USC Sports

USC’s Su’a Cravens counsels against making the UCLA game <i>too</i> big

USC’s Su’a Cravens counsels against making the UCLA game <i>too</i> big

USC linebacker Su’a Cravens talks with defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. during the second half of a 38-30 win over Arizona State on Nov. 8.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

USC seniors might not be the only Trojans players taking the field for their last games at the Coliseum on Saturday against UCLA.

Junior linebacker Su’a Cravens also might be making his final home appearance.

Cravens reiterated Wednesday that he had not decided whether he would enter the 2016 NFL draft.

“Of course, it’s crossed my mind,” he said after practice. “I don’t know what the projections look like. I don’t know what everyone’s saying, but it all depends on what happens the next few games and how things shape up in the off-season.”


USC offensive linemen Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler are among other draft-eligible juniors.

Cravens leads the Trojans with 13 1/2 tackles for loss, including 5 1/2 sacks. He also has two interceptions.

Cravens can play safety, pass-covering linebacker and run-stopper close to the line of scrimmage, interim Coach Clay Helton said.

“There are few people in the country that can do what he does,” said Helton, who compared Cravens’ versatility to that of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor.


UCLA has defeated the Trojans three years in a row. Though they are the Trojans’ rivals, Cravens said that he considered the Bruins “just another team” and that USC should not approach the game differently from any other.

He indicated that the Trojans might have made too much of playing Oregon at Autzen Stadium last week. USC lost, 48-28.

“Come out and relax and don’t make the game bigger than what it is,” he said. “I think that’s what we did last week.”

Familiar faces

Trojans safety Chris Hawkins said he and Cravens attended seminars with UCLA receiver Jordan Payton last summer.

“He knew who we were, we knew he who he was,” Hawkins said. “There was no ‘What’s up? How’s football going?’”

Hawkins and USC’s secondary will get a close-up look at Payton, who leads the Bruins with 71 receptions, four for touchdowns.

Against Oregon, Trojans defensive backs often looked confused and were out of position. Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. passed for six touchdowns, the most ever surrendered in a game by USC.


“We were just out of whack,” Hawkins said. “We weren’t in sync with what we have to do.

“This week we’re getting back to the basics.”

Tell returns

Safety Marvell Tell III appears on track to play for the first time since suffering a broken collarbone against Utah on Oct. 24.

“I feel like I was able to slip right back in,” said Tell, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound freshman.

The Trojans played Oregon with only two physically sound safeties — Hawkins and John Plattenburg.

“He’s a guy that can come in and make plays for us,” Hawkins said of Tell. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for him to showcase what he has. And a great opportunity for us to have some depth so people don’t have to play the whole game.”

Quick hits


Linebacker Osa Masina probably will not play against UCLA because of a hamstring injury, Helton said. ... Offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn attended practice for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury against Utah . ... Former receiver Mike Williams, a 2003 All-American, attended practice.

Twitter: @latimesklein


Chris Dufresne: Rose Bowl is at stake in USC-UCLA

USC vs. UCLA: High school coaches make their picks

UCLA’s young but poised Josh Rosen looms as a peril to USC

Go beyond the scoreboard

Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.