USC: John Martinez

A look at the Pac-12's free-agent signings

May, 12, 2014
May 12
7:00
PM PT
There were 34 Pac-12 players selected during the NFL draft, but there will be more than twice that many rookies in NFL training camps this summer. Shortly after the draft ended, the dominoes started falling and those who went undrafted started signing free-agent contracts.

The following list of undrafted free agent signings, which was compiled from various announcements and media reports, could change in the coming days:

Arizona
Arizona State
California
Note: K Vincenzo D'Amato will reportedly attend Green Bay's rookie minicamp.

Colorado
Oregon
Oregon State
Stanford
Notes: S Devon Carrington (Pittsburgh) and LB Jarek Lancaster (Oakland) will attend rookie minicamps.

UCLA
USC
Utah
Notes: DT LT Tuipulotu will attend Green Bay's rookie minicamp and C Vyncent Jones told the Deseret News he will attend minicamps for Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

Washington
Note: S Sean Parker will reportedly attend Washington Redskins rookie minicamp.

Washington State
Note: K Andrew Furney will attend Seattle Seahawks rookie minicamp.

Exit interview: John Martinez

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
11:00
AM PT
A highly touted prospect coming out of Murray (Utah) Cottonwood, John Martinez was a member of Pete Carroll’s final signing class in 2009 and would go on to establish himself as a sturdy mainstay at right guard for a large chunk of his career, lining up as a starter for the entirety of his sophomore and junior seasons.

As was the case with the entire Trojans team this past fall, Martinez’s 2013 campaign was filled with ups and downs, as he took on more of a reserve role. Still, there were positives that he was able to take away from his fifth-year senior season as he made a valuable contribution on both the right side as well as the left side of the line while recording five starts, including in the victory over Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

With his time at USC having now reached its conclusion, Martinez took time out of his schedule to talk to WeAreSC as he prepares to take part in the College All-Star Bowl (Feb. 14) as well as Pro Day (March 12).

[+] EnlargeMartinez
Boyd Ivey/Icon SMIJohn Martinez took more of a secondary role as a senior, but he delivered when the Trojans needed him to.
WeAreSC: What have you been up to since the season ended?

John Martinez: After the season ended I moved out of my apartment at USC, and then just headed back home to Utah to train. I’m training at this place called John Madsen Performance. It’s right down the street from my house.

[+] EnlargeMartinez
Boyd Ivey/Icon SMIJohn Martinez took more of a secondary role as a senior, but he delivered when the Trojans needed him to.
WeAreSC: Who are some of the other players that you’re working out with, and what has that experience been like?

Martinez: It’s mostly a bunch guys from the University of Utah. There’s Karl Williams -- the fullback, Vyncent Jones -- the center … a couple guys from Utah State also. We all have the same goal in mind, we’re going through the same process, and they’re a bunch of great guys too. It’s cool to hang out with them afterwards when we’re done lifting.

WeAreSC: You’ve got Pro Day at USC coming up in March, but you were also recently invited to play in the College All-Star Bowl in Greenville, S.C. How excited are you to take part in that game?

Martinez: I can’t wait to play in that bowl game because it’s been too long since I’ve put a helmet and pads on. I’m tired of lifting weights, I’m ready to hit somebody ….

WeAreSC: After starting every game during your sophomore and junior seasons, you dealt with quite a bit of adversity in your senior year, as did the entire team. What was it like dealing with that?

Martinez: As soon as Coach Kiffin left it was just chaos. It was like everything just got thrown up in the air, and hopefully everything would come back down the way we wanted it to. I feel like everybody loved Coach [Ed] Orgeron before Coach Kiffin left, so everybody was on board with what he was doing right away. And for me, not playing as much my senior year, the best thing to do when you’re not in is to be positive and just take it day-by-day, and when an opportunity arises, you just have to take it. So, that’s what I kept in my mind the whole time. I just kept my head high and just hoped for opportunities.

WeAreSC: One of those opportunities came in the Las Vegas Bowl when you got the chance to start in your last game for the Trojans, and you came up with a strong outing in a victory. How special was that individually, and in terms of the team?

Martinez: That was definitely gratifying. It was an accomplishment that a lot of us seniors were hoping for. There was a lot of hype going into it, but a lot of pressure too because we lost our last bowl game. Fresno State wasn’t a bad team either -- they were good. It almost came down to a chess match. When they made a wrong move we had to capitalize on it. When we made a bad move they tried to capitalize on it. I was just happy to experience the whole thing.

WeAreSC: You saw quite a few coaches come and go during your time at USC. Can you pick one or two of those who had an especially profound impact on you?

Martinez: I would say that [graduate assistant] Lenny Vandermade made a big impact on me because he took me under his wing, took me aside and kind of explained things in a different perspective than a coach would, because he actually played and understood just the feeling of it. I felt like that was one of the things that just helped me out so much … getting the perspective of a guy who had been there and done that, and who had played at SC. And then I’d say Coach [Mike] Summers too, because of his philosophy about playing football and being an offensive lineman. He talked about how growing up as a kid no one else wants to be an offensive lineman when they’re playing pickup games, so he made us feel like we had a special job, and that it’s something that no one else would be able to do, and that’s why we were chosen. I felt like that brought us more of a sense of wanting to play for him, and that it gave us a sense of solidarity.

WeAreSC: You earned an undergraduate degree in sociology at USC. If football doesn’t work out down the line, do you have an idea of what you might be interested in doing?

Martinez: If football doesn’t work out I was hoping to use my degree because I have a lot of family that is involved in foster care, and I’m adopted myself. I feel like I could be a mentor for kids who are in my shoes when I was their age. I could prove to them, ‘I was there. I’ve done what you’ve done, and if you just stay on the right path you can achieve goals like going to college and playing football.’ So, giving back to the kids who went to my high school or from my community, I feel like that would be more of a rewarding experience than doing it for money or anything else. That was my main reason for getting a degree in sociology.

WeAreSC: What will you miss most about being a student at USC?

Martinez: I’d probably say the people … just the other student athletes and everybody there. They made my experience a lot better. If I ever needed help they were always there. And if I ever had questions or anything they were always there. And plus, the professors and just everybody was so friendly. They always talk about the Trojan family, and I really experienced that sense of family while I was there.

WeAreSC: If you had one message to send to USC fans, what would it be?

Martinez: Just keep living the dream and Fight On.

Five things: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
6:00
AM PT
Here are five things to watch for the USC Trojans (9-4) in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl matchup against Fresno State (11-1) on Saturday (12:30 p.m. PT, ABC):

1. 10 wins: The talking point that USC players and coaches used a lot over the past two weeks was the desire to get to 10 wins for the season. And the more you think about it, with all this team has gone through, it really would be a notable accomplishment. It’s not often a team has three coaches in one season, and the results usually aren’t good. If the Trojans can come away with a victory in this game against a quality opponent in Fresno State, it would be a satisfying way for this group to go out.

2. Stop that Carr: There’s a reason the Bulldogs have won 11 games, and it starts with the passing attack. Fresno State is ranked at the top of the national rankings in passing offense, their quarterback Derek Carr leads the nation in passing yards and touchdowns, and his top receiver Davante Adams tops the rankings in catches and receiving touchdowns. The Trojans – despite early season concerns in the secondary – ended up leading the Pac-12 in passing defense and a big key in this game will be the ability to get pressure up front with Devon Kennard and Leonard Williams.

3. O-line openings: The Trojans will be filling two open spots on the offensive line in this game after Marcus Martin (center) and Aundrey Walker (right guard) went out with injuries against UCLA. Fortunately, the replacements – Abe Markowitz and John Martinez – are experienced veterans, but they will have a strong test with a Fresno State defense that is tied for the national lead in sacks. It will be critical to give Cody Kessler time to throw to Marqise Lee – who is finally healthy – and Nelson Agholor to take advantage of a secondary that is ranked No. 116 in the nation against the pass.

4. You’re not in El Paso anymore: There has been a lot of talk leading into the game about the motivation factor for the Trojans. Last season, the team appeared to be less than enthused about a Sun Bowl appearance, and it showed in the performance. Fresno State is an opponent that is more than capable of beating the Trojans if there is a repeat of El Paso, but USC players and coaches say that there will be no such lack of enthusiasm for this game. In fact, several players cited a desire to play well for departed interim coach Ed Orgeron as a key factor.

5. Sark Watch: New USC coach Steve Sarkisian will be in attendance at the game, though he won’t be coaching. Regardless, it will be the first opportunity for the returning USC players to show well in front of their new coach, and you never know what can happen when a fresh set of eyes is doing the evaluations. Just ask Buck Allen – he was limited to 14 carries in the first five games under Lane Kiffin but played a larger role once Orgeron took over and became the team MVP.

WeAreSC roundtable: Beavers then Bears

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
3:00
PM PT
WeAreSC staffers discuss last week's game and Saturday's matchup with Cal.

What was most impressive part of USC's victory against Oregon State?

[+] EnlargeEd Orgeron
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesInterim coach Ed Orgeron has led his Trojans to a 3-1 record since taking over.
Garry Paskwietz: I thought it was the way the Trojans physically controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I completely understand that it’s one thing to do that against Oregon State and another to do it against Stanford, but lately the Trojans hadn’t put both sides of the ball together in one game for a while, so it was encouraging to see it happen in this game. This was particularly evident in how well the Trojans ran the ball and put pressure on Sean Mannion.

Johnny Curren: It was a phenomenal effort by tailbacks Javorius Allen and Silas Redd, as the Trojans amassed 242 rushing yards. But it wasn’t just the ball-carriers who made an impact. In fact, the performance of the offensive line might have been what was most impressive of all. Putting together their best outing of the season, they were an incredibly aggressive and cohesive unit. The lights-out night that Aundrey Walker had, in particular, was a positive development with an eye toward the rest of the season. If the USC ground game continues to roll like it did against OSU, there’s little doubt the Trojans will be finishing the 2013 campaign very strong.

Greg Katz: The most impressive part of the Trojans' victory was the way Ed Orgeron’s team kept its poise once the Beavers tied the game at 14-14. In the past, the Men of Troy might have folded at Reser Stadium, but this group was able to rise above the crowd noise, keep its composure and come right back to win going away. It was a major maturity step and possible turning point for the 2013 Trojans.




What is the key matchup of the USC-Cal game?

Paskwietz: USC vs. themselves. Things are going in a very positive direction right now for the Trojans, and on paper it doesn’t appear Cal should present an overwhelmingly tough matchup. But, as any college football fan knows, anything can happen on any given day. Think back to last year for the Trojans at the beginning of November when they hit the road for a game they were expected to win. If they had won in Arizona, it would have set up a huge showdown the following week at the Coliseum -- a very similar scenario to this year.

Curren: With Josh Shaw moving from safety to cornerback, the USC secondary has put together two consecutive solid outings after struggling at times earlier in the season, but it faces a big test this weekend in California’s uptempo, spread offense. Freshman quarterback Jared Goff leads a Golden Bears aerial attack that generates 351.1 passing yards per game -- the No. 8 mark in the FBS -- and he has three very talented receivers at his disposal in Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler. With very little else clicking for Cal on either side of the ball, if the Trojans’ defensive backfield can keep those wideouts corralled while also taking advantage of a Goff mistake here or there -- which he’s been known to make on occasion -- USC should run away with the game.

Katz: The key matchup will not only will be the performance of the Trojans offensive line against the Bears defensive front, but the actual lineup of cardinal and gold players. The Trojans right side of the line actually looked pretty good against Oregon State with Max Tuerk at right tackle filling in for veteran Kevin Graf, and right guard Aundrey Walker having his best game as a Trojan. On the left side, senior John Martinez played a good game. Can this unit with or without Graf (ankle) continue to grow and open up big holes for the Trojans' obvious wealth of tailback riches?




What was the most memorable moment from USC vs. Cal in Memorial Stadium?

Paskwietz: It's the 2007 game when both teams came in ranked in the top 25. The game was played in a hard-driving rain, and the Trojans were only able to throw for 129 yards. But senior tailback Chauncey Washington had the game of his career with 29 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown to lead USC to a 24-17 victory. Washington had spent two years on academic probation and had to pay his own way at USC, so to see him rewarded for his patience with a performance like that was truly memorable.

Curren: It wasn’t a positive memory for the Trojans, but the 2003 USC-Cal matchup was as drama-filled as it gets. In a game featuring an incredible three overtimes marked by wild and unpredictable plays, including a Hershel Dennis fumble, as well as a field-goal block by Gregg Guenther, the No. 3 Trojans wound up losing 34-31. The difference was a Tyler Fredrickson field goal. In looking back, the most significant thing to come from the game was that it really marked a turning point of sorts under Pete Carroll, as the Trojans would go on to win an incredible 34 consecutive games following that defeat.

Katz: Unfortunately for Trojans fans it would be the 2003 triple-overtime loss to the Bears. The Dennis fumble and the game-winning 38-yard field goal by Frederickson in OT was at the time a killer. However, it seems that painful loss was inspirational the rest of the way, as former Trojans head coach Pete Carroll never again lost to Cal during his marvelous tenure.

Veteran duo anchors right side of OL

July, 25, 2013
7/25/13
6:57
PM PT
There has been plenty of attention on the USC offensive line this spring, almost all of it pointed in three directions -- the battle for the vacant center position, Aundrey Walker’s bid to nail down the starting left tackle job, and the impact of Mike Summers, the newly hired assistant who has joined James Cregg as one of what is now two offensive line coaches on the Trojans staff.

Over on the right side of the line, meanwhile, guard John Martinez and tackle Kevin Graf have each quietly had a more-than-productive March and April. Two redshirt seniors set to start alongside each other for the third straight year, there’s nothing particularly glamorous about the hard-nosed duo, but as the unquestioned veteran leaders of an offensive line unit that is still very much a work in progress, they figure to play a vital part in determining how the group ultimately performs in the fall.

“We’re the right side, we have the most experience and we plan on leading these guys to wherever we need to go,” Martinez said.

[+] EnlargeJohn Martinez
Ric Tapia/Icon SMIWhile parts of the offensive line remain in flux, John Martinez will start at right guard for the third consecutive season.
Graf and Martinez are hoping that means a more consistent level of play for the offensive line next season. Because although it performed solidly for the most part in 2012 -- allowing just 17 sacks on the year -- it also struggled against some of the more physical defensive fronts, most notably Stanford’s and Notre Dame’s. Throw in the loss of Khaled Holmes -- the team’s starting center for the past two years -- and it becomes apparent just how crucial this spring is.

With a change in philosophy set in place by Summers, however, in addition to the two seasoned vets paving the way, it’s safe to say that the offensive line has its sights set high for 2013.

“One thing Coach Summers has brought in this spring is that we talk about being the best offensive line in the country, and that’s what our goal is,” Graf said. “We’re here to be the best. We’re here to be the greatest offensive line in the country, and that’s what we need to work harder towards.”

In Graf, the Trojans have a prototypical tackle with 6-foot-6, 300-pound size to go along with deceptive athleticism and a unique football IQ that comes with growing up in a football family. His father, Allan, and brother, Derek, both played for the Trojans on the offensive line.

Martinez, at 6-2 and 305 pounds, is more of a brawler on the interior with a strong build and quick feet. Like Graf, he has football in his genes, with a number cousins having played collegiately, and a brother, Keni Kaufusi, currently on the California roster.

Both arrived at USC as members of the Class of 2009 during the Pete Carroll era. Graf, from Agoura Hills (Calif.), and Martinez, a Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood, product actually first met at the Under Armor All-American Game that year and became fast friends.

That bond has transferred over to the field where, having made a total of 25 starts next to each other, the two share a unique familiarity and comfort in the knowledge that they can always count on one another.

“We have trust,” Graf said. “I know that he’s going to have my back, and he knows that I’m going to have his, and that’s the most important thing.”

In particular, it’s the relative ease with which they can communicate with each other on the line in the heat of battle that works not only to their own benefit, but to that of the entire offense.

[+] EnlargeKevin Graf
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireRight tackle Kevin Graf will start alongside John Martinez for the third year in a row this fall.
“He knows what needs to happen if I need help, and I know what needs to happen if he needs help on certain assignments with pass protections and everything like that,” Martinez said. “So I definitely feel like familiarity and the sense of communication that we have with each other really helps out a lot during the games.”

“We’ll have full-on conversations on the line, because we know that we need to be able to communicate with each other -- we need to be able to see everything, and that definitely helps,” added Graf. “And when you’ve been training with someone next to you for three years, it’s almost easy.”

But their synchronicity on the field isn’t the only reason for their success. Having made names for themselves both in the weight room and on the practice field for the determined way in which they go about their work, they continue to strive to improve.

“We’re still getting better,” Graf said. “When we first started, we were just sophomores, and by the time you’re a senior, you’ve grown a lot in terms of your maturity, and you’ve grown up as a player and a person, but you can still get better every day, and that’s what we do.”

With a work ethic like that, their emergence as leaders over the last year has developed naturally. This spring, however, they’ve each taken that responsibility up a notch.

“I definitely think that I’ve stepped up as a leader, because now that Khaled is gone it’s our turn,” Martinez said. “You have to have someone fill that role on a team, and I feel like that’s what me and Kevin have done on the offensive line. We have the experience to lead them and to show them the path to take.”

“I’m not going to be here forever, and John isn’t going to be here forever, so when the time comes for us to leave, the younger guys need to be ready,” Graf said.

Following the lead of Graf and Martinez, there are signs the offensive line is slowly starting to come together. The two vets are part of a starting unit that features Marcus Martin at center, Max Tuerk at left guard and Walker at left tackle. Over the past two weeks of practice, there has been a noticeable improvement in the group’s level of play.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but I feel like everything is starting to come together now,” Martinez said. “Spring break is over, we’ve got all of the jitters out and everyone is here to play ball. That’s what we need to do, because the offensive line had a decent season last year, and now we need to make a point to everyone else that we’re the foundation of the offense.”

If the offensive line does fulfill Martinez’s goal in establishing that mindset, it’s not far-fetched to imagine both he, as well as Graf, capping their USC careers off on the right note in 2013.

“Finishing off strong is important for us as seniors,” Martinez said. “I definitely think that we’re going to make a point to everybody that we mean business, and we’re going to hold down that right side.”

Marqise Lee voted Pac-12 player of the year

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
3:27
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USC receiver Marqise Lee was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, conference representatives announced Monday.

In a vote of the conference's head coaches, Lee was chosen as the top offensive player. He also was the only sophomore in the conference unanimously selected to the Pac-12 first team this season, during which he totaled 112 catches, 1,680 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns.

One other Trojan, senior center Khaled Holmes, was selected as a first-teamer. Receiver Robert Woods, defensive end Morgan Breslin, cornerback Nickell Robey and safety T.J. McDonald were all second-team honorees, as was Lee as a return specialist.

Thirteen USC players earned honorable mention, with quarterback Matt Barkley, running back Silas Redd, tight end Xavier Grimble and offensive linemen Max Tuerk and John Martinez leading the way on offense.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Arizona's Matt Scott, two quarterbacks who beat Barkley this season, were named the Pac-12's first- and second-team signal-callers, respectively.

Barkley will leave USC having never been a first-team all-conference performer, which is remarkable considering the conference records he owns for all-time passing yards and touchdowns.

USC defensive linemen Leonard Williams, George Uko and Wes Horton and linebackers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard received honorable mention.

Williams also was named the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, after recording a 7.5-sack, two-fumble-recovery season.

Kicker Andre Heidari, punter Kyle Negrete and reserve linebacker Tony Burnett rounded out USC's honorable-mention recipients on special teams.

Five storylines: USC vs. Utah 

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
11:18
AM PT
1. Two teams with a lot to lose: Coming into the season, this was penciled in as a highlight matchup between the expected front-runners for the Pac-12 South. Instead, both teams already have a conference loss, so another defeat would really be a blow in terms of conference standings.

2. USC defensive pressure vs. Utah QB Jon Hays: The Utes have given up 11 sacks behind an inexperienced offensive line, while the Trojans already have 16 sacks to their credit. Look for USC's pass-rushers to pin their ears back and come after Hays early and often.

3. Homecoming for USC RG John Martinez: Two weeks ago, Martinez went up against his brother, Keni Kaufusi, a defensive lineman at Cal. He won’t face any relatives this week, but it will be homecoming for the former Murray (Utah) Cottonwood star. Martinez will have several former high school teammates lining up for the Utes.

Postgame notes: USC beats Cal

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
11:13
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- No. 13 USC Trojans beat California Golden Bears for the ninth straight season on Saturday at the Coliseum, 27-9. Here are news, notes and quotes from the game that won't make it into our other coverage from the day:

Seven sacks

Coach Lane Kiffin likes to begin his postgame news conferences after USC wins by telling reporters what the "story of the day" was.

Sometimes, he's right on target; sometimes he's not. He was exactly right with his opening comments this time.

"I think that the game was won at the line of scrimmage," Kiffin said, pointing out that his Trojans had seven sacks to Cal's zero.

That really was the single biggest reason USC beat Cal on Saturday, the single biggest reason the Trojans were able to put last week's upset loss at Stanford behind them despite a decidedly less-than-perfect performance on offense and in the secondary.

"They came around today," defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said of his unit.

USC's linebackers have been the defense's strength over the last season-plus, and it's not necessarily any different now, but the Trojans' linemen really made the three 'backers look good Saturday.

"It's great when the linemen are rotating, staying fresh and keeping their linemen off us linebackers," said middle linebacker Lamar Dawson. "Then we can make plays."

Weakside linebacker Hayes Pullard said the linemen forced Cal quarterback Zach Maynard into some unusual mistakes.

Defensive end Wes Horton, who played at full strength for the first time this season, said the Trojans noticed in meetings this week that Cal's offensive linemen wouldn't be difficult to beat if schemed correctly.

"They were OK," Horton said. "It was a matter of creating the right moves to beat them."

Horton and fellow end Morgan Breslin certainly found them -- Breslin was credited with three sacks, the most by a USC defender since Rey Maualuga's 2008 Rose Bowl performance against Illinois.

(Read full post)

Postgame notes: Stanford

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
12:20
AM PT


STANFORD, Calif. -- Here are notes, quotes and video that won't make it into our other coverage of No. 2 USC's 21-14 loss to No. 21 Stanford on Saturday at Stanford Stadium:

Holmes' absence an issue

The Trojans were without their best offensive lineman against Stanford, and it really hurt them.

Center Khaled Holmes appeared to hurt his right ankle in the fourth quarter of last week's win over Syracuse. He dressed and warmed up with his teammates Saturday and was treated as a game-time decision, but he was limited to an assistant-coach role, not playing at all against the Cardinal.

It was unfortunate luck for USC, who would've already had trouble blocking Stanford's tough front seven but found it virtually impossible without Holmes.

"If there was a game on the schedule you'd pick that you wouldn't want to be missing your senior center, this is it," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said after the game. "I think any time you miss what I think is an All-American center who has been there a lot and played with Matt a lot, he misses a hard game."

Right guard John Martinez said he and his offensive line mates had confidence in Holmes' replacement, redshirt freshman Cyrus Hobbi, going in, but admitted they missed "Khaled's presence and his intangibles."

Quarterback Matt Barkley refused to accept Holmes' absence as a reason his team lost.

"I don't think you can put the blame on that," Barkley said. "There's a lot that can go on besides that."

(Read full post)

On Stanford: 'We tried to take them lightly'

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
10:54
PM PT
STANFORD, Calif. -- In 2009, No. 9 USC was crushed 55-21 by a 25th-ranked Stanford Cardinal squad at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

In 2010, unranked USC was beaten here by No. 16 Stanford on a last-second field goal. And, most recently, in 2011, the 20th-ranked Trojans nearly upset No. 4 Stanford back at the Coliseum in triple overtime.

Yet, somehow, these 2012 No. 2-ranked USC Trojans still haven't learned their lesson. They continue to underestimate their rivals from up north, and came in for Saturday's game at Stanford Stadium underprepared for the No. 21 Cardinal.

"We tried to take them lightly ... that's probably the reason why we lost," USC tight end Randall Telfer said after Saturday's game, which the Trojans indeed lost, 21-14. "They're a really good team and we kind of maybe expected it to be handed to us, when that really wasn't the case."

Telfer started for the Trojans and caught four balls for 20 yards. In a candid moment after the game, he admitted USC underestimated Stanford -- without placing blame on any specific players or coaches.

“All around, we probably weren't prepared as we should've been for this team,” Telfer said. “They're a really good team.”

Told of Telfer's comments and asked if the Trojans took Stanford as seriously as they should've, USC right guard John Martinez indicated that he felt they didn't. But he said the problem came later in the game, when they ran out of the limited amount of energy they opened the game with.

"You could kind of feel it when we went out there in the fourth quarter," Martinez said. "Things were dead, things weren't as loud as we were coming out in the first half. I wouldn't say we weren't ready, but the energy wasn't there.

"That's all I can say."

Isn't it a little nonsensical to play that way against the only team to beat you three seasons in a row? Yes, Martinez said, it is.

"I would say so," Martinez said. "But we just ... I don't know what to say about that.”

Game-time updates: USC-Hawaii

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
4:21
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- We're just about set to go here at the Coliseum for the USC Trojans' 4:30 p.m. PT game against Hawaii. Here are a couple of last-minute things worthy of an update before kickoff:
  • The Trojans have long resisted making alterations to their uniforms while programs across the country have given in, but USC is allowing its players something interesting this season. Every player's cleats and socks are now cardinal-and-gold colored and quite reflective in the Los Angeles sun.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers public address announcer Eric Smith is the new Coliseum PA guy for the Trojans, beginning today. He was the school's top choice from a pool of potentials who auditioned during USC's Spring Game in April.

We'll have more from the Coliseum after today's game.

USC's season-opening depth chart

August, 26, 2012
8/26/12
10:35
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USC coach Lane Kiffin released the first official depth chart of the 2012 season on Sunday night. Here it is, in its entirety, with bold indicating starters, ALL-CAPS indicating returning starters and ^ indicating returning co-starters.

We'll analyze the depth chart on Monday.

OFFENSE

Quarterback
MATT BARKLEY
Cody Kessler OR
Max Wittek

Running back
CURTIS MCNEAL OR
Silas Redd
D.J. Morgan
Javorius Allen

Fullback
Soma Vainuku
Jahleel Pinner
Charles Burks
Hunter Simmons

Flanker
MARQISE LEE*
De'Von Flournoy OR
Nelson Agholor

Split end
ROBERT WOODS
George Farmer
Victor Blackwell

Tight end
XAVIER GRIMBLE^ OR
RANDALL TELFER^
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick OR
Christian Thomas OR
Junior Pomee

(Read full post)

Film study: Utah

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
5:47
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Here's the second post in our new 'film study' series started earlier this week.

Every other day from now until Aug. 23, we’ll be putting up a set of pertinent-to-this-year notes from each game, going of course in chronological order from the Minnesota season opener to the UCLA season finale. At the end, on Aug. 25, we’ll have one last post with our overall takeaways from the re-watching. By then, it’ll be the week of this year's opener.

We did USC's 19-17 win over Minnesota on Wednesday. Here, now, are our five notes — four big things and a bunch of little ones — from USC’s 23-14 win over Utah on Sept. 10, 2011.

Barkley's mistakes

This was either Matt Barkley's second- or third-worst performance of the 2011 season. We'll be able to more accurately place it after a re-watching of the October win over Cal, but he just doesn't look sharp in this contest.

Notable mistakes included a clear overthrow of Robert Woods on a screen play in the first quarter and two miscommunications with Rhett Ellison -- the latter of which resulted in an interception. At first, it looked as if it were an Ellison mistake, but the two players' reactions seem to indicate otherwise. And, after the first one, you can clearly see coach Lane Kiffin's mouth, "Come on, Matt" from the sideline on the TV broadcast.

A displeased Barkley told the sideline reporter after the game that the Trojans had "a lot of work to do on offense, that's for sure."

That seems like so long ago, doesn't it?

(Read full post)

Fall camp position preview: O-linemen

August, 2, 2012
8/02/12
6:05
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With the start of the 2012 USC football season drawing near, we’re doing position-by-position previews of the Trojans’ roster all this week. We began Monday with quarterbacks and continued Tuesday with running backs and Wednesday with receivers and tight ends.

Today, we will profile offensive linemen.

For each position, we’re starting with the current depth chart, going off the end-of-spring depth chart as released by Lane Kiffin, and discussing what needs to be resolved by Sept. 1.

Left tackle

1. Aundrey Walker, sophomore
2. Nathan Guertler, redshirt sophomore
3. Chad Wheeler, freshman

Left guard

1. Marcus Martin, sophomore
2. Giovanni Di Poalo, redshirt sophomore
3. Max Tuerk, freshman

Center

1. Khaled Holmes, redshirt senior
2. Abe Markowitz, redshirt senior
3. Cyrus Hobbi, redshirt freshman

Right guard

1. John Martinez, redshirt junior
2. Jeremy Galten, senior
3. Jordan Simmons, freshman

Right tackle

1. Kevin Graf, redshirt junior
2. David Garness, redshirt junior
3. Zach Banner, freshman

An offensive line depth chart is always a funny thing.

The backup at a given position might technically be the No. 2 guy there, like Guertler is at left tackle, but that doesn't mean he'd be the guy to come in if Walker got nicked up and had to miss a series. And the same thing goes for Di Poalo backing up Martin -- it's much more likely that Markowitz would be the short-term replacement than Di Poalo.

But, about the starters, there really isn't going to be much competition going on here. The interior spots are all solidified, and Kiffin and his staff seem pretty set on keeping Walker on the blind site. The only foreseeable changes would be a switch between Walker and Graf if Walker is underperforming, and maybe a move of Markowitz into the left guard slot if Martin is experiencing a sophomore slump.

Walker's offseason weight loss has been remarkable. He weighed around 375 pounds on his official visit to USC in the winter and then proceeded to slowly lose weight over the next year and a half.

In early June, he was 296 -- too light for what the Trojans' coaching staff wanted. So he's tried to gain back some of the weight since.

Even when Walker was a lot heavier last year, you could see the makings of a left tackle in his game. He has a wide body, his feet are quick and he has long arms. It also makes sense to keep Graf at the position he has a year of starting experience at already.

Other things to watch in camp include the development of Banner, the mammoth freshman listed at 6 feet 9 and 335 pounds. He's a redshirt candidate, along with the other three first-year freshmen, but he might have the best chance to play this year of the group.

Simmons' status is unknown, as a knee injury has prevented him from most team workouts since he arrived on campus earlier this summer. Wheeler, still a serious project, is almost a guarantee to redshirt although he enrolled in January.

We tackle defensive linemen tomorrow.

Five things we learned in the spring, No. 3

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
11:39
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USC’s spring practice is done and football is officially over until the first week of August, so we’re going over the five biggest things we learned this spring.

We went over De’Von Flournoy‘s surprise spring Monday and defensive back depth on Tuesday. Our third -- and first not-so-great -- thing we learned over this year's spring practice is this: Both USC tackles still have a lot of work to do to learn how to best defend speed ends.

Lane Kiffin mentioned it more than once over the course of the Trojans' 15 spring practices.

He was generally happy with the progress of the team's interior offensive line throughout the spring. Center Khaled Holmes wasn't always healthy, but, when he was, he was demonstrating improvement. Right guard John Martinez was quietly good. And sophomore left guard Marcus Martin proved nimbler on his feet after an offseason in the conditioning program.

But the offensive tackles, blind-sider Aundrey Walker and right tackle Kevin Graf, left a little something to be desired -- specifically, both players demonstrated a number of times they're not yet well-equipped to defend speed-rushing defensive ends. Devon Kennard and Wes Horton got by them on the outside with ease.

"That's been an issue for us," Kiffin said last week, after USC's spring-concluding Spring Game.

And that's slightly alarming, because the Pac-12 has a ton of ends who are even more pass-rush-oriented than Kennard and Horton. So is it a full-on structural thing, where Walker and Graf just aren't capable of turning their hips quick enough to prevent ends from getting the edge? Or is it just a time thing, where they both need time to develop better technique?

(Read full post)

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