Trojans Look To Extend Winning Streak Against Irish
Oct. 14, 2001
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USC (2-4 overall, 1-3 in Pac-10 for seventh place) vs. Notre Dame (2-3), Saturday, Oct. 20, 1:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m. PDT, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
It's the 75th anniversary of the first game (1926) in the most famous intersectional rivalry in college football (this is actually the 73rd game in the series, since the teams didn't play for 3 years during World War II). Although both teams have struggled earlier this season, they both have gained some momentum. USC snapped a 4-game losing skid last week with a 31-point win over Arizona State. Notre Dame is riding a 2-game winning streak (over Pitt and West Virginia) after opening up the 2001 campaign with its worst start ever (0-3). Troy is trying to snap a 2-game losing streak to the Irish. This is only the third time that both teams have met while sporting a losing record (it's also rare that both squads enter the game unranked). Notre Dame is playing its third straight home game, while USC is on the road 3 of its next 4. The game is sold out and will be shown live nationally on NBC-TV.
USC and Notre Dame are not ranked.
Notre Dame leads the series with USC which began in 1926, 41-26-5, and the Irish have won the last 2 meetings. In the past 7 games, the series is knotted at 3-3-1 (since 1967, ND holds a slight edge, 16-15-3).
In South Bend, USC is 9-22-1 (2 other losses came in Chicago), last winning in 1997 to snap a 7-game losing skid in Notre Dame Stadium.
Last year in the Coliseum, USC-plagued by costly turnovers and blocked punts and unable to stop Notre Dame's powerful ground attack-closed out its 2000 season by losing to the No. 11 Irish, 38-21. The game was the final one for third-year USC head coach Paul Hackett, who was fired 2 days later. The loss also gave USC its first losing season (5-7) since 1991. It was Notre Dame's first win in Los Angeles since 1992 and seventh consecutive victory in 2000. It also assured the school of a BCS bowl berth. The Irish scored first, on a 1-yard run by TB Terrance Howard late in the first quarter following a partially blocked Trojan punt. But USC responded on its ensuing possession, as QB Carson Palmer ran 3 yards with a bootleg for a TD. Notre Dame blocked USC's next punt early in the second quarter to set up another score, this time on a 13-yard run by QB Matt LoVecchio. Palmer was intercepted on Troy's following possession and the Irish scored again, on a 1-yard run by TB Tony Fisher. USC closed to 21-14 the next time it got the ball, with Palmer hitting WR Kareem Kelly on a 59-yard TD bomb. LoVecchio scored his second 1-yard TD late in the third quarter after ND intercepted another Palmer aerial, but USC countered with a 10-yard Palmer scoring toss to TE Antoine Harris early in the fourth quarter to pull within 28-21. The Irish put it out of reach on their next 2 possessions with a 39-yard field goal by PK Nick Setta and a 2-yard TD run by TB Julius Jones. Notre Dame rushed for 246 yards-ND ran the ball on its final 24 plays (beginning late in the third quarter)-and held the ball for 35:59. The Irish did not have a turnover, tying an NCAA record for fewest in a season (8). USC had 329 total yards, including 251 passing, but converted just 2-of-13 third downs. Palmer was 17-of-35 passing for 251 yards and 2 TDs, but his 2 picks gave him 18 on the year to tie a USC season record. He also rushed for a team-high 22 yards, the first time a Trojan quarterback led the team in rushing since Rodney Peete did so versus Michigan State in the 1988 Rose Bowl. Harris had a game-best 6 catches for 62 yards, while Kelly added 4 for 91 yards. For ND, Fisher (15 carries) and Jones (20 carries) each ran for 71 yards, while Howard added 47 yards on 9 tries. LoVecchio hit 9-of-14 passes for 142 yards and ran for 45 yards on 11 attempts. LB Zeke Moreno and S Troy Polamalu each had a game-best 14 tackles for USC.
In 1999 in the last meeting in South Bend, Notre Dame scored 22 unanswered second-half points to post a 25-24 comeback win over USC (the Irish's biggest comeback in 21 years). The Trojans led 21-3 at halftime by scoring on 3 of their first 4 possessions, first on QB Mike Van Raaphorst's 23-yard pass to WR Windrell Hayes, then on TB Chad Morton's 1-yard run and next on Van Raaphorst's 12-yard pass to WR R. Jay Soward. The Irish only could counter with PK David Miller's 37-yard field goal late in the half, but USC PK David Newbury hit a 29-yarder at the start of the second half. But then, despite being up 24-3, USC self-destructed. First, TE Dan O'Leary caught a 7-yard TD pass from QB Jarious Jackson midway through the third quarter on a drive that was kept alive by a Trojan personal foul penalty. After USC coughed up a fumble, TB Tony Driver plowed 2 yards for another score early in the fourth quarter. Then, after an 11-yard Trojan punt, Miller then nailed a 33-yard field goal to close the gap to 24-19. Finally, with 2:40 to go, Jackson scrambled 13 yards but fumbled the ball into the end zone, where TE Jabari Holloway jumped on it. USC had 298 total yards, including 113 rushing (only 21 in the second half). The Trojans held the ball just 23:20, including only 10:07 in the second half. Van Raaphorst was 23-of-41 passing for 298 yards, Morton ran for 85 yards on a game-high 21 carries, Soward had a game-best 10 catches for 101 yards and Hayes added 8 grabs for 107 yards. LB Markus Steele had a game-high 12 tackles (with a sack) and forced a fumble and CB Antuan Simmons had 9 stops and 2 blocks (a field goal and PAT). For ND, Jackson was 19-of-30 for 257 yards, FL Joey Getherall had 7 grabs for 73 yards and RB Julius Jones had 194 all-purpose yards. The game was only the seventh in 71 meetings that neither USC nor Notre Dame was ranked.
Here's how the USC-Notre Dame series started, as noted in the book 'The Trojan Heritage,' by Mal Florence:
It was during Trojan head coach Howard Jones' regime, in 1926, that the USC-Notre Dame rivalry began, a rivalry now esteemed as the most prestigious intersectional series in the country.
If it had not been for the persuasiveness of a young bride in 1925, the Trojan-Irish series may never have been.
USC graduate manager Gwynn Wilson and his bride, Marion, got on the Sunset Limited train to Lincoln where Notre Dame was going to play Nebraska. Mission: a USC-Notre Dame home-and-home series. Wilson didn't get to meet with Rockne though, until after the game when they all got on a train to Chicago.
'He told me that he couldn't meet USC because Notre Dame was traveling too much,' Wilson said. 'I thought the whole thing was off but as Rock and I talked, Marion was with Mrs. Rockne, Bonnie, in her compartment. Marion told Bonnie how nice Southern California was and how hospitable the people were.
'Well, when Rock went back to the compartment, Bonnie talked him into the game. But if it hadn't been for Mrs. Wilson talking to Mrs. Rockne, there wouldn't have been a series.'
USC has no players from Indiana, but there are 6 Californians on the Notre Dame roster...Notre Dame women's volleyball coach Debbie (Landreth) Brown was a 2-time All-American (1976-77) at USC on 2 national championship teams...The athletic departments and business schools at USC and Notre Dame, along with those at North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan and Texas, conduct the Sports Management Institute for mid- and upper-level sports administrators who aspire to be athletic directors, executive directors or general managers in college, amateur or pro sports.
USC snapped a 4-game losing streak in a big way as it overwhelmed Arizona State, 48-17, before 43,508 fans in the Coliseum and a live FOX Sports Net Syndicate audience. It was USC's most points and biggest victory margin since a 62-7 win at Hawaii in the 1999 season opener, as well as the Trojans' most points at home since getting 61 versus California in 1994. It also ended USC's 8-game losing skid in October and evened its series with ASU at 9-9 (now no Pac-10 team leads a series with Troy). USC had some unlikely heroes, as 4 Trojans-FB Sunny Byrd, TEs Kori Dickerson and Alex Holmes and TB Darryl Poston-scored the first touchdowns of their career. After ASU opened the scoring with a 36-yard field goal by PK Mike Barth midway through the first quarter (Troy had minus 13 total yards in the quarter), USC scored 3 second-quarter TDs: a 21-yard pass from QB Carson Palmer to Dickerson, a 20-yard Palmer pass to FB Charlie Landrigan and a 3-yard run by Byrd on his first career carry (he was running from the tailback spot because starting TB Sultan McCullough was sidelined late in the first quarter with a strained abdominal muscle). Byrd's score came a play after CB Kris Richard's interception off backup QB Matt Cooper, who came in when starter Jeff Krohn (he was second nationally in passing efficiency) was knocked out with an ankle sprain early in the quarter. However, Cooper brought the Sun Devils to within 21-10 when he hit WR Fulton Skyler on a 4-yard scoring toss with 11 seconds to go in the half. USC took control in the second half on a 4-yard Palmer pass to Holmes on its opening drive, a 2-yard Byrd run late in the third quarter, a pair of field goals (36 and 29 yards) by PK David Davis early in the fourth quarter (coming after picks by LB Frank Strong and CB Kevin Arbet) and a 7-yard run by Poston late in the game. ASU's only score came on a 6-yard reverse by WR Shaun McDonald late in the third quarter to close to 28-17. Byrd finished with a game-best 63 yards on 20 carries (he was handed the ball on USC's last 16 rushes before Poston's TD, including on 8 consecutive plays). Palmer hit 18-of-26 passes for 295 yards and 3 scores, including a game-high 5 completions each to WRs Kareem Kelly (for a game-best 127 yards) and Keary Colbert (85 yards). Palmer also ran for 28 yards on 8 tries. USC had 413 yards of total offense and limited ASU to 298. The Sun Devils, who came into the contest averaging 45.5 points a game, had a season-low point production. USC's 3 interceptions were its most since getting the same amount against Louisiana Tech in 1999. S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 8 tackles, while 3 of LB Matt Grootegoed's 7 tackles were for losses.
USC might be the unluckiest team in America, as all 4 of its losses have been by a combined 14 points (3.5 average). No loss has been by more than 5 points (2, 3, 4 and 5 points). Troy has never had a season in which it lost 4 games by 5 points or less. Two of the losses have come when foes have kicked field goals in the final 12 seconds, including once at the gun, the first time the Trojans have lost twice in a season in the final 12 seconds. Three of the losses were to teams ranked in the Top 12 at the time of the game and the 4 teams that beat USC have been ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point this season. Here's how close those losses have been:
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. Three opponents are ranked in this week's AP Top 15. The current USA Today/Sagarin rankings say USC is playing the nation's 16th toughest schedule. To date, 3 of USC's 7 opponents were ranked in the AP Top 12 at the time of the game and 5 foes were undefeated at game time (another had just 1 loss). The combined record of USC's first 7 opponents at the time of their game with the Trojans was 12-4 (the first 5 were undefeated). At the start of the season, Sports Illustrated said USC has the nation's toughest schedule, Phil Steele's magazine ranked it sixth toughest nationally and The Sporting News said USC plays the toughest schedule among TSN's pre-season Top 25 teams. Troy opened its 2001 slate at home 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 last year's No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Oregon, No. 15 Notre Dame, Arizona and California.
FUN FACT I
This is only the third time that both teams have met sporting losing records (USC lost in 1960 and won in 1997). Also, it is just the eighth time both squads entered the game unranked (USC is 2-5 in those games, winning in 1950 and 1997 and losing in 1940-60-83-85-99) and only the 10th time that USC has faced an Irish team with a losing record (USC is 4-5, with wins in 1933-56-81-97 and losses in 1959-60-63-85-86). USC is 4-8 against Notre Dame when the Trojans entered the game with a losing record (wins in 1950-71-96-97 and losses in 1934-35-41-57-60-61-83-2000) and 6-10-1 against unranked Irish teams (wins in 1950-56-62-81-82-97, the tie in 1994 and losses in 1940-51-59-60-63-83-84-85-86-99).
FUN FACT II
The last time USC started off 2-4 was in 1971, but the Trojans then went unbeaten in their final 5 games (4 straight wins and then a tie)...beginning with a 28-14 victory at Notre Dame.
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 50-year-old Carroll, who also has coached on the college level for 10 years, has 26 years of NFL and college experience. He is 2-4 as a college head coach. 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 highly-ranked volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
USC has one of the nation's better signalcallers in 2001 in junior Carson Palmer (110-of-186, 59.1%, 1,508 yds, 7 TD, 6 int in 2001). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Davey O'Brien Award. He is currently 19th nationally in total offense (265.5, tops in the Pac-10). He already ranks third on Troy's career passing list (507 completions). He is also third on USC's all-time total offense chart (6,643 yards), 24th on the Pac-10 career list. His 6,667 career passing yards are third-most in USC history and 21st in Pac-10 annals. He owns the USC single game total offense record (419 yards at Oregon in 2001) and his 411 passing yards in that game were 4 shy of tying another school mark. 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). After beginning the 2001 season with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in the first 4 games, he has 5 TDs and no picks in the last 2 contests while hitting 65.0% of his passes (26-of-40) for 447 yards, in fact, he has thrown 67 consecutive passes without an interception. With 26 career starts under his belt, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 12 times (including 5 contests at 70.0%-plus) and thrown for at least 200 yards 16 times. After missing the last 9 games of 1999 with an injury, in 2000 he showed signs of brilliance (his 228 completions and 2,914 passing yards were the second most in USC history) and rustiness (he tied the school interception mark with 18). His 5,159 career passing yards through the 2000 season were the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year.
--He was 21-of-28 for 213 yards (with an interception) and hit his first 9 aerials in the San Jose State opener.
--Against Kansas State, he ran for a team-best and career-high 60 yards on 12 carries (the most rushing yards by a Trojan quarterback since Reggie Perry's 60 versus Memphis State in 1991) and hit 16-of-36 passes for 197 yards.
--He set the USC single game total offense record with 419 yards at Oregon and his career-high 411 passing yards were 4 yards shy of another school mark, he completed 25-of-40 aerials, including TDs of 93 and 75 yards (the 2 longest passes of his career), but he was intercepted 3 times and sacked 5 times.
--He was 22-of-42 for 240 yards against Stanford, but he threw 2 interceptions.
--He was 8-of-14 for 152 yards and 2 TDs at Washington, including a perfect 7-of-7 for 94 yards and a score in the first half, it was his fewest completions since the 1998 Washington State game and his fewest attempts since the 1999 Oregon game.
--Against Arizona State, he was 18-of-26 for 295 yards and 3 TDs (the second most of his career) and also ran for 28 yards on 8 tries.
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.
Troy returned a 1,000-yard runner in 2001 and he's a good one: speedy junior tailback Sultan McCullough (115 tcb, 410 yds, 3.6 avg, 5 TD in 2001, plus 6 rec, 16.7 avg, 1 TD). He is listed as a candidate for the 2001 Doak Walker Award. He is 14th on USC's prestigious career rushing chart with 2,006 yards and has run for at least 100 yards in 9 games at Troy (twice in 2001). His rushing total of 1,163 yards 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).
--He rushed for 167 yards with 3 TDs (14, 35 and 7 yards) on 25 carries (all game highs) in San Jose State opener (it was the most rushing yards by a Trojan in a season opener since Marcus Allen had 210 yards versus Tennessee in 1981, as well as his eighth 100-yard outing in his career and his first multi-TD game).
--He scored USC's only touchdown (a 7-yard run) versus Kansas State and ran for 40 yards on 18 carries.
--At Oregon, he ran 20 times for just 31 yards, but caught 3 passes for 84 yards, including a 75-yard TD (the longest reception of his career and the first career TD catch).
--He had just 32 yards on 16 carries against Stanford and caught 3 passes for 16 yards.
--At Washington, he had his second 100-yard outing of 2001 (ninth of his career) with a game-best 132 yards on a career-high 32 carries (the most by a Trojan since Chad Morton had 36 versus UCLA in 1999).
--He suffered a strained abdominal muscle late in the first quarter against Arizona State and had only 8 yards on 4 carries.
OTHER RUNNING BACKS
Coming into 2001, it looked like the Trojans would have a 1-2 punch at tailback with Sultan McCullough joined by 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. But MacKenzie left the team this midseason without seeing action in 2001: he missed USC's first 2 games with a knee sprain, the third while attending his father's funeral in Western Samoa and the next 2 after re-spraining his knee. He then decided to leave the team and go back to Western Samoa. He was second on the Trojans in rushing last season (284 yards) 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. Besides McCullough and MacKenzie, Troy's other tailbacks have carried the ball only 12 times in their careers. Redshirt freshman Chris Howard (8 tcb, 10 yds, 1.2 avg in 2001, plus 2 rec, 6.5 avg), who is coming off 2000 knee surgery, and freshmen Darryl Poston (4 tcb, 4 yds, 1.0 avg, 1 TD in 2001), a 2000 prep All-American, are angling for backup tailback duty. At fullback, senior Charlie Landrigan (7 tcb, 13 yds, 1.9 avg in 2001, plus 16 rec, 15.3 avg, 2 TD), an outstanding blocker and receiver, returned as the starter. Behind him are senior Sunny Byrd (20 tcb, 63 yds, 3.2 avg, 2 TD in 2001, plus 1 rec, 9.0 avg and 4 tac), 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. Byrd has all of his 2001 carries while running out of the tailback spot.
--Landrigan caught a then-career-best 4 passes for 45 yards in the San Jose State opener.
--Against Kansas State, Landrigan grabbed 5 passes for 58 yards, both career highs.
--Landrigan caught a pair of passes for 24 yards at Oregon and Poston got his first career action, getting 1 yard on 2 carries.
--Landrigan had 3 catches for 77 yards (with a career-best 63-yarder) and a 4-yard rush versus Stanford, Byrd had a 9-yard catch and Howard got his first career carries (2 for 0 yards).
--At Washington, Landrigan caught a 21-yard TD pass (the first score of his career).
--Against Arizona State, Byrd had a game-best 63 yards on 20 carries with 2 short TDs (he scored on his first career carry) while running from the tailback spot for injured starter Sultan McCullough (Byrd was handed the ball on all but the last of USC's final 17 rushes, including on 8 consecutive plays), Howard added 10 yards on 6 carries and 13 yards on 2 catches, Landrigan caught a TD pass (20 yards on his only reception) for the second week in a row and ran for 7 yards on 2 tries, and Poston had 3 yards on 2 carries (including a 7-yard TD, the first of his career).
Kareem Kelly (team-best 28 rec, 18.7 avg, 2 TD in 2001, plus 1 tcb, 3 yds, 3.0 avg and 5 PR, 3.8 avg), an acrobatic, fleet junior, headlines USC's receiving corps. He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver. He is currently 21st nationally in receiving yardage (87.3, third in Pac-10). He already is fifth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 137 grabs. His 137 receptions puts him tied for 38th on the Pac-10 career list and his 2,222 career yards is 32nd on the Pac-10 career ladder. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school record for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 29 games he has played as a Trojan. He has had 100-yard receiving games 9 times in his career (twice in 2001). Last fall, he topped the Trojans in receptions (55) and receiving yardage (796), in 1999, he set Pac-10 freshman records for most catches (54) and receiving yards (902). 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).
--He had 3 catches for 18 yards in the San Jose State opener and returned a punt 10 yards.
--He had 7 catches for 75 yards (both game bests) against Kansas State.
--He had 4 catches for a game-high 165 yards at Oregon, including a 93-yard TD (the longest catch of his career).
--He had a game-high 6 catches for 46 yards against Stanford.
--At Washington, he caught 3 passes for 93 yards, including a 58-yard TD.
--He had 5 receptions for 127 yards (both game highs) versus Arizona State.
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 returned in sophomore Keary Colbert (18 rec, 12.3 avg in 2001) and junior Marcell Allmond (16 rec, 15.2 avg in 2000). However, Allmond-who doubles as a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team-will miss USC's 2001 games while suspended for a student conduct violation. He was off to a good start in 2000 before breaking his leg in the fifth game and sitting out the rest of the way. Colbert took over for him then and ended up second on the team in receptions with 33 (the second most ever by a USC freshman). Also in the mix is a pair of junior college transfers-2000 J.C. All-American Grant Mattos (10 rec, 10.4 avg in 2001, plus 2 tac), a junior, and sophomore Devin Pitts (5 rec, 7.4 avg in 2001)-and junior Steve Stevenson (1 rec, 0.0 avg in 2001), who has 22 catches and 3 starts in his career.
--In the San Jose State opener, Mattos had a team-best 5 catches for a game-high 75 yards in his USC debut, Pitts added 2 grabs for 12 yards in his Trojan debut and Colbert had a 7-yard catch.
--Besides Kelly, no other wide receivers had catches versus Kansas State.
--At Oregon, Colbert had a game-best 6 catches for 67 yards, Mattos added 3 grabs for 9 yards and Pitts had 2 for 18 yards.
--Colbert had 4 catches for 48 yards versus Stanford, while Mattos (8 yards), Pitts (7 yards) and Stevenson (0 yards) each added a grab.
--Colbert caught 2 passes for 14 yards at Washington.
--Colbert had a game-high 5 catches for 85 yards against Arizona State and Mattos added a 12-yard grab.
USC had 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. Going into the 2001 season, the tight ends had just 11 catches and limited offensive playing time to their names. The starter comes from an unlikely spot: defense. Rangy senior Kori Dickerson (13 rec, 13.8 avg, 1 TD in 2001) was last season's starting strongside linebacker, where he notched 32 tackles. 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 sophomore Alex Holmes (10 rec, 7.5 avg, 1 TD in 2001), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year, and junior Doyal Butler (4 rec, 13.0 avg in 2000).
--In the San Jose State opener, Dickerson-in his first game as a tight end-caught 3 passes for 41 yards and Holmes had another 3 receptions for 15 yards.
--Dickerson (51 yards) and Holmes (13 yards) each had 2 catches against Kansas State.
--At Oregon, Dickerson caught 4 passes for 32 yards, while Holmes added a 12-yard grab.
--Dickerson had 2 catches for 29 yards versus Stanford.
--Holmes caught 2 passes for 24 yards at Washington.
--Against Arizona State, Dickerson (21 yards) and Holmes (4 yards) each had their first career TD receptions, overall, both had 2 receptions (Dickerson for 27 yards and Holmes for 11 yards).
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 starts new tackles and must develop some reliable depth along the line. Manning the guard spots are senior Faaesea Mailo, who started at tackle last season but had 6 starts earlier in his career at left guard, and junior Zach Wilson, a 3-year starter on the right side. Both tip the scales at more than 300 pounds. Mailo, the only senior lineman, fills the left guard spot held by Trevor Roberts last fall. A twisted knee slowed him in fall camp, so sophomore Norm Katnik started there in the San Jose State opener and then again versus Stanford (Mailo came in off the bench in both of those games). 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. So far in 2001, he has appeared at all 3 line spots, even starting at center versus Oregon, Washington and Arizona State and at guard against Stanford. Sophomore Lenny Vandermade returned as the center after earning Freshman All-American first team honors last year (he also started some at guard in 2000). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Dave Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center. He didn't start (but played off the bench) versus Oregon and Arizona State and he did not see action at Washington this season (he also has played some at guard in 2001). Sophomores Jacob Rogers (he missed last spring's practice while recovering from shoulder surgery) and Eric Torres (he saw limited time in 2000) won the starting tackle jobs vacated by 3-year starter Brent McCaffrey on the left and Mailo on the right.
The situation on the USC defensive line coming into 2001 was not as dire as it might have appeared. Although starters were 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 had plenty of quality bodies to fill in. Last year, senior Ryan Nielsen (13 tac, 1 dfl in 2001) and junior Bernard Riley (26 tac, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 dfl, 1 int in 2001) shared a tackle spot. This season, Nielsen-a 3-year starter-and Riley started off side by side at tackle. However, Nielsen sprained his shoulder against Stanford and missed the Washington game, so 2000 prep All-American freshman Shaun Cody (10 tac, 1 for loss in 2001), who was USA Today's national Defensive Player of the Year, started at Washington (Cody began the year as a backup end, but moved to tackle after the second contest). And then Riley tore ligaments in his knee at Washington and was lost for the season. Nielsen returned for the Arizona State contest and started at Riley's nose tackle spot. Another first-year freshman, Mike Patterson (3 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR in 2001), also has been pressed into action at nose tackle. One end spot is a pseudo-linebacker, giving USC's 4-3 look a 3-4 feel. Senior Lonnie Ford (20 tac, 6 for loss, 2 sack, 2 dfl, 3 FF in 2001), who has 22 tackles for losses and 19 starts in his career, is the ideal man for that job, with soph Omar Nazel (6 tac, 2 for loss, 2 sack, 1 dfl in 2001), who saw brief action in 5 games last season without making a stop, backing him up. The other end has been shared by senior Bobby DeMars (1 tac, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2001), who had seen limited action entering the 2001 season, and redshirt freshman Kenechi Udeze (18 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 dfl in 2001). Udeze started the San Jose State, Kansas State, Washington and Arizona State games and DeMars started against Oregon and Stanford (but DeMars suffered a neck sprain versus Stanford and missed the Washington and Arizona State contests). True freshman Jason Wardlow (3 tac in 2001) also has seen some action at end.
--In the San Jose State opener, Udeze had 4 tackles (1 for a loss), Riley had 4 stops and made a nice 1-handed interception of a deflected pass, Nielsen had 4 tackles, Ford and Nazel each had 2 stops and a deflection and Cody had a tackle.
--Against Kansas State, Riley had 10 tackles, recovered a fumble (to set up a USC TD) and deflected a pass, Udeze and Ford both had 7 stops (both had a sack and Ford forced the fumble which Riley recovered) and Nielsen added 4 tackles.
--Ford had 5 tackles (1.5 for losses) at Oregon, Riley added 4 stops (0.5 for a loss), Nielsen had 3 tackles and a deflection, Nazel had a 7-yard sack and DeMars-in his first career start-had a tackle, deflection and blocked field goal.
--Riley had 4 tackles (2 for losses) versus Stanford, Cody, Udeze and Nazel added 3 stops each (Udeze also recovered a fumble and Nazel had a sack), Ford had 2 stops (with a sack) and forced a fumble which USC recovered, and Nielsen had a tackle before spraining his shoulder.
--Cody had 5 tackles (1 for a loss) at Washington, Riley added 4 stops with a sack (he played most of the game after tearing ligaments in his knee), Udeze had 3 tackles (1 for a loss), Patterson had 2 stops and a fumble recovery and Ford had a tackle and deflection.
--Against Arizona State, Ford had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and forced a fumble (which USC recovered), Wardlow had 2 stops, Patterson had a sack and forced fumble, Udeze had a tackle and deflection and Nielsen and Cody each had a stop.
Of any area on the USC team, the linebacking corps faced the biggest challenge in 2001. After all, Troy had to 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) moved to tight end. Filling in at middle linebacker for Moreno are juniors Mike Pollard (43 tac, 4 for loss, 5 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2001) as the starter and backup 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 backup Lee Webb (6 tac in 2001), a converted fullback who broke his foot against Stanford. The outside spots manned last season by Steele on the weak side and Dickerson on the strong side are being handled by a pair of converted safeties: senior Frank Strong (29 tac, 4 dfl, 1 int, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2001), who was a free safety the previous 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 (18 tac, 5 for loss in 2001), who sat out last year with mononucleosis, on the strong side. When Strong missed the Kansas State game with a knee sprain and Grootegoed missed the Oregon and Stanford games with a shoulder sprain (he didn't start at Washington, but saw brief duty on special teams), senior John Cousins (18 tac, 1 for loss in 2001)-who is deaf in one ear and hearing impaired in the other-got the starts versus Kansas State and Oregon and sophomore Chris Prosser (12 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl in 2001), who missed USC's first 2 games of 2001 while ineligible, got the start versus Stanford and Washington (he missed the Arizona State game with a concussion). Also seeing backup duty on the outside is true freshman Bobby Otani (1 tac in 2001).
--In the San Jose State opener, Strong had game bests of 8 tackles and 2 deflections, Pollard added 5 stops while forcing a fumble which USC recovered and deflecting a pass which Troy intercepted, Grootegoed had 2 tackles and Webb added a stop.
--Grootegoed had 9 tackles (1 for a loss) against Kansas State, Pollard and Cousins added 6 stops and Webb had 5 (Strong sat out with knee sprain).
--Pollard had a game-best 11 tackles (1 for a loss) at Oregon, Strong added 6 stops and recovered a fumble, Cousins had 5 tackles (1 for a loss) and Prosser had 3 (1 for a loss), while Grootegoed sat out with a shoulder sprain.
--Pollard had 9 tackles and 3 deflections versus Stanford, Prosser added 8 stops (with a sack) and a deflection, and Strong had 4 tackles, forced a fumble which USC recovered and deflected a pass.
--Pollard had 7 tackles (2 for losses) at Washington, Cousins added 6 stops, Strong had 5, Prosser had a tackle for a loss before sitting out the second half with a mild concussion and Otani had a tackle.
--Against Arizona State, Grootegoed had 7 tackles (3 for losses), Strong had 6 tackles and returned an interception 24 yards to set up a field goal, Pollard had 5 stops, recovered a fumble and deflected a pass, and Cousins had a tackle.
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 (team-high 58 tac, 7 for loss, 3 dfl, 1 int which was returned for a TD, 1 FF, 1 blk P in 2001) was the team's No. 2 tackler last fall (83) while starting all season at strong safety. He currently is third in the Pac-10 in tackles (9.7). Senior Antuan Simmons (17 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2001), a 4-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 192 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career. Behind Simmons is junior DeShaun Hill (15 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 int, 1 FR in 2001), who shared the starting free safety duty last season with Frank Strong, while redshirt freshman Jason Leach (3 tac in 2001) backs up Polamalu. The corners are equally stacked. Senior Chris Cash (30 tac, 2 for loss, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2001) starts on one side and is backed by the player he shared the spot with in 2000, junior Darrell Rideaux (5 tac in 2001, plus 12 KOR, 20.1 avg), who also is a sprinter for USC's track team with a best of 10.27 in the 100 meters. On the other side, there's senior 3-year starter Kris Richard (27 tac, 2 for loss, 5 dfl, 1 int, 1 TD on a blk FG in 2001), who also was Troy's top punt returner last season (7.5 avg on 13 runbacks). He has 7 career picks. Backing him up and serving as the nickel back is junior Kevin Arbet (15 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 4 dfl, , 1 int, 1 FR in 2001, plus 13 PR, 10.5 avg and 3 KOR, 17.7 avg), a 4-game starter last year and the stepson of ex-USC receiver Jeff Simmons.
--In the San Jose State opener, Polamalu had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection, Hill and Simmons added 4 stops each (Hill also recovered a fumble), Cash had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and an interception, Richard had 3 stops, Arbet had 2 tackles and Rideaux made a tackle and returned a kickoff 15 yards.
--Against Kansas State, Polamalu had a game-high 13 tackles (2.5 for losses) and forced a fumble, Richard had 8 stops and broke up a pass, Cash had 3 tackles and Simmons had 2 tackles and intercepted the eighth pass of his career.
--Cash had 8 tackles (1 for loss) at Oregon, Polamalu added 7 stops and a deflection, Simmons had 5 tackles, Richard had 3 tackles and 2 deflections, Rideaux had 3 stops and returned 4 kickoffs for 97 yards, Arbet had 2 tackles (with a sack) and a deflection, plus returned a punt 10 yards and a kickoff 13 yards, and Hill had a stop and a deflection.
--Against Stanford, Polamalu had a game-high 10 tackles (1 for a loss) and also blocked a punt, Hill made 7 stops (1 for a loss) and an interception, Cash added 4 tackles and blocked a field goal, Richard had 3 stops, 1 deflection and returned Cash's blocked field goal 65 yards for a TD, Arbet had 2 tackles, a deflection, a fumble recovery (which led to a Trojan field goal), and returned 5 punts for 70 yards (including a career-best 47-yarder to set up a TD) and a kickoff 14 yards, Simmons added 2 tackles and Rideaux had a tackle and returned 2 kickoffs for 38 yards.
--Polamalu had a team-best 13 tackles (2 for a loss) and returned an interception 22 yards for a TD (the second scoring pick of his career) at Washington, while Cash added 8 stops and a deflection, Richard had 7 tackles (1 for a loss), Arbet had 6 stops and returned 3 punts for 22 yards, Simmons had 2 tackles, Leach and Hill each had a stop and Rideaux had 3 kickoff returns for 45 yards.
--Polamalu had a game-high 8 tackles versus Arizona State, Cash added 4, Arbet had 3 stops (1 for a loss), returned an interception 20 yards to set up a field goal, plus ran back 3 punts for 35 yards and a kickoff for 26 yards, Richard also had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and returned an interception 36 yards to set up a field goal, Leach had 2 stops, Simmons had 2 stops (with a sack) and forced a fumble, and Hill had 2 tackles.
Senior Mike MacGillivray (38.8 avg in 2001), who owns a 39.3 career punting average while punting for the fourth year, is a battle-tested veteran but has struggled with his consistency. An effective placement punter, more than a third (90) of his career punts have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line (including 16 of his 37 boots in 2001) and 28 have traveled 50-plus yards. With 256 punts for 10,055 yards, he is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's USC career records for punts (259) and punt yardage (10,578). 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 (14-of-15 PAT, 7-of-9 FG in 2001), a junior college transfer who had an impressive fall camp. Davis has hit 7 of his last 8 field goals and his last 11 PATs. Senior David Newbury (4-of-9 FG, 9-of-12 PAT in 2000) began 2000 as the kicker, but he was inconsistent (he is handling the kickoffs this fall, with 6 of his 30 kickoffs pinning opponents within the 20, with 1 touchback). Newbury was replaced midway through last season's fifth game by sophomore John Wall (5-of-5 FG, 9-of-14 PAT in 2000), whose field goals were all within 27 yards and his 5 missed extra points were all blocked. When Wall was sidelined by a groin injury and then a knee injury in the final 3 contests of 2000 (he's still coming around from that knee injury), 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).
--Davis hit all 3 of his PAT tries in his debut in the San Jose State opener, while 2 of Newbury's 4 kickoffs pinned SJSU within the 20-yard line.
--MacGillivray averaged 41.6 yards on 9 punts against Kansas State and 7 of them pinned the Wildcats within the 20-yard line (2 of his boots were 50-plus yards), while Davis came up short on a 42-yard field goal try and had his PAT kick blocked.
--Davis hit all 3 of his field goal tries (the first of his career)-32, 43 and 39 yards-and his PAT at Oregon, while MacGillivray averaged 39.2 yards on his 6 punts.
--MacGillivray averaged 39.7 yards on his 6 punts against Stanford, with 2 pinning the Cardinal within the 20-yard line (the second one stopped at the 2), while Davis hit a 41-yard field goal (he missed a 26-yarder) and his only PAT try.
--Davis hit his only field goal try (a 40-yarder) and all 3 of his PATs at Washington, while MacGillivray averaged 36.0 on 6 punts, including a 55-yarder (it was 1 of 2 that pinned UW within the 20) and 2 of Newbury's 5 kickoffs pinned the Huskies within the 20.
--Against Arizona State, Davis nailed both of his field goal attempts (36 and 29 yards), plus all 6 of his PATs, while 2 of Newbury's 9 kickoffs and 3 of MacGillivray's 5 punts pinned the Sun Devils within the 20.
***USC's 4 losses this year-3 were to AP Top 12 teams at the time and all 4 were in the AP Top 25 at some point in 2001-have been by a total of just 14 points.
***USC's 2-4 start is its slowest since the 1971 team also began 2-4.
***In 6 games this year, USC already has 15 takeaways after getting only 17 all of last year.
***The Trojans have 8 interceptions this year after getting only 7 all of 2000.
***USC has turned the ball over just 10 times this season after having a nation-leading 36 turnovers in 2000.
***USC has surrendered 38 points on drives immediately following a turnover in 2001, that's 34.9% of the total points (109) USC has given up this year.
***USC has allowed only 21 points in the third quarter in 2001 and only 44 in the second half, but has scored just 10 first-quarter points.
***Opponents have scored first in the past 5 games.
***USC's offense is 14-of-17 (82.4%) this season when in the red zone (9 touchdowns, 5 field goals, 1 missed field goal, 1 failed fourth down, 1 lost fumble).
***USC is the only Pac-10 team not allowing opponents to convert a fourth down (0-of-7) in 2001.
***So far in 2001, USC has held the ball an average of 3:12 less a game than its opponents.
***USC's defense has just 11 sacks in 2001, while QB Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times.
***USC is currently 22nd nationally in scoring defense (18.2, second in Pac-10) and tied for 22nd in turnover margin (+0.8, third in Pac-10).
***USC's 71 rushing yards in the first quarter at Washington was more than the combined total (68) in its previous 2 games.
***USC is 4-1 when TB Sultan McCullough starts and has 25-plus carries (Troy is 6-3 when McCullough is a starter and gets 20-plus carries), conversely, when McCullough rushes 20 or fewer times when he starts, USC is 1-6.
***In 2 of USC's last 7 games, QB Carson Palmer has led the team in rushing (with 22 yards versus Notre Dame in 2000 and 60 yards against Kansas State in 2001), before that, the last time a quarterback led USC in rushing in a game was when Rodney Peete did so in the 1988 Rose Bowl versus Michigan State.
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.
***Now that senior CB-S Antuan Simmons-a 4-year starter with 192 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career-has stepped 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, but was moved to free safety this fall and has been the starter there.
***Speaking of comebacks, new strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle has 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 also is 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 have gray facemasks (instead of cardinal) and wear white shoelaces (instead of black). Also, on the back of their helmets are 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, and an American flag in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy on the East Coast.
***A new tradition has started at Troy's home games in 2001 as the USC team buses unload the Trojan players amid the tailgaters in front of the Coliseum peristyle about 2 hours-and-20-minutes before kickoff. The players 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 starts 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 his left ear and impaired in the right. He wears a hearing aid in the right ear 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. WR Keary Colbert's cousin is Arizona State DT Tommie Townsend. TB Miguel Fletcher's father, Ned, was on the football and track teams at Cal State Northridge. LB Matt Grootegoed's brother, John, was an offensive guard at San Jose State in 1994 and 1995. 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 brother, Kaio Aumua, played football at UTEP, an 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. DT Bernard Riley's father, Bernard Sr., was a starting offensive guard at Oregon in 1975. 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.
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%.
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.
USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 290 times, including all 12 games each of the previous 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.
There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2001 USC football media guide. There are 4 new scholarship players who have transferred this fall from junior colleges or 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), #51 Melvin Simmons (LB, 6-1, 210, Jr./Jr., Compton, Washington State/Dominguez HS) and #87 Grant Mattos (WR, 6-2, 220, Jr./Jr., Mountain View, Foothill JC/St. Francis HS, pronounced MAT-toaz). Five 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), #27 Andre Woodert (WR, 6-0, 195, Fr./Fr., Los Angeles, Agoura 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-ons PK Anthony Boscarini and CB Brien McMullen, who have 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 and Kyle Matthews is a LB-S.
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.
MELVIN SIMMONS-He must sit out the 2001 season after transferring from Washington State (a year was waived from the 2-year in-conference transfer rule, making him eligible in 2002 instead of 2003)...He started 10 games at both middle and weakside linebacker as a 2000 sophomore at Washington State, getting 59 tackles (fourth on WSU), including 7 for losses of 24 yards (with 4 sacks for minus 19 yards), plus a deflection...Posted 9 stops against Stanford, 7 versus Washington and Utah and 6 (with 2 sacks) against Arizona State in 2001...Missed the 2000 California game with a shoulder injury...Saw action in 12 games as a first-year freshman in 1999, as a reserve linebacker and on special teams...Had 6 tackles in 1999...Received Blue Chip All-American, Super Prep All-Far West, All-CIF and All-League MVP honors as a 1998 senior at Dominguez High in Compton (Calif.)...Made 142 tackles with 5 sacks in 1998...As a 1997 junior, he made All-League first team while notching 138 tackles (with 6 sacks)...Was on the All-State Sophomore and All-League second team as a 1996 sophomore as Dominguez won the CIF title...Also was on the track and baseball teams at Dominguez...Is nicknamed 'Champ.'
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...His sister, Adrienne, is a senior All-American freestyler on California's swim team and set several school records.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
Under fifth-year head coach Bob Davie, Notre Dame is riding a 2-game winning streak (24-7 over Pittsburgh and last week 34-24 over West Virginia, both at home) after opening up the 2001 campaign with its worst start ever (0-3). The Fighting Irish have won their past 15 games in October, last losing in 1997 to USC. ND's ground attack rolled up 345 yards versus West Virginia. Senior Tony Fisher (63 tcb, 342 yds, 5.4 avg, 3 TD in 2001) and junior Julius Jones (76 tcb, 267 yds, 3.5 avg, 4 TD in 2001) share time at tailback, with Jones also topping the Irish in punt (14 PR, 12.4 avg to rank 22nd nationally) and kickoff returns (9 KOR, 26.0 avg to rank 26th nationally). Jones also is 23rd nationally in all-purpose running (136.6). Sophomore QB Carlyle Holiday (29-of-49, 59.2%, 259 yds, 4 int in 2001, plus 62 tcb, 303 yds, 4.9 avg, 1 TD) has started the past 3 games, taking over for soph Matt LoVecchio (29-of-58, 50.0%, 245 yds, 1 TD, 3 int in 2001). Senior SE Javin Hunter (24 rec, 9.5 avg, 1 TD in 2001) and senior FL David Givens (15 rec, 9.3 avg in 2001) are the top receivers. Notre Dame's defense, which has allowed just 28 points in the second half this year, is 12th nationally in total defense (282.8) and seventh in pass defense (149.2). Top defenders are junior ILB Courtney Watson (47 tac, 9 for loss, 1 FR in 2001), senior ILB Tyreo Harrison (44 tac, 4 for loss in 2001), senior FS Donald Dykes (29 tac, 1 FR in 2001), senior DE Anthony Weaver (28 tac, 9 for loss, 3 sac, 1 int in 2001) and senior OLB Rocky Boiman (25 tac, 6 for loss in 2001). Junior P Joey Hildbold is 18th nationally in punting (43.9 avg), while junior PK Nicholas Setta (9-of-9 PAT, 6-of-6 FG in 2001) has been perfect this year and is working on a stretch of 41 consecutive successful PATs.
'The Arizona State game was a long-awaited win and very needed. We've been through some tough weeks. It was good to see an explosion by our offense and some big plays by our defense. It came at a great time for us. We needed that win badly and it should help kick us into Notre Dame week...We all come to USC with the knowledge that there is this wonderful match-up with Notre Dame. The Irish appear to have righted their ship. They have a powerful running game and a strong defense. It's very exciting for us to go to South Bend. We're all looking forward to the game and to having a good experience there.'
USC-ND TENNIS-The USC men's and women's tennis teams will compete in dual matches at Notre Dame on Friday (Oct. 19) at 4:30 p.m.
OUT: DT Bernard Riley (knee), TB Malaefou MacKenzie (knee), LB Lee Webb (foot), WR William Buchanon (back), TB Mark Gomez (foot), TE Gregg Guenther (back), DE Jamaal Williams (leg), WR Marcell Allmond (suspension).
POSSIBLE: LB Bobby Otani (hamstring), WR Grant Mattos (knee), LB Chris Prosser (concussion), DE Bobby DeMars (neck), FB Chad Pierson (back).
PROBABLE: TB Sultan McCullough (abdomen), OT-OG Joe McGuire (knee), C-OG Derek Graf (leg).
A LOOK AT USC'S...
6-6, 300, Sophomore
Fourth down used to be Jacob Rogers' favorite down.
That was when he used to do some of his best work in high school, averaging over 40 yards per punt for Oxnard (Calif.) High.
Now, he's starting at left offensive tackle as a redshirt sophomore for USC and trying to prevent fourth down from rearing its ugly head.
He's come a long way since becoming a Trojan. He joined the team in the spring of 1999 as a bit of an anomaly-a 6-6, 235-pound tight end who could also punt.
Two years later, he's an offensive lineman who looks the part: 300 pounds with long arms. Though he's a promising prospect on a young offensive line, there are still times when he looks longingly at the special teams.
'I kind of miss punting,' said Rogers. 'Every once in a while, I mess around with it. It's something that's hard to do after putting on all the weight that I have. My first spring here I was able to punt pretty well. Then I went from 235 to 265 pounds and it just wasn't the same.'
Gaining so much weight so fast must have been a shock to his body, because Rogers has had a variety of injuries and surgeries on his shoulders and hip so far in his young career. In fact, he became so frustrated by his injuries that he switched numbers from 72 to 77 this season.
'My number last year was also (former USC tackle) Matt Welch's number,' said Rogers. 'He had a few shoulder surgeries so I figured it (No. 72) was bad luck.
'It's been tough with all the injuries. It seems like whenever I finish any kind of football season, I get operated on. It keeps me from being in the weight room as much as I should. But this year I feel the best that I ever have.'
He's getting a chance to show his stuff, too. Rogers has started every game for USC this season at the all-important left tackle spot and has done a solid job. Being a former tight end, he's brings a healthy dose of athleticism to his position.
'My strength is my footwork,' said Rogers. 'Coming from a tight end background, I have pretty good feet. It helps me to stay in front of the guys a little better.'
Rogers doesn't miss tight end as much as he misses punting, though. When he saw the opportunity to switch over to the offensive line, he jumped at it.
'I always admired the USC offensive line tradition growing up,' said Rogers. 'There has been a lot of great players who have worn my number, like Anthony Munoz and Ron Yary. I admire all those guys and what they've done at this school. I came in as a tight end, but I saw the opportunity that was presented and I decided to make the move to help the team.'
Rogers was a fast learner and made an immediate impact during his first spring on the line. It helped that one of his predecessors at left tackle, NFL first-rounder John Michels, was there coaching him.
'My first spring at tackle was when I started getting the hang of it,' said Rogers. 'Michels was there that spring (as a volunteer assistant) and he helped me out tremendously. He would sit back and give me pointers right after a play. He was fresh out of the league so he had a lot to teach me. It really helped me get my foot in the door.'
USC seems to have established a foot in the door with players from Ventura County, with Rogers being part of a recent wave of Trojans from that area.
'(Fullback) Chad Pierson came down right before me,' said Rogers. 'Then I came down, then (receiver) Keary Colbert and (linebacker) Bobby Otani. There's a lot of good players from up in that area and they are starting to get a little recognition.'
With Oxnard being so far from city life, Rogers turned much of his attention growing up to hunting and fishing.
'I hunt and fish a lot with my dad,' said Rogers. 'I love to fish down in San Diego for tuna. This summer we went albacore fishing and we caught almost 200 Albacore tuna. We filled up the freezer. As for hunting, I like to hunt birds. Quails are my favorite. I'm a pretty good shot, but my dad's a great shot. It's really humbling going hunting with him.'
In the meantime, Rogers' job is to hunt opposing pass rushers. It's a task that he enjoys.
'I get a lot of speed rushers on my side,' he said. 'It's challenging, but I accept that challenge and I like it. It's important to stick to fundamentals or they will get around the edge on you.
'You just have to go out there and have the attitude that you are going to beat the guy across the way from you on every play. He's going to have that attitude against you, so it's just a matter of who's going to do it. It's his job to beat you and your job to beat him.'
The more Rogers wins that battle, the less fourth downs the Trojans will have to contend with.
By Chris Huston
Assistant Sports Information Director