With bounce-back win, Trojans return to having fun
By Joey Kaufman
TEMPE, Ariz. — USC coaches and players just wanted to lighten the mood days before their biggest victory of the season. Some of them hoped the 48-17 rout of Arizona State would become a turning point for the Trojans.
In the hours before bussing to Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday evening, they gathered at the team hotel to view highlights of past teams of Trojan lore. They watched clips of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Clay Matthews. For many of the current Trojans, these were their childhood heroes, and the reel reminded them of the joys of playing football.
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When they met for their walk-through the previous day, their spirits were lifted when music, a staple of practices in the seasons before 2016, returned. The sounds of the rap trio Migos blasted in warmups.
“During the season, especially with no bye, it can feel like a grind,” quarterback Sam Darnold said. “And it is, but at the same time, we remember why we play the game, and that’s to have fun. And especially with the special group that we have here this year, I think whenever we have fun with each other and play together as a team, it’s hard to stop us.”
They needed the pick-me-ups.
Through the first eight games, some frustration seeped in, part of an effort to live up to lofty preseason expectations. Following a humiliating, playoff-eliminating loss to rival Notre Dame on Oct. 21, many of the players grew a little edgy.
Center Nico Falah said they had been “uptight.”
“I felt we were just concerned with our […]