Chat with Mark Saxon, Pedro Moura
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon (right) and Pedro Moura stop by to chat about USC's college football season.
Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune. Moura is a student at USC and has covered the Trojans since 2008 and also reports on high school sports.
Send your questions now and join the chat Friday at 3 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT!
Mark Saxon (3:13 PM)
Sorry I'm late everybody. Let's get rolling.
Think Harbaugh, up by 36, will go for two?
Mark Saxon (3:14 PM)
Hah! Given his track record, Gibby, I wouldn't bet against it. This guy's not interested in winning friends in the coaching community, that's for sure. But he has brought winning to a place where it's always an uphill battle.
Scott (L.A., CA)
Hi guys! Is there any truth to the rumor that USC's stud recruit, DeAnthony Thomas, is looking around at other schools? I have heard a lot of buzz that he's looking at other schools, specifically UCLA. Have you guys heard this? Thanks for the great work you guys do!
Mark Saxon (3:16 PM)
Hi Scott, I have not heard that and, if I'm not mistaken, he made his commitment after the sanctions had been announced. I haven't spoken to the young man myself and these verbal commitments hardly strike me as worth reporting about anyway, until the ink is dry. Don't most 17-year olds tend to change their minds a lot?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How do you think that Lane Kiffen is as a Head Coach for USC?
Mark Saxon (3:17 PM)
Chris, that's a slightly open-ended question. The real answer is: too early to tell. Actually, that's the only answer.
Kevin (Arlington, VA)
Mark, I read the article that Monte Kiffin is pretty broken up about the USC Defense woes being his fault...how much of this is the new scheme vs. USC just not having the usual talent on D like they have in the past? Can we see it get any better?
Mark Saxon (3:20 PM)
Hey Kevin, my gut feeling is that it's more about the scheme being new than it is about USC not having enough talent. It's not talent, per se, that USC lacks. What it lacks is speed and quickness. It should actually be fairly well situated to slow down Stanford with all those 300-pounders on its front.
ucla will win the pac 10 tdis year,
Mark Saxon (3:21 PM)
Victor, that's good to know.
Kevin (Arlington, VA)
With the sanctions in place, how many years will it take b4 USC gets back to dominating the Pac 10? Will the recruiting talents that the current coaches have be enough to still rank in the top 5 regarding recruiting classes?
Mark Saxon (3:27 PM)
Kevin, if I were a USC fan I'd be a bit chilled by something Lane Kiffin said this week. He said it could take five or six years to get back to the pinnacle, where the Trojans have better players than everybody else in the conference. And no, I don't think their recruiting classes will rank that high simply because they'll have 10 fewer guys than everybody else.
Who is the best bet to upset Oregon in the Pac 10?
Pedro Moura (3:36 PM)
Had you asked me a week ago, I would've said Stanford. But that ship has sailed...Now, I think you'd have to say Oregon State in the Civil War in Corvallis. USC and Arizona also have outside shots, I'd say...
Shocking that a Ruin fan can't spell his hometown correctly. Maybe he was in a rush to get back delivering pizzas. Also, Ruin fans can stop all of the talk about the Black Mamba going there. It's not going to happen. The Mamba is going to be special.
Pedro Moura (3:38 PM)
Hey now, Jason. Thomas has not signed anything yet and could easily switch his commitment over to UCLA before next February. Remember Randall Carroll or Morrell Presley? It's been done before.
What's the deal with Dillon Baxter saying he has been mailing it in? This is supposed to be a very talented freshman...is he regretting his decision to attend USC?
Pedro Moura (3:42 PM)
That's a very insightful question, Kevin. Dillon Baxter has flip-flopped a lot this season, from putting in a lot of effort to mailing it in -- on and off the field. Is he regretting his decision to attend USC? Perhaps -- I guess we'll see at the end of the season. But if Baxter is going to have one break-out game this season, there's a very, very good shot it will be this week.
Pedro Moura (3:44 PM)
And say what you will about Baxter, but he's definitely not shy. "It seems like when I shake someone, the whole defense just gets mad and tries to hit me or something," he told me last night. "[I'm] the one getting picked on."
Whatever happen with Jesse Scroggins being cleared by the NCAA? Is he on campus?
Pedro Moura (3:46 PM)
Scroggins got cleared a while back -- I want to say late August, about a week before the Hawaii game. He's on campus, practicing with the team and planning to redshirt this season. He was actually given the task of emulating Washington quarterback Jake Locker in scout-team drills last week. Go here for more on him: http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/usc/post/_/id/3581/jesse-scroggins-is-finding-his-way
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
When will USC wake up and play a complete game this season?
Pedro Moura (3:48 PM)
Your guess is as good as mine, Pete. (Can I call you Pete? We have the same name and I generally don't mind the nickname Pete.) The closest the Trojans have come to a complete game this season -- it's sad to say -- was probably the Washington State contest. I will say this, though: There is little to no chance that USC will beat Stanford without playing a complete game.
Tess (Sierra Madre)
We know things were a little "intense" between Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll in the past. Has this game risen to the level of a rivalry game, do you think? Is there a charged-up feeling around the team this week?
Pedro Moura (3:52 PM)
I think this game has definitely risen to the level of a rivalry game, although I don't think that has as much to do with last year's postgame incident as it does the actual score of last year's game and Stanford's recent performances. I'd like to say that there is a charged-up feeling in practice this week, but I can't really say it's been much different than past weeks. One thing this team seems to be lacking is a killer instinct, as Mark and I touched on in our video this week.
Makes me sick to even ask this but is UCLA looking like the better team in LA, currently?
Pedro Moura (3:55 PM)
I don't think you can say that just yet, Kevin. Once USC plays Stanford and we see how the two schools fared against the same talented team, I think that argument will be easier to make. The simple fact of it is that USC still has only one loss to UCLA's two -- no matter how awful-looking the Trojans' four wins were.
Don (Chino Hills)
What is the deal with Gallipo's lack of playing time?
Pedro Moura (3:58 PM)
The coaching staff is looking for a way to get him on the field, but at this time there really isn't a spot where he can log significant time. Because USC doesn't practice with much intensity, injuries are less prone to occur and no linebacker has missed any time yet. But Galippo did see a few snaps at defensive end last week against Washington, and it seems like we could see more of the same this week -- especially with Wes Horton likely out once again because of a back injury.
Donnell (Chino )
Is Kiffin searching on campus for a walk on place kicker?
Pedro Moura (4:01 PM)
Good one, Donnell. He's actually joked about it twice now, but I don't think USC's going to pick anyone up midseason or anything. If things continue to get worse, the Trojans do have a freshman walk-on available in Craig McMahon, who looks to have a fairly strong leg from what I've seen of him in limited practice this time. They also have an early enrollee freshman set to arrive in January in Andre Heidari of Bakersfield, so help isn't far away.
Pedro Moura (4:05 PM)
That will wrap it up for today, guys. Thanks again for joining me and Mark, and thanks for all the great questions. Don't forget to visit the USC Blog on ESPNLA.com all week long as we cover the Trojans extensively, and check out our live chat during tomorrow's game against Stanford at 5 p.m. PT. See you next week as we preview USC's game against Cal!