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USC can't afford to "go through the motions"

The Trojans fly to San Francisco on Sunday afternoon for the start of the Emerald Bowl week, officially beginning with a welcome dinner with Boston College.

USC’s last on-campus practice of this season in Los Angeles will start at 11 a.m. before they board a bus to Los Angeles International Airport. The Trojans had the weekend off after installing new plays Friday.

With the Joe McKnight cloud surrounding the team, USC receiver Damian Williams said it’s even more important than usual to stay focused on the task at hand.

“If we come out here and go through the motions, we are gonna get beat,” Williams said. “We’re playing a very good opponent -- very tough, very athletic -- with a lot of pride at that school.”

Boston College certainly has something to play for, using the story of linebacker Mark Herzlich as inspiration this season.

Herzlich, the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a third-team Associated Press All-American who was projected as a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in May.

Herzlich beat the cancer by late September. He has announced plans to return to the field next season.

Williams said many Trojans had seen or heard his story and used it as inspiration, especially after their teammate Stafon Johnson suffered a life-threatening throat injury earlier this year.

“To be able to battle through something like that, to go from being a potential top-five pick to not knowing how long you’re gonna live,” Williams said. “The way he conquered adversity was an inspiration to everybody."