Trojan of the Game: Delvon Simmons

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The Trojan Family voted Delvon Simmons the Jack-in-the-Box Trojan of the Game for littering the stat sheet against Colorado. The big defensive lineman blocked a field goal, picked up his fourth sack and forced a crucial fumble.


Golf Gains Talented Duo

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor

cheng jin.jpgThis year's National Signing Day featured two outstanding additions to the USC men's golf team in Cheng Jin and Kyle Suppa. According to head coach Chris Zambri, the signing day duo for the 2016-2017 season includes "the most accomplished incoming freshman we have ever had here at USC."

Click here for more on both of the Trojans' signees.

Cheng Jin (pictured), a native of Beijing, is currently ranked No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.  The golfer became the first amateur ever to win a PGA Tour China event when he won the Nine Dragons Open title in 2014, and recently earned himself an invitation to the 2016 Masters Tournament with a 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship title.

Joining the Trojans next year alongside Jin is Hawaii's top junior golfer, Kyle Suppa. Ranked No. 67 on the Junior Golf Scoreboard's Worldwide Ranking and 33rd on the Junior Golf Scoreboard's graduating class list, Suppa has had numerous impressive finishes as an amateur on the Hawaii circuit and has competed on the national level as well.

Linebackers Lost for Season

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USC interim head coach Clay Helton announced that freshman linebacker Cameron Smith (knee surgery) and senior linebacker Lamar Dawson (shoulder surgery) are both out for the season after suffering injuries at Colorado.

The next men up on the depth chart are Olajuwon Tucker, Michael Hutchings and Osa Masina, while Helton also suggested that Jabari Ruffin and Uchenna Nwosu could play a role inside.

Smith (pictured) is USC's leading tackler, and while he could be surpassed by Su'a Cravens, keeping him from being the first true freshman to ever lead the Trojans in tackles, he has done enough to put himself in consideration for Freshman All-America honors.

McGillen Galleries: USC vs. Colorado

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John McGillen braved the cold to provide you all the photos (pregame, first half and second half) from the Trojans comeback win in Colorado.

Survive and Advance

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor

For the second consecutive year, the USC women's soccer team saw its NCAA Tournament first round game go to penalty kicks. With last season's heart-breaking finish on their minds, the No. 11 Women of Troy wrote a new ending, defeating No. 25 Cal State Fullerton thanks to a Morgan Andrews hat trick and four straight penalty shots to advance to the second round of postseason play for the first time in five years.

Things looked ugly for the Trojans early on as Fullerton took a 2-0 lead in the 34th minute. The Women of Troy fought valiantly through the first half, and ultimately outshot the Titans 33-6 in the game, but their efforts before the break were unsuccessful, setting up one of the most exciting comeback victories in NCAA postseason play.
Andrews' heroic performance began in the 49th minute, when the junior midfielder finally drove a shot into the top right corner to cut into Fullerton's lead. Just 10 minutes later it was Andrews again, this time with help from junior defender Kayla Mills who laid the ball off to Andrews for a header to even the score. 
Despite the quick turnaround, the Trojans would not stay comfortable for long as just two minutes later a Fullerton corner kick would roll by the top of Prudhomme's fingers to give the Titans the upper hand once again.

With less than 30 minutes on the clock, Andrews and Co. were determined to keep their season alive on their home field. The junior found the back of the net a career-best third time in the 67th minute, becoming the first Trojan to record a hat trick in NCAA Tournament play and securing a 3-3 tie that would endure until the whistle. 

Play got increasingly more physical as the game wore on, with both teams trying to edge out the lead. The Trojan defense would prove impenetrable for the Titans, who could not get a single shot off following Andrews' third goal, and safely preserved the Women of Troy into overtime. 

With their season on the line in golden goal overtime, the Trojans went into a voracious attack, dominating the duration of extra time by outshooting the Titans, 9-2, but failing to net the winning score. After 20 minutes of goalless play, the Women of Troy faced penalty kicks for the second time in two years of postseason play. 

Prudhomme gave her team the best possible start, guessing the first shot correctly and making the diving save on the right side of the net. Then, Mills delivered the first kick for USC, putting the ball to the right of the keeper to give USC a 1-0 advantage. The Titans made their next three kicks to remain in the match, but the Trojans responded every time with Parker, redshirt sophomore midfielder Amanda Rooney, and junior Mandy Freeman each finding the back of the net to keep the Trojans ahead. In goal for the opening shot of the fifth round, Prudhomme cemented the Trojans' victory with another spectacular dive to end the both exhilarating and exhausting match and send USC on to the next round. 

The Women of Troy will play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against the winner of Boston College/Princeton University, next Friday, November 20. Be sure to follow @USC_WSoccer on their postseason journey. 

6-Points: USC 27, Colorado 24

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The Trojans rallied back in Boulder to overcome the Buffaloes and stay in the Pac-12 South title race.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the post-game press conference.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction.

final-CO.jpgThe Comeback Kids

For the first time in 10 years, a USC football team overturned a double-digit halftime deficit and came back to win. "At half, we said, 'We're in this together. We can either quit or we can come out and do everything that we need to win,'" said QB Cody Kessler, who threw three touchdown passes. The Trojans have found a way to win back-to-back games despite 14-point first half deficits. Interim head coach Clay Helton was extremely proud of his team after the game, calling them "a bunch of kids that refuse to fail and keep on fighting on," and saying, "This is something bigger than us right now because these are lessons that they will take for the rest of their lives."

Start Me Up

While the comebacks are impressive, the Trojans know that this pattern of success is unsustainable, especially with Oregon and UCLA up next. "The last two weeks, we've dug ourselves a big hole and it's my job as a head coach to fix it," said Helton. "We've got to bottle some of that second half stuff and move it to the first half." USC has been outscored 56-20 in the first quarter over the last five games.

Backup Plan

Colorado QB Sefo Liufau came out firing, completing 6/8 for 94 yards before suffering a leg injury caused by USC's pass rush. Seeing freshman QB Cade Apsay pressed into duty, the Trojans pounced. "As a rusher, we are going to pin our ears back and hunt this guy down because he is not used to this environment," said OLB Scott Felix. "We just want to make the moment bigger than what he can handle." Apsay was efficient (18/23) as a thrower, but lacked the running ability to bother the Trojans and could not hook up the deep ball. "It allowed us to put a little more pressure in the box and stop the run in the second half, which was good," said Helton about the quarterback change.

The Run

Down 17-3 in the second quarter, USC ran off 24 consecutive points, starting with a momentum building 41-yard field goal going into halftime by Alex Wood. The Trojans emerged from the locker room as a different team, forcing an immediate stop, followed by FB Jahleel Pinner's first career touchdown. "It felt good," said Pinner about his score. "It's been awhile since I scored a touchdown. I always wanted my first touchdown to be in the Coliseum, but definitely, with this type of game, it's what we needed and I'll take this any time." DL Delvon Simmons then setup the next two touchdowns by forcing a fumble and blocking a field goal.


Early in the season, the Trojans were barely breathing on opposing quarterbacks. Over the last five games, the pass rush has produced 19 sacks, including six tonight. "I think the biggest change is that Coach Helton is with us on pass rush now," Felix said. "He makes it a really intense part of practice. When you have your head coach down there, pushing you every single time, giving positive reinforcement, that's going to take effect after a while." The Trojans also posted 10 tackles-for-loss for the second consecutive game.

Duck Hunting

After the game, Helton spoke to the Trojans about the special story they are writing. USC is 4-0 in the second half of the season, but two mighty chapters are yet to be penned in this fairy tale. Up next, USC travels to Eugene to take on Oregon, the national runners-up last year. "It's going to be another week of tactical preparation. We are going to come ready in Oregon," Felix promised. The Trojans have not traveled to Autzen Stadium since stunning the Ducks in 2011, and the budding rivalry has been on a two-year hiatus due to the Pac-12's rotational schedule. Hostilities will be renewed next Saturday.

Here are the SnappyTV highlights:

3-Points: USC 83, USD 45

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Basketball season is officially underway, and the Trojans are off to the right start as they absolutely crushed the San Diego Toreros, 83-45, in their season opener at the Galen Center. Point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who spent the offseason recovering from shoulder surgery, led USC in scoring with 20 points, and sophomore Elijah Stewart posted his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. 

First Look

The Trojans were extremely impressive in their season opener as USC fans got their first look at this vastly improved team, including newcomers Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu. Boatwright scored the first points of the night for USC with a beautiful three-pointer, but he really didn't shine until the second half due to early foul trouble. Metu immediately established a presence in the paint, finishing with five points, five boards and five blocks. 

"I was very happy with them. They got their feet wet in Division I basketball," said head coach Andy Enfield. USC, which lost its season opener last year, won by 38 points on Friday, its largest winning margin since December 2012. "It felt differently because we're a better basketball team. We've got more talent and we're playing better as a team," said the head coach on the Trojans' dominating performance. "It is just one game, but after going through preseason and the offseason, it's nice to go out and play someone different than ourselves."

Sophomore Sensations

USC's efforts on Friday were led by two sophomores who demonstrated just how much they've grown since this time last year. McLaughlin was a play-maker on both sides of the ball acting as "floor general" as Enfield deemed him after the game. He racked up 20 points and was 8-for-12 from the field. 

"While I was out this offseason, I watched a lot of film and figured out where I can play fast and play smart so I learned how to slow my game down," said McLaughlin. "This offseason, I got in the gym a lot and it showed tonight." 

The most improved player on the court Friday was definitely athletic sophomore guard Elijah Stewart. He posted 14 points (12 in the first half) and grabbed 10 boards to finish the game with his first career double-double. Enfield noted the sophomore's dedication in the offseason to ball-handling, physicality, defense,  confidence, but more than anything, rebounding. 

"He's a big-time athlete running and jumping and we need that on a consistent basis. A lot of our bigs are boxing out so we need our guards to be big rebounders this year," said the head coach. "We made that a goal for Elijah to improve in that area and hopefully that will continue." 

No Fly Zone

The San Diego Toreros could not get anything going offensively on Friday night in large part due to a much improved Trojan defense. USC held San Diego to 25 percent shooting from the field. Led by newcomer Chimezie Metu, the Trojans had more blocks on Friday (11) than any single game last season (9). 

"He is an elite athlete. He provided outstanding protection at the rim," said Enfield on Metu. "It is always nice a few times a game, when you get beat and someone gets by you, to have someone there who can change a shot."

Here are the Snappy TV highlights from Friday's victory including freshman Bennie "Buckets" Boatwright's first collegiate three-pointer, a monstrous block from freshman Chimezie Metu and a soaring dunk from Stewart...

Friday Night Video: Colorado

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Staring adversity in the face once again, the Trojans only grew stronger to overcome Arizona and setup a Friday Night Lights showdown in Colorado.

Trojans in Business: Kimberly Popp

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Name: Kimberly Popp

Resume: eSports Performance Manager at Red Bull

Sport at USC: Diving

Caroline Deisley (CD): You were an engineering major at USC. How hard was that to manage with diving?

Kimberly Popp (KP): I'm not going to say it was easy, but luckily there are 24 hours in a day. The hardest part was trying to figure out scheduling. Diving practice is held right in the middle of the day. Our coach, Hongping, was pretty flexible and worked with my schedule. But, it did mean dreaded Friday night labs from 5:00-9:00 p.m., and that my work as a lifeguard was scheduled from 6:00-8:00 a.m. I also learned a few lessons the hard way. For example, take classes in the order they are recommended...Computer Programming 1 should definitely come before Computer Programming 2.

CD: Coming to USC, would you say that you had an idea of what you wanted to do after college?

KP: When I began school at USC, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, let alone what I wanted to study.

CD: How or why did that change?

KP: My first semester I took the Engineering 101 course because I always enjoyed math and science. The guest speakers in the class had some of the coolest jobs I had ever heard of, and I really began to believe that a degree in engineering could set me on the right path towards any career be it in engineering, science, business, etc. Building a robot was pretty fun too. 

The spring semester of my freshman year I took Dr. Girandola's Intro to Kinesiology (now Human Biology) course. Its direct application to athletics fascinated me, and I continuously wondered how I could apply the lessons learned in the lab to my endeavors in the pool. So, I picked up a minor in Kinesiology to learn more. 

The only question that remained was what type of engineering? I ended up studying Mechanical Engineering because I still didn't know what I wanted to do when I was done with school, and mechanical seemed to have the broadest range of applications in the working world. 

CD: Can you think of any experiences in college that prepared you to get where you are now?

KP: My sophomore year my dad sent me an article about this lab on campus that was studying diving. It was a biomechanics lab and seemed to blend the studies of mechanical engineering and kinesiology. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect fit. So, I promptly emailed Dr. McNitt-Gray to see if there was any way I could learn more or even help in the lab. We set up a meeting to see the lab and she put me straight to work.

Of all the projects I worked on over the next four years, the work in diving was my favorite. During that time, I spent countless hours watching videos and creating overlays of the greatest divers performing in competition. I learned valuable lessons about diving mechanics that I believe I was able to transfer to my own diving and apply to the corrections I was given at the pool every day. Being fairly new to the sport, as a transplant from gymnastics, I imagine it helped me progress more quickly.

CD: Speaking of, how did you end up where you are now working as an eSports performance manager at Red Bull?

KP: After working in Dr. McNitt-Gray's lab I knew I wanted to work in sports in some capacity. So, beginning the summer after my fourth year, I started exploring possibilities and interning in the sporting world. I tried everything I could get my hands on - Performance Specialist Intern at Athletes' Performance, Diving Logger for NBC at the Beijing Olympics, Quality Assessment Engineer for a company that manufactures snorkel equipment, etc. 

Right after I graduated from USC, I scored an internship in Sports Research for the Adidas Innovation Team. It was an application of the skills I learned in the biomechanics lab at USC. I continued to work in the sporting goods industry for a couple of years, and at a certain point decided that product was fun, but I really wanted to work directly with athletes to impact performance in any way I could. 

Around that time, Dr. McNitt-Grey emailed me about a temporary Sports Technologist position for the United States Olympic Committee. After a period of consideration, I decided to move back to California for a three-month position offering half the pay of my current role at Adidas. Luck, timing, flexibility and hard work always seem to be a winning combination and after my second term ended, I was brought on the team at the USOC to continue working my dream job.

After the London Olympics, the preeminent High Performance program in the country at that time, Red Bull High Performance, was calling my name. Red Bull sports marketing fascinated me, and I emailed the HR department about a marketing program they were running for recent college graduates. They thought I was a recruiter based on the questions I asked, looked at my LinkedIn profile and emailed back saying they thought I would be a better fit for their High Performance Team. As luck and timing would have it, they were interested in a sports technologist and I began work at Red Bull just after Felix Baumgartner's Stratos jump.

I started working in eSports Performance about a year ago. eSports is currently growing at an exponential rate with universities adding scholarships for video game players and even the United States recognizing eSport athletes for U.S. Athlete Visas. Red Bull has been working in the realm, running events for a number of years, but has become more serious about athlete development in the space. I was offered the opportunity to work on performance in this field and couldn't turn down the offer to work in the new space. My role is basically to figure out how to improve performance in eSport players. As can be imagined, much of the focus is on the brain - using techniques and metrics from neuroscience, psychology, physiology, but also applying the principles of the effects of exercise and nutrition on the brain.

CD: How have you seen your two worlds collide? Is there anything you learned as a diver at USC that you carry with you in the professional world?

KP: For any student-athlete, time management and prioritization are essential. Those skills definitely pay off in the fast-pace environment at Red Bull. Resilience is another trait that translates to the working world. Your boss may be tough, but she/he in no way compares to the expectations of your coach. Thanks Hongping!

And lastly, we have a saying on the USC Dive Team, "if you believe, you can achieve." If you put your mind to it and go for it, nearly anything is possible. 

CD: It's early, but what's next for you? Where do you see yourself going?

KP: I'm currently super excited about the adoption of high performance in college athletics. It is amazing to see universities adopt technologies used in the professional sporting world, such as the Catapult devices used by the USC football team and to see some universities adopt the ideation of an integrated approach to performance with each service provider (trainers, PTs, nutritionists, psychs, etc.) working on a holistic approach to athlete performance and wellness. In the future, I can see myself working on one of these teams aiming for a better assimilation of technologies and university research within the athletic program.

Come for Basketball, Stay for Football

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USC men's basketball opens its season tonight at Galen Center against San Diego at 5 p.m. (Pac-12 Network). With football kicking off in Colorado an hour later, the game will be shown live to its conclusion in the arena and concession stands will remain open.

This is a huge Friday for USC athletics, starting at Noon with women's basketball's home opener and then 1 p.m. when women's soccer plays No. 25 Cal State Fullerton in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

It's game day! @chimezie_metu and the 2015-16 Trojans make their debut tonight (5pm vs. San Diego @thegalencenter). #FightOn

A video posted by USC Men's Basketball (@uschoops) on