In amongst final preparations for the home opener against Washington State, the Trojans finished finished practice early Thursday night to meet their fellow student-athletes at the Galen Center for the Fall Sports Rally.
Not only cheered on by their peers and the USC Marching Band, members of the football team along with Water Polo All-American goaltender James Clark took center stage for the "Trojans Live" Radio Show on KFWB News 980 AM as on-air guests for the program located just a stones throw from the Galen Center.
What began as a major preview show for the home opener, Lane Kiffin addressed the excitement and concern for the Trojans opening game of the Pac-12 slate on Saturday night in front of the avid Trojan Faithful. Kicking off the second week of programming hosted by Jordan Moore, the editor of USC Ripsit Blog along with former NFL receiver and USC alum John Jackson, Kiffin discussed the challenge of facing Washington State on Saturday.
"Every day we're looking at our team and where they're at," Kiffin said following a shorter practice Thursday. "Obviously as a coach you want your team to be fresh and the last thing you want is to run them into the ground."
The presumed starter heading into Saturday, Bakersfield-native Cody Kessler, who took the microphone in classic style while talking about the opportunities coming his way throughout Spring, Summer and Fall Camp. "Its been a long process, ever since I have been here," Kessler said talking about the two-year succession plan. "Max and I have been going at it, but it was nice to get that first start, but obviously there are things I need to improve."
While neither Kiffin nor Kessler officially announced who will start the game in a rather expected and predictable move seen all week long at practice, the leader of the pack relishes the chance to battle with his brothers day in and day out. "We both want to do better than the next guy, but at the same time we want to do what is best for the team."
While many of the USC Fall Sports were being honored by their peers, USC S Josh Shaw who recently switched to No. 6 earlier this week, addressed his excitement for the home opener. "Realizing what is at stake," Shaw said of his sudden transformation at the safety position. "I only have two years of college yet so I want to soak in everything I can. I learn a lot of new stuff each and every day with Coach P."
Playing in a position of depth this season, the Trojans safety corp garnered major props from Kiffin amongst a recent lineage of strong recruiting classes at the position. "As we look at whats coming, we have moved to recruiting more defensive backs," Kiffin said, adding. "And we are almost always playing more nickel back situations in the conference."
In terms of the overall scheme, Josh Shaw was rather appreciative of the opportunities coming his way early on this season for the rather impressive defense. "I love it," Shaw says, adding. "Our scheme fits our personal very well, and if you watch the film you see guys flying around. As a QB its hard to break down this defense."
Numerous USC Athletic Programs were honored in front of the student crowd at the Galen Center on Thursday night, including USC Water Polo (5x-Defending Nat'l Champion), Women's and Men's Basketball. Not in attendance but taking the field this week are fellow Fall Sports Women's Golf (Defending Champion), Women's Soccer (3-0) and Women's Volleyball who is currently ranked third in the nation.
Obviously the focus remains centered on USC Football which highlights the #WePlay125 campaign celebrating an entire program-long dedication to athletic success on and off the gridiron. The student body is ready, Trojan Nation is certainly anxious and the players are now locked and loaded for the first home game at the wonderful Coliseum.