions, complaints and concerns from the hundreds of Trojan faithful packed into the Founders Room less than 48 hours after Saturday's loss.

He'll return to his other work -- being a football coach -- in a little more than an hour.

Getting back to work

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Redemption road is already being paved.

Players have been churning through strength and conditioning sessions in the Heritage Hall weight room all morning as their bounce-back process has begun. The next step in the path to resurrection is the afternoon block of meetings starting at 2:15 p.m.

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Wideout Damian Williams does upper body work during this morning's strength and conditioning sessions.

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Safety Taylor Mays goes through a squat exercise in the weight room this morning.

McCoy going for the Mackey

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Anthony McCoy has been named one of eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's best tight end.

This week in USC sports

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

  • Men's water polo defeated No. 3 Stanford 13-12 in overtime to improve their record to 21-1. The Men of Troy are currently ranked No. 1 nationally and host UC Irvine on Saturday.

  • Women's soccer lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Oklahoma State. The game was decided by penalty kicks and it means the end of the season for the Women of Troy.

  • Women's volleyball defeated Washington and Washington State this past weekend. The Women of Troy are currently ranked No. 17 nationally and will travel to play Oregon and Oregon State this weekend.

  • Women's basketball came back to win, 68-63, over Fresno State on Sunday night at the Galen Center, notching their first win of the season after losing the opener, 81-71, in overtime to No. 11 Xavier.

  • Men's basketball opens their regular season at home on Tuesday night at 7:30 against UC Riverside before playing Loyola Marymount at the Galen Center on Saturday night.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Trojans around the League

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Check out how USC alumni performed during Week 10 of the NFL season:

  • Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints) rushed 6 times for 83 yards and 1 touchdown while making 2 receptions for 15 yards and another touchdown in the Saints' 28-23 win over St. Louis.
  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 16-of-30 passes for 212 yards and 1 touchdown in the Jets' 24-22 loss to Jacksonville.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 18-of-30 passes for 178 yards in the Bengals' 18-12 win over Pittsburgh.
  • Defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (Cincinnati Bengals) had 1 interception with a 26-yard return in the Bengals' win.
  • Linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals) had 6 tackles in the Bengals' win.
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) completed 19-of-34 passes for 216 yards in the Chiefs' 16-10 win over Oakland.
  • Tailback Justin Fargas (Oakland Raiders) rushed 10 times for 41 yards and 1 touchdown in the Raiders' loss.
  • Linebacker Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) contributed to the Packers' 17-7 win over Dallas with 1 sack.
- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

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Tailback Reggie Bush dives into the end zone for one of his two touchdowns in the Saints' win on Sunday. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Saying there's a chance

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Not to create false hope, but USC still has a chance to win the Pac-10 title and go to the Rose Bowl -- if a lot of ifs happen. Eight games would have to fall just right to create a six-way tie at 6-3 in conference play, which would then give the Trojans the tiebreaker and crown. Here's the scenario, according to the Pac-10 office:

  • Oregon loses to Arizona and Oregon State
  • Stanford loses to California
  • Oregon State loses to Washington State and beats Oregon
  • Arizona beats Arizona State and Oregon; loses to USC
  • USC beats UCLA and Arizona
  • California beats Stanford and Washington

All six teams would finish at 6-3 in Pac-10 play. Comparing head-to-head records against one another:
 
  • Arizona, Oregon State and USC would be 3-2
  • California, Oregon and Stanford would be 2-3 and consequently eliminated from the tiebreaker

USC would win the three-way tiebreaker against Arizona and Oregon State because of head-to-head victories.

Present is a gift

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Left with nothing but the present, the Trojans look to affect their future, starting now.

With the past failures -- namely Saturday's 55-21 loss at the Coliseum -- completely out of reach and utterly useless to stew over at this point, USC players and coaches are now focused on righting the ship by capturing the moment. Morning workouts for the players and film sessions for the coaches are all that matters right now. Their next steps -- this afternoon's team meetings, tomorrow's practice and the UCLA game in 12 days -- will be coming later, but for now, it's all about the present.

Focusing on the now will help the Trojans move beyond their past and set the trajectory for their future. Time to make it happen.

Behind the scenes

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Don't miss this slideshow of fantastic images, many of which are from the locker room and tunnel, from Saturday's 55-21 loss at the Coliseum, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:


Photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Photo albums from the Stanford game

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Check out this five-part photo album from Saturday's 55-21 loss, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

Pre-game

First half action


Halftime


Second half action


Post-game

All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Rising up through defeat

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1114lrpost.jpgAs players sat stunned and silent at their lockers after the 55-21 humiliation in the Coliseum, the only noise that could be heard was a faint one.

But it was one that hurt deep to the core.

A spine-chilling din of triumphant shouts and songs was coming through the walls and vents all the way from the visitor's locker room, where Stanford was celebrating its demolition of USC on Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, shame, embarrassment, nausea and a feeling of emasculation welled up in the silence of the Trojan locker room before Coach Carroll called the players together.

"This was a very humbling experience," a shell-shocked Carroll said, his words thankfully providing enough noise to drown out the nearby celebration and also serving as salve for the Trojans' battered hearts. "I never thought I'd see the day -- never -- where something like this could happen.

"There are no words to say -- we got our butts kicked."

The truth of the day stung hard and stung deep, creating a feeling so unlike that after any loss ever before. This was different than an unexpected early-season defeat at Washington, different than a late-season thud at UCLA, different than a heartbreaking loss in the national championship game.

No, this was unique, because of the utter dishonor felt and the total upheaval of direction now faced. The Trojans, shamed beyond belief on Saturday, now don't come close to controlling their own destiny in the conference race. It's an odd feeling for a program that essentially had a vice grip on the Pac-10 for the last seven seasons.

"I know you hate it," Carroll said with his team circled around him. "You should hate it."

What could the Trojans take from a humiliation like Saturday's? Only the eternally optimistic Carroll could find positives in a 55-21 loss.

The score -- and the 27-0 tally in the fourth quarter -- didn't show it, but the Trojans continued to fight even when the game became unrealistically out of reach. Coaches and players were passionately encouraging each other on the sidelines, especially when the mountain got steeper to climb in the second half. Pleas of "keep fighting!" and "bring your heart!" rang on the sideline throughout the game. And it was that never-say-die attitude and unwillingness to relent that Carroll lauded in the locker room after the loss.

1114pctunnel.jpg"The real important part of what happened was that you stayed together, you kept fighting, you kept battling," Carroll said. "I'm really proud of that. That's what we can take from this game.

"I'm counting on what happened today -- playing together, giving your heart -- to follow us the rest of this year."

But what does the rest of the year entail for the Trojans? Where do they go from here? Their one and only task now is getting right and getting ready for UCLA in two weeks. After that, time will tell, but first, all focus must turn to their next meeting, their next practice, their next game if any resurrection is to be experienced.

"Let's get back to work on Monday and see how far we can take this," Carroll told the players. "We're going to take this as far as we possibly can."

After a solemn team prayer, Carroll added one more thought. "We've got to stay together through this. Does everyone understand?"

Players responded in unison with, "Yes sir," before returning to the painful silence that hovered so conspicuously in the locker room.

Saturday's setback was yet another in a season full of them. Whether a tragic weightlifting injury to their star tailback, a heartbreaking loss on the field or a range of other devastating turns in the journey through the 2009 season, it undoubtedly hasn't been an drama-free campaign.

"It just feels like that kind of year, where we've got to keep bouncing back from things," Carroll said in the locker room.

But after every unexpected and demoralizing defeat, the Trojans have not been defeated. They've always bounced back, with each piece of heartache eventually achieving a greater good in the players and coaches. All the adversity has been producing character in the Trojans, and that character is producing hope for what's ahead.

Fortunately, seasons aren't judged by what happened in Game 10 (or Game 3 or Game 8), but instead by the body of work at the end. If the Trojans can bounce back and finish this season strong, who knows what can happen or where this journey will go. It's not worth the energy or time to get buried in the pity, disappointment and feeling of sickness. The past has passed by, and the future features hope.

If there's any hope of redeeming this season, this loss cannot dictate the team's next steps or how to approach the upcoming challenges.

The Trojans' character can, though. And here's to guessing it will.

Pictures from the 55-21 loss

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Check out some behind-the-scenes images from Saturday's 55-21 loss to Stanford at the Coliseum (all photos by Ben Malcolmson):

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The Trojans gather for a prayer at midfield right after arriving at the Coliseum.

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The color guard raises the flags in the tunnel as it prepared for the national anthem.

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Matt Barkley walks out of the doorway from the locker room to the tunnel.

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Snapper Chris Pousson, holder Garrett Green and kicker Jordan Congdon go through warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley leads the huddle during warm-ups.

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The Trojan Marching Band, led by drum major Kenny Morris, proceed down the tunnel.

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The Trojans gather around coaches Ken Norton Jr. (left) and Todd McNair (right) to get pumped up in the locker room before the game.

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Tailback Allen Bradford leads the huddle chants on the field before kickoff.

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Offensive line coach Pat Ruel speaks to his players at halftime.
 

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Coach Carroll shares adjustments with the defensive during halftime.

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Players march down the tunnel at the end of halftime.

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Coach Carroll makes the walk up the tunnel after the loss.

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The Trojans come together for a final "Trojans" chant at the end of Coach Carroll's post-game speech.

Stafon whispers first public words

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There was some good news at the Coliseum on Saturday, as Stafon Johnson held a press conference and whispered his first public words -- "God has a plan. Run, Stafon, run," something his late grandfather spoke just before passing away -- since the tragic weightlifting accident on Sept. 28. Read all about the positive developments here.

BONUS: Watch the press conference for yourself through this free video from USCTrojans.com (Johnson speaks at the 3:20 mark).

Trojans fall in 55-21 stunner

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The Trojans were humiliated in a 55-21 loss at the Coliseum on Saturday, suffering a very humbling home defeat to Stanford. Read the AP recap and see the stats from the game.

More news will be coming shortly.

Game time

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The home stretch of the 2009 season starts now.

After a week of buildup -- including meetings, film sessions, practices and workouts -- the USC-Stanford game is here. The Trojans are wrapping up their off-site preparation at a downtown hotel and are just minutes away from departing and, with a police escort that shuts down the 110, heading to the Coliseum. Kickoff is set for 12:41 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally on FSN (along with being broadcast on several other platforms).

We'll have a full, behind-the-scenes report tonight following the game. Here's the team's schedule for the rest of today:

10:40 a.m. • Arrive at the Coliseum, commence Trojan Walk
11:32 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:59 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:21 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:37 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:41 p.m. • Kickoff

Friday night highlights

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Don't miss this action-packed highlight video featuring the top plays from last week's win, the same video the team watched during their meetings on Friday night. It's produced by the USC video production department.

Feel the excitement

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Well, one thing's for sure -- the Trojans are energized and pumped up for today's game.

This morning's meetings, which included a wake-up session, a special teams roll call and brief walk-thrus in second-floor hotel ballrooms, acted more like dance parties than football meetings, as the players and coaches giddily glided through their final pre-game preparations. Based on the excitement and buzz palpable among the Trojans, you'd have no idea it was 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

They're now eating the pre-game meal before resting and relaxing prior to their 10:20 clap session and 10:30 departure.

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Players jump around a darkened hotel ballroom during this morning's pump-up sessions.

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The punt team conducts a short walk-thru in a hotel ballroom.

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The offense, led by quarterback Matt Barkley, goes against air as it reviews a play for today's game in a second-floor hotel ballroom this morning.

Perfect L.A. day

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It's a chilly yet beautiful November morning in L.A. today, as temperatures are in the mid-50s and the sun is shining. Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high-60s and sunny skies throughout this afternoon's USC-Stanford game at the Coliseum.

Media presence

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or otherwise follow today's USC-Stanford game at the Coliseum:

Come to the USCRipsIt tailgate

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Here's your reminder to stop by McKay's Restaurant near the Radisson for USCRipsIt's pre-game tailgate starting at 10 a.m. today and going all the way up to the 12:30 p.m. kickoff. We'll be handing out cool new mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

So come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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Good morning

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Bright and early -- game day is here.

Players are waking up in their downtown hotel rooms now, with meetings starting at 8:15 in a second-floor hotel ballroom. There's no time to sleep in today, as kickoff is just five hours away. It's time for the Trojans to get up and get at 'em.

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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The Day Before is now finished.

After a night loaded with final meetings at the team's downtown hotel, the Trojans are approaching bed check, with an early wake-up call on deck for Saturday. Here's USC's schedule for game day:

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
11:32 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:59 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:21 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:37 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:41 p.m. • Kickoff

Captain talk

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Besides the four player-elected team captains (Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard), two other Trojans have been selected by coaches to serve as captains for the Stanford game. Tailback Curtis McNeal will represent the special teams and fullback Simione Vehikite, who played Stanford's Toby Gerhart in practice this week, will serve as the service team captain.

Back to work

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After eating pizzas and chicken wings for dinner, USC's usual Friday night business is about to get started in a second-floor downtown hotel ballroom. Check out the team's agenda 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 at the team hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Heading downtown

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As their on-campus preparation is complete, the Trojans are now taking their pre-game business to a downtown hotel, where they'll conduct meetings tonight and Saturday morning before busing to the Coliseum for kickoff.

Rally time

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The Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls, coaches and players come together in Heritage Hall for the traditional pre-home game jock rally. Safety Taylor Mays and offensive coordinator John Morton spoke during the festive event.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Check out a few pictures from this afternoon's walk-thru on Howard Jones Field, where the Trojans ran through all special teams situations, 15 key offensive and defensive plays, a two-minute review and a Hail Mary attempt:

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Under the L.A. skyline, linebacker Chris Galippo readies for the kickoff.

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The Trojan offense goes through a play at the walk-thru.

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USC's first-team defense waits at the line for the snap.

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Coach Carroll addresses the team in a post-practice huddle.

Going to work

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Time to close out the week.

The Trojans are taking the field now for their traditionally short Friday walk-thru on Howard Jones Field to review important plays and situations for Saturday's game. The jock rally, complete with the Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls, will immediately follow at 5 p.m.

Encouraging signs for women's hoops

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The USC women's basketball team kicked off the 2009-10 season with a hard-fought overtime loss to No. 11 Xavier this afternoon at the Galen Center, coming back from an eight-point halftime deficit before falling 81-71 in the extra period.

Special visitor

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Linebacker Brian Cushing, now a standout rookie for the Houston Texans, has been roaming Heritage Hall today to catch up with his old teammates and coaches. 

Pumped up to the max

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Suffice it to say, the Trojans are jacked up for Saturday's game.

Perhaps the longest, most adrenaline-infused Friday meeting ever just wrapped up in Heritage Auditorium, where the players and coaches rocked the walls with every chant, song and dance in their arsenal of pre-game pump-up traditions. The wild gathering didn't want to end, as the Trojans continued rhythmically gyrating through their Friday customs with excitement for what lies ahead in the next 24 hours.

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The players, many of whom are shirtless but all of whom are overflowing with energy, wildly jump around during this afternoon's team meeting.

'Show your heart'

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In the locker room just prior to meetings this afternoon, players gather around Coach Carroll for an impromptu and emotional pep talk. "Show your heart," Carroll said during his brief, passionate speech. "All you got -- hold nothing back."

Let's get it going

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With just 22 hours until kickoff, the Trojans are coming down the stretch run of Stanford game week.

Players and coaches are congregating now in Heritage Auditorium for a wild pump-up session before transitioning into about 90 minutes of film meetings. A no-pads walk-thru, the team's last on-field preparation, will be at 4:15 p.m.

Field day

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The Trojans' domain will be getting a fresh new look after this week.

Following this afternoon's walk-thru, USC's practice fields will be partially ripped up and replaced with new sod for the stretch run of the 2009 season. After more than three consecutive months of wear-and-tear, most of the between-the-hashes parts of the field have been reduced to dirt and sand, so the grass restoration is much-needed for the famed practice facility.

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After three months of daily practices, parts of Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy practice fields have been reduced to dirt, but it'll all be fixed up after this weekend's turf replacement.

A glance ahead to the bye

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The Trojans are focused on the task at hand -- Saturday's game against Stanford -- but it's worth looking ahead to the team's schedule during the upcoming bye week.

As of now, the Trojans are slated to get Sunday and Monday off from practice, with just meetings lined up on Monday afternoon. The team is scheduled to conduct meetings and hold practices at normal times Tuesday through Thursday and then work out at sunrise on Friday before taking the weekend off.

UCLA game week will begin in earnest the following Sunday, when coaches will be in the office all day, and that next Monday (Nov. 23), when the team will convene for a special Thanksgiving week of preparation leading into the rivalry matchup on Nov. 28.

Returning to action

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The Trojans haven't been the only ones dealing with health issues lately.

Kenny Morris, the famous drum major and sword-bearer of the Trojan Marching Band, has missed the last three games with illness, so Saturday's game will be an exciting time for the senior from Hawaii.

Former drum majors have filled in for Morris during his absence since the Notre Dame game.

Special offer

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Through Sunday, if you order a Win Forever DVD from PeteCarroll.com, you'll receive a free Win Forever t-shirt too. Take advantage of this great offer here.

Vehikite's powerful preparation

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RipsIt Jerome Jones sent in an e-mail wondering who was playing tailback on the scout-team offense this week in anticipation of Stanford's bullish rushing attack.

Freshman fullback Simione Vehikite, a 6-0, 245-pound bruiser from Hawaii, has been mimicking Toby Gerhart, Stanford's 6-1, 235-pound tailback, during practices this week. And he's been doing it to the resounding praises of the coaching staff, so much so that he's going to be honored with service team captain duties for Saturday's game.

"Simi has had a tremendous week preparing our defense," Coach Carroll said. "His attitude and performance have done so much to get the defense ready for the type of running we'll see on game day."

Media watch

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or otherwise follow the USC-Stanford game on Saturday:

  • Kickoff: 12:41 p.m.
  • National TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis)
  • Local L.A. radio: 710-AM
  • National radio: Compass Media Network
  • Live internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com GameTracker

Eventful weekend

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It'll be a busy next 24 hours leading into kickoff of Saturday's Stanford game. Check out the minute-by-minute agenda for USC as game time approaches:

Today
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
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
11:32 a.m. • Warm-ups begin
11:59 a.m. • Stretching begins
12:21 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
12:37 p.m. • Trojans take the field
12:41 p.m. • Kickoff 

Project Trojan: Episode 5

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Episode 5 of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football team" has been posted, with the latest show covering the Trojans' loss at Oregon, the importance of the athletic training staff, offensive line coach Pat Ruel's epic pre-game shower speeches and USC's back-on-track win at Arizona State.

Watch a free four-minute preview of the episode here. The full 18-minute show is available here for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers. If you're not an All-Access member, become one for $9.95/month here.

Trojans in NFL action

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Including Thursday night's NFL matchup between the Bears and 49ers, 31 Trojans will be in NFL action this weekend, so see the full slate of Week 10 games featuring a USC alum on Sunday and Monday:

Atlanta Falcons (5-3) vs. Carolina Panthers (3-5)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-5)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) vs. New York Jets (4-4)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

New Orleans Saints (8-0) vs. St. Louis Rams (1-7)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis

Buffalo Bills (3-5) vs. Tennessee Titans (2-6)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Titans: Tailback LenDale White

Denver Broncos (6-2) vs. Washington Redskins (2-6)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Redskins: Tight end Fred Davis

Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-6)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel
Raiders: Tailback Justin Fargas

Seattle Seahawks (3-5) vs. Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui

Dallas Cowboys (6-2) vs. Green Bay Packers (4-4)
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews

Philadelphia Eagles (5-3) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-3)

Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (FOX)
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison

New England Patriots (6-2) vs. Indianapolis Colts (8-0)
Sunday at 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Patriots: Linebacker Junior Seau
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala

Baltimore Ravens (4-4) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-7)

Monday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Browns: Linebacker Kaluka Maiava

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Keep on voting

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

The ultimate tailgate

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USCRipsIt, in conjunction with McKay's Restaurant, will be hosting a pre-game tailgate at the restaurant near the Radisson prior to Saturday's matchup at 12:30 p.m. We'll be handing out cool new mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

It all starts at 10 a.m. and will go up until kickoff, so come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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Give them a break

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Ah, nothing like a Friday morning before a home game at Heritage Hall.

As per Coach Carroll's tradition, the Trojan football machine completely shuts down on Friday mornings before home contests, giving the coaches several free hours to sleep in and spend time with their families. Because all the game plans are complete and their game prep is all but done, the staff doesn't have to come together until a meeting at 12:30, which will commence an essentially seamless 24-hour stretch of pre-game preparation leading into tomorrow's kickoff.

Players are off this morning as well, as they don't have to be in until meetings 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:


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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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Kicker Jordan Congdon, holder Garrett Green and snapper Chris Pousson go through early-practice field goal drills.

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Matt Barkley and tailback Curtis McNeal line up in the backfield during 7-on-7 period.

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Matt Barkley leads the Trojan offense in the final team period.

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Wideout Brice Butler poses for a picture with football legend Jim Brown.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- With football icon Jim Brown in attendance and cool weather in the air, the Trojans sped through a brief half-pads practice on a quintessential gridiron evening under the lights. The workout closed out the on-field portion of game preparation and pushed the team one step closer to the Stanford matchup at the Coliseum on Saturday. "We were really sharp this week in practice," Coach Carroll said. "Hopefully we bring that to game time."

- Wideout Damian Williams (ankle) has been ruled out of Saturday's game, and Brice Butler will start in his place. "We'll miss [Williams'] production and leadership," Carroll said. "But we're excited for what Brice did this week."

- Tight end Anthony McCoy (ankle) will play Saturday, and his return will be very positive news for a position group that was thinned by Blake Ayles' knee and ankle injury in Wednesday's practice. Ayles is doubtful for this weekend, Carroll said.

- Hall-of-famer Jim Brown's appearance added a special element to the practice, as he watched from the sidelines and then briefly spoke to the team after the workout. "Joe [McKnight] and A.B. [Allen Bradford] went over there and they came back like little kids," Carroll said of their mid-practice meeting with Brown, who stopped by because of his connection with Carroll's A Better LA charity.

- Matt Barkley produced the highlight of the day during 11-on-11 drills when he stepped up in the collapsing pocket and threw on the run to Brice Butler over the middle. Coaches burst out in applause for the heady play.

Heading to the field

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The Trojans are taking the field now for their end-of-the-week No Repeat Thursday practice, which is focused on speed and precision as the team closes out the heavy-duty work of game preparation.

"It's about doing things right," Coach Carroll told the players during this afternoon's team meeting.

We'll return with a report afterward.

Fangupo, Jones on the mend

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Besides Stafon Johnson and his optimistic progress following his tragic throat injury, two other players who also suffered season-ending injuries in late September are themselves on a positive road to recovery.

Defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo, who broke his leg against Washington State on Sept. 26, is healing up and progressing well in his rehab. While he can now put weight on his leg, Fangupo is still in a walking boot for three more weeks.

Defensive back Marshall Jones broke a vertebra in his neck in the same Washington State game and is rapidly improving as well. He has been out of a neck brace for several weeks and was recently cleared to resume jogging.

Both Fangupo and Jones are expected to be able to return to football in time for Spring Practice in March.

Straight from the sources

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Hear what Matt Barkley, Taylor Mays, Stanley Havili, Kevin Thomas, Joe McKnight and Jurrell Casey are thinking as the Trojans close in on the Stanford game in this free video from USCTrojans.com, produced by Mark Haas.

Getting giddy

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With less than 48 hours till kickoff, Coach Carroll could see that his players were noticeably "squirrely" during this afternoon's team meeting.

And he loved every second of it.

"There's a lot of energy in here," a grinning Carroll said from the front of a packed Heritage Auditorium. "You should be feeling it -- we're getting closer. Let's keep this going."

More Stafon news on the horizon

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More updates on Stafon Johnson will be coming Saturday.

Johnson, his mother Kim Mallory and the surgeons who operated on him will be made available to the media in the press box prior to Saturday's USC-Stanford game at the Coliseum. Johnson is still prohibited from talking, but a more detailed update on his condition and rehab will be provided then.

'T2' comes home

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USC alum Terrell Thomas, now a cornerback with the New York Giants, stopped by the Trojan team meetings this afternoon to spend time with his former teammates and coaches during his bye week.

Song Girl tryouts coming

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Tryouts for the 2010 USC Song Girls squad will begin this Sunday at the Lyon Center. Click here for more information and to fill out the application.

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Sourena's Sentiments

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



Not sure if any of you heard this, but during the radio postgame of USC's victory over ASU, something was said that really needs addressed. A caller called in, and was remarking how the offense struggled versus Arizona State (which was true, ASU's defense is very good, but the Trojans are having growing pains this year with young players, dealing with injuries, etc. USC was stellar on defense themselves and made enough plays to win, but it was way too close for comfort). Now, normally, a call like this is not terribly out of line, but the next statement was. The same caller said something along the lines of "Maybe USC isn't firing on all cylinders the last couple of years because Pete Carroll is stretched too thin doing all this charity work. I hear about A Better LA all the time and maybe that's a factor."

Are you kidding me?

Where to even begin with a statement like that? First off, Pete is doing nothing differently than he's done in his entire tenure at USC! He has always done things within the community and for YEARS...years before 60 Minutes got wind of his speaking to gang members, he was doing these things. That's the thing about Pete, he is all about doing the right thing, not appearing like he's doing the right thing. So, when Matt, Reggie and Co. were winning national championships, Pete was doing lots of charity work. When John David Booty was slogging through a season with an injured middle finger the size of your head, Pete was doing charity work. When Mark Sanchez and the boys were rolling last year to a 12-1 record, a seventh straight Pac-10 title, a Rose Bowl victory and a seventh straight top-four finish, Pete was doing charity work.

Charities thrive off the help and attention people of stature bring to it, and A Better LA has grown leaps and bounds in no small part to Pete's direct involvement. But, his cache is made more impressive the more successful he is as a coach. So one feeds the other. Could another coach handle as much as Pete Carroll? I doubt it. But if there is anyone who thinks that there is a lack of focus on any level in the USC program simply because Coach does charity work, let me point this out: If we're working off the theory that focus is pulled away by a practice, that should be noticed across the board. I would dare say, recruiting would be an even more obvious place to look for slippage in a program if a coach is spread too thin. Recruiting is GRUELING. It takes commitment, research, planning, contingency planning, calling, you name it.

Every time I see Coach in Heritage Hall, he is running from somewhere to somewhere. He's one of the most focused and disciplined people I have ever seen. There have been times where he couldn't stop to talk to me because he was on his way to contact a potential recruit. Now that has never been a slight to me, I get it, and Pete is all about what is imminent. Nothing gets in the way of USC Football and its future, whether that future be long-term in terms of new players, or the immediate future in terms of this weekend versus Stanford.

Now that I have said all of that, let me say something that may somewhat inconsistent with everything I just said: What if his focus was diverted?

Stay with me, Coach Carroll's focus is not, as I just pointed out. But the implication in the caller's comment was maybe Pete should cool all this charity stuff if it's going to cost us some football games. Really? That's a pretty sad place that we have reached in our society that when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the mere possibility our favorite team may stumble makes someone want to actually throw away all the good work that Pete's doing. People would rather have their football coach have no life, positively impact no one's life beyond his players and sit in a film room Sunday through Friday like a prisoner and let him out on Saturdays in time for the game. Get a life if you think that.

If you're a parent and you were deciding where to send your child on a football scholarship, do you want to send your kid to a coach who doesn't care about anything or anyone outside the football program or do you want to send them to a Coach who is a wonderful human being who also happens to be the most successful and consistent coach of this decade, who constantly while not only winning games, prepares more players for the next level of life (whether that is the NFL or not) better than anybody else?

Pete Carroll is an amazing coach BECAUSE he's a wonderful person. Not the other way around. Make no mistake, there are lots of coaches who are princes when the cameras are rolling and the attention is there. Coach's players respect him because of the knowledge AND character he has. And if anyone wants him to compromise that or sacrifice that so they can feel better that their coach is so solely focused on winning and losing football games, they need to take a long look in the mirror and see if they like what they see.

I'm sure Pete Carroll does. And he should.


• 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.

Working away

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The Trojans are already well into their No Repeat Thursday routine, as the special teams meeting is moving right along in Heritage Auditorium before team, offense/defense and position group meetings take the stage. Everything leads into a half-pads practice at 4:30 p.m.

Stafon's recovery marches on

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Forty-five days after his weightlifting accident and major throat surgeries, Stafon Johnson's recovery continues to move forward with positive steps. He's planning on attending Saturday's game at the Coliseum -- "he's really excited about it," Coach Carroll said -- and should be giving a more complete update then.

"Things continue to progress and he's feeling good," Carroll said of Johnson, who's on a regular rehab schedule. "The positive news keeps coming."

Vote coach

| 1 Comment
Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Carroll's Video Blog #8

| 1 Comment
Coach Carroll checks in from his Heritage Hall office with his latest video blog, this one talking about the team's mentality as Homecoming and the Stanford game approach this weekend. Don't miss it:

Football fun

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These special USCRipsIt mini footballs will be handed out at RipsIt's Ultimate Tailgate at McKay's Restaurant on Saturday morning before the game, so be sure to stop by and pick one up before they're gone!

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Homecoming begins

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USC's Homecoming weekend gets started tonight at 7 p.m. with a free rally at the Galen Center, and numerous more activities will fill out the next few days. Check out all the ways you can partake in the Trojan fun this weekend:

  • Homecoming rally: Tonight at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center (free admission)
  • Women's basketball vs. Xavier: Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (free admission)
  • Jock rally: Friday at 5 p.m. at Heritage Hall (free admission)
  • Women's volleyball vs. Washington: Friday at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center
  • Pre-game tailgate buffet brunch: Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (RSVP at uscgalentailgate@aramark.com; menu here)
  • Men's water polo vs. Stanford: Saturday at 11 a.m. at McDonald's Swim Stadium
  • Football vs. Stanford: Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum
  • Post-game tailgate: Saturday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (RSVP at uscgalentailgate@aramark.com; menu here)
  • Women's volleyball vs. Washington State: Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (free admission with football ticket stub)
  • Women's basketball vs. Fresno State: Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the Galen Center

Purchase tickets to all athletic events online or at the gate.

Full squad at home

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In light of the earlier post about the unlimited number of players allowed to suit up for home games, RipsIt reader Daniel Fuentes e-mailed in asking how many players that equates to.

Removing injured players on the 108-man roster, USC typically suits up about 90-95 players for home games. This weekend, between 88 and 90 players are expected to be fully dressed and able to play, depending on the health of certain players as the week winds down.

Roster crunch reversal

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For just the third time in the last nine weeks, the Trojan coaches don't have to worry too much about the 64-man travel roster.

Even though the team is limited to only 64 players at the hotel on Friday nights before home games, the Trojans will have a full squad of dressed-out players on game day. It's a far cry from the 64-man crunch the team has to deal with for road games, when the depth chart gets squeezed and no leeway is permitted on whom to suit up and bring to the game.

Rules allow all players to dress out and play at home games, which relieves a lot of stress this week as coaches finagle the travel roster for this weekend's matchup.

National telecast

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Saturday's USC-Stanford game, set to kick off at 12:41 p.m., will be televised nationally on FSN. Here's a list of all the networks around the country that will be carrying the game live:

  • FSN Arizona
  • FSN Detroit
  • FSN Florida
  • FSN Houston
  • FSN Midwest
  • FSN North
  • FSN Ohio
  • FSN Pittsburgh
  • FSN Rocky Mountain
  • FSN South
  • FSN Southwest
  • FSN Wisconsin
  • FSN Prime Ticket
  • Comcast Bay Area
  • Comcast Chicago
  • Comcast Mid-Atlantic

Honoring Carroll

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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 Wednesday at 7 p.m. Get more info and purchase tickets to the event here.

The ultimate tailgate

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USCRipsIt, in conjunction with McKay's Restaurant, will be hosting a pre-game tailgate at the restaurant near the Radisson prior to Saturday's matchup at 12:30 p.m. We'll be handing out cool new mini USCRipsIt footballs, along with free food, games, music, giveaways and much more. The only question is: will you be there?

It all starts at 10 a.m. and will go up until kickoff, so come on out for all or part of the festivities with the USCRipsIt Street Team and McKay's! 

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For a good read

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Check out this excellent feature on defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, from the O.C. Register.

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:


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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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Punt returner Joe McKnight waits for a kick during early-practice drills.

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Under the watch of coach Pat Ruel, the offensive line goes through position drills.

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Coach Carroll lines up before the snap as he plays scout team quarterback during 7-on-7 period for the first-team defense.

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The Trojan offense lines up during 11-on-11 period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- In an electric, action-packed final team period, the offense came out flying to a 6-0 lead before the defense won seven of the next eight snaps to tie it up going into the final play. With defensive players and coaches shouting and chanting directly behind him, Matt Barkley calmly completed a 10-yard pass to wideout Travon Patterson to give the offense the 8-7 overall practice victory. The win was sweetened by perfect ball protection all day by the offense, which officially labeled the practice "No Turnover Wednesday" for the second straight week.

- The final team period was chock full of highlight-worthy plays. The first snap of the segment set the tone, as wideout Brice Butler hauled in a 40-yard bomb from Matt Barkley before tailback Joe McKnight athletically posted a one-handed catch on a screen play. Later, Barkley threw on the run and off his back foot to receiver Ronald Johnson, who dragged his toes inbounds along the right sideline just past the first-down sticks.

- Sense a theme here? The offense turned 7-on-7 drills into an utter massacre. Matt Barkley completed his first eight passes and 9-of-10 in the period to deliver a blowout win for the offense. Barkley tossed touchdowns to wideouts Brice Butler, Jordan Cameron and Travon Patterson in the period.

- Just when it seemed like the injury front was worsening day by day, the Trojans received a lot of positive news Wednesday as several players returned to practice. Tight end Anthony McCoy, linebacker Michael Morgan (wrist), defensive end Everson Griffen (toe), linebacker Malcolm Smith (shoulder) and wideout Brandon Carswell (toe) all participated in all or part of the workout and are on track to play this weekend, providing optimistic signs for Coach Carroll and the Trojans as Saturday's game against Stanford approaches. "Somehow guys are healing up," Carroll said. "We're fortunate to be getting guys back."

- Devon Kennard has spent his entire three-month Trojan career as a defensive end, but now he's making a move. To help with an injury-depleted linebacking corps, Kennard has been practicing at the strong-side position this week -- and he's producing some very impressive results. Carroll said he would start if Michael Morgan isn't healed, but either way, Kennard is expected to play extensively. "He's had a great week," Carroll said. "He really picked things up very well. He's very well equipped at that spot."

- Wideout Damian Williams (ankle) sat out for the third straight day and his status for Saturday will be determined at the end of the week, Carroll said.

- During 11-on-11 drills, tight end Blake Ayles got rolled up on as he blocked downfield. He limped off, but Carroll said he felt OK and didn't suffer a significant injury.

Get the ball

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It's Turnover Wednesday at USC, with the offense riding a no-turnover performance in last week's edition of the themed practice. Now the pressure is on the defense to snag a takeaway today -- and the heat is also on the offense to be perfect again this week.

"See if you can pitch a shutout again," Coach Carroll told the offense during this afternoon's team meeting. "It's going to be a hard duty, because our defense is hawking the ball right now."

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

Memorializing America's heroes

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USC's home since 1923, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, is one of 15 college football stadiums named in honor of America's military veterans, and you can read all about the tradition of these arenas in this neat Veterans Day feature from ESPN.com.

Getting better today

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Turnover Wednesdays also feature a big emphasis on third downs, and the Trojan offense, admittedly, needs work in that category. So far this season, USC's well-publicized struggles on third downs have resulted in a mere 32 percent conversion rate.

Obviously, improvement is a major goal, but it doesn't start on Saturday at the Coliseum against Stanford -- it starts today on the practice field against the USC defense. And to give the offense more chances to improve, coaches are putting in 100 percent more third-down plays during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills during today's practice, going from 10 third-down situational snaps to 20.

"We get better by how we practice today and tomorrow," Carroll told his players during this afternoon's team meeting.

High praise for RipsIt

| 8 Comments
USCRipsIt's RipsIt Blog has been named "the best all-access blog in the entire sporting landscape" in this complimentary feature by CNBC.com sports business reporter Darren Rovell.

Film study

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During this afternoon's team meeting in Heritage Auditorium, Coach Carroll takes the remote and leads the team through film of Tuesday's practice.

Get it going

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Turnover Wednesday is underway at Heritage Hall, where the Trojans just began a special teams meeting devoted to the kickoff and kickoff return units. More meetings follow before a half-pads practice at 4:15 p.m.

On the radio

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An interview with Coach Carroll will air on AM-570's "Petros Money Show" at 5:30 p.m. today. You can listen to a live internet stream here.

Mays a Lott semifinalist

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Safety Taylor Mays has been named one of eight semifinalists for the Lott Trophy.

Best foot forward

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The USC punt return unit won't be in its right mind this weekend.

It'll have to be in its left, actually.

With Stanford's left-footed punter David Green on tap for Saturday, the Trojan punt returners are preparing for the slight but potentially perilous change created by the rare characteristic for a punter. The ball's flight, rotation and fade are all opposite between a right- and left-footed punter, creating a one-of-a-kind challenge for USC this season.

While it's not a massive change -- special teams coordinator Brian Schneider compared it to the difference in receiving passes from a left- and right-handed quarterback -- it is enough to need the practice. Schneider said many NFL teams will sign a left-footed punter solely for the week leading up to a game against a southpaw punter, but USC has its own weapon already on the roster.

Walk-on Boomer Roepke, a former USC swimmer and current defensive back, was an All-State punter for two years at Reno (Nev.) High, and his left-footed kicking skills are coming in handy this week. He's been punting to Trojan returners during early-practice drills, and he'll be the scout-team punter during full-squad punt return reps today and Thursday.

"It's not huge, but it is different," Schneider said of the disparity. "It's good to get a look at it before the game."

Always working

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Fullback D.J. Shoemate goes through a circuit workout during this morning's strength and conditioning sessions in the Heritage Hall weight room.

Zero is the hero

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Coach Carroll has never been so happy to be at zero.

After compiling four takeaways and giving up only one turnover in Saturday's win at Arizona State, the Trojans are now at a zero turnover margin on the season. While it's nowhere near the plus-18 through plus-21 margins the Trojans had in 2002-05, it's a marked upswing in what had been a minus-3 turnover ratio in 2009 prior to Saturday.

Also in light of Saturday's turnover uptick, USC has now won 51 consecutive games when recording more takeaways than giveaways, dating all the way back to the 30-27 overtime loss at Washington State in early 2002.

Join the Tirebiter Run

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The first annual "Tirebiter Run" will be Saturday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. on campus, with all money raised going to A Better LA. The unique event will see participants run around campus, down a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and sprint through a tire obstacle course to reach the finish line at Tommy Trojan.

Special prizes, food, t-shirts and gift bags will be available, and registration is only $10. Sign up here. The event is hosted by the Trojan Knights, a USC spirit organization.

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Thank you, veterans

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On behalf of USCRipsIt and the Trojan football program, we'd like to say happy Veterans Day and extend our deepest gratitude to all those who have served or are currently serving our country. And we send out some special love and appreciation to all the USC alumni and Trojan fans who are veterans or in active military duty.

Recruiting time

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Coaches just broke from their weekly recruiting meeting in the War Room, and with the time dwindling until Signing Day in February, these meetings carry more and more weight with each passing Wednesday morning. Key decisions are being made as to which players should be offered scholarships, as the USC coaches begin to figure out the future Trojans and fill out the Class of 2010.

What's in a name?

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USC is one of just a handful of programs in the nation that doesn't put players' names on the back of the jerseys, and RipsIt reader Jonathan Copeland e-mailed in wondering why.

It comes down to two all-important factors for the Trojans -- tradition and team.

As one of only two major programs in the country to never have put names on the back of their jerseys, USC is a beacon of tradition in an ever-changing landscape of college football. Even a school like Notre Dame -- a program that's dripping with tradition -- went with nameplates on its jerseys at points in the last decade or so.

"We've had such a great tradition," athletic director Mike Garrett said. "We'll never go with names on the jerseys."

The other main reason for the lack of personal names is an old sports adage -- it's not the name on the back of the jersey that counts, but the one on the front.

"It's all about team," Coach Carroll said. "The individual gets to celebrate when the team does well."

NOTE: An earlier version of this post mentioned Penn State as having put names on its jerseys in the past. That mistake has been corrected.

Addendum to injury news

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In addition to the injury updates last night, two other players received news concerning their ailments. Defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) has been cleared to return to practice, while linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck) has been ruled out for Saturday's game against Stanford.

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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Injury updates

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Three key players received relatively positive news on the injury front after doctor's visits tonight.

Tight end Anthony McCoy (ankle) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (shoulder) have been cleared to play Saturday against Stanford as long as they can make it through practices this week, Coach Carroll said.

Wideout Damian Williams, who sprained his ankle in Saturday's Arizona State game, is day-to-day and his status for the Stanford game will be determined later this week, Carroll said.

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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Punter Jake Harfman lines up to receive the snap during punt team drills.

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With coach Jethro Franklin at the helm, the defensive linemen go through position drills.

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Mitch Mustain gets under center at the line during team period.

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Matt Barkley jumps to get off the short pass during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Down two with three snaps to go, the offense won the pair of penultimate plays to set up a tiebreaking, pressure-packed final snap on Competition Tuesday. Offensive coaches carefully schemed for the last play as linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. joked to the defense, "If we don't win this, there will be no dinner tonight!" And on the deciding snap, Matt Barkley rolled out to the left and threw across his body to an open Rhett Ellison, who snagged the reception to give the offense an 8-7 come-from-behind victory in the competition-themed workout. Offensive players ribbed their counterparts with shouts of "No dinner!" as Coach Carroll hailed the practice a "big, big win for the offense today."

- The offense had a clean sweep Tuesday, capturing victories in 7-on-7 and pass rush competitions to go along with the triumph in the final period.

- Tight end Anthony McCoy (ankle) lightly participated in parts of practice, and Carroll said he was "encouraged" by his activity but will continue to wait to make a decision on his status for Saturday.

- Fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) took part in all of practice and is on track to start against Stanford.

- Wideout Damian Williams remained sidelined with an ankle injury. Joe McKnight will fill the punt return duties if Williams cannot play Saturday, Carroll said.

- Linebacker Malcolm Smith (shoulder) completed some parts of practice and his status for the game remains up in the air. Shane Horton will start for the second consecutive game if Smith is out.

- Carroll ruled linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck) out for Saturday's game.

- Famous TV personality Roy Firestone attended practice.

Heading out

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Competition Tuesday's weekly practice is kicking off now on Howard Jones Field, so we'll return with a report following the half-pads workout.

NFL Trojan highlights

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Check out the loads of highlights from Trojans in the NFL during Week 9 in this video the team watched during meetings this afternoon. Thanks to Eric Espinoza and the video operations department for the reel:

Speaking the truth

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With just three left in the regular season, Coach Carroll is preaching the Competition Tuesday gospel today.

"Let's make this a really competitive day," Carroll told the players during the team meeting this afternoon. "Make the guy across from you better by the way you practice today. Make sure we battle to make ourselves right."

Business time

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Competition Tuesday just got off the ground with the start of a special teams film review focusing on the punt and punt return units. The daily rounds of meetings -- team, offense/defense and position group gatherings -- lead into a half-pads practice at 4:15 p.m.

See it again

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If you missed Coach Carroll's press conference from earlier today, watch it in its entirety for free, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Almost sold out

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Less than 1,000 tickets remain for Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game against Stanford. Purchase yours here.

Fun-filled Homecoming weekend

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With Homecoming this weekend, it's lining up to be a busy few days around USC, with six sporting events and several other activities from Thursday to Sunday. Check out all the ways you can partake in the Trojan fun this weekend:

  • Homecoming rally: Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center (free admission)
  • Women's basketball vs. Xavier: Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Galen Center
  • Jock rally: Friday at 5 p.m. at Heritage Hall (free admission)
  • Women's volleyball vs. Washington: Friday at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center
  • Pre-game tailgate buffet brunch: Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (RSVP at uscgalentailgate@aramark.com; menu here)
  • Men's water polo vs. Stanford: Saturday at 11 a.m. at McDonald's Swim Stadium
  • Football vs. Stanford: Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coliseum
  • Post-game tailgate: Saturday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (RSVP at uscgalentailgate@aramark.com; menu here)
  • Women's volleyball vs. Washington State: Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Galen Center (free admission with football ticket stub)
  • Women's basketball vs. Fresno State: Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the Galen Center

Purchase tickets to all athletic events online or at the gate.

L.A. football weather

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Game day should be a very pleasant one at the Coliseum, with the forecast calling for sunny skies and a high in the mid-60s on Saturday afternoon.

In the spotlight

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Coach Carroll addresses the media during his weekly press conference this afternoon in Heritage Hall's Varsity Lounge.

Going live

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Coach Carroll is about to head down to the Varsity Lounge for his weekly press conference, so watch it live for free here.

Pinkard to play on

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Cornerback Josh Pinkard has been added to the roster of the East-West Shrine Game, the annual college football all-star game featuring NFL-bound seniors in January.

Sideline support

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RipsIt reader Brian Edwards e-mailed in asking why certain injured players travel and are on the sidelines during road games, while others are not: "On Saturday night I saw David Ausberry on the sidelines though he was not dressed an obviously not playing. Then I know that Everson Griffen and Brandon Carswell are both injured and did not make the trip. Is there any particular reason for this?"

In almost all circumstances, it's not worth using up one of the valuable spots on the 64-man travel roster to take a player who is hurt and not able to play, so injured players are left off the squad for a road trip. But players can travel on their own to the game and then be with the team on the sidelines and in the locker room. Ausberry and safety Drew McAllister were among the handful of players who made the trip to Arizona State on their own last weekend, and about 10 players did so for the California game last month.

Because they're a part of the team, the players who do that do not have to purchase a ticket to the game.

Watch it live

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Coach Carroll's weekly press conference, set for just a little after noon today, will be streamed live for free here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Down to the minute

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Kickoff of Saturday's game will be at 12:41 p.m. and the Trojan Walk -- the team's traditional pre-game jaunt through the festive crowd from the Sports Arena to the peristyle end of the Coliseum -- will be at 10:40 a.m.

Inside the Life: Importance of practice

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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 high level of practice for USC's football players:


In between the walls of a nondescript rust-red fence, members of the USC football team come to practice. At USC there is no high-tech field or state-of-the-art training facility. But there is Howard Jones Field, a modest, understated practice facility lodged between McDonald's Swim Stadium and Dedeaux baseball field. And that is all that the Trojans need.

At USC, it has never been about flashy facilities. For the USC football players and staff, it has been about working hard and pushing themselves to be the best team they can be. The legacy of great accomplishments and drive to win speaks for itself. At practice, it is impossible to miss the motivation and intensity on the field. All of the coaches are highly engaged in every aspect of practice.

To the Trojans, every drill counts as an opportunity to be better. So it is no surprise that every aspect of every practice is carefully planned out. Practice is very fast-paced and consists of many different segments. Practice starts with walk-thrus, followed by stretching. The players are then broken up into position-specific groups. After that, the team is separated into scout team drills to sharpen their skills. Eventually, all of the players come together for a team drills segment.

The practice environment is very inspirational. All of the athletes motivate each other by being the best they can be in every drill. The competitive nature of the players inspires hard work all around. The coaches are heavily involved in practice in a hands-on way. If you ever attend practice, don't be surprised to see Coach Carroll throwing passes to the players. The interactive approach is very successful, and it is clear that everyone on the field is fully invested in the success of the program.

In between the walls of Howard Jones field lies a combination of hard work, sweat and passion for winning.


- By Courtney Kalisz, USCRipsIt staff writer

Trojan Legacy

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Trojan Marching Band director Arthur C. Bartner is in his 40th year at the helm of the renowned band, and a special two-disk CD album -- containing 40 hit songs and entitled "Trojan Legacy" -- is being released this week at the bookstore and on Saturday at kiosks around campus.

Click here for more info, including a track listing, about the double CD that'll go for $24.99.

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Media presence

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or otherwise follow the USC-Stanford game on Saturday:

  • Kickoff: 12:41 p.m.
  • National TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis)
  • Local L.A. radio: 710-AM
  • National radio: Compass Media Network
  • Live internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com GameTracker

Rise and shine

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Following three consecutive games with nighttime kickoffs -- and five of the last six with a late start -- the Trojans are lining up for a wake-up-and-play 12:30 p.m. matchup against Stanford this weekend.

And Coach Carroll, the master of meticulousness, is making sure the players' body clocks are adjusting now for the earlier kickoff. Already this week, he's repeatedly referred to the time difference, and he's even taken measures to prepare for the early game. A few plays are being cut out of each practice to save the players' legs -- since they won't have all day Saturday to rest -- and Carroll has been encouraging the players to mentally prepare for the lunchtime game by thinking about the early kickoff "wherever you are at 12:30 every day this week, whether in class, tutoring or at home."

"Kickoff's coming up quick," Carroll said. "It's coming fast, coming early -- just the way we like it."

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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As the sun sets over Howard Jones Field, Matt Barkley makes a pass during individual drills.

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Tailback Allen Bradford lines up in the backfield during team period.

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The Trojans close out practice with 11-on-11 work under the lights in the dark of night.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- USC's brief practice -- full on noticeably high energy -- kicked off the Stanford game week and officially pushed the Trojans into the final quarter of the 2009 season. "Let's have a helluva week," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice huddle. "Let's have a week that just won't quit."

- Matt Barkley and wideout Ronald Johnson connected for the top two plays in the no-helmets workout, both on touchdown-scoring bullets over the middle during 11-on-11 drills. The first was a beautiful strike through the secondary and the second came on the final snap of the day, when Johnson tipped the ball to himself and caught it in the end zone as a pair of defensive backs crisscrossed in front of him.

- Wideout Damian Williams watched practice with a boot over his sprained ankle, and Coach Carroll said his status for Saturday will be determined after doctor visits Tuesday night. Carroll said he expects Williams to sit out of practice until at least later in the week. Brice Butler and De'Von Flournoy will step up in his absence.

- Out since the Oregon State game two weeks ago, tight end Anthony McCoy did some light rehab work on the side but did not practice.

- Linebacker Chris Galippo, who suffered a bruised knee in the Arizona State game, lightly participated in practice.

- Fullback Stanley Havili took part in the most amount of practice since injuring his shoulder against Notre Dame last month. He's expected to start Saturday.

- Scouts from four NFL teams attended the workout.

Starting the week off

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Tell the Truth Monday isn't complete without a light helmets-only practice, which is starting now on Howard Jones Field. We'll be back with a report afterward.

Finish line in sight

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The buzzword around Heritage Hall today is one of the hallmarks of the USC program, a tenet the Trojans will have to call upon and live out for the next month.

Finish.

With three games remaining, that philosophy carries even more weight because of the uncertain nature of the Pac-10 race and college football in general.

"Everything is still out in front of us," Carroll told the players this afternoon. "We don't know what's going to happen, but we do know that we need to take care of business and get one step closer to doing what we want to accomplish."

The preparation for that next step happens every day this week and the foot officially hits the ground on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum against Stanford. Fourth-quarter finish time is now.

"Whatever it takes -- that's what we're all about," Carroll said. "The opportunity is perfect for us. This is too cool."

Trojan football panel

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Trojan Pride, a USC spirit organization, is hosting a Trojan football panel on Tuesday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in Heritage Auditorium. Current and former players are scheduled to attend the free, open-to-the-public event, so come on out.

Shining in the spotlight

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During this afternoon's meetings, the coaches drew attention to several players and groups that stood out on the game film from Saturday's win:

  • S Will Harris (2 interceptions, 1 touchdown)
  • CB Josh Pinkard (7 tackles, blocked extra point)
  • LB Shane Horton (6 tackles, 1 pass breakup)
  • DL Derek Simmons (3 tackles, 1 sack)
  • TB Joe McKnight (78 rushing yards; "Joe had a heck of a day running the football," Carroll said)
  • TB Allen Bradford (67 rushing yards)
  • Secondary ("It was a really good performance all in all for those guys," Carroll said)
  • Punt team (Eight perfect protections and only allowed two returns for a total of 7 yards)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (2 tackles on special teams)

Desert healing

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The Trojans just broke from the team portion of Tell the Truth Monday meetings, and Coach Carroll turned into a stand-up comedian during one part of the gathering.

"We went to the desert and got well," Carroll quipped, referring to the bounce-back win at Arizona State on Saturday.

But after the jokes were over, Carroll returned to his full-time role of football coach and sharpened the focus toward the next opportunity -- a matchup against Stanford on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

"What we did doesn't mean a thing now," Carroll told the players. "We have to come back and do it again."

Going to the archives

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Relive the 1995 USC-Stanford game -- during which Keyshawn Johnson and Delon Washington keyed a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback -- through this "SC Classics" feature for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers. If you're not an All-Access member, become one for $9.95/month here.

Looking for the facts

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The truth is about to be told.

USC's weekly Tell the Truth Monday meetings are getting started now with a special teams film review. All the Arizona State game film will be watched and rewatched over the next several hours as the coaches and players discuss the truths -- both positive and negative -- from the 14-9 win on Saturday.

A helmets-only practice will be at 4:45 p.m.

Living legends

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Legendary coach John Robinson, Heisman Trophy winner Charles White and Lombardi Award winner Brad Budde will be speaking together at a dinner in Santa Ana on Nov. 18, hosted by Trojan Club of Orange County. For more information and to reserve a spot at the special event, click here.

Hoop dreams

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Check out this neat video produced by the Pac-10 that gives you a preview of the upcoming men's basketball season:

Enjoying the win

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Without debate, Saturday's 14-9 victory over Arizona State didn't feel as good as a blowout, shutout win, but the operative word in that comment -- "win" -- is all that counts for the Trojans.

And they're going to progress forward accordingly. Even though there are several areas that need improvement in offense, defense and special teams, the Trojans will be relishing the victory as well as looking to build upon it while heading toward Saturday's game against Stanford.

"We just won a football game and we're going to ride that," Coach Carroll said. "It was a good illustration for us that we can return to winning ways and play good, solid, hard-nosed football."

Homeward bound

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So far this year, the Trojans have experienced memorable stadium atmospheres at Ohio State, Notre Dame, California, Oregon and Washington.

For the rest of the regular season, though, they'll be experiencing memorable atmospheres at only one place -- the Coliseum.

"We've seen a bunch of great crowds, and we're thankful we don't have to see anymore," Coach Carroll said at today's Monday Morning Quarterback event, eliciting laughter from the crowd of hundreds at the Galen Center.

Harris named Pac-10 player of week

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Safety Will Harris has been named Pac-10 defensive player of the week following his performance in Saturday's 14-9 win, including two interceptions, one of which was returned 55 yards for a touchdown.

Going to Galen

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After a morning full of meetings and film sessions, Coach Carroll is sneaking out of the staff room to head to the Galen Center for his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback event in the Founders Room, where he'll show game tape and conduct a Q&A with the hundreds of fans in attendance.

No more travels

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With just three home games in the first 10 weeks of the season, it's no wonder why there's a sense of relief and excitement swirling around Heritage Hall today, as a home game against Stanford is coming up on Saturday.

"We're coming home," Coach Carroll elatedly said during this morning's staff meeting. "We're home now. It's been so long."

Silent heroes

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One of the unknown taskforces behind the USC football machine doesn't get any credit, but without that work, the Trojans would be a shell of what you see on Saturdays.

The video operations department, headed by Eric Espinoza, manages the team's film necessities and plays a vital role in the daily preparation and Saturday success of the Trojans. Not only does the department, housed in a tiny second-floor brick-walled office in Heritage Hall, handle USC's practice and game film, but Espinoza and his staff are also juggling the game tape of all of the Trojans' opponents week-by-week during the season so that coaches can analyze upcoming foes.

The work is definitely long and tiring. First, they're handling all film requests during the week and videoing each of USC's daily practices from multiple angles. Then, Espinoza, his assistant Dave Scott and a team of student workers typically toil well into Sunday mornings following game days, as they cut up the USC game film and upload the tape from all of the other conference games. Their diligent work allows the coaches to come in first thing on Sunday and have a palette of film to look at without any speed bumps.

Needless to say, the video operations department has a pretty thick library of film. Film from every USC and Pac-10 game since 2000 is stored an in-house server, along with three years' worth of practice film (older practice film is deleted every offseason). All in all, that's 27 terabytes, or 27,000,000,000,000 bytes, of film at the coaches' disposal 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all thanks to the unceasing work of Espinoza and his staff in the video operations department.

Congdon a Groza semifinalist

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Jordan Congdon has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2009 Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation's best placekicker. Congdon, USC's scoring leader with 59 points so far this season, has made 10-of-13 field goals and is a perfect 29-for-29 on extra points.

This week in USC sports

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

  • Men's water polo defeated UCLA, 7-6, this past weekend. The Trojans are currently No. 1 nationally and will host Stanford this Saturday.

  • Women's soccer tied Washington State and Washington this weekend to finish the regular season with a record of 12-6-2. The Women of Troy are now preparing for the NCAA tournament.

  • Women's volleyball lost to UCLA this past weekend in five sets. The Women of Troy are currently ranked No. 17 nationally and will host Washington and Washington State this weekend.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Coming home

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Saturday is Homecoming at USC, and here are three must-attend activities surrounding the weekend:

Trojans around the League

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Check out the highlighted performances of USC alumni during Week 9 of the NFL season:

  • Safety Kevin Ellison (San Diego Chargers) had 10 tackles in the Chargers' 21-20 win over the Giants.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) had 8 receptions for 57 yards and 1 touchdown in the Giants' loss.
  • Safety Terrell Thomas (New York Giants) made 9 tackles and 1 interception in the Giants' loss.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) completed 20-of-33 passes for 224 yards and 1 touchdown in the Bengals' 17-7 win over Baltimore.
  • Linebacker Keith Rivers (Cincinnati Bengals) had 4 tackles in the Bengals' win.
  • Linebacker Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) led the team with 12 tackles in the Texans' 20-17 loss to Indianapolis.
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) completed 23-of-39 passes for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Chiefs' 24-21 loss to Jacksonville.
  • Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints) rushed 2 times for 16 yards and caught 7 passes for 37 yards in the Saints' 30-20 win over Carolina.
  • Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina Panthers) made 4 receptions for 30 yards in the Panthers' loss.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

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Wideout Steve Smith caught eight passes and a touchdown for the New York Giants on Sunday night.

Ticket talk

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A limited number of tickets remain for USC's final three home games, so purchase yours here before they're gone:

Beginning of the end

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It's finish time -- the fourth quarter of the 2009 season has officially started.

The USC football office is stirring this morning as coaches continue breaking down Arizona State game film with one eye on the past and one on the future, namely the Stanford game at the Coliseum that's suddenly just five days away.

The journey that is the season travels on with excitement toward its conclusion, with much still to be discovered and trails yet to be blazed.

Reliving the game: Arizona State

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Don't miss this special photo album, including several insider images and amazing action shots, from Saturday's win, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:

RipsIt Report: Back on the winning track

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1107mikemo.jpgTEMPE, Ariz. -- One of the most overused clichés in sports was in full effect in the visitor's locker room at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night.

A win's a win.

And that's the truth. As unsatisfying as Saturday night's win was, it's still going down in the record book as a "W." While there's much to fix and adjust, that's a letter the Trojans will take away on any Saturday.

The 14-9 victory over Arizona State, ugly and unexpected as ever, turned out to be a great win because it was exactly that -- a win. And that's especially the case when looking at the alternative, something the Trojans had experienced just seven days before.

"It was really hard tonight," Coach Carroll told the players in the locker room after the game, in a tone still filled with the joy of a victory.

Hard, for sure. Enjoyable, not so much. But fulfilling? Oh yes.

Fulfilling in the sense that it will be recorded in the end as a victory regardless of the means to the end. Fulfilling in the sense that USC finished strong, a trait that was spotty in previous games. And fulfilling in the sense that the Trojans are now riding a one-game winning streak instead of that wretched-tasting one-game losing streak from last weekend in Oregon.

The Trojans rode to the victory behind an overpowering defense, one that scored half the team's points, produced four takeaways and sealed the win with a lockdown performance on the final drive.

"How bout that defense?" Carroll giddily exclaimed in the locker room after the game. "How sweet it is!"

The impressive defensive effort was somewhat of an odd sight, though, considering it had allowed 47, 36 and 27 points over the last three games, respectively. But on a night the offense had an off night, the defense stepped up -- in the same way the reverse had happened a few times previously this season.

1107abrun.jpg"That's being a team," Carroll said, "and it's a beautiful thing."

Teachable moments continued to pour forth from Carroll's lips, as he talked, among other things, about the "big lesson was for us to keep fighting."

"When things don't go right, when they don't go like you want, you turn your sights on the very next step," Carroll said. "You can do anything when you put your power in that direction."

And after Saturday's win over Arizona State, the Trojans can turn their sights to Stanford. They've thankfully closed out their road schedule for the season -- "it's been a long haul," Carroll said while exhaling -- and will now enter into the fourth quarter of the '09 campaign with hope and optimism for what's ahead.

"You don't know what's going to happen -- lots of other teams lost today," Carroll told his players. "So let's go play next week and find out."

So as the Trojans soaked up the sweet winning feeling again, "we're coming home!" became the rally cry, with the players ecstatic to have finished up their road slate and have three straight games at the Coliseum in front of them.

They're coming home indeed.

And better yet, they're coming home victors.


[Photos courtesy of Getty Images]

Pictures from the 14-9 victory

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Check out some behind-the-scenes photos from Saturday's 14-9 win at Arizona State:

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Wideout Damian Williams emerges from the tunnel to begin warm-ups.

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Punter Jake Harfman gets off a punt during warm-ups.

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With the desert mountains on the horizon, players make their way from the locker room to the field at the start of warm-ups.

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Tailback Allen Bradford (21), tailback C.J. Gable (2) and quarterback Mitch Mustain (16) go through the stretching routine prior to Saturday's game.

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The offensive and defensive linemen go through warm-ups under a magnificent sky.

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Coach Carroll, seen through the crack in the door to the coaches' locker room, has a moment to himself before the game.

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Matt Barkley sits serenely in the locker room prior to the game.

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Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin speaks with his players in the showers before the game.

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

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Offensive lineman Nick Howell taps the "I'm In" sign as the team exits the locker room and heads toward the field for kickoff.

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The Trojans march through the tunnel toward the Sun Devil Stadium field before the game.

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Coach Carroll gets interviewed by ESPN's Heather Cox on the sideline just before kickoff.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates speaks to the team in the locker room at halftime.

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Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto shares adjustments with his players at halftime.

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USC coaches and players lock arms and get pumped in the locker room at halftime.

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Jeremy Bates and Matt Barkley chat on the bench during the second half.

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Coach Carroll goes over an adjustment with safety Taylor Mays and other defensive backs on the sideline during the second half.

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The Trojans join together and sign "Fight on" in the locker room after the win.

Beyond the stats

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Without too many highlight plays in the 14-9 win, that left room for several unsung heroes to step up and help lead the Trojans to victory:

  • Defensive line: Three sacks and constant pressure on the quarterback disrupted any chance the Sun Devils had to put together more than one meaningful drive, especially on the last series of the game.
  • Secondary: With three interceptions and superb coverage all night long, the defensive backfield kept Arizona State's air attack at bay, holding it to just 23-of-50 passing in the game.
  • Damian Williams' touchdown catch-and-run: Williams' score wouldn't have happened without a brutal block by tight end Rhett Ellison near the line of scrimmage and a timely downfield block by tight end Blake Ayles.
  • Punt team: Of Jake Harfman's eight punts, only two were returned (for a total of seven yards), which restricted massive momentum shifts in special teams. Snapper Cooper Stephenson was essentially flawless in the many pressure-packed situations the unit found itself in, and gunner Curtis McNeal had a tackle on the final punt that squelched any return for the Sun Devils and forced them to start at their own 22.

Peak performers

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- See the top individual performances from Saturday's 14-9 win over Arizona State:

  • Safety Will Harris had two interceptions and returned one 55 yards for a touchdown.
  • Wideout Damian Williams scored on a brilliant 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
  • Cornerback Josh Pinkard had a game-high seven tackles to go along with a fumble recovery and a blocked extra-point attempt.
  • Tailbacks Joe McKnight (78 yards on 15 carries) and Allen Bradford (67 yards on 14 carries) formed a one-two backfield punch.

Trojans hold on for 14-9 win

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Behind a mighty defense, the Trojans secured a 14-9 victory at Arizona State on Saturday night. Read the AP recap and check out the full stat book.

Back in L.A.

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The Trojans have arrived back in L.A. after a successful business trip to the desert.

Following the 14-9 win at Arizona State on Saturday night, USC headed to the airport and departed around midnight Mountain time, arriving at LAX around 12:30 a.m. Pacific. The team then bused to campus and pulled in around 1 a.m.

Players now have off until Monday, while coaches will be in the office all day Sunday to break down the Arizona State film and begin preparations for next week's Stanford game at the Coliseum.

Game time

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PHOENIX -- Finish time starts now.

The Trojans plunge into the final third of the 2009 season with their game against Arizona State tonight. Following a day filled with rest and just a few football duties, USC is about to depart its hotel and head to Sun Devil Stadium. Arrival is set for 4:30 and kickoff will be at 6:12 p.m. Mountain time (5:12 p.m. Pacific), with the game being televised regionally on ABC and being broadcast on several other platforms.

We'll have a full report from the game upon touchdown in L.A. late tonight, but in the meantime, you can follow the Trojans through occasional updates on USCRipsIt's Twitter. Here's the team's agenda for the rest of game day (all times Mountain):

4:30 p.m. • Arrive at Sun Devil Stadium
5:03 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
5:30 p.m. • Stretching begins
5:52 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
6:08 p.m. • Trojans take the field
6:12 p.m. • Kickoff

Going to the tape

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In a hotel ballroom this afternoon, assistant athletic trainer Chris Grosskopf tapes the ankles of tight end Rhett Ellison. Many players get taped up at the team hotel before every game, which saves them time at the stadium later on.

Oh captain, my captain

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PHOENIX -- Besides the four player-elected team captains (Jeff Byers, Damian Williams, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard), two additional captains have been selected by coaches for tonight's game. Safety Ryan McMahon will represent the special teams and offensive lineman Michael Reardon will represent the service teams.

Final preparations

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PHOENIX -- Almost there.

The Trojans have wrapped up their final pre-game duties, including a wild pump-up session, a special teams roll call, offensive and defensive walk-thrus and the last meal before kickoff. The players now have more than 90 minutes to eat, relax and rest in the team hotel prior to leaving for Sun Devil Stadium.

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The Trojan defense goes through its walk-thru in a hotel parking lot, with special teams coordinator Brian Schneider playing scout-team quarterback.

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In a ballroom-turned-dining room, Coach Carroll (right, gray shirt) addresses the team prior to this afternoon's pre-game meal.

Come together

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PHOENIX -- The final set of pre-game preparations will begin in about 20 minutes in a hotel ballroom, as the Trojans will surge through a special teams roll call, walk-thrus for the offense and defense and then the pre-game meal. Other than the very concise clap session at 4:05, these brief gatherings act as the last reviews before kickoff tonight.

Last-minute prep

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In between meetings this afternoon, wideout Brice Butler squeezes in some extra film-watching in a hotel ballroom, with just five hours to go until kickoff. 

Beautiful day

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PHOENIX -- It should be a picture-perfect desert night when the Trojans and Sun Devils clash at Sun Devil Stadium starting at 6:12 p.m. Mountain time.

With a zero percent chance of precipitation and temperatures in the 70s, tonight's forecast couldn't be better for football -- especially when factoring in the conditions the Trojans have faced so far this year. Their travels have taken them from the cold at Notre Dame to the rain at Washington and to the heat at home against San Jose State, so tonight's weather is welcomed news for USC.

Home sweet home

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PHOENIX -- Today's game is a homecoming of sorts for three Trojans who grew up in the Grand Canyon State, two of whom attended schools within minutes of Sun Devil Stadium:

  • Defensive end Devon Kennard attended Desert Vista High in Phoenix.
  • Defensive end Everson Griffen attended Agua Fria High in Avondale, Ariz.
  • Center Kristofer O'Dowd attended Salpointe Catholic in Tucson.

Coverage map

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PHOENIX -- Nineteen percent of the nation's households will receive tonight's USC-Arizona State game on ABC, as two other matchups are also getting regional TV coverage in the same time slot. Check out the ABC coverage map for later today:

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Business travelers

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PHOENIX -- The Trojans are becoming experts at these quick, back-and-forth trips.

For the second consecutive week and the fourth time this season, USC's road trip will last just a little longer than 24 hours, as the team will head to the airport and fly home immediately after tonight's game. Estimated departure from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is at 11:15 p.m. Mountain time, which will put the Trojans on the ground at LAX around 11:30 p.m. Pacific. They'll then bus back to USC and should be on campus shortly after midnight.

Media presence

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PHOENIX -- Here's how you can watch, listen to or otherwise follow tonight's USC-Arizona State game:

  • Kickoff: 6:12 p.m. Mountain (5:12 p.m. Pacific)
  • Regional TV: ABC (Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox)
  • Live internet stream: ESPN360.com
  • Local L.A. radio: 710-AM
  • National radio: ESPN Radio
  • Live internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com GameTracker

Good morning

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PHOENIX -- Wakeup calls are now ringing in players' hotel rooms, which can only mean one thing.

Game day is here.

And what better way to kick off the season's eighth game day than a hearty breakfast buffet? Players will be strolling through the hotel ballroom-turned-cafeteria before position group meetings begin at 11 a.m. Then they'll have more time to relax and watch TV in their rooms before meetings get going again at 1:45 p.m. this afternoon.

RipsIt Minute

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PHOENIX -- 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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PHOENIX -- Time to call it a night.

Following a night full of meetings and a day full of all kinds of preparatory activities, the Trojans are heading toward bed check now. Wakeup calls will come at 10 a.m. Saturday, and the day's first order of business will be position group meetings at 11 a.m. Check out the full schedule for game day (all times Mountain):

10 a.m. • Wakeup call
11 a.m. • Position group meetings
1:45 p.m. • Special teams meeting
2 p.m. • Offensive/defensive walk-thrus
2:15 p.m. • Pre-game meal
4:05 p.m. • Clap session
4:15 p.m. • Depart team hotel
4:30 p.m. • Arrive at Sun Devil Stadium
5:03 p.m. • Warm-ups begin
5:30 p.m. • Stretching begins
5:52 p.m. • USC returns to locker room
6:08 p.m. • Trojans take the field
6:12 p.m. • Kickoff

Alumni in the house

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PHOENIX -- Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominque Byrd and offensive lineman Deuce Lutui, three anchors on USC's national championship teams in 2003-04, have been hanging out around the team hotel tonight, catching up with their old coaches and fellow Trojans.

The trio now play for the Arizona Cardinals, who travel to face Chicago on Sunday.

'Lose yourself in the moment'

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You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo


PHOENIX -- Coach Carroll's Zen-like message to the team tonight called upon Eminem to bring it home.

After delivering a characteristically inspiring and passionate speech about playing football in the absence of fear, Carroll went to the famous rapper's lyrics to emphasize his point. He turned out the lights and turned up Eminem's "Lose Yourself" on a stereo, creating a powerful, meditative scene in the pitch-black ballroom.

"Let it rip, let it go, hold nothing back," Carroll told his players. "Lose yourself in the moment."

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Coach Carroll speaks to the team during tonight's team meeting in a hotel ballroom.

Dream on

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PHOENIX -- The Trojans didn't watch a highlight video during tonight's meeting -- the team doesn't get one following a loss -- but they did watch this spine-tingling video set to "Dream On," produced by ESPN and featuring most of sports' all time great moments:

Meet the press

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PHOENIX -- Watch Coach Carroll's address to the media following tonight's walk-thru in this free video from USCTrojans.com.

Limited UCLA tickets available

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Very few tickets remain for the Nov. 28 UCLA game at the Coliseum, so purchase yours here before they're gone.

Back to work

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PHOENIX -- After about an hour to eat dinner in their rooms, the players and coaches are reconvening to commence the night's business. Here's a look at the evening's agenda, one of the many unchanging aspects of USC's game preparation (all times Mountain):

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 the team hotel
10:30 p.m. • Bed check

Dispatch from Sun Devil Stadium

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Check out some photos from the Trojans' walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium on Friday evening:

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Coach Carroll makes the long walk from the visitor's locker room to the field to start the walk-thru.

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The sunset creates a regal backdrop to the Trojans' walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium.

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Safety Will Harris jogs around the field at the beginning of the walk-thru.
 
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Coach Carroll stands over the Sun Devil logo on the field as he watches the offensive and defensive linemen compete in their traditional "fatman football" game. For the fifth time in six road games, the defensive line won, this time on an overtime extra-point kick by Derek Simmons.

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A view of Sun Devil Stadium from the end zone.

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The immaculate Sun Devil Stadium grass appears fake or at least seems like it should be on the fairway at Augusta.

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Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle delivers an emotion-packed motivational speech about responding to adversity on the 50-yard line at the end of the walk-thru.

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Coach Carroll speaks to the Trojans on the 50-yard line.

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The Trojans gather together at the end of the walk-thru.

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Defensive end Devon Kennard, a Phoenix native, kneels and prays on the 50-yard line at the end of the walk-thru.

Time note

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PHOENIX -- Please note that for the remainder of this trip, blog entries will be time-stamped in Mountain time.

Settling in

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PHOENIX -- USC has arrived in the desert.

After a short flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Trojans bused to Sun Devil Stadium for a walk-thru. The traveling party just checked in at the team hotel near the airport, and the players are now eating pizza dinners before usual eve-of-game meetings begin at 7:30.

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Taylor Mays boards the charter plane at LAX prior to this afternoon's flight to Phoenix.

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Inside the plane, center Kristofer O'Dowd (bottom left) takes the camera for a candid photo alongside fellow offensive linemen Matt Kalil (left), Khaled Holmes (middle) and Tyron Smith (right).

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As the sun sets, the Trojans disembark the plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Heading to Tempe

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It's been a long road to travel, but the Trojans are now embarking on their last trip of the season.

In a few minutes, the team will depart campus and head to LAX, where departure is set for 2:30 p.m. With the one-hour time difference, the Trojans are scheduled to arrive at Phoenix International Airport at 4:50 p.m. Mountain time and will then bus directly to Sun Devil Stadium for a walk-thru.

Upon check-in at the team hotel tonight, we'll have a report from the journey to Arizona and the walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium, but in the meantime, you can follow the Trojans through occasional updates from the road on Twitter.

Here's the team's schedule for the rest of this Friday:

2:30 p.m. • Depart LAX
4:50 p.m. (MST) • Arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
5:30 p.m. (MST) • Walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium
6:30 p.m. (MST) • Check in at team hotel
7:30 p.m. (MST) • Eve-of-game meetings begin
10:30 p.m. (MST) • Bed check

Little Richard, big memories

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Will Little Richard be there again tonight?

Probably not, but the memory will be there for sure.

The last time the Trojans conducted a pre-game walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium -- on Nov. 21, 2007, a day before beating the Sun Devils, 44-24 -- Little Richard was practicing for his halftime show during the next day's nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game on ESPN. Several players and Coach Carroll had the opportunity to chat and take pictures with the music icon before they had to leave for their hotel. Tailback Chauncey Washington was one of them:

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Secret agent man

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sunsetwideanglecorner.JPGTonight in Tempe, the Trojans will conduct a 45-minute walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium, the same thing they do at the road venue on the Friday night before every away game. RipsIt reader Percy Palomar sent in this fascinating question related to the walk-thru: "With events like Spygate in the NFL, does the team worry about spies when they do walk-thrus at visiting areas?"

It's funny this thought is raised, because it has directly framed the Trojans' walk-thrus. Instead of being football-focused, the walk-thrus at away stadiums are all fun and games, as the players participate in touch football games, play catch, compete in a game of hacky sack or otherwise goof off. The emphasis is on getting acclimated to the foreign environment, including the locker room and sideline setup, and becoming accustomed to the field so the players will be ready for game day.

"We want the guys to be familiar with the setting so they're comfortable the next day," Coach Carroll said.

And what about the spying aspect? The team's on-field football tasks are conducted inside the protection of fenced-in Howard Jones Field before the team leaves on Fridays, all for security's sake. Like an army general in enemy territory, Carroll has constructed the walk-thrus at away stadiums in such a way that they don't reveal any game-sensitive information.

"There's no reason to show anything when you're that close to the opponent," Carroll said.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Check out some photos from the Trojans' Friday practice this afternoon on Howard Jones Field, where they ran through all special teams situations, 15 important play calls for the offense and defense, a two-minute drill and a Hail Mary attempt:

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The kickoff unit runs through a rep.

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Players and coaches do through a roll call for special teams, raising their arms in the shape of a house to represent the goal of the kickoff return team -- to take it "to the house."

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Matt Barkley throws downfield.

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The Trojan offense goes against air in a two-minute drill.

Finishing the work week

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Officially wrapping up their week of practices, the Trojans are hitting the field now for their typically quick and light Friday workout. We'll be back with a report following the no-pads walk-thru on Howard Jones Field.

Triple crown

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At the L.A. Live shuttle kickoff event on Thursday night, Coach Carroll poses with USC's new basketball coaches, Kevin O'Neill (left) of the men's squad and Michael Cooper (right) of the women's team. The Trojans open their season against UC Riverside on Nov. 17 at the Galen Center, while the Women of Troy begin the 2009-10 campaign at home against Xavier on Nov. 13. [Photo courtesy of Dan Avila]

Trojans in NFL action

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During Week 9 of the NFL season, 33 Trojans will be in action, so check out the full schedule of games involving USC alums this weekend:

Washington Redskins (2-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Redskins: Tight End Fred Davis
Falcons: Offensive lineman Sam Baker

Arizona Cardinals (4-3) vs. Chicago Bears (4-3)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Cardinals: Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd, offensive lineman Deuce Lutui

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Bengals: Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers, linebacker Rey Maualuga

Houston Texans (5-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-0)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Texans: Linebacker Brian Cushing, defensive lineman Shaun Cody
Colts: Defensive lineman Fili Moala

Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel

Miami Dolphins (3-4) vs. New England Patriots (5-2)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (CBS)
Dolphins: Wideout Patrick Turner
Patriots: Linebacker Junior Seau

Green Bay Packers (4-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7)
Sunday at 10 a.m. (FOX)
Packers: Linebacker Clay Matthews
Buccaneers: Defensive lineman Kyle Moore

Carolina Panthers (3-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (7-0)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Panthers: Wideout Dwayne Jarrett, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil
Saints: Tailback Reggie Bush, defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis

Detroit Lions (1-6) vs. Seattle Seahawks (2-5)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson

San Diego Chargers (4-3) vs. New York Giants (5-3)
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Chargers: Safety Kevin Ellison
Giants: Wideout Steve Smith, cornerback Terrell Thomas

Tennessee Titans (1-6) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-4)
Sunday at 1:15 p.m. (CBS)
Titans: Tailback LenDale White
49ers: Offensive Lineman Chilo Rachal

Dallas Cowboys (5-2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2)
Sunday at 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Cowboys: Kicker David Buehler
Eagles: Offensive lineman Winston Justice, defensive lineman Mike Patterson

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) vs. Denver Broncos (6-1)

Monday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Pumped up

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With Coach Carroll in the thick of the madness, the Trojans raise their arms and get excited during this morning's special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium. 

Let's go

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The Trojans are gathering now in Heritage Auditorium to kick off their morning meetings, starting with a riotous special teams meeting that doubles as a wake-up call. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings will follow before practice at 11:45 a.m.

Office space

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Like bakers just before the bakery opens at sunrise, coaches and administrative assistants are currently scuttling around the office to print out their call sheets, laminate the quarterback wristbands, watch last-minute film and complete final game preparations before this morning's meetings and tomorrow's matchup.

With today being a travel day, it creates a time crunch for the coaches, since they need to finish all their in-office work this morning before hitting the road. For home games, on the other hand, coaches and administrative assistants can be printing, laminating and otherwise working in the office all the way up until just a few hours before kickoff if needed.

White hot

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Whiting out the Bruins happens tonight.

The USC women's volleyball team faces UCLA tonight at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center, with a all-white campaign adding to the rivalry fun. The first 2,500 fans will receive a free "White Out the Bruins" t-shirt, so get your tickets for the rivalry matchup here or at the gate.

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Hectic Friday

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Meetings, practice, travel, walk-thru and more meetings -- it's a busy day for the Trojan football machine.

Typical Friday meetings begin at 10 a.m. before a no-pads walk-thru-esque practice at 11:45. The team will leave campus at 1:30 and depart LAX on a charter flight at 2:30 p.m. Arrival into Phoenix is scheduled for 4:50 p.m. Mountain time, and then the Trojans will conduct an hour-long walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium. Finally, they'll check into the team hotel and commence eve-of-game meetings at 7:30 p.m.

After the long and eventful day, bed check will be at 10:30 p.m. tonight.

Grand opening

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On Thursday night at the Lab Gastropub just off campus, Coach Carroll speaks at the kickoff celebration for the new free shuttle from USC to L.A. Live. The shuttle service will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from the Lab and 901 Club and drop off at the Regal Cinemas L.A. Live.
[Photo courtesy of Dan Avila]

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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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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Matt Barkley winds up to throw under a majestic sky.

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Jake Harfman readies to receive the snap during punt team drills.

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Mitch Mustain quarterbacks the offense under a purple-colored sky.

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In the dark of night, Matt Barkley and tailback Curtis McNeal fill out the backfield in team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- On a chilly night, the Trojans closed out the work week with a traditionally light half-pads practice, sending them into the final stage of game preparation with what Coach Carroll hailed as the fourth consecutive solid workout of the week.

- The injury list stretches on as the Trojans inch closer to kickoff. Wideout Brandon Carswell is the latest addition after spraining his toe at the end of Wednesday's workout, and his status for the weekend is uncertain. Tight end Anthony McCoy (ankle) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (shoulder) will not make the trip, while defensive end Nick Perry (knee), defensive lineman Armond Armstead (wrist) and defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) are all expected to play. Linebacker Chris Galippo, who injured his neck last Saturday, completed the entire week of practice and is "full speed" for Saturday, Carroll said.

- Defensive end Wes Horton snagged a sweet one-handed interception during service team period before barreling downfield for a touchdown. "SportsCenter!" Carroll exclaimed.

- Aaron Corp closed out an effective week as service quarterback on Thursday, leading the scout-team offense against the first-unit defense in sharp and productive fashion.

- Continuing with his performance all week, tailback Curtis McNeal had another stellar effort on Thursday, turning in several juke-filled runs in team period.

- Following Thursday's workout, Carroll praised the scout-team offense and defense for their work during the week to give the first units the best looks possible. "You made this a great week for us," Carroll said, referring to the service-teamers.

- After attending the afternoon team meeting, Mark Sanchez watched Thursday's practice from the sideline with his former teammates.

To the field they go

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The Trojans are now ambling out to Howard Jones Field, where they'll conduct their half-pads workout on a cool evening under the lights. We'll be back with a report afterward.

Anger management

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Are you mad? Are you angry? Are you upset?

Those were the questions Coach Carroll had for his team during this afternoon's team meeting, as the taste from last weekend's loss lingers but also drives the Trojans toward their chance for redemption on Saturday at Arizona State.

"There's nothing wrong with it," Carroll told his players, referring to the remaining emotion from last Saturday. "I'm feeling it, and I know you're feeling it too.

"The cool thing is, we get to do something about it."

Carroll finished out his brief yet passionate talk by calling on his players to focus on finishing practices, games and, most importantly, the season.

"It's about doing stuff right longer than the other guys," Carroll said. "And we have the opportunity to do that starting now."

Catching up with Sanchez

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During his return to Heritage Hall this afternoon, Mark Sanchez stopped by for an interview about life in the NFL, so check out the three-minute video here. Thanks to producers Mark Haas and Rob McPherson.

Sanchez comes home

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While enjoying his bye week, New York Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez speaks to the Trojans during this afternoon's team meeting. "I'm having the time of my life," Sanchez told the Trojans in Heritage Auditorium, where he also raved about how well USC prepares players for the NFL. Besides addressing his former teammates, Sanchez also sat in on the quarterbacks' film session and privately chatted with Coach Carroll for several minutes.

Start it off

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The afternoon chunk of meetings is set to begin in Heritage Auditorium, starting with a special teams film review. Thursdays are heavy on special teams work both in the meetings and on the practice field, so this 30-minute film review carries extra importance, especially with the game just 48 hours away.

Byers a Wuerffel nominee

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Offensive lineman Jeff Byers has been announced as a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is presented annually to the player that combines community service with academic and athletic success.

Scouting for the future

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In a Heritage Hall football meeting room this afternoon, an NFL scout watches game film to analyze USC's pro prospects for the 2010 draft. He is one of roughly a dozen different scouts that will stream through campus this
week to look at film and attend practice in preparation for next year's NFL draft.

Show your support

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Trojan Walk in Tempe

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If you're attending the game at Arizona State, you can welcome the Trojans to Sun Devil Stadium when they arrive on the north side of the stadium just off Rio Salado Parkway at 4:30 p.m. Mountain time on Saturday.

Hitting the road early

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USC's equipment is getting an early start to the weekend.

The Trojan equipment truck will depart tonight immediately after practice for the 385-mile trip to Tempe, with a scheduled arrival in the Phoenix suburb sometime very early Friday morning. Also, assistant equipment managers Tre Limbrick and Seth Svendsen will fly out ahead of the Trojans tonight so they can begin locker room set up at Sun Devil Stadium prior to the team's arrival on Friday evening.

Away they go

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Saturday's game in Tempe will be the Trojans' sixth and final away game of the season. It's been a long, challenging road to travel in 2009, so check out some interesting facts about USC's away schedule this season:

  • USC will have played six road games in a nine-week span, with just two home games and a bye in between.
  • To put things in perspective, it will take Notre Dame until Oct. 2, 2010 to play its sixth road game since the start of the 2009 season.
  • The Trojans faced four ranked teams on the road this season. So far in 2009, the rest of the BCS Top 25 teams have played a combined total of 18 away games against ranked opponents, and only three other programs (Miami, Oklahoma and South Florida, each with two) have played more than one road matchup against a ranked foe.
  • After this weekend's trip, the Trojans will have flown 12,404 roundtrip air miles for their six road trips, up 34 percent from the 9,196 air miles traveled in 2008. 

Weekend itinerary

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Check out the minute-by-minute agenda for the Trojans as they head to the desert to face Arizona State this weekend. And also note the time change when the team travels to Arizona:

Friday
10 a.m. • Meetings begin at Heritage Hall
11:45 a.m. • Practice
1:30 p.m. • Buses depart campus
2:30 p.m. • Depart LAX
4:50 p.m. (MST) • Arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
5:30 p.m. (MST) • Walk-thru at Sun Devil Stadium
6:30 p.m. (MST) • Check in at team hotel
7:30 p.m. (MST) • Eve-of-game meetings begin
10:30 p.m. (MST) • Bed check

Saturday
10 a.m. (MST) • Wakeup call
11 a.m. (MST) • Position group meetings
1:45 p.m. (MST) • Special teams meeting; offensive/defensive walk-thrus
2:15 p.m. (MST) • Pre-game meal
4:05 p.m. (MST) • Clap session
4:15 p.m. (MST) • Depart team hotel
4:30 p.m. (MST) • Arrive at Sun Devil Stadium
5:03 p.m. (MST) • Warm-ups begin
5:30 p.m. (MST) • Stretching begins
5:52 p.m. (MST) • USC returns to locker room
6:08 p.m. (MST) • Trojans take the field
6:12 p.m. (MST) • Kickoff

Best road stadium for fans?

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You've heard which Pac-10 road stadiums and away locker rooms are the best and worst through the players' and coaches' eyes. Now we want to hear what conference road venue you like the best as a fan. Vote away:

Road warriors: Ranking the Pac-10 visitor's locker rooms

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The Trojans will be making their final road trip of the season this weekend, marking the end of a long string of away games and all the challenges that come with them.

One aspect of road trips -- visitor's locker rooms -- often provide the most memorable experiences from away games. Some facilities are welcoming, while most are inhospitable, to say the least.

So how do the Pac-10 visitor's quarters compare? Where do they stack up against each other?

1105awaystadiumchart.jpgWith the help of Trojan coaches, players and equipment staff, we rank the visitor's locker rooms from around the Pac-10, from best to worst. We break it down by functionality, comfort level, journey to the field (length of walk and/or if there are stairs to navigate) and space for meetings. The best in each category receives nine points, while the worst receives one (see the chart at right). It all adds up to produce the ranking, with the Rose Bowl the obvious winner and Memorial Stadium at California the clear worst visitor's locker room. Pretty much all the other locker rooms in between have their ups and downs.

We left the Coliseum visitor's locker room out of the mix since it doesn't affect the Trojans, but in case you're wondering, it would fall somewhere in the middle third of the rankings. And if you can't tell from the descriptions below, visitor's locker rooms around the Pac-10 are generally not the most comfortable or inviting places -- far from it, in fact. Here are our rankings, from best to worst (and be sure to voice your opinion on which Pac-10 road venue is the best from a fan's perspective here):

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1. Rose Bowl (
UCLA)
Because of a $16-million renovation in 2007, the home and away Rose Bowl locker rooms are now state-of-the-art, equal in amenities and 27,000 square feet each, providing a sparkling facility and a massive open area for team meetings. The locker room, hands down the best in the conference, is also ideal for the equipment staff because of easy loading and unloading, and the walk to the field is a perfect distance -- long enough to get pumped up but not too far as to get tired.


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2. Stanford Stadium (Stanford)

The recent stadium renovations didn't affect the visitor's locker room too much, but it was a fine facility to begin with anyway. A large open space in the middle of the room and a high ceiling remove any feelings of claustrophobia normally found in visitor's locker rooms, and the walk to the field isn't too far.


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3. Sun Devil Stadium (
Arizona State)
With the NFL coming and going from this stadium in the past, the facilities are some of the best in the conference. The locker room is relatively clean and new, and the equipment and training staffs have their own separate rooms. There's also a fair-sized open area for team meetings. The only downside to this locker room is the lengthy walk, part of which cuts through a concourse area between fans.


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4. Autzen Stadium (
Oregon)
The visitor's locker room at Autzen Stadium epitomizes the tale of two worlds. On one hand, it's clean, lockers are big and it's literally about 10 feet from the field. But on the other hand, it contains two aisles of lockers and no open meeting space, so team gatherings have to occur in a tiny entry way just outside the locker room and on the precipice of the field. And, the water from the showers is notoriously cold.


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5. Arizona
Stadium (Arizona)
Arizona Stadium was built in 1928; its visitor's locker room seems like it was built in 1927. A low ceiling and concrete floor give this a rustic, archaic feel, and players have to walk up a narrow staircase to reach the field. Its only saving grace is a decent-sized open area in the middle of the room, but otherwise it's a very dilapidated facility.


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6. Husky Stadium (
Washington)
Cramped quarters and a long, uphill walk down a narrow tunnel make the visitor's locker room at Husky Stadium a less-than-inviting place. We should clarify -- it's not even in Husky Stadium, but in the adjacent basketball arena, so you can imagine how long of a jaunt it is from the field to the visiting team's quarters. Also, there's no open area for meetings, but fortunately it is relatively clean and new.


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7. Martin Stadium (
Washington State)
Think of the locker room you used for JV football in high school, and that's pretty much the visitor's locker room at Washington State. It consists of several rows of orange metal lockers and absolutely no open area for meetings (showers become the places to go to gather), and the walk to Martin Stadium takes the visiting team down a hallway, outside, around a large P.E. building, through a long tunnel and finally onto the field after about 300 yards of maneuvering through the Pullman campus.


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8. Reser Stadium (Oregon State)

A long walk up a hill, across a campus street and then down some stairs is just the beginning of the gantlet away teams have to experience with the visitor's locker room at Reser Stadium. Well, it's not actually in Reser Stadium, but in the dark, decaying basement of a nearby physical education building. Inside the locker room doesn't make up for the journey to it, as there's no space for meetings (sense a common theme here?) and the room is just two rows of ceiling-high wooden lockers. And to add insult to injury, the showers are across the hall, making this easily one of the least inviting locker rooms in the conference.


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9. Memorial Stadium (California)

Want to be instantly miserable? Walk into Cal's visitor's locker room. The tiny, ancient quarters define depressing and decrepit in oh so many ways. The actual locker room itself is all but falling apart, the showers and bathroom lack any comforts and there's no room for trainers or equipment staffers to set up shop (they end up taking over a shower room). Also, it's essentially in the concourse, so you can smell the hot dogs and popcorn and hear the crowd. And lastly, the journey to the field includes a walk down windy, rickety steps, a downhill walk down a narrow tunnel and then a walk up a set of stairs to get to field level. Though the score is relatively close between Cal's visitor's locker room and the others in the conference, it's not even a contest that this one takes the title. So congrats go out to Memorial Stadium; you win -- lose? -- this competition.


• All photos by Ben Malcolmson, from the 2007-09 seasons.

Finding a rainbow in the clouds

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Ryan Davidson, the teen from Wisconsin who captured the Trojans' hearts over the last several years before passing away in February, has been recognized as the No. 1 fundraiser among the American Cancer Society's 135,000-participant Midwest region in 2009. The $52,624 he raised during the past year also put him No. 3 among the more than 2 million participants in the entire U.S.

"Everyone at the American Cancer Society is shocked and thrilled at what a 16-year-old accomplished," Kirby Davison, Ryan's father, said. "His $52,624 should go a long ways in reaching his goal of finding a cure so that no other child has to go through this."

Read more about the honor on Ryan's CaringBridge site.

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

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Wednesday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt staff writer Pedro Moura:

- Continuing with a week-long trend, Turnover Wednesday was a fiercely fought battle, with the defense winning 9-4 after forcing a Joe McKnight fumble on the last play of the half-pads scrimmage. Coach Carroll raved about the play of both sides after practice. "These were three days that we really like here," Carroll said. "Really hard-working, competitive days."

- Wideout Ronald Johnson made a toes-to-the-line catch on a deep ball from Matt Barkley along the sideline early in team play, impressing coaches and those in attendance.

- Tailbacks Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford both practiced Wednesday after missing time with injuries early in the week, while receiver Damian Williams (glute) practiced some. "It's good to see Joe and Bradford got back out today, and Damian got work today also," Carroll said. "Those guys are coming back to full speed."

- Tight end Anthony McCoy (ankle) again sat out of practice. Carroll said it would be "really hard" for him to suit up against Arizona State.

- Linebacker Malcolm Smith (shoulder) made a surprise return to practice, doing light work on the sidelines. Carroll said he has a shot to play against the Sun Devils.

- Defensive ends Nick Perry (shoulder) and Everson Griffen (toe) are both still questionable for Saturday, but linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck) is out.

- Tight ends coach Brennan Carroll's wife Amber and son Dillon watched from the sidelines at Howard Jones. Coach Carroll joked after practice that Dillon "thankfully" bore no resemblance to his grandfather.

- Former Trojan Carl I. Benson visited practice Wednesday. Benson, now 91, was an offensive lineman on the Rose Bowl-winning teams of 1939 and 1940. He now lives in Redondo Beach, "just down the block" from his former quarterback, Trojan great Amby Schindler.

- By Pedro Moura, USCRipsIt staff writer

Getting to work

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USC's Turnover Wednesday practice just started on Howard Jones Field, so we'll have a report from USCRipsIt staff writer Pedro Moura following the half-pads workout.

Coming Thursday

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On Thursday morning, we'll unveil USCRipsIt's rankings of the Pac-10 visitor's locker rooms in a cool behind-the-scenes feature, as we continue to take you places you can't go anywhere else.

So check back tomorrow morning for this one-of-a-kind piece that will surely have you intrigued and enlightened. Don't miss it!

Double the pleasure

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After further review, yesterday's Competition Tuesday just got a little more competitive.

During this afternoon's team meeting, Coach Carroll went play-by-play through the final team period to recount the wins and losses for the offense and defense, with the score being officially changed to an 8-8 tie.

That makes today's Turnover Wednesday practice even more valuable for the two sides of the ball.

"Tuesday is still unsettled," Carroll told his players. "Whoever wins today gets double -- they win both Tuesday and Wednesday."

The half-pads practice begins at 4:15 p.m.

Just a few left

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About 1,000 tickets remain for next Saturday's Homecoming game against Stanford at the Coliseum. Get your tickets here for the 12:30 p.m. matchup.

Sourena's Sentiments

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



Where to begin? First off, I must say, that Oregon played a great game. They did everything right. I do not want to reflect on what happened on Saturday. However, I would like to talk about how USC reacted to the game and where they go from here.

In his press conference yesterday, Coach Carroll took total responsibility for the loss. It is not an easy thing to do. Every time something goes wrong in our life, the natural reaction is to blame something or someone else. If we are not doing well at the company, it must be the economy. I know for myself, every time I start blaming things that go wrong in my life on my handicap, I lose control.

But there are bright sides to hitting a low point and accepting responsibility. It forces people to reprioritize what they want and how to get it. In this situation, it forces USC to get back to the fundamentals. Let's face it, nobody does any hardcore soul searching when you've just drubbed somebody 55-3. There are countless tales of programs who had long histories of success, only to lose their way by complacency and conceit. Remember the way Miami used to be a powerhouse? Or Florida State? Even Notre Dame. It happens in places where you would once never suspect it. The challenge is to not blame others, like bullying over NCAA rules violations at Miami, or an aging and unsettled coaching future with Florida State, or with strict academic guidelines at Notre Dame. All of these are excuses for why these once storied juggernauts fell out of the elite. And they all have one common missing ingredient: responsibility.

A loss like Saturday's gives everyone in the Trojan program an opportunity to tweak, to improve and to refocus. Pete has built such a wonderful legacy, yet also has created a wonderful culture for class, for competitiveness, for accountability and yes, for winning. Sometimes, we all need a wake-up call. True greatness is not shown when everything is going your way. True greatness is shown after a rough patch, or even just a rough moment. I am looking forward to Saturday, because I know that USC will pull out all the stops and beat Arizona State. You have to remember, since the last time USC lost a game by more than 7 points, eight years, seven Pac 10 titles, three Heisman Trophy winners, and two National Championships followed.

So, it should be a fun next eight years, right? I'm In, are you?


• 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.

On the radio

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An interview with Coach Carroll will air on AM-570's "Petros Money Show" at 4:30 p.m. today. You can listen to a live internet stream here.

Mays on the Bednarik list

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Taylor Mays is one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive player.

USC's Rey Maualuga won the award in 2008.

Fighting on

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Hear from Coach Carroll and several players as they shift their attention to bouncing back in this free video from USCTrojans.com, produced by Mark Haas.

Vote for Coach

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Numbers game

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Saturday's game in Tempe is lining up to be an intriguing matchup in several key areas that USC places extra importance on.

First and foremost, in the turnover battle, the Sun Devils have a decided edge so far in 2009. Behind a conference-best 21 takeaways, including 13 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, Arizona State is plus-7 in the all-important turnover margin stat category. USC, meanwhile, has just 10 takeaways this season and a minus-3 turnover margin.

In penalties, USC is receiving 63.4 yards per game, while Arizona State is racking up a Pac-10-worst 90.6 yards per game.

And finally, when it comes to third downs, both teams are very even. The Trojans convert on 35 percent of third-down opportunities, while the USC defense is allowing the same clip for opponents. And Arizona State's offense is successful on 32 percent of third-down conversions, while its defense leads the conference by allowing just 33 percent of opponent third downs to be converted. 

Join the Fray

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Additional tickets have been released for the Fray concert on Nov. 19 at the Galen Center, so purchase yours here.

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Rookie of the year?

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Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing won the AFC defensive player of the week honor for the second time in three weeks following his stellar performance in Sunday's win for the Texans, including 10 tackles and an interception.

Just a year out of playing for the Trojans, Cushing is sixth in the NFL -- and leads all rookies -- with 66 tackles. He also has 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, a safety and nine pass deflections this season.

Shuttle opening

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A free weekend shuttle service from USC to L.A. Live will kick off Thursday night with a special grand opening event held at the Lab Gastropub next to the Galen Center. Coach Carroll, the Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls and Laker Girls will appear starting at 6:30 p.m., when the inaugural shuttle will head down Figueroa toward the new downtown dining and entertainment center.

Game of connections

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Considering the plethora of connections between USC and Arizona State, you'd think there was a bridge connecting the two campuses. Take a look at all the links between the two programs:

  • USC wideout Drew Ness is the grandson of former Arizona State head coach Larry Marmie, who led the Sun Devils in 1988-91.
  • Defensive end Everson Griffen is the cousin of former Arizona State tailback Keegan Herring (2005-08).
  • Arizona State defensive backs coach Greg Burns was an assistant at USC in 2002-05.
  • Arizona State offensive coordinator Rich Olson was a USC assistant coach in 1977.
  • Former Trojan wideout Chris McFoy's brother, Ryan, is a senior safety for the Sun Devils.
  • Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love was USC's women's volleyball coach (1989-98) and senior associate athletic director (1991-2005).

Coverage map

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Nineteen percent of the nation's households will receive Saturday night's USC-Arizona State game on ABC, as two other matchups are also getting regional TV coverage in the same time slot. Check out the coverage map for Saturday:

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Consistent excellence

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Two days into bounce-back week, and the Trojans have turned in two "fantastic" practices in Coach Carroll's eyes.

"Maybe the best back-to-back practices we've had all year," Carroll said this morning.

It couldn't be more pleasing to see, but resting on that pair of workouts isn't part of the plan. To keep the redemption momentum going, the Trojans must produce another praiseworthy practice during this afternoon's Turnover Wednesday workout on Howard Jones Field.

"It won't mean anything if we don't keep bringing it," Carroll said. "The challenge is to do it again today."

Inside the Life: Clock management

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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 importance of time management for USC's student-athletes:


If you ask any USC football player what his daily routine consists of, you might have trouble keeping track of all the activities and commitments that come with being a student-athlete. The one thing you will never hear a USC football player mention when describing his daily routine?

Free time.

With both football and academics as top priorities, there is little time left that is not devoted to improving on the field and in the classroom. The day usually starts with a weightlifting session in the morning. Afterward, players spend time focusing on academics through classes, tutoring sessions and studying. Time is then spent reviewing film, in team meetings and on the field. After practice, there is typically a team dinner at Galen Center. The remainder of the night is spent catching up on schoolwork.

While every student at USC feels the stress of many assignments and deadlines, members of the football team face additional challenges. On top of their rigorous everyday schedule, the players travel on many weekends during the fall for games. This added time constraint makes it harder for the Trojans to have sufficient time to study and work on projects. In order to compensate for this lack of time, they must learn to manage their time well. There is little room for failure, as eligibility depends on academic success.

So what do members of the USC football team do when they do get free time? Boomer Roepke, a junior who serves as a punter and a cornerback for the Trojans says he just likes to relax in the limited free time he has.

"I like just hanging out with my friends, watching TV and playing video games in my spare time," Roepke says, although he added it is rare that he finds a night where he is not studying in Leavey Library.

For the most part, relaxation during spare time is a common theme among members of the USC football team. In their free time the Trojans also enjoy doing community service, watching other sports, eating and sleeping.


- By Courtney Kalisz, USCRipsIt staff writer

Planning for the future

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USC's coaches just broke from their weekly recruiting meeting in the War Room, where they rolled through high school highlight reels for dozens of prospects in the class of 2010. As the lifeblood of the program, recruiting always takes center stage for about an hour every Wednesday morning.

Mays moving up

| 8 Comments
Taylor Mays has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back.

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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Latest injury report

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Here are several injury updates for Saturday's game following team doctor visits tonight:



  • DE Armond Armstead (wrist): Probable

  • WR David Ausberry (calf): Out

  • RB Allen Bradford (knee): Probable

  • LB Chris Galippo (neck): Probable
  • 
DE Everson Griffen (toe): Probable

  • FB Stanley Havili (shoulder): Probable
  • 
LB Jarvis Jones (neck): Questionable

  • S Drew McAllister (hip): Out

  • TE Anthony McCoy (ankle): Questionable

  • RB Joe McKnight (ankle): Probable
  • 
DE Nick Perry (knee): Questionable
  • 
LB Malcolm Smith (shoulder): Out

  • WR Damian Williams (glute): Probable

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 punt team runs through drills at the start of practice.

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Matt Barkley goes through individual drills under a sunset-colored sky.

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Aaron Corp leads the service team offense against the first-unit defense.

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Darkness covers Howard Jones Field as the Trojans finish up Tuesday's practice.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- Down two with three plays remaining in the full-pads practice, the offense cam roaring back with three straight wins to capture an 8-7 victory on Competition Tuesday and earn loads of praise from the coaches. "That's the kind of practice that gets us right," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "That was perfect and exactly what we needed."

- Tailbacks Allen Bradford (knee) and Joe McKnight (ankle) sat out most of Tuesday's workout, providing more opportunities for C.J. Gable and Curtis McNeal, both of whom impressed. McNeal had a bruising effort on both runs and screens, while Gable also turned in a few highlight-worthy plays himself. Carroll said Gable would get a majority of the snaps if Bradford and McKnight remained limited on Saturday. "C.J.'s ready to go," Carroll said. "He'll jump to the call when he gets the chance."

- Linebacker Chris Galippo, who injured his neck in Saturday's game, fully practiced and was declared "100 percent" by Carroll.

- Wideout Damian Williams (glute) was sidelined again, but Ronald Johnson returned to action after missing Monday with an illness.

- Receiver Garrett Green made an outstanding catch when he snagged a ball over the middle while sliding to the ground and, at the same time, getting popped by a defensive back.

- Darkness settled in over Howard Jones Field for a large portion of the practice, mixing with the cool air to create dew that made the field slippery and muddy in parts. Kickers even struggled with their footing as they slipped on field goal attempts.

Got to compete

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With the juices flowing as usual, Competition Tuesday is getting underway now on Howard Jones Field. We'll return with a report after the full-pads practice.

One last roadie

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Saturday marks USC's sixth road game of the season, putting an end to the team's away schedule for the year. It's the earliest any Pac-10 team will wrap up its road slate, as all other conference teams have one, two or even three away games remaining after this weekend.

"We've had an amazing run on the road," Coach Carroll told his players during this afternoon's team meeting. "Let's make sure to finish this off right."

The Trojans, who have had only three home games so far in 2009, will close out the season with three consecutive contests at the Coliseum.

Living for today

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Life lessons continue to abound around Heritage Hall this week.

One of today's deals with living in the present and capturing the moment as the Trojans keep taking steps toward bouncing back.

"Today is a huge day, a huge day," Coach Carroll said during this afternoon's team meeting. "It's the only day we've got right now to do something about this game."

NFL highlights

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Check out this reel of NFL highlights from USC alumni during Week 8 of the NFL season, a video the Trojans watched during this afternoon's team meeting. Thanks to Eric Espinoza and the video operations department for the clip:

Diving into the books

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Tuesdays are playbook distribution days, so student worker Deb Goldstein assembles the offense's books in the USC football office this afternoon. The week-specific playbooks contain the game plan for that Saturday's matchup and are handed out every Tuesday.

See it again

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In case you missed Coach Carroll's press conference today, you can watch a full replay of it here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Show your support

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Be sure to vote daily for Coach Carroll for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award, and if Carroll wins, $50,000 will be donated to A Better LA, the inner-city charity he helped found.

Travel itinerary

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For the sixth and final time during the regular season, the Trojans will board a plane this weekend for Saturday's game at Arizona State. USC will depart for Phoenix on Friday afternoon and return to L.A. immediately after Saturday night's game, with an estimated arrival at LAX set for 11:30 p.m.

Other than the usual travel plans, this trip will have a slight wrinkle in it because of the time change caused by the recent daylight savings switch (Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time changes, now putting it one hour behind the Pacific time zone). Take a look at the weekend travel itinerary for the Trojans:

  • Friday: Depart LAX at 2:30 p.m. (PST); Arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at 4:50 p.m. (MST)
  • Saturday: Depart Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at 11:15 p.m. (MST); Arrive at LAX at 11:30 p.m. (PST)

Jersey boys

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RipsIt reader Matt Rodriguez e-mailed in asking, "Do players get to keep their uniform after their senior year?"

After the final game of every season, all the players get to keep the jersey from that game, regardless of what year they are in school. So for the Trojans, players have gotten to keep the jersey worn in the Rose Bowl for the last four seasons (three cardinal jerseys and one white jersey, all with the Rose Bowl patch on them).

Technically, the jersey is part of the program's "bowl gift" to each player. Bowl gifts, which are limited to a certain monetary value each year, include electronics, gift cards, backpacks, watches -- and the game-worn jersey from the bowl.

Streaming to your computer

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Coach Carroll's weekly press conference is about to begin, so watch a live stream of it here.

Two-toned

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We received an interesting reader question asking about the seemingly distorted tone of USC's helmets, as they can often appear purple or magenta instead of cardinal, like the team's jerseys.

The color discrepancy is caused by the lighting at the Coliseum and various other stadiums, football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez said. Halogen stadium lights appear almost blue, which, when hitting USC's cardinal helmets, distort the color and turn them almost magenta. Dominguez said the effect is also magnified because the Trojan helmets feature metallic cardinal paint, which combines with the halogen lights to further skew the original color.

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USC's helmet and jersey, shown on tailback Allen Bradford in a recent home game, can often appear as different colors because of the halogen lighting at certain stadiums. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Watch it live

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Watch Coach Carroll's weekly press conference live for free here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com. It'll start a little after noon today.

A case of the Tuesdays

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The Trojans enter into this week's edition of Competition Tuesday coming off a Monday practice that has the coaches glowing.

"Yesterday was very, very good," Coach Carroll said during this morning's staff meeting. "Guys were zipping and humming around. It's as best a Monday as we could've hoped for."

And now with only a month left in the regular season, just a handful of Competition Tuesdays remain in 2009. So the onus falls on the Trojans to capture the moment, especially on all-important Tuesdays.

"Let's crank it up and make it a great day," Carroll said.

Raising awareness

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During the five conference football games this Saturday, Pac-10 officials will wear blue forearm sleeves on one arm as part of a prostate cancer awareness campaign in partnership with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Cushing soaring high

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With another stellar performance Sunday (10 tackles, one sack, one interception), Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is up for the NFL's rookie of the week honor. View his highlights and vote for him here.

Media presence

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Here's how you can watch, listen to or otherwise follow the USC-Arizona State game on Saturday:

  • Kickoff: 6:12 p.m. Mountain (5:12 p.m. Pacific)
  • Regional TV: ABC (Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox)
  • Live internet stream: ESPN360.com
  • Local L.A. radio: 710-AM
  • National radio: ESPN Radio
  • Live internet play-by-play: USCTrojans.com GameTracker

A higher degree of success

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The classroom is producing some very positive returns for the Trojans.

Along with four players who have already graduated, the USC football program is about to add 22 more college diplomas to its roster. Eleven players are on track to graduate this fall and then 11 more are on pace to earn their degrees in the spring.

"It's always a point of great pride for the program when our players are competing and excelling in the classroom," Coach Carroll said. "To earn a college degree is a tremendous accomplishment, and we're very proud of these players who achieve that milestone."

The current players who have already graduated -- defensive back Josh Pinkard (sociology), wideout Garrett Green (business), linebacker Nick Garratt (history) and offensive lineman Jeff Byers (business) -- will soon be joined by several more degree-carrying teammates. Take a look at the Trojans on pace to graduate over the next two semesters:

On track to graduate this fall (major):
  • Offensive tackle Charles Brown (psychology and sociology double major)
  • Offensive lineman Jeff Byers (masters of business administration)
  • Kicker Jordan Congdon (American studies & ethnicity)
  • Fullback Adam Goodman (public policy, development & planning)
  • Safety Will Harris (American studies & ethnicity)
  • Defensive back Justin Hart (political science)
  • Offensive lineman Nick Howell (American studies & ethnicity)
  • Linebacker Michael Morgan (public policy, development & planning)
  • Defensive lineman Averell Spicer (sociology)
  • Cornerback Kevin Thomas (economics)
  • Wideout Damian Williams (sociology)

On track to graduate in the spring (major):
  • Linebacker Luthur Brown (public policy, development & planning)
  • Linebacker Dan Deckas (public policy, development & planning)
  • Defensive back Robert Erickson (business)
  • Linebacker Nick Garratt (masters of communication management)
  • Kicker Joe Houston (sociology)
  • Offensive lineman Butch Lewis (public policy, development & planning)
  • Offensive lineman Garrett Nolan (public policy, development & planning)
  • Punter Billy O'Malley (business)
  • Offensive lineman Alex Parsons (sociology)
  • Long snapper Cooper Stephenson (public policy, development & planning)
  • Wideout Spencer Vigoren (public policy, development & planning)

Weather watch

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For the first time this season, the Trojans don't have to worry about weather when hitting the road this weekend.

No more cold, no more rain, no more elements -- just picture-perfect desert weather in Arizona on Saturday. Forecasts are calling for a low of 60 and a zero percent chance of precipitation in Tempe on Saturday night, when the Trojans will face the Sun Devils starting at 6:12 p.m. Mountain time.

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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(From left to right) Rhett Ellison, Alex Parsons and Wes Horton form the wedge on kickoff return drills.

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The USC offense and defense prepare for the snap.

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The Trojan offense huddles up under the lights, with most of practice conducted after sunset because of the recent time change.

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As dusk settles in over Howard Jones Field, the Trojans finish up their Monday practice.


USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng has the day off.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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

- The first practice since Saturday's defeat saw the Trojans hustle through a brief helmets-only workout on Howard Jones Field, officially closing out the Oregon loss and commencing Arizona State game week. "Let's make sure that each day we take a step," Coach Carroll said in the post-practice team huddle. "Every day we've got to take a step toward this weekend."

- The practice field could have been confused for an infirmary, with several players sitting out of Monday's workout. Linebacker Chris Galippo (neck), wideout Damian Williams (glute), tailback Joe McKnight (ankle), linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck), defensive end Nick Perry (shoulder) and defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) all watched practice from the sideline Monday. The prognoses for all players will be determined after doctor visits on Tuesday night.

- Wideout Ronald Johnson missed practice with an illness, Carroll said.

- Defensive lineman Armond Armstead practiced with a cast on his hand and is expected to be able to play through the fractured wrist injury suffered Saturday, Carroll said.

- With Malcolm Smith (shoulder) out indefinitely, Shane Horton will start in his place at the weakside linebacker position, Carroll said.

- Thanks to the recent daylight savings clock change, almost all of Monday's practice was conducted under the lights.

Going to work

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Following two hours of meetings, the Trojans are now heading to Howard Jones for the on-field portion of Tell the Truth Monday, a quick helmets-only practice that will review plays from the Oregon loss and also introduce the game plan for the Arizona State matchup.

We'll return afterward with a report.

Staying true to the tenets

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We received several e-mails from readers asking if coaches will make any tweaks or overhauls to the team philosophies following Saturday's loss.

Short answer? No.

Long answer? According to Coach Carroll: "We don't change our philosophies after something like this because we believe in what we're doing and we believe in the stuff we've done over the years. How we respond is to go back to the truth of who we are and demonstrating resiliency. It's not about changing -- it's about recapturing."

Stanford game set for 12:30 p.m.

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The USC-Stanford game on Nov. 14 at the Coliseum will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and be televised nationally on FSN, officials announced today.

The game is also the centerpiece of USC's Homecoming weekend.

The bounce begins: 'Are you ready?'

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Coach Carroll broke the silence at the start of this afternoon's team meeting, the first since Saturday's defeat, with a question.

"Are you ready?"

Ready to move on from the 47-20 loss, ready to bounce back, ready to finish this season strong.

"What happens now is what counts," Carroll told his players. "It's what we do with this that matters. There is nothing we can do about what just happened. Some kind of bomb hit the tracks we were running on, we ran across a pothole in the road.

"But we leave that behind us."

So now the emphasis is on taking the next step, and that starts with practice, film sessions, workouts and everything else that goes into making the Trojan football machine hum at unprecedented levels.

But as is the norm on Mondays, part of taking that next step includes capturing the truths from the previous game so they can learn from their past successes and failures and apply them to the future.

"Offensively, we were in character -- Matt [Barkley] was throwing it, Joe [McKnight] was running it and Damian [Williams] was catching it. No turnovers [until the final seconds], no major penalties, things were clicking pretty good," Carroll said. "But on the other side of the ball, we were screwed up. It felt so uncharacteristic of us.

"And it goes right to me. I'm sick for you."

After that snippet of a recap, the loss was in the books. Just a little film-watching this afternoon stood between the Trojans and putting that game to bed. Now the attention turns to, as Carroll says, "getting our football right" through practice and hard work. Then, the true transformation and growth can occur.

"Let nothing stand in the way of who we are and who we are capable of becoming," Carroll said. "I'm calling on you, because we've got to answer the call. What we can control is right in front of us, and that's a powerful thought.

"Are you ready? Because we're going places."

White out the Bruins

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The USC women's volleyball team faces UCLA on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center, with a "white out" campaign adding to the fun. The first 2,500 fans will receive a free "white out the Bruins" t-shirt, so get your tickets for the rivalry matchup here or at the gate.

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Looking for the truth

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Perhaps the most daunting Tell the Truth Monday in years is about to begin with a special teams meeting in Heritage Auditorium. Team, offense/defense and position group meetings will follow as the Trojans get to the bare-boned facts of what happened in Saturday's 47-20 loss.

Classic look

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Relive the 2005 USC-Arizona State game, which the Trojans stormed back to win, 38-28, through this "SC Classics" feature for USCTrojans.com All-Access subscribers. If you're not an All-Access member, become one for $9.95/month here.

In the moment

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While human instinct might include looking ahead to the season's final four games and making statements about the Trojans' future outlook, Coach Carroll is reeling the focus back in to the task at hand.

"We've got to beat Arizona State," Carroll said. "We can't worry about winning the next four games -- it's about winning this next game."

Sample's 'extraordinary impact'

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The news of USC President Steven B. Sample's pending retirement has hit home in Heritage Hall, as Sample and Coach Carroll developed a strong friendship through the years.

"What an extraordinary impact he's had in everything he's done at USC," Carroll said today. "It's been great having him such a strong supporter of our program. We'll miss him tremendously."

Invading Sun Devil Stadium

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Plenty of tickets remain for Saturday's game at Arizona State, so purchase yours here. The USC sections are in 1, 2 and the upper portions of 215 through 232. The Trojan allotment (marked in cardinal below) is 3,350 tickets in the 73,379-seat Sun Devil Stadium:

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This week in USC sports

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See what happened in Trojan athletics during the past seven days:

  • Men's water polo defeated UCSB by a score of 6-4 on Thursday to improve their record to 19-1 for the season. The Trojans are currently ranked No. 1 nationally and will face UCLA on Saturday.

  • Women's soccer lost to the third-ranked UCLA Bruins 2-1 on Friday. The Women of Troy are currently ranked 18th in the national polls and will travel to Washington State and Washington this weekend to complete the regular season.

  • The women's volleyball team lost to Stanford and California this past weekend, which dropped their record to 15-8 for the season. The Women of Troy are currently ranked 16th nationally and host UCLA on Friday at the Galen Center.

  • Dwight Lewis led the Trojans with 17 points in a 64-47 preseason win against Cal State Dominguez Hills for the men's basketball team. The Trojans open the season Nov. 17 at home against UC Riverside.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Off to Galen

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Coach Carroll is breaking from a morning-long defensive staff meeting to host his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback session at the Galen Center, where he'll face the music with his review of the Oregon game film and a Q&A with the hundreds of fans in attendance. 

Playing in Tempe

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Saturday's game at Arizona State, set to kick off at 6:12 p.m. Mountain time (5:12 p.m. Pacific), will be televised regionally on ABC, with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox getting the call.

The Connecticut-Cincinnati and Oklahoma-Nebraska games are in the same time slot on ABC, so we'll have a coverage map later in the week.

Stanford game time coming shortly

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The kickoff time and TV arrangement for the Nov. 14 home game against Stanford will be announced later today. The homecoming contest will be at one of three times, based on the available TV windows: 12:30 p.m. on ABC, 4 p.m. on Versus and 7:15 p.m. on FSN.

Leaving the past behind

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The film room is already showing Arizona State tape, game plans are already coming into focus and the playbooks are already coming out of the printer.

The theme of the day is all about moving on, moving on, moving on.

"As significant as that game was, taking it to this week doesn't help us," Carroll said during this morning's staff meeting. "We've got to compartmentalize it. There's nothing to gain, there's no value in holding on to it. The point is, you don't drag this with us, because we're not better for it."

Carroll talked about the coaches developing a "discipline to leave it behind," because clenching onto the past doesn't help change the future.

"To have it affect is this week is not in our best interest," Carroll said. "It's enormously disappointing but it doesn't do us any good to hold onto it."

So the Trojans continue to move on and take steps in a positive direction as the Arizona State game is now just five days away and, more importantly, the week's first practice is less than seven hours from now.

"We've got to turn this week into an opportunity to get better," Carroll said. "Let's take it one game at a time, one day at a time.

"Let's get better today."

Sample announces retirement

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USC President Steven B. Sample, who led the university's massive development and growth since 1991, announced today he will retire in August 2010. Read his letter to the Board of Trustees here.

During Sample's tenure, USC won 20 team national championships, including two in football.

The search for the next president will begin immediately, and officials expect to announce the new president by June 1, 2010.

Wounded but not weak

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USC lost more than a game on Saturday.

Several key players suffered serious injuries during the 47-20 defeat, adding to an already injury-riddled roster. Here are the players who went down Saturday, with their prognoses for practice and the Arizona State game being determined as the week progresses:

  • Defensive end Everson Griffen (toe)
  • Defensive lineman Armond Armstead (wrist)
  • Linebacker Malcolm Smith (shoulder)
  • Linebacker Chris Galippo (neck)
  • Linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck)

As always, though, the focus moves to the players who will step up and fill those vacant roles. Replacements on a squad stocked with talent will rise to the top and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by these injuries, something that has happened countless times in the past for the Trojans.

"It's about our attitude," Coach Carroll said. "It's about turning these injuries into positives for the next guy."

Trojans around the League

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Find out how USC alumni did during Week 8 of the NFL season:

  • Safety Kevin Ellison (San Diego Chargers) had 5 tackles in the Chargers' 24-16 win over Oakland.
  • Tailback Justin Fargas (Oakland Raiders) rushed 18 times for 59 yards and 1 touchdown to go along with 3 catches for 20 yards in the Raiders' loss.
  • Linebacker Brian Cushing (Houston Texans) had 1 interception and 1 sack along with 9 other tackles in the Texans' 31-10 win over Buffalo.
  • Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland Browns) had 5 tackles in the Browns' 30-6 loss to Chicago.
  • Defensive Lineman Lawrence Jackson (Seattle Seahawks) had 3 tackles in the Seahawks' 38-17 loss to Dallas.
  • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) completed 20-of-35 passes for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Jets' 30-25 loss to Miami.
  • Wideout Steve Smith (New York Giants) made 8 catches for 68 yards in the Giants' 40-17 loss to Philadelphia.
  • Cornerback Terrell Thomas (New York Giants) made 4 tackles in the Giants' defeat.
  • Tailback LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) rushed 13 times for 47 yards in the Titans' 30-13 win over Jacksonville.
  • Linebacker Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) had 5 tackles in the Packers' 38-26 loss to Minnesota.
  • Kicker David Buehler (Dallas Cowboys) drilled all seven of his kickoffs into the end zone, with four of them being downed for touchbacks. He also played on the Cowboys' punt return unit that scored a touchdown for the second straight week.

- By Ricky Cambier, USCRipsIt student assistant

Man in the mirror

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Alongside his teammates who are all going through workouts today, tight end Blake Ayles does squats during this morning's strength and conditioning sessions in the Heritage Hall weight room. 

Bouncing back, starting now

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All losses intensely sting the players and coaches, creating pain and queasiness deep inside.

But this one did something different.

Saturday's 47-20 loss at Oregon created shame and embarrassment for the Trojans, who were utterly outplayed and are now left with loads of disturbing film to dissect on this Tell the Truth Monday. The defeat also produced a cutting question.

What do they do now?

Plain and simple, the Trojans go back to the principles that have worked for the last seven-plus seasons: Practice, tireless work and a trust in the system that's brought consecutive 11-win seasons, conference titles and BCS bowl game appearances since 2002. Knee-jerk reactions are left in the newspapers and on TV, as they don't have any place in the USC football machine. The team will return to its foundations, looking intently at Saturday's issues through a lens that's been crafted over the years of many ups and some downs.

In fact, the recuperation has already started. Coaches spent all Sunday breaking down the tape and also looking to the future, namely the Arizona State game this coming weekend. Players are in strength and conditioning workouts all morning, and the Trojans will come together for meetings starting at 2:15 this afternoon.

The road to redemption and the route to resurgence have begun.

Truth of the matter: Moving on past the loss

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1031pcjbsl2.jpgEUGENE, Ore. -- The truth came out on Saturday night.

The truth read a 47-20 final score, a defense that gave up 613 yards and a very humiliating defeat at Autzen Stadium. The truth showed that the Trojans got beat embarrassingly bad, worse than any USC team in Coach Pete Carroll's nine seasons.

But above all, the truth is that the game is lost, yet the season is not. The truth of this night and the truth of the future don't have to be the same.

Nor will they, if the Trojans do what they've become known to do.

The talk in the locker room just moments after the loss centered on the prospect for the future -- based on what the Trojans have done in the past.

Almost two years ago to the day, USC suffered its second loss of the 2007 season in a defeat to Oregon at Autzen Stadium, triggering outside doubts that the Trojans could bounce back and continue their streak of Pac-10 championships and BCS bowl game appearances. But USC, undeterred by its past failures, finished that regular season with four straight wins, captured the conference title and won the Rose Bowl.

Two years later, the Trojans find themselves at a similar ground zero and with the same hope for the future, knowing that if it's happened previously, it can happen again.

"We've been here before," Carroll told his players in the painfully somber visitors' locker room. "Two years ago, the guys understood that this loss doesn't mean anything for what's next. This is the truth -- what we do next, how we handle this is what's important.

"It is how you respond that matters."

The response didn't wait until next Saturday or even Monday, when players will report back for what will be a very harrowing "tell the truth" day of meetings and practice. In the locker room after the game, coaches were already coaching their players and players were already talking about the Arizona State game that was less than a week away.

1031pchalf.jpg"We can't do anything about what just happened -- I wish we could, but we can't," an emotional Carroll told his players. "It's about what's next, it's about how we bounce back, it's about how we finish. That's the truth."

The truth of the matter is that two out of the last three seasons have seen two losses but ended with Pac-10 titles and Rose Bowl championships. As humbling and lopsided as Saturday night's loss was, it still counts as one loss, with lots of football left to be played in 2009.

The Trojans have four games remaining in the regular season, and the goal remains the same as it has been all season: Win the next game. Fortunately, a third of the season is left, giving the Trojans plenty of time to accomplish that goal and see where the journey takes them.

But they can't successfully navigate that path if they hold onto the truth of the past. True success will only happen if they hold onto the truth and hope of the future.

"It's going to be hard, but suck it up and let's do something about our next opportunity," Carroll said in the locker room on Saturday night. "If it were easy, it wouldn't be worth anything.

"So let's rally, let's get back on track."

The truth shall set the Trojans free.

Pictures from the 47-20 loss

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EUGENE, Ore. -- Check out some photos from USC's 47-20 loss at Oregon on Saturday night:

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Tailback Joe McKnight waits at the threshold of USC's locker room before warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley readies for the snap from Jeff Byers during warm-ups.

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Matt Barkley goes through pre-game warm-ups.

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Linebacker Jarvis Jones gets stretched out by assistant strength coach Bryan Bailey in the shower prior to the game.

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Defensive players sit at the lockers in the calm before kickoff.

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Coach Pat Ruel talks with his offensive linemen in the shower before the game.

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Matt Barkley waits at his locker before kickoff.

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The Trojans jump around and get jacked up in the locker room just before taking the field for the first half.

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Players tap the "I'm In" sign while walking out to the field for the game.

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A rainbow arches across the sky during the first half.

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Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. shares adjustments with his players in the locker room at halftime.

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Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates talks with the offensive players at halftime.

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Coach Carroll addresses his team at halftime.

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Coach Carroll and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates watch the action during the second half.

Just the facts

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The Trojans suffered a shocking 47-20 loss at Oregon on Saturday night, the most lopsided defeat in Coach Carroll's nine seasons at USC. Here's the AP recap and full stat book from the game.

Back in L.A.

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Right after Saturday night's loss, the Trojans headed to the Eugene Airport, where they departed at 10:30 p.m. The charter flight touched down at LAX slightly before 12:30 a.m., and the team was back on campus around 1:15 a.m.

Coaches will be back in the office all day on Sunday to break down the Oregon game film and begin constructing the Arizona State game plan. Players are off until strength and conditioning workouts on Monday morning, and the first team meeting of the week will be Monday afternoon at 2:15 p.m.