- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
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On status of USC program right now
“I think at USC, right now we kind of feel like we're in a perfect storm with so many good things going. We feel good about our current team and about our future teams for years to come. I think that really starts, as well, with great leadership and support. Our president, Max Nikias and Athletic Director Pat Haden have been unbelievable in their support of our football program and of our coaches and players as well. Basically, this week we're moving into the John McKay Center. It's the best student-athlete center in the country.”
Robert Woods update
“As far as Robert Woods, I think it is amazing as you go back to think about Robert catching 111 passes as a true sophomore, and he was held out of two games. He should have had a conference championship game and a bowl game to add to that record, so it is amazing what he did, and when you combine it with the fact that he was at 75 percent the whole season, and now he will be 100 percent, and it will be fun to see what he can do in training camp and at full speed. Our reports have not said that he'll be 100 percent. Obviously, we would like for that to be case. But until I can physically get with him, which I'm not allowed to right now, and see him move around, I can't really tell myself where exactly he is."
Advice to Bill O’Brien and Penn State
“I think when you go through a situation -- like everyone else we recruit high school players -- but now you have to recruit your own players to stay, and we were in a position where, obviously, our juniors and seniors can leave, and they're in the situation where anyone can leave, and that's not an easy position. You have coaches flying players to their schools during summer school. It's your backups; sometimes schools will say you can come and start here while you're a backup where you are, and it's not easy. I'm not going to get into whether they (sanctions) were fair or not, and I got a lot of questions earlier today about comparisons. There is no comparison you can make between what happened at USC and what happened at Penn State.”
Status on Nelson Agholor position
“Our plan up to today has been to put Nelson at running back because of the issues there. Outside of Curtis McNeal, really, D.J. Morgan has played a little bit. Nobody has played, so as of today, that's the direction he's headed. We would not like to do that. We would rather have Nelson be a receiver, which is what we primarily recruited him as. But the situation that we're in today has made us move him there.”
How to keep No. 1 ranking in perspective
“It may sound cliché, but it's an approach that you have to have. We have all of this hype going into this year, and like coach said, it's great for our program, our school, for our fan base to have that toward USC. But for us, it doesn't mean anything, and any high, any preseason, that opportunity to play for a game, it's not going to win any games or score any points. We're one week at a time and trying to be 1-0 that week.”
The decision to come back to USC for senior year
“Right after we played UCLA I was on an emotional high, and the way we finished out the season, I thought for sure I was going to the NFL. But once that settled down, and I started looking into it all, I think I made the right call. I wasn't really thinking right after that game. I was just feeling so great about the season. But I definitely went back and forth until, ultimately, I reached that conclusion.”
What does “unfinished business” mean?
“When T.J. [McDonald] and I decided to come back, we knew that we had a great time at USC, and we have had a lot of fun playing football, but we hadn't maximized our potential here at USC. I think that phrase "unfinished business" has to do with finishing at a top level and finishing at what we're capable of as a team. Every goal, I think, is to win every game and go all the way. For this year, I think we both feel, and a lot of us feel on the team, that it's the most realistic goal, and that's not easy by any means. The unfinished business, that thought and that ideology is really just one game at a time and to finish those games. You see so much about finishing, and when you're four years at college, that concept of finishing, I want to end that on a good note.”
On growth of Marqise Lee this offseason
“He's become a leader on the team, being able to be at all the workouts. [He] ran track and played football at the same time, and [he’s] a guy that's been putting a large amount of work in throughout the offseason, so he's become a leader on the team. So, for him to be able to be a leader and grab that young group of guys and bring them along, he's done well with that.”
Thoughts on the performance last year of his brother Tevin, safety at UCLA.
“I was impressed. Tevin came in a little late and stepped in the scene with his game versus Cal, and he had three interceptions in the game, and that came after the Stanford game after us. So, I was kind of down, and I heard that about him, and it brought light on to a new situation, and I was proud of him. If he comes to me and asks questions, we will watch film together -- not each other's film -- but it was great to get a sense of what's going on and just to pick my brain a little bit, and from me to him, he's doing a good job. I'm really proud of him.”
What it would mean to be first Trojan to win the Lott Trophy
“It would it mean a lot. I have to put in the work, and I understand that. But for me to win the Ronnie Lott Trophy, it would mean a lot. [He’s] the all-time greatest safety, and for me to be able to win that award would mean a lot. I know I have to do the work and I'll worry about that when the time comes, but it would be great to win that award.”
3dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell