All in a Day's Work

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Twice this season, the Trojans and Rams play back-to-back games in the Coliseum, including last weekend. On Saturday, USC defeated Colorado, and then on Sunday, Buffalo took down Los Angeles. In between, the Coliseum staff went to work to convert the stadium from USC to the NFL.

Check out this time-lapse video capturing the Coliseum makeover:

2016 Game 7: USC vs. Arizona

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USC Trojans (3-3, 2-2) at Arizona Wildcats (2-4, 0-3)

Arizona Stadium in Tucson at 12:30 p.m. PT on FOX

Tate.jpgWildcat to Watch: The Running Quarterbacks

We don't know which quarterback to spotlight because we don't know which quarterback Rich Rodriguez plans on playing. He has used four different men behind center, largely due to injury issues, which make the picture even murkier this week. Whomever he chooses, Rodriguez will deploy an athletically-gifted quarterback who is more likely to hurt the Trojans on the ground than through the air. Sophomore QB Brandon Dawkins, who is in concussion protocol, is the fourth leading rusher in the Pac-12. Highly-touted freshman Khalil Tate (pictured), a Serra product, is a known entity to several Trojans. "Once he's got the ball in his hands, it's hard to get him down," USC CB Adoree' Jackson said of Tate. "One of those things where he's electrifying with the ball, he can beat you with his arm and beat you with his feet. A special kid." Junior Anu Solomon is the veteran QB, but he's dealing with a knee injury.

Click here for more on the Wildcats.

3 Keys

Take the Show on the Road

The Trojans are 3-0 at home this season, but 0-3 away from the Coliseum. While life on the road is difficult, USC has a golden opportunity to scratch one against a slumping Arizona side which has lost three straight. With that said, the Wildcats are also dangerous, particularly in Tucson, where they took Washington, the current cream of the conference, to overtime. To secure a road victory and extend their winning streak to three, the Trojans must eliminate the mistakes that plagued them against Alabama (communication), at Stanford (penalties) and at Utah (turnovers). If USC plays a clean game, Arizona will not be able to keep up with an otherwise dominant team this month.

Release RoJo

Senior RB Justin Davis, who is fifth in the Pac-12 in rushing, will likely miss the game with a high ankle sprain. Without its primary ball carrier, USC will turn to the "Texas Two Step," Ronald Jones II and Aca'Cedric Ware. Jones has struggled to match the magic of his freshman season, but he appears primed to snap out of the slump with a big performance on Saturday. Last year against Arizona, Jones ran for a career-high 177 yards. With that in mind and ample opportunities, his confidence should be boosted.

Contain and Collapse

As USC head coach Clay Helton mentioned several times this week, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez invented or popularized many of the spread option concepts that almost every college team uses today. The Trojans will see a steady diet of "RPOs" (run/pass options) from Arizona's extremely mobile quarterbacks. The USC defense has handled Arizona State and Colorado's wide open attacks much better than Alabama and Stanford's ground-and-pound from earlier in the season. It is incumbent upon the Trojans front to contain the Wildcats QB, whomever it may be, in the pocket and force him to be a thrower.

Arizona Thursday: Clay Helton Presser

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

USC got in one last practice Thursday before its trip to the desert to face the Arizona Wildcats. The Trojans will be looking to extend their winning streak and go a game over .500 with a win on Saturday.

In his press conference after practice Thursday, coach Clay Helton explained his even keel demeanor, the growth of his team and more:

Stevens Center Academic Spotlight: Mihajlo Milicevic

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USC's student-athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond and pool, they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a little better in our academic spotlight.

Mihajlo Milicevic
Year: Junior
Sport: Men's Water Polo
Position: Utility Player
Major: Business Administration
GPA: 3.71

Aubrey Kragen (AK): You went to college for a year in Serbia, right? What made you decide to make the move out here?

Mihajlo Milicevic (MM): Well in Serbia, it's very hard to combine water polo and school together --- to play on a very high level and at the same time to have a good education. So that's the No. 1 thing. Also, I heard about USC, I knew that school and water polo were great here, and this was just a great chance for me.

AK: How had you heard about USC all the way in Serbia? Did you have friends or know someone here?

MM: I actually met Chase Koplow, who is currently on the team. He went to Serbia to practice, because Serbia is pretty good in water polo. So he was getting ready for college, and he told me about USC. He told be about Jovan [Vavic], how he's the head coach. So I got interested, and looked it up, and then we talked a little bit more about USC and everything.

AK: For a transfer student within the United States, it can be difficult to adjust to a new college. How difficult was it for you to get adjusted coming from halfway across the world?

MM: The biggest issue was the language barrier. It was hard for me in the beginning to understand, and even to talk. But once I learned English, everything else was kind of the same. Education here is a little bit different, so once I learned the system and learned how to schedule my classes, how to find the buildings, how to read the syllabus --- all the basic stuff --- everything else was easy.

AK: What was your process of learning English? Did you know much growing up or did you come here and have to pick it up?

MM: Well, before I came here, I thought I was pretty good at English, which is kind of sad. In Serbia, I started learning English since fifth grade in elementary school. But we would just study grammar and we wouldn't talk in English at all. It would be just writing, and it would be just a couple of phrases, so it wasn't that useful. So once I came here and tried to talk, it was completely different and I was confused and kind of embarrassed. I didn't want to talk that much, but then I just realized that I have to try. After a month, I think, I felt more comfortable.

AK: You started here as an economics major but you switched to business administration. What made you decide to switch?

MM: Well, my primary goal was to get in business school. The econ major was just because academically I was a junior last year, so I had to choose a major, and econ was in Dornsife, and I was undeclared in Dornsife, so that was the easiest option for me ... And then after that I applied to business school.

AK: So why is business the field you want to go into?

MM: Well, I love math, and I love problem-solving and decision-making, and I think I'm pretty good at that. So I see myself in that area, and I would like to work one day in finance. Mainly because it's very competitive, and I was an athlete my entire life, so I love to compete. And I love problem solving, so I think I could find myself in that area and just continue my lifestyle in a little bit different industry.

AK: How difficult is it to maintain such a high GPA when you're on a team that consistently has such high expectations athletically?

MM: Well, what I think in my opinion is it's not about how intelligent you are, it's not about how smart you are, it's all about organization and discipline. So, if you're very organized, even though you have a lot of things to do during the day, in the end, you will know, 'Now, I'm studying. Now, I'm going to take a break, I'm going to get ready for my practice, I'm going to class.' Or at night I know I have to finish this paper or get ready for a midterm. If you have that attitude that you know you have to do it, then it's possible.

AK: So do you schedule your day out like that? Do you have a planner where you block times out for certain things?

MM: That's weird, because I don't have a planner. That's kind of bad. But I have a planner in my head, so I basically have the entire plan for the entire week in advance. I already know that I have to study, for example, on Tuesday night ... So I kind of make a planner in my head, which I know is not good --- I have to start writing, because in the future I will forget a lot of things.

AK: Lastly, I have to ask, what are the worst pronunciations of your name you've gotten from professors?

MM: Oh yeah. I got so many. I don't understand why, but they always put a 'K,' so they will always say "Mi-Ki-Lo" or "Mi-Kay-La." I would end up with a lot of different names ... it's "Mi-Hi-Lo." So you can put it as "Me-High-Low."

Gearing Up for the Gauchos

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USC men's water polo gets back in the pool after a week off with a tilt against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.

Click here for the full preview.

The No. 3 Trojans (14-1) face off against the No. 7 Gauchos (8-4) for the second time this season. In their home opener on Sept. 10, the Trojans beat UCSB, 14-3. In that match, Matteo Morelli and Lachlan Edwards scored three goals each and McQuin Baron racked up 16 saves.

Today through Saturday, UCSB hosts four matches, before making its way to L.A. Meanwhile, the Trojans will be well-rested for the nonconference bout.

Sunday's matchup kicks off at 1 p.m. at Uytengsu Aquatic Center.


Meet Keyshawn "Pie" Young

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USC_Football_Stanford_mcgillen_2016_DSC_0776.JPGName: Keyshawn "Pie" Young

Position: DB

Class: Freshman

Size: 5-foot-11, 175 pounds

Age: 19

High School: Miami Senior HS (Miami, FL)

Game: Young is an athletic, energetic young defensive back with a bright future for the Trojans. Head coach Clay Helton only believes in reaching out of state for top talents and Young fits the mold. Despite his youth, he has earned playing time on special teams and defense already this season.

Prep Career: Young earned Prep-Star All-American and All-State Class 8A honorable mention honors as senior WR-DB. He racked up 2,069 yards from scrimmage and 30 scrimmage TDs his sophomore and junior seasons, and added three punt return scores as a junior.

Secondary coach Ronnie Bradford on Young: "When he first came in here, he was a little rough around the edges ... He's done a great job of just picking it up ... I look for big things from that kid, because he's trying to do it the right way all the time."

Fun Fact: His nickname came from his late grandmother, who wanted him to be "Perfect In Everything," hence PIE.

Here is Pie Young on his Miami roots, his famous family members and more:


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USC OT Zach Banner has been selected as one of 30 finalists for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award.

CLASS stands for "Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School," and the organization recognizes senior Division I football players who who excel in the community, the classroom, in character and in competition.

Banner, who hails from Tacoma, WA, was an All-Pac-12 first team selection last season and made the watch list for the Outland Trophy this year.

The team captain has always placed emphasis on his studies and his community service endeavors. He received his Bachelor's degree in Communication and is now pursuing another in Sociology. He has also spoken at New Life Christian Center and several elementary, middle and high schools about the importance of education and receiving a college degree. Last month, he lent his support to the College Football Playoff's Extra Yard for Teachers initiative, too.

Additionally, Banner participates in USC's Swim With Mike event every year and was active within USC's partnership with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation during the 2015 season.

This season, Banner started the first four games of the season at right tackle before being sidelined against ASU and Colorado with an ankle injury. He hopes to get back on the field this Saturday at Arizona.


Leventhal Stat of the Week - Arizona

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History predicts that USC's matchup against Arizona on Saturday will be a close one. Since 2007, every game between these two schools has been decided by eight points or fewer. On average, the margin of victory has been 5.3 points in those nine games (seven of which USC has won). Last year's eight-point win was the Trojans' largest over the Wildcats since USC's 17-point victory in 2006.


Arizona Wednesday - Notes

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The Trojans took the field on Wednesday to prepare themselves for their fourth straight Pac-12 South game.
  • USC_Football_Colorado_Mcgillen_2016_6180.jpgUSC head coach Clay Helton mentioned that OT Zach Banner (ankle) practiced in full, and that RB Aca'Cedric Ware tweaked an ankle but was able to finish practice.
  • The team's relatively good health is a stark contrast from an Arizona squad which has cycled through three QBs this season due to injury: Anu Solomon, Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate.
  • USC CB-WR-RET Adoree' Jackson (pictured) was a high school teammate of Tate's at Serra, and sees similarities between himself and the Wildcat QB. "Once he's got the ball in his hands, it's hard to get him down," Jackson said of the true freshman. "One of those things where he's electrifying with the ball, he can beat you with his arm and beat you with his feet. A special kid."
  • Jackson has a chance to have an electrifying game as well, as Arizona's kickoff coverage ranks last in the Pac-12. Jackson says he expects the Wildcats to beef up their coverage with him coming to town, though. "I know at the end of the day some teams that have had troubles on special teams, when they go against someone who can change the game, they seem to figure it out and get it together," he said. "So it's just me trying to make the most of my opportunities."
  • A big opportunity awaits for Jackson on Saturday. He can break USC's all-time kickoff return yardage record with just one yard against the Wildcats. He is currently tied with Curtis Conway, at 1,723 yards.
  • Jackson and the defense have stepped up in the last few games, holding both Colorado and ASU to season-lows in points scored. LB Uchenna Nwosu, who had a career-high 10 tackles against CU, accredits this to the defense "building a bond together" as well as "studying extra together" and "getting closer."
  • Nwosu acknowledged that the team is itching to earn its first road win this year. "We want to make a statement. We've got to keep building," he said, adding, "On the road it's harder --- the crowd gets more involved. Every time someone plays USC it's like their Super Bowl so you know everyone gives us their best game."
  • Nwosu and the defense will be tasked with shutting down Arizona's QB runs this weekend, as Helton pointed out that the Wildcats "are the second-leading QB rush team in the country, behind Louisville."
  • Helton noted that in order to keep Arizona's offense off the field, USC's offense must keep up the good work on third down. "I think it's going to be critical this week to be able to keep a team that can get 90 to 100 plays on a lot of teams [off the field]."
  • Watch Helton's full press conference here:

Celebrating Joint Forces Day

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USC_Football_Colorado_Mcgillen_2016_4674.jpgUSC celebrated Joint Forces Day at the Coliseum on Saturday during the Trojans' game against Colorado.

To honor those who have served, USC Athletics gave away approximately 7,000 tickets to organizations such as the U.S. Marines, USC ROTC, Coast Guard Public Affairs, the Veteran Tickets Foundation, the East L.A. Vet Center and more. USC also

Before the game, Trojan fans were treated to a C-17 flyover. The crew of the C-17 was honored during the game, as well. At halftime, the Spirit of Troy Marching Band performed the official song for each branch of the U.S. Military.

Additionally, Athletic Director Lynn Swann presented 30-year U.S. Air Corps veteran Robert Friend with a USC Medal of Honor.

USC will continue to honor the U.S. Military across multiple sports this year.