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Leinart Switches Seats

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Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart is accustomed to being interviewed, but now he is asking the questions for NBC's entertainment show "Extra".  In his first stint as a reporter, the former NFL quarterback quizzed the stars of the upcoming film "Draft Day" to test their gridiron knowledge.

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Sweet Sweep

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

No. 1 USC women's sand volleyball defeated both LMU and UCLA 5-0 on Thursday afternoon for its third and fourth consecutive sweeps this season. It was the first ever USC-UCLA rivalry game in the history of the sport and the Trojans made sure to start off the new series on the right note. Seniors Mary Buckingham, Kirby Burnham, Brooke Fournier, Sam Hirschmann and Natasa Siljkovic played their final regular season game at home and celebrated Senior Night to the tune of back-to-back wins. 

"There's no better senior day than to get a win over UCLA. It always feels good to beat the Bruins. It's crazy that it's senior year and the last time playing on this court," explained All-American senior Kirby Burnham. "I've been playing with a few of the seniors since indoor, since I've got here, and we've grown a lot as players and as people here at USC. This is special. It was awesome to finish my career with this group."

Here are the SnappyTV highlights from the USC victory:

2014 Spring Practice #8: Notes

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USC WR Darreus Rogers was the big winner of practice in more ways than one.
  • During the one-on-one competitive portion of practice, the coaching staff held a surprise dance off.  The consensus champion was Darreus Rogers, who then dominated the red zone portion of practice with multiple touchdown catches.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian explained that it was time to shake things up.  "It was good competition. Guys have some moves, and some guys don't," Sarkisian joked. "I think some guys listen to country music and that wasn't there flavor today."
  • The assistant coaches got in on the act as well.  New defensive line coach Chris Wilson got the better of his offensive line counterpart Tim Drevno. 
  • Sarkisian also said that the players will participate in Swim With Mike Saturday.  "[It's] an unbelievable event that has been going on for a long time here. I'm really excited that we get to be a part of that and promote that," the head coach said about raising scholarship money for physically challenged athletes. "It's an opportunity for our players to understand their role here. They're not just guys that put on helmets and shoulder pads. They are student-athletes. They do a service to the university. It's an opportunity for them to give back."
  • Sarkisian provided a window into his play-calling strategy explaining that the goal of the uptempo offense is to wear the defense down and exploit mismatches on the outside with tired defenders. "We are a big match-up team. We are always trying to find favorable match-ups on offense," he said.
  • While the offense owned the red zone today, the defense played with exceptional tempo and forced two turnovers, according to Sarkisian.  LB Hayes Pullard gave credit to "those young guys playing d-tackle" saying, "It all starts up front."
  • DT Antwaun Woods, who has been a breakout star of spring practice, explained how the defensive line is developing. "Delvon [Simmons] is stepping up, becoming a good force in there and holding his gaps," he said. "With me, Delvon, and when Leonard [Williams] comes back, it will make it easy for [Pullard]. When everything is clogged up, they can just fly around."
  • In the back end of the defense, the numbers are limited.  Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay are expected to start leaving Gerald Bowman as the primary backup at both spots. "As a unit, we have a lot of versatile players," said Bowman, who sat out last year with an injury. "That's one of our strengths, and we all just have to be ready."
  • The versatility at safety is aided by Justin Wilcox's scheme. "I can play either position. It's not really much of a difference. We don't really look at it as a strong or a free.  We look at it more as right and left. We adjust according to the formations," explained Bowman.
  • Here is Sarkisian on his team's depth and more after practice...


Every Court Counts

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USC men's tennis slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the latest rankings through no fault of its own.  The Trojans are 20-2 on the season, and they have won 11 consecutive dual matches.

While Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento lead the team, USC's strength is in its numbers.  In collegiate tennis, a win on court one counts the same as a win on court six.  The Trojans have the highest winning percentage this season on courts three and six.

The No. 3 spot is typically manned by junior Roberto Quiroz who is 14-1 in dual matches, including 8-1 on court three.  The Ecuadorian has won 85% of his singles matches in his dual match career and owns a national championship ring from his freshman year.

The last court has rotated through five different Trojans this season with a mix of veterans (senior Michael Grant, juniors Jonny Wang and Eric Johnson) and rookies (freshmen Rob Bellamy and Nick Crystal).  The group has combined to go 17-2 in dual matches, tying court two for the most points earned this season.

If the Trojans are going to make another NCAA run this season, they know that they will need contributions up and down the lineup.  Here is a preview of this week's dual matches vs. Stanford (Friday at 1:30 p.m.) and Cal (Saturday at 1 p.m.) at Marks Stadium.


Throwback Thursday: Wild Bunch II

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For your viewing pleasure, we unearthed this classic photo of "The Wild Bunch II" rocking Wild, Wild West gear for a photo shoot back in 2003. In a word...EPIC.

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El Gallo Negro

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Heavyweight boxer Gerald Washington, a former USC football player and Navy veteran, is putting his undefeated record on the line tonight against Skipp Scott at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.  The co-headline fight will be featured on "The Night of the Heavyweights" starting at 7 p.m. PT on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for more.

"I've had a great training camp," said Washington, who stands 6-foot-5. "I've had a long time to prepare. I've been working hard and we're ready to go. I know that he's a big guy that comes forward and that he tries to be aggressive. He's 6-foot-8 and 270 pounds, so I'm looking forward to fighting someone bigger than me for the first time.

"It's going to be fun. I'm excited about being the co-main event this Thursday. These fights are preparing for bigger and better things. My career as a professional boxer is progressing and I'm ready to go for anything that comes my way. For now all I can say is that Thursday is going to be exciting."

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Hitting the Big Time

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No. 1 USC women's golf will be without its top gun this weekend at the Liz Murphey Invitational in Athens, Georgia, as NCAA champion Annie Park will tee it up at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major tournament of the year.  Park, who is the No. 3 ranked collegiate player and No. 2 ranked amateur in the world, will compete as an amateur this weekend in Rancho Mirage (Mission Hills Country Club).

Click here for more.

Park is paired with LPGA superstar Natalie Gulbis for the first two rounds as the sophomore competes against a field of the world's elite including former USC four-time All-American Lizette Salas.  The tournament will be covered live by The Golf Channel or you can follow it online.

Meanwhile, the Women of Troy are trying to make it eight wins in nine tries this season.  USC should feel very comfortable in Athens, which was the site of last year's national championship triumph.

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Yogi in the Sand

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USC vs. UCLA women's sand volleyball will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks at 4:30 p.m. PT today.  The first ever Crosstown Rivalry in the sand pits No. 1 against No. 6 and provides the perfect backdrop for the Women of Troy seniors final home match at Merle Norman Stadium.

Click here for a preview.

In preparation for the television broadcast, Pac-12 Networks reporter Yogi Roth got a beach lesson from some of the Trojans. 


Enjoying the View

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For the first time in program history, USC women's sand volleyball is ranked No. 1 in the nation.  The Women of Troy are riding a nine-match winning streak into Thursday's first ever Crosstown Rivalry dual with No. 6 UCLA at Merle Norman Stadium (4:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks).

The Trojans have just one loss this season coming all the way back on opening day (March 8) to Pepperdine.  USC avenged that defeat by blasting the Waves 4-1 last week to earn the top spot in the national rankings.

Thursday's action will  begin with USC vs. Loyola Marymount at 1:30 p.m. before UCLA battles LMU at 3 p.m.  Then, the rivals will meet in the showcase dual match at 4:30 p.m.


34th Annual Swim With Mike

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Swim With Mike, one of the proud traditions of USC athletics, returns Saturday, April 5, at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. as we raise money for advanced education that paves the way for physically challenged athletes to overcome their tragedies and realize their full potential.

The annual swim-a-thon includes a silent auction and raffle, a "treasure chest" merchandise area, a barbecue (starting at Noon), live musical entertainment, celebrity and special guest appearances, the Song Girls and student-athletes relay race, belly flop contest and much more. 

The main ceremony and presentation begin at 11 a.m. Admission and parking are free.

Click here for more.

Throughout the day, participants that meet the donation and eligibility requirements will get swim lessons from the masters including coaches Peter Daland and Dave Salo as well as Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans. Other participant incentives include goodie bags and pool swag.

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