Turning Heads

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster didn't make the Biletnikoff Award Watch List to start the season, but it didn't take the sophomore long to make the entire country notice just how good he is. Through four games, Smith-Schuster has 27 receptions for 537 yards and six touchdowns, and on Monday, he was one of 15 in-season additions to the award's watch list which recognizes college football's best wide receiver.

Smith-Schuster ranks second in the country in receiving yards versus FBS opponents and is tied for first in touchdowns versus FBS opponents. His 243 yards after catch mark ranks fourth nationally. He currently leads the Pac-12 in receptions, yards and touchdowns, and is one of just two college football wide receivers to have at least 80 yards in his team's first four games.

To learn more about the talented wide receiver, and to follow his journey toward the Biletnikoff all season long, click here to go to


Bye Week Tuesday: Notes

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The young Trojans got a little more run out as the bye week begins.
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster missed practice today for "personal reasons," according to head coach Steve Sarkisian.
  • On the injury front, CB Kevon Seymour and DT Antwaun Woods were in full pads today, but WR Darreus Rogers was out with a hamstring injury.
  • The bye week provides an opportunity for freshmen to get more significant reps in practice, including QB Sam Darnold. As expected, his biggest adjustment has been to the speed of the game, but he's learned a lot from veterans Cody Kessler and Max Browne by studying their habits, he said. "I thought Sam was good today," said Sarkisian. "For all those young guys, we always tend to focus on the true freshmen that are playing, and sometimes we lose sight of the development of our younger players who are actually redshirting who are developing. Sam is one of those guys, and these days are huge for him."
  • Darnold particularly enjoyed his first road trip. "That was sweet," he said. "Being in that hostile environment, and then coming out at halftime, and everybody was gone. It was pretty awesome."
  • While Darnold knows that he will redshirting this season barring an emergency situation, freshman LB Osa Masina has been thrown right into the fire. "People expect a lot from you, but you gotta just know what to expect from yourself and the work you put in everyday," said Masina about living up to the five-star hype. "If I work hard everyday and get better everyday, that's all I can ask from myself."
  • Masina's greatest struggle has been keeping his helmet on, but he's working on that with the equipment staff. "Oh my gosh, you're telling me! I'm about to go to the equipment guy right now actually and get a new helmet. This thing's popped off three times in four games! It's the perfect size, I don't know what's going on."
  • For the veterans, the bye week is all about recharging the batteries and getting healthy. "Taking care of my body, getting mental reps, and just getting fresh legs" is RB Tre Madden's plan for the week.
  • It helps that the Trojans go into a bye week coming off a big win at Arizona State. "It felt great being a senior and losing there the last two times, especially the last time we were there was definitely not a great memory," said FB Soma Vainuku. "To leave there for the last time knowing we went in there and handled business, it felt good."
  • Vainuku credited the inspired performance to Sarkisian's motivation. "Coach Sark came in fired up, and I think that set the tempo for everybody. Everyone was just feeding off his energy and was really excited before the game got started."
  • In turn, Sarkisian thanked Vainuku for setting the tone every week. "I think it's awesome for our team when you have a senior who is giving himself up," Sarkisian said about Vainuku. "He's unbelievable on special teams right now. It just sends a message to our team, to our younger players, that it's not always about the quantity of plays you play, but the quality.
  • Here is Sarkisian after practice...

Trojans Live - Bye Week

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

There may not be a football game this weekend, but there was still lots to talk about on Trojans Live on Monday night. USC head coach Steve Sarkisian covered a wide range of topics including the Trojans' bounce back win over ASU, motivating his players and utilizing the bye week.

Click here to watch Coach Sark's segment.

Offensive coordinator Clay Helton spent much of his segment discussing the outstanding start QB Cody Kessler is off to this season, as well as his role as playcaller in balancing the offense.

Click here to watch Helton's complete segment.

With his team currently boasting a 14-0 record, USC women's volleyball coach Mick Haley called in to the show, eager to talk about the changes implemented this season that have allowed his team to succeed so quickly.

Click here to listen to Haley's full interview.

Freshman linebacker Cam Smith, who currently leads the Trojans in tackles and is second in the nation among true freshmen, joined the show to talk about his role on USC's defense, forcing turnovers and his ascension to the starting lineup in his first season.

Catching Up With Cody

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USC QB Cody Kessler is off to another terrific start this season, throwing for 15 touchdowns (most in the nation versus FBS teams) in four games with just one interception. The redshirt senior and Heisman hopeful currently boasts the second-best passer rating in college football (201.18) and his career completion percentage (68.5) is the best in USC history.

In the Trojans' victory on Saturday, the captain surged up two of USC's all-time lists, passing Carson Palmer to become third in career touchdowns (74) and Rodney Peete to become fifth in career completions (642). For his unstoppable effort, he was named a Manning Award Star of the Week.

A candidate for the Walter Camp, Maxwell, and Manning Awards among others, Kessler is one of many Trojans under the postseason awards microscope this year. Eleven Trojans and counting have been named to watch lists, and as the team continues to pursue its championship-level goals, these players will be seeking to cement their names in the USC history books.

For more on these players, and to follow them throughout the season, click here to go to


2015 NFL Week 3

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USC alums Clay Matthews and Nick Perry will be getting after the quarterback for the Packers on Monday Night Football tonight. Here's how their fellow Trojans fared in week three:

The Best

griffen-nfl.jpgEverson Griffen, DE, Vikings

The pass rush specialist terrorized Philip Rivers to the point that the Chargers pulled their starting QB from the game to protect him. In all, Griffen registered five hits on the quarterback, including 1.5 sacks. He made six tackles (four solo and two for loss) and batted a pass away. Minnesota, which also features OT Matt Kalil and TE/FB Rhett Ellison is now 2-1 on the season after the convincing win.

Best of the Rest

Malcolm Smith, LB, Raiders - 7 tackles (6 solo), including two for loss and a sack

Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans - 3 solo tackles, including two for loss and a sack

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals - 20/32 for 311 yards and 2 TDs

Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals - 3 solo tackles, including two for loss and a sack

Leonard Williams, DE, Jets - 6 tackles, including one for loss and half a sack

Devon Kennard, LB, Giants - 5 tackles (4 solo and a TFL) plus a pass defended

Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals - 5 tackles

T.J. McDonald, S, Rams - 8 tackles (5 solo)

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - 5 tackles (3 solo)

Robert Woods, WR, Bills - 4 catches for 38 yards

Nickell Robey, CB, Bills - 5 tackles (3 solo)

Opportunistic Opening

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USC women's soccer is off to a strong conference start after defeating Oregon State, 2-1, on Saturday in its Pac-12 opener. Team-leading scorer Sydney Johnson gave the Trojans the early lead in the 44th minute thanks to an impressive right-corner header, her fourth goal of the season. Sophomore Nicole Molen, who led the team with seven shots in the match, found the net in the 59th minute for her first goal this year.

The Trojans outshot the Beavers, 23-5, the fourth consecutive game in which USC has outshot its opponent by at least 18.

Click here for a complete game recap.

The Women of Troy hit the road this week, facing Washington State on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Washington at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.


2 for 1

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On the strength of two Pac-12 road wins, USC women's volleyball moved up to No. 2 in the AVCA Coaches' Poll and picked up two more Pac-12 Players of the Week. Led by Offensive Player of the Week Samantha Bricio and Defensive Player of the Week Alicia Ogoms, the Women of Troy decimated UCLA in three sets and then outlasted Stanford in five to remain undefeated on the season (14-0).

Click here for more.

Bricio continues her remarkable start, having won Pac-12 Player of the Week an unprecedented four times in five tries. She produced her finest performance against the Cardinal, registering a career-high 34.0 points.

Ogoms is USC's intimidator, posting a career-high nine blocks against Stanford after five in the quick win at UCLA. This is her first career conference player of the week honor.

Hat Trick Home Opener

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

MPSF-koplow.jpgThe USC men's water polo team finally returned to the Uytengsu Aquatics Center after a trio of invitationals to begin its 2015 season, facing the No. 7 ranked Long Beach State 49ers. Courtesy of hat tricks from Nick Bell, Grant Stein, and Chase Koplow, the Trojans won 17-9 to start MPSF play undefeated and improve their overall record to 10-1. 

Koplow piqued the interest of the Trojan coaching staff early on after scoring nine goals in five games thus earning a position on the starting roster for Saturday's home opener against Long Beach. He took advantage of the opportunity by not only scoring three goals on three attempts in 14 minutes of play but also by committing zero turnovers and not sacrificing a goal on defense. This dominant breakout performance from the first-time starter earned him MPSF Player of the Week honors. 

Next up, USC faces Stanford in a rematch after falling to the Cardinal 6-5 in the Kap7 Norcal Invitational semifinals. The Trojans will host their MPSF rival on Saturday at 10:30a.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.

Here is Rachel Bennett's photo gallery from Saturday's home opener... 

Trojan of the Game: Adoree' Jackson

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The Trojan Family voted Adoree' Jackson the Jack in the Box Trojan of the Game for his 184 all-purpose yard effort against Arizona State. Jackson enjoyed his first career 100-yard receiving game (131) on only three catches, plus he added 53 yards on punt returns and 48 defensive snaps (2 tackles).

The multi-talented sophomore also made the weekly honor roll for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation's most versatile player. 


Bricio's Barrage

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contibutor

No. 3 USC women's volleyball faced its first real test of 2015 on the Farm this weekend and passed with flying colors, thanks to senior captain Samantha Bricio's career-high 34.0 points in the Trojans' thrilling five-set victory over No. 8 Stanford. The Women of Troy are now 14-0 on the season, their best start since 2006.

Leading into Sunday's match, USC had defeated opponents in three sets in 11 of their 13 wins. The Cardinal quickly proved to be a more formidable opponent, pushing the match to five sets after clinching the second and third. Stepping up in the clutch, Bricio scored 13 of her 27 kills in the fourth and fifth sets, propelling the Trojans to victory and moving herself to fifth on USC's all-time kills list with 1,655 in her career.

Blocking, an emerging strength for this year's new-look Trojan team, continued to be a big asset on Sunday as the Women of Troy boasted 14 in the match - their fourth straight with ten or more.

Click here for a complete game recap.

This weekend, the Women of Troy return to Galen Center for the first time in two weeks as they host Washington State on Friday at 7 p.m. and No. 6 Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. The match against the Huskies will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

Check out the highlights from Sunday's exhilarating match: