Trojans Inspired by J-Rod

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USC football officially adopted Joey Rodriguez, a pediatric cancer patient, who lives Fight On every day.  Rodriguez, 9, will be an inspiration to the team as he becomes a part of the Trojan Family by attending games and practices with his family.

The football team is the second USC program to adopt a child with a brain tumor through Friends of Jaclyn, an organization that matches pediatric cancer patients with professional, college and high school teams.  USC women's volleyball adopted Shelby Taylor in 2011.

Rodriguez met the team last week as he officially signed his "letter-of-intent" and picked up some Cardinal and Gold swag.  Watch his story below as told by our Tunnel Vision crew...

2014 NFL Week 5

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A monster week for the Trojans in the NFL...

The Best

Wes Horton, DE, Panthers - 4 tackles (3 solo) including two TFLs and a sack

wes-horton-tri.jpgSo many good choices this week for the top spot, but Wes Horton gets the nod as an unlikely leader.  Now in his second season, Horton was an undrafted free agent who is earning his spot in Carolina.  He picked up his first sack of the season in a win over Chicago and posted a career-high 4 tackles, including two for loss.  In 2013, he was the only undrafted free agent to record two sacks in one game.

The Rest

T.J. McDonald, S, Rams - Game-high 11 tackles (10 solo), 2 TFLs and a pass defended

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - 8 tackles (5 solo) including a sack

Nickell Robey, CB, Bills - 5 tackles (4 solo) including a TFL, 2 passes defended and a fumble recovery

Nick Perry, OLB, Packers - 2 sacks

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns  - 3 catches for 33 yards

Robert Woods, WR, Bills - 3 catches for 37 yards

Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers - 6 tackles (5 solo) including one for loss

Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals - 9 tackles (5 solo) including one for loss

Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings - 2 tackles including a sack

Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals - Sacked Peyton Manning

Mike Patterson, DT, Giants - 3 tackles including one for loss

Arizona Tuesday: Notes

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The Trojans answered questions about the tough ASU loss as the team tries to refocus for Arizona.
  • On the injury front, S Gerald Bowman (deep thigh bruise) and TE Randall Telfer (hip pointer) are banged up, and long snapper Zach Smith (concussion) has not been cleared yet. Head coach Steve Sarkisian is hoping to get Smith back, but he is "preparing for all scenarios" on special teams.
  • The Trojans are thankful to have another game this week with an opportunity for redemption after letting one slip away.  While the loss hurt the players, coaches and fans, they have no intention of wallowing in the misery. "Something we emphasized this week is that it's over," said QB Cody Kessler. "Unfortunately, you never want to lose a game like that. It's real tough, but complaining and whining about it isn't going to change your win-loss record."
  • While the defense has taken the brunt of the post-game criticism, the offense expressed equal responsibility. "The bottom line is we didn't score enough points," said Kessler. "That's on me and that's on the offense. Coach [Clay] Helton put in perspective. He said, 'If another team is explosive and they score 50 points, we have to score 51.' We have to give our defense a better cushion and make the plays when they appear. We left stuff on the field and should have had more points at the end of the game."
  • Statistically, the Trojans hit their marks with 200+ yards passing and rushing, but Sarkisian would like to see more big plays from his offense. "We're doing a lot of stuff really good," said Sarkisian, citing third downs, red zone efficiency and turnover margin. "The explosive plays piece is something that I would really like for us to improve upon. I would like to create more offensively, and I'd like to minimize them drastically defensively.  It is a point of emphasis."
  • Nelson Agholor was dynamic running after the catch against Arizona State, including a punt return for a touchdown, but he expects more from himself. "I need to be more explosive. I left a couple plays out there," he said.
  • Agholor explained that the captains and leaders of this team are staying positive to demonstrate to the young players how to overcome adversity, which is no secret to the veterans. RT Zach Banner is following the lead, saying, "As long as we take care of us, we're going to win. As long as we take care of what we need to take care of, we're going to win. That's with every team. Because we have the best team in the country, I don't care what anybody says. We have the best players, coaching staff is amazing, we just all have to be on the same page."
  • The offensive line has put together back-to-back solid performances, but this conference does not allow for complacency. Arizona's pass rush won the day at Oregon. "They play with a high motor," Banner said of the Wildcats. "They're good, they're hard rushers. When I say that they play with a high motor, they're all game, every play, so that's why we have to have hard practices like this and get ourselves to just play fast, play fast."
  • With a Top 10 ranking and a primetime showdown against a traditional power, the Wildcat faithful will Bear Down on Saturday night, so Sarkisian had crowd noise pumped into the practice field today. "We're just anticipating a hostile environment there in Arizona," said the head coach. "I know there students will be fired up, and I want to make sure our guys are prepared for it."
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser...

Sarkisian Q&A: Arizona Week

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From the last play to the next play, Steve Sarkisian addressed the wild loss to Coliseum and the challenge ahead in Tucson in his weekly Q&A.

Much Needed Win

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No. 19 USC women's volleyball put an end to its three-match losing streak by overcoming Washington State in five sets on Friday.  The Women of Troy split their Washington trip, losing to the Huskies, and now stand at 8-6 on the season.

Click here for the match recap.

The Trojans leaned on junior star Samantha Bricio, who had 31.5 points, and freshman outside hitter Lauryn Gillis, who contributed 15 kills, to right the ship in Pullman.  Now, they return home to play Colorado (Friday at 6 p.m.) and Utah (Saturday at 7 p.m.).

Here is the Pac-12 Networks recap of the win over the Cougars:

Photo Gallery: Walters' Dedication

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No. 4 USC men's water polo celebrated a resounding 14-5 victory over No. 5 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday and then commemorated the life of Jon Walters, who tragically died earlier this year, with a plaque that will live forever on the walls of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.

Click here for the game recap.

The Walters' family, including his brother James who is a freshman this year, were part of the post-game ceremony.  The photos of the plaque and the family are at the end of the John McGillen photo gallery below.

Homecoming Kicks at 3 p.m.

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USC's Homecoming game on October 18 against Colorado in the Coliseum will kick off at 3 p.m. PT. It will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks.

Click here for tickets.

The Trojans are 8-0 all-time against the Buffaloes, including a record-setting day for Matt Barkley (pictured) and Robert Woods in 2012.

Barkley-CU-SH.jpg(Photo by Jon SooHoo)

Photo Gallery: Soccer's Home Split

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No. 18 USC women's soccer split its weekend home matches with the mountain schools dropping Friday's contest to Colorado 1-0 before bouncing back Sunday with a 2-0 win over Utah.  The Women of Troy controlled the action against the Buffaloes, but could not push one over the line until Sunday when Alex Quincey slammed in a brace to beat the Utes.

Click here for the recap.

The Trojans are a promising 8-2-2 on the season and 2-1 in Pac-12 play.  The competition ramps up considerably this week with No. 12 California (Friday at Noon) and No. 3 Stanford (Sunday at 3 p.m.) coming to McAlister Field.

Here are the John McGillen photos from USC vs. Colorado:

McGillen Galleries: USC vs. ASU

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John McGillen was in the Coliseum to capture a dramatic night as the Trojans were gutted at the buzzer by an Arizona State Hail Mary.

6-Points: ASU 38, USC 34

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The Trojans are stunned by a game-winning Hail Mary on the game's final play.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the post-game press conference.


FINAL-asu-score2.jpgA week after completing the first Hail Mary in modern USC history, the Trojans were burned by the same play in the final seconds.  Senior TE Randall Telfer described a "stunned, sick feeling" after seeing ASU WR Jaelen Strong snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat for the visiting Sun Devils.  The Trojans were conflicted defensively having to stop a potential sideline route and the end zone.  "We got a little confused. Some guys were on different pages," said safety Gerald Bowman. "We have to finish. That's the number one thing."

Two Games

For 57 minutes, the Trojans did enough to be in a winning position, but back-to-back defensive mishaps will be the lasting memory from a lost night at the Coliseum.  "You've got to play every minute and play until the last second, and unfortunately, Arizona State came up with a big play and I commend them for that," said Telfer. The Sun Devils actually came up with two big plays.  On the previous possession, Cameron Smith caught a 73-yard touchdown pass, which took only 14 seconds and kept hope alive for ASU.  "In the end, it's the old adage, that's why you play 60 minutes," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.

The First 57 on D

As for the first 57 minutes, the USC defense held the Pac-12's top rushing attack to 31 yards for the game. "During the week, we felt like we were challenged," said Bowman. "We wanted to make sure that the guys up front played physical, make sure they stopped the run game, and for the most part, that's what they did."  The Trojans never found a real match for Strong, who had 10 catches for 202 yards and 3 TDs.

The First 57 on O

The offense was in balance again with 220 yards rushing and 273 yards passing.  Buck Allen has topped 100 all-purpose yards in every game this season, and he was tremendous again tonight with 143 yards rushing and 86 yards receiving.  Cody Kessler showed a lot of guts using his legs, while Justin Davis (14 carries for 67 yards) and Nelson Agholor (9 catches for 85 yards plus a punt return TD) were two more positives. On the negative side, the Trojans settled for two field goals in four red zone trips.  "In our mind, field goals won't cut it, and it was kind of apparent in this game," said Telfer.

Now What

The Trojans are down but not out. "We'll dwell on it for a little while, but after that, we have to get back to preparing for Arizona," said Telfer.  USC can get back in the Pac-12 South driver's seat with a win against undefeated Arizona in Tucson next Saturday.  "We will bounce back," said Sarkisian.  "We will fight back.  And, we will play a tremendous game next Saturday night."

Wild Year

Every Pac-12 team save for Arizona has a conference loss and the season is still in the early stages.  The Pac-12 is not alone in the carnage as 11 of the Top 25 lost this week.  While the situation seemed devastating walking off the Coliseum field tonight, there is still a lot of football to be played.  "It leaves us with one loss in conference play. It leaves us stinging with a sick feeling in our gut. It leaves us with a chance to show who we are," Sarkisian summed it up. 

Here are the USC highlights from tonight...