The rivalry between the Fighting Irish and the Trojans is touted as one of the longest and most highly-anticipated rivalries in college football. Last year, the Fighting Irish beat the Trojans at the Coliseum in a grueling 22-13 victory. Saturday will be a pivotal game for USC in its first road game under interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
The Trojans held fast-paced practices on Monday and Tuesday before a lighter practice on Wednesday preceding their travel day on Thursday. Once the Trojans arrive in South Bend, they’ll have another full practice on Friday before resting up for Saturday night’s showdown.
Orgeron said that many players who have seen limited minutes this season will get a chance to play against Notre Dame, including junior defensive end J.R. Tavai, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Antwaun Woods and redshirt sophomore linebacker Anthony Sarao.
On the Mend
The return of a few key players to the Trojans lineup, headlined by redshirt junior cornerback Anthony Brown, gives hope that the team might finally regain the depth it needs to compete against the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame’s receiving corps, headlined by senior TJ Jones (481 receiving yards, four touchdowns) and junior Davaris Daniels (385 receiving yards, four touchdowns), will provide a challenge for USC’s panned secondary.
The unit has received much criticism after giving up a combined 714 passing yards over the last two games, but the return of Brown gives USC another option to plug into its pass defense.
“I was supposed to be back for ASU, so I was a little behind schedule,” Brown said. “But I’m happy to be back for a big game.”
Brown says he is focusing on quick routes and communication. The agile cornerback will replace senior Torin Harris as starter.
Orgeron said senior linebacker Morgan Breslin will most likely be ready to take the field come Saturday as well after having great practices this week, but that redshirt sophomore running back Tre Madden is questionable to return on Saturday.
Junior wide receiver Marqise Lee told media yesterday he was 100 percent sure he would be back, despite the fact that “a knee injury is no joke.” But Orgeron said he doesn’t know if his star wideout is going to be available.
Old Practices, New Rituals
Orgeron played a song for the team on “Competition Tuesday” that the team has taken to quickly — “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk!)” by the Ying Yang Twins, which is the kickoff song for the New Orleans Saints.
“I said if I ever had the chance to be a head coach again I would play this for my guys,” Orgeron said.
The players seemed to enjoy the song, so much so that they asked for it to be played in the locker room before games.
After practice, most of the Trojans’ skill players participated in a foot race, which redshirt junior cornerback Josh Shaw won.