On "the day before the day before," Steve Sarkisian said he was pleased with the Thursday focus of his USC football team "on all three phases of the game" as it heads to Tempe to open on the road and in the Pac-12 South Saturday (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
"Tre [Madden] looked great today," Sark said, expecting the senior tailback to have a big game Saturday. "And Kevon [Seymour] did a lot more." So that's a plus for the senior corner's return.
Of the first road trip of the year, Sark said he could see some benefits from "a certain intimacy" of the 70-man travel squad, the flight together, the chance to stay at a different [Marriott] hotel and "the camaraderie" that can bring.
As to the much-maligned USC defense after the Stanford game, Sark said their response this week "has been very encouraging . . . they came out with a chip on their shouder" and yes, "it did get a little chippy."
As to an Arizona State team he's 0-4 against, Sark did return to the last two of those losses "on the last play," he noted, "a 55-yard pass the first time [when he was at UW] and whatever it was last year [a 46-yard pass from Mike Bercovici to Jaelen Strong] as he recalled ASU scoring three touchdowns in the final four minutes of the game.
And despite ASU playing a couple of option teams coming into this game, "We have a pretty good idea of what they like to do [on defense]," Sark said. "They're aggressive," and against a team that likes to bring it, "there's the opportunity to create some explosive plays."
As to Bercovici, who beat USC a year ago with his gunslinger mentality, what has to happen, Sark said, is a return to the turnover-creating team USC was in Game 1. USC had four takeaways then and can't remain the passive Trojan team of the past eight quarters when it's had none.
3 new Trojans sign Thursday
Sark said he was excited to announce the signing of financial aid papers by three recruits who will be here for the spring semester -- safety C.J. Pollard, linebacker Daelin Hayes and offensive lineman Nathan Smith. "Good students, great people and fine additions," Sark said of the three, to the Trojan family.
Of Pollard (6-1, 180, Junipero Serra), Sark said: "He's the son of a great Trojan, Marvin Pollard . . . a safety with a high football IQ."
Of Hayes (6-4, 235, Ann Arbor, Mich., Skyline): "An outside linebacker . . . outstanding body type . . . great athlete who will set the edge . . . can do standing front and back flips."
Of Smith (6-7, 264, Murrieta Mesa): "Really athletic body . . . plays all over the field."
THURSDAY QUICK HITS
Trojans finished up Thursday's helmets, no pads, shorts workout in their metallic helmets for the first time signalling they'll be the helmets of choice with the white road jerseys that work better color-wise with them . . . Senior CB Seymour was much more active Thursday, Sark said, and if nothing else, would be available for emergency use Saturday in Tempe after 48 hours more of rehab . . . Madden's upper calf strain appears to be fine . . . NT Antwaun Woods with his bruised shoulder and tailbone is further away from being ready than Seymour and Madden but again, after 48 more hours, might have a chance since it doesn't involve running . . . Trojans have already worked out their practice schedule for the next three weeks with two straight Saturdays off around the Thursday night Oct. 8 home game against Washington that involves regular practice to start next week Tuesday and Wednesday but then off Thursday and Friday before going into game week two days ahead of the UW game . . . and then it's a new schedule through the bye week Saturday Oct. 10 and on to Notre Dame Oct. 17.
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