Infographic: Stanford 41, USC 31


Friday Night Video: Stanford

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This Saturday, it's about us. It's about who we are and why we play.

Complete 12, 24/7

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor

This week we've highlighted the ways our athletes enjoy a complete collegiate experience as part of the Pac-12's Complete 12 Student Awareness Week. While the conference-wide celebration may only last a week, prioritizing a well-rounded experience lasts all year at USC.

Prior to the start of the 2015-2016 school year, Athletic Director Pat Haden offered a five-year review of Trojan Athletics, clearly illustrating the ideals celebrated this week that have and will continue to be core to the USC athletic department.

"For the short time they are here, USC and USC Athletics are the stewards of these young men and women of Troy, responsible for not only harnessing their athletic talent, but inspiring them to explore all that curiosity a college experience provides," said Haden. "I echo President Nikias' words in believing that the 'true value of a USC education must always be rooted in our ability to provide the foundation for lifelong learning, and to create complete human beings.'"

As a USC sports information intern and a featured Complete 12 student-athlete, Robby Kolanz knows firsthand the richness of the Trojan athletic experience. "It's not just words," said Kolanz of Haden's mission. "He really means it. I think it goes back to when he went here - he got everything out of his experience. He was involved in a lot of stuff, so he wants to make sure that all the student-athletes here on campus make the most of their experience." 

While scholarship offers from east coast schools and the allure of the Ivy League tempted Kolanz as a high school senior, he enters his final year at USC wholly satisfied with his experience here. "I just think that the school really encompasses all three of the general aspects of college, as in academics, athletics and social life," said Kolanz. "It's really fulfilled all of my expectations for all three of those and I think I just didn't feel the fit at any other place."

With support from coaches and staff, Kolanz is able to be an active member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, the USC Students Against Sexual Assault club, the Trojan Athletic Senate, Annenberg TV News, and he volunteers with the campus Catholic Center in addition to playing as a wide receiver for the football team. He also was one of the 2014 Chick Hearn Award recipients and was presented the award at halftime of a Lakers game last fall. 

"It all just goes back to the priorities we're given from the day we step on the field or step on this campus from our coaches and Pat [Haden]: that football isn't everything, our athletics aren't everything. We are stressed to get involved in as many things as we possibly can," Kolanz said. "I think it really makes for a cool dynamic on campus, where there really isn't a divide between the student-athletes and the students."

Kolanz shared the Complete 12 spotlight this week with teammates QB Cody Kessler, ILB Cameron Smith, S Leon McQuay III, PK Alex Wood, OT Chuma Edoga, and OLB Scott Felix. The way Kolanz sees it, investing time in passions outside of football is more than just a personal interest for his teammates; it's an expectation.

"As USC football players, we have a lot of responsibility at the school to hold up a good name and be a good representation for all the fans and all the people that have put their time into this program. With that comes trying to make the biggest impact we can on this campus, whether that be on the field or off the field," said Kolanz. "We have so much ability and opportunity at our fingertips, and I think that everybody really does make it a priority to get involved in other things."

This notion of responsibility is made clear the moment a player is recruited to join the Trojan Family. Under the leadership of head coach Steve Sarkisian, the football coaching staff has not allowed Haden's vision of a well-rounded student-athlete to get lost in the many hours of practices, meetings, and workouts.

"At the end of the day, they're trying to make us the best men, not just the best football players. That's their priority, and they all make sure we know that," Kolanz said. "They're not here just to coach us and teach us X's and O's, they're here to make us better men so that we can go on in the world and make an impact on people. From the top with Pat [Haden], all the way to the bottom, I think it's absolutely an emphasis and it's something really fun to be a part of."


2015 Game 3: USC vs. Stanford

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Stanford Cardinal (1-1, 0-0) at No. 6 USC Trojans (2-0, 0-0)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 5 p.m. PT on ABC and WatchESPN

Cardinal to Watch: Sophomore RB Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey.jpgThe Trojans will certainly keep several pairs of eyes on No. 5 who leads Stanford in rushing, receiving, punt returns and kick returns. Son of former NFL WR Ed McCaffrey, the sophomore typically comes out of the backfield, but he is a threat to impact the game from several different spots. The Cardinal's offense struggled in the season opening loss to Northwestern, but Stanford is not short on weapons.

Click here for more on the Cardinal.

3 Keys

Red Alert

Red zone efficiency has been the key stat in USC's back-to-back wins over Stanford. In the 2013 and 2014 classics, the Trojans scored on 100 percent of their red zone possessions, while the Cardinal converted just half the time. It's no coincidence either. USC has scored a touchdown on 78 percent of its red zone drives since the start of last season, best in the FBS. Stanford, on the other hand, has the worst red-zone touchdown percentage (52 percent) among Pac-12 schools during that time. (Numbers by ESPN Stats & Info)

Old Hands

Both USC and Stanford have the luxury of veteran quarterbacks leading their offenses. Fifth year seniors Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan have been there and done that, but the test will still be difficult. Stanford has made Kessler grind out both victories, throwing just one TD pass in his career against the Cardinal. Meanwhile, Hogan has never thrown a TD pass against the Trojans, and he was victimized for two interceptions in the 2013 game at the Coliseum. The steady hand that catches fire on Saturday will likely lead the winning team.

"It's About Us"

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian has been asked all week about combating Stanford's physical style, but he does not want his players reacting to the Cardinal's game plan. On the contrary, the Trojans want to put Stanford on the defensive by using their fast tempo attack, spreading the field with athletes and rotating fresh bodies constantly. In boxing, they say styles make fights. This clash of styles should make for a classic battle in the Coliseum.


Meet Ronald Jones II

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Name: Ronald Jones II

Position: RB

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot, 185 pounds

Age: 18

High School: McKinney North High (McKinney, TX)

Game: The "Texas Tesla", as some USC beat reporters coined the freshman running back, is a physical back who also demonstrates tremendous bursts and balance through the hole when he eyes an opening, showing the speed to take it the distance. The freshman mentioned that though he has the toughness to push the ball through the middle, his favorite route is up the sideline where he can use his elusiveness to breakaway from the smaller defensive backs. 

Prep Career: Jones rushed for 2,009 yards with 28 touchdowns during his senior season at McKinney North High in Texas to finish his high school career with nearly 5,000 yards on the ground and a whopping 76 scores in just three years. The running back's senior season earned him a spot on the 2014 Prep Star All-American Dream Team and the USA Today All-Texas Team. 

Fall Camp: Despite a craving for Texas barbecue and juicy Whataburgers, Jones impressed everyone throughout training camp including himself as he adjusted to the faster pace of college ball and tried to grasp head coach Steve Sarkisian's offense. The freshman caught on quickly, earning himself a spot in the tailback rotation that is among the deepest position groups for the Trojans. 

Sark on Jones: "He can play in tight quarters, explode through the hole and then open up his stride almost like a 200m runner. He's a unique guy, and we're still just figuring him out."

Here is Jones after his first day of media availability...

All Eyes on JuJu

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USC sophomore WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has comfortably ascended into the No. 1 receiver role thanks to his tireless work ethic and ebullient personality. Both of his signature traits have drawn national media attention.

In the video below, ESPN profiled the growth of the QB-WR relationship as Smith-Schuster pestered Cody Kessler all offseason to work with him on a daily basis.

And as for Smith-Schuster's unique taste in fashion accessories, hairstyles and transportation, Sports Illustrated made it the subject of a feature that perfectly captures the essence of JuJu.

1A SC USC FEATURE REV 2 from Sandy Nunez on Vimeo.

Oklahoma O.K.

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No. 3 USC women's volleyball will put its 29-set winning streak on the line in Oklahoma this week against the Sooners (tonight at 6 p.m. PT) and Maryland (Friday at 2:30 p.m. PT).

Click here for the preview.

The Women of Troy are playing their most dominant volleyball since the national championship season of 2002 when they ran off 30 consecutive sets. The school record is 38 consecutive sets won by the 2000 team.

Here is Mick Haley on his undefeated Trojans:

Stanford Thursday: Notes

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USC senior LB Lamar Dawson has been cleared to make his season debut on Saturday, but CB Kevon Seymour is a game-time decision.

Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian's media session:

Generations: JuJu Smith-Schuster & Robert Woods

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Robert Woods started a recent run of record-setting USC wide receivers, including three All-Americans in the last four years. JuJu Smith-Schuster looks like he could be the next in line, ranking third in receiving yards in the nation after two weeks.

The two playmakers broke down the intricacies of their craft in a new episode of Generations.

Youth Triumphant

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor

It's the start of a new era for USC men's water polo. Gone are all-time leading scorers Nikola Vavic and Kostas Genidounias, and the national championship streak that collectively defined the program in recent history. 

Promising young talents are in to fill their place like goalie McQuin Baron (pictured), who after just one year with the Trojans set the record for most single-season saves with 288. It's a powerful sophomore corps that makes up the bulk of USC's roster this season and aims to win the program's eighth NCAA championship in 10 years. 

While only three players have more than a year of experience with the program, Baron is quick to point out that for the Trojans, age really is just a number. 

"Even though we are very young, we're also very experienced in our youth," said Baron. "I'm on the USA team, Lachlan Edwards is on the Australian national team, Bryce Hoerman's been on the national team, Nick Silvers and Nick Lavayen are freshman and they've played through the national team pipeline."

Using the memory of last year's NCAA title match loss to crosstown foe UCLA to fuel their fire this season seems like a given, but Baron insists that for the team, it's less about playing with a chip on their shoulder as it is a pure drive to succeed. 

"We want to be back on top, we want to be champions again," he said. "We're not looking at last year as our motivation. Our motivation is just because we want to win as a team, to win NCAAs."

That isn't to say they've put the loss in their rearview mirror entirely, though.

"Obviously you think about it; I think about it daily," said Baron. "The background on my phone is the UCLA team winning because it's a daily reminder to me. Let's say I'm not feeling practice or something, I look at my phone and it's like, 'Come on, look what happened last year.'"

With six dominant wins already under their belt, the No. 2 ranked Trojans will face their first real test of the season this weekend at the Kap7 NorCal Invitational in Palo Alto. The tournament features No. 1 UCLA, No. 3 Cal and No. 4 Stanford.