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October 2010 Archives

Lane Kiffin Oregon Call

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Click the file below to listen in on USC head coach Lane Kiffin's weekly conference call with the media.

Oregon-Kiffin-Call.mp3

(Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Photo Galleries: USC vs. Oregon (Action)

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Here is the 1st half (top) and second half (bottom) action from Saturday night's slugfest through the lens of Jon SooHoo.  For the pregame and locker room pics, scroll down to the previous post...





Photo Galleries: USC vs. Oregon (Pregame)

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Here's an exclusive look at Jon SooHoo's photos before the game (top) and inside the locker room (bottom):





Oregon 53, USC 32

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10 thoughts from the sideline and locker room...

  • Three plays determined the direction of this game.  With the lead and the ball near midfield, a "miscommunication" between Matt Barkley, Kris O'Dowd and Lane Kiffin led to an unexpected snap and an unforced error.  Down a dozen, Jurrell Casey's ricochet interception off a Wes Horton deflection gave the Trojans belief when their confidence was fading.  After a Coliseum shaking rally put USC up 32-29, the Ducks converted a 3rd and 13 for a 30-yard TD pass to the seemingly invisible Jeff Maehl.  Three plays, three dramatic momentum swings.
  • Stat of the night: 3rd down conversions.  USC was 8/17 picking up 3rd downs, while the Ducks were 11 of 17.  It was even worse before the final meaningless drives.  "We did a terrible job on third down," Kiffin said about the offense.  The coach pinpointed that stat as the primary factor in the loss.
  • As I said in my Friday keys, time of possession is a meaningless stat to the Ducks.  At the end of the day, USC controlled the ball for five more minutes than Oregon, but it was the Trojans who looked far more tired in the 4th quarter, particularly offensively.  The Trojans ran 85 offensive plays, which seemed to stretch them beyond their physical capacity against an Oregon defense in prime condition.  "He's done a phenomenal job of building his team for speed and conditioning," Kiffin said of Chip Kelly, whose team is famous for dominating the final quarter on both sides of the ball.
  • The defense played well at times, but they still gave up 599 yards and 53 points.  "We have to play a complete game," said Shareece Wright, who was happy with the defense's performance in the 1st and 3rd quarters, but not the 2nd and 4th.  "We thought we were not tired and we tried to be tough guys and stay in the game, but we have to come out when we're tired.  I feel like they executed their plays to perfection."
  • USC's offense did not live up to the standard that it had set in the last month.  "I thought our offense was terrible today and obviously, that starts with me," Kiffin said after the game.  While the head coach has been praised for his play-calling most of the season, he was questioned about the 3rd and 5 pitch play to Stanley Havili, which did not work in the 4th quarter or earlier in the game.  "Are you saying it wasn't a very good call?" Kiffin joked with the reporter.  "Kennedy Pola called that one."  (He was kidding.)
  • Kiffin has not lost his sense of humor.  Penalties were once a forbidden topic this season around Heritage Hall, but the Trojans dominated the discipline battle tonight committing only three infractions to Oregon's eight.  "You found something positive!" Kiffin said to a young reporter who pointed it out.  "I appreciate you.  That's the only thing we did good."
  • Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods are two dynamic playmakers, but the Trojans receiving corps lacks a physical presence, which became apparent tonight.  The Ducks gameplan in the secondary was clearly to punish RoJo and Woods, who gallantly took their beating in exchange for catches and yards.  Nevertheless, particularly on Barkley's two interceptions, it was obvious that USC does not have that "beast" like Mike Williams, who will wrestle the ball away from a defender or go up and get a jump ball.
  • The lack of certainty at running back finally bit the Trojans tonight as well.  Marc Tyler is obviously the starter, but he disappointed the coaches with a hesitant run in a short yardage situation in the first half.  When he went in the doghouse, Stanley Havili became the primary option with Allen Bradford sidelined, Dillon Baxter out of the mix and C.J. Gable recuperating from a knee bruise.  Tyler got back in and found success, but every time the offense got one-dimensional, Oregon turned on the pass rush.
  • Oregon is different under Chip Kelly.  While they have been explosive for awhile now, they are much tougher than previous versions.  Darron Thomas is an ordinary quarterback if you force him to be a pocket passer, but LaMichael James is the real deal.  He has a tremendous center of gravity, which allows him to bounce almost like a mosquito.  From the field level, he had the quickest feet that I have seen in person.  Like their entire offense, James waits for a defensive breakdown and exploits it in an instant.
  • Statistically, Thomas was impressive as well, but the touchdown passes were all on complete coverage breakdowns.  "We did not read our keys and we got fooled on play-action," said Jawanza Starling, who is usually tasked with policing center field.  "We were well prepared.  There was not anything that we could not handle."  While everyone talks about Oregon's speed, WR Jeff Maehl would not be favored to win a footrace against any member of the Trojans secondary, but he happened to shake free for eight catches, 145 yards and three TDs.
  • You can watch Lane Kiffin's press conference on USCTrojans.com plus media sessions with Shareece Wright and Matt Barkley, but I thought Ronald Johnson was a fitting player to wrap up the night.  Without hearing him say it, you can see how much effort he put into tonight.




Oregon Live Chat

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USCTrojans.com blog contributor Ben Weiss brings you the sights and sounds of the USC-Oregon game from the Coliseum press box.



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Robert Woods upended on a run after catch.


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Barkley directing traffic before the snap.


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Stanley Havili breaking down the Oregon defense on a run.


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Marc Tyler makes his move and turns upfield.

New Athletics Building Announced

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USC AD Pat Haden announced the construction of a new 110,000-square foot all-sports building to be constructed next to Heritage Hall that will house meeting rooms, coaches offices and a locker room for the football program, as well as an academic center, athletic training room and state-of-the-art digital media production facility for all of USC's 21 sports.

They are expected to break ground in January of 2011 and complete the project 18 months later.

*Text "Cardinal" to 27138 for insider updates on the progress of the all-sports building.*

4-USC-All-Sports.jpgArchitecturally, the exterior of the building will be the trademark brick that matches most of the buildings on campus plus the technology inside is all cutting edge.

The building will sit on the space currently occupied by an intramural field next to Heritage Hall and the Galen Dining Center.  The IM field will be relocated adjacent to the Loker Track Stadium.

The building is projected to cost $70 million and a fundraising plan is already underway to cover the cost of construction, a maintenance endowment and renovations to the vacated spaces in Heritage Hall.

Click here for the complete release with quotes from Pat Haden and president C.L. Max Nikias.

While Heritage Hall has served as the home of many champions, the new building will launch USC football and the rest of the athletic programs past the competition in terms of facilities and resources. 

The 60,000-square foot basement (see floor schematics below) will feature a 32,000-square foot weight room (current one is 9,600) and an 18,000-square foot athletic training room (current one is 2,700) plus a lounge and locker rooms with an entrance to the practice field.



The two buildings will be connected to each other via the basement.  The top two floors will house office and meeting rooms. 

"Once this facility is completed, our physical infrastructure will be among the finest of any athletic department in the nation, and worthy of our student-athletes," Pat Haden said.


Friday Night Video: Oregon

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War Room Productions created a hype video worthy of Saturday's showdown.

This is what the team watched tonight to get ready for the #1 team in the nation. 

Get fired up!



Jock Rally: Oregon

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Here is a Halloween edition of the Heritage Hall jock rally produced by Ben Weiss...




2010 Game #8: Oregon at USC

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5 ways to beat #1...

1.) 1st and 4th

The cardinal clad crowd needs to dominate the first and fourth quarters.  The buzz leading up to the game has been tremendous.  The fan revolution behind a uniform color (#RedOut) has been inspiring.  Now, Trojan voices need to echo around the Coliseum.  USC has been on the other side of this equation.  Number one...on the road...hostile environment...  If you think back, the upsets came when the top ranked Trojans were hit in the face early and the crowd drowned them out at the end.   

2.) Grass Stains

Outside of Autzen Stadium, off the turf, the Ducks are a different team.  They punted four times and turned it over twice in the Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State.  They punted 11 times and gave it away twice at Arizona State this season.  USC's defense needs to find negative plays to force obvious passing downs, create multiple turnovers and/or mix-in a surprise on-side kick.  The number of possessions needs to be skewed in the Trojans favor.

3.) 666

On Halloween's eve, scary numbers are fitting.  The Trojans need sixes not threes.  While some pundits will pontificate that Lane Kiffin should call plays to keep the rock away from Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, scoreboard pressure is more effective than clock pressure to a team that scores so fast.  The Ducks defense plays to their offense, so they are more than willing to settle for Joe Houston field goal attempts.  The Trojans offense must follow suit with a touchdown barrage and a "first to 50 wins" mentality.

4.) Senior Night

Stop me if you've heard this before, USC cannot go to a bowl game this year, so this is their "Super Bowl."  While it seems cliche, the excitement around Heritage Hall and the practice field is undeniably heightened this week.  On this kind of night, in this kind of atmosphere, the been-there-done-that vets like Stanley Havili, Ronald Johnson, Kris O'Dowd and Shareece Wright need to show up. 

5.) Ground-and-Pound

Since Matt Barkley is getting publicity for MMA tweets, the fighting metaphor seems fitting.  The Ducks strike quickly and ferociously.  Whatever uniforms they decide to wear, they have no interest in getting blood or dirt on Nike's handiwork.  The Trojans and their fans will already be in cardinal, so the blood will blend right in.  If it rains, all the better.  USC needs to wrestle Oregon for every inch of Coliseum turf.

(Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Spirit of Troy Gameday FlipsIt

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Blog contributors Stephanie Graves and Ben Weiss documented gameday from the band's perspective...






Breaking News at 9 a.m. Saturday

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USC AD Pat Haden will make a huge announcement Saturday at 9 a.m. on USCTrojans.com regarding the athletic department. 

Check out USCTrojans.com or USCTrojans.com/blog at 9 a.m. pacific tomorrow to be the first to hear the news.



Final Reminder: College Gameday

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ESPN College Gameday will go LIVE at 6 a.m. Saturday morning at the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

We want the Trojan Family to turn out in full force and represent in their cardinal.

Check out this unplugged video from Gameday's last trip to USC in 2008.






NCAA Progress Report

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For the second time this year, USC officials went to Indianapolis to meet with NCAA department heads to open lines of communication and to gauge the progress the athletic department has made in complying with the administrative body's rules and regulations.

david_roberts.jpg"We've met with NCAA officials in Indianapolis twice since August 1st to discuss the steps that the university has taken to enhance its athletic compliance office efforts, the new policies and procedures we have implemented pertaining to football and men's basketball and the university's desire to increase our participation on NCAA committees and events," said Dave Roberts (pictured right), vice president for athletics compliance.  

"The visits have been very well received by the NCAA," continued Roberts, who was joined by associate vice president for athletics compliance Ellen Ferris on the trip.  "It is clear that they are pleased with the steps that we have taken to date; and, they have repeatedly offered their help and assistance."

As was previously reported, USC athletic director Pat Haden and president C.L. Max Nikias traveled to Indianapolis earlier this year.

"President Nikias and I feel it is very important that USC establishes a good line of communication with the NCAA," Haden said.  "When Max and I traveled to NCAA headquarters earlier this year and met with many of their people, we had a very productive and valuable trip."

Pat Haden has emphasized a "spirit of compliance" since his first day on the job.

"We have continued to work hand-in-hand with the NCAA, including last week sending our compliance department heads to meet with a variety of NCAA officials.  Dave and Ellen said that their trip went equally well, and that the feedback they received from the NCAA was that they are thrilled with our progress and with the steps we have taken to ensure that we are completely in line with NCAA rules and regulations.  That's great news."



Happy Halloween

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The Trojans are planning some tricks for the #1 Oregon Ducks to treat the 90,000+ that will be in attendance on the eve of Halloween Saturday.

In anticipation, USC art students Julia Vann and Tim Linden carved out some pumpkins for the ESPN on ABC primetime broadcast.

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Oregon Thursday Practice: Notes

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Going into the biggest game of the season, I talked to all three "quarterbacks."

  • Undeniably, practice has been different this week.  The sidelines are filled with media, including national faces like Brent Musberger and Desmond Howard.  Lane Kiffin admitted that he has not had to ask for his players' attention.  They have been snapped in since last Tuesday.  After practice, the list of players doing extra work and extra conditioning has grown exponentially.  The #1 team in the country has everybody focused.
  • Speaking of Desmond Howard, here's a little bonus trivia for the blog readers.  Howard is one of four players to win the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP.  Name the other three.  Answer below...
  • Using the marathon analogy, Lane Kiffin backed off the players the last two days to build their legs back up after breaking them down the last two weeks.  Practice was light for a typical Thursday and shorter than usual (1 hour 45 minutes).
  • The injury list is blurry.  Kiffin rested some healthy players, but Nick Perry returned to the field.  You can watch the video below if you want to decipher who is in and who is out.  I will Tweet from the field (@USC_Athletics) on Saturday when I know for certain.
  • Quarterback #1: Center Kris O'Dowd.  "It's my job to make the calls and study this defense up," said the senior about his responsibilities.  "They confuse offenses, but if we just keep it to the basics, we should not have a problem."
  • O'Dowd went on with the scouting report from his angle.  "They are just a fast team.  They are not necessarily powerful upfront, but they are quick and they are good at what they do."
  • We profiled Casey Matthews today in the scouting report.  The Oregon linebacker is Clay's brother, so the older Trojans are very familiar with him.  "He's my boy," said O'Dowd, who often talks to Matthews publicly on Twitter.  "It's just fun competition, especially when you go against people that you know.  I can't wait to play against him."
  • O'Dowd does not talk trash on Twitter or in the media, but how about the field?  "I only talk when the time is right," he smiled.  "I'm a pretty humble guy, but I can't say that for the rest of the offensive linemen." 
  • The forecast calls for rain at some point Saturday.  Kiffin said the timing of the rain will determine whether or not it is an advantage for the offense or defense.  "We'll love it because it will be cooler for the big guys," O'Dowd concluded.
  • Two weeks of anticipation have the Trojans counting down the hours until kickoff.  "Every game thus far I have been treasuring in my heart," said the senior who only has six more to play at USC.  "It's going to be a great opportunity for myself, this offensive line and this team to play our best."
  • "I can't wait!" said Devon Kennard, the quarterback of the defense.  "I got some big game experience last year, but I'm playing a bigger role, so I'm really excited for the opportunity."
  • Kennard singled out tackling as a key to containing Oregon's dangerous skill players.  "It's something the coaches have emphasized," said Kennard about the live tackling drills this week.  "It's something we know that they want us to take more seriously, so we've emphasized that for the two weeks."
  • The real quarterback gets the last word.  "The #1 team in the country coming in here and Homecoming, there's a lot of hype around it," Matt Barkley said about the build-up.  "It's going to be our preparation that will win it not the hype, not our fans, although they're great, not College Gameday."
  • Trivia answer: Marcus Allen (1981 Heisman at USC, Super Bowl XVIII MVP), Jim Plunkett (1970 Heisman, Super Bowl XV MVP) and Roger Staubach (1963 Heisman, Super Bowl VI MVP).
  • Here is the shortest Lane Kiffin post-practice presser of the season...







Project Trojan: Gameday

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Get ready for the Oregon showdown by watching a new episode of Project Trojan as we take you behind-the-scenes in the build-up to the battle against #1.

Click here to watch the show!

Here's a preview...






Scouting Report: Oregon

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Round #8: Oregon Ducks

2010 Record: 7-0 (3-0 in the Pac-10)

2009 Record: 10-3 (8-1 in the Pac-10)

Series History: USC leads 37-17-2 (Last meeting: 47-20 Oregon in '09)

Head Coach: Chip Kelly (2nd year)

The second year head coach was Mike Bellotti's offensive coordinator for two years before taking over.  He has created an offensive machine called the "Spead O" behind fast quarterbacks, faster running backs and the fastest play-calling. 

Offensive Players to Watch: QB Darron Thomas (Sophomore, Houston, TX); LaMichael James (Sophomore, Texarkana, TX)

How are these guys not called the "Texas Two-Step"?  Anyway, Thomas was supposed to be the weak link after Jeremiah Masoli sunk the Ducks by getting thrown off the team.  Instead, Thomas has Oregon swimming up the rankings and is now splashing around the Heisman pool.  He has been better at home (280 total yards per game) than on the road (229 yards per game).

James exploded as a freshman last year, including devastating the Trojans D with a 183-yard rushing night at Autzen.  He has breathtaking speed, but he is only 5'9" and 185 pounds, so he is not a physical runner.  After missing the opener, he has topped 120 rush yards in every game, except for Arizona State.  He only has four catches this season.

Defensive Players to Watch: LB Casey Matthews (Senior, Agoura Hills, CA); CB Cliff Harris (Sophomore, Fresno, CA)

The name Matthews lives forever in Trojans' lore.  However, Casey chose a new path and now represents this opportunistic Ducks' defense.  Marc Tyler's Oaks Christian HS teammate has three interceptions and three fumble recoveries as part of an undersized, play-making unit.

Harris proves the Ducks can be explosive even on defense and special teams.  T.J. McDonald's high school mate has five interceptions in his 15 career games, including a pick-six against Tennessee this year.  He's also taken three punts back for touchdowns this season.

Strength: Speed

The Ducks speed is intimidating.  Their "fast-break offense" is confusing and relentless.  When they get momentum, they create a scoring snowball, which turns into a winning avalanche.  If the Trojans are not 100% sound in their gap responsibilities, defensive discipline and tackling, Oregon will embarrass them (see UCLA last Thursday night).  The Ducks have 22 (of 44) TD drives that lasted five plays or less.

Weakness: Size

They are not built to win a fistfight.  If you can slow them down and square them up like Arizona State (forced 11 punts) and Ohio State (last year's Rose Bowl) did, they will get careless with the football and relent.  They do not have a Plan B.  They are built to win one way. 

Oregon Verdict

Amazingly enough, USC will face the #1 team in the nation for the first time since 1992, which is the second longest active drought in Division-1 (Purdue).  They have not conquered #1 since 1984, so this is a special opportunity for a group that has to make its statements during the regular season.

Oregon tends to be slower and sloppier when they are away from the Autzen cauldron.  Plus, they are not used to their lofty perch.  Crazy as it sounds, the Ducks are 7-0 for the first time since 1933!  Nevertheless, they are worthy of the #1 ranking and could be en route their first national championship in school history.

Coach's Take: Here is Joe Barry on the problems that Oregon's offense presents...






USC FlipsIt: Pac-10 Media Day

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USC blog contributor Ben Weiss peppered the Pac-10's best players with questions ranging from their toughest opponent to their Halloween costume.







2010 Pac-10 Basketball Media Day

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The Pac-10 hoops elite gathered inside Nokia Theater at LA Live today for the annual basketball meet and greet.

The preseason poll has USC picked to finish 6th.

isaiah-thomas.jpg1. Washington
2. Arizona
3. UCLA
4. Arizona St.
5. Washington St.
6. USC
7. Cal
8. Oregon St.
9. Stanford
10. Oregon

The biggest offseason changes came up in Eugene, where they will open up the new Matthew Knight Arena with a new head coach, Dana Altman (via Creighton).

The Huskies are clear favorites, receiving 33 of 35 first place votes.  They return highly-rated guards Isaiah Thomas (pictured right) and Abdul Gaddy.

UCLA brought in the most highly-touted freshmen headlined by PF Josh Smith and SF Tyler Lamb.

Washington State's Klay Thompson, an Orange County product, would be my preseason favorite for conference player of the year.

Two pieces of video for your enjoyment from the day...

First, USC head coach Kevin O'Neill and big man Nikola Vucevic take their turn on the big stage.



Finally, here is the Pac-10's hoops trailer to get you fired up for the return of college basketball.






Touchdown Club

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We want you to be a part of every USC TD celebration against Oregon and all season long.

Check out this video for more info:






Morning Papers (10/28/10)

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53 hours until kickoff...




USC vs. #1

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The AP #1 Oregon Ducks are coming into the Coliseum Saturday, but you knew that already.

While the Trojans have played many games recently as the #1 team in the country, they have not played against the nation's best since 1992.

They have not hosted #1 since 1988 and they have not beaten #1 since 1984.

In short, Saturday night in a cardinal Coliseum presents the opportunity to do something that has not been done at Troy in 26 years.

Here's the full list of USC versus #1:

YEAR      OPPONENT           RESULT          LOCATION            USC RANK
1937       California                 L, 20-6                   A                              11
1938       Notre Dame             W, 13-0                  H                              8
1942       Ohio State               L, 28-12                 A                               --
1947       Notre Dame             L, 38-7                   H                              3
1949       Notre Dame             L, 32-0                   A                              17
1951       California                 W, 21-14                A                              11
1954       Ohio State                L, 20-7                  N (Rose)                  17
1961       Iowa                         L, 35-34*               H                              --
1964       Notre Dame             W, 20-17                H                             --
1966       Notre Dame             L, 51-0                   H                             10
1967       UCLA                       W, 21-20                H                              4
1968       Ohio State                L, 27-16                 N (Rose)                  2
1978       Alabama                  W, 24-14                A (Birmingham)        7
1979       Ohio State               W, 17-16                N (Rose)                   3
1984       Washington              W, 16-7                  H                             12
1988       Notre Dame             L, 27-10                 H                               2
1989       Notre Dame             L, 28-24                 A                               9
1992       Washington              L, 17-10                 A                              20

*USC failed on 2-point conversion with 48 seconds to play

USC has a 7-11 record against AP No. 1-ranked teams, including 4-4 in the Coliseum. 

Ranked Trojan teams are 6-9 against AP #1 squads.  USC's 7 wins over AP #1 teams are second only to Notre Dame's 8.

The Coliseum awaits the #1 Ducks.
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Oregon Wednesday Practice: Notes

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With the physical work behind them, tonight's practice was more about fine tuning.

  • Off the field, freshman WR Markeith Ambles was suspended from football activities, but will continue to benefit from tutoring and academic resources.  "If you're not going to come here and be a student-athlete, you should go somewhere else," Lane Kiffin explained his reason for suspending Ambles.  "Your hope is that it serves as a wake-up call and they understand that something as special as a scholarship to USC can be taken away."
  • Earlier this season, DB Patrick Hall was suspended, but he earned his way back on to the team.  LB Simione Vehikite is also out for academic reasons.
  • On the injury front, Nick Perry was not at practice today.  As I mentioned yesterday, he hobbled off the field, but Kiffin did not disclose any information about the injury, although he did say his absence was related to the health issue.
  • OT Tyron Smith has not practiced a whole lot this month, but he has not missed any game time, so he is supposed to be available for Saturday. 
  • Dillon Baxter returned to live duty today and Kiffin said "he looked fine."
  • On the field, Nickell Robey made a great play on a red zone interception.  The Trojans' defense has struggled on third down this season, so it is hard to believe that they can win this game without forcing two or three turnovers.
  • Overall, the defense dominated.  "Coming into this game, we feel real good," Robey said about the gameplan.  "We believe in [Monte Kiffin] and what he is doing."
  • T.J. McDonald will be in the center of things.  Against a typical option team, McDonald would play as an extra linebacker, but Oregon gives you a few more things to worry about.  "They don't have that many route concepts.  It's just that they throw them at you like this," McDonald gestured to explain the speed of the Ducks passing game.
  • While coaches are loathe to give away any aspect of the gameplan, the defense continues to use the word "simplify" as an answer to the tempo and confusion that Oregon will try to create. 
  • Even if the Trojans are in the right position, they have to make the play against the Ducks speedy backs and receivers.  "They like to throw a lot of short routes, the stuff that picks you apart, so we have to make sure we tackle," McDonald said.  "We have to be able to eliminate one part of their game, so we can slow the game down for ourselves."
  • While the spread-option is gaining in popularity, NFL teams do not run it because the franchise quarterback is vulnerable to too much punishment.  If McDonald gets a chance, he'll act as USC's enforcer against Darren Thomas.  "If I get a shot in the hole, I'm going to take it," said the physical young safety.  "I'm not going to have good intentions.  That's all I'm going to say on that."
  • With two weeks of anticipation, McDonald is itching to hit somebody.  "It doesn't get much better than this.  I've been waiting for this for a long time."
  • Blake Ayles missed some opportunities to make big plays in last year's Oregon game.  Coming off his first catch of the season, is he thinking redemption?  "The thought is always in the back of my mind," the junior tight end said. 
  • Last year, Ayles was given an opportunity after starter Anthony McCoy got hurt.  This year, he has had to fight for everything.  "It's definitely the competition," Ayles explained.  "We're all fighting for that job, so you can't take a play off out here."
  • Lane Kiffin in his own words...







Men's Basketball Weekly Practice Update (10/27)

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Compiled by USCTrojans.com blog contributor Ben Weiss

The Trojans are rapidly approaching the end of preseason camp and are less than two weeks away from their first exhibition game (11/6 vs. Point Loma Nazarene). A few worthwhile tidbits from today's practice...

  • Head Coach Kevin O'Neill named seniors Donte Smith, Marcus Simmons and Alex Stepheson as this year's team captains.
  • On Saturday, freshman forward Curtis Washington returned from an injury to play in the Cardinal and Gold game. Today, when he was challenged at the rim by a driving Garrett Jackson, Washington demonstrated his length and athleticism with a strong rejection. His development this year will be key with the lack of depth in the Trojans' front court.
  • Jio Fontan spent the entire practice in the gym, but off the court. He continued to rehab his back injury. He'll have plenty of time to get healthy, as he doesn't become eligible until the Dec. 18 game against the University of Kansas.
  • The team's only competition thus far has been itself. That ends this Saturday as an undisclosed opponent visits the Galen Center for a scrimmage against USC. The game, however, will be closed to the public and all media.
  • Pac-10 basketball media day is tomorrow, so expect plenty of notes and video from all the hoopla (bad pun intended).
  • Without further ado, here's Coach O'Neill...

USC/Oregon Coverage Map

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If you cannot make it to the Coliseum on Saturday, 79% of the country will get the game on ABC.  Otherwise, you can watch the game on ESPN PPV or ESPN3.com.

Here is the coverage map:

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Top 10 Showdown: FREE to Fans

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Thumbnail image for Kendall Bateman 5.jpgThe #8 ranked USC women's volleyball team will play host to #7 Washington at the Galen Center on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in a key Pac-10 match-up.

Admission is FREE to any and all that want to attend!

First serve is just two hours before the football game, so you can stop by the Galen Center before you head to the Coliseum.

Both teams are 17-3 overall and 6-3 in the conference, so this is a huge game for the Women of Troy and they need your support.

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USC Football: Defense & Special Teams Midseason Report

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Now a look at how the defense has progressed through seven games...

(Photos by Jon SooHoo)

Jurell-Case.jpgDefensive Line

Preseason: They were expected to be the most dominant unit on the team, but Nick Perry suffered a high ankle sprain early on in camp, which tested their depth.

Midseason: Mixed results.  While they have had dominant performances, they have not penetrated consistently and caused enough problems in the backfield to protect a young secondary.  Without a healthy Perry, they rank just 8th in the conference in sacks.

Second Half: The defensive ends need to get healthy.  Wes Horton was having a breakout season before a back injury at Wazzu.  Perry is capable of being a sackmaster if he can get fully healed.  They could be a truly special unit next season.

Michael-Mo.jpgLinebackers

Preseason: Again, depth was a grave concern as was the inexperience of Devon Kennard in the middle, but seniors Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith were expected to make plays on the outside.

Midseason: They have not been bad, but they have barely made an impression.  The Cal game showed what the unit can do when they play downhill.  Chris Galippo is the biggest surprise of the group having regained his confidence.

Second Half: Now that they have had some time in Monte Kiffin's defensive system, the backers need to start attacking again.  With brutal tests like Oregon on the docket, they must play free and fast.

Shareece.jpgDefensive Backs 

Preseason: Shareece Wright was expected to be one of the best corners in the nation, but the rest of the corps lacked experience.  Nickell Robey was the sensation of Fall camp.

Midseason: Wright has mostly been as good as advertised.  He is one of the most punishing hitters that you will ever see at the corner position.  Robey, Torin Harris and Jawanza Starling have suffered through growing pains at times, especially giving up deep balls.  T.J. McDonald is at his best coming towards the line of scrimmage.

Second Half: Tackling in the secondary has been atrocious, so Lane Kiffin has added live tackling drills to sharpen up their skills.  Given their youth, they just need to focus on improving down the stretch because this core group, besides Wright, could be together for two or three years.

Harf-Man.jpgKickers

Preseason: Jake Harfman was a known quantity at punter.  Joe Houston won the place-kicking battle easily over Harfman.

Midseason: Harfman has been solid, but Houston has struggled from distance, which proved costly in the Trojans' loss to Washington.  However, he has handled the adversity well with perfect kicks against Stanford and Cal.

Second Half: Houston needs to make the kicks that he is expected to make.  Kiffin will likely eschew lengthy tries when he can avoid them, so Houston can focus on being accurate from 40-yards and in.

Ronald-J.jpgReturners

Preseason: The young guys and RoJo took their turns in practice, but we knew the senior would be trusted as a punt returner.  Robert Woods was expected to make his mark on kick returns.

Midseason:  Pound-for-pound, they have probably been the Trojans best unit.  Johnson places second in the conference in punt return average, while Woods leads in kick return yards.  They have both scored momentum swinging special teams touchdowns.

Second Half: Keep up the good work!



Photo Gallery: Basketball Salute

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USC basketball's tip-off event was a rousing success Sunday as fans packed the Galen Center practice courts to play games, win prizes and meet the team.

Here's a look at the first Basketball Salute to Troy:

(Photos by Jorge Negrete)





The Flashback: 2008 Oregon

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While the Trojans have struggled in the state of Oregon recently, the Ducks have not won at the Coliseum since 2000.

Here's a FREE look at the last time Oregon and USC squared off in Los Angeles.






Oregon Tuesday Practice: Notes

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The injury list is going in the wrong direction...

  • Dillon Baxter, C.J. Gable and Malcolm Smith are still on the sideline.  Marc Tyler and Nick Perry hobbled off the field during practice.  You can hear the full injury report at the top of Lane Kiffin's presser below.
  • "I had a bruise from last game and I fell on it again," Tyler said. 
  • "Everyday I'm feeling better and I expect to be feeling good by Saturday," Smith said.  "I doubt I'll feel 100%."
  • The Trojans need all hands on deck, especially in the linebacking corps, which will bear much of the responsibility for plugging the correct gaps in Monte Kiffin's assignment defense.  "We just have to be in our gaps," senior LB Michael Morgan said.  "They do not run a lot of plays, but the plays that they do run, they are very successful with them."
  • So, while Oregon's mesh point exchanges may seem like a magic act, the Ducks offense is relatively simple, but extremely fast.  It's basically the option.  Last year, Pete Carroll regretted overcomplicating his scheme, which slowed his players down.  "I feel really comfortable with the scheme that we've got going on," said Morgan about this year's plan.  "It's really simple, so we can play fast."
  • Oregon's offense can also affect an opponent's offense by taking away their natural aggression to score.  "I feel like teams that go against Oregon and try to change everything and they get scared and they try new stuff," answered Tyler about trying to work the clock.  "We just need to go out there and play like we've been playing."
  • Lane Kiffin set a fast tempo last week in practice and the players have bought in.  Michael Morgan and Shane Horton did extra sprints after practice on their own.
  • USC's defense is preparing to play on the fly.  "Basically, we're going to be doing a lot of no-huddle because they're going to be doing a lot of no-huddle," Morgan explained.  "Everybody has to be looking to the sidelines to get the play from the coach."
  • Morgan and Smith know what it feels like to be on the wrong end of the Oregon snowball effect.  "I remember us being very undisciplined in the second half," Smith said looking back.  "We were not able to keep our composure when they turned the speed up a little bit."
  • If the momentum is against them, Smith wants to see his teammates battle back this time.  "Their goal is to get you off-guard, get you on your heels and then bust big plays," said Smith.  "Our goal is to be competitive on every play." 
  • Kiffin mentioned that Chip Kelly's system is so good that they can plug and play at every position.  So, is LaMichael James a system running back?  "It's a little bit of both," said Morgan, who will be tasked with tackling the nation's leading running back.  "He is a great back.  He does not let the first guy tackle him."  Morgan did mention that James is from Texas, "my home state," which is where they breed real football players, according to the Dallas native.
  • One big difference from last year, the Trojans will have a Homecoming Cardinal Red Out behind them.  "Most definitely, we're going to have the crowd on our side this week," Morgan smiled.  "It's going to be exciting.  After they beat us down last year, we are ready to come back with a little execution."
  • Here is Lane Kiffin with some interesting bites about how difficult life is at #1 when every opponent is aiming to knock you off...






USC Football: Offense Midseason Report

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At 5-2, the Trojans are just past the halfway point of the season.  Here's my take on how each unit has stacked up to preseason expectations...

(Photos by Jon SooHoo)

Barkley-Profile.jpgQuarterbacks

Preseason: Matt Barkley needed to improve last year's decision-making breakdowns and mobility issues.

Midseason: He has played as well as any quarterback in the country and yet there is still room for improvement.  Bonus points to the staff, they've kept Mitch Mustain engaged by using him on special teams, so he'll be ready if called upon.

Second Half: If USC can get hot, including a high-profile upset of Oregon, Barkley could ride a similar Heisman campaign to New York that Carson Palmer did in 2002.

Bradford-Face.jpgRunning Backs

Preseason: Marc Tyler won the starting competition, but Dillon Baxter was raising all the eyebrows.

Midseason: Allen Bradford and Tyler have pushed each other back and forth with strong, but inconsistent performances.  Baxter has been forced to deal with the adversity of a suspension and an injury for the first time in his young career.  Stanley Havili has been hindered by a shoulder problem.

Second Half: Ball security!  The Trojans running game has only been slowed by backs putting the ball on the turf.  Squeeze it high and tight and the numbers will come.

RoJo-Profile.jpgWide Receivers

Preseason: Ronald Johnson was a constant, but Lane Kiffin called the rest of the corps "specialists."

Midseason: Robert Woods has emerged as the best freshman receiver in the nation.  The RoJo/Woods combo is as good as any duo in the conference, but no one has grabbed hold of the #3 spot.

Second Half: As long as Woods does not hit the wall, the top two will continue doing their thing.  David Ausberry will continue to get his chances in the red zone, but the coaching staff would love to see Markeith Ambles grow into the third receiver position.

Ellison-Profile.jpgTight Ends

Preseason: Who are these guys?  Lane Kiffin complained that his roster lacked a complete tight end.

Midseason: Starter Rhett Ellison has been solid, but Jordan Cameron is the pleasant surprise.  He is a legitimate weapon on third down.  Blake Ayles finally broke the seal with his first catch of the season against Cal.

Second Half: Everyone continues to wait for Ayles to live up to his potential.  In a perfect world, he will use last week's big play as a springboard into a strong finish.

Butch-Profile.jpgOffensive Line

Preseason: Without much depth, the offensive line needed to gel together as a unit.

Midseason: They have been the most underrated group in 2010.  Barkley has been sacked just seven times and they have maintained a consistent running game with a rotating cast behind them.  Knock on wood, the same five have started every single game.

Second Half: Stay focused.  When they mentally slipped against Virginia, the results were ugly.  If they keep Barkley clean, he will pick apart Pac-10 secondaries.



LA Kings: Rivalry Night

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The Los Angeles Kings are celebrating the USC vs. UCLA rivalry at Staples Center on Thursday, November 4th at 7:30 p.m.. 

Click this link for more information and to get tickets!

LAK Rivalry Night USC2.jpg



Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly

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On tonight's show, John Jackson talks about play-calling with Lane Kiffin in the film room and breaks down Oregon.  They'll also tell USC track star Bryshon Nellum's amazing story.

Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly debuts tonight at 10:30 p.m. on PRIME TICKET HD.

Here's a great clip from this week's show as Coach O teaches Petros Papadakis some defensive line technique.






"Cardinal Out the Coli"

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Last week, a Twitter revolution started. 

A rogue band of hearty Trojan fans formed an allegiance behind one hashtag, #RedOut.

And so an idea was born...

This weekend, the fans are calling upon the fans to wear Cardinal inside the Coliseum just as the players will on the field. 

We want to build one uniform fan base behind our Trojans as they look to slay the #1 team in the nation.

Cardinal-Coli.jpg


Morning Papers (10/26/10)

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Oregon week seems to have gotten some people's attention.





Oregon Monday Practice: Notes

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A little Monday Night Football for the Trojans...

  • USC's sideline is starting to look healthier, but Dillon Baxter, Malcolm Smith and C.J. Gable are still out.  Gable is encouraged that he can bend his knee the whole way.  Wes Horton returned to full practice, which was great news for a thin defensive line.  "Our defensive line is ready to go for the first time this year," Lane Kiffin said after practice.
  • Actually, the sidelines were pretty barren.  Since the Trojans usually have Monday off, many players had classes this evening and missed all or part of practice.
  • The defense has done some live tackling in the last couple of practices.  "If we could tackle at all in the secondary, we're 7-0 right now," Kiffin acknowledged.  Although, the head coach said there is still plenty of work to do in that department.  "It's rusty."
  • Last week, Lane Kiffin mentioned that he is considering switching to the spread offense next season when Stanley Havili departs for the NFL because the Trojans do not have a natural fullback on the roster.  To be clear, the spread offense is different than the spread option, which Oregon runs.  USC's new look would probably be more like the Colts with three wide receivers and a tight end in their standard formation.
  • Either way, Havili is not buying it.  "I know Coach Kiffin loves using fullbacks, so I'll believe it when I see it," the 5th-year senior said.
  • During his tenure as Trojan plough horse, Havili has seen running back talents like Allen Bradford and D.J. Shoemate spurn the opportunity to carry the torch.  "The guys they asked to play it were not originally fullbacks," Havili explained.  "They've been a star the whole time with the ball in their hands, so they see it as a big step down."
  • Havili was offered the opportunity to play right away as a fullback at USC, which he called "perfect timing."
  • USC's current pro-style system, which includes Havili at fullback, is completely different than Oregon's up-tempo fast-break "Spread O."  "It's definitely fun to watch," Havili conceded.  "But we're going to be ready to play against them."
  • During today's Q&A, Lane Kiffin said that "Everyone is a middle linebacker this week because everyone has to see it because it happens so fast."  Oregon can do so many things and fake so many options from the "mesh point" between the quarterback and running back.  "In one play, they have three or four options," Havili said about the tape he has watched on them.  "If the coach does not like it, he can change the play right there.  It's just dynamic because they have so many options."
  • Whether it's matching Oregon score for score or grinding out the clock, Havili is sure of one thing.  "I feel like we can win," the senior said plainly.
  • Oregon defensive back and return specialist Cliff Harris is high school teammates with USC DB T.J. McDonald.  The two friends have talked a little trash this week.  "I let him do all the talking," McDonald said.  "He can talk.  He can talk a little bit."
  • McDonald has plenty of respect for what his former teammate can do when he gets his hands on the football.  "He did some stuff in high school that makes you say 'Wow,'" McDonald said.  "He has some natural ability to him and we better be ready."
  • YouTube is giving us problems today, so you'll have to watch Lane Kiffin's media session on a Facebook video player. 





Lane Kiffin Oregon Q&A

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USC head coach Lane Kiffin sat down with me for his weekly Q&A covering Pac-12 expansion, Oregon's "Spread O" and the "Gameday" excitement.





Ticket Contest: ESPN College Gameday

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As you may have heard, ESPN College Gameday will park their mobile set outside of the peristyle end of the Coliseum Saturday for the showdown with AP #1 Oregon.

Chris, Kirk, Lee, Desmond and Erin will be there at 6 a.m., so set your alarm clocks and show up bright and early to represent the "Trojan Family."

As an incentive, we are giving away FREE tickets to Saturday's showcase game.

Whoever comes up with the most creative idea for a College Gameday sign will win two FREE tickets.  I'll post all the best entries on the blog later this week.

Please post sign ideas in the comments section on the blog, on our Facebook page or @USC_Athletics on Twitter.

The home team is undefeated this season when College Gameday comes to town, so let's keep the streak alive as we "Cardinal Out the Coli!"

FB-Oregon.jpg



A Win-Win

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The USC women's tennis team is living out the best-case scenario at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships.

Trojan senior Maria Sanchez and sophomore Danielle Lao are set to square off in an all USC singles final the day after the Valeria Pulido and Alison Ramos team won the doubles title.

Due to wet weather in San Diego, the two friendly combatants are on their way back up to campus for a 2:30 showdown at Marks Tennis Stadium.

If you are around campus on this beautiful Fall day, come on out to center court and watch Trojan take on Trojan.

Sanchez will see a friendly face across the net in Lao.
sanchez 1.JPG





Projans: NFL Week 7

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Our weekly awards and highlights of the best Projan action...

matt-cassel-usc.jpgHeisman Worthy

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs - 13/18 for 193 yards, 2 TD/0 INT in a 42-20 win over Jacksonville

The raw stats don't pop, but Cassel's efficiency has guided Kansas City to the top of the AFC West.  After a slow start, the former USC back-up has posted QB ratings of 111.7, 122.9 and 144.0 in three of his last four games.  His nearly perfect 144 performance this past weekend has given KC a comfortable 1.5 game lead in the division.


All-American Caliber

Sam Baker, OT, Falcons - The franchise LT continues to do his thing leading ATL to a 39-pt. explosion

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals - Big numbers (36/50, 412 yards and 3 TD/0 INT) in a losing effort

Keith Rivers, LB, Bengals - A team-leading 7 tackles in the loss

Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks - 11 more catches and his 2nd TD grab of the season (click for highlights)

Damian Williams, WR, Titans - The rookie is moving up on the depth chart after a 3 rec. for 25 yd. day


Monday Night Football

The Giants' starting duo of WR Steve Smith and CB Terrell Thomas are looking to kick David Buehler and his Cowboys out of playoff consideration.

Freshman WR Robert Woods has evoked comparisons to the great Steve Smith.
steve_smith.jpg

Trojan Victories: Women's Soccer Wins 1-0, Breaks Record

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012.JPG

By USCTrojans.com Blog Contributor Stephanie Graves

 The Women of Troy beat crosstown rival UCLA tonight 1-0 on a lone goal by freshman Autumn Altamirano underneath the Coliseum lights. In addition, the Trojans broke the NCAA attendance record for a women's soccer game with 8,527 fans in attendance. For more on the exciting victory here are Coach K and Autumn in their own words.... 

 

 

The State of Troy: Fall Sports Report

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Each month, we interview USC athletic director Pat Haden to get an update on all the happenings around Heritage Hall.

Pat Haden intro 1.jpgQ.) Why should fans turn out tonight for the "Break the Record" game at the Coliseum?

"We have the coolest Olympic sports of any university in the country.  Our women's soccer team is awesome.  We have great student-athletes like Alyssa Davila and Elizabeth Eddy and great people like Coach K.  We are combining a great rivalry, with USC and UCLA both being ranked in the top 25, together with the chance to break the attendance record of 8,200.  It will be a great atmosphere playing at the Coliseum with the band and President Nikias there.  It is going to be awesome!"

Q.) What impresses you about the sport of water polo?

"I am amazed at the wonderful student-athletes that we have.  Each time I go to a water polo game, I am astounded at what kind of shape these guys have to be in and how physical the game is.  There is so much finesse and power that it is a great spectator sport."

Q.) What would it be like to play for Jovan Vavic?

"I think every coach around here is pretty tough.  All our head coaches are pretty demanding, but Jovan is among the most demanding!"

Alex_Jupiter.jpgQ.) What stands out about this year's women's volleyball team?

"The height of these young women is incredible.  My wife and I have gone to a few games and other than our little libero, Natalie Hagglund, the women seem to start at 6'2".  They are so athletic and can leap so well.  I am surprised that we have lost a few times because I cannot imagine people have players more athletic than Alex Jupiter.  It is a fast-paced sport, but you get a lot of rallies, which is really fun for the fans."

Q.) What do you want to see from the Homecoming crowd against Oregon at the Coliseum?

"I want it to be an absolute pit for the Oregon Ducks.  When you go up to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, I think it is the toughest place to play in the Pac-10.  Now, the shoe is on the other foot.  Usually, we are the #1 team and people are trying to knock us off and the Oregon schools have done that recently.  It would be nice to turn the tables on the Ducks at the Coliseum.  It would be great for the kids and great for Lane Kiffin.  This is like a bowl game.  I hear we are going to 'Cardinal Out the Coliseum,' which is a great idea that the fans came up with."

Q.) How happy were you to see the great pictures of the football team's trip to the Children's Hospital?

Cameron-Hosp.JPG"I was delighted that members of our football team recently went to LAC+USC Women's & Children's Hospital to visit with the young patients there.  As inspiring as I am sure it was for the sick children to spend time with our players, I have heard how much our players derived from that experience.  Community service is such an important element of a college experience and I want all of our student-athletes to be involved.  Many of them already do, either individually or as a team, and I plan to urge the others to do their part in giving back to the community."

Q.) Are you ready for hoops season?

"I am really excited!  I went over and watched a couple of men's basketball practices.  We have a great coach in Kevin O'Neill.  He is really a teacher, who spends a lot of time on the fundamentals.  Then, I went over to see Michael Cooper's women's team practice.  We are an improving team and I will be surprised  if we do not make the tournament.  The two basketball programs will both be better than a year ago and more fun to watch."

DSC_0012.JPGQ.) Have you seen the much-hyped 5'7" freshman point guard Mo Jones?

"I am in favor of those kind of guys because I battled the lack of height for my whole career.  He is going to be a fun, penetrating point guard, who can stuff and play defense.  We are really going to play a much different style than we did a year ago."

Q.) How exciting is it to have President Obama coming to speak on campus?

"There are so many interesting things on this campus.  I am hoping that some of our football players will go listen to President Obama speak because it is a bye week.  I am going to try to get over there myself.  Even if you disagree with his politics, you will not have too many opportunities to listen to the President of the United States on your campus.  From music to plays, there is so much happening and I hope our student-athletes are taking advantage."

Q.) Finally, what did it mean to watch your friend C.L. Max Nikias get inaugurated as USC president?

"I have known Max for 20 years and this is the culmination of his dream.  Max has prepared for his job for 25-30 years.  His passion is infectious.  Like Lane Kiffin, he is following a superstar.  Steve Sample really elevated USC, but I do not think Max, like Lane, is afraid of the challenge.  He wants to keep the ascent going and I have every confidence that he will."

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Hoop It Up

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We have a basketball trio to fill you up on your football bye week.

First, click here to enjoy Trojans 360: Kevin O'Neill (Part 1) as we go inside the mind of the second year men's basketball head coach.

Then Saturday at 12:30 p.m., join us at the Galen Center for the Cardinal and Gold game.  If you cannot make it there, we will broadcast the basketball exhibition LIVE for FREE on USCTrojans.com.

Lastly on Sunday, we are throwing the first Basketball Salute to Troy tip-off event on the practice courts at Galen Center.

Here is a preview of Trojans 360: Kevin O'Neill.



"Keepin' It Real"

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Former NFL star Troy Vincent and Adolpho Smith, both NFL executives in charge of labor policy and player development, spoke to USC's football team about the harsh truths of making it in the NFL and focusing on their college experience.

"You cannot leave this university without your degree," stressed Vincent, who prepped at Wisconsin before a 15-year NFL career.

Vincent presented eye-opening stats to the assembled Trojans, who admitted their collective desire to play in the NFL. 

Over the past 20 years, 15,018 players played in the NFL, but only 631 (4%) played three or more years.  The average career length is 3.7 seasons, but players do not receive benefits unless they put in four years, both stats according to the NFL.

Smith spoke about entitlement and how the league does not need USC players or any one player to succeed.  "John Elway retired; we kept playing," Smith quoted a common NFL axiom.

Both men spoke to the dangers of drugs, alcohol and off-field misconduct that can easily derail a promising career.  "Our clubs need dependability and reliability," said Smith.

The program explained to the student-athletes all the resources that are at their disposal in college, the draft process and then the NFL. 

"We're on a mission to build solid citizens across America," said Vincent.  The football administration and coaching staff, who set this up, have the same goal in mind at USC.

Vincent was all business with USC's future businessmen.
Troy-Vincent.JPG



Pac-12 Realignment

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Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott held a press conference today to officially announce Pac-12 realignment.  Here are the day's bullet points...

  • For football only, the conference will split into two divisions of six.  USC will join UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah in the South.  The Washington schools, Oregon schools and Bay Area schools make up the North.
  • USC is guaranteed to play Stanford and Cal every year.  They will split their remaining two conference games among the Northwest schools.  For example, they will play Oregon every other year in the regular season.
  • The conference will now have a championship game between the top two teams in each division.  The game will be played at the home site of the school with the best conference record.  In the event of a tie, head-to-head will be the first tiebreaker.  Revenue will be split for the championship game.
  • Speaking of revenue, all 12 universities will share equally in the media contract.  Until the conference meets a certain revenue threshold, USC and UCLA will get $2 million payouts since they are making the concession from the old model to the new one.
  • Under the current sanctions, the Trojans would not be eligible to play in the conference title game next year even if they win their division.  However, the NCAA penalties are under appeal.
  • As for basketball, USC will play an 18-game conference schedule always featuring a home-and-home with UCLA.  The Trojans will play six other teams home-and-home and the remaining four in single games.  Besides UCLA, the schedule will be on a rotational basis.
  • A Pac-12 network is still in the commissioner's plans, but nothing has been locked down.
  • Pat Haden met casually with the media inside Heritage Hall to answer their questions.  Here is the video:






STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Karter Haug

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Each week, we shift the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and focus on an exemplary Trojan scholar athlete.

Karter-Kick.jpgName: Karter Haug

Sport: Women's Soccer

Class: Senior

Major: Communications (Minor in Advertising)

GPA: 3.36


Jordan Moore (JM): You grew up in Colorado in an ice hockey family.  Did you ever put on the skates and mix it up?

Karter Haug (KH): Definitely!  I started ice skating when I was very young.  While not exactly ice hockey, my brother and I would go out into our cul-de-sac all the time and pretend to be the Mighty Ducks. I would play the goalie will all the pads and everything, while he imitated different players while shooting on me. We would have some serious competitions. I would always win (not that my brother would necessarily agree with that statement).  I now leave the ice hockey to my brother, while I take the hockey mentality over to the soccer field.

sidney_crosby.jpgJM: Best hockey player: Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin?

KH: No doubt, Sidney Crosby! (I mean you are asking a die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan with Penguins memorabilia decorating her entire room.) He is my all time favorite athlete in any sport. I always try to emulate his leadership and dedication in my soccer play.

JM: Greatest hockey movie: Slap Shot or Mighty Ducks?

KH: Between those two, Mighty Ducks, no question. But the greatest hockey movie of all time would have to be Miracle, the story about the 1980 Olympic hockey team.  I watch that movie for motivation all the time.

JM: You lived out your own underdog story on the Trojans' NCAA championship run in 2007.  What was that feeling like?

Thumbnail image for university-of-southern-california-soccer-w-proud-trojan-holds-trophy-high-usc-wsoc-x-00069lg.jpgKH: Unbelievable!  I cannot describe it any other way. The feeling was one that could not be matched. The immense joy and excitement along with the astonishment at winning the National Championship were all overwhelming. We had worked so hard and to see all that time, dedication, and sacrifice pay off was incredible and having my family there to experience the entire journey with me was even more amazing. They were there supporting me and going through the entire emotional roller-coaster I was. It was unbelievable to share that with both my family and teammates.

JM: Winning right away, did you get suckered into thinking that winning was easy and you would do it every year?

KH: Absolutely not! We were always told that "winning a National Championship is hard, but winning back-to-back National Championships was even harder because of the huge targets on our backs" and that was proven to us that next year. I have always been taught to never be satisfied with where I am at, but always strive to get better as well.

JM: Coach K said the difference between coaching women and men is that women need to know why he wants them to do something before they do it.  Does that sound about right? 

KH: I think that sounds pretty spot on. I'm not as familiar with the questions men may ask about things coaches want you to do, but I know that as women we definitely analyze every situation and are constantly trying to figure out why we are doing whatever we are supposed to be doing at that time. We always try to figure out the reasoning behind everything the coaches are having us do.

JM: What field of Communications do you want to practice?

KH: My dream career would be for an NHL team doing event planning for their charity and marketing events. I love working with people as well, so anything dealing with the relationships with clients would also be a great fit.

JM: I heard you recently studied abroad with Annenberg.  How was it?

Arjen-Robben.jpgKH: I went on the International Communications Studies Program with Annenberg to London, Paris, Rome, and Prague. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life.  I think the funniest story occurred while wearing my Netherlands soccer jersey around for the World Cup.  The Dutch speakers kept coming up and trying to talk to me, the Americans asked me when I am heading home to the Netherlands, and the German fans yelled stuff at me because of the huge rivalry between the two teams.  Also, in Italy it was hard to contain ourselves from eating gelato for every meal everyday.

Thumbnail image for don draper.jpgJM: You are an advertising minor.  Give me a slogan to sell people on coming to the "Break the Record" game at the Coliseum Friday night.

KH: "Collision in the Coliseum, Taking the Rivalry to the Fans."

JM: I love it!  You are the next Don Draper...

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Morning Papers (10/21/10)

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A big day of announcements for the Pac-10/12...

  • Arash Markazi wrote an in-depth profile on Mike Williams' odyssey from USC star to NFL bust to the Seahawks top receiver.
  • Mark Saxon published his midseason report on the football team.
  • The LA Times discusses the Pac-12's TV network blueprint.
  • Scott Wolf talked to Pat Haden about Pac-12 realignment.
  • Marcia Smith features the USC women's soccer team's quest for the record.
  • The Daily Trojan profiled coach's son water polo player Nikola Vavic.
  • Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott will announce the future plans of the conference today at 11:30 a.m. pacific and you can watch it live on their website.
  • Petros Papadakis talked up the big Coliseum clash between the USC women's soccer team and UCLA.  Click the file to listen...
    101019 Local Knowledge.mp3
  • TRAFFIC NOTICE:  Do not worry about street closures causing traffic congestion on your route to the Coliseum tomorrow.  President Obama is speaking at 1:30 p.m. at Alumni Park and the streets will be reopened by 2:50 p.m., so well before the 7:00 p.m. kickoff. 
  • If you are coming to see President Obama speak, get here early.  Streets will be closed around campus at 9:30 a.m..
  • The Trojan fans have spoken and they want to Cardinal Out the Coliseum against Oregon on Homecoming.  With the big games coming up, we are offering fans a mini-pack deal for the final three home contests.  Details below...

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Bye Thursday Practice: Notes

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The Trojans will do conditioning tomorrow and then have the weekend off.

  • The "Muscle Beach" crowd (aka the rehab area) is getting bigger, but the injured players are looking better.  Dillon Baxter is walking without a noticeable limp, while Malcolm Smith really pushed himself today working with trainer Chris Grosskopf.  Smith was standing on one leg catching wayward football tosses during practice as part of his rehab.
  • Keary Colbert's playlist skewed a little older today.  Some Michael Jackson, some James Brown and even some songs that had USC staff members breaking out their air guitars.
  • Robert Woods is the guy to watch now at practice.  He takes every rep at full speed.  He makes balletic catches on the sideline and samba moves on the outside.  The Trojans have a lot of good players, but Woods is the one who makes you stop and stare.
  • Woods has not practiced at defense all week, but he was ready last Saturday.  "The coaches did not make the call to put me in, but on third down I was standing right by them," Woods said.  He is not sure if the experiment is over or not, but he's happy to play any role. 
  • As Lane Kiffin said today, there are only about 10-15 examples of freshman contributing at Woods' level around the country this season, but the rookie phenom is not surprised by his instant impact.  "Not really, I am just working hard and the coaches put you in situations and they train you to make it easy, so it is not a problem," said the Serra product.
  • When you rocket to stardom at USC, the nation pays attention, so get ready for a slew of stories on the next great Trojan receiver.  "When you play hard, that is what happens.  As long as I keep working and stay humble, it won't turn into anything," Woods said.
  • In our live chat yesterday, T.J. McDonald talked about how cool it was to see his name in a video game for the first time.  Woods was happy to make SportsCenter.  "I noticed that I made 'Top 10' plays and I had friends texting, 'I see you making the catch,' so it's pretty exciting, especially being on ESPN." 
  • As we mentioned earlier this week, some coaches have been on the recruiting trail nationally all week.  Others, including Lane Kiffin, will pepper California schools this weekend.  "Competition" won Woods' signature.  "This is SC, you've got to come here and compete.  Every position is not locked up and if you come work hard, you can get that spot.  If you really want it, you can come in and play."
  • Lane Kiffin is focusing on replenishing the ranks on the offensive line and at linebacker.  "Unless they start letting us enter 7-on-7 tournaments, we better find some linemen," answered Kiffin about his focus for this class.  "You start looking at our spring, we could have trouble even lining up and running a play."
  • Kiffin tried Christian Thomas at fullback today.  The freshman has been moved from tight end to defensive end back to tight end and now into the backfield because of his athleticism.  However at 6'3", he is a little tall to play fullback, but the Trojans do not have a scholarship fullback after Stanley Havili. 
  • Unless Kiffin can find a solution at the fullback spot for next season, he is considering adopting the spread offense to fit his personnel.  "Look at what we have, we've got a bunch of really good receivers and backs and tight ends," Kiffin explained.  "We'll have to make the best of whatever we are dealt."
  • Hear Kiffin discuss recruiting and the spread offense below...






2010-11 Basketball Facebook

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The men's basketball team is already in camp under 2nd year head coach Kevin O'Neill.

Here's a look at the 2010-11 squad...
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#1 Alex Stepheson, Senior Forward
6'10", 250


Stats: 8.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 1.6 blocks per game (2nd in Pac-10)

Stepheson has trimmed down under the new strength and conditioning program and he is manhandling teammates in practice.  If he can improve his finishing, he'll be an all-conference force.



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#2 Jio Fontan, Junior Guard
6'0", 175


Stats: 15.3 ppg, 4.7 apg and 2.2 rpg as a Fordham freshman

Fontan played five games for the Rams as a sophomore last year before transferring to USC.  He will not be eligible until after the first semester, but Fontan will provide steady leadership at the point guard position and some Jersey toughness on the defensive end.


#5 Nikola Vucevic, Junior Forward
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6'10, 240

Stats: 10.7 ppg and 9.4 rpg (led Pac-10 in rebounds)

The Pac-10's "Most Improved Player" will hopefully take the next leap this season.  The early buzz is that his jump shot has extended to three-point range.  While that is a nice option, I would much rather see him dominate on the block.
 

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#10 Maurice Jones, Freshman Guard
5'7", 155


Stats: 30.0 ppg, 12 apg, 5 rpg and 4 spg as an Arthur Hill HS senior

The Michigan native is not the most highly touted member of Kevin O'Neill's first real recruiting class, but he is generating the most hype.  Despite his size, Mo can rise above the rim.  He'll be asked to handle the ball a lot before Fontan returns, but the coaches seem more than comfortable giving him the responsibility.


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#14 Donte Smith, Senior Guard
5'11", 180


Stats: 3.8 ppg and 20 three-pointers (2nd on team) as a junior

Smith will have a similar role to last season.  While Fontan is out, he'll serve a caretaker role at the point guard position.  In conference play, he'll likely be needed as a spark off the bench and a hot hand from distance.


#15 Bryce Jones, Freshman Guard
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6'5", 200

Stats: 16.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 1.6 spg at Taft HS (Woodland Hills)

Jones is the best pro prospect of the freshman class.  He is the type of long, bouncy athlete that evokes memories of DeMar DeRozan and Nick Young.  While he continues to improve his jumper, he'll need to find points in the transition game.


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#22 Evan Smith, Sophomore Forward
6'7", 225


Stats: 1.9 ppg and 1.1 rpg as a freshman

Smith showed off his hustle early last season when the team was shorthanded, but he was relegated to watching and learning once conference play began.  He could turn into a Keith Wilkinson-type player, who will battle at the power forward spot and stretch the defense at the other end.


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#33 Garrett Jackson, Freshman Forward
6'6", 215


Stats: 18.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 1.7 spg at Westview HS in Portland, OR

Another long athlete, Jackson needs to fill out a little bit, but he could push Marcus Simmons for playing time at the swing spot.  As he develops, he could turn into a more polished Marcus Johnson.


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#42 Curtis Washington, Freshman Forward
6'10" 230


Stats: 8.0 ppg and 7.6 rpg at Elizabethtown HS in Kentucky

Washington will be asked to provide depth at the power forward and center positions.  At only 230 pounds, he will need to use his shot-blocking ability to overcome stronger opponents in the paint.


#43 Marcus Simmons, Senior Guard
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6'6", 220

Stats: 3.0 ppg and 2.0 rpg as a junior

The designated defensive stopper will likely start at small forward and pick up the opponent's best outside scorer.  If he can force the defense to honor his jumper and make free throws, O'Neill will be able to keep him in for crunch time. 



Ali Unplugged

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Check out this great video of USC women's soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin mic'd up at practice!

Remember, come on out to the Coliseum Friday night at 7 p.m. and help us "Break the Record."

Otherwise, Coach K will make you run...





Live Chat with TJ McDonald

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TJ McDonald will be live from Heritage Hall at 11 a.m. to answer your questions for approximately 30 minutes. Join in to get his take on what you'd like to know!


Bye Wednesday Practice: Notes

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Up bright and early again, the Trojans switched to Cromwell Field due to the wet weather.

  • NOTE: We are LIVE CHATTING with T.J. McDonald at 11 a.m. today, so be there or post your questions in the comments section.
  • At the end of Lane Kiffin's media session, he listed the injury report, which was so long that he might have saved time by listing the healthy players.  However, he made it clear that the primary purpose of this week is to get everyone back to 100%, so they are being extremely cautious with banged up players.
  • Thanks to all the injured runners, freshman D.J. Morgan found his way to the top of the depth chart.  Morgan is making great progress rehabbing from knee surgery and he is starting to regain the spark that made him such a prized recruit.  "He has shown some explosions and some quickness," said Kiffin about Morgan.  "Here's Dillon Baxter that we think has all the potential in the world, but here's another running back in the same class."
  • I saw a lot of Morgan last year at Taft High School.  While Baxter has more natural shake, Morgan is a true breakaway back.  If you're in a foot race with him, you're coming in second.
  • A blog commenter recently asked about why we do not talk about young players in practice reports.  Honestly, there is not a whole lot to say.  Without tackling, young defensive players like George Uko, Demetrius Wright, Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey are not given the chance to make eye-popping plays.  Kyle Prater, Xavier Grimble and Morgan have been mostly injured.  As I have mentioned before, TE Randall Telfer has distinguished himself with his work ethic after practice, but the reps line is long at tight end. 
  • "I would love to have that problem...having a lot of really good young players to look at right now," Kiffin said.  Without that, the Trojans have instead focused on Oregon a week earlier than usual.  They continued the Mach 10 practice speed today complete with an extended sprinting session to close out the morning.
  • Matt Barkley is second in the nation in TD passes, so his name has been mentioned in Heisman talk this week.  "You can be good two weeks and then plummet the next week," Barkley said.  "I do my best when I just focus on myself rather than living up to certain expectations."
  • Dillon Baxter has never been hurt before.  He is still hobbling around the practice field, but everyone seems optimistic that he will be a part of next week's gameplan.
  • While the Trojans were nearly perfect against Cal, Allen Bradford struggled, including two fumbles.  "I did not feel like myself when I was running," said the senior, who is playing through an injured toe.  "I really was not into the game, but it's still not an excuse for fumbling the rock."
  • Bradford was a superstar strong safety at Colton High School, so he is a little envious of Robert Woods potentially playing two positions.  "I would.  I'm open to it," Bradford said.  "I'll play linebacker a little bit.  Safety...whatever."
  • He has talked his way onto the punt block team ("The Sharks").  "I'm trying to block a kick, scoop and score, so I can get more touchdowns," AB joked.
  • Helmet-to-helmet hits (or as college football calls them "targeting") have been the story of the week in the NFL.  Bradford has seen all the controversial hits from the weekend.  "You really cannot stop your momentum when you are in the air.  If you see a guy leading with his head, if he is spearing, he should be fined, but if it's in the act then I don't think they should."
  • Lane Kiffin talks about "targeting" with his defensive backs, but he said it is a challenge to police instinct.  "There are some plays that it is hard to coach out of cause it happens so quick."
  • Here's the wet and weary coach after practice...





Weekly Basketball Practice Notes (10/19)

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Here is an update from blog contributor Ben Weiss on how the men's basketball team is progressing...

  • The fourth practice of camp, which followed the first off-day of the preseason, was just as intense, energetic and lengthy (right around three hours) as the first. The 3:15 start time was preceded by a lifting session and shootaround, so it was an exhausting day for players.
  • Head Coach Kevin O'Neill introduced and walked the team through its full-court press break before running it at full speed.  The team then moved on to a full-court scrimmage to hone the offensive and defensive sets.
  • With the amount of youth on this team, not to mention quickness, there's a strong urge to sometimes attack the basket instead of working through the offense. In recognition, O'Neill referenced the New York Jets' "grind it out" method of offense as something his own team should take note of. He wasn't encouraging a stagnant attack, but rather a patient and consistent one.
  • Throughout practice, Nikola Vucevic's outside set shot looked much more consistent. The junior forward reluctantly attempted a few long jumpers last year, but seemed a lot more confident (and accurate) taking the open looks in practice.
  • If O'Neill is planning on sticking with the intrasquad teams that he had going today at practice, the Cardinal and Gold game might be a blowout Saturday. The Gold squad of Jio Fontan, Donte Smith, Marcus Simmons, Vucevic and Alex Stepheson outscored the opposing Cardinal crew of Maurice Jones, Bryce Jones, Evan Smith, Garrett Jackson and Aaron Fuller by 20-plus points.
  • Maurice Jones continues to defy gravity and the outstretched arms of defenders who have as much as a foot height advantage on the 5'7" freshman point guard. His ability to finish around the basket is as perplexing as it is awesome. And it truly is awesome.
  • The freshmen Joneses (no blood relation between Maurice and Bryce) connected for a pretty fast break alley-oop towards the end of practice. It's going to be a treat watching these young talented guys develop their chemistry over the next couple of years, but with their level of talent, we may not have to wait very long.
  • Here's Kevin O'Neill on practice...





USC vs. UCLA - "Break the Record"

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The USC women's soccer team wants you to show up at the Coliseum Friday night at 7:00 p.m. to break the attendance record and beat UCLA. 

Tickets are as low as $3 and the first 2,500 fans get a commemorative scarf!

Here are the stars of the show...



Video: Trick Play

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Check out this video from tonight's Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly on PRIME TICKET HD as the head coach shows Lindsay Soto what was supposed to happen on Matt Barkley's TD pass to David Ausberry.

It's a great example of how a play can go right and wrong...





Live Chat: DB T.J. McDonald

| 2 Comments
Hard-hitting safety T.J. McDonald will stop by the blog tomorrow at 11 a.m. to take YOUR questions.

You can send questions in advance by commenting on this post, posting them on Facebook or replying to our Twitter.

Otherwise, see you tomorrow at 11!

Photo by Jon SooHoo
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Bye Tuesday Practice: Notes

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The Trojans beat the sun to work today with a 6 a.m. practice.

  • Lane Kiffin has called 6 a.m. practice for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this bye week, so his assistant coaches can hit the recruiting trail hard. 
  • As is, Joe Barry, James Cregg and Willie Mack Garza were not at practice because they are traveling to see recruits.  Bye weeks are an opportunity for young coaches like Keary Colbert and Sammy Knight to impress as well. 
  • Everything the Trojans did today was up-tempo to simulate the speed at which Oregon plays and practices.  The drills were all fast-paced and practice ended with an extended sprint session, which gave Coach O a chance to exercise his vocal cords.
  • C.J. Gable must have nine lives.  Written off for the season Saturday, the fifth-year running back hopes to return for the Oregon game.  "Just a bruised knee, I'll be back next week," a relieved Gable said.  "I thought it was worse, but luckily it's not."
  • As an old man now, Gable enjoys the early morning practices.  "It's better!  We get done and I can go home," said Gable, who spent the end of practice doing sit-ups.  "I'm used to it now.  I've been going to workouts early, so it's the same thing."
  • On a personal note, I'm consistently amazed and impressed by these kids pushing themselves out of bed to bust it in the gym or on the practice field at the crack of dawn.  I went to college.  Trust me, college students are more likely to be coming home at 6 a.m. than waking up.
  • Gable was on the trainer's table when David Ausberry took his spot in the 4th quarter, but he's had a good laugh now going back and watching the tape.  "I came in yesterday and I watched the film and I was like 'Look at this big old guy looking like Brandon Jacobs!  Dang, where'd he get those skills from?!'"
  • Bye weeks are traditionally a chance for young players to move up the depth chart.  "It's a good opportunity because usually they don't have enough time to show what they got because all the starting players are preparing for the game," said Gable, who has spent a few bye weeks trying to open up some eyes.  "This is a time where they can show what they are capable of doing, so they got to go hard, so they can see them out there today."
  • However, the Trojans don't have many young players, who are not either redshirting or contributing already.  WR Markeith Ambles probably stands to benefit the most.  "I'm just going to come out, work hard and try to do everything perfect.  Let the coaches decide from there," Ambles said of his bye week plans.
  • The highly-recruited freshman got the most significant playing time of his young career last Saturday.  "I'm definitely happy about getting a little PT because everything counts around here," said Ambles about the Cal game.  "I was very excited about the couple of plays that I got in."
  • Ambles adjustment to the college game has been a struggle at times, but he is beginning to figure it out.  "I guess I'm just starting to do everything right and the coaches are starting to see that now."
  • As for the 6 a.m. sprinting, Ambles is just happy to have survived.  "I didn't like it, but I'm not dead, so I'm good!" he said with a smile.
  • One final shout out to my fellow media members.  Eleven scribes turned out bright and early to cover practice.  Daily Trojan writer Duke Ho took first place, shortly followed by Gary Klein of the LA Times.  And, OC Register writer Marcia Smith left San Diego County at 3:30 a.m., so she deserves a special prize.  Needless to say, the coffee is flowing at Heritage Hall...
  • Here's Lane Kiffin on the practice...






Morning Papers (10/19/10)

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Here's what everyone else is saying about the Trojans...







2010 Basketball Salute to Troy

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For the first time ever, the men's and women's basketball teams will throw a Salute to Troy tip-off celebration on Sunday, October 24 on the Galen Center practice courts.

Kevin O'Neill and Michael Cooper will introduce their respective squads to the fans and you'll get your chance to interact with the Trojan hoopsters.

You get to meet both teams, take photos with the players, get autographs and win games and prizes.  If you become an MVP Patron, you can take an exclusive photo with both teams.

Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and the program follows at 12:30 p.m..

Click this link to RSVP or call (213) 740-4164 or fill out the PDF below.
salute_troy10bb_invite_web.pdf


Basketball is back!  Witness the Rise!!

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Video: USC Children's Hospital

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Here's a look at the Trojans day visiting the kids at the USC Children's Hospital...

(Video produced by Stephanie Graves and Ben Weiss)



The Flashback: Cal

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Click this link to relive the best performance of the season as we take you inside the locker room and on the sidelines for USC's dominating victory over Cal.

Here's a preview...



Pac-10 Players of the Week

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The shutout is over...

Finally, the Trojans had a player honored by the conference this week.  In fact, USC had two of the three Pac-10 players of the week.

Matt Barkley won the weekly offensive award after passing for 352 yards and 5 TDs.

Joe Houston was awarded the special teams honor after his 13 point (two FGs and seven PATs) plus a punt inside the 10.

Barkley surveys his "sacred ground." (Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Polamalu en Espanol

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The Troy Polamalu commercial is even funnier in Spanish!





Photo Gallery: USC Children's Hospital

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Trojan football players, staff, Song Girls and members of the Spirit of Troy spent a couple hours Monday with kids at the USC Children's Hospital.

We'll have a video later, but here are some pics from a great day.





Projans: NFL Week 6

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Sunday's best Trojans...

Heisman Worthy

Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks - 10 catches for 123 yards in a big road win at Chicago
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"Big Mike" is fast becoming one of the great stories of this NFL season.  Pete Carroll's reclamation project set single-game career-highs for receptions and yards as Matt Hasselbeck's primary target.


All-Americans

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs - 20/29 for 201 yards and 3 TD/0 INT in a tough loss

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - Led team in tackles (7) in his 2nd game back from suspension

Steve Smith, WR, Giants - Team-leading 6 catches for 70 yards in a win

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins - 3 receptions (season's best) for 23 yards

Pete Carroll, Coach, Seahawks - Dialed up 6 sacks to lead Seattle into first place


Monday Night Football
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Coming off his first NFL catch, Tennessee Titans rookie WR Damian Williams will look to open up some primetime eyes against Jack Del Rio's Jacksonville Jaguars.


Lane Kiffin Cal Call

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Click the link below to listen in on Lane Kiffin's weekly conference call with the media.

Kiffin-Cal-Call.mp3

Lane Kiffin and President C.L. Max Nikias
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Photo Galleries: USC vs. Cal (Action)

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Four slideshows documenting the Trojans dominant victory...

All photos by Jon SooHoo...









Photo Galleries: USC vs. Cal (Pregame)

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PHOTO GALLERIES: Trojan Walk (Top), Pregame (Middle) and Locker Room (Bottom)

All photos by Jon SooHoo...







Stats and Presser

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USC 48, Cal 14

| 7 Comments
10 thoughts on a nearly perfect 10 performance...

  • What was the worst play of the first half?  A couple penalties maybe.  The Trojans played as well for 30 minutes as they have played in years.  For a team that has struggled finishing the last two weeks, they got it over with quickly today.
  • Robert Woods did not play defense, but he sure played offense.  He is the top freshman receiver in the nation and he's starting to make a Mike Williams-type impact on the USC offense.  Although as Lane Kiffin pointed out, Williams went through growing pains during a seven-drop performance at Kansas State.  Woods' learning curve has been exceptionally fast with a zero catch day against UW as the only hint of struggle.  "He's done great every time we have given him the ball," Lane Kiffin blamed himself for Woods not making this kind of impact sooner.
  • With Kiffin's blessing, Shareece Wright spoke to the defense in a players-only meeting earlier this week.  Obviously, the message got through.  "I feel like it made a difference," the senior captain said.  "This is how good we are.  We've got to know it.  We've got to believe it.  Every week it should feel like this."
  • In his first start at "Will" linebacker, Chris Galippo led the team in tackles.  While the team defensive success is the story of the week, Galippo's personal growth is worth acknowledging.  He broke down mentally in the face of adversity last season, but he handled last week's mishap like a pro.  "It's the maturity level of our defense being able to step up and rebound after the last two weeks and really make a statement," Galippo deflected attention away from his accomplishments.  "Finally, we played as one unit and got the job done."
  • DaJohn "Juicy" Harris made the defensive play of the day.  I'll let him handle the play-by-play.  "I saw the quarterback's eyes and I jumped it and then I tried to score," Harris broke it down.  "I saw like a two- or three-foot gap between the quarterback and the sideline and I tried to squeeze through.  I tried to tippy-toe it, but my balance took me out of bounds."  While he won't be moved to DB anytime soon, "Juicy" showed some pretty good hands for a big fella.
  • As we talked about leading up to the game, Cal's offense was a good matchup for a Trojan defense that needed a boost.  Kevin Riley sat back in the pocket waiting for the USC defensive ends to greet him.  Jeff Tedford's scheme was vanilla at best, trying to overpower the Trojans to no avail.  Comparing this performance to last week's, Kiffin said, "We did run into the first pick of the draft [Andrew Luck].  That's part of it too."
  • And now the bad news, C.J. Gable "blew his knee out," according to Kiffin.  "I think he's done unfortunately."  He'll have tests done this week to evaluate the extent of the injury.  Kiffin praised Gable as "a great kid," who will earn his degree this year.  On the field, he had his best game of the season with 72 yards rushing.  With Dillon Baxter out as well, the running back pool is extremely shallow.  Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford are it for the moment.
  • Unless you count David Ausberry.  The big senior had his best day since the Hawaii opener.  If you sculpted a target receiver, he would look like Ausberry.  When he uses his physicality, he provides a missing ingredient to the Trojan offense, which relies on the speed of Ronald Johnson and Woods.  As for his late game Brandon Jacobs impression, "If the coaches put me somewhere, I'll do what they tell me to do," Ausberry said of his two carries for 14 yards.
  • The "Trojan Horse" works.  USC's version of the Wildcat was successful yet again with Marc Tyler taking direct snaps and mostly running power plays off tackle.  "It's a simple play, but it gives me a chance to see where everybody is going and find the hole.  You have to have good vision," Tyler explained.  "It's fun!"
  • Matt Barkley tied the single-game touchdown pass record in the first half.  The sophomore had a chance to stand alone, but he had his wristband with all the plays on it ripped off on the drive that was marred by delay of game penalties.  "That series looked horrible, which it was," Kiffin said.  The coach admitted that he wanted #7 to get TD #6.  Here's Barkley on his superb afternoon...





USC vs. Cal Live Chat!

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USCTrojans.com blog contributor Ben Weiss brings you all the action from USC's matchup vs. Cal from the press box, as the Trojans look to bounce back from consecutive weeks of tough losses.


Cal Jock Rally

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USC blog contributor Ben Weiss cut together all the action from last night's Jock Rally as the Trojans get fired up to play Cal.





Coach O'Neill Presser - Opening Day Practice

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Compiled by USCTrojans.com Blog Contributor Stephanie Graves

 

A very optimistic Kevin O'Neill gives the press the 411 about his new freshman phenoms, his returning post players and the teams new conditioning strategy: yoga (yes, you read that correctly). For everything the second year head coach had to say take a look at this post practice presser....

 

 

2010 Game #7: Cal at USC

| 1 Comment
5 keys to turning it around...

1.) "Our Sacred Ground"

Matt Barkley poetically described the Coliseum turf, now he and his teammates have to defend it.  Through six games, the Trojans are just 1-1 at home as they launch a three-game homestand, which will determine the direction of the season.  Once upon a time, USC was unbeatable at home, but they have lost three of their last five games under the torch.  The fans who traveled to Stanford were nothing short of spectacular.  If the Trojan Family brings that kind of support, it could be the difference in a close win or another heartbreaking loss.

2.) Blood in the Water

When Pete Carroll was at his height, Jeff Tedford was seen as his nemesis.  Quietly though, the Trojans have dominated the Bears recently, winning the last six meetings.  Why?  The real USC nemesis is mobile quarterbacks.  Year after year, Tedford has sent pocket passers up against a salivating Trojans' defensive line.  If USC can get ahead early and force Cal to throw, Coach O's front four will close it out.

3.) Projo RoJo

Allen Bradford was the star against Washington.  Robert Woods was the focal point against Stanford.  If the Bears defend with a short memory, they will regret not concentrating on Ronald Johnson.  The senior is tied for the conference lead in TD catches plus he is due to break another punt return if the defense can force Cal off the field.

4.) Houston, We Are Problem Free

Joe Houston made a big extra point at the Farm, but he was never tested from distance.  He kicked much more freely this week after freeing himself from the weight of last week's competition.  Cal's defense is expected to be much tougher in the red zone than Stanford, so Houston will be pressed into action.  In order to close those inches to greatness, the Trojans need to make their kicks count.

5.) Finish!

They could not hit for a closing six against Washington.  They could not get a final stop against Stanford.  They could not block a game-winning kick in either game.  They could not get to 6-0.  They can get to 5-2 by taking their chances against the Bears.  If they finish Cal off, they could be getting the #1 team in the nation in two weeks.  That could be fun...

RoJo is ready to explode.
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Inauguration Day

| 2 Comments
Over 10,000 members of the Trojan Family gathered in front of Doheny Library to congratulate the 11th USC president, C.L. Max Nikias, on his Inauguration Day.

The procession took nearly an hour and included 1,300 faculty members, a 3rd grade class (future Trojans) and one Matt Barkley (representing student-athletes).

Here's a look at the day!





Project Trojan: Adversity

| 1 Comment
Get ready for the big Cal game by watching a new episode of Project Trojan as we dig into the storylines of the 2010 USC football season.

Click this link to watch the Project Trojan: Adversity!!!

In this episode, we breakdown the defensive struggles, the offensive rise and take a look at Lane Kiffin's relationship with Jeff Tedford.

Here's a preview of Project Trojan: Adversity...





Cal Thursday Practice: Notes

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Rey Maualuga visited the Trojans after practice and walked Lane Kiffin back to Heritage Hall.  Photos on Twitter...

  • In terms of practice participation, the injury situation did not change a whole lot.  Malcolm Smith, Wes Horton and Dillon Baxter still look doubtful, but Kiffin will not rule anyone out. 
  • Robert Woods will have a simple defensive role on Saturday.  "They want me to lock down my man, so that's my job," Robert Woods said of his defensive responsibilities.  "Hopefully, I can get an interception."  The coaches told him that they will expand his defensive role in the bye week if he plays well.
  • As I said yesterday, Woods was a free safety at Serra not a corner.  "I was a free safety, but we played a lot of man coverage, so I was down covering a receiver in space, so it's kind of the same thing," Woods said.
  • Woods is not worried about tiring out from the extra workload.  "I rarely get tired on the field," the phenom said.  He said the TV timeouts give him ample opportunity to catch his breath.
  • Senior captain Shareece Wright addressed the defense without the coaches present earlier this week with Kiffin's blessing.  "It was my calling to do that," Wright said.  "I feel we needed it.  We have not been playing well as a defense and something had to change.  They needed to hear from a player's perspective what the truth is about our defense."
  • Wright is happy with the team's response and their attention to detail this week.  "I want them to focus on being the best individually and being more focused at practice," said the veteran corner.
  • Wright's focus better be sharp this week since he'll be manned up with Marvin Jones, Cal's leading receiver.  "He's not a big receiver," Wright scouted.  "It's always harder to play speedy receivers, who are elusive."
  • Linebackers coach Joe Barry has looked at plenty of tape himself and he's impressed by Bears RB Shane Vereen.  "I think he is by far the best back that we have played," Barry lauded. 
  • Vereen's versatility could cause problems for USC's defense.  "That's what makes him so special," Barry said.  "What puts him in a different class of the guys that we've played is that he can catch the ball out of the backfield."  Barry expects Jeff Tedford to move Vereen all over the field to create mismatches.
  • Tedford made his name by running quarterback factories at Fresno State, Oregon and early on at Cal.  Now, he rolls out a new NFL back every year.  "When he has a good back like Marshawn Lynch, like Jahvid Best, he knows how to feature him," Barry said about Tedford.  "They put Vereen right in the same role.  He's special, no doubt."
  • Chris Galippo has spent most of the week working at weak side linebacker in place of Malcolm Smith and Shane Horton instead of battling Devon Kennard for the starting "Mike" spot.  Barry is worried more about consistency than competition.  "We still have great players.  We just have great players that have not played consistent.  As a defense, we have not played consistent yet."
  • Barry is in his ninth year working under Monte Kiffin and both men are encouraged that they were finally able to force fumbles (three) against Stanford.  "Great defenses cause turnovers just with their physicality and style of play," Barry said.
  • TE Blake Ayles and DE James Boyd are too little used players that could get more playing time Saturday with all the banged up players in front of them.
  • Lane Kiffin spoke briefly to the media...





Scouting Report: Cal

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Round #7: California Bears

2010 Record: 3-2 (1-1 in Pac-10)

2009 Record: 8-5 (5-4 in Pac-10)

Series History: USC leads 62-30-5 (Last meeting: 30-3 USC in '09)

Head Coach: Jeff Tedford (9th season)

Tedford's momentum has leveled off since he put Berkeley football on the map with his triple overtime upset of unbeaten USC in 2003.  However, he is just four wins shy of the all-time victories mark and he's finally convinced the powers-that-be to build the program a new stadium.  Schematically, he used to be known as a quarterback guru, but the Bears have turned into RB U recently, while struggling at QB.

Players to Watch: RB Shane Vereen (Junior, Valencia, CA) and LB Mike Mohamed (Senior, Brawley, CA)

Vereen follows the line of succession after Jahvid Best, Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch and J.J. Arrington.  He is tied for the conference lead in scoring with 10 TDs, only Arizona has kept him out of the end zone.  Plus, he is a versatile threat.  He has recorded a catch in 31 consecutive games, an FBS record for active running backs. 

Mohamed's value was best illustrated when he sat out the first game of his NCAA career to snap a 41 consecutive games streak against Nevada.  The Wolfpack hung 52 on the Bears D without their leader.  With Mohamed on the field, Cal has not given up double digit points in a game this season.

Strength: Run and Play Defense

While it sounds like a Big Ten gameplan, the Bears should be 4-1 and undefeated in conference with their grinding style.  Kevin Riley has developed into a solid quarterback, but he cannot win games by himself like Andrew Luck and Jake Locker did the last two weeks.  Vereen will be the centerpiece of their offense and WR Marvin Jones makes the big catches on 3rd down.

Defensively, they rank 7th in the nation, which is amazing considering they were gouged so badly by Nevada.  They are 6th nationally against the pass, so Matt Barkley will get his toughest test to date.  Nick Foles and Arizona are known as a pretty potent passing attack, but the Bears held them to 212 yards through the air and 10 points.

Weakness: Offensive Explosiveness

If the Trojans get ahead early, Cal does not have a reliable plan B.  In conference play this season, QB Kevin Riley has topped out at 116 yards passing against Arizona.  He managed just 83 against UCLA.  In those two games, the longest pass completion was 31 yards and his accuracy dipped well below his 60% mark for the season.

Cal Verdict

The Bears' defense will provide a stiff test for Lane Kiffin's streaking offense.  However, Cal's ground and pound offense could give USC's defense the relief that they are desperately seeking.  The teams seem evenly matched, which will make for a fun strength vs. strength, weakness vs. weakness battle. 

If it comes down to a game-winning kick, Giorgio Tavecchio cost the Bears an upset win in Tuscon.
 
One of my favorite Cal/USC moments, Kevin Ellison quieted the ever chatty Desean Jackson...




FYI: Dish Network Customers

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Here is a message from the USC Sports Information Department regarding Saturday's telecast:

USC fans who are Dish Network customers planning to watch this Saturday's USC football game against California on FSN (PRIME TICKET locally) will need to find an alternate viewing option. 

On Oct. 1, Dish Network stopped carrying FOX's 19 region sports networks-including FOX Sports West and PRIME TICKET-because Dish could not reach an agreement with Fox to continue carrying the networks.

If Dish and Fox can't come to terms soon, there's a chance Dish customers will miss future USC games on FSN, including football, basketball, volleyball and more on FOX Sports West and PRIME TICKET.

There are alternatives for USC fans who are Dish Network subscribers, as FOX Sports West and PRIME TICKET are offered by other local distributors, including AT&T U-Verse, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Fios and WOW!

USCTrojans.com does not have the rights to air the game live, but we will re-air the game following the conclusion of the contest.  We do offer the live ESPN Radio broadcast to SC TV subscribers.

To get more information, call FOX Sports West/PRIME TICKET at 213-743-7800.

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Mural PDF

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As requested by some readers, click below to download the PDF of the new USC football mural!

USC_HH_AuditoriumWall.pdf


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Morning Papers (10/14/10)

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To answer a few questions about our SC TV video player, if you are having trouble with it, internet connection speed is probably the problem.  If not, try updating your browser and software.





Trojan Text Trivia

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Here's this week's Trojan Trivia question:

Since 1915, USC has played Cal 97 times.  How many of the 97 games has USC won?

SC1) 60

SC2) 62

SC3) 63

If you would like exclusive USC mobile alerts and to be entered to win a Trojan Prize Pack, text "Trojans" to 51234 or click this link!

Text your answer SC1, SC2 or SC3 to 51234.  The correct answer is below...




Correct Answer: SC2) 62

Cal Wednesday Practice: Notes

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Iron man tryouts began tonight...

  • Robert Woods spent some time working with the defense tonight at corner.  Woods was a free safety at Serra High School.  Last year, I saw him in person one time and he intercepted two passes.  He looked far more polished as a defensive back than a receiver.  Now that we know what kind of receiver he can be, that's really saying something.  It's likely the reason that he's getting a two-way look.
  • Besides his talent, Woods' unusual maturity makes him a candidate for such an advanced role.  "Robert Woods, I don't see him as being a young kid anymore," Kris O'Dowd said.  "I see him as being a young man that knows how to prepare."
  • The injury list was long again, but Lane Kiffin insinuated that many of the players will be back tomorrow or by Saturday.  Malcolm Smith (knee) looks like a serious doubt.  I would not count on Wes Horton or Dillon Baxter either, but it's all speculation.
  • While the defense has been the story lately, the offense deserves credit for keeping the Trojans in the last two games.  Other than the sloppy Virginia performance, USC has scored 30+ points in the five remaining games.  The offensive diversity is keyed by the offensive line's consistency.  "I have felt this offensive line unit really come together," said O'Dowd, the leader of the group.  "I am really proud to be a part of this offensive line.  They are a great group of guys and they play like veterans."
  • As long as the line does their job, the offense can shift their focus to counteract opposing gameplans.  Washington wanted to take away Matt Barkley, so Allen Bradford ran for 200+ yards.  Stanford reacted by taking away Bradford, so Barkley passed for almost 400.  Lane Kiffin's strength as a play-caller is feeling the momentum of what's working.  "The thing with Coach Kiffin is when we start running things really well, he'll keep it going," O'Dowd said about the adjustment from run to pass against last week.
  • Remember, Kiffin famously called 28 consecutive pass plays against Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl win.  While he values balance as an offense, he does not necessarily stress it within each game.
  • With USC's offense rolling as well as it has in years, the players are starting to recognize limitless potential.  "This offense can be as good as we want it to be," Allen Bradford said.  "As long as we are not killing ourselves, we'll be a great offense."
  • USC is 13th in the nation in total offense, while Cal's defense is 7th, so Saturday is viewed as strength versus strength.  "They've got a real good defense and we've got a real good offense," Bradford said.  "It's going to be a battle of the titans and we have to go out there and clash with them."
  • The Bears run a 3-4 scheme, which was part of the reason Bradford struggled against Stanford.  "It was a 3-4 and I could not get the feel right," he said.  "I have to make sure I explode through the hole, whichever one I choose."
  • Bradford and Shareece Wright were high school teammates at Colton, so you know he had something to say to his old friend after Wright got jacked up by Cardinal QB Andrew Luck.  "Oh, I said something.  I have played with Shareece since we were in 7th grade and I have never seen him get hit like that," Bradford smirked. 
  • During the bye week, Bradford and Wright plan to return to Colton to take in a game on Friday night and hang out with all their old coaches and friends.
  • Lane Kiffin heard back from the Pac-10 on Saturday's refereeing decision, but he is keeping it a secret.  See for yourself...






Coaching Roots

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Pete Carroll is widely considered Lane Kiffin's mentor.  The USC head coach gave young Kiffin his big break by naming him tight ends coach in 2001.

Monte Kiffin was a huge influence on his son.  The lifetime coach helped cultivate Lane's knowledge of the sideline profession.

Of course, Carroll and Kiffin are defensive coaches. 

Somewhere in between, Lane Kiffin played for Jeff Tedford, who helped launch his offensive coaching career.

"People talk all the time about who you coached under," Kiffin said of his influences.  "I think it's very, very critical to your career who you play under. 

Kiffin played quarterback for Tedford at Fresno State.  More accurately, he learned how to play the QB position and run an offense.

The future head coach did not get many reps sitting behind soon-to-be NFL signal-callers David Carr (2002 #1 overall pick) and Billy Volek (10-year vet).  Instead, he watched closely as professor Tedford taught the school of offense.

"I was able to be a quarterback under him, so I was already learning well before I started coaching," Kiffin said earlier this week.

Self-aware about his football prospects, Kiffin traded in his helmet for a headset his senior year.

"In my last year there, I was coaching with him sitting in the press box," said Kiffin, who was a student assistant coach.

The coaching storylines have been rich this season. 

Kiffin vs. Sarkisian, Kiffin vs. Harbaugh, now Kiffin and Tedford. 

The pupil hopes to show his former mentor just how much he's learned.

Watch the video below to hear Jeff Tedford's thoughts on Lane Kiffin.





Haden on SI Agent Story

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Yesterday, Sports Illustrated published a report on agents paying college athletes.

Here is USC athletic director Pat Haden's reaction to the SI confessional by agent Josh Luchs, who claims to have given money to 30 former college football players, including several former Trojans.
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"This is another example of the insidiousness of unscrupulous agents and why it is important that USC and all schools be especially vigilant to the misdeeds of outsiders." 

"At USC, in light of the NCAA penalties we've received due to the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo situations, we have already stepped up our NCAA compliance efforts drastically in terms of education and enforcement, and we plan to continue to strengthen those efforts." 

"Additionally, we plan on taking a leadership role with the NCAA, Pac-10 and other organizations in developing better methods to combat the destructive work being done by agents who work outside the system."



Trojans 360: Pat Haden (Part 2)

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Click this link to watch a special Trojans 360 with Pat Haden as the athletic director recounts the classic 2005 USC/Notre Dame game from his perspective in the NBC broadcasting booth.

He also discusses what new sports are coming to USC in the near future.

Here's a tease...





Break the Record

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Pat Haden, Ali Khosroshahin and the USC athletic department is calling on the Trojan Family to turn out in thousands for the October 22 Coliseum clash at 7 p.m. between the USC women's soccer team and their UCLA rivals.

We want to break the single game NCAA attendance record for women's soccer by topping the 15,000 mark.

The first 2,500 fans will receive FREE commemorative USC soccer scarves. 

Tickets are as low as $3.  To purchase them in advance, click here or call (213) 740-1244.

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Cal Tuesday Practice: Notes

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The Trojans got back to work after two heartbreakers...

  • The injury list reads like the starting lineup.  Malcolm Smith is dragging his right leg around in a heavy knee brace.  Wes Horton is still out.  Dillon Baxter is on crutches. 
  • While injuries happen to every team, the biggest problem is how many players are banged up and "limited."  With all the defensive issues, it's hard to solve them with so many players sitting out the competitive portions of practice.
  • The other problem is that necessity trumps competition.  Instead of Devon Kennard and Chris Galippo battling it out for the middle linebacker spot, Galippo spent practice working at Smith's vacated position.  Now, Smith is helping Galippo prepare for Saturday.  "Absolutely, he really is," said Galippo about Smith.  "All three linebacker spots are different in their own ways."
  • Galippo identified "the little things" as USC's big problem defensively.  Lane Kiffin pointed to "tackling."  Monte Kiffin only knows one way to solve all the problems...work.  "You have to go right back to work and keep working your tail off," Monte Kiffin said.  "Each player has to line up and play every play and be accountable for each other."
  • Speaking of the elder Kiffin, he has been heavily criticized by the fans.  When Pete Carroll arrived, he brought a "guru" or "genius" coordinator with him in Norm Chow, who struggled to ignite the Trojan offense in his first season.  What's my point?  I don't think Monte Kiffin forgot how to coach after all these years. 
  • Galippo could be at the center of the revival.  He committed a bonehead penalty on Saturday after an otherwise great performance.  But unlike last year, when he let his mistakes overcome his emotions, he is handling adversity with a calm, matured demeanor.  "Mentally, I understand the ups and downs of a long season," the redshirt junior said.  "A lot of younger guys, we recruit the best guys in the country, don't lose a whole lot in high school and it's tough to experience that."
  • Lane Kiffin was pleased with three forced turnovers against Stanford.  Of course, if it had not been for Kiffin's challenge, the last fumble would have been overlooked.  Galippo had no idea that he had made the biggest defensive play of the game.  "It was odd," he recounted.  "I think we got back in the huddle and Torin [Harris] was like 'Man, I thought that was a fumble.'  I had no idea.  I thought I was just making the tackle."
  • When the replay overturned the call on the field, the defense got on Harris, "I mean freakin' celebrate or something.  Let someone know you got the ball," Galippo joked.
  • Joe Houston was accurate in practice today and looks steadied after an ugly week of practice leading up to Stanford.  "I know I'm capable," Houston said.  "I just had such a hard week last week and no one's harder on me than me."
  • His confidence seems buoyed by the clutch extra point that he put through to give the Trojans a 35-34 lead.  "This team is going to count on me and I have to be a senior and step up," said the former walk-on kicker.  "I have not gotten the results I wanted and I'm not ok with it, but you have to learn from it."
  • I have a great picture of Houston and Jordan Cameron sharing a moment after that PAT.  "The guys on my team understand that what I have been putting out there wasn't me," Houston said of the great support he has gotten.  "[Cameron] just said, 'I'm so proud of you.  You deserve it.'  It meant a lot."
  • Christian Thomas has moved back to tight end, where he played during Fall camp, from defensive end.  Kiffin said that he has been performing well on the service squad at tight end, so they want to take another look.
  • Here is the coach and his lengthy injury list...







Football Mural

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Check out this new football mural that went up recently in the Heritage Hall auditorium.

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Rose Bowl Renovation

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USC's second home could be getting a facelift, which would take three years and cost $152 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The highlights of the Rose Bowl project include:

  • Widened tunnels and added aisles for easier entrance and exiting (MUCH NEEDED)
  • A return to the oval-shaped field by removing the first 10 rows (CAN'T SEE ANYTHING FROM THOSE SEATS ANYWAY)
  • Replacing the southern scoreboard with a 1940's replica (AND I THOUGHT SCOREBOARD TECHNOLOGY WAS IMPROVING...)
  • A high definition video board on the north end (THAT'S BETTER)
  • More luxury suites and premium seating (FOR THE ROSE PRINCESSES)
Here is the full story from the LA Times...

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Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly

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Check out a new episode of Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly tonight at 10:30 p.m. on PRIME TICKET HD.

On tonight's show, host Lindsay Soto breaks down film with Lane Kiffin, including the controversial clock situation.  Petros Papadakis goes one-on-one with Coach O and they will take you inside the locker room courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Here's a look at last week's "Huddle Up with Haden"...





Trojan Look-a-Likes

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USC diver Greg Miller is from Denville, NJ.  Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg is from Mill Valley, CA.

Now, Miller is at USC in Los Angeles and Samberg works in New York. 

Somewhere in between, something got crossed.

Samberg (left) and Miller (right)
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Morning Papers (10/11/10)

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Take a look at what others are saying about the Trojans...






The Flashback: Stanford

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Lane Kiffin Cal Q&A

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USC head coach Lane Kiffin sat down with me today to talk defense, improvement from last year and the Cal matchup with his old mentor Jeff Tedford.





Sanchez on Carroll, Showtunes

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Former USC QB Mark Sanchez did a one-on-one interview with ESPN's Hannah Storm before the much anticipated Monday Night battle between the Jets and Vikings.

He has a great sound bite comparing Pete Carroll and Rex Ryan.





Projans: NFL Week 5

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Handing out our weekly awards for Trojan greatness...

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Heisman Worthy

Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers - 1.5 sacks

Before leaving with a hamstring injury, Matthews was a one man wrecking crew.  His 9 sacks lead the NFL and are three clear of the next challenger.  Not bad for a former walk-on...

All-Americans

Steve Smith, WR, Giants - 6 catches for 89 yards and a TD (1st of season) in a win

Damian Williams, WR, Titans - Made his first NFL reception (2 catches for 30 yds) in a win

Sam Baker, OL, Falcons - Led the way for a dominating Atlanta ground performance (165 yds)

Terrell Thomas, CB, Giants - Led team in tackles (5) and 1 pass defended in a win

Taylor Mays, DB, 49ers - 4 tackles and a forced fumble for the rising rookie

Monday Night Football

Mark Sanchez, Joe McKnight and the Jets host Everson Griffen and the Vikings.

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Lane Kiffin Stanford Call

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Click the file below to listen in on Lane Kiffin's weekly media conference call as he addresses the Stanford loss and the week ahead.

Kiffin-Stanford-Call.mp3

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USC vs. Stanford - The Final Minutes

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Stanford 37, USC 35

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10 thoughts after a crushing loss...

  • Last things first, the Trojans played their best game of the season tonight.  Yes, the defense continues to struggle, but the effort and intensity level reached new 2010 heights.  In Pete Carroll's first year (2001), USC lost back-to-back heartbreakers on last second field goals to Oregon and Washington.  At 2-5, those Trojans streaked through the end of the season and notched a bowl berth.  Without the carrot of postseason play, this squad still needs to build from disappointment and reach its potential.
  • A star was born tonight.  Robert Woods' 12 catches were not a USC freshman record (Mike Williams had 13 in a game).  His 224 yards receiving fall short of R. Jay Soward's single-game record (260 receiving yards).  But, he did tie the freshman record with his hat trick of TD catches.  From day one, Woods seemed special.  Tonight, he proved it.  "I just did what I could," Woods said in the locker room.  "I had a great performance.  Matt Barkley threw some great balls and we had some great connections."
  • Chris Galippo was at the center of the highest and lowest defensive moments of the night.  Down six points and in desperate need of a play, he forced a fumble, which set up the go-ahead score.  In fact, he played so well for 59 minutes that he earned the middle backer spot for the final defensive stand.  And then, he committed the personal foul penalty that used up the Trojans final drops of resolve.  The junior played hard until the whistle, which (according to him) never came.  "I swear there was no whistle," Galippo said after the game.  "Shane [Horton] held him up and I went to finish him off.  I knew it was going to be an inches game." 
  • As for the striped shirts, you might have a better idea than me (no replays of controversial plays at Stanford Stadium) about the fairness of the proceedings.  Lane Kiffin felt most aggrieved by the non pass interference call on Robert Woods near the end of the first half, but the Trojans battled the 12th man for most of the night, including having to challenge to earn the Galippo fumble.  "There were some questionable calls and penalties, but that's out of our control," Matt Barkley said.
  • We focused on 3rd down defense in our keys to the game Friday and it proved to be a telling story.  The Cardinal converted on 6/8 3rd down chances.  Considering all the depth issues, USC has got to find a way to get off the field when they have opportunities.  "We need to get better on 3rd downs," Shane Horton said of the defense's most pressing issue.  "That's kind of been the theme all year."
  • Stanford's physicality was the theme of the week, but the Trojans answered them blow for blow.  However, unlike the first five games, the Cardinal took a toll on USC's reserves.  Malcolm Smith sprained his knee.  Dillon Baxter left on crutches.  Nick Perry continues to limp around.  Considering the strength of the conference, Monte Kiffin's defense will need big performances from back-up players like Shane Horton (team leading 9 tackles) to survive.
  • Andrew Luck is the real deal.  He showed the entire arsenal tonight.  He was accurate (20/24), mobile (48 rush yards gained) and athletic (clocked Shareece Wright after a fumble recovery).  The Trojan defense was unable to take anything away from the Cardinal tonight thanks to Luck's poise and versatility.  Stanford rushed for 193 yards and passed for 285.  While they are not devoid of talent, Luck turns average into exceptional. 
  • On the other side, Stanford was able to limit USC's power running attack, which put the onus squarely on #7.  Barkley answered with his best game as a Trojan.  He completed 28 of 45 passes for 390 yards plus 3 TDs and no INTs.  He was sacked just once, while scrambling for two long gains.  For 60 minutes, neither quarterback blinked.  Luck just had the ball last.
  • Are the Trojans coming down from a great era or are they building towards another one?  "We're not on our way down, it's just inches away from being great," Barkley answered.  A smiling Woods responded even more succinctly, "The Trojans, we're back.  We are coming back."
  • Lane Kiffin's post-game message was positive.  The coaching staff was proud of the enormous effort put forth by a depleted and banged up roster.  However, the locker room mood was somber.  Barkley took it especially hard, but he delivered a great leadership message to sum up the night...





Gameday Schedule: Stanford

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Here is a look at USC's rundown for the day...

8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - Mandatory Breakfast

10:00 a.m. - Position Meetings

12:30 p.m. - Special Teams Meeting

1:00 p.m. - Pre-Game Meal, Taping & Treatment

2:30 p.m. - Clap Session

2:40 p.m. - Depart for Stanford Stadium

3:10 p.m. - Arrive Stanford Stadium (USC support staff will head to the pool to cheer on men's water polo!)

4:00 p.m. - Kickers, Snappers and Holders Warm-Up

4:27 p.m. - Team Meets in Tunnel for Stretch

5:08 p.m. - Trojans Take the Field

5:12 p.m. - Kick Off!


So, what's your score prediction???

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NorCal Pep Rally

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The Trojan Family turned out in full force tonight and they were greeted by special guest Taylor Mays at the USC pep rally in Union Square.





2010 Game #6: USC at Stanford

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5 things the Trojans need to do to get up off the canvas after a round five knockdown:

1.) Believe

"This is not your old SC," Lane Kiffin said this week.  The Trojans are a pedestrian 6-5 in their last 11 conference games.  They were hammered by Stanford last year at the Coliseum.  They're coming off a crushing loss.  And, they are double-digit underdogs for the first time in almost a decade.  The Cardinal will test their belief Saturday.

2.) Put Luck in a Locker

Last week, Jake Locker proved that a superstar quarterback can win a game by himself.  This week, the Trojans will get another taste of NFL talent staring across the line of scrimmage at Andrew Luck.  The #1 pro prospect in the country has great feet and an accurate arm.  He is particularly dangerous on 3rd down, which was the underrated storyline of last year's game (Stanford was 8/11).  The front seven cannot lose contain.  With that plan, the secondary has to play their best game of the season.

3.) Hit First

The Trojans have said all the right things this week.  They do not sound remotely intimidated and they are playing with a new found anger.  With all the talk about Stanford's physicality last year and leading up to this game, USC would make a real statement by delivering the first (legal) blows of what will surely be a gruesome battle.

4.) Good to Great

As I've said before, the 2010 Trojans are as good as Matt Barkley.  The sophomore QB was solid last week.  He completed 70% of his passes and did not throw an interception, while guiding the offense to 31 points.  However, he missed two dagger throws that opened the door for Locker to prove his greatness.  "Take the next step from being a good quarterback to a great quarterback," Kiffin said of his hopes for Barkley this week.

5.) Tackle and Get Off the Field!

I can hear you saying it through your TV and computer screens.  Stanford is a strong and sound team, but they do not have the kind of playmakers that should be shaking USC tacklers out of their Nikes.  Against a more traditional pro-style offense, the linebackers will be free to play fast and downhill.  They need to pursue the ball and make an impact when they arrive.  To protect their depth issues, the Trojans cannot yield 3rd down conversions by giving up yards after contact.  Washington's punter was introduced one time to the Coliseum faithful last week, USC needs to get to know Daniel Zychlinski.

Shareece Wright can't be the only delivering punishment. (Photos by Jon SooHoo)
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Paint Job

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The Coliseum has a new look for the day as the USC women's soccer team will host Stanford at 7 p.m.. tonight.

The Trojans actually battle the Cardinal in four different sports this weekend.  Soccer and women's volleyball here; football and men's water polo there.

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Auction Items

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Click here to get in on the latest USCTrojans.com auction, which closes later today.

You can bid on ticket packages, signed posters, game-used footballs, autographed jerseys and much more!!!

(Note: Do not click the photo below.  Click the link above.)
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Stanford Thursday Practice: Notes

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The final full practice before a big Stanford game...

  • As you will hear below in Lane Kiffin's media session, the injury list is lengthy.  However, the coach sounds confident that most of the names on the list will be ready come Saturday.  DE Wes Horton (back) looks like the biggest concern. 
  • Coach Ed Orgeron was not listed on the injury report, but he missed practice with an infection in his surgically repaired foot.  His status for Saturday is uncertain. 
  • Allen Bradford has been named the starter at tailback for the Stanford game.  It's hard not to feel good for Bradford, who has spent most of his USC career swimming upstream on the depth chart.  Obviously, he earned the spot with his monster performance against Washington and a strong week of practice.
  • And your daily kicking update... Joe Houston went 5/6 and Jacob Harfman went 3/4.  The misses were from 33 and 27 yards, respectively.  They did not attempt a field goal from longer than 33 yards, which could be a tip off as to the kicking plan for Saturday.  "Hopefully, they'll let us not wear pads and kick the ball with the wind at our back," Kiffin quipped.  He felt better about today, but the quote leads one to believe that he was hardly bowled over.
  • On the first day of the competition, the team crowded around the kickers to distract them.  Yesterday, they were nothing but supportive.  Today, they were quiet.  But each day, the kicking competition has attracted the attention of all in attendance, which is not normal for a USC practice.
  • After last week, the Trojans seem to have an inner anger brewing that they are looking to unleash Saturday.  "We're hungry," DB T.J. McDonald said.  "We have a bad taste in our mouth from last game.  We'll do anything we can to change that."
  • Stanford beat the Trojans last year with power running, but Toby Gerhart is no longer a Cardinal.  So while the talk this week has been about physicality, it's possible Jim Harbaugh is cooking up an aerial gameplan after watching USC's first five games.  "They are a heck of a football team.  They have a great running game and a good quarterback," McDonald said.  "Whatever they throw at us, we'll be ready."
  • Gerhart was a unique beast, so the Stanford attack is obviously different without him.  "They are more traditional," Kiffin said of the Cardinal's runners.  "Toby was so different than what you see.  But it goes back to their offensive line and tight ends, they do such a good job and play so hard.  You can't let up at any time because they are so physical."
  • McDonald seconds that sentiment.  "They definitely don't have a Toby Gerhart.  No disrespect to any of their other backs, but he's one of a kind."
  • Andrew Luck has similar talents to Jake Locker, but Luck "scrambles to throw," according to McDonald.  However, Luck's mobility is a key reason why Stanford is one of the best 3rd down offenses in the nation ("#2 in the country," said Kiffin).
  • Robert Woods is coming off a zero catch game, but he made another big play on special teams.  He busted a long kickoff return, including hurdling a defender, to ignite the Trojans rally down 17-7.  "I have to make plays," Woods said of stepping up when his team needed him.  "Freshman or not a freshman, you're on the field, you've got to make plays for the team."
  • Woods is dealing with his first loss since his junior year at Serra High School.  "I haven't lost a lot," the freshman confessed.
  • Here's Lane Kiffin's post-practice presser featuring a seemingly endless injury report:






Scouting Report: Stanford

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Round #6 - Stanford Cardinal

2010 Record: 4-1 (W - Sac. St., UCLA, Wake Forest, Notre Dame; L - Oregon)

2009 Record: 8-5 (6-3 in the Pac-10)

Series History: USC leads 59-26-3 (Last meeting: 55-21 Stanford in '09)

Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh (4th season)

Love him or hate him, Harbaugh has imprinted his identity on the Cardinal football team.  He was a quarterback with a linebacker's mentality.  Stanford plays with a quarterback's mind and a linebacker's physicality.

Players to Watch: QB Andrew Luck (Sophomore, Houston, TX); LB/FB Owen Marecic (Junior, Tigard, OR)

Andrew Luck leads the conference in passing yardage and ranks in the top 20 in the nation in QB rating.  Like Jake Locker, he possesses a dual threat.  He has run for 60+ yards in two different games this season, although he won't punish tacklers like Locker.  He is listed as the #1 pro prospect in the nation by several draft experts.

Owen Marecic embodies the Stanford player that Harbaugh is trying to breed.  He is a two-way starter at fullback and linebacker.  Against Notre Dame, he scored on back-to-back plays from scrimmage.  First, he rammed home a run from his fullback spot and then he intercepted a pass and returned it for six. 

Strengths: Power and Discipline

While bruising back Toby Gerhart has moved on to the NFL, the Cardinal gameplan has not changed much.  They have grown stronger defensively.  Despite getting dusted by Oregon for 626 yards, they still rank third in the conference in total defense.  Offensively, Luck aired it out 46 times to keep up with the Ducks, but they would prefer their UCLA attack of two rushes to every one pass.  They lead the Pac-10 in time of possession.

As Lane Kiffin has said this week, the Cardinal are what he would like the Trojans to become.  He admires their mistake-free football, which includes a +4 turnover margin.  They are also sound in the kicking game.  PK Nate Whitaker is a perfect 9/9 on the season.

Weaknesses: Speed and Skill Positions

As Kiffin said, "Oregon could probably put up 52 on the New York Giants."  Be that as it may, the Ducks turned it into a track meet and Stanford saw nothing but taillights.  While the Trojans have tapped into their power with Allen Bradford, Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods will have advantages on the edge. 

Luck has been working with a mostly banged up supporting cast this season.  RB Stepfan Taylor has emerged with back-to-back 100+ yard games, but he is not Gerhart.  On the outside, projected WR starters Chris Owusu and Ryan Whalen have been banged up.

Stanford Verdict

The Cardinal are a good news, bad news opponent for USC this weekend.  On the positive side, they are not likely to trick the Trojans' defense.  The linebackers will have an opportunity to play more aggressively downhill than what we have seen against the spread attacks. 

As for the bad news, Stanford is a borderline elite team.  They will try and punish the Trojans thin defensive line.  Plus, they have the versatility with Luck to open up the playbook more than last year when they put up 55 points in the Coliseum.

Stanford will test USC's toughness and belief.  We will know a lot more about the 2010 Trojans after this contest.

USC needs Wes Horton and his hammer. (Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Where's Walker?

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The Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League have signed former USC CB John Walker for the 2011 season.
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Walker played for the Trojans from 2001-05 as a defensive back, but he is listed as a wide receiver and linebacker in the AFL. 

Walker was best known as a child actor turned football player.  As a kid, he earned credits in TV shows such as ER and 7th Heaven.

He played mostly during his senior season at USC recording 31 tackles and two interceptions. 

He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans and is now in his second season in the AFL.



USC Mobile Alerts

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Get USC text alerts straight to your phone by texting the word "Trojans" to 51234 and you'll be entered to win a Trojan Prize Pack, receive breaking news, special offers and exclusive USC content.

Click this link for more information!

You'll also get a weekly poll or trivia question to which you can respond and we'll post the results and answers on the blog.

Here's last week's trivia question (answer at the bottom):

What is the most points USC has ever scored against Washington in a football game?

1.) 56

2.) 48

3.) 44

This week, text alert participants were given a poll:

What will be the toughest road game this season?  Fan response in parentheses...

1.) Stanford (67.3%)

2.) Oregon State (26.2%)

3.) UCLA (6.5%)

Text "Trojans" to 51234 and get interactive with trivia and poll questions!

Trivia Answer: 56 points in 2008 at the Coliseum in a 56-0 win.



 

 

Morning Papers (10/7/10)

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Read up on your Trojans, while you're killing time at work...

Stanford Wednesday Practice: Notes

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Kicking is becoming a serious issue...

  • Joe Houston and Jacob Harfman combined to go 0 for 6 in this evening's live kicking competition.  The field goal attempts were between 35 and 40 yards.  I'm not sure Lane Kiffin is kidding anymore when he says that he's contemplating not kicking in games.
  • Stanley Havili wore a gold no-contact jersey, which is against his nature.  "I want to play Saturday, so if I have to wear this out here during the week to play Saturdays than I'm going to wear it to play Saturdays," Havili said.
  • Havili's shoulder has become a chronic problem and according to Kiffin, it led to a missed block on the final offensive drive against Washington.  Havili won't make that excuse, "That was my fault.  I honestly could not feel my shoulder, but that was more so about who I had to block at that time."
  • Havili acknowledges that Stanford is a physical team, but he is not conceding that matchup.  "Our defense is not going to be taking any blows," the captain said.  "They are going to be giving them out just like we are too.  We are ready to play physical with them."
  • "The style that they are playing is exactly the style that we hope to play," Kiffin said of Jim Harbaugh's team.  "They don't make many mistakes and they are very physical."  To that end, the head coach amped up the hitting in what he called "the most physical practice since the Spring."
  • Last year, Stanford's gameplan was no secret.  They ran "Power" 38 times by one unofficial count, which actually made Malcolm Smith laugh when he heard the stat.  "That's sobering," Smith said.  "When they run a play 38 times, you are obviously doing something wrong.  I think we got that fixed and we're ready to go."
  • "I feel like it's a big challenge for me," DT Jurrell Casey said of Stanford's plan to run it right at him.  "I just have to be stout and play a big, physical game."
  • How many times has the word physical been used this week?  Obviously, the Trojans are preparing for a battle, but can this depleted roster absorb punishment?  "After that game last year, we were all sore and bruised," Casey said.  "You just have to go to rehab and ice and make sure your body is healthy."
  • The defense won "Turnover Wednesday."  Torin Harris picked off Matt Barkley and David Ausberry coughed up a fumble.
  • However, one of the biggest hits of practice came from freshman RB Dillon Baxter.  He got rough with LB Chris Galippo on a blitz pick-up, which is a positive sign that the rookie has the chops to get tough with a veteran.
  • Due to the wet weather, practice was moved to Cromwell Field, which is a turf surface.  Scroll down to the post below to see some pictures.
  • Here is Lane Kiffin answering questions about how PHYSICAL Stanford is...






Cromwell Field

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On a rainy Wednesday, USC practice was moved from the natural grass of Brian Kennedy/Howard Jones Fields to the turf of Cromwell Field.





The New Deal

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November 14, 2009 felt like the low point. 

Stanford strutted into the Coliseum, ran the same "Power" play over and over and over again until the Trojans relented in a 55-21 drubbing.

As you may recall, Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh went for an exclamation (two-)point conversion, which left Pete Carroll questioning his motives in the post-game handshake.

A year later, Lane Kiffin wants nothing to do with the controversy.  "We're not really in position to throw stones at people that go for two," he quipped.

Up at "The Farm," they are relishing their Trojan beatdown by marketing tickets for this Saturday's game as part of a "What's Your Deal?" package. 

If Carroll were still here, revenge would be the unabashed story of the week (at least by the media).

The whole weekend comes as a stark reminder that the Trojans are a program in transition. 

Lane Kiffin is just five games into his tenure, taking over for one of the most successful coaches in college football history. 

While the players have vivid memories of the recent successes and failures, Kiffin and his entire staff (save for John Morton) were not here.

Instead, Kiffin wants the team focused on bouncing back from last week's disappointment.

On Twitter today, he posted a quote from Confucius: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

Kiffin wants USC's identity to be toughness and discipline.  That will be put to the test this weekend as Harbaugh has already forged that mentality at Stanford.

A program in transition, Carroll's words still hang above the Coliseum tunnel.
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Inauguration Invite

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On October 15, USC will install the 11th president in the 130 year history of this university and you are invited to support C.L. Max Nikias as he takes his post as leader of the Trojan Family.

The inauguration ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in Alumni Park and it will be followed by an all-university picnic, which will last until 2 p.m..

For more information, please click this link.

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Trojans 360: Pat Haden (Part 1)

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Click this link to watch a FREE presentation of an SC TV exclusive, Trojans 360: Pat Haden (Part 1), on USCTrojans.com.

This is your opportunity to view subscriber content on the USCTrojans.com network for FREE, so you can get inside the mind of athletic director Pat Haden.

Haden spoke with me about his time in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, his lifelong friendship with J.K. McKay and much, much more. 

We will debut Trojans 360: Pat Haden (Part 2) on Friday.

McKay (left) and Haden (right) have been friends since they were kids.
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Fan Appreciation Weekend

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The Trojans are celebrating THE FAN this weekend! 

USC women's volleyball and women's soccer have huge conference showdowns on tap and you're invited for FREE!!

Coach K's #20 ranked soccer squad will kick it off with #1 Stanford at the Coliseum Friday at 7 p.m..  All fans in attendance will have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets ($3) for the "Break the Record" game at the Coliseum against UCLA on October 22.

At the same time, Mick Haley's #8 rated volleyball team will look to knock off the #1 ranked Cardinal as well.  After the 7 p.m. game at the Galen Center, there will be a reception open to all who attend.

On Saturday, the women's volleyball squad will hopefully be in search of a Bay Area sweep as they host #7 Cal at the Galen Center at 7 p.m..  Fans can get autographs after the game!

To cap the weekend, the soccer team will battle the #21 ranked Bears at McAlister Field on Sunday at 1 p.m..

Remember, NO TICKETS ARE REQUIRED.  ADMISSION IS FREE!!!

So come on out and help the Trojans "Beat the Farm" and "Beat the Bears."

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USC/Stanford Coverage Map

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Saturday's game will air at 5 p.m. pacific on ABC.  The USC game will be broadcast across 29% of the country.

You can look at the map below to see if it's on in your neighborhood.  One reader asked if the game will be on in Hawaii, it will air at 2 p.m. Aloha time.

If you do not get the game on ABC, you can find it on ESPN PPV and ESPN3.com.

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STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Greg Woodburn

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Each week, we switch the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and have a conversation with a Trojan scholar athlete...
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Name: Greg Woodburn

Sport: Men's Track

Class: Junior

Major: History (Minors in Painting and Entrepreneurship)

GPA: 3.94


Jordan Moore (JM): Let's get right into it.  You are the founder and president of Give Running, a non-profit organization that has provided 7,600+ pairs of shoes to youngsters in third-world nations and the inner-city.  Tell me more...

Greg Woodburn (GW): Six years ago as a freshman in high school, I suffered a stress fracture in my hip and couldn't run for several long months. Then I missed most of my sophomore year because of knee injuries.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I have made an effort to turn adversity into opportunity by creating Give Running, a non-profit organization that donates used (but still in good condition) running shoes to underprivileged youth.

JM: How has it blossomed so quickly?

GW: My initial goal was to collect and clean 100 pairs of running shoes by Christmas 2006. By getting the word out and by placing collection boxes at local schools, gyms and running stores, however, I was able to personally collect, wash, and send more than 500 pairs of cleaned-up running shoes to Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Since the winter of 2006, Give Running has continued to grow thanks in large part to the tremendous support of the Trojan Family, inspiring and bringing joy to givers and receivers alike.

JM: Give Running has taken you around the globe, including to Africa.  Tell me a story from that trip...
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GW: I gave out more than 100 pairs of Give Running shoes in Sikoro, Mali.  I went on a five-mile run through the village. The first few laps of my quarter-mile loop, I was met with confused stares and suppressed giggles as the villagers tried to make sense of my shorts-wearing and circle-running. Soon though, several children began to run with me; they would keep me company for one or two circuits, take a rest, and then join me again the next time I came around. Before I knew it, my group had swelled from three to 10 to 25+ kids with more smiling faces joining each lap. Many of my new running partners were wearing the shoes they had received the previous day, which for many of them was their first-ever pair of footwear. My run in Sikoro was among the greatest of my life not for the competitive greatness it evoked, but for the friendships it forged - and for serving as an affirmation that Give Running truly was achieving its mission.

JM: You are a History major.  From Ancient Greece to Usain Bolt, who is the greatest runner of all-time?  You pick the standard for greatness.

GW: Wow, tough question! I am going to give a tie for greatest runner -- based on their athletic achievements, passion for running, as well as the personal inspiration and encouragement they have given me -- to Olympic Bronze Medalist and American record-holder in the Marathon Deena Kastor and my USC distance coach Laszlo Tabori, who was also the third man ever to break 4:00 in the mile.

JM: Considering your remarkable business accomplishments, entrepreneurship makes sense as a minor, but you are also a painter.  Who is your favorite painter?

GW: Another toughie -- it often seems like whichever master painter's work I have seen most recently is my favorite! Having a somewhat Impressionistic style myself, I have always dearly loved Monet and found his paintings to be a never-ending well of inspiration.

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JM: Are you crazy like Van Gogh or crazy like Picasso?

GW: I'm probably crazy like both of them at times depending on mood, but all in all, I would say more like Picasso.

JM: You are the poster boy for "college is what you make of it."  What else do you have left to accomplish as an undergrad?

GW: A lot. Among my goals for the classroom are to continue earning A's and take Ballroom Dancing. In terms of running, being healthy is always priority no. 1, but I also plan to break 15:00 in the 5000 meters. My class is 2-0 against the Bruins in our annual Dual Meet, so my top goal is to go undefeated against the Bruins in the Dual Meet.

JM: Where are you heading?  The Olympics?  Fortune 500?  The Getty?  Maybe all of the above... 

GW: I definitely plan to go to the Olympics at some point -- though much more likely as a spectator cheering on my USC teammates than as a competitor :).  As for my career plans, I can see myself running non-profits full-time, whether that non-profit be Give Running or a different worthy project. I would also love to remain in the electric college atmosphere by being a History professor and coaching Cross-Country and Track.

If you would like to donate a pair of shoes, you can contact Greg at greg@giverunning.org.



Stanford Tuesday Practice: Notes

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The banged up Trojans focused on trying to find a kicker today.

  • The "limited" injury list was long today, which included Stanley Havili (shoulder), Wes Horton (back), Robert Woods and others.  Lane Kiffin called last Saturday the "most physical" game so far, so we'll keep an eye on the injuries to see if they are long term or just the lasting effects of a brutal fight.
  • As for the kicking competition between Joe Houston and Jake Harfman, it did not go well.  In the first round of live kicks, Houston missed all three of his tries (37, 42 and 47).  Harfman made from 37 and 47, but missed from 42.
  • At the end of practice with the entire team surrounding the kickers forming a cocoon of pressure, Houston made from 29, missed badly from 39, but rebounded to make his last kick from 39.  Harfman went make, miss, make as well.
  • Harfman on his return to kicking: "It felt different.  I have not kicked field goals in practice at all in the last two and a half, three months, since camp, but it felt good first day back."
  • Remember, Harfman is not a kid.  He's already a senior, who likely wrapped his head around being a punter or kickoff specialist going forward.  Now the kicking door has been reopened, "I originally came here thinking I was going to kick field goals, but I ended up focusing more on punt and kickoff, which suited me well.  I try to do whatever I can to get the team Ws."
  • For the second straight week, USC's defense is facing a mobile quarterback, but Ed Orgeron was pleased with how his front four handled Locker's ability to break contain.  "I thought we rushed the passer pretty good," Orgeron said.  "There were a couple of times when we couldn't contain him, but he's a good quarterback.  We're going to have to do the same thing this week."
  • Three of the four starting defensive linemen (Jurrell Casey, Armond Armstead and Nick Perry) played 71 of the 80 snaps Saturday.  With Wes Horton out, depth is a growing concern.  "We got some guys that are injured, so we are just going to have to suck it up," Coach O explained.  "Maybe a couple of guys can come along this week."
  • Monte Kiffin wants to focus on getting better at what they do instead of changing the system.  "You look at different things, but if you jump around too much...because this is a new system for our players right now," Kiffin said.  "The biggest thing is to get the reps at what we're doing and do it better."
  • As we talked about in our keys to the game last Friday, the linebackers are not making enough plays.  "We have not gotten significant plays from that group," Lane Kiffin said after practice.  "They are playing ok, but there's been no significant plays."
  • Many of your comments from Saturday focused on the 3rd and 4 incompletion to Jordan Cameron instead of sticking with Allen Bradford and the run.  Bradford was surprised by the play call, "We all thought it was going to be a run, but it was a pass," the senior said.  "We can't live in the past.  We just have to move forward."
  • I surmised that Bradford was worn out on the last two drives.  On both possessions, he started by busting a run, 34 and 22 yards respectively.  Then, he slowed down.  On the second to last possession, Bradford followed his long run with gains of 1 and -1.  On the last drive, he rushed for 9, 2, 4 and 2.  So, did he get tired?
  • "It wasn't my legs," Bradford said.  "It was more in my back than anything.  Tightness came back in my back from Thursday and that was it."
  • On a chilly, but mostly dry evening, here's a bundled up Lane Kiffin...







Aussie, Aussie, Aussie...

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You never know what you'll find walking amidst the Heismans and championships in Heritage Hall. 

Last week, Taylor Mays was back to mingle with his Trojan Family.

Today, six members of the Sydney Swans, a professional Australian Rules football team, were getting the guided tour from USC senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson. 

The players are "on holiday" in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but they wanted to take some time to learn more about how a big time college program does it in the States.

"The guys' heads are spinning," said midfielder Jude Bolton (pictured) after walking out of the
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Trojans' offensive meeting.  "It was amazing how much those guys have to take in for each session, but also how specialized everything is."

The big difference between Aussie rules and American football is that it is a "360 degree game" Down Under.  "The players are in motion the whole time," Bolton said was the big difference.  "There's no stop-start like in the American game, so it's more of a running game than about power."

The college system is foreign to the Aussies as well.  They have a national draft after the age of 18.

The Sydney Swans were knocked out in the semifinals this year, so they missed out on the crazy controversy that ensued in the Grand Final (Super Bowl). 

For the first time in 33 years, the finalists played to a draw and by some insane rule, they had to REPLAY the game a week later.  Can you imagine Super Bowl Sunday followed by another Super Bowl Sunday?

"Those guys played out a draw and they were off their feet and then they have to regroup, come back," Bolton explained.  "All the sponsors come back again the next week, the fans had to buy tickets again, it was crazy.  It was a bit of an emotional blowout the following game."

In this picture: Sydney Swans' Josh Kennedy, Ben McGlynn, Jarrad McVeigh, Martin Mattner, Shane Mumford and Jude Bolton plus USC's Mark Jackson.
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Il Colosseo

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The Roman Colosseum was completed in 80 AD under the emperor Titus.  It is the stadium after which all other stadiums are modeled.

In the case of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it is the stadium after which USC's stadium was named.

As the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, the Coliseum  has built its own rich history, but an original rock from the Colosseum sits just to the right of the entrance on the peristyle end.

Before the Trojan Walk descends down the stairs onto the field, three players (David Ausberry, Scott Stephens and Joe Houston) touch the rock for luck.

Take a look...

Stephens touches up...
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The stone is 1,930+ years old...

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Ausberry's final touch.

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Tommy Cam

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This is really cool.  USC.edu put up a time lapse of TommyCam spanning from midnight before the Washington game to 24 hours later. 

You can see the time at the top of the video screen as campus goes from empty to packed to empty all in a gameday.

Click this link to watch the time lapse action!





The Everlasting Flame

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You are invited to a FREE screening of The Everlasting Flame on October 17 at the School of Cinematic Arts as part of their "Outside the Box [Office]" series.

It is the official documentary of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Click here for more info.

Here is a preview...





Morning Papers (10/5/10)

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A chance to catch up on some light reading as Stanford week begins...

The Flashback: Washington

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Click here to watch all the ups and downs of USC's last second loss to Washington in this week's Flashback.

Each week, we take you behind the scenes including Lane Kiffin's post-game speech to the team.

Here's a teaser...





Lane Kiffin Stanford Q&A

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Lane Kiffin sat down with me today and took questions on the Washington loss and the upcoming challenge at Stanford.





Breast Cancer Wrap

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USC wants to thank all the members of the Trojan Family who turned out Saturday to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and rock their pink ribbons, totes and shirts.

Check out Song Girls' Amber (left) and Sarah (right) in their tee-shirts and a cool video (below) with all the information you need to stay involved.

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NorCal Trojan Club

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For those of you headed up to the Bay this weekend, you are invited to a cocktail reception featuring USC associate athletic director J.K. McKay by the Trojan Club of Northern California.

The evening's festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Grand Cafe inside Hotel Monaco (click for address and directions).  The reception and program will end around 7:00 p.m. and then you can walk two blocks to Union Square to enjoy the "Spirit of Troy" and the pep rally.

You can make a reservation by emailing Michele Bilafer (mbilafer@gmail.com) or call Kathy Yaffe at (650) 576-3059.  If you book in advance, reservations are $35 per person.  For walk-up, it's $45 at the door.

The reservation deadline is Wednesday, October 6.

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Targeting

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So you want to be a football player?  Listen to the sound of Shareece Wright's hit on Saturday night against a UW receiver...

He was penalized on the play for targeting, which is a newly emphasized rule this season.  The definition: "No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul."






Projans: NFL Week 4

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The Trojan NFL alums were led by a rookie this week.

Heisman Worthy

Taylor Mays, DB, 49ers - 9 tackles (Team Leading) and One Balletic TD Recovery

In case you missed it, Mays made one of the plays of the season, but the 49ers were still beaten in the final seconds.


All-Americans

Sedrick Ellis, DT, Saints - 2 tackles for loss (1 sack), 2 passes batted down in a win

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals - 25/36 for 371 yards, 2 TD/0 INT in a losing effort

Clay Matthews, LB, Packers - 1 more sack to add to his NFL leading 7 in a win

Terrell Thomas, CB, Giants - 6 tackles and an interception in a dominating defensive win

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets - 14/24 for 161 yards, 2 TD/0 INT in a blowout victory

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs - Bye week, but he is now leading the NFL's only undefeated team

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UW Media Conference Call

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Lane Kiffin addressed the Washington loss and what's ahead on this week's conference call.

Click the link below to listen in!

Kiffin_UW_Call.mp3

(Photo by Jon SooHoo)

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Photo Galleries: USC vs. Washington

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Check out all the exclusive Jon SooHoo photos from the Trojans tough loss to the Huskies.

The first gallery is pregame and the second is the game.







Washington 32, USC 31

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10 thoughts on the Trojans first loss of 2010 plus an interview with Shareece Wright...

  • Deja vu all over again...  Erik Folk booted the game-winner in Seattle last year.  Now, he's crushed the Trojan faithful in the Coliseum as well.  Folk is a local product from Notre Dame Sherman Oaks High School, which has really become a prep cradle of kickers.  As for USC's kicking situation, is it an open competition this week?  "Definitely," Lane Kiffin responded.
  • As Lane Kiffin said to the team and the media after the game, USC did not finish the Huskies off.  They had chances to bury UW with 4th quarter touchdowns and settled for back-to-back field goal attempts.  Matt Barkley took responsibility for the missed conversions to David Ausberry and Jordan Cameron.  "There has to be a time when you step up and convert that," the sophomore QB said.  While he did not throw any interceptions, Barkley attributed some of his "clutch drive" struggles to fear of making a mistake.
  • Allen Bradford was the obvious star of the show.  He carried it 21 times for 223 yards (10.6 avg).  "It was mostly cause of my offensive line," Bradford deferred credit.  "Stanley opened up some big holes for me."  Kennedy Pola has made such a difference for Bradford, who spent most of his USC career lost in the running back shuffle.  I cannot help but wonder how much better the recent Trojan backs would have been under his tutelage.
  • How do you fix tackling without tackling?  "I really don't know what we can do to improve on that," Shareece Wright admitted.  "I really don't."  Defensively, the Trojans failed to wrap up on too many occasions.  While the Huskies punished USC for 536 total yards, Oregon and others will do far worse if the problem persists.
  • Two freshmen headed in two different directions.  Down 17-7, Robert Woods ignited USC's comeback with a kickoff return, reminiscent of his TD at Minnesota.  While Dillon Baxter was expected to provide a spark tonight, he tiptoed on his one and only run.  Hopefully, he learned something watching Bradford from the sidelines.  In a bloody battle like tonight, running backs need to get their shoulders going downhill, pick a hole and hit it.
  • Like a Quentin Tarantino film, Steve Sarkisian's offense was derivative tonight.  He has seen the Trojans struggle against zone read (Oregon) and fly sweeps (Oregon St.), so he incorporated both.  Hawaii used the pistol effectively, so he sprinkled in some of that too.  In summary, Lane Kiffin's worst fears of Sark having two weeks to prepare were realized.
  • As I stressed in my game keys, USC's defense had to make Jake Locker one-dimensional and keep him in the pocket.   They accomplished neither.  The future NFL QB bounced back from his disastrous effort against Nebraska to throw for 310 yards and run for 110 more.  "It all starts up front," DE Nick Perry said of containing Locker in the pocket.  "Things fell apart."  USC gets a crack at another mobile quarterback next week in Andrew Luck. 
  • "We weren't going to stop 'em.  We were dead," Kiffin explained why he did not use his timeouts on Washington's final drive.  Without Wes Horton, the Trojans depth was pushed past its limits tonight and they ran out of gas on the final drive.
  • The Coliseum is an old building and the home and visiting locker rooms are adjacent to one another.  USC's locker room was somber and silent after the game.  The air filled with regret.  But just next door, the Huskies were singing and celebrating a famous victory.  With all those former Trojans in the other room, I'm sure they knew that their cheers were heard loud and clear.  To the victor, go the spoils...
  • While the defense forced only one punt the entire night, Shareece Wright put together an emphatic performance.  He forced the first defensive fumble of the season by chasing down Locker and punching the ball out from behind.  While the linebackers failed to deliver many physical blows, Wright punished multiple Huskies for daring to enter his air space.  Here he is after the game...




USC vs. Washington Live Chat

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USCTrojans.com blog contributors Ben Weiss and Farren Benjamin bring you the sights and sounds from the press box, with sideline updates from Jordan Moore as the Trojans take on the Washington Huskies.

Scroll down for a few pre-game photos.


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The freshly-painted "Trojans" logo at midfield from the North sideline


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A forgotten homecoming: Former USC DE Keneche Udeze returns as a UW assistant


556_0297.JPGEvery sink in USC's locker room is accompanied by eyeblack


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The student section is looking for more than just a win against the Huskies

Gameday Reminders

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Four things...

1.) The Trojan Walk will take place two hours before kickoff, so 3 p.m..

2.) The Friday Night Video is posted on Facebook.

3.) Send your best tailgate pics to uscpics@gmail.com.  We'll pick the best one and reward the winner with a USC Nike prize pack, including a polo, tee-shirt and hat!

4.) LIVE CHAT.  Join Ben Weiss and Farren Benjamin on the blog during the game featuring sideline updates from yours truly.





Washington Jock Rally

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The Trojans got amped up for their game against Washington with some help from the Song Girls, The Spirit of Troy and a pair of inspired speeches by senior cornerback Shareece Wright and linebackers coach Joe Barry.

USCTrojans.com blog contributor Ben Weiss brings you the madness...


Jock Rally: Washington

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USC senior CB Shareece Wright led the band, while linebackers coach Joe Barry got the Parents' Day crowd all fired up at Heritage Hall.





2010 Game #5: Washington at USC

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5 keys to Round 5...

1.) One-Way Street

Jake Locker passed for 266 yards against BYU, but he only ran for 29 in a loss.  Locker racked up 59 ground yards against Nebraska, but he only tossed four completions in another loss.  USC needs to make him one-dimensional.  As Dan Patrick would say, "You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him."  Mobile QBs hold the ball a little longer because they trust in their ability to escape pressure.  The Trojans defensive line needs to resist the temptation to forgo their rush lanes in search of the highlight sack.  If they force Locker to sit in the pocket, he has rarely shown the accuracy to dominate the game from that spot.

2.) Bring on Baxter

Dillon Baxter has felt the freshman growing pains.  He was suspended for the Hawaii game, led the team in rushing against Virginia, danced too much against Minnesota and slipped out of the rotation against Wazzu.  However, unlike co-starters Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler, Baxter has held onto the ball every time.  He is starting to build some trust with this coaching staff, so he could be let loose Saturday.  A Baxter breakout is coming...

3.) Reece Wright Island

As opposite corner Nickell Robey admitted last week, no one really throws at Shareece Wright.  However, the first four opponents did not have a marquee receiver that they were trying to establish.  Wright will have his biggest test to date going up against Jermaine Kearse.  If he proves to be a shutdown corner in conference play, Monte Kiffin can use his safeties to protect Robey and jam the run.

4.) I Spy

The linebackers will not be used as spies on Locker, but they'll likely find themselves in open space against the freakish QB.  Over the first four games, the linebackers have been almost non-existent in the post-game highlights.  USC's defense has not forced a single fumble this season.  Other than the knockout blow on Hawaii's Bryant Moniz by Michael Morgan, they have barely made an impression one way or the other, while the game was in the balance.  Big, fast and healthy, they are due to headline at the Coliseum Saturday.

5.) "To Thine Own Self Be True"

I have now quoted Dan Patrick and Shakespeare in the same blog post.  Given the familiarity between the coaching staffs, Lane Kiffin will be tempted to change up his gameplan dramatically.  While wrinkles are expected, USC is starting to develop a powerful identity, especially on offense.  Washington was strafed by the run in their last game, so the Trojans should punish them with ground and pound tactics.  As the underdog, Steve Sarkisian will need tricks to upset his former colleague.  As the favorite, Kiffin should play the bully. 

Dillon Baxter has shown flashes, now he's ready to pop. (Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Project Trojan: Road Warriors

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Click here to watch Project Trojan: Road Warriors, which takes you inside USC's road trips to Minneapolis and Pullman, including a look at the coaches tip ball tradition and the story behind Lane Kiffin's boxing metaphor.

You can watch an SC TV preview of this episode below.





USC FlipsIt: All in the Family

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On the eve of Parents' Weekend, our USC FlipsIt crew quizzed brothers Wes and Shane Horton and cousins Matt Barkley and Robbie Boyer to find out how well they really know each other.