Redshirt sophomore running back Vavae Malepeai is on track to surpass his 2017 season rushing yard total. (Tucker Judkins | Daily Trojan)USC took the practice field Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s matchup with No. 19 Colorado with two Buffaloes in mind: junior quarterback Steven Montez and sophomore wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.Montez is a model of efficiency, as proven by his 11:2 touchdown to interception ratio this season. He has completed 75.2 percent of his passes, good for second in the nation despite attempting more passes than anyone else in the top five. The third-year starter doesn’t only rely on short passes either; his 9.3 yards per attempt ranks 14th in the FBS.“Now he’s been in the system for a little bit, you can really see his maturity within the offense,” defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said. “He can make all the throws, and he makes a lot of plays with his feet as well.”Unlike Montez, Shenault came into 2018 as a relatively unknown player, but he’s made a name for himself early this season. He ranks third in the country in both receptions and yards — 51 and 708, respectively — and has added six receiving touchdowns. Shenault is a multifaceted threat, reflected in his four rushing touchdowns in just five games. His 749 total yards from scrimmage rank 11th in the nation, partially a result of a creative Colorado offense.“They line him up in a lot of different spots, they do a really nice job of covering him up,” Pendergast said. “I think the most impressive thing offensively that they do is multiplicity within their formations, and he’s a big part of that.”Coming off a 13-reception, 127-yard performance against Arizona State that featured four total touchdowns and earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, the Trojans will be hard-pressed to limit Shenault.Part of the Buffaloes’ offensive creativity comes from their use of trick plays and wildcat formations. Trick plays have burned the Trojans at times this year, most notably on a 71-yard touchdown run from UNLV during Week 1.“We just have to play with good eye discipline and control, and play them when they come,” Pendergast said. “They’ve got a really good package of trick plays, and they use multiple people in [them].”Although the calls may seem like a gimmick, players have full confidence in their coaches’ play-calling.“It’s a lot of eye candy no doubt, but coach [Pendergast] just says ‘keep your eyes on your luggage,’” freshman safety Talanoa Hufanga said. “We need to see where our guy goes, and make sure that we follow up. When the ball crosses the line of scrimmage, that’s when we know we have to attack.” Wednesday’s practice featured an emphasis on third down, which Helton said would be crucial against a talented offense like Colorado’s, especially with Montez’s ability to create outside the pocket at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds.“You look at what he’s doing right now, escaping and creating, and not only running the ball and pulling it down, but actually finding his receivers,” Helton said. “We’re going to need to contain him and get off the field.”That also applied to the other side of the ball; Helton said that Colorado brings a variety of pressures on third down, and that protecting freshman quarterback JT Daniels could be a deciding factor.After a sloppy start to the season, the Trojans are looking to prove themselves in a matchup with a ranked team under the Coliseum lights.“We’re trying to get back to that Pac-12 Championship [game],” redshirt senior cornerback Ajene Harris said. “Every game is important, and we’re all aware of that. We’re just ready to compete.”Injury updateSophomore running back Stephen Carr did not attend practice due to a stomach illness. The staff held out redshirt senior center Toa Lobendahn with back spasms. Senior linebacker Porter Gustin is expected to be at full strength Saturday after recovering from an ankle injury.Senior linebacker Cam Smith left practice early with a tight hamstring. Helton said it was nothing serious, just a preventative measure. The staff also pulled Brandon Pili after the sophomore defensive lineman had his toe stepped on. Helton said they would get an X-ray as a precaution.
CLEAR LAKE — While none of the nine Democratic presidential candidates who spent their time on the ground in Iowa on the 4th of July stopped in north-central Iowa, two candidates did make an appearance in Cerro Gordo County this week.Ohio congressman Tim Ryan stopped in Mason City on Tuesday to tour the Golden Grain Energy ethanol plant as well as hold an education roundtable. Ryan’s poll numbers dropped after last week’s first debate. A CNN poll shows two months ago that Ryan had five percent support, but the latest poll shows that’s down to one percent. We asked Ryan what’s keeping him in a crowded race. “We’ve had the best fundraising days right after the debate. I think with Vice President Biden slipping in the second debate, a lot of people from the early states were calling me because they think I’m someone who can kind of fill that working-class lane that Vice President Biden was in. We had a great crowd this morning in Sioux City and we’re just going to continue to do what we’re doing.”Ohio congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan talking with former Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge during a presentation at Golden Grain Energy in Mason CityRyan says he wants to fight for blue-collar workers in America. “We’re trying to bring front-and-center the workers who I feel have been left behind for a long time, and those are white workers, black workers, brown workers all over the United States that have fallen behind the last 30 or 40 years. People know that’s where I come from. You know in the 7 and 1/2 minutes of the debate that I got to speak up in, I was very clear that that’s why I’m in the race and that’s who I’ll be president for.”Four months ago, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke had to apologize for a joke made during an Iowa campaign stop that he sometimes helped his wife raise their three children. O’Rourke’s wife Amy and their children accompanied him during his stop in Clear Lake on Wednesday night.He says he and his wife feel it’s important that the kids share the experience with them. “They get to hear other people stand up and ask questions or tell their stories. I think it’s really powerful for them. And what is really surprised me is, even Henry who is 8 years old, the stories stay with him and it’ll be months later and they’ll bring some of these stories back up again, or an issue that we talked about like climate change and they’ll bring that back up. Their ability to absorb what is most meaningful in these conversations and town halls is really surprising to me, and it makes me feel better about the decision to bring them on the road.”O’Rourke’s father was a politician based in El Paso, and he says he had to go to campaign events too when he was growing up. “My dad was always running for office in El Paso, so we never had to leave the city limits, but we would go to campaign events in El Paso, which kind of probably like these guys I didn’t always like doing. If I can play basketball with my friends or I go to a campaign event, I’m going to choose basketball. Part of my responsibility as a parent is to try to expose them to the kind of things that help them understand what’s happening in the world right now, and also help them to understand why we spend so much time apart, and why their dad is on the road, and why would ever consider doing something like this in the in the first place.”O’Rourke and his family spent about a half hour walking through the carnival in downtown Clear Lake, with his son winning a hermit crab playing the fish bowl game.