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USC Star Su'a Cravens Ready to Cap Monster Season with Happy Holiday Bowl

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 25 Dec 2014

SAN DIEGOForget falling snow: The 75 degrees welcoming USC football to its first Holiday Bowl practice Wednesday at San Diego State made for Trojans sophomore safety/linebacker Sua Cravens ideal winter wonderland.Its good to be in California, Cravens said. Glad to not be in another state around Christmastime.A native Southern Californian, Cravens should feel right at home with conditions like these at the holiday season. He played his prep football at Vista Murrieta High School in the bedroom community of Murrieta, California.Thats just a short trek from San Diego up Interstate 15, a roadway that passes near where Cravens and the Trojans conclude the 2014 season Saturday at 8 p.m. ET against Nebraska.Cravens exudes California swagger, right down to the tattoo of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on his arm.But had fate twisted another way, Saturdays Holiday Bowl would have a much different feel for Cravens.I was planning on taking an official visit to Nebraska my junior year [at Vista Murrietta], he said. But it didnt quite work out.Nebraska worked to establish a recruiting pipeline into Southern California under its previous coaching regime.Bo Pelinis gone now, Cravens said of the Cornhuskers head coach who recruited him, fired last month. But Ive got a former teammate on Nebraska, [offensive lineman] Corey Whitaker, so its going to be fun to see him.Things may not have worked out for Nebraska, but they certainly are for both USC and Cravens, as his second season in the program comes to an end.Cravens earned first-teamAll-Pac-12 recognition this season, racking up 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks and two interceptionsone of which went for a touchdown.Of Cravens many contributions to the Trojans this season, the most significant may be one that stat sheets cannot fully quantify. He played a variety of spots for defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, primarily nickelback or strong-side linebacker, depending on the need at any given snap.And while his original head coach at USCLane Kiffinis gone,the Trojans current staff has an obviously high opinion of what Cravens brings to the team.Head coach Steve Sarkisian said earlier this season that [continuing] to recruit players like Sua, meaning versatile defenders who can seamlessly switch roles against hurry-up offenses, is imperative for competing in the Pac-12 Conference.But against Nebraska, Cravens leads the USC defense against an opponent known for a much more traditional style, predicated on establishing All-American running back Ameer Abdullah on the ground.You said it: Run the ball, Cravens said of Nebraskas game plan. Theyve got a big [offensive] line and theyve got a very good running back [in Abdullah].Well do everything we can to shut down the run game, he added. And hopefully it will turn into a game where theyre playing catch-up and have to pass the ball.No matter if the Cornhuskers go to the run or the pass, however, Cravens will be on the field. Thats a certainty regardless of where the Trojans are playingthough doing so in California makes this particular matchup a little sweeter.Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com.
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