Saturday, September 10, 2016

USC Trojans Say They're Ready Against Utah State Aggies

USC dropped out of the top 25 at A.P.'s college football poll after last week's ultimate shellacking at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

It's going to be quite interesting to see if they can redeem themselves a bit this weekend.

At LAT, "As USC tries to stabilize against Utah State, the energy — and the tension — ratchet up":
The entire USC defense streamed onto the field at the end of Wednesday’s practice, the Trojans’ last heavy-contact session before they attempt to stabilize their season against Utah State on Saturday.

For roughly 15 minutes, the defense had been working itself into a lather. After each pass breakup or big hit, the sideline buzzed, as if the players had consumed too much coffee. Now, on the last play, Adoree’ Jackson swatted away a long, might-have-been-a-touchdown pass down the far sideline.

So the defense sprinted to the end zone, circled around Jackson and danced.

USC has responded to the indignity of a 52-6 loss to Alabama and a head-spinning array of off-the-field incidents by increasing its intensity. A spirited, sometimes angry, edge punctuated the team’s practices this week. A brawl broke out Tuesday.

Running back Justin Davis said the emotion reflected the Trojans’ search for the “fire in the belly” that they lost during Saturday’s defeat. They hope they rediscover it.

“I know my team,” right tackle Zach Banner said. “And I know we’re going to bring it.”

The energy also has been a response to the upheaval that USC hoped it had left behind upon promoting Clay Helton to coach. The past two weeks of USC football have read like overwrought UCLA fan fiction.

National commentators pounded USC players who crawled out of the tunnel pre-game last week. Linebacker Jabari Ruffin was suspended for a half and required to write an apology letter for stomping on the groin of an Alabama player. JuJu Smith-Schuster, the team’s best receiver, sparked a fight at Tuesday’s practice, then stomped off in a huff and needed to be coaxed back to the field.

There was the heartbreaking: A key starter, center Toa Lobendahn, was declared out for the season after undergoing his third knee surgery.

There was the ridiculous: Steve Sarkisian, who was fired by USC last season for erratic behavior and alcohol-related incidents and later sued the school, took a job as an offensive analyst for Alabama, the team that had just embarrassed USC and already employs the Trojans coach who preceded him, Lane Kiffin...
More at that top link.

And Sarkisian? The Alabama folks sure know how to pile on the insults. Sark's the second USC head coach to go to 'Bama's program. Sheesh.