Steve Sarkisian makes it a point not to make this week's game about going to Boston College (5 p.m. PDT, ESPN) just the way last week's wasn't about going to The Farm. It's not about the trip -- or the opponent, Sark says. It's about USC.
A good way to go most of the time. But this week is an exception. This week is also about Gerald Bowman making it back to the East Coast as a 24-year-old senior starter for USC from the most unlikely of places -- the Philadelphia public schools. And while Mid-Atlantic Philly isn't exactly next door to New England Boston, it's close ennough.
Close enough to have Bowman getting 16 tickets from his Trojan teammates for family and friends, high school coaches and his Imhotep HS teammates to see him play in the Eastern time zone. Bowman was awarded an extra redshirt year after hurting his shoulder in the Arizona State game. And now he's proving his own judgment correct.
A running back for a four-year-old Philly prep program, despite his 1,700 yards rushing as a senior, Bowman got no interest from college programs. And he wasn't going to give up his dream."To be honest, I was determined that I wasn't going to settle for anything less than a Division I program," Bowman said. "I'm not playing football unless it's Division I."
So after no interest, Bowman went to North Carolina Tech Prep, a high-caliber football program that disintegrated in scandal after four months when it was discovered it was basically a football team in search of a school. Gerald shakes his head at how that went down. He went back home and waited for the better part of two years as friends who had moved on to LA's Pierce College called for him to come on out.
"I thought I could play at the highest level," Bowman said. And soon he found that he would have a chance when USC came calling. He was right. He could play at this level as his consistent, hard-hitting safety play the first two games this season proves.
"It was very humbling and exciting," Bowman said of getting the USC offer.
Rewarding for USC, as well. Bowman has been the most consistent defensive back through the spring and summer and into the fall, secondary coach Keith Heyward says.
For Sark, what the veteran elder statesman Bowman does is offer "a senior mentality . . . he embraces every day out there and that's a contagious thing."
Here's what the USC coach had to say about:
* Leonard Williams: "We got more work out of Leonard today and we'll get more tomorrow . . . we rotated him pretty much last week . . . everybody's better when they're fresh."
* Delvon Simmons: "I loved the fact that Delvon blocked a field goal [against Stanford] on sheer effort [after video showed that he got a right thumb deflecting a Stanford field goal Saturday]." Sark says that's the thing he's looking for from Simmons and Claude Pelon, "effort" plays every play.
* Punter Kris Albarado: "I think Kris can play better . . . it was his first time out . . . he had first game jitters in Game 2 [after not getting a chance to punt in the opener against Fresno State]."
* On getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks: "I'd like to turn our guys loose more . . . and [Kevin] Hogan did a good job keeping us off-balance at the line of scrimmage . . . and we missed him two or three times in the backfield [on what would have been sacks]."
* On the Red Zone defense against Stanford: "It was a point of emphasis last week after the Fresno State game . . . we dug deep . . . we found a way."
* On the Stanford game and trip: "It was grueling . . . when Hayes [Pullard] went out and the game got tight, we were able to lean on one another."
Freshman safety John Plattenburg showed up with a boot on his strained achilles and wasn't moving all that well . . . Tre Madden didn't make it to practice again Tuesday and looks like his his turf toe will have him out until the Sept. 27 Oregon State game at the earliest after next week's bye . . . Lamar Dawson likely to follow a similar schedule even though he was here and in gear and doing individual position work . . . Speaking of next week's bye week, the Trojans will follow the same practice schedule, off Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at Cromwell Field, where they're able to be watched by anyone passing by. But with no game-prep work -- or not much anyway, that week, it's not as much of a security problem . . . We're assuming that getting off Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy fields is an effort to keep them in the good shape they're in for the rest of the year . . . Trojans will then have off Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
For a wrapup of Wednesday morning's practice, check out WEDNESDAY GHOST NOTES.You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at email@example.com.