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The Sports Report: 10 USC football players to watch this season

Kedon Slovis
Kedon Slovis
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Ryan Kartje on USC football: The USC football team has much to prove after a pandemic-shortened season ended in bitter defeat in the Pac-12 title game.

With preseason camp set to begin on Friday, here are 10 players to watch as the Trojans prepare for the crossroads campaign that lies ahead:

Kedon Slovis, QB

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Entering his third season, Slovis stands at his own crossroads. He lost confidence in his arm as a sophomore and wasn’t nearly as sharp, even as he led USC to five straight wins and was named to the All-Pac-12 first team. Slovis’ trajectory is more of a question mark now than it was one year ago, when some thought he might emerge as the top quarterback in his class.

He still may. Slovis worked in the offseason with renowned throwing coach Tom House to tighten up his mechanics and improve his footwork. He assures his confidence has returned. “I feel like I’m in a really good place right now,” he said at Pac-12 media day last month.

He’ll need to stay there if USC hopes to find itself in place to win the Pac-12.

Courtland Ford, OT

There’s no more pressing concern for USC at the outset of fall camp than its offensive front, and Ford is the biggest piece of that uncertain puzzle. The reviews from USC’s summer workouts have been glowing, and the fact that he’s already won the left tackle job is noteworthy. But outside of one spot start as a freshman, we haven’t seen Ford prove anything yet.

At 6-foot-6, 305 pounds, Ford looks like a prototypical mauling left tackle. USC desperately needs him to play like one come September.

Click here for the rest of the list

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USC to sell beer and wine during home football games at the Coliseum

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ANGELS

Ethan Sears on the Angels: Officially, Dylan Bundy fills one spot on the Angels’ roster. But there’s really two versions of the 28-year-old pitcher.

There’s the guy who finished ninth in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2020 — the mustachioed menace who limits homers and walks, locates his fastball well and works out of jams with big strikeouts.

There’s also the guy who’s been one of the worst pitchers in the league this season, who’s been hard-pressed to work deep into games, struggled to command his pitches and been knocked around the ballpark. Bundy dragged a 1-8 record into Thursday afternoon’s game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field.

That Bundy vanished, replaced by the other Bundy, who strode out to the mound inning after inning in a 5-0 victory with a cowboy’s swagger.

“Give him credit,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Bundy pitched 6 1/3 innings. “The guy never quits.”

Bundy’s ERA stood at 6.58 in late June. Unable to replicate last season’s performance as the team’s ace, he was moved to the bullpen.

“That’s about rock bottom for me, there,” Bundy said of losing his rotation spot. “Had to change something.”

DODGERS

Bill Shaikin on the Dodgers: Trevor Bauer will stay away from the Dodgers through at least Aug. 13, as Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed Thursday on a fourth extension of his administrative leave.

Bauer remains under investigation for sexual assault. A court hearing on whether to extend or terminate the temporary restraining order against him is scheduled Aug. 16-19.

The woman accusing him is expected to testify for about two hours, according to a court filing from the attorneys representing her.

NFL

Sam Farmer on the NFL: Peyton Manning will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Sunday, the capstone of a spectacular career in which he directed both the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos to Super Bowl victories.

In the audience will be legions of fans, along with friends and former teammates. Some grew up with him in New Orleans, and lined up with him on the sports fields at Isidore Newman School, which is pre-K through 12th grade.

The Los Angeles Times gathered five of his former Newman teammates for a video conference to reminisce about the gangly, plodding, pranking kid who rounded into one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

On the call were Manning friends Baldwin Montgomery, Justin Reyna, Thad Teaford, Mike Keck and Nate Stibbs.

Read more > > >

FERNANDOMANIA

A new episode of “Fernandomania @ 40” comes out next week. In the meantime, here’s a scene we couldn’t fit into the docu-series in which former Dodgers player Jerry Reuss talks about how Fernando Valenzuela’s fame actually helped the other pitchers by taking the limelight off of them.

You can watch Reuss talking about Fernando by clicking here.

CHARGERS

The Chargers are in the midst of training camp. Click here for our live blog of updates throughout training camp.

OLYMPICS

Where’s the Olympics coverage? You will be receiving a special Olympics edition of the Sports Report, which should hit your inbox around 7 a.m. PT each day, and will run daily during the Games. You can also check out all of our Olympics coverage by clicking here.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1958 — Glen Davis of Columbus, Ohio, sets a world record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 49.2 in Budapest, Hungary.

1966 — Muhammad Ali knocks out Brian London in the third round to retain his world heavyweight title.

1972 — South African Gary Player wins his second PGA golf championship with a two-stroke victory over Jim Jamieson and Tommy Aaron.

1978 — John Mahaffey beats Tom Watson and Jerry Pate on the second playoff hole to win the PGA Championship.

1991 — Debbie Doom of the U.S. pitches her second consecutive perfect game in women’s softball at the Pan American Games. Doom threw a perfect game at the Netherlands Antilles in the opener and matches that performance against Nicaragua, winning 8-0.

1992 — Carl Lewis leads a U.S. sweep in the long jump in the Olympics with a mark of 28 feet, 5 1-2 inches on his first attempt. Mike Powell takes the silver and Joe Greene the bronze. Kevin Young demolishes one of track’s oldest records with a time of 46.78 seconds in the 400 hurdles. Bruce Baumgartner becomes the first American wrestler to win medals in three straight Olympics, taking the gold in the 286-pound freestyle division.

1994 — Jeff Gordon wins the Brickyard 400, the first stock car race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

1995 — Canada’s Donovan Bailey wins the 100 meters at World Track and Field Championships in Goteborg, Sweden, marking the first time since 1976 an American fails to win a medal in the event at a major meet.

1999 — Tony Gwynn goes 4-for-5, singling in his first at-bat to become the 22nd major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits, as the San Diego Padres beat the Montreal Expos 12-10.

2006 — Floyd Landis is fired by his team and the Tour de France no longer considers him its champion after his second doping sample tested positive for higher-than-allowable levels of testosterone.

2006 — Sherri Steinhauer wins the Women’s British Open for the third time, and the first since it became a major.

2008 — Sammy Villegas, a former University of Toledo basketball player, is charged with point shaving. Villegas is accused of shaving points during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

2008 — Kim Terrell-Kearney wins the first professional championship match featuring two black bowlers, beating Trisha Reid 216-189 in the U.S. Bowling Congress’ U.S. Women’s Open. Terrell-Kearney collects her second U.S. Women’s Open title and third career major title.

2010 — Tyson Gay upsets the defending world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt in a race between the two fastest runners in history. Gay beats the Jamaican at the DN Galan meet in 9.84 seconds at the same stadium where Bolt last lost a race two years ago. Bolt finishes second in 9.97.

2015 — Ryan Lochte becomes the first man to win the 200-meter individual medley four consecutive times at the world swimming championships. Lochte comes home strong on the freestyle lap and touches first in 1:55.81 in Kazan, Russia.

2017 — I.K. Kim won the Women’s British Open, hanging on with a 1-under 71 for a two-shot victory over Jodi Ewart Shadoff and her first major championship.

And finally

Tony Gwynn gets his 3,000th hit. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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