USC Morning Buzz: Juju Smith Makes Impact In Many Ways

"JuJu Smith, Davion Orphey"

USC freshman Juju Smith’s daring attitude was responsible for Adoree Jackson’s 100-yard kickoff return against Utah, when he told Jackson to bring the ball deep out of the end zone.

“The way I see it, we needed a game-changer and to get the momentum back,” Smith said. “As a true freshman I’m hard-headed.”

Meanwhile, did you know Smith’s caught 10 passes the past two games but none in the second half of those contests. Full story

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The Current Excuses

"Cody Kessler, Davion Orphey"

This week I’ve heard from fans with two familiar themes: Scholarship reductions and depth are costing USC games and the Pac-12 is not what it once was, which means it is tougher to win games.

I agree it is tougher because the quality of coaching is excellent (which is why hiring a coach is more important too). But Oregon seemed to be doing fine under Chip Kelly in the new spread era. And the Ducks have never had recruiting classes close to USC.

This is my basic issue: Why were USC’s recruiting classes ranked so much higher on average than other Pac-12 schools? Do other teams have the nation’s No. 1 draft pick (Leonard Williams). How many schools have a Javorius Allen or Su’a Cravens?

I just don’t see depth costing USC games. Last year, the Trojans closed with an 7-2 record and depth wasn’t considered a fatal issue. They lost to Notre Dame and UCLA. Teams you could say were better though maybe not.

This year’s losses are to Boston College. Arizona. Utah. I wouldn’t take the talent of any of those teams. And if you asked any of those coaches if they would take USC’s top 50 players or their own top 75, what would the answer be?

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Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham Denies Utes Used Pick Play

UTAH.PICK

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was asked this week about the contention of some the Utes’ used an “illegal pick” to score their winning touchdown.

“Who’s saying that?,” Whittingham said. “No, we didn’t pick anybody. We just ran motion, ran a receiver to the flat.

“If your receiver who’s not the primary guy happens to get in the defender’s path by virtue of his route, that’s just football. If you make an intentional and obvious attempt to find that defender, now it becomes illegal.”

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Injury Report

Damien Mama (knee) did not practice today, which meant Khaliel Rodgers played left guard. Fullback Soma Vainuku was ruled out of the Washington State game.

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USC Morning Buzz: A Familiar Refrain Following Losses

Steve Sarkisian admirably takes responsibility after every loss. But a coach from another school told me that can get old if it happens too often. Here’s Sarkisian on Tuesday.

“We should be a 7-1 football team and undefeated in conference play,” he said. “I still in my heart of hearts believe we should have won those games. We obviously found a way to not win those two games. That falls solely on me in getting our team prepared for those moments. I have to do a better job.”

At some point, does it sound repetitive? Especially when USC could have also lost to Stanford and Arizona?

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Radio, Radio

Here’s an interview I did today with Fred Roggin on 980-AM. The best part is at the end when he asked me to sum up USC’s season so far: “Disappointing,” I said. “I think there’s been some questionable coaching going on. I think there’s more talent than a 5-3 record justifies.”

Interview can be heard here and starts at 20:15 mark.

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Hawaii Fires Gib Arnold

Former USC basketball assistant Gib Arnold was fired by Hawaii, where he was the head coach the past four seasons.

Hawaii self-reported that  “a men’s basketball coach submitted an altered document that was essential for admissions purposes,” according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The shock from those who were at USC (like say, a Tim Floyd or his other assistant coaches) is that Arnold got hired there in the first place. And considering Arnold was around when USC got investigated for O.J. Mayo, he should have been extra careful regarding NCAA violations.

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