USC Football Team At Arizona For Second Straight Road Game
Oct. 21, 2001
USC (2-5 overall, 1-3 in Pac-10 for seventh place tie) vs. Arizona (3-4, 0-4 for ninth place tie), Saturday, Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.
USC, coming off a tough loss at Notre Dame, resumes Pac-10 play. Arizona, which lost in the last minute last weekend at Washington, hasn't won a league contest this season and the Wildcats are trying to snap both a 4-game losing streak after opening up 2001 at 3-0 and a 9-game Pac-10 losing skid dating to last year. It's the only time this season that USC plays 2 consecutive road games. It's a match-up between head coaches new to the Pac-10 this season. The game will be shown live throughout the West on the 18-station FOX Sports Net Syndicate.
USC and Arizona are not ranked.
USC holds a 19-6 lead in its series with Arizona, but the Trojans have lost the last 2 meetings. Eight of the last 16 games have been decided by 7 points or less (including 3 by a field goal or less). USC, which won the first 9 games in the series and 15 of the first 16, has won 3 of the last 5. In Tucson games, Troy is 6-3 (USC also beat UA in a 1916 game played in Phoenix).Last year in the Coliseum, No. 18 USC-stymied on offense by a stingy Arizona defense that forced 5 turnovers and the victim on defense of several big plays-spotted the Wildcats a 21-0 first quarter lead before falling 31-15. The loss dropped the Trojans to 0-2 in the conference play for the first time since 1971. Arizona scored on the game's third play, a 75-yard bomb from QB Ortege Jenkins to WR Bobby Wade (the longest of each player's career and the longest allowed by Troy since a 90-yard UCLA TD in 1992). Jenkins then ran for a 1-yard score in the middle of the opening quarter and true freshman TB Clarence Farmer raced 80 yards for a TD late in the quarter. Following an interception by S DeShaun Hill, the Trojans got on the board late in the half on a 1-yard TD run by TB Petros Papadakis, the first TD allowed by the Wildcats in 10 quarters. On the opening drive of the second half, true freshman PK John Wall-in his first kick as a Trojan after replacing an ineffective David Newbury-nailed a 27-yard field goal. But after Arizona recovered a fumble by QB Carson Palmer deep in USC territory on Troy's next possession, Jenkins ran for a 4-yard TD. Palmer, who was 26-of-50 (a career high in attempts) for 321 yards, threw 3 second-half interceptions and the second set up a 29-yard field goal by PK Sean Keel in the middle of the fourth quarter. USC scored late in the game on Palmer's 7-yard toss to WR Matt Nickels. USC actually had more first downs (18-10), plays (77-57) and total yards (331-253) than Arizona, but the Wildcat defense-which entered the game ranked in the Top 20 in 4 defensive categories (scoring defense at 9.0, rushing defense at 75.3, turnover margin at +1.8 and total defense at 288.0)-held the Trojan offense in check when it mattered (USC ran for just 10 yards and converted only 7-of-17 third downs). Nickels and WR Keary Colbert had career bests in receptions and yardage, as Nickels caught a game-high 7 passes for 72 yards and Colbert had 6 receptions for a game-high 113 yards (joining R. Jay Soward and Kareem Kelly as the only Trojan true freshmen with 100-plus receiving yards). For UA, Jenkins was 6-of-12 for 110 yards, Farmer ran for a game-best 134 yards on 22 carries and Wade had 4 catches for 102 yards. USC's defense, which had 3 sacks and limited Arizona to 3-of-14 on third down conversions, was led by Hill's 9 tackles. In 1999 in Troy's last visit to Tucson, Arizona defeated No. 22 USC, 31-24. The Trojans gained just 271 total yards (including -20 on the ground) and allowed 7 sacks, while the Wildcats had 550 total yards. The game was tied at 10-10 at halftime. After Arizona QB Keith Smith raced 57 yards for a TD in the first quarter, USC LB Zeke Moreno stripped Smith of the ball and CB Antuan Simmons went 44 yards for a score early in the second quarter. The teams then traded field goals (with USC PK David Newbury hitting a 40-yarder). USC went up in the second half when QB Mike Van Raaphorst hit WR Windrell Hayes on an 18-yard TD pass. But UA scored 3 unanswered touchdowns (a 17-yard Smith pass to WR Dennis Northcutt, an 11-yard run by TB Trung Canidate and a 24-yard fumble return by CB Kelvin Hunter). Van Raaphorst then hit WR Marcell Allmond for a 21-yard TD with 28 seconds to go. Van Raaphorst was 23-of-41 for 291 overall, Hayes had 9 catches for 115 yards and WR Kareem Kelly gained 100 yards on 6 receptions.
While only 2 Trojans claim Arizona as home-USC TE Doyal Butler went to Sabino HS in Tucson and then Mesa Community College, while SNP Matt Hayward attended Mountain Ridge HS in Glendale and then Glendale Community College-35 Wildcats hail from California...USC OT-C Norm Katnik's father, Norman, started at center at Arizona for 2 yards (1978-79)...USC secondary coach DeWayne Walker played for the USFL's Arizona Outlaws in 1985.
Notre Dame, using a strong second half showing, beat USC for the third consecutive year, this time 27-16 before a sold-out crowd of 80,795 in South Bend and a national NBC-TV audience in the 75th anniversary of the series. The Irish-trailing 13-10 at halftime-had 214 of their 346 total yards and 12 of their 19 first downs in the second half while holding the ball for 18:25 of that half. They limited Troy to just 98 yards and 3 first downs after the intermission (USC had 290 total yards, including 230 through the air, and 12 first downs overall). Notre Dame ran for 208 yards in the game. USC converted just 4 of 16 third downs on the day and had 3 turnovers, all in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame, which trailed 13-3 at one point, scored 24 of the game's final 27 points. After Irish PK Nicholas Setta hit a 38-yard field goal on ND's first possession, the Trojans answered as QB Carson Palmer hit FB Chad Pierson for a 54-yard scoring pass (it was the first time Pierson touched the ball in 2001, following a back injury). Then, early in the second quarter, after S Troy Polamalu recovered an Irish fumble, WR Keary Colbert ran 20 yards with a Palmer aerial for another touchdown (PK David Davis' point after kick was wide) to put the Trojans up 13-3. But, late in the half, after USC P Mike MacGillivray was stopped short on a fake punt at the USC 28, the Irish closed to 13-10 on TB Terrance Howard's 4-yard run. LB Frank Strong recovered QB Carlisle Holiday's fumble near midfield on the opening drive of the second half, but the Trojans had to settle for Davis' 18-yard field goal after they couldn't get into the end zone despite having first-and-goal at the Irish 1. Notre Dame recaptured the lead for good on its next possession, as Holiday raced 35 yards for a score. Late in the fourth quarter, Setta added a 29-yard field goal and TB Julius Jones ran for a 5-yard TD after Palmer fumbled the ball away. USC FB Sunny Byrd, who started at tailback, led USC with 62 yards on 22 carries, Palmer was 19-of-30 for 230 yards and the 2 TDs, but was picked off twice, FB Charlie Landrigan had a game-best 6 catches for 46 yards and Colbert added 5 grabs for a game-high 88 yards. For Notre Dame, Holiday ran for a game-best 98 yards on 18 carries and completed 9-of-12 passes for 133 yards, while Jones had 95 yards on 21 rushes. LB Mike Pollard and S Troy Polamalu each had a game-topping 11 tackles, while 3 of DE Lonnie Ford's 8 tackles were for losses (he also forced a fumble) and 2 of DT Shaun Cody's 6 stops were sacks. It was only the third time in the series' 73 games that both teams had losing records and just the eighth time that both squads were unranked.
USC might be the unluckiest team in America, as its 5 losses have been by a combined 25 points (5.0 average). Four of the defeats were by 5 points or less (2, 3, 4 and 5 points) and the fifth was by 11 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 5 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. Four opponents are ranked in this week's AP Top 15. The current USA Today/Sagarin rankings say USC is playing the nation's 17th toughest schedule. Three of USC's opponents were ranked in the AP Top 12 at the time of the game and the first 5 foes were undefeated at game time (the sixth had just 1 loss). 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.
This is USC's second opponent in 2001 with the nickname of 'Wildcats' (Kansas State was the first).
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 2-5 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 (129-of-216, 59.7%, 1,738 yds, 9 TD, 8 int in 2001). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Davey O'Brien Award. He is currently 22nd nationally in total offense (258.4, second in Pac-10). His 129 completions in 2001 is 20th on the USC season chart. He already ranks third on Troy's career passing list (526 completions). He is also third on USC's all-time total offense chart (6,859 yards), 20th on the Pac-10 career list. His 6,897 career passing yards are third-most in USC history and 20th 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 7 TDs and 2 picks in the last 3 contests while hitting 64.3% of his passes (45-of-70) for 677 yards, in fact, in that span he threw 87 consecutive passes without an interception before getting picked off at Notre Dame. With 27 career starts under his belt, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 13 times (including 5 contests at 70.0%-plus) and thrown for at least 200 yards 17 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.
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). He sat out most of the Arizona State contest and all of the Notre Dame game with a strained abdominal muscle. 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).
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 13 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 (5 tcb, 4 yds, 0.8 avg, 1 TD in 2001), a 2000 prep All-American, are angling for backup tailback duty. At fullback, senior Charlie Landrigan (8 tcb, 12 yds, 1.5 avg in 2001, plus 22 rec, 13.2 avg, 2 TD), an outstanding blocker and receiver, returned as the starter. Behind him are juniors Sunny Byrd (42 tcb, 125 yds, 3.0 avg, 2 TD in 2001, plus 4 rec, 4.8 avg and 4 tac), who redshirted last fall after transferring from a junior college, Chad Pierson (1 rec, 54.0 avg, 1 TD in 2001), who missed the first 6 games of 2001 after having surgery for a herniated disk in his back, and 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 for an injured McCullough(against Arizona State and Notre Dame), he even started at Notre Dame.
Kareem Kelly (team-best 30 rec, 18.07 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 already is fifth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 139 grabs, tied for 35th on the Pac-10 career list. His 2,238 career yards is 30th 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 30 games he has played as a Trojan, within range of John Jackson's USC record of 37. 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).
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 (23 rec, 13.4 avg in 2001, plus 1 tcb, 9 yds, 9.0 avg and 2 tac) 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)-plus junior Steve Stevenson (1 rec, 0.0 avg in 2001), who has 22 catches and 3 starts in his career, and soph Sandy Fletcher (1 rec, 6.0 avg in 2001, plus 2 tac).
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).
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, Arizona State and Notre Dame 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, Arizona State and Notre Dame 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 (17 tac, 1 dfl, 1 FR 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 (16 tac, 3 for loss, 2 sack in 2001), who was USA Today's national Defensive Player of the Year, has started there since the Washington contest (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 has started since 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 (28 tac, team-high 9 for loss, team-best 3 sack, 2 dfl, team-high 4 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. Ford currently is tied for the Pac-10 lead in forced fumbles (4). 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 (21 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2001). Udeze started the San Jose State, Kansas State, Washington, Arizona State and Notre Dame 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.
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 (54 tac, 5 for loss, 5 dfl, 1 FR, 2 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 (33 tac, 5 dfl, 1 int, 1 FR, 2 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 (25 tac, 7 for loss, 1 FR 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 (20 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 and Notre Dame games with a concussion). Also seeing backup duty on the outside is true freshman Bobby Otani (1 tac in 2001).
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 69 tac, 7 for loss, 3 dfl, 1 int which was returned for a TD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 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 tied for the Pac-10 lead in tackles (9.9). Senior Antuan Simmons (20 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), 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 195 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career. Behind Simmons is junior DeShaun Hill (16 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 (37 tac, 3 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 (6 tac in 2001, plus 14 KOR, 19.6 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 (30 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 (18 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 4 dfl, 1 int, 1 FR in 2001, plus 15 PR, 9.7 avg and 3 KOR, 17.7 avg), a 4-game starter last year and the stepson of ex-USC receiver Jeff Simmons.
Senior Mike MacGillivray (39.3 avg in 2001), who owns a 41.3 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 (92) of his career punts have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line (including 18 of his 44 boots in 2001) and 29 have traveled 50-plus yards. He owns the USC career record for punts (263) and, with 10,348 yards, is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's Trojan career mark for 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 (15-of-17 PAT, 8-of-10 FG in 2001), a junior college transfer who had an impressive fall camp. Davis has hit 8 of his last 9 field goals. 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 34 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).
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.
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.
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.
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%.
McKAY MEMORIAL RESCHEDULED
A memorial service for legendary football coach John McKay, which was postponed because of the tragic Sept. 11 events on the East Coast, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 2:30 p.m. at USC's Bovard Auditorium, with a reception immediately following in Heritage Hall. Eulogies will be given by USC athletic director Mike Garrett, USC president Steven Sample, longtime Trojan broadcaster Tom Kelly, former USC assistant football coaches Dave Levy and Marv Goux, and ex-Trojan quarterback Pat Haden. McKay's son, J.K., and wife, Corky, will share remembrances. There will also be a video tribute to McKay. The memorial service, which was originally planned for Sept. 12, is open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis. Campus parking is available through Gates 1 (Exposition and Watt) and 6 (Vermont and 36th). The reception is co-hosted by the Trojan Football Alumni Club. McKay, who won four national championships at USC before becoming the first head coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, died of kidney failure due to complications from diabetes this past June 10 in Tampa, Fla.
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 291 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. Finally, Sunny Byrd's eligibility should be changed to Jr.*/Sr.
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
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.
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.
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.'
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.
After opening the 2001 season with 3 straight wins, first-year Arizona head coach John Mackovic-who returned to the college ranks after 3 years as a TV commentator-has seen his Wildcats drop their past 4 games (all were Pac-10 contests, its worst Pac-10 start ever, in fact, UA has dropped its last 9 league outings), including 31-28 at Washington last Saturday on a TD in the final 13 seconds. Arizona's offensive attack is led by sophomore HB Clarence Farmer (121 tcb, 687 yds, 5.7 avg, 5 TD in 2001), the Pac-10's No. 2 rusher (98.1), junior WR Bobby Wade (30 rec, 13.1 avg, 4 TD in 2001, plus 13 PR, 8.8 avg and 3 KOR, 22.3 avg), who is the school's No. 8 career receiver (105 catches) and was a 2000 All-Pac-10 first team return specialist, senior WR Malosi Leonard (27 rec, 14.3 avg, 1 TD in 2001), and junior QB Jason Johnson (96-of-169, 56.8%, 1,236 yds, 11 TD, 7 int in 2001). When Johnson was knocked out early in the Washington contest with a concussion, redshirt freshman QB John Rattay (15-of-32, 46.9%, 208 yds, 1 TD, 1 int in 2001) replaced him and went 9-of-18 for 115 yards. On defense, look for junior ILB Lance Briggs (69 tac, 10 for losses, 1 FR in 2001), another 2000 All-Pac-10 first teamer who currently is tied for the Pac-10 lead in tackles (9.9), plus soph CB Michael Jolivette (41 tac, 3 int, 9 dfl, 1 FR in 2001) and junior FS Jarvie Worcester (40 tac, 2 int, 1 FR in 2001).
'The Notre Dame game was such a disappointing loss to us. There was so much riding on it and it received so much attention and concern from all of us, so losing it was really frustrating. We played well until halftime, then we battled in the third quarter but weren't able to hold them off in the fourth quarter...Arizona started fast this season, but then they struggled and have lost to the Pac-10 teams. They're a very explosive offensive team with very highly skilled receivers and running backs. They put up a ton of yards and points. They're loaded on offense. Historically, they've been a great defensive team, although they've struggled a little on that side of the ball this season. We think it'll be a very difficult game. We're going to have to play very well to get a win.'
FOX SPORTS NET SYNDICATE
Here is the list of the 18 Western stations that will air the FOX Sports Net Syndicate games: KCAL-TV (Channel 9) in Los Angeles, KICU-TV (Channel 36) in San Francisco, KTWB-TV (Channel 22) in Seattle, KASW-TV (Channel 61) in Phoenix, KWBP-TV (Channel 32) in Portland, KUSI-TV (Channel 51) in San Diego, KVWB-TV (Channel 21) in Las Vegas, KMPH-TV (Channel 26) in Fresno/Visalia, KWHE-TV (Channel 14) in Honolulu, KMSB-TV (Channel 11) in Tucson, KRSM-TV (Channel 2) in Spokane, KKFX-TV (Channel 11) in Santa Barbara, KVAL-TV (Channel 13) in Eugene, KCVU-TV (Channel 21/22) in Chico/Redding, KOBI-TV (Channel 5) in Medford, KPSE-TV (Channel 13) in Palm Springs, KECY-TV (Channel 9) in El Centro and KFTY-TV (Channel 50) in Santa Rosa.
Norm Katnik used to have a weight problem. Or maybe, he had a problem with his weight.
Not so much anymore. The third-year sophomore offensive lineman checks in now at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds. It's big enough to start five times this year on USC's offensive line at both guard and center. It sounds like a lot. It is a lot. But when you look at the remaining linemen on USC's two-deep, all but Lenny Vandermade are at least 15 pounds bigger. Most are at least 300 pounds.
But Katnik is happy with 275. It's 120 pounds better than where he was as a freshman in high school, 50 pounds better than where he was as a prep senior and 30 pounds heavier than when he came to USC.
'I'm not a huge meal eater,' said Katnik. 'It always seemed my metabolism was moving faster than my mouth was and I could never catch up. But I finally have.'
He's come a long way from his days at Foothill High in Santa Ana, Calif. He joined the football team as a 6-foot, 155-pound offensive and defensive lineman. He grew to 6-foot-1, 170 pounds as a sophomore, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds as a junior and 6-foot-3, 225 pounds as a senior.
Generally recruited as an offensive lineman, Katnik's hopes were pinned to playing tackle. Left tackle. Though his dad, Norman, was a starting center at Arizona in 1978 and 1979, Katnik's family was predominantly Trojan. His uncle, John, started at center for USC in 1986 and 1987. USC was a logical and very satisfying destination for Katnik. (And, for the record, Katnik says his dad will be cheering for USC on Saturday, and not for his alma mater).
Shortly into his first fall camp with USC in 1999, then-head coach Paul Hackett switched Katnik to tight end. It was a first for Katnik, who had had experience in high school playing all over the line, but mainly at tackle and never at tight end.
'I was moved to tight end after a week,' Katnik said. 'They liked how I was progressing with the offense and moved me with the hope that I could play. But I had never played there before. It seemed like the plays and the routes were in a foreign language.
'It wasn't like the line, which used more general terms. I need to do something to really learn it. That's what I could do on the line. But by the time I switched to tight end, it was near the end of fall camp and they were in game preparation and I couldn't get many reps in. It was hard to pick up.'
He remained at tight end until mid-season, when he was switched to center. That he had done, but never for a long time and never against this type of competition.
'I didn't like it at first,' Katnik said. 'It had to do with how light I was. I got pushed around by bigger guys. The center is set off from the rest. When the defensive line runs stunts, it's easy to get picked off. Your technique has to be more sound. I hadn't played that much and it was difficult.'
Katnik ultimately redshirted as a freshman in 1999 and remained at center heading into 2000. Now at 255, he also was the back-up long snapper, which is how he got into his first game as a Trojan against San Jose State. He also still dabbled at tight end, which is how he got into his other game last year, serving as a blocking tight end against Arizona.
He still wasn't a huge fan of playing center when the staff changed. When he met Norm Chow, he told him he wanted to play tackle.
'He told me if I got my weight up to at least 270, he'd give me a shot, and that's what happened,' Katnik said. 'They felt I performed well in camp and I won the tackle spot.'
For a while, at least. Injuries on the line forced Katnik to start the first game in 2001 at left guard. He did get to play a little right and left tackle against Kansas State. He made his first career start at center against Oregon and, after starting back at left guard against Stanford, he started again at center against Washington and Arizona State.
He's grown to truly like playing center. He enjoys the challenge. He feels like he's arrived.
'I've always had a lot of faith and was cocky about my ability,' Katnik said. 'I felt I was good, but my weight held me back.'
That's no longer a problem, but that's part of the reason Katnik has become such a stickler with his technique. It's the great equalizer on the line. It's also why he has always looked up to former Trojan All-American Tony Boselli.
'He's such a technician and I see myself like that,' said Katnik. 'Nothing can beat a good technician.
'I've always been the little guy. I've never been the super big guy. People are always taller and heavier. But it all comes down to how well you know the game and how much more you know than the other guy across from you. Someone else may be a little bigger or stronger, but if I've got the edge on technique and understand my role in the play, I've got the advantage.
'That's what got me here and gets me on the field. It's about the right footwork and being in the right places. That usually will prevent defenders from getting to the ball.'
And will keep you in the starting lineup.
By Paul Goldberg
Assistant Sports Information Director
RELATED NEWS & VIDEOS
Thu 1/25 | 6:30pm PTLive