Photo Gallery: 2016 Salute to Troy

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The Trojan Family celebrated the kick off of USC football season with the annual Salute to Troy BBQ on Friday night. The 2016 team was introduced as the Spirit of Troy performed, the Song Girls danced and fireworks capped a perfect Los Angeles night.

Here are the Pierson Clair photos:

Opening Depth Chart

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After naming Max Browne the starting quarterback on Saturday, USC head coach Clay Helton released his entire end-of-Fall-Camp depth chart today.

Click here for more.

In terms of position battles, Damien Mama and Chris Brown are listed as co-starters at left guard, and Steven Mitchell Jr. and Deontay Burnett are co-starters at the slot receiver spot. On defense, Michael Hutchings has earned the nod at inside linebacker next to Cam Smith, while Chris Hawkins and Leon McQuay are expected to split time at strong safety.

On special teams, no decision was made between Chris Tilbey and Reid Budrovic at punter, but Matt Boermeester is the placekicker as anticipated. Adoree' Jackson is once again the lead punt and kick returner.


Browne Named QB

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QB1.jpgUSC head coach Clay Helton has named redshirt junior Max Browne the Trojans' starting quarterback in preparation for the season opener against Alabama.

"At this point, we feel that it is in the best interest of our football team to lean on the veteran experience that Max Browne has, so we have named him the starter going into our opening game against Alabama," said Helton. "With our experienced offensive line and the weapons at our skill positions, we as a staff are confident that Max's ability will help guide a very successful offense."

Browne was pushed throughout the spring and summer by redshirt freshman Sam Darnold who left a lasting impression on his head coach.

"The performance by Sam Darnold at such a young age in both spring and fall camps has made us very confident as a staff that Sam could enter any game and our offense would not miss a beat," Helton said. "Though we will not rotate quarterbacks, we do envision using Sam's unique athletic skill set for special situations throughout games this season."

Click here for the full story.

Browne, who has participated in 4 spring camps and 4 fall camps since enrolling at USC in the spring of 2013, has seen action in 9 games the past 2 seasons as the backup to now-graduated 3-year starter Cody Kessler.  He has completed 11-of-19 passes (57.9%) for 143 yards in his career.  He redshirted in 2013 after being named the 2012 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year at Skyline High in Sammamish (Wash.).

"I was thrilled when Coach Helton gave me the news," said Browne.  "It was a moment of realization that hard work and staying the course paid off for me. I feel like I have put in the work necessary to earn the starting position and I look forward to leading this team to championships. Sam is a heck of a player and he pushed me to the final day of camp. We are good friends and I have no doubt he will have a great career at USC."

Darnold has yet to feature in a game in his young Trojan career after joining the program as a prep All-American from San Clemente High.

"I was disappointed in the outcome but confident in Coach Helton's decision," said Darnold. "Coach spent lots of time watching the film and making his evaluation. I am proud of the performance I gave during practices and I felt that I made huge strides in terms of leadership. I will continue to work hard and prepare as if I'm the starter, so I will be ready when my name is called. I'm proud of Max for what he has done and how he competed. The competition made us both better. I have no desire to leave USC, this is the place for me."

The complete 2016 depth chart is expected to be released Sunday. Helton will shift the team's focus from Fall Camp to mock game week and then Alabama week, so he wanted to have the leader of his offense in place.

"I personally appreciate how both men handled this competition with great maturity and comradery.  After sharing the news with them today, both showed tremendous class and integrity.  It is a great reflection of both men's character.  We are very fortunate to have them on our football team. I look forward to watching both have highly successful football careers here at USC."

USC opens its season on September 3 against defending national champion Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Coliseum opener is Saturday, September 10, against Utah State.

Click here for USC football ticket information.

2016 Fall Camp #18: Notes

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USC engaged in a final scrimmage before mock game week next week.
  • The Trojans "came out healthy" from today's scrimmage, including the competitive return of DT Noah Jefferson.
  • USC_FOOTBALL_FALL_CAMP_081016_mcgillen_1873.jpgThe QB announcement is expected to come Saturday afternoon. Both starting candidates, Max Browne and Sam Darnold, fared well today in their closing arguments. Helton called it one of the "smoothest" days USC has had offensively.
  • Helton on Browne: "Max did a very nice job, really [spreading] the ball around and not making critical errors."
  • Veteran safety Chris Hawkins has the secret to guessing who the starting QB will be. "The quarterback with the number 4 on his jersey, whoever has a number 4 on their jersey," Hawkins joked. "I think 14 and 4, they both have 4."
  • Hawkins sized up the quarterback battle from a teammate's perspective. "Sam's more of a dual-threat, he can really push the pocket," he said about Darnold. "And Max is Max. He came in my class. He was one of the frontrunners of our 2013 class. I have confidence in both of them and honestly, to me it doesn't matter who starts. I feel like our defense is going to set the tempo."
  • Helton will pull advice from his coaches, but ultimately, the decision lies with him. And while he has wrestled with it for months, he will give the starter a long leash. "I'm going to name one and allow that guy to be the guy," said the former QB coach. "I never want a guy to be looking over his back all the time."
  • Quarterback is not the only position battle. The depth chart will let everyone on the team know where they stand going into the season opener. "Once they come out with the depth chart, we move forward as a team --- there's no more guessing," said Hawkins.
  • Junior CB Adoree' Jackson is one name inked on the top line. In Clancy Pendergast's aggressive scheme, Jackson will be locked up in one-on-one coverage much more than previous seasons. "[It's] pretty fun being on an island. A lot of people have islands named after them," Jackson smiled. "Hopefully, they can name a couple of our DBs, and we can get our own island."
  • Jackson has spent most of camp on an island with JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Biletnikoff Award candidate enables Jackson to "[get comfortable] sticking someone like that" in preparation for Alabama's Calvin Ridley.
  • While the Trojans know Ridley is the real deal, Alabama has a QB competition of its own and new starters at several spots, so Pendergast is more focused on his defense than his opponent. "There's a lot of unknowns," he said about the Crimson Tide offense. "We just have to rely on our scheme and our techniques and the things that we've taught the players throughout the spring and summer and Fall Camp."
  • Here is Helton's press conference, including extensive conversation on the quarterback debate:

Water Polo Winners

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Kami Craig and Kaleigh Gilchrist, two USC water polo alums, won gold at Rio 2016 today in Team USA's 12-5 win over Italy.

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Craig, who won an NCAA championship at USC in 2010, scored one goal in the final, and five total goals throughout the tournament. Gilchrist, a 2013 NCAA champ with USC, also scored five goals in Rio.

USC now boasts 14 medals at Rio 2016 (six gold, five silver, three bronze), and 302 medals all-time (141 gold, 93 silver, 68 bronze).

kami kaleigh.jpg

Kicking It Off

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USC women's soccer, boasting a No. 11 preseason ranking, kicks off its season today with a tilt at Santa Clara at 7:30 p.m.

Click here for the full preview.

The Trojans, led by head coach Keidane McAlpine, hope to reach new heights this season after making it to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 last year. The squad returns nine of 11 starters from last year, and a 4-0 takedown of Air Force last Sunday gives them another reason for optimism.

USC has won five straight over No. 21 Santa Clara and will look to make it six tonight. After that, the Trojans have no time to rest, as they will return to Los Angeles to face Beijing Normal in an exhibition game which will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Little Pisa Heaven

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USC's women's basketball team is a week into its trip to Italy. They recently visited Treviso, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Florence, all the while preparing to play against international teams.

Check out the latest video blog of the Trojans' adventures in Italy so far:

Helton on SVP

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USC head coach Clay Helton sat down with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt on Thursday night ahead of Friday's pivotal scrimmage, which will lead to the release of the starting quarterback announcement and two-deep depth chart over the weekend.

Trojan Track Stars Shine in Rio

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dalilah.jpgUSC added two more medals to its Olympic tally on Thursday evening thanks to Dalilah Muhammad and Andre De Grasse.

Muhammad won a gold medal in the 400m hurdles with a time of 53.13, finishing 0.47 seconds ahead of the next competitor. In doing so, she became the first American woman to ever win the event and just the second Trojan to medal in the event.

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Soon after, Andre De Grasse earned a silver medal in the 200m. While Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won with a time of 19.78, De Grasse finished in 20.02 (-0.5). It's De Grasse's second medal in his Olympic debut, having grabbed a bronze in the 100m.

USC now boasts 12 medals at Rio 2016 (four gold, five silver, three bronze), and 300 all-time medals.

de grasse.jpg

2016 Fall Camp #17: Notes

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The Trojans took their pads off today for a lighter practice before tomorrow's scrimmage, which will solidify the depth chart for Alabama.
  • Full injury report, per head coach Clay Helton: DT Rasheem Green (knee), G Damien Mama (ankle), DT Noah Jefferson (back), S Marvell Tell III (hamstring), CB Isaiah Langley (concussion), S John Plattenburg (concussion), DT Kevin Scott (hamstring).USC_FOOTBALL_FALL_CAMP_080416-5319.jpg
  • The Trojans practiced their overtime situation today, as Helton continued to stress situational football. "I thought it went very well with the ones, driving down and scoring," Helton said.
  • According to RB Aca'Cedric Ware (pictured), the running backs practiced technique and fundamentals today. Ware, who is looking to get into the mix a bit more this year behind Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II, says he has "way more confidence this year" and that he's "not guessing out there anymore."
  • Ware hails from DeSoto, TX, so he's been looking forward to the season opener at AT&T Stadium for a long time. "I have a lot of family coming," he said. "If I can get enough tickets, I'm hoping to get at least 20. But if I can get more, it'll be more."
  • TE Tyler Petite is another sophomore whose confidence level has increased from Year 1 to Year 2. He said that the arrival of QB Coach/Pass Game Coordinator Tyson Helton might mean a bigger role for tight ends this year. "Obviously his tight end last year had a really big year," Petite said. "And I think the other big part is that we've shown that we can do it."
  • Tyson Helton's advice will surely influence his brother's decision on a starting QB, which he'll make after tomorrow's scrimmage. "I look forward to, in that type of atmosphere, when they know it's their last time out there, how they perform," Clay Helton said. "I thank goodness that we took the time to be able to go through the spring and not just name it there, but go also through a training camp so we can make the best decision for our team."
  • Helton announced that FB Rueben Peters, S Matt Lopes and RB James Toland IV were awarded scholarships for the upcoming season.
  • USC will hold a 75- to 80-play scrimmage tomorrow at 3 p.m. on Howard Jones Field.
Here is Helton's full press conference: