USC defense hoping to bounce back vs. Arizona St.

USC defense hoping to bounce back vs. Arizona St.

LOS ANGELES (AP) If No. 21 Southern California even hopes to think about a big finish to its disappointing season, the Trojans realize they must improve quickly and significantly on defense.

The good news? That shouldn't be too tough.

After the worst defensive game in USC history last week, almost anything at all would be an improvement Saturday against Arizona State.

``I don't think we're ever going to play a game like that again,'' USC safety T.J. McDonald said after the Trojans allowed 730 yards and 62 points in a loss to Oregon.

USC (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12) hosts the slumping Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3) at the Coliseum in what's essentially an elimination game for the Pac-12 South title. The Trojans haven't lost three straight games since 2001, when Lane Kiffin was the Trojans' 26-year-old tight ends coach under Pete Carroll.

``We all know we've got to get better,'' Kiffin said. ``We have to look at ourselves, always, when anything is that lopsided.''

The Trojans went back to work with determination this week after that embarrassing defensive effort against Oregon in their second straight loss. They also endured another round of the off-the-field shenanigans that seem to surround this program, this time the dismissal of a student manager for underinflating footballs before that loss to the Ducks.

USC's defense appeared overwhelmed by the Ducks - and while they're hardly alone there, the result was discouraging for the players and coaches who must try to keep up with Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly and his solid offense this week. The Trojans have yielded 1,318 yards and 101 points in their last two games.

``When you perform like we did, it's totally unacceptable,'' USC defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron said. ``We did not play well. I did not coach them well, and we've got to get better. There's no excuse for it. ... It's hard, especially during the week, when you're representing a great program like USC, and you feel like you let everybody down. We've got to deal with it. We can't let this happen to us twice.''

Not everything has been awful for the Trojans lately: The offense led by Matt Barkley and receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee has scored at least 36 points in four of the last five games, following much the same path of gradual maturity shown by last season's offense.

``We're starting to come together,'' center Khaled Holmes said. ``I think we've played better each week. We're still not where we want to be, but you can see the progress.''

But the Trojans will face the Pac-12's best pass defense when Arizona State goes after its first win in Los Angeles since 1999.

``They're very simple in what they do, unlike the teams we've faced over the last three weeks who are all over the map with their looks,'' said Barkley, who has thrown four interceptions in the past two weeks. ``This week, it will be much simpler, but they are very good at what they do.''

Although the Sun Devils have lost three straight after a 5-1 start under new coach Todd Graham, they're still in the running for postseason play. Graham insists Arizona State isn't headed for another late-season swoon matching last year's five-game skid, which cost Dennis Erickson his job.

``They have had many opportunities in the last three weeks to implode or to take a step backward, but they haven't done that,'' Graham said of his players. ``And that is first and foremost what we committed to our fans. This program is going to be out winning championships, and we are going to have the same expectations. The season isn't over, is what I would tell (fans).''

The Trojans also have motivation for the matchup from last season, when the Sun Devils largely shut down Barkley in a 43-22 victory, snapping an 11-game skid against USC.

``We remember that game, but we've still got a lot of games to play this season,'' Woods said. ``We could still win out and get to where we want to be, but we're not getting ahead of ourselves.''


AP College Football Writer John Marshall in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Two days after losing Reuben Foster for the year, the Redskins made a move to at least provide reinforcements to a weakened linebacker group.

On Wednesday, Washington announced that they have signed Jon Bostic, a six-year veteran. The 'Skins also officially placed Foster on injured reserve.

Bostic was a 2013 second-round pick of the Bears out of Florida. He's since bounced around to New England, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, where he started 14 times for the Steelers in 2018 and posted 73 tackles. He's been traded twice in his career and missed all of 2016 with a foot injury. 

So, what does the move accomplish for the Redskins?

Well, Bostic — or any other free agent signing at this point — isn't going to have close to the level of talent and potential that Foster had. However, getting another option at linebacker was necessary for the Burgundy and Gold, and the 28-year-old has played in 30 contests over the past two years, so he's relatively established. 

Yes, he's far from a gamechanger, considering he has just one interception and 5.5 sacks as a pro. But he's regarded as a solid run defender and tackler and should at least push Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. His presence also could alleviate some of the pressure that would've been on rookie Cole Holcomb. 

Signing a defender who's been with five franchises in six years isn't exactly inspiring, but Bostic has experience as a starter and could give the Redskins useful snaps on first and second down at a minimum. Now it's on him to take advantage of the opportunity he's been given.


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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

NBC Sports Washington

Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

You may not know the exact dates of the Redskins' two matchups with the Giants this season, which will take place Sep. 29 and Dec. 22 in 2019. But Landon Collins sure does.

"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," the 'Skins new safety told ESPN in a recent interview. 

No, Collins isn't circling those dates from now until 2024 because he wants to be very organized and ensure he doesn't have any scheduling conflicts. He's doing it because he's dying to get revenge on his former team, who let him leave as a free agent in part because of their "culture change," according to him.

"All we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins told ESPN, referring to himself and other now ex-Giants like Odell Beckham and Damon Harrison. "I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants... If it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."

In addition to the organization wanting to go in a different direction culture-wise, New York didn't want to pay the amount of money the Redskins ended up paying for Collins because he wasn't an ideal fit in their defense. The 25-year-old pushes back against the idea that he's strictly a "box safety," though, as do current and former players.

Interestingly enough, Collins isn't the only member of the Redskins' secondary who's in D.C. thanks to a decision by Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was also the same guy who decided the Panthers needed to move on from Josh Norman in April 2016.

Collins, for one, doesn't sound like he'll miss Gettleman at all. The defender didn't love how the GM consistently failed to make an effort to connect personally with his players. 

"I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was," he explained.

All that, however, doesn't matter anymore. Collins is going to be the foundation of the Redskins' defense for quite some time, and that's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," he said.