The Trojans held a two hour practice today at Nova Southeast University as they wind down preparations for the Orange Bowl on Thursday evening. The team had the afternoon off and will attend the Miami Heat vs Atlanta Hawks basketball game this evening. This will be one of the last scheduled social activities for the players as tomorrow will feature meetings throughout the day with a practice scheduled for 6:00pm and a pep rally at the Westin Diplomat resort in Hollywood at 8:30pm.
It has been mostly sunny this week with lingering clouds and the forecast does call for rain at some point on Tuesday. It is very similar to the weather the Trojans left in Southern California so there should be no major adjustments on that end. One of the few disappointments on the trip was voiced by the surfing fullback Sunny Byrd who complained about the lack of waves found so far in South Florida. Other than that the trip has been about what you would expect for college guys being placed so close to South Beach, there has been a lot of work on the field but the players have also managed to squeeze in some fun as well.
"The Orange Bowl Committee is awesome. Everything is first-class. At first I wanted to go to the Rose Bowl, but after coming I think I'm going to move here," said Trojan senior RB Malaefou MacKenzie."The beach party yesterday was awesome. We were there for two hours, but I wish we could have stayed longer. As the game gets closer and closer, there is less activity. We had a sluggish practice today. I think some guys are tired and that showed. Some guys are really sleepy. Some of that has to do with the time change and some has to do with all the stuff we've been doing. But, this event is awesome."
Offensive lineman Jacob Rogers gives a lot of credit to Coach Carroll for maintining the focus on the job at hand even with all the extracurricular activities. "Coach has done a tremendous job of keeping tabs and keeping us under control. Last year we were in the Las Vegas bowl and I think some guys had some problems. I'm a lineman. I'm pretty content sitting in my room and watching TV. The Orange Bowl is a first-class event though. Everywhere we go we get like a presidential escort. It's just been a great event for us."
The game will be a rare opportunity for the Trojans to showcase their program on a New Years day bowl other than the Rose Bowl and the impact could be felt throughout the state of Florida and even up to North Carolina. Highly touted quarterback Chris Leak, who has both USC and Iowa in his top 5, will be taking a long look and Trojan freshman receiver Mike Williams said a lot of talent from the Sunshine State will be paying attention as well.
"I know it will help in recruiting. My junior year (of high school) I came to the Orange Bowl to see Florida State and Oklahoma for the National Championship. … Iowa is big here. They are well known for recruiting here. … SC has not been in the past, but is starting to do so now. To see it live or on TV, if we take care of business, that is one more thing that sticks in the back of (Florida recruits') minds."