USC Returns Home For Pac-10 Opener Against Oregon State
Sept. 22, 2002
USC (2-1 overall, 0-0 Pac-10) vs. Oregon State (4-0 overall, 0-0 Pac-10), Saturday, Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum.
The 'Race For The Roses' begins this week as it's the Pac-10 opener for USC and Oregon State. Troy has won its last 5 league contests. Both teams come in ranked (that's been the case only 4 other times in the series' history). The last time USC played a ranked Beaver team was 1968, which was the start of a 26-game Trojan winning streak over OSU. Oregon State is looking for its first 5-0 start since 1939, while the Trojans are hoping to bounce back from a tough loss at Kansas State. It's the second year in a row the game has been played in the Coliseum, where the Beavers last won in 1960 (USC has won 18 in a row at home over OSU). USC has struggled with Oregon State the past 2 years, losing in Corvallis in 2000 (snapping its Pac-10 record 26-game winning streak over the Beavers) and then getting extended into overtime last year in the Coliseum before winning on a short run by QB Carson Palmer. Palmer, the new owner of several USC passing records, could become the school's career total offense leader this week. Oregon State owns the nation's No. 2-ranked offense (led by TB Steven Jackson, the country's No. 7 rusher, and QB Derek Anderson, No. 2 in NCAA passing efficiency), while both schools are high nationally in several defensive categories. USC's schedule is ranked as the second toughest in the country. The game will be televised live nationally on FOX Sports Net cable.
USC is ranked 18th by AP and 22nd by USA Today/ESPN. Oregon State is 23rd by AP and 24th by USA Today/ESPN.
USC leads its series with Oregon State, 54-8-4, dating back to 1914. The Trojans had won a Pac-10 record 26 consecutive games over the Beavers before losing in 2000. USC has posted 16 shutouts in the series (including 2 scoreless ties). In Los Angeles-area games, USC has won 18 in a row over the Beavers (OSU last won in L.A. in 1960) and is 36-4-3 overall (1 loss came in 1916 in Pasadena). Last year in the Coliseum, QB Carson Palmer ran 4 yards on a naked bootleg for the game-winning touchdown in the first overtime period to give USC a 16-13 victory over Oregon State, the second week in a row that the Trojans won a nail-biter. The Beavers had driven to first-and-goal at the USC 5-yard line on their overtime possession, but USC's defense stiffened, forcing a 29-yard field goal by PK Ryan Cesca. Then, after 4 runs by TB Sunny Byrd on Troy's ensuing overtime possession, Palmer threaded a 9-yard pass to TE Alex Holmes on third-and-eight from the OSU 12 to set up Palmer's winning run in which he broke one tackle and dove to the flag while getting slammed by another Beaver. The Trojans dodged defeat twice late in regulation when Cesca, the 2000 All-Pac-10 first team placekicker, missed field goals of 35 yards with 6:14 to play and 29 yards with 33 seconds to go. USC won despite generating just 204 total yards of offense, its fewest since getting 189 at Florida State in 1998 (and its fewest in a win since getting 197 at Baylor in 1986). The Trojans ran for just 33 yards, saw Palmer sacked 6 times, averaged just 3.2 yards on their 64 offensive plays, had only 11 first downs (their fewest since getting 8 at Florida State in 1998), converted just 6-of-17 third downs and held the ball only 26:49. With Oregon State was backed up deep in its own territory on its first possession, USC got on the board first when S Troy Polamalu blocked P Carl Tobey's punt and WR Steve Stevenson recovered it in the end zone. Cesca hit a 24-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, but USC PK David Davis answered with a 30-yarder early in the third quarter. OSU then drove 96 yards to tie the game at 10-10 late in the third quarter, culminating on a 4-yard pass from QB Jonathan Smith to TB Steven Jackson. Palmer was 21-of-28 for 171 yards and an interception (including 13-of-15 for 80 yards in the first half while connecting on his first 9 aerials), Byrd had a team-best 54 yards on 20 carries and WR Kareem Kelly caught a team-best 5 passes for 73 yards. For OSU, Jackson came off the bench to run for a game-high 119 yards on 16 tries, TB Ken Simonton added 85 yards on 19 carries, Smith hit 20-of-33 passes for 203 yards with 1 pick and the TD, and WR James Newson had 6 catches for 94 yards (both game highs). The Beavers had 384 total yards (181 rushing) and averaged 5.1 yards on their 75 plays. Polamalu and LB Mike Pollard each had a game-best 11 tackles (3 of Pollard's were for losses). Polamalu was named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week. USC sacked Smith 5 times.
USC is 60-15-5 (.781) in conference openers and Troy has won 22 of its last 31 (and 35 of its last 45). In conference openers at home, the Trojans are 36-7-3 (.815).
USC has won 68.9% (353-151-29) of its games against Pac-10 opponents. Troy has captured or shared 31 conference titles. The start of the Pac-10 race also signals USC's annual quest for a berth in the Rose Bowl, where the Trojans have appeared an unprecedented 28 times (posting 20 wins).
PAC-10 WIN STREAK
USC has won its last 5 Pac-10 games, the longest current streak in the league.
VERSUS UNDEFEATED OSU
USC has faced an undefeated Oregon State team on 13 occasions (1924-26-29-30-31-39-40-48-56-77-98-99-2000), not counting OSU season openers. USC won the first 12 of those games against an unbeaten Oregon State team, but lost the most recent such meeting (in 2000).
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 363-122-27 (.735) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
S Troy Polamalu (Douglas HS in Winston) is the only Trojan who prepped in Oregon...Oregon State has 46 Californians on its roster...S Troy Polamalu's cousin, Joe Polamalu, played football at Oregon State in 1987 and 1988 (he also is the nephew of USC running back/special teams coach Kennedy Pola)...USC LB Dallas Sartz's father, Jeff, played safety at Oregon State...OSU DE Alvin Steen is the brother of former USC LB-DE Jason Steen (1997-98)...OSU DB Brandon Browner is the son of ex-USC LB Keith Browner (1980-83)...Craig Fertig, the color commentator on FOX Sports Net 2's USC football telecasts and a contributor on the network's USC Sports Magazine Show, was Oregon State's head coach from 1976 to 1979...OSU women's volleyball coach Nancy Somera was an assistant at USC from 1991 to 1998 after starting for the Women of Troy for 4 seasons (1985-88). Her husband and Beaver assistant coach, Ben Somera, was an assistant for the USC women in the mid-1990s...OSU women's basketball assistant coach Jualeah Woods played for the Women of Troy from 1991 to 1994.
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. The current USA Today/Sagarin ranking says USC is playing the nation's No. 2 toughest schedule. Sports Illustrated listed 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 included early road contests at Colorado and Kansas State, then the regular season finale at home with Notre Dame. In Pac-10 games, USC hosts Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State and California, and goes to Oregon, Washington State, Stanford and UCLA.
Despite staging a furious fourth-quarter rally, No. 11 USC fell at No. 25 Kansas State, 27-20, before 49,276 fans and a national TBS cable audience. The Trojans, after trailing 27-6 early in the final quarter, then scored a pair of touchdowns (on a 5-yard pass from QB Carson Palmer to WR Keary Colbert with 10:03 to play and a 25-yard run by TB Sultan McCullough with 6:31 to go) and advanced to the KSU 33-yard line before failing to convert on fourth down with less than 30 seconds left. USC's offense struggled for the first 3 quarters, getting just 129 total yards (54 through the air), but Troy exploded in the final quarter with 147 total yards (132 passing). After a scoreless first quarter, the Wildcats opened up a 10-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by PK Jared Brite and a 1-yard run by QB Ell Roberson less than 2 minutes later following a Trojan fumble (USC's only turnover of the game). But, with 32 seconds to go in the half, S Troy Polamalu forced Roberson to fumble and DT Mike Patterson ran with it 3 yards for a TD (however, PK David Davis' PAT was blocked and returned by CB Terence Newman for 2 points to make it 12-6). KSU added touchdowns on their final drive of the third quarter (a 10-yard run by TB Darren Sproles) and first possession of the fourth quarter (a 9-yard pass from Roberson to WR James Terry) before USC's near comeback. Palmerwho in the process set USC career records for plays, completions and passing yardshit 18-of-46 passes (he had 8 throws dropped) for 186 yards, Colbert caught 11 aerials for 125 yards (both career highs) and McCullough ran for 73 yards on 11 tries. WR Kareem Kelly caught 3 passes for 42 yards, his 38th consecutive game with a catch (a USC record). LB Melvin Simmons had a game-high 11 tackles (2 for losses) and LB Matt Grootegoed added 9 stops (2 for losses), while Polamalu (2 for losses, with a sack) and CB Darrell Rideaux each had 7 tackles. USC recovered 5 fumbles and limited the Wildcats to 2-of-12 on third down conversions. For KSU, which had 347 total yards, Roberson completed 10-of-15 passes for 134 yards and ran for 70 yards on 23 carries off the bench, Sproles had 78 yards on 20 rushes, WR Taco Wallace made 5 catches for 81 yards and Terry added 4 grabs for 37 yards. All 3 of the Wildcats' TD drives were less than 50 yards, 5 plays and 1:30 of time. However, KSU forced USC to go 3-and-out on 7 drives and to punt 11 times (Troy converted just 3-of-18 third downs and 0-of-2 fourth downs). It was USC's first-ever visit to the state of Kansas. It was also KSU's 38th consecutive non-conference win at home and its 36th straight home win in September.
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)
This is just the fifth time that USC and Oregon State have played each other while both teams were ranked in the AP poll. The other times were 1939 (USC No. 7/OSU No. 11), 1951 (14/18), 1957 (19/13) and 1968 (1/13). In each case, the higher ranked team won.
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 51-year-old Carroll has 27 years of NFL and college experience, including 11 on the college level. He is 8-7 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 (25 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), in his third starting at 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.
--He had a team-high 11 tackles at Colorado, earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
--At Kansas State, he had 7 tackles (2 for losses, with a sack), a deflection and forced a fumble (which DT Mike Patterson picked up and ran 3 yards for a TD).
'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 THEY'RE 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.'
Colorado wide receiver Derek McCoy: 'He is one of the best defensive backs I have seen. He's all over the place, always ready to make a big play.'
Colorado head coach Gary Barnett: 'Troy Polamalu, what do you do, what do you say? He's a great football player. He's a punishing tackler and a tremendous leader.'
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder: 'He is a very talented player who runs extremely well and plays the game extremely hard. He's a sideline to sideline player. He's good at what he does. He's a good tackler.'
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 (63-of-109, 57.8%, 732 yds, 3 TD, 2 int in 2002, plus 11 tcb, -37 yds, -3.4 avg, 2 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 is listed as a 2002 Heisman Trophy candidate by The Sporting News.com, CBS Sportsline.com and FOX Sports.com. Now in his fourth year as a starter, he owns 4 USC career records: plays (1,404), passing yardage (8,608, seventh on the Pac-10 list), completions (681) and attempts (1,189). He is also second on USC's career chart for total offense (8,496 yards, eighth on the Pac-10 chart). He needs 145 yards of total offense to eclipse Rodney Peete's standard). His 42 career TD tosses are third most at USC (tied for 26th in the Pac-10). He currently has thrown his last 89 passes without an interception. In 2002, he has completed passes to 12 different receivers. With 35 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 17 times (including 8 contests at 70.0%-plus) and has 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.
--He hit 22-of-30 passes (73.3%) for 244 yards with 1 TD at Colorado and also scored a TD on a 1-yard sneak. He hit his first 6 passes in the game and then was 8-of-8 in the second half. His completions went to 7 different receivers.
--At Kansas State, he hit 18-of-46 passes (8 throws were dropped) for 186 yards and a TD while setting USC career records for plays, completions and passing yards.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT CARSON PALMER
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder: 'A guy who throws in excess of 8,000 yards in a career tells you a lot of things. It tells you he's very accurate, very confident, very efficient and he has an awful lot of experience. He's got good size and people would say he's the prototype NFL quarterback. He's extremely talented and he has some mobility about him.'
Kansas State defensive end Andrew Shull: 'He's a great quarterback. He's tall, has a great arm and good scrambling capabilities. He puts the ball where it needs to be.'
SENIOR QUARTERBACKS SHINE IN PAC-10
Eight of the last 10 Pac-10 champions were guided by a senior quarterback (and all 10 had QBs with at least 4 years in the program), which bodes well for USC's fifth-year senior signalcaller Carson Palmer. Here's a look:
2001 Oregon Joey Harrington Senior (5) 2000 Washington Marques Tuiasosopo Senior (5) 1999 Stanford Todd Husak Senior (5) 1998 UCLA Cade McNown Senior (4) 1997 Washington State Ryan Leaf Junior (4) 1996 Arizona State Jake Plummer Senior (4) 1995 USC Kyle Wachholtz Senior (5) and Brad Otton Junior (4) 1994 Oregon Danny O'Neil Senior (5) 1993 UCLA Wayne Cook Junior (4) 1992 Washington Mark Brunell Senior (5)
Three relatively untested youngsters are behind Carson Palmer at quarterback: sophomore Matt Cassel (0-of-1, 00.0%, 0 yards in 2002), who completed 1-of-2 passes for 5 yards and also played some as a tight end-in-motion (he had a 12-yard catch 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, who was slowed in 2002 fall camp after suffering a bone chip in his knee, has emerged as the No. 2 quarterback, narrowly ahead of Leinart (his only career action was 2 snaps at the end of the 2002 Colorado game). 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.
--At Colorado, Cassel was 0-of-1 while directing 2 late drives (including 1 for a score), while Leinart took the game's final 2 snaps, but didn't throw a pass.
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 (7 tcb, 28 yds, 4.0 avg in 2002), 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), is looking to make a sudden impact this season (a hamstring strain suffered in 2002 fall camp slowed him for USC's first 2 games). 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 (46 tcb, 241 yds, 5.2 avg, 3 TD in 2002, plus 2 rec, 5.5 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 11th on USC's prestigious career rushing ladder (2,227 yards). He has rushed for 100 yards 10 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 (26 tcb, 80 yds, 3.1 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 8 rec, 19.4 avg and 1 tac), who has 845 rushing yards and 45 receptions in his Trojan career (he has started 7 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). Sophomore Darryl Poston (4 tcb, -2 yds, -0.5 avg, 1 TD 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 (8 tcb, 41 yds, 5.1 avg in 2002, plus 1 rec, 4.0 avg and 1 KOR, 10.0 avg) 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).
--At Colorado, McCullough had a game-high 110 yards on 15 carries (his 10th career 100-yard outing), including a career-long 62-yard run for a TD, while MacKenzie broke several tackles while scoring on a 32-yard pass and a 14-yard run (he rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries and caught 2 passes for 38 yards overall), Poston scored on a 4-yard run, Dennis ran for 32 yards on 5 tries and caught a 4-yard pass, and Fargas saw his first action as a Trojan (he had a 4-yard run).
--McCullough had a team-high 73 yards on 11 carries, including a 25-yard TD, at Kansas State, while Fargas added 24 yards on 6 tries, MacKenzie had 12 yards on 6 rushes and Dennis ran for 9 yards on 3 carries and returned a kickoff 10 yards.
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: 775 carries, 3,452 yards, 4.5 average per carry, 24 TDs, 24 starts, 12 100-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, where he backs up another senior, Chad Pierson (1 rec, 2.0 avg in 2002). 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 (2 tcb, 9 yd, 4.5 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, sophomore Lee Webb, a converted linebacker, 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).
--Pierson caught a 2-yard pass at Colorado and Hancock had an 8-yard run.
--No fullbacks touched the ball at Kansas State.
Swift senior Kareem Kelly (13 rec, 11.1 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 7 PR, 7.1 avg), a 4-year starter, is second on Troy's career pass catching list (171 receptions; he is 10th 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 2,643, which is 12th on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 38 games he has played as a Trojan, a USC record (the Pac-10 mark 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.
--He had 4 catches for 36 yards at Colorado and returned 4 punts for 31 yards.
--At Kansas State, he caught 3 passes for 42 yards and returned a punt 19 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 (team-high 17 rec, 11.8 avg, 1 TD in 2002) returns at the other wideout spot. He currently is tied for 23rd nationally in receptions (5.7, third in Pac-10). The consistent 2-year starter has 82 career grabs to put him tied for 17th on USC's career reception chart, 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 in the rotation are junior Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 11.7 avg in 2002), 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 (12 rec, 13.1 avg in 2002) and Chris McFoy. Redshirt freshman walk-on Greig Carlson (2 PR, 11.5 avg in 2002) also sees some action.
--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.
--Williams had a game-high 7 grabs for 90 yards at Colorado, while Colbert added 4 catches for 52 yards.
--At Kansas State, Colbert caught 11 passes for 125 yards (both career highs and game bests) with a 5-yard TD, Williams had an 11-yard catch, Mitchell returned 3 kickoffs for 35 yards and Carlson had 2 punt returns for 23 yards.
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 (1 rec, 2.0 avg in 2002) is the most experienced tight end on the roster, as he has seen significant action the past 2 seasons as the backup. He has 30 career catches with 2 touchdowns, including 22 grabs (7.5 avg) with 2 TDs in 2001. He rotates with sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr. (4 rec, 6.8 avg in 2002), who at 6-8 also was a reserve center on the 2002 Trojan men's basketball team that advanced to the NCAA tourney. Also available is senior Scott Huber, who played some at fullback in 2001. 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.
--Guenther caught 3 passes for 22 yards at Colorado.
--Guenther had a 5-yard reception at Kansas State and Holmes caught a 2-yard toss.
USC's offensive line from a year agosave for 2-year starting guard-tackle Faaesea Mailocame back. But this groupwhich has seen some early-season experimentation on the right sideneeds 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, but a foot injury slowed him the first 2 games. Starting junior tackles Jacob Rogers (left side) and Eric Torres (right side) started for the first time in 2001 and did commendable jobs (Torres also is being used at right guard). 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 and guard. 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).
--At Colorado, Rogers (left tackle), Vandermade (left guard) and Norm Katnik (center) started at their usual spots, while Torres moved inside to right guard for the injured Wilson and Winston Justice celebrated his 18th birthday by starting at right tackle (becoming the first true freshman to start on the offensive line since OG Travis Claridge and OT Faaesea Mailo did so in 1996 against Notre Dame).
--At Kansas State, Wilson got his first start of 2002 (at right guard), joining Rogers (left tackle), Vandermade (left guard), Norm Katnik (center) and Justice (right tackle).
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 (9 tac, 1 blk FG in 2002), who was a Freshman All-American first team pick last season, and end Kenechi Udeze (12 tac, 5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF 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 (3 tac in 2002), 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. However, sophomore Mike Patterson (17 tac, 4.5 for loss, 3.5 sack, 1 FR for a TD in 2002) starts at Riley's tackle spot. Senior Anthony Daye (2 tac in 2002), who can also play end, and junior Nate Steinbacher, a converted offensive tackle, also are available at tackle. The other end spot is being manned by junior Omar Nazel (7 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int, 1 dfl 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 Brown (1 tac in 2002)plus freshmen ends LaJuan Ramsey (1 FR in 2002) and Travis Tofi. Sophomore walk-on Jay Bottom has also seen brief action at end.
--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.
--At Colorado, Patterson had 5 tackles (including 2 sacks), Cody and Nazel each added 4 stops, Riley had 3, Udeze had a tackle for a loss, Brown and Daye each had a tackle and Ramsey returned a fumble 19 yards to set up a USC TD.
--Cody and Udeze both had 5 tackles at Kansas State (Cody also blocked a field goal and Udeze forced a fumble, which USC recovered and led to a TD), Patterson had 4 stops (with a sack) and returned a fumble 3 yards for a TD, and Nazel had 3 stops (1 for a loss) and a deflection.
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 (11 tac, 1 for loss, 2 FR, 1 FF in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (15 tac, 2 for loss 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 (25 tac, 3 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. Sophomore Bobby Otani (5 tac in 2002) on the weak side saw measurable action last fall, although he suffered a midseason knee injury. Two prep All-AmericansOscar Lua (2 tac, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) and Dallas Sartz (1 tac in 2002)joined 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 Colorado, Simmons had 9 tackles, Pollard had 4 stops (including 2 for losses, with a sack), Otani also had 4 tackles, Grootegoed had 3, and Lua and Sartz each had a stop (Lua's was a sack, forcing a fumble which USC recovered).
--At Kansas State, Simmons had a game-high 11 tackles (1.5 for loss), Grootegoed added 9 stops (1.5 for loss), Pollard had 4 tackles and recovered a fumble (to set up a USC TD), Otani had a stop and Lua recovered a fumble.
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 are senior Darrell Rideaux (12 tac in 2002), who has 6 career starts, and then a selection among 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 (5 tac, 1 dfl in 2002), another converted wide receiver, or a newcomer: junior college All-American Ronald Nunn (3 tac in 2002), who is a junior, or prep All-American Justin Wyatt (3 tac, 1 FR in 2002), who is a freshman. Rideaux (sprints, relays) and Allmond (hurdles) also compete for the USC track team. Senior DeShaun Hill (8 tac, 1 FR, 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, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2002), redshirt freshman John Walker (he also might play cornerback), and first-year freshman Mike Ross (1 tac, 1 TD on a blocked punt recovery).
--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.
--Hill and Wyatt had 2 tackles at Colorado, Buchanon had 11, Leach had an interception and Ross recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a TD.
--At Kansas State, Rideaux had 7 tackles, Buchanon made 4 stops and had a deflection, Nunn had 2 tackles before injuring his knee, Hill had 2 stops and recovered a fumble and Wyatt recovered a fumble.
Senior David Davis (1-of-3 FG, 7-of-10 PATs in 2002), 16-of-21 on field goals and 38-of-44 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 (2-of-2 PAT in 2002), a junior college fall transfer, has won the job. So far this year, 10 of his 15 kickoffs have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 8 touchbacks. 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 (40.9 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. This season, 7 of his 18 punts have kept foes within the 20-yard line and 5 have traveled at least 50 yards. 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 (7 PR, 7.1 avg in 2002) or redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Greig Carlson (2 PR, 11.5 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 tailback Hershel Dennis (1 KOR, 10.0 avg in 2002) or junior wide receiver Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 11.7 avg in 2002).
--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.
--Malone averaged 51.2 yards on his 4 punts at Colorado (including a 60-yarder), but had a punt blocked, while Davis had a field goal and PAT blocked (another PAT missed) while hitting 4-of-6 PATs and Killen had 5 of his 7 kickoffs hold the Buffaloes within the 20 (with 4 touchbacks).
--At Kansas State, Davis missed a 30-yard field goal and had a PAT blocked (and returned for a defensive PAT) before giving way to Killeen, who hit both of his PATs and also put all 3 of his kickoffs out of the end zone, while Malone averaged 36.9 yards on 11 punts (4 pinned the Wildcats within the 20 and 2 traveled 50-plus yards).
STATISTICS OF NOTE
***USC is first nationally in pass defense (108.0), third in total defense (229.7, first in Pac-10), 13th in pass efficiency defense (92.1, second in Pac-10), tied for 19th in turnover margin (+1.3, tied for fourth in Pac-10) and 21st in scoring defense (15.7, third in Pac-10).
***USC is allowing opponents to convert just 16.2% of third downs (best in the Pac-10) in 2002.
***USC is averaging 32:50 time of possession (tops in the Pac-10) in 2002.
***In the red zone, USC has scored 8-of-10 times (80.0%) in 2002, while allowing opponents to score just 58.3% (second in the Pac-10).
***USC has allowed just 1 TD in the fourth quarter in 2002.
NEWCOMERS SEE ACTION
Eighteen new Trojans have seen action for the Trojans in 2002: 12 first-year freshmen (WR Mike Williams, P Tom Malone, CB Justin Wyatt, TB Hershel Dennis, FB Brandon Hancock, S Mike Ross, LB Dallas Sartz, LB Oscar Lua, OG Fred Matua, TE Dominique Byrd, OT Winston Justice and DE LaJuan Ramsey), 4 junior college transfers (PK Ryan Killeen, WR Jason Mitchell, CB Ronald Nunn and DE Van Brown) and 2 college transfers (LB Melvin Simmons and TB Justin Fargas). Also, 6 walk-ons have played: WR Greig Carlson, DE Jay Bottom, SNP Joe Boskovich, DT Spencer Torgan, CB Forrest Mozart and S Greg Farr. Fourteen newcomers and 3 walk-ons saw action in the Auburn opener.
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.
***S Troy Polamalu's 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.
***USC head coach Pete Carroll vacationed in Italy this past July, which meant in the span of several months he walked the floor of Rome's Colosseum and Los Angeles' Coliseum, perhaps the world's two most historic stadiums.
***USC has 3 players who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC in the spring. Starting OT Jacob Rogers did so in the spring of 1999, while starting P Tom Malone and key backup FB Brandon Hancock came to USC this past spring.
***Former USC All-American back Jon Arnett was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this past Aug. 9-10, while ex-USC All-American safety Ronnie Lott will be inducted into the Hall at a Dec. 10 dinner in New York (he'll be enshrined in August of 2003). Arnett was a 1955 All-American who rushed for 1,898 career yards at Troy and then played 10 years in the NFL with the Rams and Bears. Lott, a 1980 All-American, had 250 tackles and 14 interceptions at USC before a 15-year NFL career that saw him land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
***Strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle has beaten cancer. He learned he had Hodgkin's Disease in December of 2000, began radiation treatments in Tennessee (where he was still the Volunteers' associate strength and conditioning coach), was hired by USC in February of 2001, kept his illness a secret except to Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, continued treatments in Tennessee and at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, then doctors told him in the summer of 2001 that the cancer was in remission. He informed the USC players of his ordeal at the start of fall 2001 camp.
***A new tradition at Troy's home games (started in 2001) sees the USC team buses unload the Trojan players amid the tailgaters in front of the Coliseum peristyle about 2 hours-and-20-minutes before kickoff. The players walk through the crowd into the Coliseum before going to dress in the locker room.
***USC's oldest living football letterman is 102-year-old James Pursell. He lettered in 1921-22-23 as a 156-pound guard and was a member of USC's first Rose Bowl team. Then there's 100-year old Hobbs Adams, a 1923-24-25 letterman as a 170-pound end (he captained the 1925 squad, also played baseball and track, then was a Trojan assistant from 1935 to 1939; his granddaughter, Tracy Lindquist, is a senior setter on the 2002 USC women's volleyball team).
***USC's football team can field a pretty imposing track and field squad...and, in fact, Trojan track coach Ron Allice benefits from a number of footballers (many helped Troy win the 2000 Pac-10 meet). TB Sultan McCullough is the fastest Trojan football player ever, having run a 10.17 in the 100 (fifth fastest of any USC trackster in history!). He was the Pac-10 100 champ in 1999. WR Kareem Kelly, who owns the world junior record in the indoor 50, has clocked 10.28 in the 100 and anchored USC's sprint relay squad which finished fifth at this year's NCAA meet. CB Darrell Rideaux has gone 10.27 and ran leadoff on the 2002 sprint relay team. CB Marcell Allmond is a 13.54 high hurdler (he was a 2-time California state prep champ) and national Junior Olympic record-setting decathlete. TB Justin Fargas has run the 100 in 10.47. Fargas (1997), Rideaux (1998) and Kelly (1999) all won the California state high school 100.
***USC players are sporting a gold football-shaped decal reading 'Goux' on the back of their helmets this year. The decal is in memory of Marv Goux, the legendary USC assistant football coach (1957-82) and star Trojan player (1952, 54-55) who died this past July 27 at age 69.
***Two TrojansTE Gregg Guenther Jr. and S Sandy Fletcherhave played on the USC basketball team. Guenther saw action in 9 games (starting 3) as a center in 2002 and Fletcher played in 4 games as a point guard in 2000. And, as a youngster, LB Collin Ashton was a ballboy for several years for the USC men's basketball team.
***LB-DE Chris Prosser is allergic to grass, which causes his skin to get rashes when he plays football.
***OT Phillip Eaves spent part of 1997 in the Army at Fort Jackson, S.C.
***PK David Davis wants to be a firefighter and paramedic. In fact, while in junior college, he became certified as an emergency medical technician when he worked 2 years as a fire explorer at an Inglewood fire station and with a Los Angeles ambulance company.
***Four Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, USC S-CB John Walker was a television actor who appeared in such shows as 'E.R.' and '7th Heaven' (in fact, he didn't play football until his sophomore year of high school because a clause in his acting contract prevented him from doing anything that could affect his appearance). TB Justin Fargas is the son of actor Antonio Fargas, who has appeared in television (including as Huggy Bear on 'Starsky and Hutch') and film ('Shaft,' 'Pretty Baby,' 'The Gambler' and 'Car Wash,' among others). C Derek Graf's father, Allan, is a stuntman, stunt coordinator and second unit director who has been involved in many noted Hollywood films, 'On Any Given Sunday' and 'The Replacements.' USC linebackers coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence 'Buster' Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
***Three Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: C Derek Graf (father, Allan, was on the 1972 team), S Kyle Matthews (father, 1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team) and LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi, was on the 1974 team).
*** Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. CB Kevin Arbet is the stepson of ex-Trojan (1980-82) Jeff Simmons. Two Trojans have cousins who played at USCWR Kareem Kelly (Rashard Cook, 1995-98) and TE-SNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)and five have uncles who were Trojan footballers: S Troy Polamalu (Kennedy Pola, 1982-85, now USC's running backs coach and special teams coordinator), C Norm Katnik/OG Kurt Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87) and OG-DT Fred Matua (Titus Tuiasosopo, 1990-92) and S Kyle Matthews (Bruce Matthews, 1980-82, 1982 All-American).
***Speaking of genes: CB Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, is a sophomore defensive lineman at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. DE Van Brown's brother, Chad, is an All-Pro linebacker who has played with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1993-96) and Seattle Seahawks (1997-2001) after starting 4 seasons at Colorado (1989-92). CB-WR William Buchanon is the son of ex-NFL star Willie Buchanon, a 1971 All-American cornerback at San Diego State who was a 3-time Pro Bowler during his 11-year (1972-82) NFL career with the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers. QB Matt Cassel's older brother, Jack, is a pitcher in the San Diego Padres organization. WR Keary Colbert's cousin is ex-Arizona State DT Tommie Townsend (1999-2001). TB Hershel Dennis' father, Hershel Sr., played tailback at North Carolina A&T. LB Matt Grootegoed's brother, John, was an offensive guard at San Jose State in 1994 and 1995. WR D. Hale's brother, Damon Boddie, played tailback at Montana in the mid-1990s. TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975. C Norm Katnik's and OG Kurt Katnik's father, Norman, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). FB David Kirtman's father, Louis, ran track at California and his uncle, Nate Kirtman, played football at Stanford in 1967. WR Grant Mattos' sister, Adrienne, was an All-American swimmer at California. OG-DT Fred Matua's uncle, Navy Tuiasosopo, played offensive line at Utah State and later with the Los Angeles Rams and a distant cousin, Manu Tuiasasosopo, was a 3-time All-Conference defensive lineman at UCLA (1976-78) who then played with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. TB Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, was a tailback at Oregon in 1996 and 1997 who has played in the XFL and NFL, while his late father, Bruce, ran track at San Jose State in the 1960s and his mother, Mabel, played basketball on the 1959 Arkansas high school championship team. WR Jason Mitchell's cousin, Christian Radley, is a junior coxswain on the USC women's rowing team. QB Carson Palmer's brother, Jordan, is a freshman quarterback at UTEP. S Troy Polamalu's brother, Kaio Aumua, played football at UTEP; an uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State; a cousin, Nicky Sualua, was a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys who attended Ohio State, another cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon, and another cousin, Joe Polamalu, played for Oregon State in 1987 and 1988. DT Bernard Riley's father, Bernard Sr., was a starting offensive guard at Oregon in 1975. DE-DT A.J. Single's father, Doug, played at Stanford, then was the Cardinal's offensive line coach before serving as athletic director at Northwestern and SMU. DE Travis Tofi's cousin, Suaese 'Pooch' Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech. OG Travis Watkins' brother, Todd, is a redshirt freshman wide receiver on the Norfolk State football team, while his father, Don, was a lineman at Pasadena City College and his uncle, Tom Watkins, played 8 seasons in the NFL in the 1960s with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. OT Kyle Williams' father, Scott, played college basketball, while an uncle, Eric Williams, was a defensive lineman with the Detroit Lions (1984-89) and Washington Redskins (1990-93, including on the 1991 Super Bowl champs) after earning 1983 All-Pac-10 first team honors in his 3 years (1981-83) at Washington State; his grandfather, Roy Williams, played for the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, another uncle played professional basketball in Europe, while his other grandfather played 3 sports at Lehigh in the 1960s. DB coach Greg Burns' brother, Dexter, was a defensive back at San Jose State in the mid-1990s. LB coach Nick Holt's wife, Julie, was the head women's basketball at Nevada Reno, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho (she currently is the head coach at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College). WR coach Lane Kiffin's father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he is a longtime NFL and collegiate assistant coach who also served as North Carolina State's head coach in the early 1980s). OT/TE coach Keith Uperesa's brother, Kevin, played football at California in 1977 and 1978, while his nephew Dane, is a freshman offensive lineman at Hawaii. OFF/SPT coach Brennan Carroll is the son of USC head coach Pete Carroll.
***How about these names: FB Sunny Byrd. LB Frostee Rucker. Walk-on CB Forrest Mozart. DE Kenechi Udeze (he goes by BKU, as in Big Kenechi Udeze; he's 6-4 and 280). LB Lofa Tatupu. DE Travis Tofi. WR D. Hale (it's for Donald, but he goes by D.; he says only his mother calls him Donald).
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 297 times, including 164 of the past 166 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'S 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:
***There are 3 new scholarship players (their complete bios are below): #58 Lofa Tatupu (LB, 5-11, 215, So./So., Plainville, MA, King Philip Regional HS/Maine), #90 Frostee Rucker (LB, 6-4, 240, Fr.*/So., Tustin, Tustin HS/Colorado State) and #98 Travis Tofi (DE, 6-4, 235, Fr./Fr., Aoa, American Samoa, Fagaitua HS).
***Eleven other players have joined the team as walk-ons: #5 Morgan Craig (QB, 6-2, 190, Fr./Fr., Newport Beach, Newport Harbor HS), #9 Chase McBride (S, 6-2, 195, Fr./Fr., Solana Beach, Santa Fe Christian HS), #13 Mike Brittingham (S, 6-1, 195, Fr./Fr., Santa Ana, Foothill HS), #17 Nick Vanderboom (QB, 6-4, 215, Fr./Fr., Medina, MN, Breck HS), #19 Matt Newhouse (LB, 6-4, 205, Fr./Fr., Diamond Bar, Diamond Bar HS), #26 Greg Farr (S, 6-0, 195, Jr./Jr., Carlsbad, Carlsbad HS/Palomar JC), #27 John Zilka (WR, 6-4, 185, Fr./Fr., Lake Forest, IL, Lake Forest HS), #29 Matt Haugen (WR, 6-0, 290, Fr./Fr., Irvine, Mater Dei HS), #38 Kirk Shepherd (CB, 5-10, 160, Fr./Fr., Rancho Palos Verdes, Peninsula HS), #60 Jonathan Lanza (OT, 6-3, 265, Fr./Fr., San Diego, Horizon HS) and #80 Steve Levario Jr. (WR 5-9, 170, So.*/Jr., West Covina, Wilson HS/Mt. San Antonio JC).
***Two players have changed numbers: WR Greig Carlson is now #19 and CB Alex Gomez is #40.
***Eight players have switched positions: Sandy Fletcher is now at S, William Buchanon is at CB, Nate Steinbacher is at DT, Chris Prosser is at LB-DE, Doyal Butler is at DE-TE, John Walker is at S-CB, Dominique Byrd is at TE-DE and Lee Webb is at FB.
***Also, delete DE Austin Jackson, WR Frank Candela, CB Miguel Fletcher, CB Justin Tolliver and CB Marcus Johnson, who all quit the team, plus S Darnell Bing and DT Manuel Wright, who both did not qualify for admission.
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.
Two of USC's most recent graduation rates for football were 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 2002 Trojan squad are: FB Brandon Hancock (team-high 3.81 GPA, business), S Andre Woodert (3.43), QB Billy Hart (3.35, business), LB-SNP Matt Hayward (3.29, business), QB Matt Cassel (3.23, communication), P Tom Malone (3.2, kineseology), DT Spencer Torgan (3.04, business), LB Melvin Simmons (3.01, social sciences/history), TE Scott Huber (2.97, communication), FB David Kirtman (2.92, business), C-SNP Joe Boskovich (2.87, business), OT Justin Brown (2.82, business) and DE Jay Bottom (2.78). 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.
SCOUTING OREGON STATE
Oregon State, owning a 4-0 record with wins over Eastern Kentucky (49-10), Temple (35-3), UNLV (47-17) and Fresno State (59-19),is looking for its first 5-0 start since 1939. Fourth-year head coach Dennis Erickson has an offense that ranks second nationally in total offense (499.8, tops in Pac-10) and ninth in passing offense (316.3, third in Pac-10). Sophomore QB Derek Anderson (77-of-123, 62.6%, 1,201 yds, 15 TD, 1 int in 2002) is second nationally in passing efficiency (183.2, tops in Pac-10) and 12th in total offense (291.3, third in Pac-10). Junior FL James Newson (22 rec, 16.5 avg, 5 TD in 2002) is 23rd nationally in receiving yards (91.0, third in Pac-10). Soph TB Steven Jackson (88 tcb, 536 yds, 6.1 avg, 4 TD in 2002), who is seventh nationally in rushing (134.0, tops in Pac-10), has a trio of 100-yard rushing games in 2002 (141 yards versus Eastern Kentucky, 122 yards at Temple, 227 yards against Fresno State). On the other side of the ball, Oregon State is second nationally in pass efficiency defense (69.3, first in Pac-10), eighth in turnover margin (+2.3, second in Pac-10), tied for eighth in scoring defense (12.3, first in Pac-10), 13th in total defense (257.8, second in Pac-10) and 16th in pass defense (148.0, third in Pac10). The Beaver defense, which has nation-best 11 interceptions in 2002, is led by senior SLB Nick Barnett (38 tac, 7 for loss in 2002), junior MLB Richard Seigler (30 tac, 6 for loss, 2 int in 2002) and senior CB Dennis Weathersby (14 tac, 3 dfl in 2002).
The USC women's soccer team, ranked in the Top 25 and a participant in the past 4 NCAA tourneys, will be recognized during the Team Trojan Spotlight...Junior backstroker Trent Staley, a finalist in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2002 U.S. Summer Nationals who has a 3.13 GPA, will be saluted during the Verizon Academic Salute...Video board presentations will include 1981 All-American linebacker Chip Banks (FOX Sports Greatest Trojan) and 4-time NCAA 100-meter champion Angela Williams (Trojans in the News).
6-0, 185, Freshman
Lake Elsinore, Calif.
Once upon a time, there was a freshman at Temescal Canyon (Calif.) High who joined the football team in order to meet people and make friends.
Before long, thanks to his good hands, he found himself playing wide receiver.
But one day, something happened that changed his life.
He dropped a pass.
It was just one of several passes he dropped during practice that day. Except this time, there was a difference.
This dropped pass sent him over the edge.
Boiling over in anger and frustration, he took the ball and kicked it as hard as he could. The ball sailed high into the air.
And kept going.....and going.
That was the day that Tom Malone became a punter.
'The coaches saw that and made me the punter,' said Malone, who is now USC's first true freshman punter since John Stonehouse in 1992. 'After that, I was primarily a punter, though I still played some wide receiver. I still kind of miss being a receiver, though.'
He certainly had the speed for it. You see, Malone is not your typical punter. The Trojans have a bonafide athlete back there.
'I ran the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 1600-meter relay in high school,' said Malone. 'My best 100 time was 11 seconds flat. My 200 time is 22.3, which is my high school's record. My split in the relay was about 50 seconds. I think my leg speed really helped my punting develop.'
USC first got a look at Malone back when he was a sophomore, while the coaches were recruiting former Trojan defensive lineman Nate Goodson, who also prepped at Temescal Canyon. When the summer before his senior season rolled around, recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron remembered Malone and gave him a call, inviting him to USC's one-day camp. That's when he was offered a scholarship. For Malone, USC was a perfect fit.
''I really liked the coaches and I liked how they put an emphasis on special teams,' said Malone. 'You can really see the attitude of these coaches. You can tell they really believe the program is heading in a good direction.'
Malone liked that attitude so much, he graduated high school early to enroll at USC in the spring of 2002. It's a decision he does not regret for a minute.
'One of the reasons I came to USC was that I knew I could help the team right away,' said Malone, who along with junior offensive lineman Jacob Rogers and freshman fullback Brandon Hancock, is one of three players to leave high school a semester early to come to Troy. 'It was definitely worth it to leave high school early. That has really helped me to be ready for this season.'
After three games, Malone is sixth in the Pac-10 with an average of 40.9 yards per punt. Though he has had some growing pains, he clearly has one of the best legs around (five of his 18 punts have traveled 50-plus yards) and it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together.
'My strengths are my distance and hang time,' said Malone, who routinely booms 70-yarders in practice. 'I need to work on my situational punting, my direction and the coffin corner punts.'
Malone credits his high school coach for getting him to this point.
'My coach was Marcus Williams, an All-Pac-10 punter at Arizona State back in the mid-1990s,' said Malone. 'Heis a great coach. He taught me everything I knew and changed me from a three-step to a two-step punter. He is the one who told me that I had a college leg and that if I got my timing down, I could play at the next level.'
Playing at this next level isn't as easy as it seems. It's a whole different thing to be playing in front of thousands of people, as opposed to kicking the ball in practice--a difference duly noted by Malone.
'I was really nervous when I had my first punt,' said Malone, whose averaged 42 yards on three punts in his debut against Auburn. 'The crowd didn't bother me as much as I feared, so I settled down after that.'
Malone knows how important his job is. He comes into the game after the offense fails, so a good punt by him can really provide a pick-me-up for his team.
'When you are a punter, you can really take the wind out of the other team's sails,' said Malone, who has had seven of his punts pin opponents within the 20-yard line so far. 'In the end, the best punt is one that doesn't get returned. It's all about net punting. If you can pin a team deep, it's hard to go 80 or 90 yards against our defense.'
Make no mistake about it, by the time his career is through at USC, Malone will have have broken the hearts of many an offense.
by Chris Huston, Assistant Sports Information Director