USC: Maxine Robey

Film study: Washington

August, 23, 2012
Here’s the 10th post in our “film study” series.

Every other day, almost, we’re watching one of the games USC played last season and putting up a set of pertinent-to-this-year notes, going of course in chronological order from the Minnesota season opener to the UCLA season finale. At the end, 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’ve already done USC’s 19-17 win over Minnesota, 23-14 win over Utah, 38-17 win over Syracuse, 44-23 loss to Arizona State, 48-41 win over Arizona, 30-9 win over Cal, 31-17 win over Notre Dame and 56-48 triple-overtime loss to Stanford and 42-17 win over Colorado. Here, now, are our five notes -- four big things and a bunch of little ones -- from the Trojans' 40-17 win over Washington on Nov. 12, 2011.

The fake punt

It was 7-3 Trojans in the second quarter and USC was about to to give the ball back to Washington after another penalty- and incompletion-filled drive.

Then Kyle Negrete entered the game to "punt" and took off running down the field. He ended up gaining 35 yards -- and several fans with the big hit he doled out at the end of it. In retrospect, it was clearly the biggest play of the game, with the Huskies really never figuring into the outcome after Negrete's fake punt led to a USC touchdown.

Seven minutes later, it was 23-3, Trojans.

It was a heck of a time to call the only fake punt of the season, too. If it failed, Washington would have had the ball just 30 or 40 yards away from a control-taking touchdown.

(Read full post)

Robey: 'I felt like I had an S on my chest'

November, 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- Nickell Robey ran out of the southwest tunnel out of the Coliseum before Saturday's game against Washington like a man on a mission.

It turns out he was.

USC coach Lane Kiffin dedicated the game to the late mother of the USC cornerback, Maxine Robey, who would have turned 46 on Saturday. Kiffin asked Robey to lead the Trojans out of the tunnel and awarded him the game ball afterward for his "awesome" play in USC's 40-17 win over Washington.

Robey's younger sister, Maranda, and younger cousin were in attendance at the Coliseum, along with his aunt, uncle and grandmother. It's the second straight season they've come out around this time of year to celebrate the life of Robey's mother, who died on February 18, 2010 from a massive heart attack 15 days after he signed with USC.

Kiffin had talked Robey up all week and made sure he felt special from the start of Saturday's game, leading the team out for the opening kick. He embraced it.

"It was great leading the guys out of the tunnel, man," Robey said. "I got my team behind me, and I knew we were ready to play.

"I felt like I had an 'S' on my chest."

Robey didn't have any big plays in the game, as he has a lot of late, but he provided his signature lockdown defense as the Huskies passes for only 198 yards on the day. Washington No. 1 receiver Jermaine Kearse, Robey's most often matchup, finished with two catches for 10 yards.

And USC, of course, won -- comfortably.

"My emotions were great," Robey said. "My family was at the game, I was happy for that, and it was just an amazing win for us.

"It was a great team win."

As he walked out of the USC locker room on Saturday, one of the final Trojans to emerge, Robey was carrying the football that Kiffin presented him and four game programs for his family members who came out to L.A. for the game.

He was heading to meet the five of them just outside the Coliseum, where they would head to a nearby restaurant for a postgame dinner and then back to his off-campus apartment to relax and catch up.

"They're not too much into sightseeing and all that good stuff," Robey said. "They just came here to see me and see me play football. They just love the Trojans."

He hadn't seen anyone in his family since July, and it'd been several months before that. Since he left home for USC in the summer of 2010, he's spent barely more than month back in Florida.

He's not the type that wanted to get out. He just wanted to find himself the best opportunity. And he believes he's found it here in Los Angeles, as evidenced by the ball he continued to hold tightly beneath his left shoulder as he spoke to reporters.

He was moving around often -- as he usually does -- but he made a point to keep hold of the ball that Kiffin had presented him.

"I can't drop it," Robey said. "Can't drop it."

A special weekend for Nickell Robey

November, 11, 2011
It was evident from the first hour of the first day of Washington preparation this week: There was something going on with Nickell Robey.

The 19-year-old sophomore cornerback, usually USC's most energetic, most non-stop player, had taken it to a new level, smack-talking more than ever before, running around like a madman on the practice field and altogether looking a man motivated to an unimaginable extent.

It turns out that was exactly true, and for good reason. Five members of Robey's family are flying in from Florida to attend Saturday's game against the Huskies, the second-straight year his family is town around this time of the year.

The reason: Robey's late mother, Maxine, would have turned 46 on Saturday. Born on November 12, 1965, she died in February 2010 from a massive heart attack just 15 days after Nickell signed with the Trojans.

"I just feel like this is a special weekend for me," Robey said this week. "My sister, my grandma, my uncle, my auntie and my little cousin, they are all going to be attending the Washington game for my mom’s birthday. It’s going to be a special weekend for me and a special game.

"I have to just play all out.”

Robey always plays all out. That's sort of his signature as a player. But this week in practice, this week -- he upped the ante even more. Why?

“I know that she is going to be watching," Robey says in response to that question. "In my mind, that’s how I think and I know she is going to be there watching. From the beginning of the week, before the week ever started, I said I was going to be amped up for these practices and game.

"I’m doing it and I’m ready to see what happens.”

Really the only issue now is whether he'll have too much energy at the start of Saturday's game. But he's confident he'll be able to control it.

“I know before the game I will have to calm down," Robey said. "I know I’ll have to have some teammates to cool me down, but at practice I can control myself.

"Game time, it’s going to be electric.”

Who was Maxine Robey? What was she like?

“She was a lot of things in one," Robey says, smiling some and calming down from his usual frantic pace of talking. "To make a long story short, she was a great lady. She worked hard. She worked two jobs while she took care of me and my sister. She was a great person to the community. People in the city, they loved her. A lot of people just say she raised some great kids and they respect her for that.

"Everybody just knows that she was a caring lady and she loved everybody, period.”

Robey's head coach at USC, Lane Kiffin, the guy who convinced him to come cross-country from Frostproof, Fl. to Los Angeles for college, also had positive memories of Robey's late mother, recalling instances where he stopped by her workplace and, later, the Robeys' home.

"She always had a smile on her face, the first one to greet you at the house," Kiffin said this week. "There must have been about 30 people in the house one night when I was there and she just knew everybody, was taking care of everybody.

"Kind of the mother hen of everybody down there."

It's almost unfathomable what Robey has had to go through over the last 20 or so months. First, he decided to go across the country for college -- a big decision in itself. Then he lost his mom, and, in the months following, he also lost regular contact with his dad.

So his sister, Maranda, and the other family members coming into town this weekend have provided a big support system through phone calls and internet conversations since then.

"That was very difficult for someone at that age to go through that," Kiffin said this week fo Robey's situation. "Coming from Frostproof to L.A. is a long and very different move. And then to have [her death] on top of it -- she was probably the person closest to him in his life -- was difficult. But it says so much about him. So many kids could use that as an excuse not to succeed.

"Instead he used it as more motivation and has been starting here ever since."



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