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USC Football Program Back on Track

When Steve Sarkisian, the new head coach of the USC Trojans football program turned 40, he had earned two national title rings as an assistant with the Trojans and pulled the football program at Washington out of obscurity.

Just five seasons ago, Sark, as he is called by nearly everyone, started with the Huskies program that had finished 0-12 the previous season. Last season, Washington was 8-4, prior to Sarkisian receiving a called from USC to return home.

While at Washington Sarkisian won 34 games, which are 15 more wins that John McKay had prior to turning 40, and 34 more than both Pete Carroll and John Robinson won prior to turning 40.

The USC football program’s last three head coaches to win a national championship with the team were Robinson, McKay and Carroll.

Sark might be older since he was last at USC and the stakes higher, but he insists he is doing the same things that made him successful as an assistant with the Trojans and as a head coach in Washington.

Sarkisian has had to win over the boosters and has been successful thus far, but the biggest group he has on his side are the players.

The team loved Ed Orgeron as a coach who took them on a 6-2 run last season as the team’s interim coach. Sarkisian however has helped the players over the transition from Orgeron and the players are not looking back.

The team will run an up-tempo offense, which is interesting due to having limitations from scholarship penalties.

Players have said the up-tempo offense is something many have not been accustomed to at USC, but they are learning it quickly.

One thing players have noticed is they are fatigued quicker so more mental toughness is needed. Even though the legs are getting sore, being mentally prepared helps to run the next play, said one offensive lineman.

The mental game of his players has been what has impressed Sarkisian the most. He said he appreciates it when he challenges the players with something new and they apply themselves to make sure they get through the challenge.

He has called his team very mature and mentally tough due mainly to the things the players have had to endure over the past couple of years.

The wins for USC are down, its players are younger, but Sarkisian calls them mature. He points out that they all have played a great deal of football.

Any toxins that remained from the Kiffin Era in the football program have been flushed away by Sarkisian and for many supporters of USC football, the program is back to where it should be.

Time will tell how successful the club is starting in late August, but in the mean time, Sarkisian is pushing his players to adapt to his style of play and forget the past two seasons.

The Trojans start the Sarkisian Era on August 30 against the Fresno State Bulldogs and then most play the Stanford Cardinal on the road the next week, which will be a big early season test for the team.

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