McGillen Galleries: USC vs. Utah State

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On a beautiful Saturday morning/early afternoon, the Trojans found their feet at home in the Coliseum. USC team photographer John McGillen and his team, Ryan Kang and Rachel Bennett, provided blanket coverage of the first win of the season.

Trojan of the Game: JuJu Smith-Schuster

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The Trojan Family voted junior WR JuJu Smith-Schuster the Mercury Insurance Trojan of the Game for his two-touchdown performance against Utah State.

Smith-Schuster saw consistent double teams once again, but he managed to shake loose for 7 catches and 56 receiving yards. His signature moment did not require the ball as he blasted a defender with a bone-shattering block, which drew national attention.


SooHoo Gallery: USC vs. Utah State

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For the first home game of the season, legendary Los Angeles photographer Jon SooHoo provided us with his photos from USC's resounding victory over Utah State.

09/10/16-USC v Utah St-available - Images by Jon SooHoo

6-Points: USC 45, Utah State 7

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The Trojans looked right at home in the Coliseum, bouncing back with a blowout victory to even their record at 1-1.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction.

Click here for the post-game press conference.

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The Trojans were embarrassed by their performance against Alabama, and they played like a team with a chip on its collective shoulder. "All week, we've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting to get that bad taste out of our mouth," said senior RB Justin Davis. "What we showed against Alabama is nothing close to what USC football is supposed to be." The collective anger was expressed in one play by JuJu Smith-Schuster who showed the edge and physicality that head coach Clay Helton preaches on a daily basis. The Trojans got back to the formula that led them to the Pac-12 South title last season: stop the run, run to open up the pass, play good special teams and create turnovers.

Baxter's Back

Helton made two big hires upon being named the full-time head coach. First, he brought back special teams coordinator John Baxter who has a knack for drawing up blocked kicks. In need of an early spark, special teams created "great momentum," per Helton, "especially the block punt right off the bat by Michael Pittman. Terrific job. Exactly how Coach Baxter drew it up." Later in the game, the amazing Adoree' Jackson raced 77 yards for his third career punt return for a touchdown. "[Baxter] preached all week that Adoree', if given the opportunity, would score a touchdown," said Helton.

Clancy Too

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was the other big addition to the coaching staff. "Thank goodness Clancy Pendergast is here," said Helton. After a dominant first half last week, Pendergast's crew put two halves together Saturday, and nearly pitched a shutout. Utah State came into the game as the No. 1 rushing team in the country, but the Trojans held the Aggies to 49 yards on 26 attempts. "When it comes to playing the run, we have a lot of potential there," said OLB Porter Gustin, who had 6 tackles, 2 TFLs and 1 sack. "We're really coming together all around in the run game, so I think that's actually going to be one of our strengths."

QB1 and QB1A

For the second consecutive week, Helton played two quarterbacks and Max Browne and Sam Darnold were "both very efficient," according to the head coach. Browne completed 23 of 30 for 182 yards and 2 TDs with 1 INT.  Browne "wasn't perfect," said Helton, who added that he "missed a couple deep ball opportunities that I wish we had back." While Darnold played a lot, there is no quarterback controversy for the time being. Darnold is contributing in short yardage and red zone situations, and gaining experience because he is "one snap away from being the starter," explained Helton. The redshirt freshman went 5/7 for 62 yards and 2 TDs. Both quarterbacks threw the first touchdown passes of their college careers.

Spreading the Wealth

With so many eyes on Smith-Schuster, the offense diversified its attack. Ten different Trojans caught passes, led by Darreus Rogers (7 receptions for 82 yards), and four different players scored touchdowns, including two for JuJu. "Whoever is there is going to make our plays," said Browne. "It's great having a lot of weapons." Helton liked the ball control attack, which featured 208 yards on the ground, highlighted by 106 all-purpose yards from Davis and 57 yards on 11 carries and a TD for Aca'Cedric Ware. To make it all work, the offensive line "stepped up," per Helton, and provided time and room for the skill position players to shine.

Trip to the Farm

The offensive line needs to continue its improvement because the next two opponents, Stanford and Utah, feature fierce fronts. "I still believe that they're the best o-line in the country...and I kinda saw it a little bit today, which made me excited," said Davis about his front five. "We're going to have to take it up to a whole other level, myself included, at Stanford next week." The Trojans are all too familiar with the Cardinal. "They are the Pac-12 champs. We faced them twice last year on the short end. We have a huge challenge," said Helton. "We look forward to the opportunity." Expect another physical battle next Saturday in Palo Alto at 5 p.m. on ABC.

Here are the Pac-12 Network highlights from USC's 45-7 win over Utah State:

The Sights and Sounds from USC's Win over Utah State

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

USC Wins Big in Home Opener vs. Utah State

2016 Game 2: USC vs. Utah State

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Utah State Aggies (1-0) at USC Trojans (0-1)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 11 a.m. PT on Pac-12 Network

Myers.jpgAggie to Watch: Junior QB Kent Myers

The Trojans will see an endless parade of mobile quarterbacks this season and Myers is no different. He owns the school's single-game rushing record for a quarterback, scampering for 191 yards against Colorado State last season. He is also an accurate passer, completing 63% of his passes over his career, which is second best in program history. Last week, Myers hurt Weber State with his arm (11/17 for 100 yards) and his legs (7 carries for 53 yards) in a 45-6 win.

Click here for more on the Aggies.

3 Keys

Breakfast at the Coliseum

The Trojans will likely not have played a game that kicked off before Noon since Pop Warner days, so they need an early wake up call. Motivation should not be a problem after last week's humbling defeat at the hands of Alabama. However, USC could use a fast start offensively to build confidence, so early execution will be key. The offensive line will have to get used to a new center with Nico Falah taking over for the injured Toa Lobendahn.

Trap Game

Having won or lost the opener, Utah State was always going to be a tricky test. The Aggies are a solid squad, which gave USC fits in a 17-14 Trojans' victory back in 2013. Last year, Utah State only lost by 10 at Utah and 14 at Washington. While the USC fan base is down after the disappointing effort against Alabama, the team cannot afford to be. Everything is still in front of them. Head coach Clay Helton has preached that no one game will define this season, and his team needs to match that mentality to avoid any hangover effect.

Game of Runs

While Helton had a multitude of problems to clean up after game one, the run game is first and foremost on his mind. He has clearly expressed that the power run mentality will be the hallmark of his offense and everything else works off that. Utah State is thinking the same thing. The Aggies rushed for 428 yards and 6 TDs in their season-opening win. Tricks and gimmicks will not win the day. The Trojans and Aggies will battle for line of scrimmage supremacy and the victor will get all the spoils.

Reserve a Tailgate for Saturday!

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Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Utah State is the earliest kickoff at the Coliseum since at least the 1950s. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone else get there early to set up your tailgate for you?

This fall, Tailgater Concierge is providing an easy and affordable tailgating option for Trojan fans.

Tailgater Concierge will provide set-up and take-down of an exclusive tailgate as well as service throughout the entire tailgating period, both at home and at select away games.

Packages are available for groups of any size and can be customized to fit your needs.

Click here to reserve a tailgate or to find more information!

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Utah State Thursday: Clay Helton Presser

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

USC wrapped up its final practice of the week Thursday, before its home opener against Utah State this Saturday at the Coliseum. While the Trojans are raring to go in front of their home faithful, head coach Clay Helton had to deliver some tough news on center Toa Lobendahn. After injuring his knee against Alabama, more testing showed a torn ACL for the junior lineman, which will rule him out for the remainder of the season.

In his place, Nico Falah will start for the Trojans. For additional information on Lobendahn's injury and more ahead of the game on Saturday, here is Helton's press conference:

Leventhal Stat of the Week: Utah State

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This year, the Trojans are teaming up with the USC Leventhal School of Accounting to bring you a Stat of the Week for every upcoming game.

This Saturday against Utah State, USC looks to improve upon its 94-19-7 (.813) record in home openers. That record does not include one win vacated due to NCAA penalty (original record: 95-19-7).

Click here for tickets!

It Takes A TV

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Are you counting down the days until you can watch USC men's basketball take the court? The Pac-12 announced today that 29 of the Trojans' 31 regular season games this season will be available on the Pac-12 Network, ESPNU or Fox Sports 1.

Click here for the full release.

All 31 games will be broadcast on USC's radio flagship station, ESPNLA 710, one of its affiliates or on the TuneIn Radio app.

USC is coming off a 21-13 season in which the team made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011. USC returns three starters from that team, and welcomes two transfers and four freshmen.

The Trojans kick off their season on Nov. 11 at the Galen Center against Montana.

Click here for tickets!

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