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Grinding Gears: USC should do more than control its destiny

first_imgIn his postgame radio interview on 710 ESPN on Saturday after USC hung on to beat Arizona 24-20 in Tucson, it didn’t take long for head coach Clay Helton to utter the words, “control our destiny.”He did it last season ad nauseam, to the point that writers placed bets in the press box as to how many times Helton would use that phrase in his postgame interview — which means that no matter how bad things may seem, USC is still in position to win the Pac-12 South. It’s one of the many cliches that clutter Helton’s press conferences, and it would be accurate to characterize him as a coach who sees the glass as half full, no matter the circumstances.To be fair, Helton admitted to not being satisfied with how the Trojans finished Saturday’s contest. With a 24-0 second half lead, USC shot itself in the foot with turnovers, penalties and poor decision-making, allowing Arizona and its hobbled quarterback, Khalil Tate, to come dangerously close to making a comeback. Nobody in the locker room seemed particularly happy, like freshman quarterback JT Daniels: “You can’t be too mad when you get a win, but I’m pretty mad. We can do better. And I guess that’s a positive, [because] we’re nowhere near our potential.”Or redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tyler Vaughns: “I’m not happy for [the win] because I know we should’ve done better.”Or senior linebacker Cam Smith: “I think we just haven’t put a complete game together, and we’re due.”But still — “control our destiny.” Mhmm.The thing is, though, his words actually ring true. With a 2-1 conference record, the Trojans do control their own destiny. They can play exactly like they did on Saturday — exceptional at times, terribly at others — and roll through a weak Pac-12 South. Of its six remaining conference games, USC is projected by ESPN’s Football Power Index to win all but one of them, with Oct. 20’s road game at Utah the only toss up. The Trojans get Colorado, Arizona State and Cal at home. They’ll play Utah, Oregon State and UCLA on the road. None of these teams match USC’s talent. None of them have USC’s playmakers. If the Trojans show up to these games with a half-decent game plan, they can finish 8-1 in the Pac-12 and undefeated in the South. Whether or not playoff contender Notre Dame blows them out in the regular season finale has no impact on a potential Pac-12 Championship berth. This is why this football program is as promising as it is infuriating. The Trojans can be so much more than a team that merely beats up on inferior competition, so much better than a team that escapes Tucson with a win that should have never been in doubt, yet was in jeopardy up until they recovered an onside kick late in regulation.Nobody questions the skill. Look at how composed Daniels seemed, as an 18-year-old starting quarterback. Look at how explosive senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware was on the ground, rushing for two touchdowns and 173 yards. Look at how the defense shut down the dynamic Tate and Arizona’s rushing attack, which entered the game leading the Pac-12 with an average of 247.2 yards per game but was held to 98 yards on Saturday.And yet, the Trojans barely clawed out the win to inch a game above .500 on the season, and they remain unranked for the third straight week. This can be better. It should be better. Being able to “control our destiny” shouldn’t be the goal; it should be a given. If USC wins the rest of its conference games but is blown out by Notre Dame to end the regular season, all that means is the Trojans won the games they should have won only to lose a game that would have actually meant something bigger than just controlling their destiny. Instead of measuring USC against Pac-12 competition, Helton should be looking at the non-conference results. Since 2016, the Trojans have suffered blowout losses to Alabama, Texas and Ohio State, with the 2017 Rose Bowl win over Penn State the lone statement out-of-conference victory in the Helton era. But USC might reach the Rose Bowl this season anyway without having to prove itself. All the Trojans have to do is beat mediocre competition the next six games, and then come up on top against presumably Stanford or Washington in the Pac-12 Championship.So yes, Helton is right: USC does control its own destiny, and it could be enough to keep everyone happy this season. But that is frustrating in itself.Eric He is a senior majoring in journalism. He is also the managing editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Mondays.last_img read more

Amazing Džumhur defeated Kukushkin and qualified for the 4th Round in Miami!

first_imgDamir Džumhur continued the series of successes at the Masters in Miami.In the third round, the best BiH tennis player defeated Mikhail Kukushkin with 2:1 in sets after nearly two hours of game. Already in the third game of the first set, the Kazakhstani tennis player made a break. However, Džumhur tied in the sixth game (3:3). In the next service-game, Džumhur lost his service again. Kukushkin took advantage of it and won the first set with 6:4 after 46 minutes.In the second set, the roles reversed. Damir played on a high level, while Kukushkin made one mistake after another. Damir won the first five games and it was clear that the second set will go to him. After only 30 minutes of play, Džumhur won the second set with 6:1.At the beginning of the third set, Damir made a break. However, Kukushkin responded immediately and tied to 1:1. The deciding break in the third set occurred in the fifth game, when Kukushkin played his service very poorly and Damir came to, as it will turn out, the key advantage in the match. Until the end, Džumhur kept his services, made another break and came one step away from the victory (5:2). Then Kukushkin, just like Nadal in the last round, asked for medical help. Nevertheless, after medical intervention he continued playing. Džumhur was confident in his service and in the end celebrated with 6:2 after 43 minutes of play.The result of mutual duels of these two tennis players is now 1-1. In the fourth round, Džumhur will play against the winner of the duel Miloš Raonić – Jack Sock.(Source: klix.ba)last_img read more

England’s medal bid ends in disappointment

first_img England had to settle for fourth place in both the men’s and women’s European team championships after their double bid for bronze medals ended in disappointment. The men lost 4-3 to Sweden with team manager Terry Casey commenting: “We were again left to reflect on getting nothing out of the day when we had played our hearts out.” Meanwhile, the women were beaten 5-2 by Spain and team captain Elaine Ratcliffe said: “The girls played good golf this week and rallied hard but in the end came across two teams who played fantastic golf against us at the right times.” Overall, the men’s championship was won by Scotland, while France took the ladies’ title.  In the men’s bronze medal match all England’s points were provided by Jimmy Mullen and Ashley Chesters (Image © Leaderboard Photography). They won their foursomes by one hole and Mullen went on to win his singles 4/2, while Chesters took his point by the margin of 2/1. But the other England players were fighting hard. Team captain Terry Casey paid tribute to his battling side, remarking: “We put up a great performance and I’m very proud of the lads. “After halving the foursomes the Swedes came on strongly in the singles, but we once again played excellent golf and gave ourselves a great chance. “Ben Taylor played very well against (world number three) Marcus Kinhult and was in a strong position and still ahead with two holes to go. However, despite solid play from Ben and twice being agonisingly close to birdies himself on both these holes, he had to watch as Kinhult converted both times, from off the green on the last.” He added: “We leave in fourth place with our heads held high and England Golf winning many friends from an outstanding effort. The guys were just outstanding in every respect.” In the women’s bronze medal match, England’s points were provided by Hayley Davis and Charlotte Thomas, who had a comfortable 5/4 foursomes win; and by Bronte Law who was on similar form, winning her singles 5/3. Elaine Ratcliffe said: “The standard of play in the foursomes was stunning with both pairings being under par. Hayley and Charlotte won convincingly, not giving their opponents any opportunity to be in the game. The other foursome played amazing golf but were defeated by a birdie on the 19th hole. We were delighted with the standard of golf. “In the afternoon the Spanish girls played some amazing golf and quickly took good leads in four of the five matches. But the performance of the afternoon was from Bronte who birdied five out of the last seven holes to win 5/3, with some of the best golf of the week played.” She also had praise for 17-year-old Alice Hewson who was playing her first women’s European championship and who was second, individually, in qualifying. Elsewhere, England boys beat Scotland 3-2 to finish fifth in the top flight of their championship. This was the highest position they could achieve after losing their first round match. Their points were accumulated in the singles with Bradley Moore winning 4/3 and Matty Lamb and Harry Hall both winning 1 up. England’s girls lost 4½-½ to Sweden, finishing second in Flight B and 10th overall in their championship. The teams: Men, playing at Halmstad Golf Club, Sweden: Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park), Nick Marsh (Huddersfield), Jimmy Mullen (Royal North Devon), Ben Taylor (Walton Heath), Ashton Turner (Kenwick Park) and Sean Towndrow (Southport & Ainsdale). Women, playing at Helsingor Golf Club, Denmark:  Gemma Clews (Delamere Forest), Hayley Davis (Ferndown), Alice Hewson (Berkhamsted), Bronte Law (Bramhall), Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough) and Charlotte Thomas of Singapore. Boys,  playing at Pickala in Finland: Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park), Marco Penge (Golf at Goodwood), Harry Hall (West Cornwall), Will Enefer (Wrekin), Jamie Li (Bath) and Matty Lamb (Hexham). Girls, playing at Kaskada Golf Club in the Czech Republic: Emma Allen (Meon Valley), Annabel Bailey (Kirby Muxloe), Sammy Fuller (Roehampton), Sophie Lamb (Clitheroe), Hollie Muse (West Lancashire) and Lizzie Prior (Burhill). Click here for full scores 11 Jul 2015 England’s medal bid ends in disappointment last_img read more