Stepping up, speaking out

The USC defense had enough after Friday night's lethargic effort allowing the offense to put them away and Cody Kessler to enjoy himself so team leaders like Leonard Williams and Josh Shaw stepped up and said so Saturday.

This was not the way it should be. This was not acceptable. And not how a USC football team does things.

Those were some of the responses to the offensive assault Friday night in full pads that had the Trojans powering the ball in at the goal line and passing it over the top from long range.

And had quarterback Cody Kessler mightily pleased at the work of his guys.

Leonard Williams was not pleased. Neither was Antwaun Woods, his rehabbing D-line buddy who have been paired cheering on and coaching up their mates as they work to return.

So they decided to talk about it Saturday. They called a players-only defensive team meeting to discuss the development from Friday.

Asked who called the meeting, senior Josh Shaw said, "I did. . . . some guys needed to step up as a D and perform and they did not. The older guys said 'Enough' . . . the point of the day [Saturday] was effort."

That's how Williams saw it. "The goal line was where the defense always showed the most excitement in the past and I didn't see that . . . we weren't fired-up like we're used to seeing . . . that's what I stepped up and said to them."

Williams and Woods also said it to their teammates on the field Saturday, just yards away from the offensive huddle, as they were "coaching up and cheering on," their guys, Woods said.

For Shaw, it was a matter of carrying on a tradition that he said has been passed on to him "from the guys who came before me . . . T.J. McDonald, Robert Woods . . . we've got to hold ourselves to that standard . . . as a competitor, I didn't enjoy seeing Cody in the locker room feeeling good about his guys."

But Steve Sarkisian had a good feeling Saturday when Shaw and Company spoke out. "Our leaders did step up," he said, "especially on defense" on a day the coaches chose to make "especially difficult" after Friday night's full-pads slugfest.

"We have to learn to fight through things," he said of the difficulties ahead that will come to every team. "And we did."

Su'a staying put

Asked about the rumors on some fans Web sites that he might be headed to Oklahoma as a result of the safety's displeasure at now playing some linebacker, Su'a Cravens laughed about it although he said "I really don't pay any attention to those things."

But as to the rumor itself, "It's too late," Su'a said with as he showed off his "SC" tattoo on one bicep and then the other and his Peristyle tattoo that covers one entire upper arm. He's here to stay. And playing where USC needs him.

Which, Sark said, against the many spread offenses with four wideouts USC will play using the nickel or double-nickel, would have Su'a playing down in the box and on the line of scrimmage where he can defend both the pass and the run.

"He creates a turnover a day," Sark said of Su'a's practice performance to date. "I think he likes to make plays."

And USC is going to put him in places where he can.


The Trojans return to Howard Jones Field for a single practice Sunday afternoon at 2:30 prepping for Monday evening's final preseason scrimmage at the Coliseum . . . New injuries Saturday were rolled ankles, none considered serious, for JR Tavai, Justin Davis and Damien Mama, whose appeared the most problematic although the freshman O-lineman did walk off the field under his own power . . . Williams and Woods were both in uniform Saturday with Williams closer to returning as Williams was in helmet and shoulder pads and participating in many drills . . . Adoree Jackson also returned to action on defense and got in his first action on special teams as well for the first time in a week along with Su'a Cravens on defense and Darreus Rogers on offense where both made plays . . . Lamar Dawson (knee), Cody Temple (concussion) and Anthony Brown (hyperextended elbow) were here but not cleared to participate fully.

For a complete wrapup of Saturday's Coliseum practice, check out SATURDAY COLISEUM GHOST NOTES. Top Stories