Trojan football faces most difficult schedule in nation

first_imgWith the opening game of the 2016 football season against defending champion Alabama less than a month away, the Trojans must prepare for not only their tough season opener, but also the most difficult schedule in the nation. Additionally on the schedule for the Trojans are eight of the 10 Pac-12 teams who made a bowl game last season.Ranked 17th in the preseason USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll, USC will not have easy games early in the season with three of their first four games coming in road games against Alabama, Stanford and Utah.The Trojans may put up a solid fight with the Tide as Alabama loses star running back and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry. This could put a serious strain on the Tide’s emphasis on a run-the-ball offense, forcing the new quarterback, likely Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett, to throw the ball.The key for a USC victory in the opener is to be able to break through the offensive line and put pressure on the quarterback while covering senior Alabama tight end O.J. Howard.“We want to keep defenses off balance by being balanced offensively,” head coach Clay Helton said. “We believe we have the personnel to run the ball effectively and physically and to be explosive in the passing game. At the end of the day, though, we know that we must be able to run the ball and not turn it over.”In the weeks to follow, the Trojans can expect tough road games as they play conference rivals No. 7 Stanford and Utah in weeks three and four, respectively. Again, their defense will have to control two primarily running offenses, particularly Stanford with the return of Heisman runner-up and AP Player of the Year junior running back Christian McCaffrey, who is predicted to lead the Cardinal to another strong season.Midseason, USC faces Arizona State, Colorado and Arizona, with a week eight bye. Arizona’s junior quarterback Anu Solomon, ranked fourth in the school’s passing yards history, will test the Trojans’ receiver and tight end coverage while Colorado continues to improve its pass rush defense.The final weeks, will continue to be challenging as the Trojans face Cal and No. 23 Oregon at home in weeks nine and 10 respectively before hitting the road to face No. 18 Washington and No. 24 UCLA the next two weeks before finally hosting No. 9 Notre Dame at home for a timeless non-conference matchup.The Fighting Irish have had the upper hand against the Trojans, having won the most recent matchup 41-31. Notre Dame features two quarterbacks — senior Malik Zaire and junior DeShone Kizer — on the 2016 Maxwell Award Watch List, who combine to become a  deadly duo for passing and rushing yards at quarterback. However, the Irish have lost key offensive players such as wide receiver Will Fuller, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and running back C.J. Posise.But the Trojans have the advantage over their crosstown rival, leading the series 46-31-7. The main area of concern for the Trojans is the Bruins’ defense. The 2015 season marked a free fall in UCLA’s “Linebacker U” reputation with linebacker Myles Jack out for the majority of the season due to a torn meniscus. Despite the loss, UCLA sees potential in rebuilding their defense this season with returning senior linebacker Jayon Brown, who recorded 69 tackles in the Bruins’ last seven games.Despite a formidable schedule ahead, Helton and the team are ready to tackle the challenge head on.“I, along with our coaches and players, understand where the bar is set, and we welcome the high expectations,” Helton said. “Our goal will never change here at USC. We are about winning championships and all of us will work tirelessly toward that goal.”last_img read more

Wayne Rooney granted Manchester United testimonial for charity, Cristiano Ronaldo invited

first_imgManchester United have granted Wayne Rooney a testimonial with all the profits going to charity following a campaign by supporters to honour the striker’s long service to the club.Rooney will play in a testimonial match for a Manchester United XI against a yet-to-be-named opponent at Old Trafford on August 3, 2016.Details of the players and managers who will be involved on the day are expected to be revealed over the next few weeks.The 30-year-old has vowed to donate all the profits from the match to the NSPCC, Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital, Claire House Hospice, and the Manchester United Foundation through the newly-formed Wayne Rooney foundation.Rooney’s representatives said United awarded the striker the testimonial following a meeting between “like-minded individuals and Manchester United fans” who wrote to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward asking that a testimonial be awarded following the player’s 11-year spell at the club.”I would like to thank everyone involved in making this testimonial become a reality,” the United and England captain said. “Most of all I want to thank the fans for all their incredible support for me and the team since I joined the club.”The match night will obviously be special for me and my family but I hope it will be a night of celebration for all involved and that we can also deliver one or two surprises.”Most of all I hope the fans will come out in force and help raise as much money as possible for these amazing charities, all of which are very close to my heart for different reasons.”Since joining United from Everton in 2004, Rooney has won the Premier League five times, the League Cup twice and the Champions League on one occasion.The striker has also gained a host of individual accolades and is now just 13 goals short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record. “I am delighted that United fans will be able to celebrate Wayne’s amazing years at the club in this way,” Woodward said.  “From his sensational debut hat-trick to the latest of his 236 goals, he has been a central figure in what has been one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, winning everything from the Club World Cup, through the Champions League and League Cup to his five Premier League titles.”Wayne has selected good causes very close to his heart and the club is delighted to play its part, in providing Old Trafford as a fitting stage for such a game.”Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford added: “When I told Wayne that the a group of fans had come together to form a testimonial committee in his honour and had been granted the rights by the club he immediately insisted that all money raised should go to charities working for disadvantaged and sick children.”I wasn’t surprised because it is typical of Wayne as a man and as father. On Wayne’s behalf we are now working hard to make the event a huge success, memorable for the fans, and creating real benefits for those who depend on Wayne’s charities.” –last_img read more