It could have been one of the biggest letdowns of my early career as a sideline reporter at USC. The Trojans were hosting the Washington Huskies at home, and punter Kyle Negrete had just executed an electrifying fake punt for 35 yards.
It would later go on to be considered the turning point of the game, but for me, it was the moment when I was supposed to give an update on what was happening on the field, and my IFB earpiece went out.
I knew I had about a minute until I had to deliver my soundbite, but I could hear nothing from my production crew in the booth above the Coliseum. My initial reaction was to panic; I texted my crew, but cell phone reception in the Coliseum is notoriously terrible, so they didn't get it.
Instead of absolutely freaking out, I calmed down and counted down to what I thought had been a minute. Then, I just went with it: I delivered my piece, explaining how Negrete's fake punt had breathed new life into the offense. The Trojans went on to roll 40-17, and after the game, I found out that my piece came in loud and clear over the radio waves.
I continued doing sideline and studio coverage for the rest of the 2011 season and learned a lot about what it means to remain calm under fire.
Since then, I have been the lead editor for Reign of Troy, now going on three seasons. I've also covered the 2012 Olympics for Neon Tommy (a USC Digital Website), as well as the 2012 Euro Cup. I've reported on city issues in Los Angeles as a field journalist for Annenberg TV News, covering topics ranging from Occupy LA to the Democratic Midterm Elections. I've interned at ABC NewsOne in Glendale, CA and have worked at the Happiest Place On Earth (Disneyland).
I graduated from USC in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Multimedia Journalism from Cal Berkeley. I am very excited to be a part of the Bleacher Report team this season!
I will be bringing you the happenings from USC this season, so I wanted to introduce myself to the dedicated members of the Trojan Family. I will answer a few questions about myself and USC, but feel free to comment with any other questions you have!
Best athlete or coach to interview OR Athlete or coach you'd love to interview
I never got to interview him in my time at USC, but I would love to sit down with Pete Carroll. He was a larger-than-life figure in Troy, and he always took the time to pose for a picture or two with fans and students alike on campus.
My fondest memory of Pete was during my freshman year, when I worked for the Women of Troy basketball team. Flanked with a number of recruits, Pete showed the young athletes the Galen Center and then took a few minutes to shoot hoops with us and the girls on the team. He has a pretty mean fadeaway, too!
Best player or team covered
The 2011 USC squad has been my favorite to cover. At the outset, no one expected the Trojans to win many games, just one year into the crippling NCAA sanctions. By the end of the year, the Trojans had won 10 games, including a thriller against Oregon, at Autzen. Not only that, but it was my senior year at USC, and beating the Bruins 50-0 in my final game as a student is a memory I will never forget.
Most memorable ever game covered
Stanford-USC 2011. That game was absolutely NUTS. When Nickell Robey picked off Andrew Luck and ran it back for the go-ahead touchdown, the crowd in the Coliseum absolutely lost all composure. It was electric. I'd never seen the stadium so hyped, save for against Ohio State in the very first game of my student life, in 2008. Even though the Trojans lost in triple-overtime it was that game when fans, naysayers and the media alike all agreed that this Trojan team was to be taken seriously.
Who will emerge as USC's starting quarterback in 2013?
Lane Kiffin has decided who the quarterback will be, though he has declined to tell the public. My gut tells me it will be Cody Kessler, because were it to be Wittek, he would have announced it already.
How many games must Lane Kiffin win in 2013 to avoid the hot seat?
As long as USC does not absolutely tank this season, Kiffin will remain the head coach at USC next year. Pat Haden wanted a tight ship run during the sanctioned years, and Kiffin has given him exactly that. Anything more than seven wins will be enough to keep him, and the Trojans are poised to rebound once they can have the maximum allotment of scholarship athletes on roster again.
What are the biggest changes we can expect to see in the defense in 2013?
First, a new-look defense that will make the Trojans more competitive against the spread, as well as a more aggressive unit in general. We can expect a quarterback under center that will be the new face of the program and a stable of running backs that can help restore USC to its Tailback U days of glory.
What will be USC's offensive identity in 2013? (run/pass/balance)
With running back depth for the first time in years, we can expect the Trojans to boast a confident running game. Through the air, Marqise Lee is complimented by Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers, a trio that is sure to cause opposing secondaries' fits all season. I think we will see a much more balanced offensive assault from the Trojans in 2013, as they finally have all the pieces they need to fully execute sustainable passing and rushing attacks.
2013 Season Prediction for USC
With the schedule USC has this year, I am going to go out on a limb here and say they win 10 games. By the time the offense settles in, the Trojans will be in the meat of the schedule—one that brings both Stanford and UCLA to the Coliseum, while only having to travel to South Bend to face a rival. ASU could be a challenge, but I see the Trojans bouncing back from 2012 and having a double-digit win column when December rolls around.