USC Football, Coming Off A Bye, Goes To Colorado In Top-20 Battle
Sept. 8, 2002
USC (1-0 overall) vs. Colorado (1-1), Saturday, Sept. 14, 1:30 p.m. MDT/12:30 p.m. PDT, Folsom Field, Boulder, Colo.
USC, coming off a bye following an important season-opening win over SEC power Auburn, now takes on the Big 12 back-to-back on the road. First up is Colorado in a battle of Top 20 teams. Troy is making its second-ever trip to Boulder (the Trojans then go to Kansas State). In fact, 3 of USC's next 4 games are on the road. USC has never lost in 4 tries to the Buffaloes. With a reception in the Colorado game, WR Kareem Kelly will tie the USC record for consecutive games catching a pass. The game will be televised live regionally on ABC-TV.
USC is ranked 16th by USA Today/ESPN and 17th by AP. Colorado is 18th by AP and 19th by USA Today/ESPN.
USC has won all 4 of its meetings with Colorado and has outscored the Buffaloes, 98-21.The teams most recently met in 2000 (the first meeting in 36 years), a 17-14 win in the Coliseum as PK David Newburywho had missed a pair of field goals earlier in the gamenailed a 24-yarder with 13 seconds to play to give No. 11 USC the win. Newbury's game-winner culminated a 9-play, 72-yard drive that began with 1:14 left on the clock after Buffalo PK Mark Mariscal missed a 40-yard field goal. USC QB Carson Palmer, who was an astonishing 25-of-30 for 275 yards on the day (3 of his passes were dropped), was 6-of-6 for 68 yards on that winning drive. Newbury was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance. USC got on the board first, as Palmer hit WR Matt Nickels with an 8-yard scoring pass late in the second quarter. But CU responded on the ensuing possession, driving 80 yards in 12 plays, capped by an 11-yard TD pass from QB Zac Colvin to WR Javon Green with 4 seconds to go in the half. USC DE Matt Childers stripped Colvin on the opening possession of the second half, S Troy Polamalu recovered on the CU 21-yard line, and 3 plays later TB Sultan McCulloughwho rushed for 91 yards on 28 carries in the gameran 5 yards up the middle for a touchdown. But the Buffaloes struck back late in the third quarter on a 36-yard TD pass from QB Bobby Pesavento to TE Daniel Graham to tie the score. USC blew scoring chances on its first 2 possessions of the game after WR Kareem Kellywho caught a career-high 10 passes for 145 yards overallcouldn't hold onto a 17-yard TD pass and Colorado FS Robbie Robinson intercepted the ball in the end zone and then Newbury missed a 30-yard field goal. Defensively, LB Markus Steele and S Ifeanyi Ohalete had a game-best 9 tackles each (Steele had 2 sacks), LB Zeke Moreno added 7 stops, DT Ennis Davis had 5 tackles (with 2 sacks) and DT Bernard Riley blocked a first quarter field goal attempt. USC had 6 sacks overall. For Colorado, true freshman TB Marcus Houston had a game-high 150 yards on 25 carries (becoming the first Buffalo to open a season with back-to-back 100-yard games), Green caught 6 passes for 64 yards, Colvin was 13-of-21 for 150 yards and Pesavento was 3-of-5 for 54 yards. The Trojans averaged 6.3 yards per play and outgained the Buffaloes, 433 to 368.The teams first met in 1927 in the Coliseum, with USC posting a 46-7 victory. In 1963, the top-ranked Trojans began defense of their 1962 national championship by shutting out CU in the rain in Boulder, 14-0, as current USC athletic director Mike Garrett made his collegiate debut for Troy by rushing for 58 yards on 11 carries and QB Pete Beathard scored on a pair of 5-yard runs. The Buffs lost 6 fumbles in the wet conditions that day. The following season, 1964, Garrett ran for all 3 of Troy's TDs (1, 26 and 2 yards) in the first half in USC's 21-0 season-opening win in the Coliseum. On the day, Garrett had 127 yards on 24 rushes. Incidentally, CU's quarterback that day was future pro golf star Hale Irwin.
VERSUS BIG 12
USC is 25-6-2 against Big 12 opponents and has won 6 of the last 7 meetings against foes from that conference (most recently beating Colorado in 2000, 17-14). On the other hand, Colorado is 35-30-1 versus the Pac-10, but has lost its last 4 to Pac-10 opponents.
USC is 76-41-4 (.645) in all regular season games it has played following byes. Since 1955, the Trojans are 37-12-1 following byes (6 of those losses and the tie were to UCLA).
USC is 70-27-8 (.705) in road openers.
No USC players hail from Colorado, but there are 20 Buffaloes from California...USC running backs/special teams coach Kennedy Pola handled the running backs at Colorado in 1997 and 1998...USC offensive tackles/tight ends coach Keith Uperesa was an offensive lineman with the Denver Broncos briefly in 1978...USC DE Van Brown is the brother of former Colorado LB Chad Brown (1989-92), now an NFL All-Pro...USC OT Winston Justice and LB Frostee Rucker will celebrate birthdays on Saturday (Sept. 14), Justice's 18th and Rucker's 19th...USC LB Frostee Rucker redshirted as a first-year freshman at Colorado State in 2001...Colorado head coach Gary Barnett is 0-2 against USC, as his No. 3 Northwestern squad lost to the Trojans in the 1996 Rose Bowl, 41-32, and his 2000 Buffalo squad fell in Los Angeles, 17-14...CU Chancellor Richard Byyny owns a pair of USC degrees (1960 bachelor's, 1964 doctorate) and participated on the Trojan men's swimming and water polo teams...USC assistant sports information director Vicky (Fernandez) Hammond was a cheerleader at Colorado in the mid-1990s.
NEW USC JERSEYS
In its first major uniform change in 30 years, USC will wear jerseys in 2002 with a style that harkens back to the heyday era of the 1960s. The new jerseys are similar to those worn by Trojan teams from 1958 to 1969 (when Troy won 2 national titles and played in 5 Rose Bowls under coach John McKay). The jerseys feature a single crescent stripe on each shoulder pad and numbers on the sleeve (all stripes and numbers are sewn in). There also is an interlocking 'SC' logo on the bottom of the neckline. Per tradition, there will be no names on the back of the jersey. The last time USC underwent a uniform change of this magnitude was in 1972, when the jerseys worn up until last season (3 stripes on each sleeve) were first introduced. (In 1970 and 1971, USC's jerseys had no markings except for the front and back numeral.)
S Troy Polamalu (for the second consecutive year) and QB Carson Palmer have been selected by their teammates as season captains. Each game, they will join captains representing the special teams and the service (scout) team.
USC, as usual, is playing one of the nation's most difficult 12-game schedules. Sports Illustrated lists Troy's slate as the nation's toughest. Seven opponents played in bowls last season and 5 were ranked in the final AP Top 20 (3 were in the Top 10). The Trojans opened up 2002 on Labor Day evening against Auburn; the other non-conference games include early road contests at 2001 No. 9 Colorado and Kansas State and the regular season finale at home with Notre Dame. In Pac-10 games, USC hosts No. 19 Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State and California, and goes to No. 2 Oregon, No. 10 Washington State, No. 16 Stanford and UCLA.
QB Carson Palmer's 1-yard sneak with 1:26 to play gave No. 18 USC a 24-17 win over SEC power Auburn on Labor Day night before 63,269 fans in a hot (87 degrees) Coliseum and a national ABC-TV audience in the season-opener for both teams. It was only the second meeting ever between the teams and it was Auburn's first visit to California since 1936. It also was USC's first win over an SEC foe since 1981. USC shut down the Tigers in the second half. After allowing 246 total yards, including 142 on the ground, and 14 first downs in the first half, the Trojan defense held Auburn to just 35 total yardsincluding minus 2 yards rushingand 5 first downs in the second half. The Tigers held the ball just 8:25 after halftime and scored only 3 points. Palmer, who was 23-of-32 (71.9%) for 302 yards overall (he had 3 drops), was 11-of-13 in the second half. He completed passes to 8 different receivers in the game. Palmer was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. TB Malaefou MacKenzie, playing in his first game since the 2000 season, had 6 catches for 117 yards (the first 100-yard receiving game by a Trojan running back since Mike Garrett had 122 yards against California in 1964) and added 33 yards on 10 carries. WR Kareem Kelly also had 6 grabs (for 66 yards), while WR Mike Williams made his Trojan debut with 4 catches for 56 yards. USC had 386 total yards to Auburn's 281 and held the ball 34:28 overall. The teams traded scores throughout the game. USC scored on its first possession following a fumble recovery by LB Mike Pollard as Palmer hit Kelly for a 14-yard TD. The Tigers responded when TB Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams, who rushed for 94 yards on 21 tries overall, ran 23 yards for a score just one play after an interception. In the second quarter, DE Omar Nazel picked off a pass, which led to a 3-yard TD run by TB Sultan McCullough. But Auburn came back near the end of the half; after intercepting another Palmer pass, TB Ronnie Brown recovered a fumble by QB Daniel Cobb in the end zone. Troy opened the second half with a 37-yard field goal by PK David Davis, but Auburn PK Damon Duval matched that with a 39-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Cobb was 11-of-22 for 141 yards. DT Mike Patterson, in his first career start, had a team-best 8 tackles (1.5 for losses), while S Troy Polamalu added 7 stops and Nazel had 6. Auburn LB Dontarrious Thomas had 13 tackles (2 for losses), including 10 solo stops. USC unveiled its new jerseys, similar to those worn by Trojan teams from 1958 to 1969, featuring a single crescent stripe on each shoulder pad and numbers on the sleeve.
The following Trojans are on the official 'Watch Lists' for national 2002 post-season awards:
S Troy Polamalu -- Walter Camp Award (top player)
S Troy Polamalu -- Thorpe Award (top defensive back)
S Troy Polamalu -- Nagurski Award (top defensive player)
QB Carson Palmer -- O'Brien Award (top quarterback)
QB Carson Palmer -- Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback)
WR Kareem Kelly -- Biletnikoff Award (top receiver)
DT-DE Shaun Cody -- Lombardi Award (top lineman)
DE Kenechi Udeze -- Lombardi Award (top lineman)
PK David Davis -- Groza Award (top placekicker)
USC will serve as the opening act for UCLA 3 times in 2002, as the Trojans host Colorado, Oregon State and California the week before the Bruins play those teams.
Pete Carroll brought big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program when he was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). After Troy started off his opening 2001 season slowly at 1-4, Carroll stayed the course and got his troops to rally by winning 5 of their last 7 games (including the final 4 regular season contests) to finish at 6-6 overall. USC, which won its last 5 Pac-10 games after beginning league play at 0-3, placed fifth in the conference at 5-3 and earned a berth into the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl. Putting an exclamation point on the regular season was a 27-0 blanking of No. 20 UCLA, USC's first shutout in the crosstown rivalry since 1947 and the series' biggest margin of victory since 1979. The 50-year-old Carroll has 27 years of NFL and college experience, including 11 on the college level. He is 7-6 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, who played tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware) and is now an assistant at USC, and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a junior at USC who played on the Women of Troy'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.
Senior Troy Polamalu (7 tac, 1 for loss in 2002), a 2-year starting strong safety, is a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award in 2002 after last fall becoming USC's first All-American first team safety since Thorpe recipient Mark Carrier in 1989. A 2002 pre-season All-American, he is on the 'Watch List' for the 2002 Walter Camp Award, Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Award. Sports Illustrated named him as 1 of 5 'Terminators' in college football in 2002, a player 'boasting an otherworldly combination of speed, strength and athleticism...who can single-handedly kill off drives and wreak havoc on game plans.' His jersey currently is on display at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., in the 'Race for the Pantheon' exhibit that highlights the nation's 10 leading candidates for post-season individual honors. He will play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game. Polamalu, who twice won Pac-10 Player of the Week honors in 2001, made big plays in seemingly every game last season. Last year, he had 118 tackles (13 for losses, with a sack), 6 deflections, 3 interceptions (2 for TDs), 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 3 blocked punts. His 118 tackles topped USC and were tied for second in the Pac-10. His tackle totals were game highs 7 times, including a Las Vegas Bowl record 20 against Utah. In his career, he has run back 3 of his 5 picks for scores and blocked 4 punts.
--He had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) against Auburn.
'Troy Polamalu is one of the best players I've ever coached,' said USC head coach Pete Carroll, who has tutored such star defensive backs as Ronnie Lott, Tim McDonald, Aaron Glenn, Merton Hanks, Eric Davis and Lawyer Milloy. 'He is a tremendous football player and it shows in every phase of the game: pass defense, run defense, blitzing and special teams. Pound for pound, he is our strongest player (600 pounds in the squat and 353 pounds in the power clean) and he has been a star in our off-season conditioning program. He is a team player, as shown by his desire and performance on special teams. He is also a humble, dedicated team leader who is respected greatly by his teammates, as evidenced by the rare feat of being voted a team captain as just a junior last year. I can't imagine a better safety in college football in 2002.'
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT TROY POLAMALU
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville: 'He plays everywhere. You can tell he loves contact. He's all over the field. He reminds me of Benny Blades when I coached at Miami. He's a tremendous athlete and he can probably play several other positions on the football team either on offense or defense.'
Former Utah offensive guard Ed Ta'amu: 'When we watched film, everywhere we looked he was in the picture.'
UCLA head coach Bob Toledo: 'He's a great football player. He's all over the field. He makes plays. You'd better account for him because he's going to be around the football all the time.'
Ken Peters, Associated Press: 'Sometimes it seems there's a whole group of Trojans wearing No. 43, blocking punts, returning interceptions for touchdowns, forcing fumbles, smacking punt returners to the ground. Actually, there's only oneTroy Polamalu, playing 'Fa'a Samoan' style. That roughly translates, he says, to being a gentleman everywhere but on the football field.'
Senior quarterback Carson Palmer (23-of-33, 71.9%, 302 yds, 1 TD, 2 int in 2002, plus 3 tcb, -4 yds, -1.3 avg, 1 TD) is one of the nation's marquee signalcallers. He is on the 2002 Davey O'Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award 'Watch Lists.' He currently is 12th nationally in total offense (298.0, fourth in Pac-10) and 21st in passing efficiency (149.0, fourth in Pac-10). A 3-year starter, he is second on USC's career passing (641 completions) and total offense (8,099 yards; he is 12th on the Pac-10 chart) lists. By midseason, he should move up to No. 1 in both USC categories (he needs 36 completions to break Rob Johnson's mark and 542 yards of total offense to eclipse Rodney Peete's standard) and he is on pace to also break Johnson's school career mark for passing yards (he has 8,178 and needs 295; he is 11th on the Pac-10 chart). He owns the USC career record for pass attempts (1,112). His 40 career TD tosses are tied for third most at USC (tied for 32nd in the Pac-10). He also has the second most career rushing/passing plays at USC (1,320), within 52 of breaking Peete's mark. With 33 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 16 times (including 7 contests at 70.0%-plus) and had thrown for 300-plus yards in 5 games. Last fall, he was 221-of-377 (58.6%) for 2,717 yards with 13 TDs and 12 interceptions. His 58.6% completion rate in 2001 topped the Pac-10 and his 419 yards of total offense at Oregon was a USC record (his 411 passing yards in that game were 4 shy of tying another school mark). He will play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game.
--He completed 23-of-32 passes (71.9%) for 302 yards with 1 TD and 2 interceptions against Auburn (he had 3 drops) and also scored the game-winning TD on a 1-yard sneak with 1:26 to play to earn Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors. He was 11-of-13 in the second half and completed passes to 8 different receivers in the game.
Three relatively untested youngsters are behind Carson Palmer at quarterback: sophomore Matt Cassel (1-of-2, 50.0%, 5 yards in 2001), who also played some as a tight end-in-motion (1 catch, 12.0 average in 2001) and on special teams (1 tackle in 2001) last season, and redshirt freshmen Matt Leinart and Billy Hart, who is also a reserve infielder for the Trojan baseball team. Cassel and Leinart are battling for the No. 2 job, although Cassel was slowed in fall camp after suffering a bone chip in his knee. Junior Brandon Hance, who started Purdue's first 9 games of 2001 and completed 136-of-258 passes (52.7%) for 1,529 yards with 8 TDs (he also ran for 242 yards and 4 scores), enrolled this fall, but he must sit out the 2002 season per the NCAA transfer rule.
Last year demonstrated why it is critical to have depth in the tailback corps. Injuries decimated USC's runners in 2001 and by midseason a fullback was starting at tailback. It's no wonder the Trojans averaged just 87.7 rushing yards a game last fall. USC is 5-deep at tailback in 2002, including 3 experienced seniors. Senior Justin Fargas, who was impressive while serving as USC's scout team tailback in 2001 and had an eye-opening performance in 2002 spring drills (139 and 111 rushing yards in 2 intrasquad scrimmages), will look to make a sudden impact this season. He sat out the 2001 campaign after transferring from Michigan, where he had 362 rushing yards in an injury-plagued career. Speedy senior Sultan McCullough (20 tcb, 58 yds, 2.9 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 1 rec, 10.0 avg and 1 KOR, 20.0 avg) returns after starting Troy's first 6 games of 2001. But he was sidelined the rest of that year with a strained abdominal muscle that required surgery and finished with 410 yards on 115 carries (3.6 avg) with 5 TDs. He ran for 1,163 yards in 2000 and is 12th on USC's prestigious career rushing ladder (2,044 yards). He has rushed for 100 yards 9 times in his career. The 1999 Pac-10 100-meter champion, he is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17). Senior Malaefou MacKenzie (10 tcb, 33 yds, 3.3 avg in 2002, plus 6 rec, 19.5 avg), who has 798 rushing yards and 43 receptions in his Trojan career (he has started 5 times), gained a sixth year of eligibility in 2002 from the NCAA. He was expected to team with McCullough to give Troy a 1-2 punch at the tailback position in 2001. But he left school at midseason last fall without seeing any action and returned home to Western Samoa (he missed 4 early games with a knee sprain and a fifth to attend his father's funeral). He currently is tied for 13th nationally in receiving yardage (117.0, tied for second in Pac-10). Sophomore Darryl Poston (1 tcb, -2 yds, -2.0 avg in 2002) showed brief flashes last fall, but was bothered by a mid-year knee sprain. He, too, looked good in 2002 spring practice. Prep All-American Hershel Dennis joined the tailback fray this fall as a freshman.
--MacKenzie, in his first game since 2000, started against Auburn and had a game-best 6 catches for 117 yards (the first 100-yard receiving game by a USC running back since Mike Garrett had 122 yards against California in 1964) as well as running for 33 yards on 10 tries, while McCullough led USC with 58 rushing yards on 20 carries (he also caught a 10-yard pass and returned a kickoff 20 yards) and Poston had 1 carry for 2 yards (Fargas was sidelined with a hamstring strain and Dennis was used on kickoff returns, but did not touch the ball).
SENIOR TAILBACK TRIO
Few teams in the country can boast of having a trio of senior tailbacks of USC's quality. The combined career stats of Sultan McCullough, Malaefou MacKenzie and Justin Fargas: 726 carries, 3,204 yards, 4.4 average per carry, 21 TDs, 22 starts, 11 100-yard games...oh, and seven surgeries!
Senior Sunny Byrd (2 rec, 7.5 avg in 2002) enjoyed folk hero status in 2001 when he took over for Sultan McCullough at tailback and provided some hard-nosed running. He had never touched the ball at USC before then, but he started USC's last 6 contests and led the Trojans in rushing 5 times (he had at least 20 carries in 6 outings). Overall last fall, he ran for 336 yards on 123 carries (2.7 avg) with 4 TDs, plus had 11 catches (7.4 avg) and made 5 tackles. He is back at fullback in 2002 and is competing with another senior, Chad Pierson, for the starting job. Pierson, who started once in 2000 and proved to be just as effective a runner and receiver as a blocker, missed the first half of 2001 with a back injury (he ran for just 11 yards, but did catch a TD). Also in the mix at fullback to replace Charlie Landrigan, a 3-year starter known for his leadership, rugged blocking and good hands (49 career receptions), are freshman Brandon Hancock (1 tcb, 1 yd, 1.0 avg in 2002, plus 1 rec, 3.0 avg and 1 tac), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors, and redshirt freshman David Kirtman.
--Byrd started against Auburn and caught 2 passes for 15 yards, while Hancock had a 1-yard run, a 3-yard catch and a tackle (Pierson was sidelined by a hamstring strain).
Swift senior Kareem Kelly (6 rec, 11.0 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 2 PR, 0.0 avg), a 4-year starter, is third on Troy's career pass catching list (164 receptions; he is tied for 13th on the Pac-10 chart). He is within range of Johnnie Morton's school records for receptions (201) and receiving yards (3,201; he has 2,565, which is 12th on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 36 games he has played as a Trojan, 1 short of tying John Jackson's USC mark (the Pac-10 record is 42). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2002 Biletnikoff Award. He has had 100-yard receiving games 9 times in his career. In 2001, he had 49 catches (16.3 avg) with 3 TDs, plus ran 6 reverses for a 6.3 average. He also sprints and runs relays for the USC track team.
--He caught a game-best 6 passes for 66 yards with a TD against Auburn and also returned 2 punts for 0 yards.
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
Like last year, USC's wide receivers are a deep and talented group with starters returning at both spots. Besides Kareem Kelly, junior Keary Colbert (2 rec, 11.5 avg in 2002) returns at the other wideout spot. The consistent 2-year starter has 67 career grabs, including 34 (13.0 avg) in 2001 with 2 TDs. Two other Trojans started a game in 2001: senior Grant Mattos (1 rec. 12.0 avg in 2002), who missed part of last season with a knee sprain but had 10 catches for a 10.4 average, and junior D. Hale, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship this past spring after getting 7 catches (15.1 avg) in 2001. Also looking to break into the rotation are junior Jason Mitchell, a 2001 junior college All-American who enrolled at USC this past spring, and 2 freshmen who came aboard this fall: prep All-Americans Mike Williams (4 rec, 14.0 avg in 2002) and Chris McFoy.
--Against Auburn, Williams made his Trojan debut by catching 4 passes for 56 yards off the bench, Colbert started and had 2 grabs for 23 yards and Mattos had a 12-yard reception.
For the second consecutive year, USC is starting a new tight end, this time in place of Kori Dickerson, the one-time linebacker who had 25 catches and 2 scores last fall. Junior Alex Holmes is the most experienced tight end on the roster, as he has seen significant action the past 2 seasons as the backup. He has 29 career catches with 2 touchdowns, including 22 grabs (7.5 avg) with 2 TDs in 2001. Also available are sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr., who at 6-8 also was a reserve center on the 2002 Trojan men's basketball team that advanced to the NCAA tourney, and senior Scott Huber, who played some at fullback in 2001, but their combined career action is minimal. Dominique Byrd, a prep All-American who also has worked at defensive end, enrolled in the fall as a freshman.
--No tight end caught a pass against Auburn.
USC's offensive line from a year agosave for 2-year starting guard-tackle Faaesea Mailocomes back. But this group needs to improve its performance if the Trojan offense is to click. Senior guard Zach Wilson has started the past 3 years on the right side and has been solid. Starting junior tackles Jacob Rogers (left side) and Eric Torres (right side) started for the first time in 2001 and did commendable jobs. Steady junior Lenny Vandermade started at center the past 2 years, but was moved to left guard in 2002 spring practice and starts there in 2002 (he started 5 times there in 2000). And junior Norm Katnik, the line's utility man after having started at all 3 positions in 2001 (5 times at guard, 4 at center and once at tackle), handles the starting center job in 2002. Veterans angling for backup duty are senior Phillip Eaves at tackle, sophomore Travis Watkins at guard and senior Derek Graf at center. None of these players has seen appreciable action yet. Freshmen help arrived this fall with a quartet of prep All-Americans--tackles Winston Justice and Kyle Williams, guard Fred Matua, and center-guard Chris Doyleplus guard Kurt Katnik, Norm's younger brother.
--In the Auburn opener, Rogers and Torres started at the tackle spots, Vandermade was at left guard, Norm Katnik was at center and Graf saw his first appreciable career action when he started for Wilson (ankle sprain) at right guard (Matua also saw time there).
Although half of last year's 4-man defensive front2-year starting end Lonnie Ford (81 tackles, 30 for a loss, 16 sacks in his career) and 3-year starting tackle Ryan Nielsen (107 career tackles)is gone, USC is still in good shape here in 2002. Two of the nation's top young defensive linemen return as sophomore starters: tackle-end Shaun Cody (2 tac in 2002), who was a Freshman All-American first team pick last season, and end Kenechi Udeze (5 tac, 3 for loss, 0.5 sack in 2002), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year. Both are destined for big things at USC; in fact, both are on the 2002 Lombardi Award 'Watch List.' Cody had 39 tackles (7 for losses, with 5 sacks) and a fumble recovery in 2001, while Udeze added 35 stops (9 for losses, with 4 sacks, plus a fumble recovery, 3 forced fumbles and a deflection). Senior tackle Bernard Riley, who started Troy's first 5 games of 2001 before injuring his knee (he also started in 2000), also is back. He had 26 tackles (5 for losses, with a sack, plus a fumble recovery and interception last year. Senior Anthony Daye (1 tac in 2002), who can also play end, junior Nate Steinbacher, a converted offensive tackle, and sophomore Mike Patterson (8 tac, 1.5 for loss, 0.5 sack in 2002) also are available at tackle. The other end spot is being manned by junior Omar Nazel (6 tac, 1 int in 2002), backed up by junior Chris Prosser, who has 5 career starts (including 3 last year, when he made 20 tackles) at strongside linebacker, and senior Doyal Butler, a converted tight end...or by a newcomer. Joining USC this fall were a pair of junior college All-Americansends Daniel Urquhart, who is a junior, and sophomore Van Brownplus freshmen ends LaJuan Ramsey and Travis Tofi.
--Patterson, in his first career start, had a team-high 8 tackles (1.5 for loss) versus Auburn, while Nazelalso making his first starthad 6 stops and intercepted a pass (to set up a USC touchdown), 3 of Udeze 5 tackles were for losses, and Cody had 2 stops and Daye added 1 tackle.
The linebacking corps, an area of concern last year because of 3 new starters, has become a position of strength for USC in 2002. Two starters return from 2001: reliable senior Mike Pollard (3 tac, 1 FF, 1 FC in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (3 tac in 2002) on the strong side. Pollard was second on the Trojans in tackles (81, including 8 for losses) and first in deflections (7) last fall, and added a fumble recovery and 2 forced fumbles. Grootegoed broke his leg near the end of last season, but posted 32 tackles (8 for losses, with a sack), plus a fumble recovery and 2 deflections. Junior Melvin Simmons (5 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack in 2002) sat out last season after transferring from Washington State, where he was a starter in 2000, but he has emerged as the weakside replacement for Frank Strong, who had 82 tackles and 2 interceptions in his career (he also was a safety, tailback and returner at USC). There is plenty of quality depth behind these linebackers. Senior Aaron Graham has started 5 times in the middle in his career (he had 11 tackles in 2001), but will work as a backup on the weak side in 2002. Sophomores Lee Webb in the middle and Bobby Otani on the weak side saw measurable action last fall, although Otani suffered a midseason knee injury. Two prep All-AmericansOscar Lua (1 tac in 2002) and Dallas Sartzjoined this group this fall as freshmen. Sophomore Lofa Tatupu (from Maine) and redshirt freshman Frostee Rucker (Colorado State) both must sit out the 2002 season after transferring in this fall.
--Simmons had 5 stops (1.5 for loss, with a sack) against Auburn in his Trojan debut, while Pollard and Grootegoed each added 3 tackles (Pollard also forced a fumble, which he recovered to set up a USC TD) and Lua had 1 stop.
At first glance, the secondary appeared to be an area of worry for USC in 2002, considering that 3 top-quality starters departed. Gone are 4-year starting safety-cornerback Antuan Simmons (208 tackles, 9 interceptions, 6 blocked kicks in his career), who beat a life-threatening illness in 2000 and had an impressive 2001 season (he'll long be remembered for his amazing between-the-legs interception for a TD versus UCLA), and cornerbacks Kris Richard (125 tackles, 8 picks as a 3-year starter) and Chris Cash (86 tackles, 4 interceptions as a 2-year starter), both who were NFL draft picks. But things are not as dire as they appear, especially not when the Trojans return perhaps the nation's best safety in previously-mentioned senior All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu. Add a collection of experienced players alongside Polamalu and, if the cornerback positions are solidified, USC's secondary could be as effective as it was last season (defensive backs accounted for 15 of the Trojans' 20 interceptions and 6 of the defense's 8 touchdowns; USC was 16th nationally in pass defense). The cornerback spot did take a huge hit when senior Kevin Arbet (25 tackles, 3 for losses, 2 sacks, 6 deflections, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery in 2001), a 4-time career starter who won All-Pac-10 first team laurels last year as a special teams player and who returned 1 of his 3 picks for a TD, was lost for the 2002 season after breaking a bone in his foot during fall camp. So, the new cornerbacks will be chosen from senior Darrell Rideaux (5 tac in 2002), who has 6 career starts, junior Marcell Allmond, a converted wide receiver who redshirted last fall while suspended from USC for a student conduct violation (he has 30 career catches while starting 6 times on offense, but he last played defense as a 1998 high school senior), redshirt freshman William Buchanon, another converted wide receiver, or a newcomer: junior college All-American Ronald Nunn (1 tac in 2002), who is a junior, or prep All-American Justin Wyatt (1 tac in 2002), who is a freshman. Rideaux (sprints, relays) and Allmond (hurdles) also compete for the USC track team. Senior DeShaun Hill (4 tac, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2002) won the starting free safety job, as he started 8 games earlier in his career (he had 42 tackles, 2 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble in 2001). Other safeties include junior Sandy Fletcher, a converted wide receiver, sophomore Jason Leach (4 tac in 2002), redshirt freshman John Walker (he also might play cornerback), and first-year freshman Mike Ross.
--Against Auburn, Rideaux had 5 tackles as a starter, Leach and Hill had 4 each (Hill also forced a fumble and deflected a pass), and Wyatt and Nunn (making his first start at Troy) both had 1.
Senior David Davis (1-of-1 field goals, 3-of-3 PATs in 2002), 16-of-19 on field goals and 34-of-37 on PATs in his USC career, had an impressive showing in 2001 after transferring from a junior college. The lefty was the Pac-10's most accurate field goal kicker last fall (83.3%) and was tied for 18th nationally in field goals (1.3). He hit 12 field goals in a row at one point. Overall in 2001, he nailed 15-of-18 field goals and 31-of-34 PATs. He even ran for a short TD on a fake field goal. He is on the 2002 Lou Groza Award 'Watch List.' However, there's a new kickoff man to replace David Newbury, who compensated for a lack of leg strength by pooching his kickoffs (which resulted in 14 fair catches). Those short kickoffs accounted for USC's creditable kickoff coverage average of 20.2 yards in 2001 (second best in the Pac-10), although only 1 of Newbury's 62 kickoffs was a touchback and just 7 pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line. Sophomore Ryan Killeen, a junior college fall transfer, has won the job. USC's punter the past 4 seasonsMike MacGillivray, who set school career records for punts (298) and punt yardage (11,700) while owning a 39.3-yard averagehas graduated. The Trojans are hoping his replacement will be more consistent: freshman Tom Malone (42.0 avg in 2002), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors. He showed a strong leg in 2002 spring practice. Both of USC's snappersjunior center Joe Boskovich, who hikes on placekicks, and junior linebacker Matt Hayward, who snaps on puntsare back after doing flawless work last fall. There's a new holderMalonenow that MacGillivray, who handled the job last year, is gone. USC's top punt returnersenior cornerback Kevin Arbet (25 punt returns, 9.0 average in 2001, plus 3 kickoff returns, 17.7 average)is sidelined in 2002 with a foot injury, but last year's top kickoff returnersenior cornerback Darrell Rideaux (19 kickoff returns, 19.1 average in 2001)is back. However, it appears punts will be handled by senior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (2 PR, 0.0 avg in 2002), while the kickoff return duties are manned by senior tailback Sultan McCullough (1 KOR, 20.0 avg in 2002), a senior, and freshman Hershel Dennis.
--Against Auburn, Davis hit his only field goal try (a 37-yarder) and all 3 PATs, Malone averaged 42.0 yards on 3 punts in his Trojan debut (including a 50-yarder) and Killeen had 2 of his 5 kickoffs pin the Tigers within the 20-yard line.
NEWCOMERS SEE ACTION
Fourteen new Trojans saw action in the Auburn opener: 11 first-year freshmen (WR Mike Williams, P Tom Malone, PK Ryan Killeen, CB Justin Wyatt, TB Hershel Dennis, FB Brandon Hancock, S Mike Ross, LB Dallas Sartz, LB Oscar Lua, OG Fred Matua and TE Dominique Byrd), 2 junior college transfers (WR Jason Mitchell and CB Ronald Nunn) and a college transfer (LB Melvin Simmons). Also, 3 walk-ons played: WR Greig Carlson, DE Jay Bottom and SNP Joe Boskovich.
NEW ASSISTANT COACHES
There are two new full-time assistant coaches in 2002: Greg Burns, who handles the secondary, and Tim Davis, who is in charge of the offensive line (guards and centers). Burns, a one-time Washington State defensive back spent the past 4 years at Louisville after a year at Idaho. Davis was at Wisconsin the last 5 years after a 7-year stint at Utah. Also, Brennan Carroll (head coach Pete Carroll's son who was a tight end at Pittsburgh the last 3 years), joined the staff as a graduate assistant working with the offense and special teams. Several returning assistant coaches have different responsibilities in 2002. Steve Sarkisian, who was the offensive graduate assistant in 2001, now works fulltime as the quarterbacks coach. Kennedy Pola, last year's special teams coordinator, added the duty of running backs coach. Lane Kiffin switched from tight ends to wide receivers coach. Keith Uperesa, last year's offensive line coach, now is in charge of offensive tackles and tight ends. And offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who also was USC's quarterbacks coach in 2001, just handles the coordinator duties in 2002.
IN THE NFL
USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 39 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 26 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OL Tony Boselli, DL Willie McGinest, WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Johnnie Morton and Curtis Conway, QB Rob Johnson and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight, Rashard Cook and Daylon McCutcheon. Five 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 and Miami's Dave Wannstedt. Ten current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: DE Van Brown (brother, Chad Brown), CB-WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), OG-DT Fred Matua (cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), TB Sultan McCullough (brother, Saladin McCullough), S Troy Polamalu (cousin, Nicky Sualua), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi Tatupu), OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins) and OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistant Lane Kiffin was an NFL assistant. Four assistant coaches played professionally: Keith Uperesa in the NFL, Norm Chow, Steve Sarkisian and Tim Davis in the CFL (Davis 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 295 times, including 162 of the past 164 games. In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997 (snapped against Oregon State) and another streak of 48 in a row from 1997 to 2001 (broken against California).
PAC-10 25TH ANNIVERSARY
The 2002 season marks the 25th year of the Pacific-10 Conference as Arizona and Arizona State joined the league prior to the 1978 football season. USC became a member in 1922 when the league was called the Pacific Coast Conference (it later was called the Athletic Association of Western Universities, the Pacific-8 Conference and now the Pac-10).
There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2002 USC football media guide:
Defending Big 12 champion Colorado, which went 10-3 in 2001 (7-1 in the Big 12) but lost to Oregon in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl, has split is first 2 games this season: losing to Colorado State, 19-14, then beating San Diego State at home last Saturday, 34-14. Fifteen starters (including 8 on defense) return for fourth-year head coach Gary Barnett. TB Chris Brown (50 tcb, 279 yds, 5.6 avg, 3 TD in 2002) powers the offense, backed by TB Bobby Purify (21 tcb, 105 yds, 5.0 avg in 2002, plus 3 rec, 6.7 avg). QB Craig Ochs (21-of-42, 50.0%, 327 yds, 2 TD, 2 int in 2002) had been the starting signalcaller, but he suffered a concussion against San Diego State, so QB Robert Hodge (2-of-7, 28.6%, 8 yds in 2002) stepped in. They've thrown aerials to the likes of WRs Derek McCoy (6 rec, 26.0 avg, 1 TD in 2002), John Donahoe (4 rec, 21.5 avg in 2002) and Ron Monteilh (3 rec, 6.0 avg in 2002) and TD Beau Williams (3 rec, 11.0 avg, 1 TD in 2002). Top defenders include FS Medford Moorer, ILB Drew Wahlroos, SS Kory Mossoni and ILB Sean Tufts.
6-0, 285, Sophomore
Los Alamitos, Calif.
USC sophomore defensive tackle Mike Patterson is used to being overlooked.
Back when he was a sophomore at Los Alamitos (Calif.) high, he toiled in obscurity alongside one of the most highly-touted players in the country in current USC senior defensive tackle Bernard Riley.
By the time he was a prep senior, Patterson was getting some accolades, but not enough to warrant much attention from schools like USC or UCLA. Despite posting 94 tackles, including 18 for losses and seven sacks in 2000, only Oregon and Colorado State were high on him.
Part of the problem was his size. If you took a tape measure to him, he would probably come in at just a shade under six feet. That's hardly the ideal height for a defensive tackle.
But if you tried to measure his heart, you wouldn't have enough tape to finish the job. And in football, a lot of heart goes a long way.
Eventually, Trojan defensive line coach Ed Oregeron recognized that. Lucky for USC, his epiphany came just in time to reel Patterson in.
'USC came on at the end of the recruiting process,' said Patterson. 'I really didn't want to go out of state and USC was the school I always wanted to go to. But the deadline to sign was approaching and I was about to commit to Oregon. Then coach Orgeron called. As soon as I heard his voice, I just was like, 'Yes!''
There was definitely something about the gravelly-voiced Orgeron that made Patterson feel at home. He also had a chance to become teammates again with Riley.
'The way coach Orgeron recruited me was different than the way the others recruited me,' said Patterson. 'It felt like he really wanted me to play for him. When Coach Hackett was at USC, he had some concerns about my size for the defensive line. But coach Orgeron would always call me and tell me to hang in there. He would always say 'I'm going to get you.'
'And it was really cool to follow Bernard. He really helped me out a lot when I got here. So I felt really comfortable when I got to USC.'
Patterson has repaid Orgeron's loyalty with some eye-opening play so far. Against Auburn, he not only led the Trojans in tackles with eight (including one-and-a-half for losses and a half sack), but he also helped Troy's defensive front four hold the Tigers to negative two yards rushing in the second half.
'I felt like I was in a zone that game,' said Patterson. 'It felt good because of all the work I had put in. All the changes I had gone through really paid off in that game.'
All the changes. That's a reference to the transformation that his body has undergone in the past few years.
'I was a small guy in high school,' said Patterson. 'I was maybe 5-10 and 250 pounds. I didn't really start to get bigger until the end of my junior year. And then, in my senior year, I really worked hard at it after the coaches told me I needed to gain some more weight. I drank a lot of shakes and spent a lot of time in the weight room. So that's how I got big.'
He got so big that by the time he checked in at USC, he was all of 306 pounds and had an uncanny resemblance to the Pillsbury Dough Boy. The Trojan coaches felt that he would be much more effective at a lighter weight, so they asked him to start shedding some extra pounds.
'After all that work I had done to get big, now I had to lose weight again,' exclaimed Patterson. 'They told me it would be good, though, so I worked hard at it. So far, I've done well. I'm down to 276 pounds right now. I think I'm at a good weight, but I feel I need to get up to about 285 pounds eventually so I can handle the big, physical teams.'
Patterson now looks like a bowling ball with arms and legs, and his explosive style of play and body shape caused Orgeron to dub him 'Baby Sapp' after All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp. If anyone has the right to coin that nickname, it is Orgeron. After all, he coached Sapp at Miami back in the early 1990s. Fittingly, Sapp is also Patterson's idol.
'I think it was during fall camp that coach Orgeron gave me that name,' said Patterson. 'Sapp's my favorite player for sure. He was one of the short guys, too, and we have similiar body types. He worked very hard and now he is one of the best. So that's who I try to emulate. I try to work really hard to be the best.'
Another factor in Patterson's success is his excellent technique. He credits his days as a high school wrestler for his ability to gain leverage on opposing linemen.
'Wrestling taught me to stay low,' said Patterson. 'I wrestled during my sophomore year of high school, while I was still an offensive lineman. Wrestling is basically the same technique as the defensive line. You have to stay low and use your hands. I mainly wrestled to stay in shape during the offseason. I made All-CIF Southern Section, but I wasn't that highly ranked. But as soon as the football coaches saw how aggressive I was when I wrestled, they moved me over to defense.'
Ever since then, Patterson has thrived. He no longer toils in obscurity. He is even starting ahead of Riley, his former high school teammate, though part of the reason for that is Riley's continuing rehabilitation from knee surgery. Ironically, that injury to Riley last season against Washington provided Patterson with his first significant playing time in college. Just a true freshman, he recorded two tackles and recovered a fumble. He also made an important discovery. He realized he could play college football.
'At the beginning of last year, I wasn't doing much and thought I would redshirt,' said Patterson. 'But then I got in that game and that's when I knew that I could not only play, but that I would probably play a lot.'
Now he hardly ever comes out of the game, and number 99 is an emerging force on a young, but talented, Trojan defensive line.
And that's awfully hard to overlook.
By Chris Huston, Assistant Sports Information Director
RELATED NEWS & VIDEOS
TODAY | 3:00pm PTLive
Thu 3/22 | 6:00pm PTLive
Fri 3/23 | 4:00pm PTLive