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Trojans are not concerned about football rankings

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Football preseason polls mean nothing, USC's Randall Telfer says
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian says football polls are irrelevant to team's daily focus

Tight end Randall Telfer arrived at USC in 2010, so he knows a thing or two about preseason polls and how they can play out in unpredictable fashion for the Trojans.

In 2011, USC began the season ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press media poll. The Trojans, ineligible to play in the Pac-12 Conference title game or a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions, finished with a 10-2 record and a No. 6 ranking.

In 2012, USC opened as No. 1 in several polls. The Trojans finished with a 7-6 record and out of the top 20.

Asked Sunday what he thought of USC's No. 15 ranking in the AP poll, which had been released a few hours earlier, the fifth-year senior did not miss a beat.

"With where this team has been in the rankings in the years I have been here," he said, laughing, "It means absolutely nothing."

The Trojans also are ranked No. 15 in the coaches poll, which was released in July.

Coach Steve Sarkisian participates in the poll. He said after practice that he could not recall exactly where he ranked the Trojans. He said he thought it was around 10th and that he would check. Later, through a school spokesman, he said he ranked the Trojans No. 8.

Earlier, he dismissed the importance of polls to players and coaches, saying they were "totally irrelevant" and that he had not addressed his team about the subject.

"The polls are great, they've always been kind of tied at the hip to college football and people love looking Sunday night, Monday morning at where people are ranked.

"But for our daily activities and what we're focused on, they're really irrelevant."

Sophomore tackle Zach Banner said he could anticipate the message if coaches address players.

"They most important thing for us to do, and what coach is probably going to say is, 'Forget everybody outside these walls. Forget everybody's opinion, forget the AP poll, the coaches poll, the college football poll, whatever that new stuff is."

Back to the Coliseum they go

USC will scrimmage for the second time in less than a week Monday night at the Coliseum.

The Trojans ran 98 plays Wednesday during a workout that featured numerous penalties.

Quarterback Cody Kessler said the focus would be on eliminating those mistakes and playing similar to the way they have practiced.

"Just playing smart football," he said, adding, "getting used to playing in that stadium and eliminating these mental lapses."

The scrimmage is closed to the public.

Aundrey Walker is improving

Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker, who has been slow to recover from ankle surgery, has apparently come on as of late.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound senior has started 18 games at guard or tackle.

Walker "made some nice strides here over the last 48 hours," Sarkisian said. "I thought his best practice was [Saturday] from a competitive standpoint, which was good for him.

"So, hopefully, we can keep working him back in there."

Quick hits

Fifth-year senior D.J. Morgan, who switched from tailback to safety after several knee surgeries in the last few years, was taken off the 105-man roster for training camp to make room for walk-on kicker Reid Budrovich, Sarkisian said. Morgan is scheduled to rejoin meetings and practices after training camp as per NCAA rules, Sarkisian said.

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Ventura St. Bonaventure High quarterback Ricky Town announced on Twitter that he had "signed" with the Trojans. Town signed a financial-aid agreement.

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Sunday's practice ended early after kicker Andre Heidari met a challenge from Sarkisian and kicked a field goal with the entire team gathered around him. Several players went immediately to the nearby swimming facility and leaped into the pool from the diving tower.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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