USC - CAL Football Preview
Oct. 22, 2000
TICKETS-Tickets for the USC-California game, priced at $27, are available at the USC Ticket Office (213-740-GO SC), L.A. Sports Arena box office and all Ticketmaster agencies. For group discounts (25 or more), call (213) 740-4170.
RADIO-TV-Live regional TV: 3:30 p.m. (PDT), FOX Sports Net Syndicate (KCLA-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles), Barry Tompkins, Doug Plank, John Jackson (see page 9 for complete list of 20 network stations). Live local radio: 1:30 p.m. (PDT), XTRA-AM (690), Lee Hamilton, Paul McDonald, Tim Ryan (includes 1-hour USC pre- and post-game shows sandwiched by 1-hour college football pre- and post-game shows). Four other stations are included on the USC radio network: KMPC-AM 1540 in Los Angeles, KGEO-AM 1230 in Bakersfield, KFIG-AM 1430 in Fresno and KRLV-AM 1340 in Las Vegas, Nev. Fans also can hear the live XTRA broadcast on the Internet on www.usctrojans.com or can pay to listen to it live by dialing 1-800-846-4675 ext. 5933.
Live local Spanish-language radio: 3:10 p.m. (PDT), XPRS-AM (1090), Ivan Lara (includes 20-minute pre-game show).
USC Sports Magazine Show: 6 p.m. (PDT), Thursday (Oct. 26), 3 a.m. (PDT), Friday (Oct. 27), and 3 p.m. (PDT), Saturday (Oct. 28), FOX Sports Net West 2, Tom Kelly.
USC Trojan Talk: 7 p.m. (PDT), Sundays during football season, KDWN-AM (720), Harvey Hyde, Chuck Hayes. Fans also can hear the live KDWN broadcast on the Internet (type http://www.usctrojans.com).
USC HOTLINE--Dial (213) 743-2989 for a brief taped interview with USC coach Paul Hackett.
INFO CONNECTION--Dial (770) 558-6000, passcode 72210, for the Pac-10 Info Connection, a fax-on-demand system that provides access to press releases from the Pac-10 Office and all Pac-10 schools on a 24-hour-a-day basis. Media callers must have a PIN number (which can be obtained by calling 770-399-0096). Media can also access information at www.mediateamlink.com.
USC ONLINE--The USC athletic department has an official 'home page' on the World Wide Web, featuring current and historical information about Trojan sports. For access, type http://www.usctrojans.com.
IT'S NOT SOUTHERN CAL--Note to the media: In editorial references to athletic teams of the University of Southern California, the following are preferred: USC, Southern California, So. California, Troy, Trojans and (for women's teams) Women of Troy. PLEASE do not use Southern Cal.
PAC-10 ONLINE--Pac-10 information, press releases, statistics and links to all league schools are available online at http://www.pac-10.org.
PAC-10 SATELLITE FEED-The Pac-10 provides a weekly satellite feed featuring interviews with coaches and selected players regarding upcoming games along with highlight footage. The half hour feed airs every Wednesday at noon (PDT) through Nov. 22. Coordinates are Telstar 5, Transponder 16 (C-band). Trouble numbers: 310-543-1835 or 310-286-3749 or pager 888-423-0095 or 925-932-4411.
PAC-10 COACHES TELECONFERENCES-Pac-10 football coaches are available for 10 minutes each on a media teleconference beginning at 9:30 a.m. (PDT) every other Tuesday during the season. The remaining dates are Oct. 24 and Nov. 7. USC coach Paul Hackett comes on at 10:45 a.m. (PDT). Beginning at 1:30 p.m. (PDT) each of those Tuesdays, a taped replay of the teleconference is available anytime. Call the Pac-10 office (925-932-4411) or USC sports information office (213-740-8480) to obtain the media-only phone numbers for the Pac-10 Coaches Teleconference.
THE FACTS--USC (3-4 overall, 0-4 Pac-10 for 10th place) vs. California (2-5, 1-3 for 7th place tie), Saturday (Oct. 28), 3:30 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum.
THEMES-It's Homecoming at USC. Both USC and California are struggling and they'll come in hungry after tough fourth quarter losses last Saturday. The Trojans fell at the gun last Saturday at Stanford and are riding a 4-game losing streak (Troy is 0-4 in the conference for the first time ever), while California blew an 11-point final quarter lead at Washington to remain winless on the road in 2000. USC has lost its last 2 meetings (and 3 of the past 4) to the Golden Bears, the team Troy has played more (and recorded more wins against) than any opponent. USC coach Paul Hackett spent 4 years on the Cal staff in the early 1970s. The game will be shown live throughout the West on the 20-station FOX Sports Net Syndicate over-the-air package. The 2001 USC Athletic Hall of Fame class will be announced at the game.
RANKINGS-USC and California are not ranked.
SERIES-This will be USC's 88th meeting with California, the team Troy has faced (and beaten) more than any other. USC leads the series, which dates back to 1915 (and is uninterrupted since 1926), 54-28-5. The Trojans have won 16 of the last 22 meetings, 31 of the last 41 and 37 of the past 49, but the Golden Bears have won the past 2 and 3 of the last 4. Since 1980, USC has outscored Cal, 601-300.In Los Angeles-area games, USC holds a 26-17-4 edge, but Cal has won the last 2. In 1998, in the last Coliseum meeting between the teams, Cal overcame a 21-point deficit late in the third quarter to win, 32-31.
Last year in Berkeley, USC fell, 17-7. Cal jumped to a 10-0 lead in the third quarter behind a 67-interception return by CB Deltha O'Neal and a 37-yard field goal by PK Mark-Christian Jensen. Troy got on the board when QB John Fox hit WR Kareem Kelly on a 72-yard TD pass. But the Bears responded early in the fourth quarter on a 33-yard TD pass from QB Kyle Boller to WR Ronnie Davenport. USC was hampered by turnovers (4), sacks (9), untimely penalties and a stingy California defense that allowed 452 total yards and 23 first downs, but held the Trojans at bay most of the game. USC limited Cal to just 232 total yards (only 82 rushing). Fox was 12-of-25 for 226 yards while seeing his first significant time at quarterback since 1997, QB Mike Van Raaphorst was 14-of-24 for 156 yards as the starter and Kelly caught 9 passes for 170 yards. Boller was 10-of-26 for 150 yards.
IN THE COLISEUM--USC has a 358-117-27 (.740) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
CONNECTIONS-USC has 4 players who previously attended a Bay Area school: DEs Matt Childers (Castro Valley HS and Chabot CC in Hayward) and Omar Nazel (Skyline HS in Oakland), CB Matt Lemos (St. Francis HS in Mountain View) and WR Forrest Mozart (St. Francis HS in Mountain View)...USC head coach Paul Hackett has Bay Area roots, including attending Miramonte HS in Orinda and UC Davis and serving as an assistant at UC Davis (1969-71) and California (1972-75) and with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-85), in fact, when Hackett was at the 49ers, Cal coach Tom Holmoe was a safety there...USC wide receivers coach Dan Ferrigno spent the past 4 years (1996-99) at Cal and was also a graduate assistant there in 1980 and 1981, his other Bay Area background includes having attended Riordan HS in San Francisco and San Francisco State, then coaching at St. Ignatius HS in San Francisco and at San Francisco State...USC offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson was on Cal's staff in 1996...USC TB Petros Papadakis originally signed with California and actually participated in practice for a week with the Bears in the fall of 1995, then left there and enrolled at USC...Mark Long, an assistant athletic director at USC, lettered as an offensive lineman at Cal in 1983 and 1984...Dino Dennis, USC's head equipment manager, was an assistant at California from 1975 to 1978...Law professor Noel Ragsdale, USC's faculty athletic representative, received her law degree from California in 1976...Trojan assistant Matt Irvin prepped at Northgate HS in Walnut Creek...Cal women's swimming coach Teri McKeever was an All-American swimmer at USC in 1980-81 and later an assistant coach with the Women of Troy (he late father, Mike, was an All-American guard for the 1959 USC football team, while her uncle, Marlin, was a Trojan All-American end in 1959 and 1960)...USC CB Kris Richard will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Saturday (Oct. 28).
LAST GAME-Backup QB Chris Lewis threw a 20-yard TD pass to FL Jamien McCullum on fourth-and-goal as time expired to give Stanford a stunning 32-30 win over USC as the Trojans couldn't hold a 10-point lead with less than 5:30 to play before 50,125 fans in Palo Alto and an ABC-TV regional audience.
The loss, USC's fourth consecutive, gave the Trojans their first-ever 0-4 conference record. Lewis came in for the Cardinal's final 6 plays when starting QB Randy Fasani was injured on a run to the Trojan 25-yard line with less than a minute to go. Although Stanford held the ball nearly twice as long as USC (39:29-20:31), ran off 37 more plays (96-59), had 9 more first downs (26-17) and converted 13-of-23 third downs (and 3-of-4 fourth downs), the Cardinal managed only 1 more yard of total offense (421-420). Stanford opened up a 14-0 lead late in the first half behind a pair of short TD runs by RB Kerry Carter. But Troy pulled back to within 14-8 at halftime on a 2-yard TD run by TB Petros Papadakis and a safety when P Mike Biselli was tackled in the end zone. Carter score on another short run on the opening series of the second half, but USC then scored 22 unanswered points to go up by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter.
First, TB Sultan McCullough burst 39 yards for a TD on USC's first drive of the second half. Then, Papadakis had another 2-yard scoring run a minute later, just 3 plays after CB Chris Cash intercepted a Fasani pass.
PK John Wall hit a 22-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, then QB Carson Palmer ran 1-yard on a naked bootleg on USC's next possession to go up 30-20 with 8:16 to play. But Stanford came back, driving 78 yards in 11 plays, capped by Carter's 20-yard fourth down scoring run with 5:22 to go. When USC went 3-and-out on its ensuing possession, the Cardinal took 13 plays to drive 50 yards in the final 3:42 for the victory.
Carter--who had a career-high 123 yards on 20 carries--tied a USC opponent record with his 4 TDs and WR DeRonnie Pitts's career-best 13 catches (for 176 yards) tied another Trojan opponent mark. Fasani, who had missed the previous 3 games with a knee injury, was 18-of-36 for 196 yards in his return.
McCullough had a game-high 130 yards on just 11 rushes (his fourth 100-yard outing of the season), while Palmer was 15-of-30 for 190 yards. LB Zeke Moreno posted a game-best 12 tackles and S Troy Polamalu added 11 stops.
SCHEDULE--Although USC plays 7 of its 12 games at home, its 2000 schedule began with a challenge as the Trojans traveled to East Rutherford, N.J., to play Penn State in the Kickoff Classic. Beyond that, Troy doesn't have a long road trip, going to defending Pac-10 champion Stanford, 1999 bowl teams Arizona State and Oregon State, and UCLA. Visiting the Coliseum are non-conference foes Colorado (the 1999 Insight.com Bowl winner), Notre Dame and San Jose State, plus Pac-10 opponents Oregon (the 1999 Sun Bowl champ), Arizona, California and Washington State.
FUN FACT-USC has a 49-23-4 record in its Homecoming games, dating back to the first such event in 1924.
HACKETT--Paul Hackett, a one-time USC assistant coach who has been on coaching staffs that have won a national championship in college and a Super Bowl in the pros, made an immediate mark on the Trojan football program upon his return to Troy as its head football coach.
In his first year at USC's helm, he led the Trojans to an 8-5 record in 1998 (5-3 in the Pac-10 for a third place tie) and a berth in the Sun Bowl. With his 1998 opening win over Purdue, he became the first head coach to win his Trojan debut since Jess Hill in 1951, and by starting off 3-0, he became only the third Trojan coach since 1915 to win his first 3 games (joining Hill in 1951 and the legendary Howard Jones in 1925).
Hackett is one of only two USC head coaches to have won their first outing against Notre Dame (John Robinson is the other). Hackett, Robinson and Larry Smith are the only USC coaches to have guided squads to a bowl game in their first seasons at Troy. In 1999 in his second year at USC, Hackett's team went 6-6 overall (4-5 in the Pac-10 for a sixth place tie) as Troy won its final 3 games of the season and snapped UCLA's 8-game winning streak over the Trojans. USC was in every game, as it was the first time ever that Troy lost all 6 games by 10 points or less. The 53-year-old Hackett signed a 5-year contract to replace Robinson on Dec. 17, 1997.
Regarded as one of the game's most progressive offensive coaches, he has 31 years of experience as a college and professional assistant and head coach. He has tutored some of football's top players--including Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Jerry Rice, Andre Rison, Tony Dorsett, Steve Bartkowski, Charles White, Brian Sipe, Herschel Walker, Danny White, Dwight Clark and Vince Evans--and has worked under such head coaches as Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Marty Schottenheimer and Robinson. Before coming to Troy, Hackett was the offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs for 5 years (1993-97). The Chiefs advanced to the NFL playoffs in 4 of those years, including 1997. Before that, he was at the University of Pittsburgh (1989-92), the first season as the quarterbacks coach and then 3 seasons as the Panthers' head coach (posting a 13-20-1 record). As a college coach, he has a 30-35-1 overall mark in 5 seasons, including 17-15 in 3 years at USC.
Hackett began his coaching career for 3 seasons (1969-71) at his alma mater, UC Davis. He then was an assistant at California for 4 years (1972-75). Then, at age 29, Hackett moved to USC for 5 years (1976-80), where under Robinson he was in charge of the quarterbacks and receivers for the first 2 years and then the quarterbacks and passing game the final 3 years. During his Trojan tenure, USC was the 1978 national champion, won 4 bowl games (including 3 Rose Bowls), posted a 50-8-2 record and produced a Heisman Trophy winner (White). Hackett began his pro coaching career as quarterbacks coach with the Cleveland Browns for 2 seasons (1981-82). He next was the quarterbacks and receivers coach with the San Francisco 49ers for 3 years (1983-85). The 49ers won Super Bowl XIX in the 1984 season. He then became the pass offense coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys for 3 years (1986-88) before returning to the college ranks at Pitt. A 3-year starting quarterback at UC Davis (1966-68), Hackett collects old music juke boxes filled with 1950s and 1960s rock 'n roll music. A rock music fan, he sat in the front row at the final Beatles concert, held in 1966 in Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Born on July 5, 1947 in Burlington, Vt., he shares a birthday with former USC head coach John McKay. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have 2 sons, David, 28, and Nathaniel, 20. David played on the 1988 Texas Division III state football champion while at Carroll High in Southlake, Tex., and then was an administrative assistant with the USC football program, while Nathaniel is a sophomore on UC Davis' football team. Hackett is 0-2 in his career against California.
PALMER-Although he has struggled somewhat lately, there's little doubt that sophomore Carson Palmer (132-of-241, 54.8%, 1,687 yds, 7 TD, 11 int in 2000) is one of the nation's better quarterbacks. He currently is 22nd nationally in total offense (241.7, third in Pac-10). He already ranks sixth on USC's career passing ladder (with 301 completions) with just 15 starts under his belt. He is also 10th on Troy's all-time total offense chart (3,823 yards). His 132 completions in 2000 ties him for 16th place on USC's season passing list. How valuable is he to the Trojans? With Palmer at the reins, USC started off the 1999 season undefeated as he completed nearly 75% of his passes. But when he broke his collarbone 2 plays before halftime in Troy's third game (at Oregon), USC hit a tailspin from which it took a while to recover. After missing the rest of the 1999 campaign while rehabilitating the injury (he was allowed to redshirt because he was knocked out so early in the season), he was fully healthy for the 2000 season.
ALSO AT QUARTERBACK--USC might have the most experienced backup signalcaller in the nation in senior Mike Van Raaphorst. A 15-game starter in his career, he is 10th on USC's all-time passing list (232 completions) and 20th on the Trojans' career total offense chart (2,809 yards). He took over for 5 games in 1999 when Palmer went down before being replaced by John Fox. Against Stanford last year, he set USC single game passing yardage (415 yards) and total offense (390 yards) records. Also a star in the classroom, he has a team-best 3.72 GPA and is taking classes in USC's M.B.A. program this fall after receiving his bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism and political science this spring. He is applying for a Rhodes Scholarship.
RUNNING BACKS--One tailback usually carried the ball for Troy in 1999: Chad Morton, a 2-year starter who ended his career as USC's No. 8 rusher (2,511 yards), including a dozen 100-yard outings, and now plays in the NFL. Last fall, he ran for 1,141 yards (the most at USC since 1990) and 15 TDs (the most by a Trojan since 1981). In 2000, a combination of speed burners and power runners have seen time at tailback.
Sophomore Sultan McCullough (135 tcb, team-high 702 yds, 5.2 avg, 3 TD in 2000, plus 8 rec, 3.0 avg), who has started all 7 games of 2000, currently is 25th nationally in rushing (100.3, third in Pac-10) and has 4 100-yard games this season (128 versus Penn State, 136 versus San Jose State, 152 against Oregon and 130 at Stanford). He has long runs of 59, 46, 39 and 35 yards in 2000. He is a legitimate speed merchant. The 1999 Pac-10 100 meters champion and eighth-place finisher in the 2000 NCAA 100 (he also ran a leg on USC's 400-meter relay which was fifth at the 2000 NCAA Meet), McCullough is the fastest Trojan footballer ever (10.17 in the 100, the best mark in the world in 1999 by an under-20 runner). He showed flashes of his gridiron potential last fall, even jetting 48 yards against UCLA for Troy's longest run of 1999.
The power guys are senior Petros Papadakis (52 tcb, 130 yds, 2.5 avg, team-high 7 TD in 2000, plus 1 rec, 11.0 avg), who ran for 365 yards and a team-best 8 touchdowns while starting 4 times in 1998 but missed all of 1999 and last spring's practice with a serious foot injury, and junior Malaefou MacKenzie (22 tcb, 177 yds, 8.0 avg in 2000, plus 14 rec, 9.0 avg and 1 KOR, 20.0 avg), who has 658 rushing yards and 2 starts in a career that has been injury-plagued. Look for Papadakis in USC's short-yardage formations (his 7 rushing TDs in 2000 have all been 5 yards or less).
A pair of Trojans appear at fullback, led by returning starter Charlie Landrigan (3 tcb, 9 yds, 3.0 avg in 2000, plus 3 rec, 5.7 avg), an unheralded junior who performed solidly in 1999, and sophomore Chad Pierson (3 tcb, 16 yds, 5.3 avg in 2000, plus 5 rec, 16.6 avg, 1 TD and 1 KOR, 11.0 avg). Both are rugged blockers and good pass catchers, but none has been asked yet to prove his running ability.
WIDE RECEIVERS--You'd think that USC would be in trouble at the wide receiver spots in 2000, since such high-caliber players as starters R. Jay Soward and Windrell Hayes are gone. After all, Soward finished his time at Troy as the school's No. 4 all-time pass catcher (161 grabs, including 51 last fall) and was an NFL first round draft pick.
Hayes, another NFL draftee, caught 79 passes in his Trojan career, including a team-best 55 in 1999 with 4 TDs. But USC has an outstanding young wideout corps, led by experienced sophs Kareem Kelly (team-high 27 rec, 13.8 avg, 1 TD in 2000, plus 2 tcb, 1.5 avg), Marcell Allmond (16 rec, 15.2 avg in 2000, plus 2 tcb, 23.0 avg and 1 KOR, 16.0 avg) and Steve Stevenson (6 rec, 14.5 avg in 2000, plus 2 KOR, 15.5 avg).
Kelly, the 1999 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American second teamer, was USC's second-leading receiver last fall. He set Pac-10 freshman records for most catches (54) and receiving yards (902) while starting twice. The only Trojan with a catch in every game in 1999, he had 4 outings with 100 receiving yards. He's on the 2000 Biletnikoff Award Watch List. He has caught a pass in every game he has played in since he arrived at USC (18, he sat out this year's Arizona game with an injury) and has 6 100-yard receiving games in his career. With 81 career receptions, Kelly is 17th on USC's all-time pass catching list.
Allmond-who broke his leg against Arizona and is out for the rest of the 2000 season-started 3 times in 1999, while Stevenson's start at Oregon in 1999 marked the first time that a true freshman started at wide receiver for USC since 1984. Kelly (sprints) and Allmond (hurdles, decathlon), former California state prep champs in their specialties, also compete for the Trojan tracksters.
Kelly owns the world junior record in the indoor 50-meter dash, while Allmond was second in the 110-meter high hurdles and seventh in the decathlon at the 2000 Pac-10 Meet. Other wideouts who contribute are senior Matt Nickels (16 rec, 13.4 avg, 3 TD in 2000), an ex-walk-on who earned a scholarship this season and has started twice in 2000, and prep All-American Keary Colbert (18 rec, 15.8 avg in 2000), a true freshman who has 3 starts in 2000.
TIGHT ENDS-Look for USC's tight ends to be more prominent in 2000. Senior Antoine Harris (12 rec, 12.9 avg, 2 TD in 2000), a reliable veteran, starts at tight end for his fourth season in 2000. An accomplished blocker and able receiver, he has 43 receptions with 4 touchdowns in his career. Besides sophomore backup Scott Huber (he started the 2000 Arizona game for an injured Harris), a pair of top-quality recruits have entered the picture this fall: sophomore Doyal Butler (3 rec, 15.3 avg in 2000), who spent 1998 at Purdue, and freshman Alex Holmes (3 rec, 7.3 avg in 2000).
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN--For the first time in Paul Hackett's 3 years, USC has solid depth on its offensive line. But, as has been the case the past 2 seasons, Troy's offensive success depends heavily on the performance of these blockers. Dependable senior Brent McCaffrey starts for his third season at left tackle.
Senior Trevor Roberts, who started 3 times at left tackle last year, entered the fall as the starting left guard, but was slowed with a foot injury. He didn't see his first action until being a backup against Arizona and then he started versus Oregon and Stanford.
Redshirt freshman Lenny Vandermade started for Roberts at left guard for the first 5 games of 2000, then moved to center and played there in the second half against Arizona and started there versus Oregon and Stanford. The right side of USC's line suffered the loss of 1999 All-Pac-10 first team tackle Travis Claridge, last year's Pac-10 Morris Trophy winner who started all 48 games of his USC career (the first Trojan offensive lineman ever to do so without redshirting) and is now in the NFL. But junior Faaesea Mailo, who started 5 times last fall at guard, has moved out to right tackle. He also was used as a fullback in short yardage situations at times last year and proved to be a devastating blocker, watch for him in the backfield again in 2000.
Sophomore Zach Wilson, who started the final 7 games of 1999 at right guard and was impressive enough to earn Freshman All-American second team notice, starts there once again. Senior Eric Denmon returned at center after starting there most of last year, but his Trojan career has been marked by nagging injuries (he sprained an ankle against Arizona this year and missed the Oregon and Stanford games).
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN--The defensive line is the most veteran unit on the entire USC team. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better pair of tackles than USC's returning starters: senior Ennis Davis (32 tac, 8 for losses, team-high 4 sac, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2000), a 2-year starter and on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy 'Watch List,' and junior Ryan Nielsen (16 tac, 3 for losses, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2000).
Davis, a 1998 All-Pac-10 first teamer, was never quite himself last season after suffering a knee injury in the 1998 Sun Bowl, but he still showed his big-play potential often, tying for the team lead in sacks (5) and even intercepting a pair of passes (returning one 30 yards for a TD as he hurdled his 300-pound body over an opponent to get into the end zone). The underrated Nielsen was named USC's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 1999.
Sophomore Bernard Riley (9 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FR, 1 BLK in 2000), who appeared mostly in short yardage situations last fall, will push this duo for time (he started against Arizona, Oregon and Stanford for an injury-slowed Nielsen).
USC's already-deep group of ends was bolstered by the return of senior Sultan Abdul-Malik (16 tac, 8 for loss, 3 sac in 2000) to the position. He was USC's sack leader in 1997 and 1998 while starting at end, but started at strongside linebacker last fall. He was moved back to the line to take advantage of his pass rushing skills (he has 22 sacks in his career).
Abdul-Malik started USC's first 4 games of 2000 and then backed junior Lonnie Ford (12 tac, 4 for losses, 3 sac, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2000), who started at end in 1999 after playing tight end earlier in his USC career. Ford's 5 sacks last fall gave him a share of the Trojan lead. The other end spot again is manned by Matt Childers (25 tac, 5 for loss, 2 sac, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2000) and his often-used backup, Shamsud-Din Abdul-Shaheed (9 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sac in 2000), both seniors. They are an interchangeable pair as Childers started 7 times last season and Abdul-Shaheed had 5 starts. Childers tied for the team lead in sacks (5) in 1999.
MORENO/STEELE--USC's 2 returning starters at linebacker are good enough to have been considered for the Butkus Award (both were on the award's 'Watch List'): seniors Zeke Moreno (team-high57 tac, 12 for losses, 3 sac, 3 dfl, 1 FR for a TD, 1 FF in 2000) in the middle and Markus Steele (52 tac, team-best 15 for losses, 2 sac, 1 dfl, 1 FR in 2000) on the weak side. Steele currently leads the Pac-10 in tackles for losses (15) and Moreno is tied for third (12). Moreno, who is starting for his third year and is also on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy 'Watch List,' was USC's leading tackler in 1999. He was third in the Pac-10 in tackles (9.0), tied for first in forced fumbles (5) and tied for third in fumble recoveries (2). Steele, who made an immediate impact in 1999 after transferring from a junior college, topped Troy in tackles for losses last season and was second in total tackles. He was third in the Pac-10 in forced fumbles (3) and tied for third in fumble recoveries (2). Each found the end zone in 1999, Moreno twice (on an interception and fumble recovery against Oregon State) and Steele once (on a fumble recovery at Hawaii).
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT ZEKE MORENO & MARKUS STEELE
San Jose State head coach Dave Baldwin: 'The best pair of tandem inside linebackers that I have ever seen. We've watched film and one moment you'll think Zeke Moreno is the better one, then you watch Markus Steele and think he looks better. They are tremendous together.'
Penn State fullback Mike Cerimele: 'A great linebacking corps. They fly to the ball.'
Tom Reynolds, USC Report: 'On the field, Moreno-USC's ferocious inside linebacker-stalks every play, searching for a ball carrier to pounce on. He is like a cat searching for prey. Off the field, Moreno couldn't be any more the opposite of his on-field demeanor. He is a soft-spoken, God-fearing momma's boy (by his own admission). But don't call him soft.'
David Cisneros, Daily Trojan: 'Ask anybody who knows him. They'll tell you what a wonderful guy he is. They might tell you how he has become a role model. And they'll tell you he's a hell of a middle linebacker...Moreno displays character rarely seen in sports.'
Arizona head coach Dick Tomey: 'He's an incredible player. There was nobody in our conference who was as outstanding at linebacker in 1999.'
USC cornerback Kris Richard: 'Markus can play. He had a lot of hype coming in and he backed it up. When you watch him on film, it's pretty amazing. To be as fast as he is at that position. He plays fast and he hits hard. And he is so intelligent on the field.'
Former USC tailback Chad Morton: 'He's fast, real fast. People try comparing him to (ex-USC Butkus Award winner) Chris Claiborne, but they're not the same type of players. Chris would run through people and rough you up. Markus' game is to get to the ball and cover well. He's very fast. He'll catch you if you're not running your fastest.'
USC safety DeShaun Hill, Steele's junior college teammate: 'The first time I saw him with pads on, I knew what the deal was. I started calling him 'freak' because he has freaky athletic ability. He's fast enough to play defensive back but strong enough to take on offensive tackles. He's just amazing. He's just scratching the surface.'
Phil Collin, South Bay Daily Breeze: 'He makes numerous highlight film-type plays with his relentless pursuit and ability to slither away from blocking schemes designed to slow him down.'
Scott Wolf, Los Angeles Daily News: 'His speed and size make him attractive. He could probably even play strong safety in the NFL because of his athleticism.'
Former USC linebackers coach Shawn Slocum: 'He's a guy with the ability to make plays all over the field. He's just plain fast. He comes off the edge and slithers through. What stands out is his range and that he plays with violence.'
USC football television analyst Craig Fertig, a former Trojan player and assistant coach: 'People are starting to run away from him. But, hey, go ahead. He'll catch them.'
Long Beach City College head coach Larry Reisbig: 'He's the best player I've ever had. Sure, he's got great athletic ability, but he's much more than just a great athlete. He has a real feel for the game and how the position is supposed to be played. He'd constantly talk to the coaches and watch as much film as he could. He's a great leader and a wonderful kid to coach.'
THE OTHER LINEBACKER--Even though one of 1999's starting linebackers--Sultan Abdul-Malik--moved to the defensive line, there's no cause for concern at the Trojans' strongside linebacker position in 2000. The new starter there is junior Kori Dickerson (16 tac, 1 FF in 2000), who played defensive end earlier in his career (even starting once there last fall). He also high jumps for the USC track squad, with a best of 6-8, because of his hops, he was used as a wide receiver on a Hail Mary pass against Oregon this year (it fell incomplete).
DEFENSIVE BACKS--If it's competition you're looking for, watch USC's secondary throughout the 2000 season. The Trojans are well-stocked here, particularly at the cornerback spots, so expect all the players to be going all out all the time to get into the lineup. Both cornerbacks who started in 1999 came back, although only one will see the field in 2000.
Junior Kris Richard (5 tac, 3 dfl in 2000, plus 12 PR, 7.8 avg) led USC in interceptions (6, tied for 17th nationally) last season (he returned 2 for scores), opening some eyes in the process. However, he has been slowed much of the 2000 season with a knee sprain suffered against Colorado.
Senior pre-season All-American Antuan Simmons, a 3-year starter who has blocked 6 kicks in his career (including 2 field goals and a PAT last year), missed spring drills while recovering from late-season back surgery. He then had surgery in May to remove a benign abdominal tumor and will redshirt the 2000 season while recuperating. He returned a fumble 44 yards for a TD at Arizona in 1999.
Sharing Simmons' corner spot have been a trio of players: sophomores Darrell Rideaux (18 tac, 4 dfl in 2000) and Kevin Arbet (21 tac, 1 for a loss, 2 dfl in 2000, plus 7 KOR, 19.4 avg), and junior Chris Cash (24 tac, 2 int, 4 dfl, 2 FF in 2000).
Rideaux, who started USC's last 2 games of 1999 for an injured Simmons and was named a Freshman All-American second teamer, has started 6 games in 2000 (all but Arizona), but suffered an ankle sprain at Stanford. He doubles as a sprinter for the Trojan tracksters (in the spring of 2000, he was fifth in the 100 meters at the Pac-10 Meet and ran leadoff for the 400-meter relay squad which was fifth at the NCAA Meet).
Arbet, a one-time walk-on who made such an immediate impression in 1999 that he earned a scholarship during his initial fall camp, has started 3 times this year (Arizona, Oregon and Stanford). He also started twice in 1999 as an extra defensive back (returned an interception 75 yards for a TD against Louisiana Tech last season).
Cash, a junior college transfer who enrolled at USC last spring and participated in spring practice, started the San Jose State game for an injury-slowed Richard.
Last season's starting free safety, senior Ifeanyi Ohalete (29 tac, 1 for a loss, 3 dfl in 2000) is back and usually joins (he has been been slowed the past 2 games with an ankle sprain) with new starting strong safety Troy Polamalu (41 tac, 3 for losses, 1 sac, 4 dfl, 2 int with 1 for a TD, 1 FR in 2000), a sophomore. Ohalete led USC in deflections (15) and was third in tackles (84) in 1999, and also tied for first in the Pac-10 in forced fumbles (5) and fumbles recovered (3). Polamalu is filling the shoes of USC's only departed defensive starter from last season, 1999 All-Pac-10 first teamer David Gibson, a 3-year starter who had 241 career tackles (81 last fall).
Two other safeties see playing time: junior Frank Strong (8 tac, 1 BLK in 2000, plus 9 KOR, 21.6 avg and 3 PR, 18.0 avg), a one-time tailback who was moved to defense in the middle of last season, and sophomore DeShaun Hill (25 tac, 3 for a loss, 1 sac, 2 int, 4 dfl in 2000), who was able to redshirt last fall after suffering an early-season back injury. Hill has started at free safety against Oregon and Stanford this year.
SPECIALISTS--Junior Mike MacGillivray (39.6 avg in 2000) is back for his third season as USC's punter and is listed on the 'Watch List' for the Ray Guy Award. An effective placement punter (68 of his 195 career punts have pinned opponents inside the 20) with an above-average leg (24 of his career punts have traveled at least 50 yards), he has become more consistent in 2000. Although junior David Newbury (4-of-9 FG, 9-of-12 PAT in 2000) was USC's placekicker last fall, a 3-way battle for the job was waged this fall between Newbury, senior David Bell and 1999 prep All-American John Wall (2-of-2 FG, 2-of-3 PAT in 2000), a true freshman. Newbury, who initially regained his job for 2000 before faltering and being replaced by Wall in the middle of the Arizona game, began his first year at Troy by nailing a season-long 48-yard field goal on his first attempt at Hawaii in 1999, but then struggled with consistency the rest of the way. Bell, who is in his fourth season as USC's strong-legged kickoff man, has had touchbacks on 22 of his 34 kickoffs (64.7%) in 2000 (4 others were not returned past the 20, another 6 didn't advance past the 26 and 2 were unsuccessful on-side kicks). Last year, he took over the placement chores for Newbury in the third quarter of the season-ending Louisiana Tech game and nailed a 38-yard field goal and both extra point kicks (he could be used on field goal attempts over 40 yards in 2000).
TO THE RESCUE-Four USC players--DT Bernard Riley and Malcolm Wooldridge, WR Steve Stevenson and S Kyle Matthews--have received quite a bit of national attention for their role in coming to the aid of an injured USC student early in the season. In the early morning hours on Sept. 1, USC sophomore Danielle Dauenhauer accidentally fell head first out of the second floor window of her campus apartment, only to get impaled in the buttocks by a pair of spikes on a security fence. The players, who were in the downstairs apartment, heard her screams and rushed outside. For the next 20 minutes, they supported the 165-pound woman (her feet were sticking in the air, her head was pointed down) to relieve the pressure of the spikes while paramedics were summoned. They also kept talking with her to help calm her down. When the paramedics arrived, the bars were cut off the fence still sticking in her, she was taken to a local hospital where the bars were removed, and unbelievably she was released the following day in good condition. (If she hadn't been impaled, she likely would have landed on her head and broken her neck). The players subsequently appeared on such national television shows as NBC's 'Today,' ABC's 'Good Morning America' and ESPN's 'College GameDay.' They also received a commendation from California lieutenant governor Cruz M. Bustamante.
ROSTER UPDATES-There are several personnel updates that are not listed in the 2000 USC football media guide: Malcolm Wooldridge, a 6-2, 300-pound first-year freshman defensive tackle (he'll wear #96), joined the Trojans midway through training camp as a scholarship player. He played at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., in 1999 after spending the 1997 and 1998 seasons at Olympic Heights High in Boca Raton, Fl. (he was a 1998 All-Palm Beach County Athletic Conference Class 5-A first teamer and made 80 tackles with 9 sacks in 1997)...OT Nate Steinbacher is now #71, SNP-TE Joe Boskovich is now #64 and S Danny Bravo is now #47...Ten walk-ons have joined the Trojan squad: #5, QB Richie Wessman (6-1, 195, San Clemente, San Clemente HS/Orange Coast JC), #13, CB Peter Polk (5-10, 175, Los Angeles, St. Bernard HS/West Los Angeles CC), #15, QB Matt Harris (6-4, 210, Las Vegas, NV, Meadows HS), #18, P Tommy Huff (6-1, 225, Bellevue, WA, Bellevue HS, U. of Michigan), #31, P-PK Drew Thomas (6-3, 200, Johnson City, TN, Westlake HS), #41, P-CB Matt Lemos (5-10, 165, Redwood City, St. Francis HS), #46, WR Forrest Mozart (6-1, 195, Los Altos Hills, St. Francis HS), #48, S Kyle Matthews (6-0, 170, Agoura, Westlake HS), #61, LB Aaron Orndorff (6-1, 235, Bakersfield, Stockdale HS), and #70, OG Spencer Torgan (6-1, 265, Calabasas, Harvard-Westlake HS). Wessman and Polk are sophomores, Huff is a redshirt freshman and the others are first-year freshmen...A trio of walk-ons-#40 Michael Torres, #47 Spencer McCroskey and #82 D. Hale-has quit the team, as has #57 Carlos Acosta...Freshman DT Sagan Atuatasi did not meet USC admission standards and is not with the Trojans in 2000.
USC: COLLEGE OF THE YEAR 2000--USC was named the 'College of the Year' by the 2000 edition of the Time/The Princeton Review College Guide. USC was chosen because of the remarkable bonds the university has forged with local schools, community residents, police, businesses and community organizations. 'More institutions might do well to emulate USC's enlightened self-interest,' according to the guide's editors. 'For not only has the 'hood dramatically improved, but so has the university.' The editors cited the university's model of service learning -- the practice of applying academic theory to real-life situations through public service -- as their main reason for choosing USC as college of the year, saying USC has one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university in the nation. USC also has seen its undergraduate applications nearly double over the last few years and enrolled the most academically accomplished freshman class in its history. And USC is the only university in history to have received three individual gifts of $100 million or more.
USC: 'HOT SCHOOL' OF 2001--USC has been chosen as one of America's nine 'hottest schools' by the 2001 edition of the Newsweek/Kaplan College Guide. USC was selected because it lives up to its reputation as a top-notch institution of higher education. 'Just as East Coast students go for New York and NYU, the West Coast is gravitating to USC in Los Angeles,' according to the guide's article. 'USC has morphed from a jock school to a serious contender for top students.' Students quoted in the article said Los Angeles' ethnic diversity, the offer of scholarships, the small classroom sizes and USC's standing in academe attracted them to the university.
ACADEMICS--USC's official 2000 NCAA football graduation rate is an all-time high 80%...and the 2001 rate will rise to 82%. That rate is more than 20 points higher than the national football average for Division I schools. Among the top scholars on the 2000 Trojan squad are QB Mike Van Raaphorst and LB Ryan Shapiro, who both sport a team-best 3.72 GPA. Both received their bachelor's degrees last spring and are taking graduate courses this fall (Van Raaphorst-who is applying for a Rhodes Scholarship--received his degree in broadcast journalism/political science and is now taking M.B.A. classes, while Shapiro was a business administration grad who is going after his master's in communication). Other USC footballers who star in the classroom are: FB Brennan Ochs (3.12, political science), TE Scott Huber (3.10, business), TE Chad Cook (3.00, business), OG-OT Trevor Roberts (2.96, public policy and management), OT Brent McCaffrey (2.82, planning and development), DT-DE Bobby DeMars (2.82, business administration) and OT Phillip Eaves (2.80, business). Van Raaphorst and Ochs made the 1999 Pac-10 All-Academic first team (Van Raaphorst was an honorable mention selection in 1997 and 1998 and Ochs was an honorable mention pick in 1998), while Huber was an 1999 Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention pick. In its history, USC football has produced 22 Academic All-American first teamers (tops in the Pac-10 and tied for fifth in the nation), 20 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners, 12 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, 4 NCAA Today's Top Six winners, 1 Rhodes Scholar and 1 Academic All-American Hall of Famer.
IN THE NFL--USC is always well-represented in the NFL. There were 31 ex-Trojans on 2000 opening day NFL rosters (tied for seventh among all schools), including players such as LB Junior Seau, OLs Tony Boselli and Bruce Matthews, DLs Willie McGinest and Darrell Russell, WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Curtis Conway and Johnnie Morton, QB Rob Johnson, and DBs Jason Sehorn and Mark Carrier. Six NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Washington's Norv Turner and San Diego's Mike Riley. Seven current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: C Eric Denmon (cousin, Rod Jones), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), LB Darryl Knight (brother, Sammy), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr., father, Clay Matthews, uncle, Bruce Matthews), OT Brent McCaffrey (father, Bob McCaffrey, uncle, Mike McCaffrey), S Troy Polamalu, (cousin, Nicky Sualua), QB Mike Van Raaphorst, (father, Dick Van Raaphorst). Additionally, head coach Paul Hackett and assistants Dennis Thurman and Brian Schottenheimer were NFL assistants (Thurman also played in the NFL).
ON TV--USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 279 times, including all 12 games in 1998 and 1999. In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA-California has struggled in 2000, having lost 5 of its past 6 games, including 36-24 at Washington last Saturday (despite leading by 11 early in the fourth quarter). The Bears, under fourth-year head coach Tom Holmoe, have yet to win on the road this season (going 0-4). Sophomore QB Kyle Boller (102-of-220, 46.4%, 1,249 yds, 8 TD, 6 int in 2000) directs the Cal offense, with soph TB Joe Igber (122 tcb, 609 yds, 5.0 avg, 2 TD in 2000, plus 17 rec, 13.2 avg, 2 TD rec) leading the team in rushing and receiving. The Bear defense features a pair of 1999 All-Pac-10 first teamers-DE Andre Carter (41 tac, 11 for losses, 7.5 sac, 1 FR in 2000), a Lombardi Award semifinalist who is tied for second in the Pac-10 in sacks, and DT Jacob Waasdorp (23 tac, 3 sac, 1 int in 2000), both seniors-plus soph FS Nnamdi Ashomugha (team-high 51 tac, 3 for losses, 1 int, 1 FR in 2000). Senior P Nick Harris (41.1 avg in 2000), another 1999 All-Pac-10 first team selection, is closing in on the NCAA career punting yardage record.
HACKETT SAYS-'It was a heartbreaking loss at Stanford. It's very difficult to believe one of those teams had to go away without a win because it was a tremendous performance by both teams. We certainly had many opportunities to win, including having a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. But you have to give a lot of credit to Stanford. They kept coming back and, even though their quarterback got hurt, they got the job done. It's very disappointing, especially since we averaged more than 7 yards per play and rushed for over 250 yards and our defense had 2 fine interceptions. We just have to keep working and keep improving in all 3 phases of our game...We're back home this week and that's in our favor. We have some positive things we can bring from the Stanford game into this week. But Cal has given us problems the last few years. Kyle Boller is growing and maturing, Joe Igber is a force and the Cal defense is one of the best we'll see all year long, with a great scheme and outstanding players. It's a must win for us, as it is for them. It's time for us to turn the tables this Saturday.'
GAME PROMOTIONS-It's Homecoming, with activities on the USC campus prior to the game...The 20-member 2001 class of USC's Athletic Hall of Fame will be announced at the game, the induction dinner will be held May 5, 2001, at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena...Junior Carmen Krause, a key reserve forward on USC's women's basketball team who has a 3.4 GPA as an exercise science major, will be recognized during the Verizon Academic Salute...The Trojan Team Spotlight will salute the USC men's and women's water polo teams (the men are currently ranked in the Top 5 nationally and the women were runners-up in the national championship game last year)...It's also Alumni Band Day.
FOX SPORTS NET SYNDICATE STATIONS-Los Angeles (KCAL-9), San Francisco (KICU-36), Seattle (KTWB-22), Phoenix (KASW-61), Sacramento (KSPX-29), Portland (KWBP-32), San Diego (KUSI-51), Albuquerque/Santa Fe (KASY-50), Las Vegas (KVWB-21), Fresno/Visalia (KMPH-26), Honolulu (KWHE-14), Tucson (KTTU-27), Reno (KREN-27), Santa Barbara (KKFX-11), Eugene (KVAL-13), Chico/Redding (KCVU-21/22), Palm Springs (KPSE-13), Santa Rosa (KFTY-50), Medford (KOBI-5), Spokane (KREM-2).
INJURY UPDATE-OUT: DT Bobby DeMars (knee), WR Marcell Allmond (leg), S Matt Grootegoed (mono), Joe McGuire (back), Gregg Guenther (back), TB Chris Howard (knee), CB Antuan Simmons (abdominal tumor), TE Chad Cook (knee), DE Jamaal Williams (leg), S John Morgan (knee). DOUBTFUL: Darrell Rideaux (ankle). POSSIBLE: C Eric Denmon (ankle).
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