USC’s T.J. McDonald helps stop Cavaliers

USC safety T.J. McDonald, who had a rough first start in the Trojans’ opener at Hawaii, came up with a huge play early in the 16th-ranked Trojans’ home opener against Virginia on Saturday night at the Coliseum.

McDonald, a sophomore from Fresno, thwarted a Cavaliers scoring opportunity with the first interception of his USC career.

Virginia appeared to be on the verge of taking an early lead after the Cavaliers sacked Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley and recovered a fumble at the Trojans’ 31-yard line with 8 minutes 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

Virginia moved the ball to the six, where on second and goal quarterback Marc Verica escaped pressure and rolled to his left. The senior lofted a pass into the end zone that the 6-foot-3 McDonald leaped to intercept for a touchback with 7 minutes 35 seconds left in the first quarter.

Bush reminders removed

Reggie Bush remains a hot topic of conversation among USC fans, but school-sponsored references to the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner continue to disappear.

Bush’s jersey and a copy of his Heisman Trophy were removed from Heritage Hall.

And the giant replica of his No. 5 jersey is no longer in the peristyle end.

The concrete steps are still adorned with giant replica jerseys of the Trojans’ other Heisman winners: No. 20 (Mike Garrett); No. 32 ( O.J. Simpson); No. 12 (Charles White); No. 33 (Marcus Allen); No. 3 (Carson Palmer) and No. 11 ( Matt Leinart).

USC was required to remove all images and references to Bush under terms of NCAA sanctions.

Not so hyped

In a continuing break from traditions established by Pete Carroll, USC players filed into the Coliseum after the “Trojan Walk” outside the stadium and headed to the locker room without stopping to gather as a team at midfield.

USC President Max Nikias and Athletic Director Pat Haden visited with first-year Trojans Coach Lane Kiffin near midfield while the team went through warmups.

And for the second consecutive game, warmups were calmer than in the past, as players were instructed by Kiffin to dial it down.

Quick hits

A ceremony commemorating the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11 was held before the game…. Garrett Green, a quarterback, receiver and special-teams standout in 2006-09, was among the former USC athletes honored during the game as recipients of Pacific 10 Conference post-graduate scholarships.