USC cruised to its first victory of the year on Saturday, downing the Fresno State Bulldogs by a 52-13 score.This week the Trojans are back on the practice field preparing for a worthy opponent in the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal.First Game JittersRedshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler and USC’s crop of true freshmen stole the show on Saturday. Freshman wide receiver-safety John “JuJu” Smith racked up 123 receiving yards in his debut. Freshman wide receiver-cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and freshman tight end Bryce Dixon both notched their first touchdowns as Trojans. Meanwhile, offensive linemen Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama became the first true freshman duo to start USC’s opener in recorded history.Toe Chainz · Redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler underwent a procedure on his toe Tuesday, but insists he will be ready for Saturday. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan“It was really cool to see not only those guys get in and actually play but also make an impact,” Kessler said following Tuesday’s practice. “You know some of those guys JuJu, Adoree’, some of the O-linemen, they made a significant impact in the game and they really helped us win. It was really cool to see coming from some guys that it was their first college game.”Redshirt freshman quarterback Max Browne had a special swagger in his step after taking his first-ever game reps as a Trojan on Saturday in USC’s blowout win.“For any player it’s more of a mental barrier you kind of hurdle,” Browne said. “You get the first time jitters out, but it was awesome to get out there, throw a couple passes [and] have some success.”Toe jamKessler underwent a procedure on his toe on Tuesday morning and missed practice.“He had to deal with his toe that had been bothering him throughout the ballgame,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We felt like we wanted to take care of it sooner rather than later … We expect him to be full-go tomorrow and be ready to go for the game.”The Bakersfield, California native, who was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week following his career performance, will be crucial in Saturday’s matchup against the Cardinal, and he promises he will be ready.“I’m 100 percent,” Kessler said. “I’m fine.”Kessler passed for a career-high 394 yards on Saturday and a career-tying four touchdowns. He also rushed for one touchdown.Kessler assured the media that he will be able to practice again all week. When asked if he was surprised that Kessler didn’t practice, Browne simply said, “Cody’s deal is Cody’s deal.”Junior defensive end Leonard Williams rolled an ankle in practice and Mama looked like he hurt his knee, but Sarkisian called it more of a scare than an injury.Pac-12 RivalsThe Trojans will open Pac-12 play this Saturday when they take on the 13th-ranked Cardinal. USC has not won a game at Stanford since 2008; however, the Trojans beat the Cardinal last year at the Coliseum. This will be Kessler’s first game against the Cardinal away from home.“I haven’t played there before so I’m excited,” Kessler said. “It’ll be a fun game, real competitive.”In preparation for Saturday’s game, Kessler reflected on the matchup as he remembered it from last year.“They were tough,” Kessler said. “They were really tough. Their front seven was really physical.”Kessler threw for 288 yards and one touchdown in last year’s 20-17 upset over Stanford.While Sarkisian was coaching at Washington, he sparked up a bit of a rivalry of his own with Stanford and head coach David Shaw by accusing the Cardinal of faking injuries.“Honestly, David [Shaw] and I are both highly competitive people,” Sarkisian said. “We both want to win; we both want our teams to do well … We’re gonna battle and compete this week and all day Saturday to try to win the game.”
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “Everybody else out there seemed to be worried and wondering if we did the right thing. Now everybody is looking at it like, ‘Man, this man can play a little bit,’ ” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Russell. “When you’re a high draft pick, everybody expects you to come out like guns are blazing and you’re supposed to sustain that for 82-plus games. That just doesn’t happen.“I’m sure they’re extremely happy with Porzingis over in New York just like we’re extremely happy with D’Angelo.”Scott said he and Russell never talked about where he stood in regards to his draft stock. But Scott stressed to him not to pay attention toward any public scrutiny before saying, “We took you for a reason and we know you’re going to be a hell of a basketball player.”Russell admitted monitoring specific rookies, such as Towns and Phoenix’s Devin Booker, since they remain close friends. But Russell has continuously downplayed rookie comparisons.“It’s all about the opportunity,” Russell said. “Everybody has a different route toward reaching their potential. Some people bloom early and some people bloom late. If I’m a late bloomer and I’m around this league for a long time, I would prefer that.” Story timeScott will gladly reminisce about the Showtime Lakers anytime a reporter asks. But he has resisted talking much about his 14-year NBA career with his players, for one specific reason.“Some of them don’t want to hear some of the stories we had and the success we had,” Scott said. “I try to talk about them about the things they can do.” There marked one exception on Saturday. Scott and Lakers trainer Gary Vitti brought up former NBA guard Sleepy Floyd, who was drafted by the former New Jersey Nets 13th in 1982 and once got in a fight with Scott. Scott shared that Russell asked, “Who’s that?”Injury updateScott expects both Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams to play in Sunday’s game against New York. Bryant missed practice on Saturday, but Scott believes Bryant’s pain in his right shoulder will not be an issue.Williams practiced on Saturday for the first time in a week and had no reported setbacks in his previously strained left hamstring. The bench provided a visible reminder to D’Angelo Russell that he remains far from the finished product he wanted to become during his rookie season. So did a few of his contemporaries named Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis, all of whom initially posted better numbers than Russell.But when the Lakers (14-52) host the New York Knicks (27-4) on Sunday at Staples Center, the inevitable storyline between Porzingis and Russell will cast the Lakers’ rookie in a positive light. Russell still ranks fourth in his rookie class in points (13.5), 14th in shooting percentage (42.7) and third in assists (3.5). But that does not fully account for his numbers in the 10 games since he has become a starter, during which he has averaged 21 points, 4.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds, while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from 3-point range.Since the NBA All-Star break, Russell has also topped Porzingis in points (19.8 to 14.4) and minutes played (32.2 to 25.5). Meanwhile, Okafor will need season-ending surgery on his right knee.