Trojans welcome back Shaw as UCLA looms

first_imgThe Trojans continued to prepare for a highly anticipated matchup with crosstown rival UCLA at practice on Wednesday. USC is determined to get back on the field with a shot at the Pac-12 South crown in sight and end a two-game losing streak against the Bruins.Fearless leader · Head coach Steve Sarkisian allowed senior defensive back Josh Shaw to practice, but did not reveal if Shaw will play in Saturday’s game against UCLA. Sarkisian went 6-1 against the Bruins as an assistant. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanWelcome BackRedshirt senior cornerback Josh Shaw was reinstated on Tuesday evening, and he was back on the practice field Wednesday morning. Shaw spent most of the practice observing his teammates and relearning the system. The Palmdale, California, native missed a total of 10 games, but looked in shape and presumably remained active during his time away from the team.Shaw might not see the field on Saturday, but head coach Steve Sarkisian was impressed with his movement and hopes that his knowledge and experience assists the team  in the days leading up to the game.“I thought he moved pretty fluidly. You could tell he’s been active,” Sarkisian said. “I think Josh [Shaw] brings us a veteran player with a lot of experience.”The players were happy to see Shaw back, and they welcomed his return to Howard Jones Field. Sarkisian wanted to move on from the incident and allow Shaw to focus on football. With only two games left in his senior season, Shaw was able to spend time with his teammates and get back into the swing of things.“What I’ve always tried to do, not just in this instance, but in all of them, is really assess the character of the individual and [whether or not] the action was out of character for him and I totally believe that with Josh,” Sarkisian said. ”I think he’s a very good person. He made a mistake, he acknowledged it, he’s been remorseful, he’s paid a severe penalty of 10 games and he’s fortunate and happy to be back.”Though the suspension lasted for the better part of three months, Shaw’s teammates claim that they forgave him long ago and were ecstatic to see him back at practice today.“I guess he’s been training while he hasn’t been out here because he looks exactly the same,” said junior defensive end Leonard Williams. “He’s the same guy. Josh Shaw is a great player and we’re glad to have him back.”Sophomore linebacker Su’a Cravens agreed.“Josh [Shaw] was a first round corner before the season started and he’s still a first round corner even 10 games later,” Cravens said. “We forgave him probably a week after we heard what happened, people make mistakes, not everybody’s perfect. Josh [Shaw] is human, that’s our brother and we’re always going to have his back.”Focused on the Task at HandShaw’s return could be viewed as a distraction leading up to the big game, but the team is keeping their sights on the game. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley presents a unique challenge with his ability to pass and run.“Our biggest key that we’ve been working on is just trying to keep him in the pocket, make him as much as a passing quarterback as possible because I noticed in the past two years that what he’s been able to beat us with is his rushing,” Williams said. “We just have to limit and contain him as much as possible and limit his rushing yards.”Cravens is determined to turn around USC’s recent misfortune against their rival, and he knows that mission starts with Hundley.“He can sit in the pocket and eat you alive and he can also beat you with his legs,” Cravens said. “He’s a great player; I feel like I’m confident in my abilities but we’ll see what happens Saturday.”See You On SaturdayThough the game marks another chapter in a historic rivalry, the Trojans want to let their play do the talking and are not concerned with the buildup.“They’re preparing humbly and they’re not too hyped about it even though it’s a big rivalry,” Williams said. “We’re prepared to win just like it’s any other team.”Much of rivalry week is made from the talk that happens between the two schools. Though that is all fun and games for the fans, the players at USC are not letting it affect their preparation, and they know that the only thing that matters is the final score.“We realize getting hyped and talking mess is not winning games,” redshirt senior linebacker Hayes Pullard said. “When you talk mess before the game the score is still 0-0, the clock is still 15 minutes. We have to block that out and just play within the lines.”last_img

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