Notre Dame vs. USC Football: Rivalry Week Has Arrived

Stephen Dunn

The last time USC and ND squared in South Bend the Trojans pulled off an impressive victory propelling their odds towards an impressive 10-2 campaign. This time around, the meeting could bear much the same significance on the team morale.

The honeymoon period has quickly come and past as the Trojans set their emotionally fired-up sights on tackling the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday in South Bend. Following their first practice since Sunday afternoon since defeating Arizona by seven points, coach Orgeron preached the importance of staying in the moment for this upcoming tilt of fringe top-25 competitors.

"We realize that this is a rivalry game," said Orgeron. 'We have a lot of respect for our opponent. We need to take care of what we can control: the fundamentals and the style of play."

The Trojans spent a majority of practice correcting some major weaknesses from their game that loomed large against Arizona, most notably run fits up the middle (Ka'Deem Carey 6.6 YPC) and deep pass coverage from the secondary.

Despite the need for adjustment this week, Orgeron expressed some major relief about getting the first win over with while also recognizing easy ways to improve moving forward.

"To see that locker room, it relieved a lot of pain," Orgeron said, following an emotional victory at the Coliseum. For the father-like Orgeron, watching his team pull out a much-needed victory took a tole on everyone.

Back on the practice field for a short session with no pads, players took to the course of major installation on both sides of the ball in their constant pursuit of notching improvement.

The most period of sorts may have taken place on the defensive line with long-time assistant Pete Jenkins, who implored quite the conversation before his first day at the office going over defensive line techniques. "Yesterday (Saturday) was like Christmas for me," according to the well-spirited Orgeron.

The biggest concern need for improvement was most noted by the lack of depth from Arizona, not only in terms of bodies but the rotation of the healthy players on the roster.

Coach Orgeron quickly noted this disturbing tendency and said that his defensive line specifically took a beating in terms of reps. "We were wiped, we were pooped out and we need to do a better job of rotating," Orgeron said about the unit he come to be very familiar with over the years.

On the ever-pressing injury front, Morgan Breslin, Marqise Lee, and Victor Blackwell were listed questionable, all of whom did not play versus Arizona last week. That being said, Kevin Graf, Marquis Simmons, Tre Madden (who left with a left hamstring injury vs. Arizona), Anthony Brown, Xavier Grimble, and Darreus Rodgers were all listed as probable.

While most of the probables have been practicing, good news came Monday when Brown, the Trojans starting cornerback, returned to the practice field to participate in the light session. The injury even surprised coach Orgeron, who was a bit uncertain about the specifics of his surgery because he frankly didn't work much with Brown back then.

Looking forward this much-anticipated game for home turf, Orgeron preached the need to remain focused on the task at hand by continually improving each and every day.

"We want to continue what we built here, stay with the philosophy of having fun play with enthusiasm, physical style of play teamwork and stuff like that," all of which stand among goals Orgeron put forward.

The Trojans will take to the practice field through Thursday at Howard Jones Field, before departing later that evening and engaging in their final walk-through practice Friday in South Bend, where rivalries will butt ugly heads with USC looking to avenge last years defeat at the hands of then-undefeated Notre Dame.

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