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Former Trojans rally USC before trip to South Bend

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 21: Interim coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans watches his players, including John Akiba #36, warm up before playing the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC won 45-20. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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Before traveling to Notre Dame, a group of ex-players arrived on campus to show support for the current team and interim head coach Clay Helton. Yesterday, it was university president Max Nikias and athletic director Pat Haden at practice. Today, former standouts like Keyshawn Johnson and Willie McGinest spoke to the team after practice.

Thanks to USC’s practice being open to the media, we got a listen to the motivational tactics coming from former players, including this talk from Helton.

The last time Haden fired a coach midseason, he replaced Lane Kiffin (who was hired by former AD Mike Garrett) with defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. The feisty Cajun lifted the spirits of a team that was in a tailspin, rallying USC to a 6-2 finish to the regular season that included an upset of No. 4 Stanford, with losses to only Notre Dame and crosstown rival UCLA.

USC hopes that Helton is capable of capturing the same magic, salvaging a season that started with the Trojans in the Top 10, but had them drop two of their first three conference games. Helton will certainly earn every victory he gets. The upcoming USC schedule features three-straight ranked teams, then continues with Pac-12 conference play against Arizona, Colorado and Oregon before welcoming UCLA to the Coliseum.