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Steve Sarkisian on difference between last year and this year: ‘Now, everybody knows what to expect’

On the eve of his second season as USC’s head football coach, Steve Sarkisian discussed the results of February’s National Signing Day, the difference between his rookie season as the Trojans’ headman and this upcoming season, and the rivalry with UCLA.

“There’s a lot that goes into college football,” coach Sarkisian told the Jim Rome Show. “We get 15 times to get on the field with out guys with a football; I embrace it, I enjoy it, that’s why we do what we do – to get on the football field with these guys, and so, I’m looking forward to [spring practice starting] tomorrow.”

Coach Sarkisian discussed the challenges of his rookie season as USC’s head coach and the greatest difference between then and now.

“Last year, there was so much unknown. Here comes a new system, here comes a no huddle offense, here comes a lot of shotgun, here’s a new defensive system…I think this spring our players and our staff and our coaches, everybody knows what to expect. Now, it’s really about fine tuning this thing.”

USC had one of the best recruiting classes in the country after last month’s National Signing Day, along with rival UCLA. When asked about keeping an eye on his cross-town competition, Sark suggests the attention was on the entire conference and the upgrades every Pac-12 team is making.

“Well, I have to pay attention to our entire conference, everything we do is strategic to that matter. We’re focused on ourselves, we are handling our own business, but I’m aware of what ASU is doing, I’m aware of what Arizona is doing, I’m aware of what Oregon is doing…you have to be.”

However, when pushed to evaluate the UCLA Bruins, Coach Sarkisian praised the Blue and Gold, but obviously looks forward to an opportunity at revenge after losing to UCLA last season.

“Jim [Mora] has done a good job at UCLA. He’s built that program. I think he really built on what Rick [Neuheisel] had started. I thought Rick recruited really well, Jim came in, and took the talent and took it to another level and they’re playing at a high level and it’s great for our rivalry. I got to be honest with you, I think it’s great that come late November, early December the SC-UCLA game matters and that, for our conference, is huge, on a national level for Los Angeles football, for the Pac 12 Conference it’s really really good. Ultimately, I want to beat them…they got us last year, we’ll get out shot late November this year at the Coliseum.”

Before the interview concluded, Coach Sarkisian was asked about some of the challenges and distractions his team faced on-and-off the field last year. The coach stated the importance of refocusing, and not scoreboard watching.

“I don’t think we can just keep swimming in the murky waters of ‘whoa is me’ and staring at the scoreboard. I think we have to focus on the task at hand and that’s the next play, that’s the next series, that’s the next quarter, that’s the next half, and that’s hard to do.”

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