USC Football Looks To Rebound When It Hosts Surprising California In 90th Meeting In Series
Oct. 6, 2002
USC (3-2 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) vs. California (4-2 overall, 1-1 Pac-10), Saturday, Oct. 12, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum.
This is USC's 90th meeting with California, the team Troy has played more than any opponent. It's the start of a 2-game homestand for Troy, which has won its last 5 in the Coliseum. The Trojans are trying to bounce back from a wild overtime road loss to Washington State. California, under new coach Jeff Tedford, got off to a surprising 3-0 start, then posted an upset last week at Washington, ending a 19-game losing skid to the Huskies. USC snapped a 3-game losing streak to Cal with a win last season, but the Golden Bears have won 4 of the last 6 in the series. Troy hasn't beaten Cal in the Coliseum since 1994. USC defense, which surrendered plenty of yards last week at WSU, still is in the Top 15 nationally in total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring defense. That unit will face a California club that is ninth best in the country in scoring offense (19 of Cal's offensive TDs have been through the air). The game will be televised live nationally on FOX Sports Net cable.
USC is ranked 20th by AP and 24th by USA Today/ESPN. California is not ranked.
USC leads the series, which dates back to 1915 (and is uninterrupted since 1926), 55-29-5. Although Cal has won 4 of the last 5 games, the Trojans won in 2001 and have won 17 of the last 24 meetings, 32 of the last 43 and 38 of the past 51. In Los Angeles-area games, USC holds a 26-18-4 edge, but Cal has won the last 3.
Last year in Berkeley, USC starters and reserves scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams as the Trojans overwhelmed California, 55-14. It was the most points and biggest victory margin by Troy since a 62-7 win over Hawaii in 1999 and the greatest over the Golden Bears since a 61-0 blanking in 1994 (it was also USC's most points ever in Berkeley). It extended Cal's school-record losing streak to 12 games (it came just 6 days after head coach Tom Holmoe announced his resignation at season's end). It also snapped the Trojans' 3-game losing skid to the Bears. After Cal drove 75 yards on the game's opening series, ending in a 5-yard TD run by QB Kyle Boller, USC scored the next 35 points. First, backup TB Chris Howard raced 25 yards through the right side late in the first quarter on his first carry of the game for his first career TD. USC got the ball back on the next play on S DeShaun Hill's interception and turned it into another TD on a 5-yard pass from QB Carson Palmer to WR Kareem Kelly early in the second quarter. Midway through that period, S Troy Polamalu stepped in front of a Boller pass and returned it 58 yards for a score. Howard got his second touchdown run of the game on a 15-yarder around the left side late in the first half on his second carry of the day. The Trojans used a tricky fake field goal to score a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half as holder Mike MacGillivray flipped the ball to PK David Davis, who ran 3 yards around the left end. Cal broke Troy's scoring run on an 8-yard TD toss from backup QB Reggie Robertson to WR Charon Arnold late in the quarter, but USC answered with a pair of Davis field goals (33 and 26 yards) and a 15-yard scoring dash by reserve TB Eric Reese on its next 3 drives. The Bears got to the USC 5-yard line late in the game, but DE Kenechi Udeze sacked reserve QB Eric Holtfreter and forced a fumble, which LB John Cousins returned 89 yards for a TD. The Trojans had a productive day, notching season bests in plays (84), first downs (27), rushing yards (213), possession time (35:09) and sacks (7) and allowed season lows in first downs (12), rushing yards (68), plays (60) and total offense (223). USC's 448 yards of total offense were the second most of 2001. Cal suffered from 10 penalties, converted just 2-of-12 third downs and had to punt 9 times. Palmer was 18-of-35 for 230 yards (he also gained 45 yards on 8 rushes), Howard had a team-best 61 rushing yards on 8 tries, Kelly (88 yards) and WR Devin Pitts (32) yards each caught 4 balls, Hill and LB Mike Pollard both made 6 tackles and walk-on CB Justin Tolliver had USC's third interception at game's end. For Cal, TB Terrell Williams had a game-high 63 yards on 14 carries, Boller was 6-of-15 for 92 yards with the 2 picks and Arnold had 4 receptions for 36 yards.
In 2000 in the last USC-Cal meeting in the Coliseum, USC, despite a significant advantage in offensive statistics dropped its fifth consecutive game of the season, this one to California, 28-16. It was Cal's third win in a row over USC (for the first time since 1948-50). Troy had more total yards (320-213), plays (78-51), first downs (22-11) and possession time (33:14-26:46) than Cal, but couldn't capitalize. Cal's 51 plays were the fewest by a Trojan opponent since 1990. The Bears scored just 4 plays into the game on a 44-yard pass from QB Kyle Boller to WR Phillip Pipersburg. But the Trojans scored on their first possession by driving 82 yards on 9 plays, as QB Carson Palmer threw a 19-yard TD pass to FB Chad Pierson. After Palmer fumbled away the ball on the USC 7-yard line while being sacked early in the second quarter, Cal TB Joseph Echema went 1 yard for a TD. But the Trojans took a 16-14 lead into halftime on a 32-yard scoring run by TB Sultan McCullough with just over 2 minutes to go and then, after recovering a Cal fumble on the ensuing kickoff, PK John Wall nailed a 25-yard field goal. However, USC couldn't generate much offense in the second half (only 55 total yards and 6 first downs) and only crossed midfield on 1 series in the half (just to the Cal 45). The Bears went ahead for good late in the third quarter on a 12-yard Boller pass to WR Derek Swafford. Then, after USC had to punt early in the final quarter on its following possession, CB Jemeel Powell returned the punt 83 yards for a TD (he also intercepted a Palmer pass later in the quarter). Troy was also hampered by penalties (a season-high 11 for 101 yards), turnovers (2 interceptions, 1 fumble), sacks (7) and blocked kicks (a PAT and a field goal). McCullough had his third 100-yard rushing game in a row (a game-high 122 yards on 15 carries), Palmer was 19-of-32 for 202 yards and WR Kareem Kelly caught a game-best 5 passes for 42 yards. Boller hit 7-of-12 passes for 131 yards and TB Joe Igber rushed for 80 yards on 28 tries. LB Zeke Moreno led USC with 8 tackles and LB Markus Steele added 7 (2 for losses, with a sack).
HOME WIN STREAK
USC has won its last 5 games in the Coliseum (and by an average score of 27-9), with shutouts in 2 of the past 3 home contests.
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 364-122-27 (.736) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
USC has 5 players who previously attended a Bay Area school: DE Omar Nazel (Skyline HS in Oakland), WR Grant Mattos (St. Francis HS in Mountain View and Foothill JC in Los Altos Hills), CB Ronald Nunn (St. Francis HS ni Mountain view and San Francisco CC), S Matt Lemos (St. Francis HS in Mountain View) and WR Forrest Mozart (St. Francis HS in Mountain View)...USC head coach Pete Carroll has Bay Area roots: he was born in San Francisco, played football at Redwood High in Larkspur, Marin Junior College and Pacific, then was an assistant coach at Pacific (1974-76, 1983) and with the San Francisco 49ers (1995-96)...USC offensive tackles/tight ends coach Keith Uperesa was with the Oakland Raiders in 1979 (Uperesa's brother, Kevin, played football at California in 1977 and 1978)...USC linebackers coach Nick Holt played football at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose...USC FB David Kirtman's father, Louis, ran track at Cal (his uncle, Louis, played football at Stanford in 1967)...USC WR Grant Mattos' sister, Adrienne, was an All-American freestyler on California's swim team and set several school records; that Golden Bear women's swim team is coached by Teri McKeever, who was an All-American swimmer at USC in 1980-81 and later an of Troy (her late father, Mike, was an All-American guard for the 1959 USC football team assistant coach with the Women, while her uncle, Marlin, was a Trojan All-American end in 1959 and 1960)...Cal men's swimming co-head coach Mike Bottom was an All-American swimmer at USC (1975-77)...USC pitching coach Dave Lawn was an assistant with Cal's baseball team from 1991 to 2000...Mark Long, an assistant athletic director at USC, lettered as an offensive lineman at Cal in 1983 and 1984...Dino Dennis, USC's equipment manager, was an assistant at California from 1975 to 1978...Law professor Noel Ragsdale, USC's faculty athletic representative, received her law degree from California in 1976.
NEW USC JERSEYS
In its first major uniform change in 30 years, USC are wearing 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. This week's NCAA ranking and the current USA Today/Sagarin ranking both again have USC playing the nation's toughest schedule. Coming into the season, Sports Illustrated listed Troy's slate as the nation's toughest. The cumulative record of USC's 12 opponents currently is 46-16 (74.2%); at the time they played USC, the first 6 foes were 16-4. Six of Troy's 2002 opponents currently are ranked in the AP poll (4 of USC's first 6 foes were ranked going into the game). Seven opponents played in bowls last season and 5 were ranked in the final 2001 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.
PK Drew Dunning hit a 35-yard field goal with 1:50 to play to tie the game and then hit another 35-yarder in the first overtime to give No. 17 Washington State a wild 30-27 win over No. 18 USC before a sellout crowd of 36,861 fans in Pullman and a national TBS cable audience. The loss snapped USC's 6-game Pac-10 winning streak and was only Troy's third loss ever in Pullman. Dunning's final field goalhis third of the contestcame after USC PK Ryan Killeen missed a 52-yarder in overtime. USC had battled back from a 24-14 deficit midway through the fourth quarter to take a 27-24 lead as QB Carson Palmer scored on a 3-yard scramble with 7:54 to go and then, after S Jason Leach's interception, Palmer hit WR Mike Williams on a 55-yard scoring bomb with 4:10 left (however, Killen's PAT kick was wide). WSU, using its spread offense, picked up 516 total yards (315 passing) against a Trojan defense that was ranked first nationally in total defense (205.0) and passing defense (101.0). WSU averaged 7.1 yards per play. Troy was productive, too, getting 453 total yards (5.5 yards per play), including 381 through the air, plus 28 first downs while holding the ball 33:58. Palmer hit 32-of-50 passes (both career highs) for 381 yards and 2 TDs (but he was sacked 4 times), with WR Kareem Kelly catching 8 passes for 66 yards and Williams getting 6 for 112 yards. USC drove 80 yards on the game's opening series, with TB Sultan McCullough (who ran for a team-best 62 yards on 13 carries overall) scoring on a 6-yard run. But WSU responded with a 48-yard Dunning field goal on its first possession and then a 3-yard TD pass from QB Jason Gesser to SE Mike Bush on its next series. Neither team scored again until the third quarter when WSU fumbled away the opening kickoff and USC capitalized with a 15-yard Palmer TD pass to TB Malaefou MacKenzie. However, on WSU's next play from scrimmage, RB Jermaine Green raced 75 yards for a touchdown to give the lead back to the Cougars. A 2-yard Gesser scoring pass to FL Devard Darling early in the final quarter upped WSU's lead to 24-14. Both teams squandered scoring opportunities earlier in the game (Palmer threw an interception in the end zone from 9 yards out and Killeen had a field goal try bounce off an upright, while WSU couldn't convert a fourth-and goal at the 1 and also missed a field goal). Gesser was 23-of-44 for 315 yards and the 2 TDs, while Green had a game-best 92 yards on 6 carries and RB John Tippins added 79 yards on 12 rushes. WR Jerome Riley caught 5 passes for 54 yards, while Bush (50 yards) and Darling (37 yards) each had 4 grabs. LB Matt Grootegoed led USC with 9 tackles and S DeShaun Hill added 8 (S Troy Polamalu sprained his ankle on WSU's first possession and only saw brief action late in the second half). The game was USC's 300th on live television.
FUN FACT I
USC has appeared on live television 300 times, on 28 different broadcasting outlets. The Trojans have won a game on the air of all but 4 of those stations (KTLA, Innovative, a local Memphis station and TBS).
FUN FACT II
USC is 3-4 in overtime games all-time.
FUN FACT III
So far in 2002, USC has faced the top individual rushers in the SEC (Carnell Williams) and Big 12 (Chris Brown) and the No. 2 rusher Pac-10 (Steven Jackson). Troy held them, respectively, to 21 carries for 94, 14 for 44 and 15 for 67 yards. That's 69.3 yards per game on about 16.7 carries (4.1 average per carry). What's more, there was just 1 touchdown between them.
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 9-8 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 (29 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 2 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).
--He had 4 tackles and a deflection against Oregon State.
--He sprained his ankle on the first series at Washington State and saw only brief action late in the second half (he didn't make a tackle).
'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.'
Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson:
'Troy Polamalu is as good as there is.'
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 (118-of-199, 59.3%, 1,344 yds, 7 TD, 4 int in 2002, plus 23 tcb, -62 yds, -2.7 avg, 3 TD) is one of the nation's marquee signalcallers. He currently is 23rd nationally in total offense (256.4, fourth in Pac-10). 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 6 USC career records: total offense (9,083, fourth on the Pac-10 chart), plays (1,507), passing yardage (9,220, sixth on the Pac-10 list), completions (736), attempts (1,280) and interceptions (43). His 46 career TD tosses are third most at USC (tied for 22nd in the Pac-10). In 2002, he has completed passes to 12 different receivers. With 37 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 18 times (including 8 contests at 70.0%-plus) and has thrown for 300-plus yards in 6 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 game 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.
--He completed 23-of-41 passes for 231 yards with 2 TDs against Oregon State while setting the USC career total offense mark.
--At Washington State, he hit 32-of-50 passes (both career highs and just 1 completion short of the USC game record) for 381 yards and 2 TDs (with an interception), plus he scrambled for a 3-yard score.
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.'
Oregon state head coach Dennis Erickson:
'Carson Palmer is playing like everyone thought he would. He's such a talent. He's not making mistakes and has a great arm and is throwing it well.'
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, 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.
--Cassel played the final series versus Oregon State, but didn't throw a pass (he also held on placekicks).
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. Speedy senior Sultan McCullough (78 tcb, team-best 353 yds, 4.5 avg, 4 TD in 2002, plus 8 rec, 7.6 avg and 2 KOR, 19.0 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 ninth on USC's prestigious career rushing ladder (2,339 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 (28 tcb, 87 yds, 3.1 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 15 rec, 14.3 avg, 2 TD and 1 tac), who has 852 rushing yards and 52 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). Senior Justin Fargas (36 tcb, 102 yds, 2.8 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 an 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. 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, but a back injury early this season might sideline him. Prep All-American Hershel Dennis (12 tcb, 44 yds, 3.7 avg in 2002, plus 1 rec, 4.0 avg and 4 KOR, 19.0 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.
--McCullough ran for a team-best 50 yards on 19 carries (he also caught 4 passes for 38 yards) against Oregon State, Fargas added 41 yards on 17 rushes, MacKenzie gained 7 yards on 2 carries and 6 yards on 3 receptions and Dennis ran for 3 yards on 4 tries and returned a kickoff 21 yards.
--McCullough ran for a team-best 62 yards on 13 tries at Washington State (with a 6-yard TD) and caught 2 passes for 12 yards, MacKenzie had 4 catches for 53 yards (with a 15-yard scoring reception) and Fargas added 33 yards on 12 rushes.
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: 838 carries, 3,645 yards, 4.3 average per carry, 25 TDs, 26 starts, 12 100-yard games...oh, and seven surgeries!
Senior Sunny Byrd (2 rec, 7.5 avg in 2002, plus 1 tac) 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 (6 rec, 9.3 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 (3 tcb, 8 yd, 2.7 avg in 2002, plus 2 rec, 7.5 avg and 1 tac, 1 FR), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors, sophomore Lee Webb, a converted linebacker, and redshirt freshman David Kirtman (1 tac in 2002).
--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.
--Against Oregon State, Pierson caught a 7-yard pass, Hancock lost 1 yard on a rush and Kirtman made a tackle.
--Pierson caught 4 passes for 47 yards at Washington State, while Hancock had a 12-yard reception and recovered a fumble (which led to a USC TD).
Swift senior Kareem Kelly (22 rec, 9.8 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 1 yd, 1.0 avg and 7 PR, 7.1 avg), a 4-year starter, is second on Troy's career pass catching list (180 receptions; he is tied for eighth 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 2,715, which is ninth on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 40 games he has played as a Trojan, a USC record (the Pac-10 mark is 42; Oregon's Keenan Howry currently also has a 40-game streak). 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.
--He had a 6-yard catch against Oregon State.
--He had a game-best 8 catches for 66 yards at Washington State.
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 27 rec, 12.1 avg, 1 TD in 2002) returns at the other wideout spot. The consistent 2-year starter has 92 career grabs to put him 14th on USC's career reception chart, including 34 (13.0 avg) in 2001 with 2 TDs. Also making an impact is true freshman Mike Williams (22 rec, 15.0 avg, 3 TD in 2002), a prep All-American. 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 (a back injury might sideline him), junior Sandy Fletcher (1 tac in 2002), a converted safety, and another freshman who came aboard this fall, prep All-American Chris McFoy. Redshirt freshman walk-on Greig Carlson (6 PR, 6.8 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.
--Colbert had 6 catches for 67 yards (both game highs) versus Oregon State, Williams caught 4 passes for 62 yards, including a pair of TDs (11 and 16 yards) and Carlson returned 3 punts for 4 yards.
--Williams caught 6 passes for 112 yards at Washington State, including a 55-yard TD bomb in which he outjumped the defender, while Colbert added 5 catches for 60 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 (8 rec, 8.3 avg in 2002, plus 1 tac) is the most experienced tight end on the roster, as he saw significant action the past 2 seasons as the backup. He has 37 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.
--Holmes caught 4 passes for 45 yards (both career bests) against Oregon State.
--Holmes had 3 receptions for 19 yards at Washington State.
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 and left tackle). 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 Justicehe has emerged as the starting right tackleand 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).
--The line starters of Rogers, Vandermade, Norm Katnik, Wilson and Justice remained intact versus Oregon State and Washington State.
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. In fact, some media have called Troy's 2002 defensive front, 'The Wild Bunch II,' in honor of USC's famed 1969 defensive line. Two of the nation's top young defensive linemen return as sophomore starters: tackle-end Shaun Cody (15 tac, 1 FR, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2002), who was a Freshman All-American first team pick last season, and end Kenechi Udeze (21 tac, 8 for loss, 3.5 sack, 3 FF, 1 dfl 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 (5 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 (24 tac, 8.5 for loss, 5.5 sack, 2 FR including 1 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 (22 tac, 5 for loss, 2 sack, 1 int, 2 dfl, 1 FF 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 defensive linemen was dominant against Oregon State (8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 deflections, 2 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries which led to scores) as Nazel had a team-best 7 tackles (4 for loss with 2 sacks) plus a deflection and forced fumble to earn Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors, Udeze and Patterson each had 4 stops, with 2 for losses (Udeze had a sack, deflection and forced fumble, while Patterson had 2 sacks and recovered a fumble), Riley had 2 tackles and Cody recovered a fumble.
--At Washington State, Udeze had 5 tackles (with a sack) and forced a fumble, Cody added 4 stops with a deflection, 2 of Patterson's 3 tackles were for losses and Nazel had 3 stops.
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 (16 tac, 3 for loss, 2 FR, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (29 tac, 5.5 for loss, 1 dfl 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 (team-best 30 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl 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 is 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 (6 tac, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) and Dallas Sartz (2 tac, 1 int 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.
--Grootegoed had 5 tackles (3 for loss) and a deflection against Oregon State, Lua had 2 stops, Pollard had a tackle for loss and a deflection, Simmons had a tackle and Sartz returned an interception 22 yards.
--Grootegoed had a team-best 9 tackles (1 for a loss) at Washington State, Simmons (with a deflection) and Pollard (1 for a loss) each had 4 stops, Lua had 2 and Sartz 1.
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 solidify, 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 (16 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl in 2002), who has 11 career starts, and then a new face. Junior college All-American Ronald Nunn (3 tac in 2002), who is a junior, started the first 3 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. So, redshirt freshman William Buchanon (9 tac, 1 for loss, 5 dfl in 2002), a converted wide receiver, has taken over, with help from prep All-American Justin Wyatt (4 tac, 1 FR in 2002), who is a freshman, and junior Marcell Allmond (1 dfl in 2002), another 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). Rideaux (sprints, relays) and Allmond (hurdles) also compete for the USC track team. Senior DeShaun Hill (22 tac, 1 FR, 1 FF, 5 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 sophomore Jason Leach (12 tac, 1 for loss, 2 int, 2 dfl in 2002), redshirt freshman John Walker (he also can play cornerback), and first-year freshman Mike Ross (2 tac, 1 TD on a blocked punt recovery in 2002).
--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.
--Hill had 6 tackles with 2 deflections against Oregon State, Leach and Buchanon both added 2 stops, including 1 for a loss (Leach had 2 deflections and Buchanon had 1), and Rideaux and Wyatt each had a tackle.
--At Washington State, Hill had 8 tackles and a deflection, Leach filled in for an injured Polamalu and made 6 stops and intercepted a pass, Rideaux had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection, Buchanon had 2 tackles and 3 deflections, Ross had a tackle and Allmond had a breakup.
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, when Davis struggled early in 2002, he was replaced by sophomore Ryan Killeen (3-of-6 FG, 6-of-7 PAT in 2002), a junior college fall transfer. Killeen also handles the kickoffs, replacing David Newbury, who last year 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. So far this year, 15 of Killeen's 26 kickoffs have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 12 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 (41.3 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, 13 of his 30 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 holderMalone, backed by QB Matt Casselnow 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, punts are being handled by redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Greig Carlson (6 PR, 6.8 avg in 2002) or senior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (7 PR, 7.1 avg in 2002), while the kickoff return duties are manned by senior tailback Sultan McCullough (2 KOR, 19.0 avg in 2002), a senior, freshman tailback Hershel Dennis (4 KOR, 19.0 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).
--Killeen replaced Davis as the placekicker against Oregon State and hit 3-of-4 field goals (43, 42 and 32 yards), including the first 2 tries of his career, plus added an extra point and saw 2 of his kickoffs pin the Beavers within the 20 to earn Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week notice, while Malone averaged 39.8 yards on his 6 punts (with 3 keeping OSU within the 20).
--At Washington State, Malone averaged 43.7 yards on 6 punts (with 3 pinning the Cougars within the 20), but Killeen missed a pair of field goals and 1 of his 4 PATs (however, 3 of his 5 kickoffs were touchbacks).
STATISTICS OF NOTE
***USC is fourth nationally in total defense (267.2, first in Pac-10), seventh in pass defense (143.8, first in Pac-10), ninth in pass efficiency defense (90.4, first in Pac-10), tied for 11th in scoring defense (15.4, second in Pac-10), 21st in turnover margin (+1.2, fifth in Pac-10) and 25th in passing offense (268.8, sixth in Pac-10).
***USC is allowing opponents to convert just 15.6% of third downs (best in the Pac-10) in 2002 and none of their 5 fourth downs (tied for first in Pac-10).
***USC is averaging 34:04 time of possession (tops in the Pac-10) in 2002 and has won the possession battle in 4 games (all but Kansas State).
***In the red zone, USC has scored 15-of-21 times (71.4%) in 2002, while allowing opponents to score just 61.1% (first in the Pac-10).
***In first halves in 2002, USC allowed 54 total yards to Colorado, 118 to Kansas State and 98 to Oregon State.
***In second halves in 2002, USC allowed 35 total yards to Auburn, 7 to Colorado and 33 to Oregon State.
***Through the first 5 games of 2002, no opposing runner has rushed for 100 yards.
***USC has allowed only 3 TD passes in 2002 and opponents are completing just 43.2% of their passes, both lowest in the Pac-10.
CAPITALIZING ON TURNOVERS
USC has capitalized 64.3% of the time when it gets a turnover. So far in 2002, the Trojans have collected 14 turnovers and scored 9 times (8 touchdowns and a field goal).
FIELD GOAL, PAT ADVENTURES
USC's field goal and PAT tries have been an adventure at times in 2002. The Trojans are 4-of-9 on field goals, 13-of-17 on PAT kicks and 0-of-1 on PAT passes.
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, 9 walk-ons have played: WR Greig Carlson, DE Jay Bottom, SNP Joe Boskovich, DT Spencer Torgan, WR Forrest Mozart, S Greg Farr, LB Collin Ashton, WR Steve Levario Jr. and WR Matt Haugen. 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.
***A bronze sculpture of 'The Wild Bunch,' USC's famous 1969 defensive line (Al Cowlings, Jimmy Gunn, Willard Scott, Tody Smith and Charlie Weaver), was unveiled in front of Heritage Hall in September of 2002. Commissioned by a donor who wished to remain anonymous, it was sculpted by Don Winton and Ernie Shelton (USC's 1954 and 1955 high jump champion).
***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.
***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. QB Morgan Craig is the grandson of ex-USC 1939 All-American QB Grenville 'Grenny' Lansdell. 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. LB Dallas Sartz's father, Jeff, played safety at Oregon State and his grandfather, also named Dallas, was a Golden Gloves boxer at Washington State and a professional hydroplane racer. 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 WR 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 300 times, including 166 of the past 168 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), #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), #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), #40 Greg Farr (S, 6-0, 195, Jr./Jr., Carlsbad, Carlsbad HS/Palomar JC), #49 Mike Brittingham (S, 6-1, 195, Fr./Fr., Santa Ana, Foothill 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).
***Eight players have switched positions: William Buchanon is now 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, Lee Webb is at FB and Forrest Mozart is at WR.
***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.
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
LOFA TATUPUH:will have to sit out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer rules...He started at linebacker as a first-year freshman in 2001 at Maine...He was second on the Black Bears in tackles with 67, including 13 for losses (with 3.5 sacks), tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3 (returned for a 16.7 average), and had 2 deflections, 1 forced fumble and 4 kickoff returns (for a 14.8 average)...He was named the team's Defensive Rookie of the Year...Maine went 9-3 in 2001, winning a share of the Atlantic 10 title and its first post-season game en route to advancing to the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals...As a 2000 senior at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., he recorded 110 tackles at linebacker and threw for 800 yards and 10 TDs as a quarterback while also rushing for 450 yards and 5 TDs...He was a 2000 All-State pick, as well as a 2-time (1999-2000) Sun Chronicle All-Star and All-League linebacker (earning All-League Defensive MVP honors as a senior)...King Philip Regional's head coach was his father, former USC fullback Mosi Tatupu (1974-77), who was a member of Troy's 1974 national championship team (he ran for 1,277 yards on 223 carries in his Trojan career and was USC's Offensive Player of the Year and Most Inspirational Player in 1977) and then played 14 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1978-90) and Los Angeles Rams (1991)....His name is pronounced 'LOW-fah ta-TOO-poo.'
FROSTEE RUCKERH:will have to sit out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer rules...He redshirted as a first-year freshman outside linebacker at Colorado State in 2001...He was named to the 2000 All-CIF Division VI first team (as a running back), Orange County Register All-Orange County second team (as a linebacker) and All-Golden West League MVP as a senior at Tustin (Calif.) High.
TRAVIS TOFIH:was a 2-time (2000-01) All-Star (winning Defensive Line MVP in 2001) as a senior defensive end at Fagaitua (American Samoa) High...He had 49 tackles and 9 sacks in 2001...He also won a Samoa International Sports Award in 2001, which recognizes the achievements of Samoan athletes...His real first name is Tupula...His cousin, Suaese 'Pooch' Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech...Tofi's last name is pronounced 'TOE-fee.'
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.
New head coach Jeff Tedford saw his California squad get off to a surprising start with wins over Baylor, New Mexico and at No. 15 Michigan State. Then, after the Golden Bears lost their next 2 (to Air Force and Washington State), last week they pulled an upset at No. 12 Washington, 34-27, snapping a 19-game losing skid to the Huskies (and ending UW's 17-game home winning streak). Cal last knocked off a pair of Top 15 opponents in 1951. Offensively, Cal is ninth nationally in scoring offense (40.5, tops in Pac-10) and 24th in passing offense (272.3), with 19 of its 27 offensive touchdowns coming through the air. Directing the offense is senior QB Kyle Boller (111-of-199, 55.8%, 1,478 yds, 16 TD, 4 int in 2002), fourth on the school's career passing yardage list (6,647) and second on passing touchdowns (52). At Washington, he was 13-of-24 for 266 yards and 5 touchdowns. The top receivers are sophomore WR Geoff McArthur (30 rec, 12.0 avg., 1 TD in 2002), junior WR Jonathan Makonnen (26 rec, 15.7 avg, 4 TD in 2002) and senior WR LaShaun Ward (18 rec, 17.3 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 14 KOR, 27.1 avg to rank 15th nationally and first in the Pac-10). Senior TB Joe Igber (121 tcb, 537 yds, 4.4 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 16 rec, 10.8 avg, 2 TD), who has a pair of 100-yard rushing games this season, is fourth on Cal's career rushing chart (2,531 yards) and seventh on the all-purpose yardage list (3,149). On defense, the Golden Bearswho are tied for fourth nationally in turnover margin (+2.2, first in Pac-10)feature senior MLB Marcus Daniels (40 tac, 2.5 for loss, 3 dfl in 2002) and senior DE Tully Banta-Cain (21 tac, 11.5 for loss, 7 sack, 1 FR in 2002). Senior PK Mark Jensen (28-of-28 PAT, 11-of-14 FG in 2002), seventh on Cal's career scoring list (198 points), is tied for seventh nationally in field goals (1.8, third in Pac-10) and tied for 15th in scoring (10.2, third in Pac-10).
The women's volleyball team, ranked No. 1 nationally, will be recognized during the Team Trojan Spotlight...Coxswain Melissa Zimel, a kinesiology/bioethics major, will be saluted during the Verizon Academic Salute...1980 All-American safety Ronnie Lott will take part in an on-field ceremony for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame...Lott, also a Pro Football Hall of Famer, will also be honored during video board presentations (FOX Sports Greatest Trojan and Trojans in the News)...About 2,800 local disadvantaged youths will be in attendance as part of the 'Touchdown For Youth' program conducted by USC and the Los Angeles Sports Council Foundation...The Boy Scouts will hand out identification kits in conjunction with the National Identification Program...It's USC Staff Appreciation Day, with free tickets for USC employees.
OUT: CB Ronald Nunn (knee), CB Kevin Arbet (foot), WR D. Hale (ankle), OG-OT Joe McGuire (shoulder), DE-DT A.J. Single (shoulder), QB Nick Vanderboom (knee)DOUBTFUL: LB Aaron Graham (hip), TE Scott Huber (hip), LB-DE Chris Prosser (concussion), DE Daniel Urquhart (arm), TB Darryl Poston (back), WR Jason Mitchell (back), OG Fred Matua (knee)QUESTIONABLE: WR Sandy Fletcher (ankle), LB Lee Webb (back)PROBABLE: S Troy Polamalu (ankle), PK David Davis (knee)
6-6, 305, Freshman
Long Beach, Calif.
Winston Justice sits outside of Heritage Hall with two breakfast burritos and a hamburger. The soft-spoken Justice is preparing for an upcoming class, but he must first take care of business.
'I don't have too much free time,' said the 6-foot-6, 305-pound freshman offensive tackle. 'In between football and classes, I have just enough time to eat.'
Unwrapping his first burrito, Justice adjusts his glasses and puts down his books. This is a rare moment to unwind for Justice, but not everyone can sympathize with him.
'People don't understand how hard we have to work,' said Justice, who celebrated his 18th birthday against Colorado by becoming the first true freshman to start on the USC offensive line since 1996. 'My roommates don't understand why I get a scholarship and food to play football. They don't understand the hard work that we actually have to do. We have to wake up at 7 a.m. to lift. Then, during the off-season, we still have to lift and work hard. It's a year round thing.'
Justice's commitment to his academics is one of the reasons why he chose to come to USC and one of the reasons why he is at the school after being heavily recruited, while some of his friends are still trying to get into college.
'Some of my friends didn't focus too much on school,' said Justice. 'It's hard to do both, but you have to find that balance. You have to find a balance with football, school and your social life.'
Despite his size, Justice never participated much in athletics as a child, focusing more on his academics. In fact, Justice didn't even begin playing football until his sophomore year at Long Beach Poly High.
'Growing up, my parents weren't into sports,' said Justice. 'My parents are from Barbados and they never really emphasized sports. They emphasized school. I really got into sports by myself.'
When Justice did get into sports, his first love was not football, but basketball. He played for the basketball team at Poly for two years before a friend told him he should consider switching sports.
'I wasn't sure how much I would like it but it worked out kind of well,' said Justice, who claims he can still do a 360-degree dunk. 'It took me about a year to adjust, but after that football just grew on me.'
After a stellar three-year career at Long Beach Poly, where the Jackrabbits went 39-1-1 and won three CIF Division I titles, Justice was one of the highest-ranked offensive lineman in the country and received interest from some of the nation's top teams.
After seemingly changing his mind every other week between USC and UCLA, Justice finally joined Poly teammate Hershel Dennis and a long line of Long Beach Poly players who have attended USC.
'I think USC has a Poly tradition going here,' said Justice. 'Recently, you've had Willie McGinest come here and then Kareem Kelly. Ever since we were at Poly we were always told about them, so going to USC has always been a dream.'
Although Justice is a freshman, he has held his own as a starter on the Trojans' offensive line. It was a goal he set for himself coming in, in large part because of the level of competition he faced at Poly and the amount of attention he received while playing there.
'I wanted to start and I thought if I could start I could help the team,' said Justice. 'I think playing at Poly really helped me to not be afraid of big crowds and being used to being on TV or in the paper because Poly is like a mini college.'
While Justice faced high school national powers such as De La Salle and Mater Dei, nothing could have prepared him for playing for a college football power like USC, which consistently plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
'In college, every player is big and every player is strong and every player is fast,' said Justice, who enjoys to dance the calypso with his parents when he goes back to his Long Beach home. 'In high school, the players probably weren't as good. You had 220-pound defensive ends and now you have 270-pound defensive ends, who are faster and stronger. And they're older too and have tattoos on their arm for intimidation. It was new, but after a game or two, all the trash talking and all the tattoos fade away and you're just playing football.'
By Arash Markazi
Wed 2/21 | 7:30pm PTLive
Thu 2/22 | 6:00pm PTLive