USC Trojans: Oregon football

ESPN 150 S McQuay commits to USC

January, 4, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After four prospects decommitted from the USC Trojans since the beginning of November, the Trojans have finally got some good news as ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) verbally committed to USC tonight during the Under Armour All-America Game.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound four-star athlete selected the Trojans over Florida State, Oregon, Vanderbilt and Michigan.

As a senior, McQuay totaled 54 tackles and five interceptions on defense. He also added five receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown on offense.

McQuay, the nation’s No. 3 safety and a starter in Friday's UA Game, is expected to enroll early at USC and be eligible to play spring football.

With McQuay's decision, the Trojans have 15 verbal commitments, including 10 who are members of the ESPN 150. Each of the 15 commitments is ranked as a four-star or higher.

ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.

Appearing to have moved past last weekend’s loss to Arizona, and focused on the task at hand -- the Oregon Ducks -- the Trojans hit Brian Kennedy/Howard Jones Field on Wednesday in full pads for an energetic practice that USC coach Lane Kiffin seemed pleased with.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesAfter defeating Oregon, 38-35, last year, the Trojans will be looking for more of the same on Saturday.
“I thought it was a really good practice,” Kiffin said. “I thought guys were very spirited, very up-tempo. We came back from yesterday’s practice, came back this morning, and I thought they prepared really well and had a good day.”

With a couple of days of work under his team’s belt this week, Kiffin is well aware of the daunting challenge the Trojans are presented with in going up against the No. 4-ranked Ducks, but he believes his team is up to the task.

“This is the best team in the country coming in -- one that has really blown everybody out by halftime,” Kiffin said. “So we have to be ready, and I think our players are.”

USC defense to be tested
Averaging 540.1 total yards per game and a nation's-best 53.4 points per game, Oregon has rolled through its competition in 2012 thanks to the team’s highly efficient no-huddle, spread offense.

No team has been able to slow the Ducks’ prolific attack, but the Trojans did have some luck last year – at least for a portion of the game – and ultimately held on to a 38-35 victory. In order for that to happen again, Kiffin will need a repeat performance out of his defense.

“You’re going to have to make those tackles in space,” Kiffin said. “We did a really good job through three quarters last year of doing that. We saw a lot of plays get outside on our perimeter, and then our outside ‘backers and our DBs made a lot of really good tackles.”

One other key will be the play of the Trojans’ front seven, and specifically, whether or not it can apply pressure to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. But that’s easier said than done. The Ducks have only given up 10 sacks on the season, primarily due to the fact the offense doesn’t call for Mariota to hold on to the ball for very long.

“They try to get rid of the ball really quick, not a lot of play action, balls [are] out on the perimeter, and so it is hard to sack [him],” Kiffin said. “But even if you’re not sacking [him], you have to get there to create errant throws.”

Oregon defense no slouch
The Oregon offense usually steals all of the headlines, and for good reason, but as Kiffin noted, the Ducks’ defensive unit deserves its fair share of credit. Often overshadowed by the gaudy numbers the offense puts up, the defense has quietly allowed its opponents to compile an average of just 4.6 yards per play -- a crucial statistic in Kiffin’s mind.

“I think it gets lost in the numbers,” Kiffin said of Oregon’s defense. “I think the most important -- when you look at stats – is average per play, because some defenses get put out there a lot more than others, and theirs does because they score so fast. You start looking at average per play, and they’re one of the better ones in the country, and if they had a slower tempo offense you’d see a lot better stats.”

Pride penalties
On Tuesday, USC wide receiver Robert Woods said that many of the personal-foul penalties the team has been racking up have been due to temporary mental lapses caused by too much “pride.” It’s something the USC coaching staff has addressed.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on it,” Kiffin said on Wednesday. “It’s not a street fight, it’s a game -- there are rules within it. A lot of them have the mentality where they’re trying to protect their brother and, unfortunately, that’s cost us in a lot of these situations -- where we get retaliation off of something that happened to somebody else. And like what usually happens in football, the second person gets caught.”

Tall task at left tackle
Kiffin didn’t reveal who would get the starting nod at left tackle between Max Tuerk and Aundrey Walker against the Ducks, but he did say that whoever it is, he's going to have a stiff challenge on his hands going up against a talented pair of defensive ends in Dion Jordan and Taylor Hart.

“We feel really confident with both guys,” Kiffin said. “As we talked about, Max played really well last week. This would be much more of a test this week with their ability to rush with their two ends, especially with [Dion] Jordan on third downs. So whoever is out there is going to be tested a lot more than they have been the last two weeks.”

USC looks to rebound against Oregon

October, 30, 2012
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There is a lot on the line as USC gets ready to take on Oregon on Saturday at the Coliseum. The game may not have national title implications for both sides, but there is still plenty at stake in terms of the Pac-12 title and a potential Rose Bowl berth.

Chip Kelly
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesA USC win over Chip Kelly's high-powered Ducks will go a long way toward easing the pain from last week's Arizona loss.

As much as the loss to Arizona stung the Trojans last weekend, the reality is that USC still controls its destiny for a berth in the conference title game. Right now, the Trojans are one of three teams in the Pac-12 South with two conference losses, and it just so happens the other two teams (Arizona State and UCLA) are on the USC schedule following Oregon.

If the Trojans can get by the Ducks -- and then get wins over the Sun Devils and Bruins -- it would possibly give USC home-field advantage for the conference title game. A victory in that game would then propel USC into a New Year’s Day berth at the Trojans’ home away from home, the Rose Bowl.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, of course, it isn’t. Not by a long shot. But just because it isn’t simple doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In fact, it would represent one of the best finishes in USC history, especially if it also included a victory over unbeaten Notre Dame at the Coliseum.

Let’s face it: Very little about this season has been easy. The Trojans were expected to be a smooth-running machine with so many starters returning from a team that was on the rise at the end of last season. Through the first two months of 2012, however, there have been an unexpected number of sputtering moments mixed in with some bouts of inspired play. There have also been penalties and mental lapses fans just didn’t see coming from such a veteran group.

Even with all that, the Trojans still have a chance. And the scheduling gods didn’t mess around either, as the Ducks are next up and they have been as good as advertised.

Oregon has taken the Trojans’ spot atop the Pac-12 mountain in recent years, but there were legitimate questions coming into the season. The Ducks had lost stars at quarterback and running back -- players who had seen a lot of success -- and there was uncertainty about their replacements.

It’s a tribute to Oregon coach Chip Kelly’s system that the Ducks haven’t skipped a beat with the new starters. When you add a defense as good as any Oregon has put on the field in recent years, you have a team that has emerged as one of the favorites to reach the national title game. How perfectly did the stars align to have the Ducks visit the Coliseum at a time when the Trojans need a really big win?

Last year, USC’s victory over the Ducks was a huge step for a program looking to reclaim a place among the nation’s elite. This year, the result could make an even bigger statement on the direction of the program.

A victory for the Trojans would be a special start to a November march toward a Rose Bowl berth that would be a fitting ending for this team. A loss? Well, a loss puts this season in a place that no USC fan wants it to go. This much we know: The Ducks are coming to town on Saturday and the Trojans are going to need to be ready.

Schlabach: USC-Oregon vs. LSU-Alabama

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
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On The Mark with Mark Schlabach takes a look at this week's two marquee games -- USC-Oregon and LSU-Alabama. If you could only attend one game, which should it be? Well, that all depends on what you're looking for.

Click here to read the entire story.

On The Mark: BCS title contenders

October, 8, 2012
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The initial BCS standings come out next week, so there's a little time for teams to make up some ground that they might have lost. Mark Schlabach breaks down a handful of title contenders, including Alabama, Oregon, Florida, LSU and USC.

High-profile visitors head to Knoxville 

September, 12, 2012
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Tennessee will host several visitors for Saturday's game against Florida. Most will be unofficial visits. One of the headliners is clearly Derrick Green, the four-star tailback from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage High School, who'll be taking his first official visit.

Green is scheduled to visit Michigan in October. He has also said he'll visit Auburn and is considering Oregon, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech.

Here are some other prospects scheduled to be in Knoxville this weekend:

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Haney: Potential breakout players in 2012 

August, 29, 2012
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Every season the stars of college football change. The crop is turned over and we meet the new faces of the sport. Sometimes those players jump out and surprise us, rising from part-time role players to the feature of an offense or defense. Who will those players be in 2012? Travis Haney looks at 30 potential breakout players this season.

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Big target: DL Eddie Vanderdoes 

July, 8, 2012
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One of the biggest USC recruiting targets at The Opening -- literally and figuratively -- has been defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes from Auburn (Calif.) Placer.

Vanderdoes (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) is a player who is athletic enough to also star as a baseball pitcher in addition to being one of the most highly touted d-line prospects in the nation and he is a huge priority on the wish list for Trojans coaches.

USC would like to add two more bodies on the D-line for this class and Vanderdoes is showing a lot of mutual interest in the Trojans.

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