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USC Practice Report (9-5)

The Trojans were in shorts and shoulder pads today as preparations continue for the Stanford game on Saturday.

“We worked a lot on third downs today,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “Last year against Stanford we played clean football and finished drives, and a big part of that was the amount of 3rd downs we converted in large part because we had a lot of 3rd and shorts.”

For the second day in a row we saw Toa Lobendahn return to action after sitting out last week with a pec injury, and no matter how well the redshirt freshman Brett Neilon played in his absence, the presence of the senior captain Lobendahn would be welcome news in the center of the line.

“Toa looked great today,” Helton said. “He was able to get some good work in the 2 minute drill with a nose tackle on top of him.”

One of the USC nose tackles, Brandon Pili, sat out the day with a wrist injury originally suffered in the UNLV game.

“Pili had come out of the UNLV game with a wrist,” Helton said. “We’ve got him casted up and he should be ready for the Stanford game.”

One player who has made a quick impact upon his return to the practice field is Palaie Gaaoteote. I thought Palaie had put together a couple very good practices early in camp before suffering a knee injury similar to Porter Gustin, and Palaie had some good pops today to give every indication that he is ready for game action.

Other notable plays from today included an interception by Marvell Tell off a deflection, a big hit by Tell on Randal Grimes, and a practice ending interception by Greg Johnson off Daniels.

Isaiah Pola-Mao did not practice due to being sick, a 24-hour virus that held Greg Johnson out of Tuesday practice.

The Trojans will travel 70 players for the game.


Cameron Smith on the Stanford offense

“They are more multi-dimensional than we’ve seen from them in the past with what they do in the passing game. Costello does a good job of dispersing the ball to a tall group of receivers but they also bring that quality run game with Bryce Love. That’s who they are. I thought San Diego State did a nice job of going through gaps and getting into the backfield, and that’s where we need to be assignment-sound. When Love breaks one it’s usually because of a missed assignment, and he has the patience to wait for that to happen. I think one of the keys for us against them in the past has been our preparation, and that will be a key again this year.”

Ronnie Bradford on being able to move guys in the secondary around to multiple spots

“Every guy in that DB room has a firm grasp of what all the assignments are, coach Pendergast does a great job of that.”

Clay Helton on if there’s a chance Ykili Ross could come back to the team

“His status is the same, he’s not on our roster.”

Clay Helton on status of Bubba Bolden

“No update, he’s status quo.”

Kenechi Udeze on the challenge facing his DL this week against Stanford line

“Do what you’ve been coached to do, play USC football, don’t be that guy who makes that mistake that leads to a big play. Even as a player I didn’t focus on who were playing, I used our practice field as the measuring stick and tried not to get too caught up in the emotion. As a coach I just try to prepare them but if I was a player strapping them up, yeah, I would be more excited.”

Clancy Pendergast on if it’s better to face Stanford early in the year or later

“It’s never easy. It’s a tough challenge no matter when you play them”

Clay Helton on the Stanford rivalry

“The rivalry seems to increase each and every year. Some of my favorite memories and some of my biggest heartaches have come from these games, and they always seem to be a physical contest. I remember Andre Heidari hitting a 51-yarder to beat them, I remember losing in triple overtime, I remember getting them twice last year and I remember Christian McCaffrey. These are really memorable games.”

Garry Paskwietz
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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