Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor
It's rivalry week and the Trojans are fresh and ready to go. With just one more practice until they board the flight to South Bend, the team continued to work hard in preparation for the historic match-up.
- Interim head coach Ed Orgeron said he has sensed the excitement amongst the team all week in anticipation of the 85th meeting between the Trojans and the Fighting Irish.
- "You can feel the guys getting pumped up and ready to go," said Orgeron. "I'm proud of the way they've prepared. I thought we practiced pretty hard Monday and Tuesday and I wanted to give them a rest today. I want them to be fresh, playing with energy, and ready to play on Saturday."
- Cody Kessler heads into game seven coming off the best performance of his USC career throwing for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Orgeron said he's liked what he's seen in the development of his quarterback. "I think the most successful quarterbacks we've had are the ones we've believed in. They've had a toughness about them and a certain character. I see the guys believing in Cody. I like his toughness and I believe that he would fight for us under any circumstance," said Orgeron.
- One of the biggest adjustments focused on in the week since defeating Arizona has been the flow of the defensive rotation, addressing concerns on the issue of maintaining a consistent level of energy. On Saturday, expect to see versatility in the way J.R. Tavai, Antwuan Woods, and Anthony Sarao are positioned.
- Anthony Brown will make his triumphant return to the secondary after sitting out for six weeks due to a knee injury. The redshirt junior said he's tried his best to learn while sitting out and after this week he feels strong, healthy, and ready to play.
- "It's a big game," said Brown. "I'm ready and it feels amazing to be back out here with the Trojan family. We're here to make plays and I'm excited to get out there this weekend and do that."
- After one week as an official assistant defensive line coach, Pete Jenkins is having fun working with his longtime friend and getting the opportunity to teach the young Trojans six decades worth of football wisdom.
- "There's always a game inside the game," said Jenkins. "Technique is what I love about the game so hopefully I can be helpful in that area."
- With three days to go, things are looking bright on the injury front. Morgan Breslin performed well in practice today and Orgeron said he should be ready for action. The head coach added that Tre Madden is still hurting but believes he'll still have a role to play against the Fighting Irish. As for Marqise Lee, Orgeron said understandably the wide receiver is eager to get back on the field and has looked good in practice, but it's still too early to make a final decision.
- The Fighting Irish are also 4-2, however their only two losses have come against ranked opponents. The Trojans are eager to pay a visit to South Bend after their energizing victory over the Wildcats last week. Orgeron said he believes his team is up for the challenge. "I want to protect the football, play good, solid, fundamental football and let the chips fall where they may," said Orgeron. "This is about them. They've worked very hard for this. I love their energy. They've got bright eyes right now and I love it."
Here's the entirety of Orgeron's post-practice presser...