USC gets into the holiday spirit

On Wednesday I headed out to USC football practice and asked a few players about their favorite Halloween traditions. I originally wanted to ask them what they were going to dress up as for Halloween, but I realized that they’d be on the road for their matchup at Washington State this Saturday, so they’re unable to really celebrate the holiday.

Instead, I asked them about their favorite Halloween candy, movie and costume as a kid. So I decided I’d take it upon myself to write a column suggesting hypothetical costumes for them. Prepare yourself for all sorts of terrible metaphors.

Steve Sarkisian: Furby

When I was six years old, I was beyond excited to get a Furby for Christmas. They were all the rage, and I loved mine. For about a month. And then I realized how creepy it was, looking like a mix between a hamster and an owl. After it blurted out one too many words in its weird language, I made the tough decision to take the batteries out and relegate the toy to the back of my closet.

Fast forward to Aug. 30 of this year: USC football’s home opener against Fresno State. The Trojans were flying high, and Sark made a statement by running a Pac-12 record 105 plays against the Bulldogs, silencing any doubters who were underwhelmed by Athletic Director Pat Haden’s decision to hire him.

Sark followed that performance up with an impressive win at Stanford the next week, but has gone 3-3 since with two last-minute losses, and now USC fans are doing what they do best: calling for their coach’s head. Indeed, Sark has fallen out of favor with the Trojan faithful.

Can Sark get this season back on track? If not, he might fall from grace, just like those old majestic Furbies.

Leonard Williams: Simba

This one is too easy. Williams’ frizzy mane of hair has earned him the nickname “Leo the Lion,” and he even has a tattoo of a lion’s face on his hand.

Aside from his hair, Williams resembles Simba in that he is still so young and has the whole world in front of him. The Daytona Beach, Florida, native is just 20 years old and will likely enter the 2015 NFL Draft before he turns 21.

Most players with his talent and football IQ have taken a redshirt year and had the extra time to improve their game, but even when Williams had the opportunity to redshirt (after injuring himself in fall camp in 2013) he decided to play through the pain all season.

The NFL is his for the taking, and he just can’t wait to be king.

Buck Allen: Thomas the Tank Engine

I wish there existed a more menacing train to compare Buck to, but Thomas & Friends will have to do. Hopefully you get the point.

Buck Allen has been a force to be reckoned with this season, posting more than 100 rush yards in seven of the Trojans’ eight games so far.

Opponents are starting to realize that when he’s rolling, they’d better get out of the way — the Tallahassee, Florida, native, who blossomed under the tutelage of former interim head coach Ed Orgeron last season, is averaging 138.4 rushing yards over the past five games.

Allen’s emergence as a workhouse has allowed Steve “Furby” Sarkisian to run a well-balanced offensive attack, of which Allen is the clear choice for MVP.

Choo-choo, Buck. Choo-choo.

JuJu Smith and Adoree’ Jackson: Twins from The Shining

These talented freshmen have got to give opposing teams nightmares.

They’ve been making explosive plays since the very first game of the season, when Smith broke a USC freshman record in a season opener with 123 receiving yards.

Jackson has added a number of explosive plays of his own, including a kick return touchdown against Utah that put USC back in the lead late in the second quarter.

These two, who both came to USC as two-way players, have been frighteningly good so early (Smith is still just 17 years old) and definitely represent the future of the program.


Aubrey Kragen is a senior majoring in communication. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Release the Kragen,” runs Fridays.