The cold weather in Los Angeles on Wednesday gave the Trojans a glimpse of the conditions they’ll face this Saturday night, as they travel to Boulder, Colo. to take on the Colorado Buffaloes.
On Wednesday, interim head coach Ed Orgeron was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year after leading the Trojans to a 5-1 since taking over for former head coach Lane Kiffin.
Orgeron is the only Pac-12 representative on the list, and joins 15 other impressive nominees, including Alabama’s Nick Saban, Baylor’s Art Briles, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.
Orgeron was hesitant to acknowledge the honor and credited the team’s recent success to the entire staff and team instead.
“My first thought went to the players and the coaches,” Orgeron said of hearing the news. “We’ve got guys that are doing a tremendous job here. This is a total team effort, it’s not about [the] individual.”
To many of his supporters, the honor is just another reason Orgeron deserves to remain head coach of the Trojans going forward, a sentiment echoed by many of his players.
“I love Coach O. He’s a great guy,” redshirt junior safety Dion Bailey said. “He cares about his players. He’s done a lot to enhance our experience here … But like Coach O always says, just let the chips fall where they may and just control what you can.”
Though the Buffs (4-6, 1-6) have struggled this season, the Trojans aren’t letting up in practice this week, and are preparing especially for a few big matchups.
Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson, who played alongside USC junior wide receiver Marqise Lee at Los Angeles’ Serra High, ranks fourth in the nation in receiving yards.
“He’s the best receiver I’ve seen on film this year,” redshirt junior safety Josh Shaw said. “He can run, he can catch the ball and he knows the game as a wide receiver.”
Though Richardson has proven himself a true threat, the Trojans have been effective in shutting down big receivers this season. In their 31-14 blowout of Oregon State earlier this year, USC’s defense held Brandin Cooks, the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation, to only 88 receiving yards.
Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau replaced Connor Wood as the starter for the Buffaloes midway through the season, and pawwssed for a career-high 364 yards in the Buffaloes’ 41-24 victory over Cal last weekend. Liufau, however, is young and inexperienced, traits that the Trojans will look to exploit this weekend.
“He makes a lot of freshman throws — overthrows, underthrows, misreading things,” Bailey said. “But obviously they have big things in store for him. They pulled the redshirt off of him in the middle of the year and he started starting. It must be something special about him, so we’ve got to prepare for him like we prepare for every other great quarterback that we play.”
It’s a trap
The game against the Buffaloes comes one week before USC hosts crosstown rival UCLA, but the Trojans insist they are focusing on the task at hand and not overlooking their opponent.
“You’re talking to a team that lost to Washington State,” Bailey said, referring to the Trojans’ ugly 10-7 to the Cougars loss earlier this season. “We don’t have the ability to overlook anyone like we’re not better than anyone just on paper. We’ve got to go out and give A+ effort week in and week out.”
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