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Game Week

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2014 USC Football Captains

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USC head coach Steve Sarkisian announced the six Trojan football captains tonight at Salute to Troy. 

QB Cody Kessler, OL Max Tuerk and WR Nelson Agholor will lead the offense this season, while DL Leonard Williams, LB Hayes Pullard and CB Josh Shaw are the defensive captains.

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2014 Fall Camp Mock Game: Notes

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USC fully simulated a game day today after sleeping in the downtown team hotel last night.  The Trojans arrived at the Coliseum on buses, entered via the Trojan Walk route and dressed in the locker room.

On the field, they went through their full warmups before playing a game against the scout team, which was dressed in black.  The scrimmage featured no live tackling and was closed to the media.

Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian after the Mock Game:


Meet Adoree' Jackson

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Name: Adoree' JacksonAdoreeFallCamp4x5_081614_MCG1608.jpg

Position: CB/WR

Class: Freshman

Size: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds

Age: 18

High School: Serra HS (Gardena)

Scouting Report: Jackson has almost unanimously been described as a "freak athlete" by his teammates and coaches.  He is not the biggest guy, but he has tremendous leaping ability to compete against bigger opponents.  He has the talent to effect the game in so many ways including receiver, cornerback and return man.

Prep Career: He ran for 639 yards on 66 carries (9.7 avg) with 5 TDs and caught 38 passes for 812 yards (21.4 avg) with 7 TDs on offense in 2013, plus he had 36 tackles, 6 interceptions (3 for touchdowns), 8 deflections and a forced fumble on defense and he had 3 TDs on returns. Serra played in the 2013 CIF Western Division final (he had a 92-yard punt return and a 93-yard kickoff return in the game).

Fall Camp: All eyes have been on Jackson since his first steps on the practice field, and he has not disappointed.  Defensively, he is working mostly with the second team at cornerback learning the ropes behind veterans Josh Shaw and Kevon Seymour.  On offense, Jackson will have a package of plays to make his mark.  During USC's most physical scrimmage, he opened eyes with a punt return for a touchdown after spinning away from a pile and angling around defenders in the open field.

Sark on Jackson: "I'm trying to find a flaw with the guy, but he prepares, he studies, he gets his rest, he recovers, he comes energized, and ultimately he knows what he's doing and he makes plays."

Here is Jackson meeting the media...

Pac-12 Networks International

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USC and the Pac-12 are both brands known to have global appeal, and now they can be viewed in 27 different countries on the new Pac-12 Networks International subscription channel on YouTube.  For $100 per year or $15 a month, international alumni and fans can access the Pac-12 Networks' feed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year starting August 28.

Click here for more.

The Pac-12's global subscription sports channel on YouTube, which is the first of its kind, will stream 850 live events this year, including 35 football games and 150 men's basketball games, plus Video On Demand content.  Fans will also have access to the Pac-12's original programming including studio shows and inside access.

USC's international stars can now be seen back in their home countries.
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Meet Bryce Dixon

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MCGillen-USC-Football-FallCamp-2014-7088.jpgName: Bryce Dixon

Position: TE

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot-4, 240 pounds

Age: 18

High School: St. Bonaventure HS (Ventura)

Scouting Report: Dixon is cut in the modern mold of tight ends with the athleticism of a basketball player, but the size and physicality to develop into a powerful blocker.  He is already a polished receiver with the ability to contribute immediately, but like a typical freshman, he needs to learn the nuances of the game and progress as an all-around tight end.

Prep Career: As a senior, Dixon made 64 receptions for 781 yards (12.2 avg) with 14 TDs to earn an invite to the U.S. Army All-American Game.  In 2013, he had 23 catches for 349 yards (15.2 avg) with 5 TDs.

Fall Camp: As he mentions in the video below, Dixon has gained a lot of weight to bulk up for the college game.  He will be thrown into the fire immediately since Randall Telfer's former backup Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was ruled academically ineligible.  He has been one of the standout playmakers throughout Fall Camp.

Sark on Dixon: "In the short term, that guy is a weapon in our passing game."

Here is Dixon on his first day with the media...



2014 Women's Soccer Preview

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The 2014-15 USC athletics' calendar begins today as women's soccer kicks it off in San Diego against Long Beach State.  The Women of Troy are under new leadership as Keidane McAlpine, the 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, takes over for Ali Khosroshahin.

Click here for the complete preview.

While the Trojans are coming off some down years, the cupboard was not bare as McAlpine embarks on a rebuilding effort.  Sophomore Mandy Freeman, who was All-Pac-12 First Team as a freshman, will anchor the defense in front of senior goalie Caroline Stanley.

Junior Jamie Fink will be the fulcrum in midfield setting up an attack that features talented sophomore Kayla Mills, who led the team in points last season with four goals and eight assists, and striker Katie Johnson, who netted five goals to tie Fink as the team's leading returning goal scorer.

Forgetting the focus on individual pieces, McAlpine is driving the Trojans to understand the team concept.  "The one thing that we try to do is we try to make sure that they understand that they can't do it divided," he said. "Everything we talk about, on and off the field, is about how each decision made individually affects the collective group."

The Women of Troy open the fall campaign with four road games, including a trip to Notre Dame, before dropping the curtain at McAlister Field on September 5 against UC Riverside (4 p.m. PT).  USC will be featured on Pac-12 Networks 10 times this season with the showcase match coming November 7 against rival UCLA at the Coliseum on Senior Night (7:30 p.m.).

Here is the official 2014 schedule poster which you can click to enlarge and download:

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2014 Fall Camp #16: Notes

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The Trojans are in full simulation mode anticipating the game week ahead.
  • USC's morning practice was a typical Thursday format meaning light on physicality but heavy on strategy.  The Trojans will have a short afternoon walk-thru later today, which is typical of a Friday practice.  Then, they will depart for the team hotel and simulate the night before the game complete with meetings and motivation.
  • Saturday, they will arrive at the Coliseum for a Trojan Walk, and then play a mock game, which is closed to the public and media.  The scrimmage will not feature live tackling, but the first team will go against a scout team in black jerseys.  And, the coaches will surprise the players with game-like scenarios such as Cody Kessler getting hurt and Max Browne having to come in during a series.
  • In terms of real injuries, RB Tre Madden will likely be a game time decision for Fresno State as he recovers from turf toe.  "When you start messing with a running back and his feet or his toes, and the ability to push off, they just don't overnight all the sudden get better," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.
  • LB Lamar Dawson is probably out the first month as he continues to rehab from last season's knee surgery, per Sarkisian as well.
  • The Trojans have a real possibility of starting two freshmen offensive guards as Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama continue to work with the first team.
  • QB Cody Kessler was given the day off today to rest his arm after an outstanding Fall Camp. 
  • Here is Sarkisian after this morning's light workout:


2014 Fall Camp #15: Notes

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The final week of Fall Camp is winding down...
  • No new injury news today.  Freshman OL Toa Lobendahn got a rest day since he has been pushed harder than most of the offensive linemen playing guard with the first team and center with the second team. 
  • USC-Football-FallCamp-2014-2093.jpgLong snapper Zach Smith sprained his wrist, so Peter McBride is handling the field goal and punt snapping duties.  Backup QB Conner Sullivan has taken over as the holder on field goals and extra points.
  • Sarkisian referred to punter Kris Albarado as "a weapon" because the second year starter has been booming the ball throughout Fall Camp.  Andre Heidari has won the kicking battle despite a strong push from Matt Boermeester. "I think Andre has done a really nice job," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We have a lot of confidence, and I think he has a lot of confidence right now."
  • In a sequence that would make any USC fan optimistic about the future, Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith made back-to-back diving catches on sideline fade routes. 
  • Later in the practice, Victor Blackwell caught a bomb for a touchdown. "Cody was throwing the ball down the field, which was a point of emphasis in today's practice, and guys were making plays on the ball down the field, which was encouraging," said Sarkisian. The USC offense is designed to run the ball effectively to setup the deep ball.
  • The defense is rotating a lot of bodies to combat the fast-paced offense.  Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox explained that some players will be taken out when they need a break and others will be on a substitution pattern. "Hayes Pullard is going to be on the field.  If Hayes needs a break then we will sub him," he said.
  • The faster offensive tempo could put more pressure on USC's defense because the Trojans are not stressing time of possession and the game as a whole will likely have more snaps.  If it becomes a fitness contest, Sarkisian will take his guys. "I'll be shocked if there is a better conditioned team in the country," he said.
  • Sarkisian likes his developing depth defensively as he called out freshmen Olajuwon Tucker and Uchenna Nwosu plus veterans Greg Townsend and Michael Hutchings as players that have improved rapidly in the last few weeks.
  • Su'a Cravens' (pictured) hybrid position has become a big story since Jabari Ruffin created a hole at SAM linebacker.  Wilcox calls his spot "the dollar" and explained that he is really a third safety in nickel situations not a true linebacker. In general though, Wilcox writes off the whole situation as semantics.
  • Here is Sarkisian's presser with some great stuff on Leonard Williams...



Meet JuJu Smith

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USC-Football-FallCamp-2014-1830.jpgName: John "JuJu" Smith

Position: WR/S

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Age: 17

High School: Poly High (Long Beach, CA)

Scouting Report: Smith is as physically developed and gifted as any USC freshman in recent memory.  He has the ability to contribute immediately on both sides of the ball.  As a receiver, he presents a big target with superior athleticism to go up and get the ball at its highest point or run right by his defender.  He could potentially be an impact safety as well with strength and length similar to T.J. McDonald.

Prep Career: Smith was a 5-star recruit after a standout high school career at Long Beach Poly, one of Southern California's powerhouse programs.  He was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's 24th best player.  He earned a list of accolades culminating in being named an Under Armour All-American.

Fall Camp: Despite the two-way reputation, Smith has played exclusively at wide receiver since reporting for camp.  While the coaches had plans to try him at safety, he has been so dynamic on that side of the ball that those ideas have been shelved for now.  He could also play a role on special teams as a returner after showing off blazing speed during a touchdown run at the recent Coliseum scrimmage.

Sark on Smith: "He's going to play so much for us offensively and he's earned it, it probably wouldn't be fair to him right now (to play him on defense). He's just really good for us right now on the offensive side of the ball."

Here is Smith in his first day with the media...