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Postseason Time for Golf

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No. 1 USC women's golf and No. 10 USC men's golf wrapped up the regular season this past weekend, and now begin the postseason march to hardware.

The Women of Troy, fresh off a fourth place finish at the PING/ASU Invitational, will take a loaded squad to the Pac-12 Championships in Boulder (April 20-22). The reigning national runners-up will be title contenders not only for the conference crown but at the NCAA Championships in Bradenton, Fla. (May 22-27).

The men's team completed one of its best regular seasons in recent memory by placing seventh at the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz. The Trojans will compete for the conference up on the Palouse in Pullman (April 27-29) before the NCAA Championships also in Bradenton, Fla. (May 29 to June 3).
 
Head coach Chris Zambri is pushing USC men's golf to win the program's first national title.
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Rowing Only Knows How to Beat Bruins

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For the 14th time in as many duals, No. 10 USC women's rowing defeated crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday at Ballona Creek. The head-to-head match-up was clinched in the main event by USC's varsity eight, which bested the Bruins by three seconds.

Click here for the UCLA recap.

The Women of Troy have not dropped a competition this season, taking their perfect record across country to race No. 8 Princeton on May 3. Here are freshman coxswain Alexandra Fowler (V4+), and juniors Lindsay Gibson (V8+) and Darian DiCianno (V8+) breaking down the win over UCLA:


Photo Gallery: 2015 Spring Game

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USC football wrapped up spring practice with the annual game at the Coliseum in front of 25,000 fans.

Here are the John McGillen photos:


Spring Game 6-Points: Cardinal 37, White 23

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC wrapped up spring practice on Saturday with the 2015 Spring Game at the Coliseum where the offense put on a show for the coaches, former USC legends and the Trojan Faithful.  



Trojan Family

Nearly 25,000 people showed up to the Coliseum today to get their first look at the 2015 USC football team. The sideline was scattered with former USC all-stars like Sam Cunningham,  Willie McGinest, Anthony Munoz, Tony Boselli, Sedrick Ellis and the potential number one draft pick Leonard Williams. Fans received a special Spring Game poster along with a few other giveaways, while a few lucky fans also got to shag field goal attempts in the end zone in the third quarter. One fan in particular was selected to run a play in the second half and he ended up scoring the only rushing touchdown of the game. 

Quick Hits

Saturday's Spring Game saw a lot of offensive action, as the coaching staff chose to let the quarterbacks test their arm strength and air it out with the wide receivers. Starting QB Cody Kessler finished 8/10 for 126 yards and a touchdown, but the Spring Game was really all about redshirt sophomore QB Max Browne who finished 24/37 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. "Max did what he's been doing all spring for us which is coming in and making plays," praised Sarkisian. "This was Max Browne's game. We had to give him that game experience." The offense, led by Kessler and Browne, won the 82-play game with two touchdown receptions for junior Christian Tober. The defense racked up some stats as well, with five defenders finishing with a game-best five tackles, including Cravens who also had two tackles for a loss. 

Freak Show Lives On

USC is known for breeding talented wide receivers, but after losing Nelson Agholor - who caught 104 passes for USC last season - and speedy veteran George Farmer, the Trojans were looking to see which young wide receivers would rise to the challenge this year. "There were a lot of question marks coming in as to who were going to be all of those guys," Sarkisian admitted. "To me, the receiving corps is a real positive coming out of spring ball that I didn't expect." There was a lot of open competition for spots in the wide receiving corps and players like sophomore JuJu Smith and redshirt sophomore Steven Mitchell are performing even better than expected. Smith finished the day with nine catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell racked up 7 catches for 90 yards, and junior college transfer Isaac Whitney caught five passes for 45 yards in his first ever "game" at the Coliseum. 

Year Two

One noticeable difference throughout the spring this year is the maturity of the overall team. Last year, the entire team was in rebuilding mode as everyone including the veterans were adjusting to Sarkisian's new system. Now with one year under their belt, the team is able to focus on expanding upon this system and improving upon everything they've learned under Sarkisian in his first year. "The guys are really comfortable. They're comfortable in not just the system, but the nuances within the system," explained the second-year head coach. "We can make little changes and they can go out there and execute it. I think a year ago it was just the bare bones, the basics of it, but now we've got a lot to what we're doing and we can make it hard for defenses."

MVPs of Spring

Over the course of the last 15 practices, there are two players who have stood out over and over again to coaches and fans alike. Junior linebacker Su'a Cravens has been the talk of the town as he continues to surpass already incredibly high expectations after his sophomore campaign in 2014. "Su'a is ridiculously talented physically. Our challenge to him was to play with ultimate effort every snap and that has shown," said Sarkisian.  "His ability to play, to run to the football whether it's rushing the quarterback or covering in the back end...his effort has just been contagious. He's putting himself in more positions to make those plays to utilize his athleticism to be the playmaker that we think he can be." The other most valuable player of this spring has to be sophomore Adoree' Jackson who uses his freakish athletic ability to be a playmaker on all three sides of the ball while also competing as a track & field athlete. "I'm selfish because I always want Adoree' to play offense," joked Kessler. "He's one of those guys that you only see come through a program every once in a while. He's that special."

Most Improved Awards

This spring certain players also surprised the coaching staff, like wide receiver Steven Mitchell who has bulked up in the offseason. In fact, the redshirt sophomore started spring practices weighing 170 pounds and now weighs 190. His focus in the weight room has allowed him to transform into a more physical receiver which has shown on the field."I was just happy to get on the field last year. This year I'm trying to be more of a team player and contribute as much as I can." said Mitchell. "My confidence is very high right now but I like to always stay humble. I like to come out here and play the game I know how to play." On the defensive side of the ball, Kevon Seymour is another player who has made enormous strides this spring. Su'a Cravens said he would put his spring MVP vote toward Seymour, citing his ability to make plays in every single drill at every single practice.

Extra Point

Alex Wood and Matt Boermeester continue to battle for the placekicker position with both kickers nailing field goals of 50 yards or more in Saturday's Spring Game. Wood kicked field goals on Saturday from 51 yards out and 35 yards out while Boermeester kicked ones from the 52-yard line and the 39. Sarkisian has yet to decide who will be the starting kicker, but will have a better idea come Fall Camp.

Here are the highlights from Saturday's Spring Game...

Spring Game Preview

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The 2015 USC Spring Game will pit the offense (cardinal) against the defense (white), so the coaches have come up with a scoring system to keep it competitive. Here is an explanation, so you can follow along in stadium or watching on Pac-12 Networks:

Scoring System Offense:
Offense Field Goal = 3 points
Offense Touchdown= 6 points
PAT / Go for 2
Two first downs backed up =1 point

Scoring System Defense:
3 & Out or 4th down stop = 3 points
Defensive stop = 1 points
Turnover = 5 points
Touchdown = 7 points

Special Teams:
-No kickoffs (Automatic touchbacks)
-No punts (Ball will be placed 40 yards from previous spot)

Click here for tickets, giveaways and information about the Spring Game!

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2015 USC Depth Chart

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian released the first 2015 depth chart in advance of USC's Spring Game on Saturday.


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Photo Gallery: Sand Volley Senior Day

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No. 1 USC sand volleyball was tested by Loyola Marymount on Thursday, but the Women of Troy were able to grind it out despite not playing their best and remain undefeated (17-0) on the season. The Trojans followed up the 4-1 win over LMU with an easier 5-0 sweep of San Francisco.

Click here for the recaps.

The final home match of the season provided the program a chance to honor its senior class: Eve Ettinger, Meg Norton, Bria Russ, Alexa Stonish and Emily Young. Ettinger and Norton have paired together this season to great effect at No. 3, going 14-1 in dual match play. Russ has worked with a couple of different partners, but the results are always the same, as she is 15-0 in dual match competition this season.

Here are John McGillen's photos from Senior Day:


Ultimate USC Sports Day

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Spring Game Saturday is Christmas in April for a USC sports fan. The schedule of events starts in the morning for Swim With Mike and does not stop until the final out of USC vs. UCLA at Dedeaux Field.

Here is your itinerary:

10:30 a.m. - Swim With Mike
The annual swim-a-thon to raise money for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund hits high gear in the late morning with relay races featuring the football team, Song Girls and the Trojan Marching Band. The Belly Flop Competition will make a splash around 11:30 a.m.
Noon - No. 1 USC women's tennis vs. Colorado
The Women of Troy actually have two dual matches this weekend. First, they will host Utah (today at 1:30) and then the Buffaloes at Marks Stadium on Saturday. The Trojans are 18-2 overall, riding an eight-match winning streak. Admission is FREE for all fans.
3 p.m. - Football Spring Game
The Spring Game at the Coliseum kicks off at 3 p.m., and fans will want to get in the gates early to collect a set of 12 USC football trading cards (first 5,000 fans). All fans will receive an exclusive spring poster featuring the chrome helmet, and they can get it signed after the game by the players and coaches. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the gate.
4 p.m. - No. 3 USC women's water polo vs. No. 9 San Jose State
This is the final home match of the season for the Women of Troy, which provides the program a chance to honor its senior class led by all-time leading scorer Monica Vavic. Admission is FREE for all fans.
7:30 p.m. - No. 6 USC baseball vs. No. 7 UCLA
The middle game of this three-game series will be key in determining which team ascends to the top of the Pac-12 standings. The Trojans and Bruins also play today at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Individual tickets are only $7.
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Chevron STEM Spotlight: Alexandra Collatz

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

Not only does USC boast world-class athletes, but world-class student-athletes as well. Each month we will profile one of these outstanding Trojans who has chosen to pursue coursework in either the science, technology, engineering or math field (STEM).

Name: Alexandra Collatz stem-collatz-track.jpg
Sport: Track and Field
Year: Senior
Major:
Cognitive Science

Sarah Bergstrom (SB): Why did you come to USC? It's probably strange to think about now, four years later. 

Alexandra Collatz (AC):
I came to USC because it's close to home, I could see my family still and the track program is awesome. Coach Dan is a legend.

SB:
Explain to me what your major is, cognitive science? What exactly do you study?

AC:
It's basically psychology with a little bit more flexibility of classes. So I've been able to take linguistics classes and philosophy in addition to my psychology courses.

SB: Did you know you wanted to do that when you were a freshman?

AC:
I took a psychology class in high school and really liked it and knew that maybe that would be something I wanted to do. But I was undecided when I came into USC because I needed some time to figure it out.

SB: Have you liked what you've studied?

AC: I've loved my classes! I'm not sure I'm going to actually go into anything related to it as far as a career, but the classes have been great and it's been totally worth it. I really enjoyed my linguistics class and I think I'm going to end up in a career that's speech-related, so in that sense, my major helped me figure out what I wanted to do.

SB: Along that track, do you have any idea of what you hope to do down the road?

AC: The problem is I have lots of ideas (laughs) so choosing one is the problem. I know I want to work with kids with disabilities, but that's pretty broad. I think I want work in either speech pathology or with deaf children or in occupational therapy or even just teaching special ed, something along those lines.

SB: Where did that specific desire come from? Have you been involved with anything while you've been at USC working with kids and disabilities?

AC: Actually there was a Special Olympics event we went to with our team for community service last year. I loved it. It was over by the Coliseum and we hosted a race or something. It was so inspiring to get to work with them and so much fun. That's really what led me to want to work with kids with disabilities. USC has a great Occupational Therapy program so I started thinking about that and my linguistics class made me start thinking about speech therapy. So it's a lot but I just want to find some combination of everything.

SB: With everything you have going on academically, you are also a two-time All-American and a fantastic discus athlete. Has it been hard to balance classes and extracurricular activities with track?

AC: It can be hard. But I like that our season is in the spring and all the important periods, like NCAAs and all of that, happen when school is out. That means I can really focus on school while I'm in school and really focus on track during track season.

SB: You are less than two feet away from the USC discus record, does that keep you up at night? Is breaking the record one of your biggest goals for this season?

AC: It's definitely something I want to get but I try not to be so numbers oriented because that makes it not as fun when that's all you're worried about. Of course I want to get the record but my priority is making sure every meet is fun and enjoying the competition and just getting better. It's no fun if you're too focused on that stuff all the time.

SB: What is your outlook going into your senior season of track?

AC: I like the steady progression I've made since I've been here. So if I have another season that's better than the last then I'll be happy. Obviously I'd like to continue succeeding at all the big meets too but as long as I'm progressing I have nothing to be worried about.

2015 Spring Practice #14: Notes

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The final spring practice is in the books with only Saturday's Spring Game left on the schedule.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian was much more pleased with today's effort and enthusiasm, calling it "totally opposite" from Tuesday. "I thought the guys were flying around on both sides of the ball," said Sarkisian. "They are obviously in great spirits and they're really looking forward to Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum."
  • The defense dominated most of the afternoon, showing "the pride factor" after giving up some deep balls on Tuesday. "They stepped up today," said Sarkisian, who once again pointed out the performance of LB Su'a Cravens.
  • Sarkisian on Cravens from last night's Trojans Live: "If Su'a Cravens isn't a First Team All-American and Pac-12 Player of the Year on defense, I'd be shocked. He's just playing phenomenal football."
  • Cravens picked up another sack today on an inside move working in combination with DE Delvon Simmons. He also read a screen play and made a one-handed interception for a pick-six.
  • The kickers were tested today in pressure situations, and they struggled a little bit from distance. The battle continues between Alex Wood and Matt Boermeester, and Sarkisian still has "a long way to go" before making a decision.
  • Wood served as Andre Heidari's super-sub the last two years, so he has the advantage of experience over Boermeester at the major college level. Wood called the job "50/50" in regards to balancing the mental and physical skills needed to succeed at this level. "A lot of high school kickers come into college and they just can't do it," said Wood. "Some kickers have gone out there and lost games just because of the pressure. You know they make that in practice. It's a lot of mental. You just have to focus on your job and not what people are saying or yelling or spitting or whatever."
  • Wood has been unfairly tagged as a short and accurate specialist. He made a 51-yard field goal off the ground in high school, and he is out to prove this season that he has the leg to boom it through from distance.
  • Staying on special teams, Sarkisian listed Adoree' Jackson and Steven Mitchell as the obvious candidates to return punts and kicks. But, talented freshmen like like Ronald Jones II and Isaiah Langley could get in the mix during Fall Camp.
  • Jackson is expected to play both offense and defense at some point on Saturday.
  • Mark Sanchez showed up at practice today, and he was bouncing around the practice field with a beaming smile. "He and Cody actually have a really good rapport," said Sarkisian, who joked that the quarterbacks spent most of the time making fun of him.
  • Sarkisian explained that the Spring Game will look more like a practice, but there will be live scrimmage portions with a scoring system to match the offense against the defense.
  • Here is Sarkisian after practice today: