ABC Spring football practice begins March 11. This will be the first chance for the new coaching staff to work on the field with the team. Practices will be Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm and Saturdays at 11:00 am. Dates are March 11, 13, 15, 25, 27, and 29 (interrupted by Spring Break) and April 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 19. On campus practices will be on Howard Jones Field, and fans are invited to view them from the decks at Dedeaux Field (except on March 27). The annual Trojan Huddle is April 19 at the Coliseum (tickets are $10). March 29 will also take place at the Coliseum. The annual Swim With Mike event is scheduled for April 5. Spring Media Release (pdf) | Updated Depth Chart
ABC 5 Enrolled Mid-year DT Claude Pelon 6-5 295 Mesa (AZ) Community College (Orlando, FL) | Rivals JUCO #20 **** | Video OL Toa Lobendahn 6-3 290 La Habra High School (La Habra, CA) | Rivals #212 **** | Video QB Jalen Greene 6-3 195 Junipero Serra High School (Gardena, CA) | Rivals *** | Video OL Jordan Austin 6-5 275 Claremont Hish School (Claremont, CA) | Rivals *** | Video DE/LB Don Hill 6-4 235 Timberline High School (Boise, ID) | Rivals *** | Video 14 Signed Letters-of-Intent ATH Adoree’ Jackson 5-11 185 Junipero Serra High School (Lawndale, CA) | Rivals #6 ***** | Video WR/S John “JuJu” Smith 6-1 210 Long Beach Poly High School (Signal Hill, CA) | Rivals #24 ***** | Video OL Damien Mama 6-5 370 St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, CA) | Rivals #39 **** | Video OL Viane Talamaivao 6-3 330 Centennial High School (Moreno Valley, CA) | Rivals #90 **** | Video WR/CB Rahshead Johnson 5-11 175 Cabrillo High School (Compton, CA) | Rivals #141 **** | Video CB Jonathan Lockett 5-11 175 Mater Dei High School (Bellflower, CA) | Rivals #154 **** | Video TE Bryce Dixon 6-4 240 St. Bonaventure High School (Oxnard, CA) | Rivals #160 **** | Video OL Chris Brown 6-5 295 Loyola High School (Los Angeles, CA) | Rivals #195 **** | Video LB Olajuwon Tucker 6-3 220 Junipero Serra High School (Harbor City, CA) | Rivals #228 **** | Video DE/LB Malik Dorton 6-2 250 St. John Bosco High School (Los Angeles, CA) | Rivals *** | Video CB John Plattenburg 5-11 180 Lamar High School (Houston, TX) | Rivals *** | Video ATH Ajene Harris 5-11 180 Crenshaw High School (Los Angeles, CA) | Rivals *** | Video CB Lamont Simmons 6-2 185 Raines High School (Jacksonville, FL) | Rivals *** | Video LB Uchenna Nwosu 6-3 210 Narbonne High School (Carson, CA) | Rivals *** | Video Preferred Walk-Ons (unofficial) QB Larry Tuileta 6-2 210 Punahou High School (Honolulu, HI) | Rivals ** Two-time Hawaii POY | Was committed to Norm Chow at Hawaii | Will also play volleyball CB Devonte Nunnery 5-11 190 St. Bonaventure High School (Ventura, CA) | Rivals ** Teammate of Bryce Dixon and Ricky Town | Had a scholarship offer from New Mexico State LB Grant Moore 6-2 200 Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, CA) | Rivals NR Second Team All-Trinity League | Son of Rex Moore
ABC New Head Coach Steve Sarkisian brought five assistants with him from Washington. But while several coaches have Pacific Northwest ties, many have roots elsewhere–which may have important implications for recruiting. While Washington and Oregon are not exactly recruiting hotbeds for USC, Sark and his staff obviously did their best to forge their own inroads in California. The Huskie roster is littered with names of California kids that Trojan diehards might recognize: Shaq Thompson, Keith Price, Sean Parker, Jaydon Mickens, Jermaine Kelly, Josh Shirley, Damore’ea Stringfellow, and Pio Vatuvei to name a few. They certainly gave their best shot at nabbing many current Trojans and current USC recruits. The history allowed them to hit the ground running when they arrived. The fact that key local recruiter Tee Martin as well as Clay Helton remained as staff did not hurt either. The UDub transplants all also went to school in the rain: Marques Tuiasosopo (Washington), Johnny Nansen (Washington State), Keith Heyward (Oregon State), and two Ducks Justin Wilcox (a Eugene native) and Peter Sirmon (from Walla Walla). But that is not to say they do not have ties elsewhere. Several; new staff members have Southern California roots. Nansen and Tui come from Long Beach. Keith Heyward, Woodland Hills. Tim Drevno (like Sark) comes from Torrance and played at El Camino (like Sark) and Cal State Fullerton. Likewise, there is a fair amount of familiarity across the South. Tee Martin came from mobile, played at Tennessee, and coached at Kentucky. Newcomer Chris Wilson arrives from Georgia. He grew up around Dallas, played at Oklahoma, and coached (among other places) at Oklahoma and Mississippi State. Helton hails from Houston, played at Houston and Auburn, and coached at Memphis, Houston, and Duke. WIlson and Sirmon are not complete strangers to the South either, having coached together at Tennessee. Sirmon also played for the Titans. We are still trying to figure out the regional responsibilities of each coach, but here are some preliminary thoughts… Clay Helton – Northern California, Central California Keith Heyward – Los Angeles? Tim Drevno – Orange County? San Diego? Tee Martin – Los Angeles, Florida Johnny Nansen – Los Angeles? Hawaii? Peter Sirmon – Inland Empire, Southwest? Marques Tuiasosopo – Washington? Justin Wilcox – Oregon? Chris Wilson – Texas, Southeast National/Midwest/Northeast ?
ABC Pete Carroll started a habit around USC of handing out an abundance of titles, but his former Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach may have taken the practice to a new level. Associate Head Coach for Offense. Defensive Passing Game Coordinator. In fact, almost everyone on Sark’s staff has a flowery title… Tim Drevno – Offensive Running Game Coordinator / Offensive Line Coach Clay Helton – Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach Keith Heyward – Defensive Passing Game Coordinator / Defensive Backs Coach Tee Martin – Offensive Passing Game Coordinator / Wide Receivers Coach Johnny Nansen – Assistant Head Coach / Special Teams Coordinator / Running Backs Coach Peter Sirmon – Associate Head Coach for Defense/ Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers Coach Marques Tuiasosopo – Associate Head Coach for Offense / Tight Ends Coach Justin Wilcox – Defensive Coordinator Chris Wilson – Defensive Line Coach If we were one-time Defensive Coordinator at Mississippi State, Chris Wilson, we might be feeling a little insecure about now. On the other hand, the “is he actually coming” nature of his hiring might have precluded his final title from making it into the media release announcing his hiring. We would actually be surprised if something like Defensive Running Game Coordinator was not part of the bargain. We shall see.
ABC At 39, Steve Sarkisian, is the third youngest head coach at a BCS conference school–eclipsing only Texas Tech’s boyish Kliff Kingsbury (at 34-years-young) and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (by about 9 months). He has also surrounded himself with a youthful staff where only Chris Wilson (45), Tim Drevno (44), and Clay Helton (41) are his elders. Athletic Director Pat Haden, in his January State of Troy Address, says he and the players like the energy and enthusiasm of the new staff: “It is a young group, and quite frankly, this has become a young man’s game. The amount of hours these guys put into the job requires a ton of energy and enthusiasm. They relate to young people well, and I have heard that directly from our players. They have also assimilated into the Trojan Family instantly. They had heard about USC from the other places they worked, and they believe in the power of this university, and are already great ambassadors for the department.” Energy is great, but throughout the hiring process TributeToTroy has also kept a watchful eye on the discipline this staff might instill. Washington ranked as one of the most penalized teams in the nation the last couple of seasons, and we would like to see the trend die. The hiring of Drevno and Wilson gives us some hope, but a couple of old-school, hard-asses mixed in would have given us a bit more confidence. Here’s the whole staff listed by age: Chris Wilson – 45 (January 8, 1969) Tim Drevno – 44 (March 20, 1969) Clay Helton – 41 (June 24, 1972) Steve Sarkisian – 39 (March 8, 1974) Johnny Nansen – about 39 (exact birthday unknown) Justin Wilcox – 37 (November 12, 1976) Peter Sirmon – 36 (February 18, 1977) Tee Martin – 35 (July 25, 1978) Keith Heyward – 34 (February 2, 1979) Marques Tuiasosopo – 34 (March 22, 1979)
ABC With the announced hiring of Defensive Line Chris Lewis, Head Coach Steve Sarkisian’s new staff is now complete. Bios of the new coaches are linked below and can always be found here. The group includes two holdovers from the 2013 Trojan team, five coaches from Sark’s UW staff, and a couple of guys without ties to either school. Head Coach Steve Sarkisian Offensive Staff Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Clay Helton Running Backs: Johnny Nansen Wide Receivers: Tee Martin Tight Ends: Marques Tuiasosopo Offensive Line: Tim Drevno Defensive Staff Defensive Coordinator: Justin Wilcox Defensive Line: Chris Wilson Linebackers: Peter Sirmon Defensive Backs: Keith Heyward Strength and Conditioning Ivan Lewis
ABC USC rolled over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Cody Kessler passed for 344 yards and a bowl-record four touchdowns in the Trojans’ 45-20 victory over the 21st-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday under Clay Helton. Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor had two touchdown catches apiece, Javorius Allen rushed two more scores, and the Trojans (10-4) answered every question about their motivation by routing a BCS contender for the storied program’s first postseason victory since 2009. Derek Carr passed for just 217 yards and two TDs in his final game at Fresno State (11-2), which fell behind 35-6 at halftime and failed to secure the first 12-win season in school history. From Kessler’s smooth offense to a dynamic defensive effort against Fresno State’s FBS-best passing game, USC was uniformly outstanding in its only game under Helton. Kessler even outdid Carr, his fellow Bakersfield native and friend, setting the Las Vegas Bowl record for TD passes before halftime and finishing 22 for 30. USC scored three touchdowns in a nine-minute burst in the second quarter, and Allen clinched it with his second TD run with 4:44 to play. The Trojans even put on a show off the Strip: The entire USC bench twice bounced onto the field during spontaneous group dances after touchdowns, displaying the excitement and confidence so common during the Trojans’ halcyon years under Pete Carroll. Carr, the nation’s leader in yards passing and total offense, became the fourth player in NCAA history to surpass 5,000 yards passing and 50 TD passes during the game. But Carr leaves Fresno State without a bowl victory, never getting the Bulldogs moving against one of the nation’s best pass defenses. Fresno State’s two TD catches by Isaiah Burse and Davante Adams both came on short drives resulting from USC mistakes on special teams, and Derron Smith returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. The Mountain West champions still haven’t won a bowl game since 2007, losing six of their last seven. Lee had seven catches for 118 yards in likely the final game at USC for the Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver. The junior is expected to head to the NFL after putting a pleasant finish on a crazy season in Los Angeles. Sarkisian watched the bowl game with athletic director Pat Haden in a box above the sellout crowd at Sam Boyd Stadium. After the teams traded touchdowns on their opening drives, the Trojans blocked Fresno State’s extra point attempt – and it started a deluge. Agholor caught TD passes of 40 and 17 yards for the Trojans’ next two scores. Allen made a 24-yard TD run through bad tackling midway through the second quarter, and Lee turned a short pass into a 40-yard TD with 37 seconds left in the half. Kessler threw for 243 yards and set the Las Vegas Bowl single-game record for TD passes in the first half alone, but USC’s defense perhaps was even more spectacular against the nation’s top passing offense. Carr went 30 for 54 under constant pressure from the blitzing Trojans, who eliminated Fresno State’s running game and twice stopped the Bulldogs on fourth downs in the first half. AP Recap | Final Stats | Photo Gallery
ABC USC, one of the nation’s premier bowl teams, helps open up the 2013 post-season calendar when it travels to the Las Vegas Bowl to face No. 21 Fresno State, a dangerous one-loss team that features the nation’s top aerial attack. The Trojans have won nearly two-thirds of their 50 bowl appearances, including 7 of the past 9. This is only the 11th time that USC is unranked in a bowl. The Trojans lost in their only other Las Vegas Bowl trip, in 2001 (that was the only other time they have played in Nevada). USC, going after its 25th 10-win season, concludes its first-ever 14-game season against, ironically, the team that it will open up against at home in 2014 (the last time that occurred for Troy was 1916). This is the third Mountain West Conference opponent for USC in 2013. USC has a near spotless record against current MWC foes, as its only loss was to Fresno State in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. Besides that game, the Trojans and Bulldogs have met only one other time, in the classic 2005 Coliseum shootout won by Troy. USC will be guided in the Las Vegas Bowl by interim head coach Clay Helton, its third head coach of 2013. Recently-announced new Trojan head coach Steve Sarkisian, who brought his 2012 Washington team to the Las Vegas Bowl, is waiting in the wings to take over after the game (he’ll be at the game observing). USC has persevered through adversity in 2013, winning 5 of its past 6 games, although it is coming off a loss to crosstown foe UCLA. The Trojans will have less than 50 recruited scholarship players available for the Las Vegas Bowl, due to NCAA scholarship restrictions and injuries USC’s offense, among the national leaders in red zone scoring, is balanced, while its defense continues to rank high in almost all NCAA statistical categories, including total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks, interceptions, red zone defense, third down conversion defense and fourth down conversion defense. Steady QB Cody Kessler, already inching his way up USC’s career passing chart, has hit 70% of his passes with no picks in the past 5 games. Trojan team MVP TB Javorius Allen has been on fire the second half of the season, with 11 TDs in the last 5 games and a quartet of 100-yard rushing outings. WRs Nelson Agholor (he is the national leader in punt returns) and 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee are Troy’s main pass targets. Top Trojan defenders include Sophomore All-American and All-Pac-12 first team DE Leonard Williams (13.5 tackles for loss), Lott Trophy finalist OLB Devon Kennard (9 sacks), S Dion Bailey (11 career interceptions), team tackle-leading LB Hayes Pullard and lockdown CB Josh Shaw. The Trojan special teams have blocked 5 kicks this year (FB Soma Vainuku owns 3 knockdowns and earned All-Pac-12 first team for his play) and scored on 3 punt returns. Head coach Tim DeRuyter’s Fresno State squad, which won its first 10 games this year, has a school record 11 victories, most recently in the inaugural MWC championship game. The Bulldogs have one of the game’s top offenses, piling up more than 570 yards and 45 points per outing. They rank first in the nation in passing offense, third in total offense, fifth in scoring offense and 11th in passing efficiency. Record-setting QB Derek Carr is the NCAA’s passing, TD passes and total offense leader, while WR Davante Adams is tops nationally in receptions and receiving touchdowns, plus he’s second in receiving yards and third in scoring. WRs Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper join Adams in the national Top 15 in receptions (Burse is also one of the country’s top punt returners). FSU’s offensive line gives up less than a sack a game, while the Bulldog defense is the nation’s leader in sacks and is fourth in tackles for loss. ILB Karl Mickelsen is the team’s top tackler, while OLB Ejiro Ederaine and S Derron Smith rank high nationally in sacks and interceptions, respectively. The game, in 36,800-seat Sam Boyd Stadium, will be shown live throughout the country on ABC-TV. USC is celebrating its 125th anniversary of athletics (dating to the first football game in 1888). Complete Media Release (pdf)