Showdown Weekend for Soccer

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USC women's soccer will put its growing reputation on the line this weekend against No. 22 California (Friday at Noon) and No. 3 Stanford (Sunday at 3 p.m.) at McAlister Field.  The Women of Troy are in a great position at 8-2-2 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play, and now they have a chance to boost their tournament resume with a pair of quality wins.

Here is head coach Keidane McAlpine with the preview:

Trojans Live - Arizona Week

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USC head coach Steve Sarkisian took on all the questions last night on Trojans Live at The Lab.  From the Hail Mary to the punting situation and the challenge ahead in Tucson, here is Sarkisian on the The Beast 980...

Click here for Su'a Cravens on Trojans Live.

Click here for Andy Enfield on Trojans Live.

Arizona Wednesday: Notes

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The Trojan defense was under the microscope today.
  • On the injury front, LB Lamar Dawson and RB Tre Madden are both likely redshirt candidates, according to head coach Steve Sarkisian. Madden's turf toe continues to flare up with pain when he tests it out.
  • If today's practice is any indication, the Trojans are not burying their heads in the sand after a brutal loss. "I loved what these guys brought today," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "I just think it is a good sign moving forward through the week."
  • While many fans blame defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox for the loss, Sarkisian provided a bit more perspective. "We played really good defense against a very good offense for three and a half quarters," said Sarkisian, who pointed to the last three drives as not indicative of the game as a whole. "Justin is a great football coach and we are lucky to have him."
  • For his part, Wilcox shouldered the blame, especially for the late defensive switch on the Hail Mary. "You've got to defend two things: the quick field goal and the jump ball." Wilcox said. "One defensive scheme is better against one thing and one is better against the other and I was obviously wrong in what my judgment was."
  • Hayes Pullard was not responsible for knocking the ball away, but he was in position to do so, and he regrets not challenging for the ball. He never saw Jaelen Strong at all until watching the film. "They said it wasn't my play to make, but I was there, I still take responsibility," Pullard said. "I should've just went up and knocked the ball down."
  • On the positive side, the Trojans shut down Arizona State's rushing attack, which was the best in the Pac-12.  However, Wilcox wants to see more consistency and a full 60 minutes of concentration and execution. "I feel like we - and I don't like using this word, but I can't think of a better one - we are schizophrenic," he said. "We play great pass defense one week and then we were not physical, we were soft in the run game against Oregon State. Then we played very physical in the run game, but the explosive passes were the difference in the game."
  • As for the mental state of the defense, the Trojans are done sulking. "You feel like you've been kicked in the face and you've got to get up and keep swinging," said Wilcox. "You get 24 hours to feel as bad as you can possibly feel and then you've got to get up and go to work. That's the only way you can operate in college football and in life."
  • Kevon Seymour is third in the Pac-12 with 8 passes defended, but he made a couple crucial errors late in the loss to ASU. "I believe in Kevon, I'm excited about Kevon," said Wilcox. "I think he's going to learn and get better and I'm going to put him right back out there."
  • Arizona has two talented 6-foot-3 receivers in Cayleb Jones and Austin Hill, so Seymour and company will be under the gun again. "They are going to get challenged. They have a plethora of receivers at Arizona," said Sarkisian. "We need to have the confidence that we can make the play."
  • The Wildcats also have a mobile quarterback, but Seymour expects the Trojans to respond better than they did against Boston College QB Tyler Murphy. "We learned early. We learned real early. We're ready for this quarterback," Seymour said.
  • Hayes Pullard called this week's match-up a "championship," and in this PAC-12 conference you have to treat every game like it's a championship, said the captain.
  • Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian's press conference...

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)