Beginning preparation through the most crucial stretch of the season, the Trojans took to the practice field in lighter doses before departing to Berkeley for the annual Weekender.
While the Bears may not be the most daunting team on the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans firmly understand Sonny Dykes and company will let it fly in the passing game and are certainly up for the challenge from their long-standing Northern California rivals.
WR BACK IN THE FOLD:
Starting at the top with Marqise Lee, the Trojans WR corp is back, healthy and ready to make major contributions this week against the Berkeley Bears' worst ranked pass defense in all of Division I football, allowing over 340 YPG.
"I'm feeling good," Lee said Tuesday after practice. For the first time in weeks, Lee worked alongside sophomore standout Nelson Agholor, freshman vertical sensation Darreus Rogers, senior De'Von Flournoy and sophomore Victory Blackwell with coach Tee Martin in practice.
"I'm running OK, no pain," Lee said, following his first full day of practice after catching five passes for 105 yards against Oregon State. "In the game, I was OK. Today, it didn't stiffen up and in the game it actually did on the sideline."
The Trojans enter this weekend's tilt in the midst of a two-game winning streak in which the defense has yet to allow points in the second half, while the offense is slowly starting to pound teams away in the running game. With all that being said, confidence is sky high around the locker room heading into a unique test from Sonny Dykes' squad.
"That was a wonderful game for us, we did a lot of nice things our running game got developed, and a lot of guys played with a lot of intensity," said sophomore Nelson Agholor, adding the team has to "just keep moving with the momentum we have going."
Cal looks to present challenges that rival the top-ranked Beavers attack, which USC slowed way below its season averages last week in Corvallis. Led by freshman quarterback Jarred Goff, the Bears will look to feed local receivers Bryce Treggs (St. John Bosco) and Chris Harper (Crespi HS) the rock early and often.
"The spread offense has given us problems. Cal's very quick and they play no huddle. They can also throw the ball vertically and they have a lot of speed. They're a dangerous team," said Orgeron.
ORGERON PREACHING PATIENCE:
While the cookies and treats have come in large sample sizes over the past four weeks, Orgeron made clear that this is just another game in the Trojans new season and that it must be treated like any other.
In spite of the team's impressive 31-14 victory at Reser Stadium, Orgeron noted some key penalties and missed opportunities that could have sealed the deal after properly evaluating last week's film. Moving forward, he believes his team has been practicing well this week and will not be overlooking the one-win Golden Bears.
"Obviously our guys are feeling very good, we went back to fundamentals and how we can get better at each position," Orgeron said, after evaluating the Oregon State film. "It's about taking it one game at a time and focusing on getting better."
For a roster that continues to battle its fair share of bumps and bruises, Orgeron is also impressed with the team's resolve and ability to plug in all over the field. The three-touchdown performance from Buck Allen personally took a shine to the interim coach, who praised contributions from all over the roster these past few weeks.
Orgeron said after practice Tre Madden (hamstring), tight end Randall Telfer (knee), cornerback Anthony Brown (knee) and linebacker Morgan Breslin (hip) will not play Saturday at the Weekender. Kevin Graf (ankle) is questionable, after missing most of the second half due to injury, while TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is probable.