SooHoo Gallery: USC vs. Stanford

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Legendary Los Angeles sports photographer Jon SooHoo flew up to Palo Alto for the rivalry clash between USC and Stanford.

Here are his photos:

09/06/14-USC at STANFORD - Images by Jon SooHoo

6-Points: USC 13, Stanford 10

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USC snaps Stanford's 17-game home winning streak on Andre Heidari's 53-yard go ahead field goal and J.R. Tavai's clinching strip-sack.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the post-game press conference.

Building a Champion

USC_STANFORD_1_090614_MCG0455.JPGThe Trojans were tested mentally and physically by Stanford, and they bonded together to pickup the first signature win of the Steve Sarkisian era.  In one sequence late in the third quarter, Sarkisian was flagged twice for sideline interference and unsportsmanlike conduct, and then senior LB Hayes Pullard was ejected for targeting a ball carrier.  "There were a lot of things that easily, if we weren't a strong-willed team, would have folded our tents in," said Sarkisian. "The guys just wouldn't do it.  They kept battling. And at the end, we made the critical plays at the critical moments."

The Cardinal Killer

Stanford will be sick at the sight of Andre Heidari.  The USC kicker drilled the game-winner for the second consecutive season.  This time, he needed a career-best boot from 53 yards to be the hero.  "Honestly, I thought it was short, but I'm glad it went in," said Heidari (pictured). "We do it every day in practice. We practice long field goals. I believe in my blockers up front and it happened.  It was fun.  I'm glad we got to do it two years in a  row."

The Final Rush

USC_STANFORD_090614_MCG0048.JPGThe Trojans' front seven struggled all afternoon trying to get to Stanford QB Kevin Hogan, but when they needed one final stop, J.R. Tavai delivered a crushing blow to release the clinching fumble.  "[Hogan] is elusive," said Tavai. "He did a great job running away from me, but he couldn't run away on that last play, so I was pretty happy about that."

Leo the Lion

All-American Leonard Williams did his best Willis Reed impersonation today after looking like he might not be able to play during warmups.  The junior said he was "50-50" to go and came out during the first defensive series because the ankle was so tight.  But, with a little adrenaline and a lot of drive, he overcame the pain and led the Trojans with 11 tackles plus a sack.  "What a warrior effort from Leonard," said Sarkisian. "He obviously wasn't 100% tonight, but Leonard at 70-80% is better than most people at their best."  

Feed the Buck

The offensive game plan became clear quickly as Buck Allen was fed carry after carry leading to a career-high 154 yards on 23 runs.  Allen was told during the week by the coaches that he would be the central focus of the offense, and he responded with the best rushing performance ever against a David Shaw-led Stanford team..  "It wasn't always going to be pretty, but we had to dedicate ourselves to running the ball," Sarkisian said. "The teams that struggle the most against Stanford's defense are the ones that give up on the running game and allow them to tee off on your QB."

Fighting Off the Ropes

Amazingly, Stanford reached at least USC's 32-yard-line on every single drive, but only managed to score 10 points.  The Trojans benefitted from a couple missed field goals and some careless Cardinal ball handling, but to their credit, they never relented.  "I couldn't be more proud of our defense in the red zone, which was a huge point of emphasis coming into the game," said Sarkisian. "We kept talking about how important our red zone defense was going to be."  LB Anthony Sarao (11 tackles) and S Gerald Bowman (10 tackles) were instrumental in the effort.

Here are the SnappyTV highlights...

Infographic: USC 13, Stanford 10

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2014: Stanford Friday Night Video

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The Trojans look to beat Stanford in their PAC-12 opener where physical meets physical. #BeatTheFarm

Here is your Friday Night Video:

2014 Game 2: USC vs. Stanford

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No. 14 USC Trojans (1-0, 0-0) at No. 13 Stanford Cardinal (1-0, 0-0)

Stanford Stadium at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC and WatchESPN

Ty-montgomery.jpgCardinal to Watch: Senior WR Ty Montgomery

The speedster can affect the game as a receiver and a return man.  He earned All-American honors last season thanks to his 30.3 yards per kick return, and he set a Stanford record averaging 37 yards per punt return last week.  While the Cardinal are known as a power run team, David Shaw could open up the offense more this season with veteran QB Kevin Hogan and a dangerous receiving corps led by Montgomery. 

Click here for more on the Cardinal.

3 Keys

Clash of Styles

Isn't it amazing how quickly things can change?  In recent years, USC's goal was to slow down high-speed Pac-12 offenses, but now the Trojans are running a play every 22.2 seconds, which is in stark contrast to the nation's sixth slowest offense in 2013.  USC will not be able to match the Pac-12 record 105 plays from the season opener, but third down efficiency will decide the overall tempo of the game.  If Stanford can extend drives, the Cardinal can wear USC down.  If Cody Kessler controls the ball, he can exploit mismatches on the edge and force Stanford out of its comfort zone.

Kid Nation

USC played 11 true freshmen in week one, which is more than any other Pac-12 team. While the youth movement is partly out of necessity for the scholarship-strapped Trojans, the kids are more than alright.  JuJu Smith posted the best freshman debut in USC history, and Adoree' Jackson never comes off the field.  Can they match that same production against an elite opponent on the road?  They will need to at least hold their own against Stanford's grizzled vets.

Big Man's Game

At the end of the day, USC-Stanford always comes down to the battle in the trenches.  The Trojans did not back down from the challenge last year, and they will be ready for the fight once again.  "It's going to be a dogfight. That's Stanford-USC football," said defensive captain Hayes Pullard. "Just bringing your lunch pail and being able to go out there and just fight toughness with toughness."


Soccer Comes Home

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USC women's soccer is off to an unbeaten start under new head coach Keidane McAlpine with three wins and a draw among four road games to kick off the campaign.  Finally, the Women of Troy return home to McAlister Field to play UC Riverside at 4 p.m. PT on Friday.  The match will be broadcast LIVE on Pac-12 Networks (Los Angeles).

Click here for more.

USC also entered the Top 25 this week at No. 17 thanks in large part to a Top 10 win over Notre Dame in South Bend.  The Trojans can continue the momentum as they are home for nine of their next 11 matches.

Veteran midfielder Jamie Fink is doubling as our women's soccer correspondent this season, so she provided a full team report in the latest Free Kicks with Fink.

Pac-12 Previews USC-Stanford

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The USC at Stanford game is not only a match-up of old rivals and Top 15 teams, but the first game of the Pac-12 season.  Here is the Pac-12 Networks preview with Mike Yam, Rick Neuheisel and Nick Aliotti...

Meet Ajene Harris

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MCGillen-USC-Football-FallCamp-2014-6860.jpgName: Ajene Harris

Position: WR

Class: Freshman

Size: 5-foot-11, 180 pounds

Age: 18

High School: Crenshaw HS (Los Angeles)

Scouting Report: Harris is a prototypical slot receiver, which has become one of the most efficient positions in modern football with players like Wes Welker and Randall Cobb dominating the NFL.  He was primarily a dual threat quarterback at Crenshaw High School, so he is relatively new to the position, but he has quick feet and a tremendous work ethic.

Prep Career: Harris was just a three-star prospect coming out of LA city powerhouse Crenshaw High School, where he played quarterback, receiver and defensive back.  He led the Mighty Cougars to the 2013 L.A. City Division I championship earning All-L.A. City Division I Player of the Year.

Fall Camp: Despite not having the same 5-star reputation as JuJu Smith and Adoree' Jackson, Harris was the freshman opening eyes during summer workouts.  The players were blown away by how quickly he picked up the offense, and he used that knowledge to impress the coaches during Fall Camp.  He finished atop the depth chart at slot receiver going into game week, and made his first career catch against Fresno State.

Sark on Ajene (pronounced uh-JAY-nay): "He just appears very natural. He looks like he's been doing this a long time."

Here is Harris meeting the media...

Prorated Season Tickets

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USC football made a resounding opening statement scoring 52 points in three quarters to begin the Steve Sarkisian era on an impressive note.  The Trojans still have five remaining home games at the Coliseum, and fans can purchase a prorated season ticket for as little as $250.

Click here for more info.

The schedule only gets better from here including showdowns against No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 17 Arizona State as well as Pac-12 match-ups with Colorado, Cal and Oregon State.  Prorated season ticket holders get all the same benefits as regular season ticket holders including the ability to enter the lottery for bowl game tickets.


Stanford Thursday: Notes

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The Trojans are just over 48 hours away from their Pac-12 opener at Stanford.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian is impressed with his team's preparation and execution of this week's game plan in anticipation of their first road game. "It's amazing how far you can come from Tuesday until Thursday when you implement a game plan," he said. "We're excited for Saturday. It's going to come quick."
  • In last year's contest, the Stanford defense held USC's rushing attack to just 23 yards. Sarkisian knows what he's up against in the talented Cardinal defensive front. "I think it's hard to beat anybody when you only rush for 23 yards in a game. One, they've got big, physical guys up front. Two, they've got a good scheme, they're well-coached, they stop the things that you're good at. Three, they get a lot of sacks."
  • But Sarkisian believes the Trojans have a rushing attack capable of competing with the Cardinal, highlighting the performance of Buck Allen and Justin Davis against Fresno State last weekend. "I think they're a good combination with one another. I think they both caught the ball extremely well out of the backfield which is important for us as well. All in all I think it was a good first game."
  • With only one week of 2014 Stanford game film to examine, it is difficult for the Trojans to anticipate what they will be up against on Saturday. However, Sarkisian says they have to trust in the implementation of their own strengths. "You hang your hat on execution. On your guys' ability, regardless of what they get, to go out and execute the call whether it's offense, defense or special teams," he explained. "And then as you start to get a sense of how they are trying to attack you in either phase, then you can start to make some adjustments."
  • Things are looking positive for the Trojans on the injury front. Cody Kessler and Leonard Williams are ready to go for Saturday. Damien Mama, Khaliel Rodgers and Aundrey Walker are all cleared to play as well but their involvement against the Cardinal will depend on how they feel at game time.
  • Here is Coach Sark after Thursday's practice...