Palmer, Trojan Football Host SJSU Spartans
Aug. 25, 2001
TICKETS-Tickets for the USC-San Jose State game, priced at $29, 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 local cable TV: 3:30 p.m. (PDT), FOX Sports Net 2, Tom Kelly, Craig Fertig, John Jackson.
Local cable TV replay: 1:30 a.m. (PDT), Sunday (Sept. 2), and 7 p.m. (PDT), Sunday (Sept. 2), and 6 p.m. (PDT), Tuesday (Sept. 4), FOX Sports Net 2, Tom Kelly, Craig Fertig, Barry LeBrock.
Live local radio: 2:30 p.m. (PDT), KMPC-AM (1540), Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, Tim Ryan, Petros Papadakis (includes 1-hour USC pre- and post-game shows). Eight other stations are included on the USC radio network: KPLS-AM 830 in Orange, KFMB-AM 760 in San Diego, KXPS-AM 1010 in Palm Springs, KGEO-AM 1230 in Bakersfield, KCBL-AM 1340 in Fresno, KVBL-AM 1400 in Visalia, KRLV-AM 1340 in Las Vegas, Nev., and KAOI-AM 1110 in Wailuku, Hi. Fans also can hear the live KMPC broadcast on the Internet as a 'cybercast' on www.usctrojans.com or can pay to listen to it live by dialing 1-800-846-4675 ext. 5933.
Delayed local Spanish-language radio: 7:30 p.m. (PDT), XPRS-AM (1090), Jorge Villanueva, Efren Dominguez.
USC Sports Magazine Show: 7 p.m. (PDT), Thursday, (Sept. 6), and 1 a.m. (PDT), Friday (Sept. 7), and 3 p.m. (PDT), Friday (Sept. 7), FOX Sports Net 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 as a cybercast' (type http://www.usctrojans.com).
USC HOTLINE--Dial (213) 743-2989 for a brief taped interview with USC coach Pete Carroll.
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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.
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PAC-10 COACHES TELECONFERENCES-Pac-10 football coaches are available for 10 minutes each on a media teleconference beginning at 10 a.m. (PDT) every Tuesday (Sept. 11 through Nov. 6) during the season. USC coach Pete Carroll comes on at 10:30 a.m. (PDT). Beginning at 2:30 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.
2. Miami (Fla.)
6. Florida State
9. Virginia Tech
10. Georgia Tech
11. Oregon State
13. Kansas State
18. Notre Dame
20. Mississippi State
21. South Carolina
23. Ohio State
24. Colorado State
USA TODAY/ESPN POLL
2. Miami (Fla.)
5. Florida State
9. Virginia Tech
11. Kansas State
12. Oregon State
13. Georgia Tech
16. Notre Dame
19. Mississippi State
21. Ohio State
22. South Carolina
24. Colorado State
USC VS. SAN JOSE STATE (2-0-0)
1995 W 45-7 H2000 W 34-24 H
Pete Carroll era of USC football begins as Trojans open 2001 at home vs. San Jose State.
THE FACTS-USC (0-0 overall) vs. San Jose State (0-0), Saturday, Sept. 1, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum.
THEMES-The Pete Carroll era of USC football begins with the 2001 season opener for both Troy and San Jose State. USC is looking to rebound from a subpar 2000 campaign when it endured its first-ever last place finish in the Pac-10. San Jose State is also introducing a new coach in Fitz Hill. The veteran Spartans-who have beaten Stanford the past 3 years-are on the rise, after going 7-5 last year (their first winning season since 1992) and holding a 12-point fourth-quarter lead over Troy last year before succumbing. It's only the third meeting between these schools. USC will unveil its Norm Chow spread offense-featuring QB Carson Palmer, TB Sultan McCullough and WR Kareem Kelly-and its attack-style defense, coordinated by Carroll. SJSU's offense is led by dangerous TB Deonce Whitaker, the nation's No. 4 rusher last year. The game will be shown live locally on FOX Sports Net 2.
RANKINGS-Neither USC nor San Jose State is ranked in the Top 25 by AP or USA Today/ESPN.
SERIES-USC leads its brief series with San Jose State, 2-0. Last year, in USC's 500th game in the Coliseum, No. 9 USC overcame a 12-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter by scoring 22 unanswered points to beat the Spartans, 34-24. The Trojans were sloppy throughout, losing 4 fumbles, dropping 6 passes, missing 2 PATs, and having a punt blocked for a score. But when Spartan PK Nick Gilliam missed a 35-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter that would have put SJSU up 27-12, the Trojans came alive behind the passing of QB Carson Palmer (22-of-38 for a career-high 338 yards with 2 TDs overall, including 10-of-12 for 148 yards in the fourth quarter), the running of TB Petros Papadakis (52 yards and a career-best 3 TDs on a career-high 15 carries overall) and some stingy defense (allowing SJSU just 27 yards in the fourth quarter). First, USC drove 80 yards for a TD, an 8-yard Palmer pass to TE Antoine Harris with 8:07 to play, to pull within 24-19. On its next possession, USC threatened by getting to the Spartan 25 before TB Sultan McCullough (who had 21 carries for a career-best 136 yards, both game highs) fumbled the ball away. But Troy's defense held and the Trojans drove 67 yards to go ahead 27-24 on a 5-yard Papadakis run with 2:34 left. After CB Chris Cash intercepted a pass by QB Marcus Arroyo, Papadakis' 3-yard run sealed the win with 57 second to go. San Jose State jumped on USC early, as WR Casey LeBlanc blocked a punt by P Mike MacGillivray and TB Jarmar Julien ran it 10 yards for a TD on Troy's opening possession. Gilliam added a 35-yard field goal later in the first quarter. But USC responded with an 87-yard drive on the ensuing series, capped by Papadakis' 1-yard scoring run. On USC's next series, Palmer hit WR Kareem Kelly-who had a game-high 7 catches for 106 yards-on a 61-yard scoring bomb to put the Trojans up 12-10 (Troy missed its first 2 conversions). But SJSU scored on its final 2 possessions of the first half, on 1- and 14-yard runs by TB Deonce Whitaker, to take a 24-12 lead. Whitaker, who entered the game as the nation's No. 3 rusher (averaging 182.7 yards a game), was limited to 49 yards on 13 carries and sat out most of the second half with an injury. USC dominated the statistics, getting more first downs (29-17), total yards (572-366), plays (84-70) and possession time (32:48-27:12). Arroyo was 20-of-41 for 256 yards for SJSU, including 6 catches for 121 yards by WR Rashied Davis. The series' first meeting occurred in 1995 as No. 7 USC opened its season with a 45-7 home win over the Spartans.
VERSUS WAC-USC is 18-4-1 against Western Athletic Conference opponents and the Trojans have won 9 of their last 11 against WAC foes. On the other hand, San Jose State is 44-122-2 all-time against Pac-10 opponents.
FOR OPENERS-USC's record in all season openers is 77-23-8 (.750), with 35 shutout victories. In season openers at home, the Trojans are 55-16-7 (.750). USC's record for home openers is 81-18-7 (.797).
IN THE COLISEUM-USC has a 358-120-27 (.736) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
CONNECTIONS-USC has 4 players who previously attended a Bay Area school: WR Grant Mattos (St. Francis HS in Mountain View and Foothill JC in Los Altos Hills), DE 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 CB Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, is a redshirt freshman defensive end at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League...USC TB Sultan McCullough's late father, Bruce, was a hurdler at San Jose State in the 1960s during the famed 'Speed City' days...USC head coach Pete Carroll has Bay Area roots: he was born in San Francisco, played football at Redwood High in Larkspur, Marin Junior College and Pacific, then was an assistant coach at Pacific (1974-76, 1983) and with the San Francisco 49ers (1995-96)...USC linebackers coach Nick Holt played football at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose...USC assistant athletic director Mark Long received his master's degree from San Jose State and USC head equipment manager Dino Dennis also attended San Jose State...USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson celebrates his 18th birthday this Saturday (Sept. 1).
LAST YEAR-The 2000 Trojans went 5-7 overall and tied for eighth place in the Pac-10 at 2-6 for Troy's first-ever last place conference finish. Although the Trojans began the year 3-0 while rising to No. 8 in the nation and later in the season beat crosstown foe UCLA for the second year in a row, 5 consecutive mid-season losses did them in and led to the firing of third-year head coach Paul Hackett.
SCHEDULE-USC's 11-game schedule is challenging, featuring 7 teams that played in bowls last season and 5 that were ranked in AP's final Top 15. Sports Illustrated says USC has the nation's toughest schedule, Phil Steele's magazine ranks it sixth toughest nationally and The Sporting News says USC will play the toughest schedule among TSN's pre-season Top 25 teams. Troy opens its 2001 slate at home on Sept. 1 against San Jose State, also visiting the Coliseum are last year's No. 4 Oregon State, No. 9 Kansas State, Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. On the road, USC goes to No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Oregon, No. 15 Notre Dame, Arizona and California.
FUN FACT-Before Paul Hackett won his Trojan debut in 1998, USC's previous 6 head coaches-Don Clark, John McKay, John Robinson (twice), Ted Tollner and Larry Smith-all failed to win their debut.
CARROLL--Pete Carroll, who led the New England Patriots to the NFL playoffs twice in 3 years, brings big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program. He was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). The 49-year-old Carroll, who also has coached on the college level for 10 years, has 26 years of NFL and college experience. He was the head coach of the NFL's New England Patriots for 3 seasons (1997-99) and New York Jets for 1 year (1994). He guided the Patriots into the playoffs in his first 2 seasons, winning the AFC Eastern Division title at 10-6 in 1997 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, then posting a 9-7 regular season mark in 1998. His overall record in New England was 27-21 in the regular season (including 8-8 in 1999) and 1-2 in the playoffs. He owns the franchise's second-best winning percentage (54.9%). After serving as the Jets' defensive coordinator for 4 seasons (1990-93), he became the team's head coach the following season. His 1994 Jets went 6-10. Only 3 other Jets head coaches won more games in their rookie campaign. He spent the next 2 years (1995-96) as the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, who won the NFC Western Division title both seasons. The 49ers were 11-5 in the 1995 regular season when they had the NFL's top-ranked defense and then went 12-4 in 1996. Carroll began his coaching career at the college level, serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, for 3 years (1974-76), working with the wide receivers and secondary. He then spent a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, at Iowa State (1978) under Earle Bruce (the Cyclones played in the 1978 Hall of Fame Bowl) and at Ohio State (1979) under Bruce. That Buckeye squad lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl. He next spent 3 seasons (1980-82) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at North Carolina State, then returned to Pacific in 1983 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He entered the NFL in 1984 as the defensive backs coach of the Buffalo Bills, then held a similar position with the Minnesota Vikings for 5 seasons (1985-89). The Vikings advanced to the playoffs his last 3 years there, getting to the NFC Championship game in 1987. The 1988 team was 11-5 in the regular season and the 1989 squad won the NFC Central Division crown with a 10-6 mark. His secondary averaged 25 interceptions a season and led the NFL in passing defense in 1989. Carroll spent the 2000 season as a consultant for pro and college teams, doing charitable work for the NFL and writing a column about pro football for CNNSI.com. Carroll was a 2-time (1971-72) All-Pacific Coast Conference free safety at Pacific and earned his bachelor's degree in 1973 in business administration. He received his secondary teaching credential and a master's degree in physical education from Pacific in 1976. He was a 3-sport (football, basketball and baseball) standout at Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., earning the school's Athlete of the Year award as a senior. He played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. He then played football at Marin Junior College in Kentfield, Calif., in 1970. He was born on Sept. 15, 1951 in San Francisco. He and his wife, Glena, who played volleyball at Pacific, have 3 children: sons Brennan, 22, a senior tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware), and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a sophomore on the USC women's volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
PRE-SEASON HONORS-Several Trojans have been named to pre-season All-American teams: TB Sultan McCullough (fourth team by Phil Steele's, honorable mention by Street & Smith's and Football News), DT Bernard Riley (fourth team by Phil Steele's), QB Carson Palmer (honorable mention by Street & Smith's and Phil Steele's), WR Kareem Kelly (honorable mention by Street & Smith's and Phil Steele's), S Troy Polamalu (honorable mention by Street & Smith's) and OG Faaesea Mailo (honorable mention by Phil Steele's). Street & Smith's lists McCullough as the No. 4 candidate for the Doak Walker Award, Palmer eighth for the Davey O'Brien Award and Kelly 10th for the Biletnikoff Award. Kelly is The Sporting News' No. 7 candidate for the Biletnikoff. In various unit rankings, USC's defensive backs were third nationally by The Sporting News and Phil Steele's and sixth by Lindy's, the receivers were fourth by Phil Steele's, seventh by The Sporting News and eighth by Lindy's, the quarterbacks were fifth by Phil Steele's and the running backs were 10th by Phil Steele's.
RETURNING TROJANS--The 2001 USC team features 73 returning squadmen (40 were lettermen), including starters at 16 positions (8 on offense, 6 on defense, plus the punter and placekicker). Back are 44 Trojans who saw action last year and 20 who have started at least once in their career. Thirty players return who were on USC's season-ending 2-deep.
OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW--Starters return at 8 positions on offense in 2001, plus a pair of co-starters. Four others who started at least once in 2000 also are back. USC's top passer, plus its top 2 rushers and pass catchers, from 2000 return. Under highly-regarded offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Troy will try to repeat its offensive production from last fall in terms of yardage-USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (415.9, its highest output since 1989) and was 23rd nationally in passing offense (262.3)-but it must dramatically cut down on its turnovers (a nation-high 36, its most since 1977). USC's offensive strengths should be at quarterback and its production, speed and depth at the running back and wide receiver spots. However, a starting tight end must emerge, as well as several starters and some depth on the line.
PALMER-USC has one of the nation's best signalcallers in 2001 in junior Carson Palmer (228-of-415, 54.9%, 2,914 yds, 16 TD, 18 int in 2000). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Davey O'Brien Award. He already ranks fifth on Troy's career passing list (397 completions). He is also fifth on USC's all-time total offense chart (5,050 yards). His 5,159 career passing yards is the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year. He is on pace to break Rob Johnson's school career records for completions (676) and passing yardage (8,472), plus Rodney Peete's USC career total offense yardage mark (8,640). With 20 career starts under his belt, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 9 times (including 4 contests at 70.0%-plus). After missing the last 9 games of 1999 with an injury, in 2000 he showed signs of brilliance (his completions and yardage were the second most in USC history) and rustiness (he tied the school interception mark). Look for him to thrive now in Norm Chow's offense.
OTHER QUARTERBACKS-Besides Carson Palmer, no other quarterback on the Trojan roster has ever thrown a pass in college. Redshirt freshman Matt Cassel and 2000 prep All-American freshman Matt Leinart are competing to be Palmer's backup in 2001.
McCULLOUGH/MacKENZIE--Troy returns a 1,000-yard runner in 2001 and he's a good one: speedy junior tailback Sultan McCullough (227 tcb, 1,163 yds, 5.1 avg, 6 TD in 2000, plus 9 rec, 2.8 avg). And he should only get better. He is listed as a candidate for the 2001 Doak Walker Award. His rushing total last fall was the most at USC since 1990. He hit the 100-yard rushing barrier 7 times in 2000 (the most by a Trojan since 1989), including 4 games in a row. That was good enough to earn him All-Pac-10 second team acclaim in 2000. The 1999 Pac-10 champion in the 100-meter dash, he is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17 in the 100 meters). Giving the Trojans a 1-2 punch at tailback is powerful and experienced senior Malaefou MacKenzie (41 tcb, 284 yds, 6.9 avg in 2000, plus 27 rec, 9.2 avg), a threat running and receiving. He was second on the Trojans in rushing last season and his 27 receptions were the most by a USC running back since 1996. In his career (which includes 4 starts), he has 765 rushing yards and 37 receptions.
OTHER RUNNING BACKS-Besides Sultan McCullough and Malaefou MacKenzie, none of Troy's other tailbacks has seen the field yet in a cardinal-and-gold uniform. Redshirt freshman Chris Howard, who is coming off 2000 knee surgery, and freshmen Darryl Poston, a 2000 prep All-American, are angling for backup tailback duty. At fullback, senior Charlie Landrigan (8 tcb, 34 yds, 4.2 avg in 2000, plus 8 rec, 5.9 avg), an outstanding blocker, returns as the starter. Behind him are senior Sunny Byrd, who redshirted last fall after transferring from a junior college, and junior Scott Huber, a converted tight end who had 1 start last fall but no receptions.
KELLY-Kareem Kelly (55 rec, 14.5 avg, 4 TD in 2000), an acrobatic, fleet junior, headlines USC's receiving corps. He already is ninth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 109 grabs. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school record for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 23 games he has played as a Trojan. Last fall, he topped the Trojans in receptions and receiving yardage (796). He also sprints for USC's track squad (his 5.67 clocking in the 50-meter dash is an American collegiate and world junior record).
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS-In addition to Kareem Kelly, USC's wide receiver corps in 2001 has a nice blend of experienced, speedy veterans and talented newcomers. Last year's co-starters at the other wideout spot also return in sophomore Keary Colbert (33 rec, 14.5 avg, 3 TD in 2000) and junior Marcell Allmond (16 rec, 15.2 avg in 2000). Allmond, who doubles as a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team, was off to a good start last fall before breaking his leg in the fifth game and sitting out the rest of the way. Colbert took over for him and ended up second on the team in receptions (the second most ever by a USC freshman). Also in the mix are a pair of junior college transfers-2000 J.C. All-American Grant Mattos (Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif.), a junior, and sophomore Devin Pitts (El Camino College in Torrance, Calif.)-and freshman William Buchanon, a 2000 prep All-American who is the son of ex-NFL star cornerback Willie Buchanon.
TIGHT ENDS--USC has quite a challenge in finding a replacement in 2001 for dependable 4-year starting tight end Antoine Harris, who had 61 catches and 7 scores in his career. The tight ends have just 11 catches and limited offensive playing time to their names. The starter comes from an unlikely spot: defense. Rangy senior Kori Dickerson (32 tac, 2 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2000) was last season's starting strongside linebacker. He was moved to tight end this past spring and was impressive. He doubles as a 6-8 high jumper for the USC track team. Behind him are junior Doyal Butler (4 rec, 13.0 avg in 2000) and sophomore Alex Holmes (7 rec, 7.6 avg in 2000), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN--Three-fifths of USC's starters on the offensive line are back in 2001 and each is an outstanding player. But the rest of the unit is relatively inexperienced, which is a concern since Troy will start new tackles and must develop some reliable depth along the line. Manning the guard spots will be senior Faaesea Mailo, who started at tackle last season but has 6 starts earlier in his career at left guard, and junior Zach Wilson, a 2-year starter on the right side. Both tip the scales at more than 300 pounds. Mailo, the only senior lineman, will fill the left guard spot held by Trevor Roberts last fall. A twisted knee slowed him in fall camp, so sophomore Norm Katnik could see action there. Katnik can play any line position: he worked mainly at center in 2000, was moved to tackle last spring, went back to center this fall and now is also working at guard. Sophomore Lenny Vandermade returns as the center after earning Freshman All-American first team honors last year (he also started some at guard in 2000). Sophomores Jacob Rogers (he missed last spring's practice while recovering from shoulder surgery) and Eric Torres (he saw limited time in 2000) have the lead as the starting tackle jobs vacated by 3-year starter Brent McCaffrey on the left and Mailo on the right. Redshirt freshmen Joe McGuire is also in the mix at guard and tackle. Besides Mailo, Wilson and Vandermade, only Rogers has seen significant line action in the past.
DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW--Six positions have starters or co-starters returning from 2000. Five others who have started at least once in their Trojan tenure also are back. Five of Troy's top 10 tacklers from last fall return, as do its 2000 co-interception leaders. Although USC's total defense figure (343.0) in 2000 was a slight improvement from the previous season, the Trojans will have to be more opportunistic on defense in 2001. Their 17 takeaways last fall were USC's fewest since at least 1952 (that was quite a turnaround from 1999 when the Trojans led the nation with 39 takeaways). Troy managed only 7 interceptions in 2000, its lowest total since 1957, after getting 21 the year before. The Trojans are loaded in the secondary, but must virtually rebuild their front 7. They'll rely on head coach Pete Carroll, whose background primarily has been on the defensive side of the ball, to mold this unit into a feared presence as the defensive coordinator.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN--The situation on the USC defensive line in 2001 is not as dire as it might appear. Although starters are gone at 3 positions-tackle Ennis Davis (who had 146 tackles, including 36 for losses with 15 sacks, as a 3-year starter) and ends Sultan Abdul-Malik (a 3-year starter who had 22.5 career sacks) and Matt Childers (a 2-year starter)-USC has plenty of quality bodies to fill in. Last year, senior Ryan Nielsen (25 tac, 3 for loss, 4 dfl, 1 FF in 2000) and junior Bernard Riley (20 tac, 3 for loss, 1 FR, 1 BLK in 2000) shared a tackle spot. This season, look for Nielsen-a 2-year starter-and Riley to be side by side at tackle. Their backups figure to be redshirt freshmen Malcolm Wooldridge and Nathan Goodson and freshman Mike Patterson. One end spot will be a pseudo-linebacker, giving USC's 4-3 look a 3-4 feel. Senior Lonnie Ford (16 tac, 6 for loss, 4 sac, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2000), who has 16 tackles for losses and 15 starts in his career, is the ideal man for that job, with soph Omar Nazel, who saw brief action in 5 games last season without making a stop, backing him up. The other end will be redshirt freshman Kenechi Udeze and 2000 prep All-American freshman Shaun Cody, who was USA Today's national Defensive Player of the Year.
LINEBACKERS--Of any area on the USC team, the linebacking corps faces the biggest challenge in 2001. After all, Troy must replace all 3 starters, including a pair of elite linebackers: 3-year starter Zeke Moreno, who posted 285 tackles (33 for loss), 5 picks and 4 touchdowns in his career while topping the Trojans in stops the past 2 seasons, and 2-year starter Markus Steele, who made 152 tackles (29 for loss) in his career. Last year's starter on the strong side (Kori Dickerson) has moved to tight end. Looking to fill in at middle linebacker for Moreno are juniors Mike Pollard (2 tac in 2000) and Aaron Graham (26 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sac, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2000), who started there for USC's final 4 games last fall when Moreno moved to the weakside for an injured Steele, and redshirt freshman Lee Webb, a converted fullback. The outside spots manned last season by Steele on the weak side and Dickerson on the strong side will be handled by a pair of converted safeties: senior Frank Strong (20 tac, 1 int, 4 dfl, 1 F, 1 BLK in 2000), who was a free safety the past year-and-a-half and also was USC's top kickoff returner last year (21.6 avg on 25 runbacks), on the weak side and redshirt freshman Matt Grootegoed, who sat out last year with mononucleosis, on the strong side. Strong's backup is freshman Bobby Otani and Grootegoed's is senior John Cousins, who redshirted last season with a finger injury.
DEFENSIVE BACKS--There is an embarrassment of riches in the USC secondary in 2001 in terms of experience and depth. Seven players have started there in their careers. Junior Troy Polamalu (83 tac, 5 for loss, 1 sac, 2 int with 1 TD, 7 dfl, 1 FR in 2000) was the team's No. 2 tackler last fall while starting all season at strong safety. Senior Antuan Simmons, a 3-year starter at cornerback (he was moved to safety this fall) who sat out the 2000 campaign while battling a life-threatening illness (a benign abdominal tumor that left him hospitalized for 6 weeks), has emerged as the starter at free safety. He slowly worked his way back into shape, was impressive in last spring's practice and won the free safety job this fall. He is an impact player, with 175 tackles, 7 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career. Redshirt freshman Jason Leach and freshman John Walker back up Polamalu, while behind Simmons is junior DeShaun Hill (39 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sac, 2 int, 5 dfl in 2000), who shared the starting free safety duty last season with Frank Strong. The corners are equally stacked. Senior Chris Cash (39 tac, 1 sac, 2 int, 7 dfl, 2 FF in 2000) and junior Darrell Rideaux (21 tac, 4 dfl in 2000), also a sprinter for USC's track team with a best of 10.27 in the 100 meters, once again will fight it out for the spot they shared in 2000. On the other side, there's senior 2-year starter Kris Richard (19 tac, 5 dfl in 2000), who also was Troy's top punt returner last season (7.5 avg on 13 runbacks). He has 6 career picks. Backing him up will be junior Kevin Arbet (31 tac, 1 for loss, 2 dfl in 2000), a 4-game starter last year and the stepson of ex-USC receiver Jeff Simmons.
SPECIAL TEAMS OVERVIEW--Simply said, the play of USC's special teams must improve. Last fall, the Trojans missed 8 field goals and 10 PATs, had 12 kicks and punts blocks (2 blocked punts were returned for TDs), blocked only 4 kicks and punts themselves, averaged just 36.2 yards per punt (Troy's lowest mark since 1987), finished last in the Pac-10 in net punting (28.4, fifth worst in the country) and ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns (19.5). It's obvious this is a high-priority area in 2001. The punter, short snapper and top kickoff returner and punt returner all are back, as are the part-time starting placekickers. But the kickoff man and holder will be new.
SPECIALISTS--Senior Mike MacGillivray (39.1 avg in 2000), who owns a 39.4 career punting average while holding the job the past 3 years, is a battle-tested veteran but has struggled with his consistency. An effective placement punter, about a third of his career punts have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line. With 219 punts for 8,618 yards, he is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's USC career records for punts and punt yardage. Freshman walk-on Zach Sherwood will back up MacGillivray. USC's placekicking was an adventure in 2000 and 2 of the 3 kickers are back, but a newcomer has won the job: junior David Davis (El Camino College in Torrance, Calif.), a junior college transfer who had an impressive fall camp. Senior David Newbury (4-of-9 FG, 9-of-12 PAT in 2000) began 2000 as the kicker, but he was inconsistent (he'll handle the kickoffs this fall). He was replaced midway through last season's fifth game by sophomore John Wall (5-of-5 FG, 9-of-14 PAT in 2000). All of his field goals were within 27 yards and his 5 missed extra points were all blocked. When he was sidelined by a groin injury and then a knee injury in the final 3 contests, the now-graduated David Bell took over. Primarily USC's effective kickoff man the past 4 years (nearly 50% of his 243 career kickoffs were not returned past the 20-yard line, with 62 touchbacks), Bell will long be remembered for his game-winning field goal with 9 seconds to go at UCLA last fall (it was only the second three-pointer of his career and the first after 3 misses in 2000). Sophomore walk-on center Joe Boskovich handled the snaps on USC's placekicks last year and will do so again in 2001, with juco transfer sophomore linebacker Matt Hayward (Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz.) doing the punt snapping that Zeke Moreno did in 2000. There was a casting call for a new holder on the placekicks, since last year's holder (Matt Nickels) and his backup (Mike Van Raaphorst) graduated. Senior punter Mike MacGillivray is the holder, backed by junior wide receiver Marcell Allmond. All of USC's kickoff and punt returners from 2000 are back. They did a solid-if unspectacular-job, but some others will get the call in 2001. Senior safety Frank Strong (25 KOR, 21.6 avg in 2000) led the team last year in kickoff returns, but junior cornerbacks Darrell Rideaux and Kevin Arbet (7 KOR, 19.4 avg in 2000) will handle that now. Senior cornerback Kris Richard (13 PR, 7.5 avg in 2000) topped Troy in punt returns last fall, but look for junior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (6 PR, 3.7 avg in 2000) to do it, with Arbet also a possibility.
GONE FROM 2000--Among USC's offensive losses are 4-year starting tight end Antoine Harris (61 career catches, 7 TDs), 3-year starting tackle Brent McCaffrey, 2000 starting guard Trevor Roberts, quarterback Mike Van Raaphorst (ninth on Troy's career passing list with 15 starts and owner of USC's game passing yardage record), tailback Petros Papadakis (a short-yardage specialist with 621 career yards and 16 scores), wide receiver Matt Nickels (32 catches in 2000) and center Eric Denmon (17 career starts). On defense, USC lost 2 premier linebackers in 3-year starter Zeke Moreno (285 tackles, 33 for losses, 5 picks, 4 TDs in his career), Troy's tackle leader the past 2 seasons, and 2-year starter Markus Steele (152 tackles, 29 for losses in his career), plus 3-year starting tackle Ennis Davis (146 tackles, 36 for losses, 15 sacks in his career). All 3 were NFL draft picks in 2001. Also gone from last year's starting defense are ends Sultan Abdul-Malik (22.5 career sacks), a 3-year starter, and Matt Childers, a 2-year starter. Other top defenders lost are safety Ifeanyi Ohalete (168 tackles and 5 interceptions in 21 career starts) and end-tackle Shamsud-Din Abdul-Shaheed (74 tackles in 14 career starts). David Bell, primarily USC's kickoff man the past 4 years but who will long be remembered for his game-winning field goal with 9 seconds to go at UCLA last fall, has graduated.
ASSISTANT COACHES-With the head coaching change this year, there are 7 new assistant coaches on the USC staff: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Norm Chow (who worked wonders last year at North Carolina State and before that for 27 years at BYU, where he coached such star quarterbacks as Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Ty Detmer and Robbie Bosco), associate head coach/secondary coach DeWayne Walker (he spent the past 3 years with the New England Patriots after stops at Utah State, BYU, Oklahoma State and California), running backs coach Wayne Moses (who has coached Pac-10 runners the last 11 years at Washington, California and UCLA), wide receiver coach Kirby Wilson (he was with the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots following stints at Iowa State, Southern Illinois and Wyoming), offensive line coach Keith Uperesa (he came from Idaho State after a long and successful career at Snow J.C.), linebackers coach Nick Holt (previously at Louisville and Idaho) and tight ends coach Lane Kiffin (the son of longtime NFL and college coach Monte Kiffin). They join holdovers Ed Orgeron (defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator) and Kennedy Pola (special teams coordinator). Two young coaches-offensive assistant Steve Sarkisian (a record-setting quarterback under Chow at BYU) and defensive assistant Rocky Seto (a former USC linebacker)-joined the staff as graduate assistants.
STATS OF NOTE, THE GOOD-USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (415.9, its highest output since 1989) and was 23rd nationally in passing offense (262.3) in 2000...USC's 259 first downs in 2000 led the Pac-10...USC converted a Pac-10 best 41.7% (75-of-180) of its third downs in 2000...USC opponents returned only 27 of 59 kickoffs last year (fewest in the Pac-10), while Troy's 45 kickoff returns were a school record...USC's 1,843 rushing yards in 2000 were its most since 1991 (its per game average of 153.6 was its most since 1991 and its per carry average of 4.1 was its highest since 1989)...Carson Palmer is fifth on both USC's career passing list (397 completions) and total offense chart (5,050 yards). His 5,159 career passing yards is the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year. He is on pace to break Rob Johnson's school career records for completions (676) and passing yardage (8,472), plus Rodney Peete's USC career total offense yardage mark (8,640)...Sultan McCullough's 1,163 rushing yards in 2000 were the most at USC since 1990. He hit the 100-yard rushing barrier 7 times in 2000 (the most by a Trojan since 1989). He is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17 in the 100 meters)...Kareem Kelly is ninth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 109 grabs. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school records for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 23 games he has played as a Trojan...With 219 career punts for 8,618 yards, Mike MacGillivray is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's USC career records for punts (259) and punt yardage (10,578).
STATS OF NOTE, THE BAD-USC had a nation-high 36 turnovers last season, its most since 1977...USC's 17 takeaways last fall were its fewest since at least 1952 (that was quite a turnaround from 1999 when the Trojans led the nation with 39 takeaways). Troy managed only 7 interceptions in 2000, its lowest total since 1957, after getting 21 the year before...Last fall, the Trojans missed 8 field goals and 10 PATs, had 12 kicks and punts blocks (2 blocked punts were returned for TDs), blocked only 4 kicks and punts themselves, averaged just 36.2 yards per punt (Troy's lowest mark since 1987), finished last in the Pac-10 in net punting (28.4, fifth worst in the country) and ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns (19.5)..In 2000, USC was outscored in a season for the first time since 1991 (337 to 309) and allowed the most points in its history...In 7 of its 12 games last year, USC spotted opponents a cumulative 92-0 lead before scoring.
***Once senior CB-S Antuan Simmons-a 3-year starter with 175 tackles, 7 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career-steps onto the field in 2001, it should be regarded as the comeback of the year in college football. After all, he has recovered from a life threatening illness. Simmons was set to start for his fourth season in 2000 and was a pre-season All-American who might have been a first round draft choice this past spring. But, while getting an MRI as part of his rehab for a back injury that occurred late in the 1999 season, doctors noticed a benign abdominal tumor. He had surgery in May of 2000 to remove the tumor and was expected to be hospitalized for 4-5 days. Instead, he was hospitalized for 6 weeks, had 2 surgeries and came close to death 3 times. He lost 40 pounds. He redshirted the 2000 season while recuperating and had additional surgery in November for a hernia. He wasn't expected to participate fully in 2001 spring practice, but he was ahead of schedule, so he was allowed to go full-speed from the start and really opened some eyes. At the end of the spring, he was listed as a co-starter at cornerback, then was moved to free safety this fall and has emerged as the starter there.
***Speaking of comebacks, new strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle appears to have beaten cancer. He learned he had Hodgkin's Disease in December of 2000, began radiation treatments in Tennessee (where he was the Volunteers' associate strength and conditioning coach the previous 3 years), was hired by USC in February of 2001, kept his illness a secret except to Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, continued treatments in Tennessee and at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, then doctors told him this summer that the cancer was in remission. He informed the USC players of his ordeal at the start of this fall's camp.
***The 2001 season marks the 40th anniversary of Traveler, USC's white horse mascot.
***This year is also the 20th anniversary of USC's most recent Heisman Trophy, won by TB Marcus Allen in 1981 (USC's fourth).
***Pete Carroll's arrival at USC is extra special, because he gets to see his daughter, Jaime, on a daily basis now. She is a sophomore defensive specialist on USC's highly-ranked women's volleyball team which last fall reached the NCAA Final Four (and is a favorite to win the title in 2001). However, Carroll will miss out on watching his oldest son, Brennan, a senior tight end at Pittsburgh.
***Look for 2 slight retro changes on USC's uniform in 2001: the Trojans will have gray facemasks (instead of cardinal) and will wear white shoelaces (instead of black). Also, on the back of their helmets will be a gold football-shaped decal reading 'McKay' in memory of legendary coach John McKay (4 national championships, 8 Rose Bowl trips, 127 victories), who died this past June 10.
***A new tradition will start at Troy's home games in 2001 as the USC team buses will unload the Trojan players amid the tailgaters in front of the Coliseum peristyle about 2 hours before kickoff. The players will walk through the crowd into the Coliseum before going to dress in the locker room.
***USC's oldest living football letterman is 101-year-old James Pursell. He lettered in 1921-22-23 as a 156-pound guard and was a member of USC's first Rose Bowl team.
***USC's football team can field a pretty imposing track and field squad...and, in fact, Trojan track coach Ron Allice benefits from a number of footballers (many helped Troy win the 2000 Pac-10 meet). TB Sultan McCullough is the fastest Trojan football player ever, having run a 10.17 in the 100 (fifth fastest of any USC trackster in history!). He was the Pac-10 100 champ in 1999. WR Kareem Kelly, who owns the world junior record in the indoor 50, has clocked 10.28 in the 100. CB Darrell Rideaux has gone 10.27, CB Miguel Fletcher has gone 10.31 and Michigan transfer TB Justin Fargas (he's ineligible this season) is a 10.47 guy. Fargas (1997), Rideaux (1998) and Kelly (1999) all won the California state high school 100. WR Marcell Allmond is a 13.54 high hurdler (he was a 2-time California state prep champ) and national Junior Olympic record-setting decathlete. And, get this, 6-4, 235-pound TE Kori Dickerson (he started at linebacker last fall, but will start on offense this year) is a 6-8 high jumper who placed second in this past season's USC-UCLA dual meet (and third the previous 2 years). OT Nate Steinbacher and OG Travis Watkins are shot putters for Troy. And, among the freshmen, WR William Buchanon, TB Darryl Poston and S-CB John Walker are legitimate speed threats.
***OG Faaesea Mailo, a 6-3, 325-pound Hawaiian, participated in the sumo club in high school, where he won the Hawaii state championship. He even went to Japan in 1996 to train with pro sumo wrestlers, who tried unsuccessfully to convince him to take up the sport as a profession. He missed the 1997 and 1998 USC seasons while on a Mormon mission in Sapporo, Japan (imagine opening your door and seeing him!). He is fluent in Japanese. In short yardage situations the past 2 seasons, he lined up at fullback a la Refrigerator Perry and proved to be a devastating blocker.
***LB John Cousins is deaf in one ear and impaired in the other. He wears a hearing aid and reads lips. That handicap could present some unique challenges on the football field. Incidentally, PK John Wall knows sign language and has volunteered with deaf and hearing impaired youth programs.
***OT Phillip Eaves spent part of 1997 in the Army at Fort Jackson, S.C.
***USC has a 23-year-old freshman in WR Frank Candela. The one-time Boston prep football sensation spent the past 4 seasons playing minor league baseball in the Brewers organization, but wanted to give football another try. Known for his speed and quickness, the 5-8, 175-pounder is nicknamed The Flash. He was born in Boston, but soon after moved with his family to the Italian island of Sicily, where he lived for 7 years before coming back to Boston (his parents returned to live in Sicily when he was 14 and Candela remained in Boston with an older brother).
***Four Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, USC freshman S-CB John Walker was a television actor who appeared in such shows as 'E.R.' and '7th Heaven' (in fact, he didn't play football until his sophomore year of high school because a clause in his acting contract prevented him from doing anything that could affect his appearance). TB Justin Fargas is the son of actor Antonio Fargas, who has appeared in television (including as Huggy Bear on 'Starsky and Hutch') and film ('Shaft,' 'Pretty Baby,' 'The Gamble' and 'Car Wash,' among others). C-OG Derek Graf's father, Allan, is a stuntman, stunt coordinator and second unit director who has been involved in many noted Hollywood films, 'On Any Given Sunday' and 'The Replacements.' USC linebackers coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence 'Buster' Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
***Four Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: C-OG Derek Graf (father, Allan, was on the 1972 team), LB Austin Jackson (father, Melvin, was on the 1974 squad), LB-S Kyle Matthews (father,1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team) and CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams, was on the 1978 team). Matthews' uncle, Bruce, was a 1982 All-American offensive guard at USC. Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. CB-S Kevin Arbet is the stepson of ex-Trojan (1980-82) Jeff Simmons. Two Trojans had cousins who played at USC-WR Kareem Kelly (Rashard Cook, 1995-98) and TE-SNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)-and two had uncles who were Trojan footballers: S Troy Polamalu (Kennedy Pola, 1982-85, now USC's special teams coordinator) and OT-C Norm Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87).
***Speaking of genes: CB-S Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, is a sophomore defensive lineman at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. WR William Buchanon is the son of ex-NFL star Willie Buchanon, a 1971 All-American cornerback at San Diego State who was a 3-time Pro Bowler during his 11-year (1972-82) NFL career with the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers. TB Miguel Fletcher's father, Ned, was on the football and track teams at Cal State Northridge. TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975. TE Kolomona Kapanui's cousin, Chad Kapanui, plays football at Hawaii. OT-C Norm Katnik's father, Norman, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). TB-FB David Kirtman's uncle played football at California. FB Charlie Landrigan's father was a quarterback at a small college in North Dakota. TB Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, was a tailback at Oregon in 1996 and 1997 who has played in the XFL and NFL, while his late father, Bruce, ran track at San Jose State in the 1960s and his mother, Mabel, played basketball on the 1959 Arkansas high school championship team. OG Faaesea Mailo's father, James, played football at Hawaii, while his brother, Anipati, is a junior linebacker at Hawaii and another brother, Fulutusi, was a linebacker at Montana State. PK David Newbury's father, Gerry, played professional soccer in England. WR Devin Pitts' mother, LaVerne, was on the basketball and track teams at Cal State Dominguez Hills, while his older brother, Chester, is a senior offensive lineman at San Diego State, his cousin is major league slugger Barry Bonds. S Troy Polamalu's uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State, a cousin, Nicky Sualua, was a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys who attended Ohio State, another cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon, and another cousin, Joe Polamalu, played for Oregon State in 1987 and 1988. C A.J. Single's father, Doug, played at Stanford, then was the Cardinal's offensive line coach before serving as athletic director at Northwestern and SMU. OG Travis Watkins' brother, Todd, is a freshman on the Norfolk State football team, while his father, Don, was a lineman at Pasadena City College and his uncle, Tom Watkins, played 8 seasons in the NFL inthe 1960s with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. LB coach Nick Holt's wife, Julie, was the head women's basketball at Nevada Reno, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho. TE coach Lane Kiffin's father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he is a longtime NFL and collegiate assistant coach who also served as North Carolina State's head coach in the early 1980s).
***How about these names: FB Sunny Byrd. Walk-on WR Forrest Mozart. OG Faaesea Mailo (his first name means 'Someone who does things differently'). 6-3, 295-pound DT-DE Kenechi Udeze (he goes by BKU, as in Big Kenechi Udeze). Walk-on WR D. Hale (it's for Donald, but he goes by D.).
USC IS THE PLACE TO BE Based on several national accolades it has received recently, USC can stake its claim as one of the nation's premier schools. USC was named the 'College of the Year' by the 2000 edition of the Time/Princeton Review College Guide because of the remarkable bonds it has forged with the local community. The editors said USC has one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university in the nation and cited the school's model of service learning (applying academic theory to real-life situations through public service). They also pointed out that USC's undergraduate applications have nearly doubled over the last few years and it is enrolling the most academically accomplished freshman classes in its history. Troy also was selected as one of America's nine 'hottest schools' by the 2001 edition of the Newsweek/Kaplan College Guide because it lives up to its reputation as a top-notch institution of higher education. Students quoted in the guide said that what attracted them to the university was Los Angeles' ethnic diversity, the offer of scholarships, the small classroom sizes and USC's standing in academe. Also in 2001, the Association of American Colleges and Universities picked USC as one of 16 'Leadership Institutions' for providing stimulating educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. USC was cited for emphasizing a campus culture featuring new learning techniques, curriculum and organizational structure and for demonstrating a strong commitment to liberal arts education relevant to the contemporary world. The organization said USC not only linked liberal arts and pre-professional study, but offered students the opportunity to learn by doing through off-campus work in community projects and internships. Also, USC was lauded for stressing critical thinking, effective communication and contributing to a diverse society.
WEIGHTY MATTERS-The conditioning of USC's players has markedly improved under new strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff (Carlisle was hired in February of 2001). For instance, the team average in the bench press at the end of 2000 spring practice was 318 pounds (with only 4 players lifting 400-plus pounds), but it improved to 341 pounds at the end of 2001 spring drills (15 hoisted 400-plus) and entering the 2001 fall season the average was at 369 pounds (with 25 players at 400-plus). In the power clean, the spring 2000 team average was 270 pounds (with just 4 players lifting 300-plus pounds), then the spring 2001 mark improved to 283 pounds (with 18 hitting 300-plus) and going into this fall season the average was at 292 pounds (32 players are at 300-plus). Additionally, every Trojan currently has a body fat lower than 20%.
ACADEMICS--USC's two most recent graduation rates for football are the highest in USC history. The 2001 official NCAA graduation rate for Trojan football players was 82%, an all-time high (topping the previous USC high of 80% in 2000). That rate compared to 73% for the general USC student body...and it was about 30 percentage points higher than the national football average for Division I schools. Among the top scholars on the 2001 Trojan squad are LB Aaron Orndorff (team-high 3.89 GPA in geology), TE Chad Cook (3.22, business), TB Mark Gomez (3.22, political science), QB Matt Cassel (3.14), OG Spencer Torgan (3.03, business), DE Bobby DeMars (2.96, business administration), P Mike MacGillivray (2.95, public policy and management), C-SNP Joe Boskovich (2.92, business), TE-FB Scott Huber (2.91, communication), TE Alex Holmes (2.87, business), P Tommy Huff (2.85, history), CB Matt Lemos (2.81), TE Gregg Guenther (2.76) and DE Jay Bottom (2.75). Huber was a 1999 and 2000 Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention choice. In its history, USC football has produced 22 Academic All-American first teamers (tops in the Pac-10 and sixth 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. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 38 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 31 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OLs Tony Boselli and Bruce Matthews, DLs Willie McGinest and Darrell Russell, WRs Keyshawn Johnson and Johnnie Morton, QB Rob Johnson and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight and Daylon McCutcheon. 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, Miami's Dave Wannstedt and San Diego's Mike Riley. Eight current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), LB Austin Jackson (father, Melvin Jackson), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), LB-S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr., father, Clay Matthews, uncle, Bruce Matthews), TB Sultan McCullough (brother, Saladin McCullough), S Troy Polamalu (cousin, Nicky Sualua), WR Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams) and OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins). Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistants DeWayne Walker, Kirby Wilson and Lane Kiffin were NFL assistants. Five assistant coaches played professionally: Keith Uperesa in the NFL, Walker, Wilson, Norm Chow and Steve Sarkisian in the CFL and Walker also played in the USFL.
ON TV--USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 284 times, including all 12 games each of the past 3 seasons (1998, 1999 and 2000). In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997.
ROSTER UPDATES- There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2001 USC football media guide. There are 3 new scholarship players who have transferred this fall from junior colleges (their complete bios are below): #17 Devin Pitts (WR, 6-4, 190, So*./Jr., Carson, El Camino JC/North Torrance HS), #48 David Davis (PK, 5-11, 160, Jr./Jr., Hawthorne, El Camino JC/Bishop Montgomery HS) and #87 Grant Mattos (WR, 6-2, 220, Jr./Jr., Mountain View, Foothill JC/St. Francis HS, pronounced MAT-toaz). Four other players have joined the squad as freshmen walk-ons: #14 Greig Carlson (WR, 5-10, 190, Fr./Fr., Woodland Hills, Pacific Palisades HS), #15 Zach Sherwood (P, 6-3, 190, Fr./Fr., Irvine, University HS), #38 Justin Tolliver (CB, 5-8, 150, Fr./Fr., New Orleans, La., De La Salle HS) and #60 Collin Ashton (LB, 6-1, 205, Fr./Fr., Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo HS). Three returning walk-ons have changed jersey numbers: P Tommy Huff is now #16, TE-SNP Alex Bottom is now #46 and WR Forrest Mozart is now #47. Also, delete LB Henry Wallace and walk-on PK Anthony Boscarini, both who quit, walk-on QB Matt Harris, who transferred to UNLV, and LB Marvin Simmons, DE Raymond Tago and DE Daniel Pryor, who each did not qualify for admission. Several players have switched positions: Frank Strong and Matt Grootegoed are now at LB, Antuan Simmons and Kevin Arbet are at CB-S, Eric Reese is a TB, Scott Huber is a TE-FB, Norm Katnik is an OT-C, Joe McGuire is an OT-OG, Kenechi Udeze is a DT-DE, John Walker is a S-CB, David Kirtman is a TB-FB, Kyle Matthews is a LB-S and Brien McMullen is a CB.
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
DEVIN PITTS-He was a 2000 J.C. Grid-Wire All-American honorable mention and Super Prep JUCO 100 pick as a redshirt freshman at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.)...He caught 68 passes for 1,156 yards (17.0 avg.) and 8 TDs in 2000, and was ranked 10th in the California juco ranks in receptions per game (6.3)...He attended El Camino in 1999, but did not play football because of an injury...Current Trojans Sunny Byrd and David Davis also attended El Camino...He won 1998 All-CIF Division X, South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay second team and All-Ocean League honors as a senior at North Torrance (Calif.) High...He had 48 receptions for 861 yards (17.9 avg.) and 9 TDs in 1998...He also ran track at North Torrance, with a best of 10.8 in the 100 meters...His mother, LaVerne, was on the basketball and track teams at Cal State Dominguez Hills, while his older brother, Chester, is a senior offensive lineman at San Diego State...His cousin is major league slugger Barry Bonds.
DAVID DAVIS-He was a 2000 J.C. Grid-Wire All-American second team and J.C. Athletic Bureau All-State Region IV first team pick as a sophomore placekicker at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.)...He hit 11-of-15 field goals and 29-of-31 PATs for 62 points in 2000...As a 1999 redshirt freshman at El Camino, he made 6-of-11 field goals and all 47 of his PATs for 65 points...He also played soccer in 1998 as a freshman at El Camino...Current Trojans Sunny Byrd and Devin Pitts also attended El Camino...He prepped at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance (Calif.), where he played football (placekicker and wide receiver as a 1997 senior), soccer and baseball...Current Trojan Eric Torres also prepped at Bishop Montgomery...He is a left-footed kicker.
GRANT MATTOS-He was a 2000 J.C. Athletic Bureau All-American first team, J.C. Grid-Wire All-American honorable mention, Super Prep JUCO 100, J.C. Athletic Bureau All-State Region II Offensive MVP and All-League MVP choice as a sophomore wide receiver at Foothill Junior College in Los Altos Hills (Calif.)...He had 76 receptions for 1,200 yards (15.8 avg.) and 14 TDs in 2000, plus returned 5 punts for 17 yards (3.4 avg.)...He was sixth in the California juco ranks in receptions per game (6.8) and 18th in scoring (7.8)...Foothill went 8-3 and won the Silicon Valley Bowl in 2000...As a 1999 freshman at Foothill, he had 46 catches for 509 yards (11.1 avg.) with 6 TDs...Foothill was 10-1 and won the Silicon Valley Bowl in 1999...He was named a Scholar-Athlete at Foothill...He was a 3-year (1996-98) starter at St. Francis High in Mountain View (Calif.), playing wide receiver, defensive back and defensive line...St. Francis won the CIF Central Coast Section Division I championship in 1996 and 1998 and was the runnerup in 1997...He was injured for most of his 1998 senior season...He caught 56 passes for 826 yards (14.8 avg.) with 4 scores, plus had 8 interceptions, as a 1997 junior while earning All-Area and All-West Coast Athletic League first team honors...He also competed in track at St. Francis...Current Trojans Matt Lemos and Forrest Mozart also prepped at St. Francis.
SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE-New head coach Fitz Hill, a long-time assistant at Arkansas, inherits a San Jose State team that went 7-5 last season, its first winning campaign since 1992. The Spartans have a senior-laden team (29) and feature 15 returning starters (9 offense, 4 defense and both kickers). SJSU's headline player is senior TB Deonce Whitaker (224 tcb, school-record 1,577 yds, a nation-leading 7.0 avg, 15 TD rushing), the nation's No. 4 rusher, No. 7 all-purpose runner and No. 7 scorer last year. He holds 15 SJSU records, plus 2 each for the WAC and NCAA. Junior QB Marcus Arroyo (166-of-326, 50.9%, 2,334 yds, 15 TD, 10 int in 2000), a 2-year starter, will throw to the likes of senior WRs Casey Le Blanc (41 rc, 11.6 avg in 2000), Edel Shepherd (42 rec, 16.8 avg, 4 TD in 2000) and Rashied Davis (40 rec, 19.6 avg, 6 TD), who each had 40-plus catches last year. The offensive line, which has 4 returning starters, is led by senior LG Chris Fe'esago (6-3, 328). Top players on a defense which was 113th and 114th in total defense the past 2 years are junior DT Brandon Miles (23 tac in 2000) and a trio of seniors in CB Willie Adams (53 tac, 3 int in 2000), CB Alex Wallace (39 tac, 3 int in 2000) and LB Alvin Dean (27 tac in 2000).
CARROLL SAYS-'We've had a great fall camp. We've been real happy with the intensity of our practices. Our players came back in tremendous shape. We've taken them to the limit and they responded. We're on track, as long as we get back all of our nicked-up players...We're really counting on having an explosive offense. We've got some high-powered talent, led by Carson Palmer at quarterback. With Sultan McCullough, we're always a threat running the ball and that should allow us to get the ball to the receivers in the perimeter. Kareem Kelly has done a real nice job, newcomer Grant Mattos had a great camp, Keary Colbert looks good and having Malaefou MacKenzie coming out of the backfield should make us very dangerous on offense. I like our defense. It is fast and aggressive. We've moved some people around to help us, like putting Frank Strong and Matt Grootegoed at linebacker. We can present some defensive problems for our opponents. And our special teams have come around, especially with the arrival of David Davis...San Jose State returns more seniors than any team in the country. They had a very successful season last year. They have good leadership, a great running back, a quarterback who can get things done and three big-time receivers. Their defense is being rebuilt, but they're optimistic about it coming back around. I know they felt they should have won the game here last year, so they'll come in here with confidence. It'll be very difficult for us. Every game is tough and this opener will be a tough one.'
GAME PROMOTIONS-It's Trojan Schedule Poster Day, with free USC schedule posters given free to all fans...Los Angeles area fire and police personnel, including the chiefs from the L.A.P.D. and L.A.F.D. in attendance, will be honored at the game...Junior Brian Bannister, a pitcher on USC's defending Pac-10 champion baseball team who has a 3.34 GPA as a fine arts major, will be recognized during the Verizon Academic Salute...The Trojan baseball team, which caputured the 2001 Pac-10 title and made its second consecutive College World Series appearance, will be saluted during the Team Trojan Spotlight.
INJURY UPDATE-OUT: C-OG Derek Graf (leg), TB Mark Gomez (foot), TE Greg Guenther (back), FB Chad Pierson (back), DE Jamaal Williams (leg), WR Frank Candela (hamstring). POSSIBLE: WR Steve Stevenson (hamstring), WR Sandy Fletcher (knee). PROBABLE: TB Malaefou MacKenzie (knee), OG Faaesea Mailo (knee), S Matt Grootegoed (back).
A LOOK AT USC'S...
USC OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
New USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow recently was named to the University of Utah's All-Century team as an offensive lineman.
If one were to assemble college football's All-Century coaching staff, the offensive coordinator spot would arguably be his as well. The 55-year-old Honolulu native is quite simply one of the premier offensive masterminds in the history of the game.
That doesn't mean he's still not a humble man. When asked him about his career as an offensive guard, he summed it up in one word.
'Bad,' said Chow. 'I was bad. I made that All-Century team only because of my coaching record. I was just a guy. I liked to play and I liked the camaraderie of football.'
When reminded that he was an All-Western Athletic Conference and All-American honorable mention selection as a senior in 1967, Chow finally admitted to being 'okay.'
His understated approach has served him well for so long, it's hard to brag. It's an attitude he learned toiling in the mountain air of Provo, Utah, for much of the last 28 years as he helped the legendary LaVell Edwards churn out championship football teams at BYU. Looking back, Chow is thankful for the opportunities he was given.
'I was really lucky,' said Chow, who owns a national championship ring from the 1984 Cougar squad. 'I was a high school coach and then I went back to graduate school and became a graduate assistant for BYU. At the time, they asked me if I would help with the receivers, so I said, 'Yes.' I didn't know much about receivers, but I told them that if they taught me, I would learn.
That was 1973, the first of 27 years at BYU for Chow. Two years later, he was the full-time receivers coach and his nimble mind began absorbing everything it could regarding offense and the passing game.
'I was really fortunate,' said Chow. 'I worked with the late Doug Scovil, who later went on to coach Randall Cunningham at the Philadelphia Eagles. So I coached wide receivers for several years at BYU and I studied and learned as much as I could. A few years later, the quarterbacks job opened up and I was asked to help there and I've been doing it ever since.'
But how did a Utah offensive lineman by way of Hawaii develop one of the greatest offensive machines in college football history for BYU? Chow's answer is as basic as the offense he runs.
'I just learned, adapted and studied,' said Chow. 'That's all. There's no big, dark secret.'
Chow took the always-prolific Cougars' offense to a new level. The BYU quarterback, like the USC tailback or the Penn State linebacker, became one of the elite positions in college football during Chow's tenure. He coached six of the NCAA's top 12 career passing efficiency leaders and was involved with squads that hold 11 of the top 30 single-season passing yardage totals in NCAA history. Among the Cougar players he coached were a number of NFL stars, including quarterbacks Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Ty Detmer and Robbie Bosco. Through it all, Chow's idea of a good quarterback has remained fairly simple.
'A quarterback must have intelligence and the ability to make quick decisions,' maintains Chow. 'He must have a rhythm, a huddle presence and a field presence. That whole presence about the quarterback is something that Carson Palmer and I have talked about. You are more than just the quarterback. You are the leader. You get all the credit and you get all the blame.'
Chow's offenses have historically squeezed as much production as possible out of the talent available. While everyone remembers the BYU quarterback, few remember the BYU receivers or running backs. Yet there they were, catching the touchdown passes and rumbling for first downs when needed. Chow is a master at designing an offense to match the special talents of the players on the roster.
'It's a matter of trying to use the skills of the players that you have,' said Chow. 'If you have a strength in a certain area, you focus on that. The whole key to teaching and coaching is making sure your young people are given every chance to be successful.'
Certainly he inherits a USC offense endowed with plenty of speed, but Chow prefers to remain low key about that, the better to sneak up on opposing defenses.
'We perpetuated the image at BYU that we were slow,' said Chow. 'But we had some fast guys. You have to remember that it's a team game. Obviously, everyone remembers the quarterback and, in baseball, everyone remembers the pitcher. But there are a lot of other good players who are needed to make a situation work.'
After 27 years at BYU, Chow moved on in 2000 to the offensive coordinator's spot at North Carolina State, where he developed true freshman quarterback Phillip Rivers into a legitimate star. The Wolfpack went 8-4 and won the Micronpc.com Bowl. Soon after, he heard the call from newly-hired Trojan coach Pete Carroll. For Chow, it was an exciting opportunity.
'Every kid who grows up in Hawaii likes USC,' said Chow. 'It's just the way it is. In fact, my high school coach who really helped me get going and taught me a lot of lessons was a USC guy.'
How does he feel about implementing a passing offense at a school known for Student Body Right?
'I asked Pete Carroll about that,' said Chow. 'He said that really didn't come into the picture. The goal is to win football games. If winning football games means lining up in the I formation, then we'll do it. We're going to do whatever it takes to win.
Chow is philosophical about the changes in college football in the last 20 years.
'What's happened in college football with the 85 scholarship rule is that parity has taken over,' Chow noted. 'Football has evolved in such a way that you can't do the things you did back in the 1970s. Football is like a pendulum. It swings back and forth. USC was very successful with the I-formation, then teams figured out how to stop it. When something else is successful, then they'll figure out how to stop that. It shifts.'
It's a safe bet that Chow will continue to stay one step ahead of those shifts.