USC steamrolls Cal

first_imgFreshman quarterback Kedon Slovis attempts a pass against Cal Saturday night during USC’s 24-point victory. (Sarah Ko / Daily Trojan) “Drake’s a special guy. And to come in and not even go through spring ball and be able to do the things that he’s doing right now is really, really impressive,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. “He’s just that talented of a guy, and he has a skill set that I’ve never seen before.” In a game where redshirt junior Tyler Vaughns was limited after sustaining an injury against Arizona State, USC proved yet again that its receiving unit is one of the deepest in the nation. Pittman led the charge with 180 yards, freshman Drake London finished with 111 and St. Brown added 85 of his own.  The Trojans entered halftime ahead by just 7 points, but dominated the second half. Cal struggled to get any offense going, punting three times and throwing two interceptions.  Slovis was the highlight of the Trojans’ 24-point victory, completing 29 of 35 passes for 406 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the third time in the last four weeks that Slovis has thrown for at least 400 yards.  The Trojans’ first touchdown came when Slovis was forced to roll out of the pocket before finding a wide open Amon-Ra St. Brown for an 18-yard score after the sophomore receiver’s route dropped junior cornerback Elijah Hicks. Just before halftime, Slovis threw a deep ball to Pittman in one-on-one coverage with Hicks in the end zone. While the ball was in midair, Hicks lost his footing, and Pittman just had to reel it in for an easy 33-yard score.  London made it three straight games with a touchdown catch after going the first eight contests without finding the end zone. “As a defense, nothing really changes for us,” redshirt sophomore safety Isaiah Pola-Mao said of adjusting to the different quarterbacks. “We still have the same mentality: get after the quarterback and get after their offense. When they changed quarterbacks, we knew we were just going to get after them.” “I think it just shows what our offense is capable of,” Slovis said. “Obviously, I think I can play better, even after a game like this … I think it’s just a testament to what this offense can be in the future.” Slovis came out of the gate on fire, completing 17 of 21 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but USC’s biggest plays came when Slovis caught a couple breaks. center_img USC’s worst losses this season — and even a few of its closer wins — have featured essentially the same problem: things get bad, USC has trouble adjusting, things get worse and USC either leaves with a disheartening loss or an unconvincing win.  The Bears’ two quarterbacks combined for 15-of-32 passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions on the night. “Just doing our part really, winning every game that we can,” junior offensive tackle Austin Jackson said. “We’ve got UCLA coming up, it’s a rivalry and Pac-12 South matchup, so it should be fun, and we’ve got a lot of work to get to.” The Trojans’ win improves their record to 7-4, and though its chance at a Pac-12 South title remains slim, the team has now won four of its last five games and carries plenty of momentum into next week’s regular season finale against UCLA. In the Trojans’ 41-17 win over California Saturday in Berkeley, however, the Trojans looked like an entirely different team. USC had trouble at first and was tied at 10 at one point in the second quarter, but the Trojans eventually pulled away with a 17-0 third quarter to put the Bears away.  Redshirt junior quarterback Devon Modster entered the game for Cal after redshirt sophomore Chase Garbers left with a left shoulder injury early in the second quarter. Garbers was playing in his first game since suffering a right arm injury against Arizona State Sept. 27.  Both times Slovis was fortunate that his receivers came wide open, allowing for easy completions. “I think the biggest thing coming away from last week was, yeah we won, that’s great, but we scored 28 points in the first [quarter] and we scored 3 the rest of the game,” freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis said after the game. “That’s not to our standards. So I think this week, scoring continually throughout the game, really probably more so in the second half, that was more exciting for us.”last_img read more

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LA Dodgers had to fight to the finish – almost

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Asked if Kershaw will throw the first pitch of Game 1 for the third straight year, Mattingly said, “we’ll be going over our roster over the next few” days.The manager only went so far as to say that the Dodgers’ first two starters have been decided. Certainly that will be Kershaw and Zack Greinke, who led the major leagues in earned-run average. But a couple veteran players mentioned in passing that Kershaw would need to be ready for Game 1 on Friday, which would come as little surprise.Mattingly did say he’s identified a Game 3 starter. Left-hander Brett Anderson, who has never faced the Mets in his seven-year career, is considered the favorite. Reports out of New York indicate that the Mets will start three right-handed pitchers – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, in that order – in Games 1, 2 and 3.“We’re ready,” Mattingly said. “We’re as ready as we’re going to be.”Maybe not entirely.Outfielder Yasiel Puig essentially played the final one-and-a-half games of the season – scarcely enough time to have confidence in the health of his hamstrings. Puig has been able to run at 100 percent for less than a week, needing an 11th-hour recovery merely to play before the regular season ended.Puig is expected to face live pitching at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday. So is Scott Van Slyke, who is battling a hand injury and hasn’t played since Thursday. The fates of the two right-handed hitting outfielders could be intertwined, depending on whether the Dodgers take an extra position player or an extra relief pitcher on their NLDS roster.When healthy, Puig is the Dodgers’ best defensive right fielder, their fastest baserunner and, at times, a great hitter. Though maddeningly inconsistent, Puig had hits in 11 straight games before his 0-for-2 Sunday. “Part of what you may use him for is to pinch run or to play defense late in the game,” Mattingly said, “and I guess the thing we need to know: Can you go full speed?”Mattingly would not say whether or not Puig could make the roster at less than 100 percent health. For the most part though, the Dodgers enter the postseason as healthy as they’ve been all season.That could be a good omen. Matt Kemp was on crutches when the 2012 postseason began and Hanley Ramirez had a cracked rib when it ended. A year ago, then number-three starter Hyun-Jin Ryu was sidelined for the final three weeks of the regular season with inflammation in his left shoulder.Whether it’s health, or home-field advantage, or a week’s worth of meaningful games, the veteran Dodgers can appreciate their lot in life.So can the newest Dodger.“I came in here with no expectations,” said Corey Seager, who at 21 years old is expected to be the starting shortstop in the NLDS. “It’s really nice to succeed, but it’s also nice to be in the playoffs, look forward to that, see how that atmosphere’s going to be and see how far we can go.” One moment Sunday perfectly captured what Game 162 was all about for the Dodgers.Jimmy Rollins, wearing Tommy Lasorda’s number 2 jersey (fitted to his frame), strolled slowly to the mound in the fourth inning to take the ball from Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw smiled, something he almost never does when giving up the baseball. He tipped his hat to the crowd as he walked off the mound – an even more unusual sight.“I wouldn’t give Jimmy a hard time his first time managing,” Kershaw said.Nobody gave anyone a hard time Sunday. It was the only meaningless game the Dodgers played all season.center_img In that regard, 2015 was unlike any of the Dodgers’ three National League West-winning seasons under Don Mattingly. They finished 2014 with three inconsequential games against the Colorado Rockies. The year before, the Dodgers never led the division by fewer than nine games after Aug. 21 and jumped in a pool to celebrate their inevitable crown.This year, the Dodgers secured the division title in Game 157 and Mattingly rolled out a regular lineup through Game 161 – when they finally clinched home-field advantage for the NL Division Series against the New York Mets on Saturday.“It definitely helps, being in this situation right now,” veteran reliever Joel Peralta said. “You get the best out of you, to be ready for the postseason.”The Dodgers will not work out as a team Monday, though Kershaw said he would be at Dodger Stadium going for his normal day-after-a-start workout. The team will hold a voluntary workout Tuesday, and involuntary workouts Wednesday and Thursday. All will be closed to the public.NLDS rosters must be submitted to the league Friday morning. Maybe by then the Dodgers will have decided on a starting rotation.last_img read more

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