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Monday afternoon notes

Here are some miscellaneous notes as the Trojans get ready to start practice sessions on Tuesday morning for the game against Stanford.

3 things from Sarkisian media call

  1. 3rd downs: The first unit offense was 0-3 on Saturday against Idaho on 3rd down conversions. One play was a pass by Cody Kessler where he was rolling to his right, and Sark said it was a situation where Cody probably could have run for the first down. Sark said on the other two it was a case where the staff doesn’t always need to try and be perfect, sometimes it makes sense with the up-tempo offense to just line up and go.
  1. WR blocking: The Trojans want to establish the identity as a run-first offense and one of the things that requires is good blocking by the wide receivers. Sarkisian singled out Darreus Rogers as someone doing a good job in that area but Sark also said it’s important to reward the receivers with catches when possible, and that’s what he likes to see about the ball being spread around to so many different receivers so far. 10 different wide receivers have caught a pass so far through two games.
  1. D-line pass rush: Sark addressed the fact that the Trojans have had troubles getting to the quarterback, “it hasn’t been the strength of our defense so far. I would like for us to win more 1-on-1 match-ups and we need to play with more intention of getting after the quarterback. There have been times when we’ve been close but we’ve lost containment. Our rush integrity needs to improve”.

Key stats after two games

  1. Trojans are averaging 57 points and 623 yards of offense.
  1. Cody Kessler is completing 78.9 percent of his passes (45-57) with 7 TD’s and 0 picks.
  1. The running game is averaging 6.8 yards per carry with 8 TD’s.
  1. USC is ranked #6 in the AP poll, #7 in coaches poll.

Pac-12 student awareness week

The conference is pushing an initiative this week to recognize athletes for what they do off the field. Here are some examples:

  1. Toa Lobendahn and John Plattenburg were active leaders in the “Trojan Games” this summer as part of the Special Olympics, where they taught special needs athletes about the game of football.
  1. Soma Vainuku spent the summer as an intern at Caruso Affiliated, a retail real estate company headed by USC Trustee Rick Caruso. Vainuku is currently working on a masters degree in real estate development.
  1. Robby Kolanz has a 3.5 GPA as a broadcast journalism major in the Annenberg School of Communications and he received the Chick Hearn scholarship last spring. Besides serving as an intern in the USC sports information department, Kolanz also assists Pat Haden is collecting research data for the College Football Playoff committee.

Upcoming opponent

* Stanford is 1-1, and beat Central Florida last week 31-7.

* Stanford coach David Shaw, when he was an assistant coach for the Cardinal, was once pursued by Lane Kiffin to be the offensive coordinator for the Trojans.

* Christian McCaffrey leads Stanford in rushing, receiving, kickoff returns and punt returns.

* The defense is led by a trio of linebackers; Blake Martinez, Kevin Anderson and Peter Kalambayi.

* The 35th anniversary of the “Swim With Mike” program will be celebrated during the game. Potential walk-on long snapper Jake Olson is at USC on a Swim With Mike scholarship.

* The last 5 games between USC and Stanford have been decided by 8 points or less.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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