Top 10 USC Football On Three-Game Win Streak Returns To Action At Stanford

Nov. 3, 2002

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TICKETS Tickets for the USC-Stanford game, priced at $28, are available at the USC Ticket Office (213-740-GO SC).

RADIO-TV
Live regional TV: 4 p.m. (PST), ABC-TV, Derrin Horton, Mike Mayock.
Live local radio: 3 p.m. (PST), KMPC-AM (1540), Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, Petros Papadakis, Jeff Kopp and Mark Carrier (includes 1-hour pre-game and 2-hour post-game shows). Five other stations are included on the USC radio network: KPLS-AM 830 in Orange, XEMM-AM 800 in San Diego, KXPS-AM 1010 in Palm Springs, KGEO-AM 1230 in Bakersfield and KVEN-AM 1450 in Ventura. Fans also can hear the live KMPC broadcast on the Internet as a 'cybercast' on www.usctrojans.com or can pay to listen to it live by dialing 1-800-846-4675 ext. 5933.
Local Spanish-language radio: 3:50 p.m. (PST), XPRS-AM (1090), Jorge Villanueva, Efren Dominguez, Victor Duarte.
USC Insider Show: 7 p.m. (PST), Tuesdays during football season, KMPC-AM (1540) and KPLS-AM (830), Pete Arbogast, Petros Papadakis.
USC Trojan Talk: 7 p.m. (PST), Sundays from late August through Memorial Day, KDWN-AM (720), Harvey Hyde, Chuck Hayes.

USC ONLINE--The USC athletic department has an official 'home page' on the World Wide Web, featuring current and historical information about Trojan sports. For access, type http://www.usctrojans.com.

IT'S NOT SOUTHERN CAL--Note to the media: In editorial references to athletic teams of the University of Southern California, the following are preferred: USC, Southern California, So. California, Troy, Trojans and (for women's teams) Women of Troy. PLEASE do not use Southern Cal.

PAC-10 ONLINE--Pac-10 information, press releases, statistics and links to all league schools are available online at http://www.pac-10.org.

PAC-10 SATELLITE FEED--The Pac-10 provides a weekly satellite feed featuring interviews with coaches and selected players regarding upcoming games along with highlight footage. The half-hour feed airs every Wednesday (Sept. 4 through Nov. 20, plus Tuesday, Nov. 26) at 11:30 a.m. (PST). Coordinates are GE 2, Transponder 11 (C-band). Trouble numbers: 310-543-1835 or 310-231-3229 (or pager 888-423-0095) or 925-932-4411.

PAC-10 COACHES TELECONFERENCE--Pac-10 football coaches are available for 10 minutes each on a media teleconference beginning at 10 a.m. (PST) every Tuesday (Sept. 17 through Nov. 19) during the season. USC coach Pete Carroll comes on at 10:40 a.m. (PST). Beginning at 3 p.m. (PST) each of those Tuesdays, a taped replay of the teleconference is available until the next call. Call the Pac-10 office (925-932-4411) or USC sports information office (213-740-8480) to obtain the media-only phone numbers for the Pac-10 Coaches Teleconference.

TOP 10 USC FOOTBALL ON 3-GAME WIN STREAK RETURNS TO ACTION VERSUS STANFORD ON ROAD

THE FACTS
USC (6-2 overall, 4-1 Pac-10) vs. Stanford (2-6 overall, 1-4 Pac-10), Saturday, Nov. 9, 4 p.m. PST, Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, Calif.

THEMES
USC, returning to action after a bye, enters the crucial month of November on a 3-game winning streak. Troy is off to its best start since 1995 (and its highest AP ranking this far into a season since 1989). Now, it's the annual trip to the Bay Area. The Trojans have lost their last 3 games to Stanford (by a total of just 11 points)...however, they've never lost 4 in a row to the Cardinal. Stanford is USC's oldest current opponent. The Cardinal, which has only 2 victories in 2002 under new coach Buddy Teevens, is coming off a 27-point loss at Oregon (which USC beat before its bye). Stanford has one of the Pac-10's top rushing attacks. USC is in the Top 20 nationally in total offense and defense. USC QB Carson Palmer, who owns 9 USC records and is closing in on several Pac-10 marks, has vaulted into Heisman Trophy contention. The game will be televised live regionally on ABC-TV.

RANKINGS
USC is ranked 10th by AP and ninth by USA Today/ESPN. Stanford is not ranked.

SERIES
Stanford is USC's oldest rival, with the series dating back to 1905. USC holds a 53-24-3 lead over Stanford, but Troy has lost the last 3 meetings and 4 of the last 6. In its last 26 meetings with the Cardinal, USC has gone 19-6-1 (and Troy is 34-9-1 in the past 44 games). In games in Palo Alto, the Trojans are 29-8-2. USC has lost there just 3 times since 1980 (and only 4 times since 1956), but is 2-3 in the last 5 trips.Last year in the Coliseum, USC fell to Stanford, 21-16. It was Stanford's third win in a row over USC (by a margin of just 11 points), the first time that has happened since 1954-56. The Cardinal jumped off to a 21-0 halftime lead (Troy's largest halftime deficit since a 35-point gap in the 1994 Penn State game) on a 4-yard run by TB Kerry Carter in the first quarter and a pair of second quarter passes from QB Randy Fasani to FL Luke Powell (34 yards) and TE Brett Pierce (2 yards). The last 2 scores followed Trojan turnovers in USC territory. The Trojans got untracked in the second half, sparked by some big defensive and special teams plays. First, after CB Kevin Arbet recovered a fumble (LB Frank Strong stripped Fasani of the ball), PK David Davis nailed a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter. Then 2 series later, after Arbet returned a punt a career-long 47 yards to the Stanford 8-yard line, TB Sultan McCullough ran it in on the next play. Finally, with 6:34 to play in the game, CB Chris Cash blocked PK Mike Biselli's 39-yard field goal try and CB Kris Richard raced 65 yards for a TD (USC's 2-point conversion try failed). It was Troy's first TD return with a blocked field goal since Jerald Henry's 60-yarder against California in 1994. The Trojans got the ball back again with 5:20 to go, but had to punt after 3 plays and Stanford ran out the clock (in fact, it was Troy's only possession of the quarter). USC missed on several other scoring opportunities, getting within the Cardinal 36-yard line 4 times but coming away with no points (turning the ball over on downs, missing a 26-yard field goal, throwing an interception and being forced to punt), and were hampered by some untimely penalties (9 for 93 yards). Overall, USC had just 268 total yards (only 28 on the ground, with just 1 rushing yard in the first half) to Stanford's 397 (only 166 came after the half, including just 44 passing). The Trojans held the ball only 24:12, converted only 4-of-15 third downs, had just 13 first downs and had 3 turnovers. For USC, QB Carson Palmer was 22-of-42 for 240 yards, but had 2 interceptions, while WR Kareem Kelly caught a game-high 6 passes for 46 yards. Fasani was 11-of-25 for 194 yards and the 2 scores, but was picked off once and lost 2 fumbles (he added 43 yards on 10 rushes). Pierce caught 5 passes for 40 yards, Powell had 4 grabs for a game-best 124 yards, Carter ran for 79 yards on 23 carries and TB Brian Allen added 63 yards on 12 tries. S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 10 tackles and blocked a punt, LB Mike Pollard added 9 stops and 3 deflections and S DeShaun Hill made 7 stops and intercepted a pass. In 2000 in the last game in Palo Alto, backup QB Chris Lewis threw a 20-yard TD pass to FL Jamien McCullum on fourth-and-goal as time expired to give Stanford a stunning 32-30 win over USC as the Trojans couldn't hold a 10-point lead with less than 5:30 to play. Lewis came in for the Cardinal's final 6 plays when starting QB Randy Fasani was injured on a run to the Trojan 25-yard line with less than a minute to go. Although Stanford held the ball nearly twice as long as USC (39:29-20:31), ran off 37 more plays (96-59), had 9 more first downs (26-17) and converted 13-of-23 third downs (and 3-of-4 fourth downs), the Cardinal managed only 1 more yard of total offense (421-420). Stanford opened up a 14-0 lead late in the first half behind a pair of short TD runs by RB Kerry Carter. But Troy pulled back to within 14-8 at halftime on a 2-yard TD run by TB Petros Papadakis and a safety when P Mike Biselli was tackled in the end zone. Carter score on another short run on the opening series of the second half, but USC then scored 22 unanswered points to go up by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter. First, TB Sultan McCullough burst 39 yards for a TD on USC's first drive of the second half. Then, Papadakis had another 2-yard scoring run a minute later, just 3 plays after CB Chris Cash intercepted a Fasani pass. PK John Wall hit a 22-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, then QB Carson Palmer ran 1-yard on a naked bootleg on USC's next possession to go up 30-20 with 8:16 to play. But Stanford came back, driving 78 yards in 11 plays, capped by Carter's 20-yard fourth down scoring run with 5:22 to go. When USC went 3-and-out on its ensuing possession, the Cardinal took 13 plays to drive 50 yards in the final 3:42 for the victory. Carter--who had a career-high 123 yards on 20 carries--tied a USC opponent record with his 4 TDs and WR DeRonnie Pitts's career-best 13 catches (for 176 yards) tied another Trojan opponent mark. Fasani, who had missed the previous 3 games with a knee injury, was 18-of-36 for 196 yards in his return. McCullough had a game-high 130 yards on just 11 rushes (his fourth 100-yard outing of the season), while Palmer was 15-of-30 for 190 yards. LB Zeke Moreno posted a game-best 12 tackles and S Troy Polamalu added 11 stops.

AFTER BYES
USC is 77-41-4 (.648) in all regular season games it has played following byes. Since 1955, the Trojans are 38-12-1 following byes (6 of those losses and the tie were to UCLA).

NOVEMBER RECORD
USC has a 212-121-20 (.629) all-time record while playing in the month of November.

CONNECTIONS
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 in 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 and USC offensive line/guards and centers coach Tim Davis played at Castro Valley High...USC DE-DT A.J. Single's father, Doug, lettered in football at Stanford in 1971 and 1972 (the 1971 team won the Rose Bowl), then was Stanford's offensive line coach for 3 years (1976-78)...USC FB David Kirtman's uncle, Louis, played football at Stanford in 1967 (father, Louis, ran track at Cal)...Stanford CB Garry Cobb is the son of former USC OLB Garry Cobb (1976-78)...Stanford CB Marcus McCutcheon is the brother of former USC CB Daylon McCutcheon (1995-98)...Four Stanford assistant coaches once coached at USC: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford was USC's wide receivers coach from 1989 to 1996 (he also was a graduate assistant coach at Troy in 1977 and played quarterback and safety at USC from 1973 to 1976), co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mark Banker (he was a defensive assistant at USC in 1996), offensive line coach Steve Morton (he handled USC's tight ends in 1999 and the offensive line in 2000) and running backs coach Wayne Moses (he held the same role at Troy in 2001)...Stanford assistant video director Gurjot Dhaliwal was 1998 letterman tight end at USC...USC secondary coach Greg Burns will celebrate his 31st birthday on Saturday (Nov. 9).

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.)

CAPTAINS
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.

SCHEDULE
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 72-35 (67.3%); at the time they played USC, the first 9 foes were 28-13 (only Stanford came in with a losing record). Six of Troy's 2002 opponents currently are ranked in the AP poll (6 of USC's first 9 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: 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.

LAST GAME
QB Carson Palmer set 3 school records as No. 15 USC thumped No. 14 Oregon, 44-33, before a sold-out, noisy crowd of 56,754 fans in Eugene and a regional ABC-TV audience. The victory snapped Troy's 4-game losing streak to the Ducks and a 3-game skid in Autzen Stadium. The Trojans, who trailed 19-14 at halftime, scored 30 unanswered points (including 20 in the third quarter) before the Ducks added a pair of late touchdowns against the USC reserves. Palmer set USC single game marks for passing yardage (448) and total offense (434) while hitting 73.8% (31-of-42) of his throws (he had 1 interception) and his 5 TD tosses equaled a USC record. WR Mike Williams caught 13 passes (a USC freshman game record) for 226 yards (both career bests) with 2 scores (his fifth consecutive game with a TD grab and his fourth in a row with 100-plus receiving yards). USC piled up 608 yards of total offense (the most since getting 621 versus Oregon State in 1996) on 88 plays with 31 first downs (the most since getting 35 at Arizona State in 1988) while holding the ball for 36:59. Oregon scored on its first 5 possessions of the game, but USC was able to stay within range. PK Jared Siegel, who had 4 field goals on the day, kicked a 44-yarder to open the scoring. But USC countered with an 8-yard Palmer scoring pass to TB Malaefou MacKenzie. Oregon responded with a 54-yard TD pass from QB Jason Fife to WR Keenan Howry, but USC came right back on Palmer's 35-yard TD toss to Williams. Siegel then hit field goals (41, 48 and 31 yards) on Oregon's next 3 drives to end the first half scoring. It was all USC after intermission as the Trojans scored on 5 of their first 6 drives: a 31-yard Palmer pass to WR Kareem Kelly, a 15-yard run by TB Justin Fargas, a 16-yard Palmer to Williams pass, another 8-yard Palmer pass to MacKenzie and a career-long 48-yard field goal by PK Ryan Killeen. The Ducks didn't get on the board again until the game's final minutes on a 1-yard run by TB Terrence Whitehead and a 31-yard Fife TD pass to Howry. Fargas, making his first Trojan start, ran for a career-high 139 yards on 27 carries. Kelly (94 yards) and MacKenzie (43 yards) each had 6 receptions, while WR Keary Colbert added 4 for 77 yards. Oregon, which had 412 total yards (just 76 rushing), converted just 5-of-16 third downs. TB Onterrio Smith, the nation's No. 6 rusher, had his string of 7 straight 100-yard games snapped as he was held to just 79 yards on 19 rushes. Fife, who was second nationally in passing efficiency, hit just 20-of-45 aerials for 336 yards, but had 2 interceptions (by LB Melvin Simmons and CB Darrell Rideaux). Howry had 7 catches for 147 yards and WR Samie Parker caught 6 for 77 yards. USC LB Matt Grootegoed had a team-best 8 tackles, while S Troy Polamalu added 7. It was the largest crowd to see a football game in the state of Oregon.

WATCH LISTS
The following Trojans made the official 'Watch Lists' for national 2002 post-season awards:

USC'S PAC-10 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Trojans have won Pac-10 Player of the Week honors 5 times so far in 2002 (USC had only 3 honorees all of 2001).

FUN FACT
USC has a 6-3 record against Stanford when the Trojans are coming off a bye, with wins in the last 4 such games. The victories came in 1919-31-52-60-82-85 and the losses were in 1933-35-41.

PETE CARROLL
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 12-8 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.

ALL-AMERICAN TROY
Senior Troy Polamalu (41 tac, 4 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), in his third year 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).
  • He sat out the California game with the ankle sprain.
  • He had 5 tackles, an interception (which he returned 33 yards to set up a USC field goal) and a deflection against Washington.
  • At Oregon, he had 7 tackles (1 for a loss).

    '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.'

    THE CARSON SHOW
    Senior quarterback Carson Palmer (195-of-314, 62.1%, 2,429 yds, 18 TD, 8 int in 2002, plus 32 tcb, -94 yds, -2.9 avg, 3 TD) is one of the nation's marquee signalcallers. He currently is ninth nationally in total offense (291.9, second in Pac-10) and 20th in passing efficiency (140.9, fifth in Pac-10). In his last 2 games, he has thrown for 796 yards and 9 TDs (and in his last 4 games, he has gone for 1,466 yards and 13 TDs). His 195 completions in 2002 puts him ninth on the USC season list and his 2,335 yards of total offense is ninth on the Trojan seasn chart. He is 1 of 5 semifinalists for the 2002 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and is on the 2002 Davey O'Brien Award 'Watch List.' He is listed as a 2002 Heisman Trophy contender by CNNSI.com, SportingNews.com, CBS.Sportsline.com and FOXSports.com. Now in his fourth year as a starter, he owns 6 USC career records: total offense (10,136, third on the Pac-10 chart), plays (1,631), passing yardage (10,305, third on the Pac-10 list), completions (813), attempts (1,404) and interceptions (47). His 57 career TD tosses are second most at USC (10th in the Pac-10), 1 shy of Rob Johnson's school record. His 9,875 non-bowl career passing yards ranks 20th on the NCAA ladder and his 9,608 non-bowl career total offense yardage is 28th in the NCAA. In 2002, he has completed passes to 12 different receivers. With 40 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 21 times (including 9 contests at 70.0%-plus) and has thrown for 300-plus yards in 8 games (4 in 2002, including 3 of the past 4), with a pair of 400-yard outings. He owns 3 USC game records: total offense (434), passing yards (448) and TD passes (5, shared with Rodney Peete), all set at Oregon in 2002. He is the first player to lead USC in passing for 4 years. 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 since-broken USC game record (his 411 passing yards in that game were 4 shy of tying that 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.
  • He was 25-of-39 for 289 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions against California.
  • He hit 21-of-34 passes for 348 yards with 4 TDs (equaling a then-career best) against Washington.
  • He had a record-setting performance at Oregon: he set USC single game marks for passing yardage (448) and total offense (434) while hitting 73.8% (31-of-42) of his throws (he had 1 interception) and his 5 TD tosses equaled a USC record. He was 14-of-18 for 216 yards in the first half and then 12-of-14 for 183 yards in the third quarter. For this, he was named National Player of the Week by CNNSI.com, USAToday.com and SportingNews.com, as well as Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week.

    WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT CARSON PALMER
    USC head coach Pete Carroll: 'He's got to be one of the best quarterbacks in America. I don't know who could possibly be better.'
    Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti: 'He's always been a great athlete, but he's playing like a great quarterback right now.'
    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.'
    Hunter S. Thompson, ESPN.com: 'Let me tell you about this vision I had. Who can know for sure about these things. In my vision, Beano Cook is saying he 'has no idea who will win the Heisman Trophy this year.' But I do. Try Carson Palmer from USC, who has a bitchin' arm and a nice habit of lulling a defense to sleep with normal stuff, and then breaking their backs with long weird strikes to the heart. Sudden death: WHACK! Right down the middle, so fast that it catches you flat-footed, two steps behind and stupid.'

    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.

    OTHER QUARTERBACKS
    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 came in 2002: 2 snaps at the end of the Colorado game and 3 late mop-up series at Oregon). 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).
  • Cassel played the final series against Washington, but didn't throw a pass, while Hart saw his first action as a Trojan while playing on the punt return team.
  • Leinart directed 3 late series at Oregon, but didn't throw a pass.

    TAILBACKS
    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 (141 tcb, team-best 582 yds, 4.1 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 9 rec, 7.1 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 eighth on USC's prestigious career rushing ladder (2,568 yards, 41st on the Pac-10 list). He has rushed for 100 yards 11 times in his career (twice in 2002). The 1999 Pac-10 100-meter champion, he is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17). Senior Malaefou MacKenzie (34 tcb, 106 yds, 3.1 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 27 rec, 10.9 avg, 4 TD and 2 tac), who has 871 rushing yards and 64 receptions in his Trojan career (he has started 8 times), gained a sixth year of eligibility in 2002 from the NCAA. He was expected to team with McCullough to give Troy a 1-2 punch at the tailback position in 2001. But he left school at midseason last fall without seeing any action and returned home to Western Samoa (he missed 4 early games with a knee sprain and a fifth to attend his father's funeral). He plays often in 2002 in 2-back sets, on passing downs and even as a fullback. Senior Justin Fargas (70 tcb, 264 yds, 3.8 avg, 2 TD 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 has sidelined him. Prep All-American Hershel Dennis (25 tcb, 70 yds, 2.8 avg in 2002, plus 2 rec, 3.0 avg and 7 KOR, 16.6 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.
  • Against California, McCullough equaled a career-high with 176 rushing yards (his 11th career 100-yard game) and had a touchdown on a career-best 39 carries (the most by a Trojan since Steven Webster had 40 against Washington in 1987), plus he caught a 3-yard pass, to earn Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors, while MacKenzie ran for 15 yards on 3 tries, caught 4 passes for 24 yards and had a tackle, Dennis returned 3 kickoffs for 40 yards and Fargas had a 1-yard carry.
  • McCullough had 37 yards on 22 carries against Washington, while Fargas added 22 yards on 6 tries (with a 13-yard TD. his first at USC), MacKenzie caught 2 passes for 12 yards (he started at fullback) and Dennis ran for 7 yards on 2 carries.
  • At Oregon in his first start as a Trojan, Fargas ran for a career-high 139 yards on 27 carries with a 15-yard TD, MacKenzie caught 6 passes for 43 yards (with a pair of 8-yard TDs) and ran 4 yards on 3 tries from fullback, Dennis rushed for 19 yards on 10 carries (he also caught a 2-yard pass) and McCullough added 16 yards on 2 carries.

    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: 941 carries, 4,055 yards, 4.3 average per carry, 28 TDs, 31 starts, 14 100-yard games...oh, and seven surgeries!

    FULLBACKS
    Senior Sunny Byrd (2 rec, 7.5 avg in 2002, plus 3 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 (2 tac, 1 FF 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).
  • No fullbacks touched the ball versus California, Washington or Oregon.

    KELLY
    Swift senior Kareem Kelly (32 rec, 10.8 avg, 3 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 (190 receptions, ninth 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 2,844, seventh on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 43 games he has played as a Trojan, 1 shy of Pac-10 recordholder Keenan Howry of Oregon (Howry ha played in 1 more game this year); the NCAA record is 46. He was 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.
  • He grabbed 3 passes for 19 yards against California, including a 6-yard TD.
  • He caught a 16-yard pass against Washington.
  • At Oregon, he had 6 receptions for 94 yards, with a 31-yard TD.

    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 (44 rec, 14.2 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 2 yds, 2.0 avg and 1 tac) returns at the other wideout spot. The consistent 2-year starter has 111 career grabs to put him tied for ninth on USC's career reception chart, including 34 (13.0 avg) in 2001 with 2 TDs. Also making a huge impact is true freshman Mike Williams (team-high 50 rec, 16.4 avg, 9 TD in 2002, plus 2 tcb, 9 yds, 4.5 avg and 1 tac, 1 FF, 1 FR), a prep All-American. ESPN analyst Lee Corso calls him 'the best freshman wide receiver in the nation.' He currently is 15th nationally in receiving yards (107.1, fourth in Pac-10) and tied for 16th in receptions (6.3, third in Pac-10). He has 4 100-yard receiving games in 2002 (the past 4 and the most since Keyshawn Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995). He has caught a TD pass in each of the last 5 games. His 9 TD receptions are the most by a Trojan in a season since Johnson had 9 in 1994. His 3 TD receptions against Washington in 2002 tied a USC game record and his 13 catches at Oregon was a USC freshman mark. He is within range of the Pac-10 freshman records for catches (55) and receiving yards (973; he has 819), as well as NCAA frosh marks in those categories (79 and 1,185) as well as most TD catches by a freshman (14). Two other Trojans started a game in 2001: senior Grant Mattos (3 rec, 8.0 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 (an ankle sprain sidelined him the first half of 2002). Also possibilities 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 has sidelined him), junior Sandy Fletcher (1 tac in 2002), a converted safety (he's battling an ankle sprain), and another freshman who came aboard this fall, prep All-American Chris McFoy. Redshirt freshman walk-on Greig Carlson (16 PR, 5.3 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.
  • Williams had 6 receptions for 103 yards with a 21-yard TD against California, Colbert added 6 grabs for 75 yards, Kelly had 3 catches for 19 yards and Carlson returned 4 punts for 27 yards.
  • Against Washington, Williams not only tied a USC game record with his 3 TD grabs, but his 9 catches in the game equaled Kareem Kelly's USC freshman mark and his 159 receiving yardsa career highwas his third consecutive 100-yard performance (the most by a Trojan since Keyshawn Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995); Colbert finished with 7 receptions for a career-high 146 yards, his third 100-yard career outing (it was the first time that 2 Trojans had 100 yards receiving in the same game since Kelly and Windrell Hayes did so against Arizona in 1999), and Mattos had a 4-yard catch.
  • At Oregon, Williams had another huge game with 13 receptions (a USC freshman record) for 226 yards (both career bests) and 2 TDs (35 and 16 yards)his fourth consecutive 100-yard game and fifth game in a row with a TD grabwhile Colbert added 4 catches for 77 yards.

    TIGHT ENDS
    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 (14 rec, 10.1 avg in 2002, plus 3 tac) is the most experienced tight end on the roster, as he saw significant action the past 2 seasons as the backup. He has 43 career catches with 2 touchdowns, including 22 grabs (7.5 avg) with 2 TDs in 2001. He rotates with sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr. (5 rec, 6.6 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 (a hip injury has sidelined him). Dominique Byrd (2 tac in 2002), 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.
  • Holmes caught 5 passes for 65 yards (both career highs) against California.
  • Holmes had an 11-yard catch and 2 tackles against Washington.
  • Guenther caught a 6-yard pass at Oregon.

    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
    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, Washington State and California.
  • Against Washington, Torres started at left tackle for an injured Rogers, while Vandermade (left guard), Norm Katnik (center), Wilson (right guard) and Justice (right tackle) remained in place.
  • The usual starting line of Rogers, Vandermade, Norm Katnik, Wilson and Justice started at Oregon.

    DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
    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 returned as sophomore starters: tackle-end Shaun Cody (20 tac, 1 for loss, 1 FR, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2002), who was a Freshman All-American first team pick last season, and end Kenechi Udeze (30 tac, 12 for loss, 5.5 sack, 4 FF, 1 dfl, 1 BLK FG in 2002), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year. Both are destined for big things at USC; in fact, both were on the 2002 Lombardi Award 'Watch List.' However, Cody suffered a torn knee ligament against California and is sidelined for the rest of 2002. He 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 (10 tac in 2002), who started Troy's first 5 games of 2001 before injuring his knee (he also started in 2000), also is back and returned to the starting lineup at nose tackle after Cody's injury. He had 26 tackles (5 for losses, with a sack, plus a fumble recovery and interception last year. Sophomore Mike Patterson (28 tac, 8.5 for loss, 5.5 sack, 2 FR including 1 for a TD, 1 dfl in 2002) started at Riley's nose tackle spot the first half of 2002, then moved over to Cody's position when Cody was injured. 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 (30 tac, 7.5 for loss, 4.5 sack, 1 int, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2002). Among his backups are senior Doyal Butler (1 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack in 2002), a converted tight end or several newcomers who joined USC this fall: a pair of junior college All-Americansends Daniel Urquhart, who is a junior (he's been out with an arm injury), 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.
  • Cody had 5 tackles (1 for a loss) against California because leaving with a knee sprain, Nazel added 4 stops (with a sack) and Udeze had 3 tackles.
  • Udeze had 5 tackles, including 4 for losses of 23 yards (with 2 sacks), a forced fumble and he blocked a field goal against Washington, while Nazel added 3 stops (with a sack) and Riley and Patterson each had 2 (Patterson also had a deflection).
  • At Oregon, Riley had 3 tackles, Patterson had 2, Butler posted a sack, and Udeze and Nazel each had a stop.

    LINEBACKERS
    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 (25 tac, 5 for loss, 2 FR, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (team-best 51 tac, 8.5 for loss, 2 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 int, 2 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 (43 tac, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 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 a backup on the weak side in 2002 (he's out with a hip injury). Sophomore Bobby Otani (7 tac in 2002) on the weak side saw measurable action last fall, although he suffered a midseason knee injury. Two prep All-AmericansOscar Lua (9 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) and Dallas Sartz (5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int, 1 dfl 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.
  • Grootegoed made a team-high and career-best 11 tackles (2 were sacks) and also forced a fumble (on a sack) that he recovered (to set up a TD) against California (he also recovered a late on-side kick), while Simmons added 5 tackles (2 for losses), Lua had 2 stops and Pollard 1.
  • Simmons had a game-best 7 tackles against Washington, Pollard added 4 stops (1 for a loss), Grootegoed had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and an interception (which he returned 49 yards to set up a USC TD) and Sartz had 2 tackles (1 for a loss).
  • Grootegoed had a team-best 8 tackles at Oregon (with a deflection), Pollard added 4 stops (1 for a loss), Otani had 2, and Simmons, Sartz and Lua had 1 (Simmons also had an interception to set up a TD and Sartz had a deflection).

    DEFENSIVE BACKS
    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 (25 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 int, 4 dfl in 2002), who has 14 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 (14 tac, 1 for loss, 6 dfl in 2002), a converted wide receiver, took over the next 3 games, with help from prep All-American Justin Wyatt (4 tac, 1 FR, 1 dfl in 2002), who is a freshman, before being replaced by junior Marcell Allmond (15 tac, 3 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 (35 tac, 1 FR, 1 FF, 7 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 (19 tac, 1 for loss, team-high 3 int, 3 dfl in 2002), redshirt freshman John Walker (he also can play cornerback), and first-year freshman Mike Ross (6 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.
  • Allmond had 5 tackles against California, Buchanon added 3 with a deflection, while Leach (with an interception while starting for an injured Polamalu), Rideaux (with a deflection) and Hill each had 1 stop.
  • Against Washington, Hill had a game-high 7 tackles, Allmond had 6 stops and a deflection, Rideaux had 3 tackles and 2 deflections, Leach had 3 stops and Buchanon had 1.
  • At Oregon, Rideaux and Hill had 5 tackles (Rideaux also had 1.5 sacks and an interception, while Hill had 2 deflections), Allmond and Ross had 4 stops (Allmond added a deflection), Leach had 3 tackles and a deflection, Buchanon had a stop and Wyatt broke up a pass.

    SPECIALISTS
    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 in 2001. 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 (9-of-14 FG, 19-of-21 PAT in 2002, plus 1 tac), 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, 21 of Killeen's 48 kickoffs have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 18 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 (42.6 avg in 2002), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors. He currently is 17th nationally in punting (42.6, first in Pac-10). He showed a strong leg in 2002 spring practice. This season, 16 of his 39 punts have kept foes within the 20-yard line and 9 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 Leinartnow 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 (16 PR, 5.2 avg in 2002) or senior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (7 PR, 7.1 avg in 2002), while the kickoff return duties are manned by freshman tailback Hershel Dennis (7 KOR, 16.6 avg in 2002), junior cornerback Marcell Allmond (2 KOR, 14.0 avg in 2002), senior tailbacks Justin Fargas (1 KOR, 25.0 avg in 2002) and Sultan McCullough (2 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).
  • Killeen hit 3-of-4 field goals (34, 32 and 18 yards) and all 3 of his PATs (plus had a touchback among his 7 kcikoffs) against California, while Malone averaged 49.0 yards (with a 50-yarder) on his 2 punts.
  • Against Washington, Killeen hit a pair of field goals (30 and 33 yards) and all 5 of his PATs, plus 4 of his 7 kickoffs were touchbacks, while Malone averaged 45.2 yards on his 5 punts (with 54- and 52-yarders) and twice pinned the Huskies within the 20-yard line.
  • Killeen was 5-of-6 on PATs and 1-of-2 on field goals (a career-long 48-yarder) at Oregon (1 of his 8 kickoffs were touchbacks), while Malone averaged 49.0 yards on his 2 punts (with a 52-yarder), with 1 pinning the Ducks within the 20.

    STATISTICS OF NOTE

  • Defensively, USC is 14th nationally in rushing defense (97.3, fifth in Pac-10), 16th in total defense (301.9, second in Pac-10) and 24th in pass efficiency defense (105.7, third in Pac-10).
  • On offense, USC is ninth nationally in passing offense (303.6, second in Pac-10), 18th in total offense (420.5, third in Pac-10) and 18th in passing efficiency (140.5, third in Pac-10).
  • USC is allowing opponents to convert just 26.1% of third downs (best in the Pac-10) in 2002.
  • USC is averaging 34:30 time of possession (tops in the Pac-10) in 2002 and has won the possession battle in 7 games (all but Kansas State).
  • In the red zone, USC has scored 29-of-37 times (78.4%) in 2002.
  • Conversely, USC's opponents are scoring just 70.4% of the time (19-of-27) when in the red zone in 2002 (second 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, 33 to Oregon State and 107 to California.
  • Through the first 8 games of 2002, no opposing runner has rushed for 100 yards.
  • USC has had at least 20 first downs in all but 2 games (Kansas State and Washington) in 2002, including 31 at Oregon and 28 against both Washington State and California (the Trojans had at least 20 first downs only once in 2001).
  • USC has come out of halftime strong, with a 60-17 scoring margin in the third quarter.
  • USC has finished its halves well in 2002, outscoring opponents 56-32 in the second quarter and 80-56 in the fourth quarter.
  • USC also has had dominant second halves in 2002, outscoring foes 140-76.

    FIELD GOAL, PAT ADVENTURES
    USC's field goal and PAT tries have been an adventure at times in 2002. The Trojans are 10-of-17 on field goals, 26-of-31 on PAT kicks and 0-of-1 on PAT passes. USC has had 5 kicks blocked.

    CAPITALIZING ON TURNOVERS
    USC has capitalized 67.0% of the time when it gets a turnover. So far in 2002, the Trojans have collected 21 turnovers and scored 14 times (11 touchdowns and 3 field goals).

    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.

    RANDOM NOTES

  • S Troy Polamalu and QB Carson Palmer already have accepted invitations to play in the 78th annual East-West Shrine Game at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco on Jan. 11, 2003.
  • 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 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.
  • OT Phillip Eaves spent part of 1997 in the Army at Fort Jackson, S.C.
  • QB Matt Cassel played on the Northridge (Calif.) team that was a finalist at the 1994 Little League World Series, while LB Bobby Otani was a national champion in judo.
  • 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).

    ON TV
    USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 303 times, including 169 of the past 171 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).

    ROSTER UPDATES
    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).
  • Three players have changed numbers: WR Greig Carlson is now #19, LB Collin Ashton is now #59 and CB Alex Gomez is #26.
  • Seven players have switched positions: William Buchanon is now at CB, Nate Steinbacher is at DT, 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, and LB-DE Chris Prosser, who quit for medical reasons, 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.

    ACADEMICS
    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 STANFORD
    Under new coach Buddy Teevens, Stanfordwith 9 underclassmen in the starting lineuphas beaten only San Jose State and Arizona. Last week, it lost at Oregon, 41-14. Stanford is playing only 11 regular-season games in 2002. The Cardinal is third in the Pac-10 in rushing (149.4), with senior RB Kerry Carter (99 tcb, 336 yds, 3.4 avg, 1 TD in 2002), senior FB Casey Moore (49 tcb, 334 yds, 6.8 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 12 rec, 7.8 avg, 1 TD) and sophomore RB Kenneth Tolon (59 tcb, 323 yds, 5.5 avg, 4 TD in 2002) leading the charge. Carter is seventh on Stanford's career rushing chart (1,851 yards). At quarterback, freshman Kyle Matter (64-of-114, 56.1%, 726 yds, 3 TD, 5 int in 2002) and Chris Lewis (68-of-139, 48.9%, 712 yds, 5 TD, 9 int in 2002) have both seen considerable action, although Lewis has been nursing a shoulder injury. Soph WR Teyo Johnson (31 rec, 11.6 avg, 6 TD in 2002), who at 6-7 also plays basketball, is the leading receiver, with soph TE Alex Smith (23 rec, 13.5 avg, 2 TD in 2002), All-American junior WR Luke Powell (17 rec, 10.5 avg in 2002, plus 11 PR, 6.7 avg), freshman FL Grant Mason (17 rec, 7.5 avg in 2002, plus 4 PR, 17.5 avg and 4 KOR, 14.8 avg) and senior FL Ryan Wells (13 rec, 9.5 avg in 2002, plus 22 KOR, 18.6 avg) also featured. The Cardinal defense is led by soph SS Oshiomogho Atogwe (51 tac, 1 for loss, 3 int, 3 dfl, 1 FR, 2 FF in 2002), senior FS Colin Branch (47 tac, 2 int, 1 FR in 2002) and junior MLB Jake Covault (46 tac, 1 for loss in 2002).

    INJURY UPDATE
    OUT: DT Shaun Cody (knee), LB Aaron Graham (hip), TE Scott Huber (hip), DE Daniel Urquhart (arm), TB Darryl Poston (back), WR Jason Mitchell (back), CB Ronald Nunn (knee), CB Kevin Arbet (foot), OG-OT Joe McGuire (shoulder), DE-DT A.J. Single (shoulder)
    QUESTIONABLE: OG Fred Matua (knee)
    PROBABLE: LB Oscar Lua (ankle), WR Sandy Fletcher (ankle), FB Chad Pierson (heel)

    Looking At.............

    Alex HolmesTight End6-2, 265, JuniorSherman Oaks, Calif.

    When you look at a football player out on the field, it's sometimes easy to forget that he may have other things going on in his life besides football.

    In the case of USC tight end Alex Holmes, there are plenty of things going on. Besides his steady diet of X's and O's, he is probably one of the more well-rounded athletes you'll ever meet.He credits his family upbringing and his academic background for giving him a natural curiosity about things.

    'I didn't get heavily involved with sports until high school,' said Holmes. 'Before sports, academics was the biggest thing in my life. I couldn't play football until ninth grade because I was too big. My parents really stressed the importance of academics and that carried over into other things.'

    Holmes attended prestigious Harvard-Westlake High in Sherman Oaks, Calif., one of the highest-rated high schools in the nation academically. So when he wasn't bowling over opponents on the football field, he was cracking open books and learning Latin and Greek.

    'I love learning the classic languages,' said Holmes, who three times placed first on a national Latin exam. 'My mother is a classicist and she always stressed that. My middle school and high school both offered Latin and, then later, I also took ancient Greek. They are really enjoyable languages. It really helped on the SATs too, because it helps you to find the root of words.'

    Holmes also found time to become quite adept at the violin and develop a keen interest in computers and their gadgetry.

    'I played the violin for eight years,' said Holmes. 'I played it up until high school, then I had to quit because I just didn't have much time for it, plus my hands were getting beat up from playing football. I wasn't anything special, but I was first chair in my middle school junior symphony.

    'As for computers, I am always into the latest hardware. I love to learn as much as possible about them whenever I can and I am always messing around on the internet.'

    Holmes was one of the most sought after prep tight ends in the nation in 2000. This was despite not playing football at all in 1999, since he was ineligible to compete in athletics. That was because he had to repeat some of his freshman year due to complications from a sinus infection that forced him to miss 13 weeks of school, basically an entire semester.

    'People joked around about it, but having to take that semester over was never a big deal to me,' said Holmes. 'I thought it was really the only course of action I had. The worst part was not playing football my senior year.'

    But the year off did not dissuade colleges of his ability. Amazingly, Holmes' high school playing weight was a freakish 300 pounds and as a junior he caught 46 passes for 990 yards and eight touchdowns, including a 90-yarder.

    Then-USC coach Paul Hackett said ,'He has the ability to redefine the tight end position.'

    It didn't hurt that one of his workout partners was NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson.

    'He lived out in Agoura and he read an article about me in the L.A. Times and contacted the gym I was working out at to get in touch with me,' said Holmes. 'So we actually got to train together during my year off of football before USC. He is a great guy.'

    Holmes saw significant action as a backup tight end to Antoine Harris as a freshman in 2000, his first year at USC. Overall, he caught seven passes for 53 yards. He made The Sporting News Freshman All-American second team.

    'My freshman year was the most humbling experience ever,' said Holmes. 'I came in with all types of hype. They all made a big deal about me. I was a freshman and I think I let it get to my head too much. I was just another guy out there.'

    Though he had a pretty solid freshman year, Holmes and the Trojan coaching staff knew that he could be far more effective if he were a little less well-rounded physically. They asked him to lose weight and by the time his sophomore year rolled around, he was a svelte 270. The result was quicker feet and better agility and 22 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns in 2001.

    'I got more in shape and that helped,' said Holmes. 'But a lot of it had to do with just learning the game and developing as a player.'

    Though he says he loves playing tight end because 'I love catching the ball and running people over,' one of his best attributes is his blocking ability.

    'I think if I'm good at it, it's because of my size,' said Holmes. 'Most tight ends are either just pass catches or just blockers. I think I'm a fairly decent mix of the two. But right now, blocking is the most improtant thing for our team and that's what they need me to do.'

    This season, Holmes has been called on to do a bit more blocking than he's used to, but he still has proven to be a clutch receiver. Through eight games, he has 14 catches for 142 yards. One of the highlights was a career-best five-catch game in a win versus California. Holmes has shown that he can really make the tough catch when called upon.

    'From as early as I can remember, my dad spent time playing catch with me in the back yard,' said Holmes, whose father, Mike, played at Michigan in the mid-1970s. 'I have really big hands, so I think that has something to do with it. '

    Whether he's driving a defensive end back 10 yards, catching a one-handed pass over the middle, or learning how to translate ancient languages, Holmes continues to come up big at USC.

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