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Hawaii Saturday: Notes

Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor: 

Lane Kiffin ended the suspense at quarterback, for now, announcing that both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will play in the season opener at Hawaii. However, Kiffin said he and the staff did not know who would "go first" or who would see more reps - that decision will be made once the team gets to Hawaii on Tuesday.
  • "That really is about how well both of the guys did," said Lane Kiffin. "At times when you start to think maybe it was going to separate, the other guy would come and have a big day."
  • More Kiffin on the quarterbacks: "We've got two guys we feel great about. We don't feel that we have to limit our offense with either one of them in there."
  • Both quarterbacks found out this morning and took the news in stride, saying they are excited about continuing their competition.
  • Said Wittek on the decision: "I think we're both going to take that mindset. We're both ready to go, playing like we're No. 1 and our preparation will be the same either way. Both our goals are going to be the same - to help the team win."
  • Kessler on finding out: "Coach called us in at the same time and he told us we're both superstar quarterbacks and 'it's tough to pick a single one, so we're going to go with both of you.' Personally, I'm just looking for an opportunity to play in a game. We both want the job and we both want to win, but we know it's coach Kiffin's decision."
  • The head coach did say that ideally a frontrunner would emerge. "We don't want to do this all year. But we're not going to be stubborn and name a frontrunner just because we're supposed to."
  • Marqise Lee on getting to game week: "Man's it's been a long time. I've been ready since the end of the bowl game. I'm ready to start it just like everybody else. That's why I've been working so hard."
  • 19 players were out of practice today, but a bright spot was Dion Bailey returning in limited contact. Kiffin expects both Bailey and tight end Randall Telfer to play on Thursday.
  • Here's Lane Kiffin from the first practice of game week...

Photo Gallery: Official Team Photos

The 2013 season begins one week from today! 

Here is a look at this year's Trojans broken down by position and class:


WE PLAY 125

In 2013-14, USC Athletics is celebrating its 125th anniversary.  To commemorate the occasion, we have designed a dedicated web site documenting and saluting our rich tradition and heritage.

Click here to check it out!

On USCTrojans.com/125, fans can scroll through a timeline of pictures, videos and stories that detail the history of the athletic department starting with the football team in 1888 (pictured).  Plus, we will keep it constantly updated with online polls for fans to vote on the greatest all-time Trojans.

For former student-athletes, please use the website to access the reunion section, so we can honor you and your teammates this fall.

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Meet Michael Hutchings

Hutchings-Camp2-McG.jpgName: Michael Hutchings

Position: LB

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

Age: 18

High School: De La Salle (Antioch, CA)

Game: Hutchings is a cerebral playmaker slotting into the middle of the USC defense.  He is a tackling machine and proven winner who arrives in college with a great high school pedigree.

Prep Career: Hutchings starred at renowned Concord De La Salle High School, one of the nation's prep football powers.  As a senior, he had 113 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 3 interceptions.  De La Salle went 15-0 in 2012 and won its third straight CIF Open Division state championship.

Fall Camp: Hutchings has made an impression by hitting the playbook and playing beyond his years throughout Fall Camp.  At present, he is Hayes Pullard's understudy at Mike linebacker, and he started the first scrimmage when Pullard was out.  By practice No. 3, Lane Kiffin said Hutchings "already looks like a veteran."

To Quote Hutchings: "Coach Pendergast is all about playing fast.  Aggressive and fast.  That's the main part of this scheme.  I'm starting to feel that.  It's not hard to pick up at all."

Here is Hutchings with our Sarah Bergstrom....

2013 Fall Camp #18: Notes

Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

After wrapping up the second scrimmage of Fall Camp, the Trojans headed back to Howard Jones Field for practice.
  • Coach Kiffin said the team is "headed in the right direction" with only 17 players sidelined with injuries today. Notable returning players included Justin Davis and Silas Redd who participated in individual drills early in the practice.
  • The story of Fall Camp continues to be the impressive play on the defensive side of the ball. Kiffin said he feels much more comfortable with the defense than he did at this time last year, citing the experience within the front seven. Freshman Quinton Powell has stepped up lately, making big moves on defense in the scrimmage and at today's practice.
  • After watching film from yesterday the defense's dominance was even more apparent. If the game had ended at half-time the defense would have given up a total of -2 yards with five three-and-outs. Kiffin said the film revealed multiple play makers from the scrimmage including Hayes Pullard, Su'a Cravens, and George Uko. 
  • "We took ten clips and showed the team last night and it looked like they were playing in the biggest game of the year," said Coach Kiffin on the defense's performance. "We saw great effort and phenomenal plays." 
  • Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said the installation of the defense has been successful but there is still work to be done. "There was a lot of carry over from spring and I like the work they've put in," said Pendergast. "They were able to pick up the techniques and terms and things we introduced in the spring but we're still installing and it's still a work in progress."
  • Pendergast agreed with Kiffin's praise of Devon Kennard and George Uko earlier in the week, stating that Kennard has really stepped up as the leader of the entire defense. The coach included Lamar Dawson and Leonard Williams as leaders on the defensive side as well. 
  • According to the defensive coordinator, it's too early to tell how many games it will take to have everything on the defense click. "I don't know how these guys are going to react when they get in that live situation. I'm looking for guys who don't have that deer in the headlights look and we haven't been in games yet so I don't know who those guys are." 
  • Both quarterbacks had a successful day at practice and Kiffin said he is no closer to determining a starter at this point. "Ideally we would have liked to have picked it by now. Ideally we would not like to have two quarterbacks come starting day. But you never say never."
  • Here is Kiffin on the status of the quarterback competition and his assessment of the second scrimmage after watching film...

Photo Gallery: 2013 Fall Scrimmage #2

The Trojan defense continued its Fall Camp dominance as the team took to the Coliseum for the second scrimmage of the season.  

Here are John McGillen's photos from yesterday...

Minor Magic

One of the most impressive plays of the Trojan's scrimmage today came from freshman walk-on WR Aaron Minor who hauled in a touchdown pass from Max Browne around the back of Chris Hawkins. Minor's moment was reminiscent of this catch by Alabama's Tyrone Prothro who won the 2006 ESPY for Best Play.


2013 Fall Camp #1: Silas Redd

Excited to be back on the field after dealing with offseason knee issues, running back Silas Redd says he is looking forward to playing a major role in the rushing attack this upcoming season. 

2013 Fall Camp #1: Max Wittek

The quarterback battle between Max Wittek, Cody Kessler, and Max Browne resumed today as USC kicked off Fall Camp. Here is Max Wittek with his post-practice recap.


2013 Fall Camp #1: Notes

The dog days of August it wasn't as USC opened the 2013 Fall Camp under blue skies and mild temperatures, unleashing a summer's worth of energy during a physical shorts and helmets practice Saturday at Howard Jones-Brian Kennedy Field. 
  • The quarterback competition picked up where it left off in April. Sophomore Max Wittek is healthy again and shared the snaps with fellow sophomore Cody Kessler and freshman Max Browne.
  • USC's defense, continuing its growth in defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's 5-2, featured a new face in the defensive backfield as Dion Bailey begins the transition to safety after two years at linebacker. 
  • "It will just take a practice or two to really get back into the rhythm of playing safety," said a slightly slimmed down Bailey, who missed spring ball while recuperating from 2012 post-season surgery. "Things move a bit slower back there. I just need to get used to more bending and backpedaling again."
  • The Trojans' roster was certainly beefier than it was in spring ball, particularly at linebacker where the additions of true freshman Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings bolster the unit. 
  • "It's really exciting to get out here with this group of guys," first-year linebacker coach Mike Ekeler said. "There's great leadership here and they know me and I know them. They understand the scheme and they understand my expectations."
  • The tailback rotation is a bit different with the return of sophomore Tre Madden, healed from his 2012 knee injury, and the addition of freshman Ty Isaac, who joined spring enrollee freshman Justin Davis and sophomore Javorious Allen while sharing reps today. 
  • Senior Silas Redd, junior D.J. Morgan and sophomore fullback Soma Vainuku were limited today as they're coming off of knee issues, Coach Lane Kiffin said. 
  • Junior Marcus Martin looked at home as Khaled Holmes' heir apparent at center. 
  • Said Kessler on Martin's work-ethic over the summer, "It's great to see a guy like Marcus step up over the summer and work as hard or harder than anyone. He was always looking for extra reps after workouts, even hitting up some of the non-football athletes to take some snaps."
  • Coach Kiffin said he was impressed with the continued learning curve of freshman Justin Davis, "Justin Davis looks better than he did last spring. He's bigger, stronger, faster. jumping higher. I'm really excited because that's probably the deepest positions we have. Top to bottom there's a lot of talent."
Here is Lane Kiffin's first presser of Fall Camp. We apologize as Coach Kiffin is a little difficult to hear over the background construction. 


Fall Camp Is Here

The Trojans reported to Fall Camp today, and Coach O's fridge is stocked and ready for the grind to come. 

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Season Ticket Arrivals

It feels almost like Christmas in July. This week, Trojan fans across the nation have been receiving their 2013 USC football season tickets in the mail and sharing their excitment for the upcoming season with us. College football is almost upon us and we can't wait to get back to the Coliseum.

Kickoff is only 42 days away...

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(This photo was shared via Twitter from @TheDonAmir)

Notre Dame Series Extended

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USC and Notre Dame have extended their long-standing, cross-country football series through the 2023 season, maintaining the traditionally scheduled dates for the meeting of both schools. The Trojans will continue to host the Fighting Irish on Thanksgiving weekend in even-numbered years and will pay a visit to South Bend in mid-October in odd-numbered years. The origin of the historic series reaches back to 1926 and has included some of college football's greatest players and games.

Click here for the full release.

USC also announced an upcoming three-game series with BYU that will begin in 2019. The Trojans will play at BYU on Sept. 14, 2019 and then host the Cougars at the Coliseum on Thanksgiving weekends of 2021 (Nov. 27) and 2023 (Nov. 25). In addition, the Trojans have added home games against Idaho and Arkansas State in 2015, and New Mexico in 2016.

Other upcoming, non-conference games have been scheduled for the Trojans and were previously announced including matchups with Texas (Sept. 16, 2017 and Sept. 15, 2018) and Fresno State (Aug. 30, 2014 at home). USC will also play at Boston College on Sept. 13, 2014 after hosting the Eagles this season on Sept. 14.

The Real OL "U"?

Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

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Quarterback "U"? Tight End "U"? Linebacker "U"? Many schools make claims to these titles, but who are the real ones? In an article published earlier this week, SBNation threw some statistics at the claims that many universities make regarding being the best at any number of positions on the football field. The ultimate school rankings were based on the number of first round NFL draft picks at each position from each school. While USC's claim to the title of "Tailback U" stands for other reasons, this form of measurement suggests Troy could also be dubbed "Offensive Line U" and the Trojans also should be strongly considered to reign at quarterback, linebacker and defensive line.

Here's the USC-related breakdown:

QB - In the last 10 years USC has had the most first round picks (3), with Auburn, Cal, Florida, and FSU tied at 2. In the last 50 years, the Trojans are tied with Cal at five.

OL - There's really no comparison with USC at the OL position in the past 50 years. The Trojans have had 22 first round draft picks while the next closest school, Ohio State, has had 14. 

DL - USC is tied for first at five with Penn State and LSU in the last 10 years, but Miami leads the pack with 16 over the last half-century.

LB - The Trojans have been consistently strong in creating NFL LB's. In the last 10 years USC is tied for first with Miami with 3 first rounders. In the last 30 and 50 years the Trojans are tied with Ohio State and Alabama at first with eight and nine, respectively. 

To see the full position by position breakdown click here.

While these statistics showed Oklahoma and Penn State leading the way at the RB position over the past 50 years, there's a reason USC is known nationally as the real Tailback "U". The Trojans have had 14 All-Americans (nine players) at the tailback position, but more importantly, USC has a legacy in the backfield that stretches back through time unlike any other. Names like Brown, Garrett, Simpson, Davis, Bell, White, and Allen bring back memories of USC's first Heisman trophy winners, epic national championship victories, and an offensive attack that could take on anyone.

Trojans in Business: Mazio Royster

Written by Andie Hagemann, USC blog contributor

mazio-royster.jpgName: Mazio Royster

Resume: Founder and C.E.O. of 3rd and 1, Inc.

Sport at USC: Football

What is your role at 3rd and 1, Inc.?

I am a sports coordinator. I coordinate sports action sequences and other aspects of a sports production. To make my job easier, I always love to get former athletes. If you leave it up to the production people, they'll give you people that look like athletes but have no athletic background, making my job a little more difficult. It is always good to have a person that understands the sport in an authentic way. Of course being a former USC athlete, I'm always partial to working with USC athletes. I'm always looking for athletes that are skilled but maybe didn't have the opportunity to go pro in their respective sport.

How did you initially become involved as a sports coordinator?

After I finished in the pros, I came back to USC to get my degree in 1998. As I was going to class, someone in the equipment room said, "Hey, Oliver Stone is auditioning people for a football movie." There were a lot of young actors like Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Taye Diggs, Cuba Gooding Jr. working out at Howard Jones Field. I got in there and before I knew it, I was running around doing different things. The actor I ended up doubling, Bill Bellamy, was there as well. I made a good impression on Oliver Stone and the stunt coordinator Allan Graf. I had a rapport with Graf already because we were both USC guys. He invited me to try out for Any Given Sunday and I booked the role as Bill Bellamy's stunt double. Even though I played running back at USC, it was not difficult for me to play wide receiver for the role. That was my first introduction into the entertainment business and I have been in it ever since.

What have been some memorable moments while working in commercials and films?

I have always been a little leery of the acting side of the business. I was not in full on actor mode. I took some classes to have a foundation but for the most part I loved doing athletic commercials. I found the greatest experiences in working with people like Warren Moon, Al Pacino, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Ricky Watters - who I played against at Notre Dame. That really was rewarding and a cool experience. After that, I worked with Michael Vick in his first commercial with Powerade. I also worked with LeBron James in his first commercial with Powerade and another commercial with him for Nike. All of those were influential experiences for me and fueled my desire to be in the entertainment industry.

Being a former athlete, you have that inside experience. Do you give any particular advice to the athlete you're working with in order to get them ready for a scene?

Royster-USC.jpgIt is cool to meet these players and have them lean on my experiences. I always try to establish a rapport with each of them and let them know that I'm not just someone that Nike contracted. I tell them that this is my lineage. I played at USC and I played professionally. Once they know that, there is a level of trust. Ultimately, I need those guys to relax, especially because I need them to relax in an environment that they are not familiar with. Athletes are used to a hundred thousand people in the stands, bright lights and TV camera. However, when we put them in a surreal setting like a fake locker room, they shut down because it is not something they really know or are comfortable in. I usually establish the rapport with them and say something to get them in the right space.

What advice do you have for anyone that wants to venture into the entertainment industry?

For people that are trying to get into commercials, I would suggest that they do their homework and understand about the business that they are getting into. It is an incredibly hard business to break into. It is very much a clique of who you know. Once you do get in the door, in order to have staying power, you have to hone your craft and have that skill set. As an athlete, you have to use that same dedication, perseverance, intensity and hard work that you had to have to win the National Championship or the Pac-12 Championship. I love working with athletes that didn't quite make it to the NFL. Usually, those athletes have a thirst to them. They will relish the opportunity. These guys are awesome to work with and hang on to every word. They possess a hard work ethic that I definitely appreciate. In the entertainment business, it is easy to get a little jaded so I love working with the young, thirsty guys. There is no substitute for hard work.

What's next?

Every year I am involved in the Madden franchise. We just finished the 2014 version, which is the 25th anniversary of Madden, last month. That should be released in August. Immediately after the previous years' work is released, we are usually starting on the next game after that. In the meantime, I usually work with NFL Network. We just did a Target C9 campaign and that should be in stores this summer. With that campaign, I worked with young football players one of which was my nephew. Nothing is definitive but I know that work with NFL Network, Nike, Electronic Arts will be coming up this summer.

Rally Time

USC football will host a pair of rallies this Saturday at the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Pier Plaza in Hermosa Beach (3-5 p.m.) featuring players, autograph signings and ticket giveaways.  The rallies are free to attend and open to all.

The rally at the Hermosa pier will also include a performance from the Trojan Marching Band, and can be paired with attending the USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge featuring USC women's sand volleyball all day on Hermosa Beach.

Here are some of the players scheduled to attend:

Orange County - Devon Kennard, Victor Blackwell, John Martinez, Kenny Bigelow and Kevin Greene

Hermosa Beach - Max Wittek, Leonard Williams, Lamar Dawson, Justin Davis and Leon McQuay III

Meet freshman RB Justin Davis who had a breakout spring.
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Meet Darreus Rogers

drogers.jpgName: Darreus Rogers

Position: Wide Receiver

Class: Freshman

Size: 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds

Age: 19

High School: Carson HS

Game: Rogers is built a bit bigger than the recent crop of speedy, route-runners that USC has featured at receiver.  While he is not a burner, he could develop into a valuable third down and red zone target if he learns to use his frame.

Prep Career: As a senior at Carson High, Rogers had 64 receptions for 1,251 yards and 10 TDs. He was the All-Marine League Co-Offensive Player of the Year as well as being named Max Preps All-State first team in 2011. He was originally a member of the 2012 recruiting class but was unable to enroll until the end of the first semester. Rogers was able to practice with the team before the Sun Bowl last season and so gained a little bit of experience on the other 2013 early entrants.

Spring Ball: Rogers will be thrown immediately into the mix this fall now that George Farmer is out for the season.  He started spring strong, but then missed the final weeks with shoulder and hamstring injuries.

To Quote Rogers: "I came in here with a big chip on my shoulder and it's given me something to work for each and every day."

(Photo via TrojanCandy.com)

Here is Rogers with our Sarah Bergstrom...

2013 Spring Depth Chart

Lane Kiffin has released his end of spring depth chart. 

Of note:
  • Silas Redd, Justin Davis, and Tre Madden are all listed as co-starters at running back.
  • Dion Bailey is listed at safety.
  • Antwaun Woods and Cody Temple are listed as co-starters at nose tackle.
  • Chad Wheeler and Kevin Graf are listed as co-starters at right tackle.
  • No decision was made at the quarterback position.
Click the link to see the depth chart: 2013 Spring Depth Chart.pdf

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2013 Spring Practice #12: Notes

Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The offense dominated today's scrimmage as the Trojans practiced at the Coliseum for the last time before next Saturday's Spring Game. 
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  • Freshman running back Justin Davis had another impressive practice looking more like an upperclassman than an early entrant this spring as he makes his case for the starting spot in the fall. He had 17 carries for 116 yards with a four-yard touchdown. Buck Allen had 10 carries for 42 yards. 
  • Kiffin says Davis has been by far one of the highlights from this spring. "I can't imagine a guy having more of an impact in just a month of practice. He is so natural, he sees things really well running our offense. It's possible for him to be the number one tailback."
  • The passing game was the story of the day which Kiffin attributes to the success of Davis and Allen at running back. "SC's best offenses have always been when we've ran the ball really well and the play actions have come off of that which was much like today," said Kiffin. 
  • All three quarterbacks looked equally strong further complicating the picture of who will get the starting nod. Kiffin said after a day like today having three solid QBs is the kind of problem he doesn't mind having. "Today you would have taken any of them," said Kiffin. "All three guys played great. They are all much improved from the first Saturday in here."
  • Max Wittek was 14 for 17 with 200 yards and 2 TDs including a nice 16 yard toss to Nelson Agholor in the corner of the end zone. Cody Kessler was 12 for 21 with 120 yards and a long 60-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee. Max Browne was 6 for 7, throwing for 85 yards and 2 TDs, with a potential third touchdown slipping through the fingers of Randall Telfer.
  • Marqise Lee was finally back in real-time action playing a solid portion of the scrimmage. Lee had 10 receptions for 191 yards and 2 TDs. 
  • Continuing his dominant performance this spring, Nelson Agholor had 6 catches for 91 yards with 2 TDs, one apiece from Wittek and Browne. 
  • One of the bigger stories of the spring has been the performance of both Anthony Sarao and Lamar Dawson at the Will linebacker position. Their dominant play at that position has made the coaches consider moving Dion Bailey back to safety when he resumes practice. 
  • The return of many secondary players from injury and Bailey's potential move would make safety one of the deepest positions for the Trojans come fall according to Kiffin.
  • The defensive leader of the day was Josh Shaw who had 7 tackles including 2 for a loss and 2 deflections.
  • The scrimmage ran 76 plays with the same injured players still out including Demetrius Wright, Torin Harris, and DJ Morgan. The Spring Game will be next weekend at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum. The game is open to the public and tickets are $10. 
  • Here is Lane Kiffin with the full practice recap, video courtesy of Lindsey Thiry (Fox Sports)....

Photo Gallery: 2013 Spring Practice #11

The Trojans, though facing significant injuries, battled through another practice and saw the return of Marqise Lee as well as another stellar performance from Nelson Agholor. Here is a look at yesterday's practice via John McGillen....
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