No. 8 USC Football Riding Four-Game Win Streak And Seven-Game Coliseum Win Streak Hosts Arizona State In Homecoming Game
Nov. 10, 2002
Tickets for the USC-Arizona State game, priced at $30, are available at the USC Ticket Office (213-740-GO SC), www.usctrojans.com, the L.A. Sports Arena box office and all Ticketmaster agencies. For group discounts (25 or more), call (213) 740-4170.
Live national cable TV: 4 p.m. (PST), TBS Superstation, Ron Thulin, Charles Davis, Craig Sager.Live national radio: 4 p.m. (PST), Westwood One, Tony Roberts, Fran Curci.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 Sports Magazine Show: 10:30 p.m. (PDT), Thursday (Nov. 14), FOX Sports Net 2, Tom Kelly.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.
USC (7-2 overall, 5-1 Pac-10) vs. Arizona State (7-4 overall, 4-2 Pac-10), Saturday, Nov. 16, 4 p.m. PST, Los Angeles Coliseum.
It's Homecoming at USC. Troy, alone in second place in the Pac-10, is trying to stay alive in the Rose Bowl race. The Trojans hope to extend 2 winning streaks: 4 victories in a row this season and 7 consecutive in the Coliseum. USC is off to its best start since the 1995 squad that went to the Rose Bowl and owns its highest ranking this late into a season since 1988. Arizona Statewhich Troy has played less than any other league foeis the only Pac-10 team over which USC doesn't hold a winning edge (the series is tied). It's the second straight year that the Sun Devils visit Los Angeles. USC QB Carson Palmer, now a Heisman Trophy favorite, is nearing several Pac-10 records (he owns 11 USC marks); he's among the nation's leaders this week in passing efficiency and total offense. Trojans WRs Kareem Kelly and Mike Williams also have some USC and Pac-10 marks, respectively, in sight. Can quick-striking USC score 40 points for an unprecedented fourth game in a row? USC is in the Top 20 in both total offense and defense (and is nationally ranked in 7 other key team categories). Arizona Statewhich has dropped its last 2 games this year and its past 2 to USChas weapons on both sides of the ball: QB Andrew Walter and WR Shaun McDonald own the ASU season passing and receiving records, while sackmeister DE Terrell Suggs is the NCAA recordholder. Players representing Southern California's 4 reigning professional championship teams will be honored. The game will be televised live nationally on TBS Superstation cable.
USC is ranked eighth by AP and USA Today/ESPN. Arizona State is not ranked.
Arizona State is the only Pac-10 school over which USC doesn't hold a winning record, as the series which began in 1978 is tied at 9-9. ASU won 5 of the first 7 games, but USC then captured 4 of the next 5 meetings before the schools split the last 6 games. USC has won the past 2 contests. ASU is USC's newest and least played Pac-10 rival. In Los Angeles contests, USC is 4-4 (with the wins in 1980-85-98-2001 and the losses in 1983-86-91-99).Last year in the Coliseum, USC snapped a 4-game losing streak in a big way as it overwhelmed Arizona State, 48-17. It was USC's most points and biggest victory margin since a 62-7 win at Hawaii in the 1999 season opener, as well as the Trojans' most points at home since getting 61 versus California in 1994. It also ended USC's 8-game losing skid in October and evened its series with ASU at 9-9. USC had some unlikely heroes, as 4 TrojansFB Sunny Byrd, TEs Kori Dickerson and Alex Holmes and TB Darryl Postonscored the first touchdowns of their career. After ASU opened the scoring with a 36-yard field goal by PK Mike Barth midway through the first quarter (Troy had minus 13 total yards in the quarter), USC scored 3 second-quarter TDs: a 21-yard pass from QB Carson Palmer to Dickerson, a 20-yard Palmer pass to FB Charlie Landrigan and a 3-yard run by Byrd on his first career carry (he was running from the tailback spot because starting TB Sultan McCullough was sidelined late in the first quarter with a strained abdominal muscle). Byrd's score came a play after CB Kris Richard's interception off backup QB Matt Cooper, who came in when starter Jeff Krohn (he was second nationally in passing efficiency) was knocked out with an ankle sprain early in the quarter. However, Cooper brought the Sun Devils to within 21-10 when he hit WR Fulton Skyler on a 4-yard scoring toss with 11 seconds to go in the half. USC took control in the second half on a 4-yard Palmer pass to Holmes on its opening drive, a 2-yard Byrd run late in the third quarter, a pair of field goals (36 and 29 yards) by PK David Davis early in the fourth quarter (coming after picks by LB Frank Strong and CB Kevin Arbet) and a 7-yard run by Poston late in the game. ASU's only score came on a 6-yard reverse by WR Shaun McDonald late in the third quarter to close to 28-17. Byrd finished with a game-best 63 yards on 20 carries (he was handed the ball on USC's last 16 rushes before Poston's TD, including on 8 consecutive plays). Palmer hit 18-of-26 passes for 295 yards and 3 scores, including a game-high 5 completions each to WRs Kareem Kelly (for a game-best 127 yards) and Keary Colbert (85 yards). Palmer also ran for 28 yards on 8 tries. USC had 413 yards of total offense and limited ASU to 298. The Sun Devils, who came into the contest averaging 45.5 points a game, had a season-low point production. USC's 3 interceptions were its most since getting the same amount against Louisiana Tech in 1999. S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 8 tackles, while 3 of LB Matt Grootegoed's 7 tackles were for losses.
HOME WIN STREAK
USC has won its last 7 games in the Coliseum, with shutouts in 2 of the past 5 home contests. It's USC's longest Coliseum winning streak since Troy won 10 in a row during the 1987 and 1988 seasons.
USC's No. 8 AP ranking is its highest this late into a season since the 1988 team was second after 9 games.
USC's 7-2 record is its best start since the 1995 squad was 7-1-1.
USC has scored 40-plus points in its past 3 games. That's the first time Troy has done that since the final game of 1994 and the first 2 games of 1995 (it's also the first time it has happened in the same season since 1972). USC has never had 4-straight 40-plus point games. On the year, the Trojans have a quartet of 40-plus games, the most since getting 5 in 1979.
POINTS IN BUNCHES
USC has a knack for scoring a string of unanswered points in 2002. The Trojans scored 30 unanswered points at Oregon, 28 at Stanford, 27 against California and Washington, 22 versus Oregon State and 20 (twice) at Colorado.
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 366-122-27 (.737) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
While only 2 Trojans claim Arizona as homeUSC TE Doyal Butler went to Sabino HS in Tucson and then Mesa Community College, while SNP Matt Hayward attended Mountain Ridge HS in Glendale and then Glendale Community College40 Sun Devils hail from California...USC S Jason Leach's cousin is Arizona State S Alfred Williams... USC P Tom Malone's personal punting coach is former Arizona State 1997 All-Pac-10 first team punter Marcus Williams...ASU men's golf coach Randy Lein was USC's coach from 1984 to 1992...ASU women's tennis coach Sheila McInerney played for the Women of Troy from 1977 to 1980.
NEW USC JERSEYS
In its first major uniform change in 30 years, USC are wearing jerseys in 2002 with a style that harkens back to the heyday era of the 1960s. The new jerseys are similar to those worn by Trojan teams from 1958 to 1969 (when Troy won 2 national titles and played in 5 Rose Bowls under coach John McKay). The jerseys feature a single crescent stripe on each shoulder pad and numbers on the sleeve (all stripes and numbers are sewn in). There also is an interlocking 'SC' logo on the bottom of the neckline. Per tradition, there will be no names on the back of the jersey. The last time USC underwent a uniform change of this magnitude was in 1972, when the jerseys worn up until last season (3 stripes on each sleeve) were first introduced. (In 1970 and 1971, USC's jerseys had no markings except for the front and back numeral.)
S Troy Polamalu (for the second consecutive year) and QB Carson Palmer have been selected by their teammates as season captains. Each game, they will join captains representing the special teams and the service (scout) team.
USC, as usual, is playing one of the nation's most difficult 12-game schedules. This week's NCAA ranking and the current USA Today/Sagarin ranking both again have USC playing the nation's toughest schedule. Coming into the season, Sports Illustrated listed Troy's slate as the nation's toughest. The cumulative record of USC's 12 opponents currently is 80-39 (67.2%); at the time they played USC, the first 10 foes were 35-17 (only Stanford came in with a losing record). Five of Troy's 2002 opponents currently are ranked in the AP poll (6 of USC's first 10 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.
QB Carson Palmer threw 4 touchdowns and Trojan runners ran for 3 more scores as No. 10 USC thrashed Stanford, 49-17, before 44,950 fans in Palo Alto and a live ABC-TV regional audience. The victory for USC, which was coming off a bye, snapped its 3-game losing streak to the Cardinal. Palmer, who became USC's career recordholder for touchdown passes, hit 22-of-32 passes for 317 yards. He threw 2 TDs to WR Keary Colbert (17 yards early in the first half and 13 yards early in the second half), plus an 8-yarder to WR Mike Williams late in the first quarter and a 22-yarder to TE Alex Holmes midway through the third quarter. Troy's rushing TDs were scored by TBs Justin Fargas (7 yards late in the first half), Malaefou MacKenzie (4 yards at the start of the fourth quarter) and Sultan McCullough (6 yards midway through the final quarter). Stanford kept the game close until late in the first half when it trailed just 14-10 following a 6-yard scoring pass from QB Kyle Matter to FL Ryan Wells and a 25-yard field goal by PK Michael Sgroi. But USC then scored the next 28 points (it was 21-10 at the intermission) before Matter found WR Teyo Johnson on an 11-yard TD toss early in the fourth quarter. USC, despite having the ball just 24:46, had 414 total yards to Stanford's 243. The Trojans limited the Cardinalwhich was averaging 149.4 yards on the groundto only 78 rushing yards. Williams, who set the Pac-10 freshman season record for receptions, had a game-high 8 catches for 94 yards, while Colbert added 5 grabs for 66 yards. Matter, who completed his first 15 passes, was 23-of-35 for 165 yards. Wells (34 yards) and Johnson (32 yards) each had 4 catches. Stanford RB Kerry Carter ran for a game-best 74 yards on 18 carries. USC S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 13 tackles, LB Melvin Simmons added 10 and LB Matt Grootegoed had 8 (with 3 sacks). USC had 7 sacks, an interception (by DE Kenechi Udeze) and a fumble recovery (by CB Justin Wyatt).
USC has a 50-24-4 record in its Homecoming games, dating back to the first such event in 1924.
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 13-8 as a college head coach (all at USC); his losses were by a total of 39 points (4.9 average) and only 1 was by more than a touchdown (it was by 11 points). He was the head coach of the NFL's New England Patriots for 3 seasons (1997-99) and New York Jets for 1 year (1994). He guided the Patriots into the playoffs in his first 2 seasons, winning the AFC Eastern Division title at 10-6 in 1997 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, then posting a 9-7 regular season mark in 1998. His overall record in New England was 27-21 in the regular season (including 8-8 in 1999) and 1-2 in the playoffs. He owns the franchise's second-best winning percentage (54.9%). After serving as the Jets' defensive coordinator for 4 seasons (1990-93), he became the team's head coach the following season. His 1994 Jets went 6-10. Only 3 other Jets head coaches won more games in their rookie campaign. He spent the next 2 years (1995-96) as the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, who won the NFC Western Division title both seasons. The 49ers were 11-5 in the 1995 regular season when they had the NFL's top-ranked defense and then went 12-4 in 1996. Carroll began his coaching career at the college level, serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, for 3 years (1974-76), working with the wide receivers and secondary. He then spent a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, at Iowa State (1978) under Earle Bruce (the Cyclones played in the 1978 Hall of Fame Bowl) and at Ohio State (1979) under Bruce. That Buckeye squad lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl. He next spent 3 seasons (1980-82) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at North Carolina State, then returned to Pacific in 1983 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He entered the NFL in 1984 as the defensive backs coach of the Buffalo Bills, then held a similar position with the Minnesota Vikings for 5 seasons (1985-89). The Vikings advanced to the playoffs his last 3 years there, getting to the NFC Championship game in 1987. The 1988 team was 11-5 in the regular season and the 1989 squad won the NFC Central Division crown with a 10-6 mark. His secondary averaged 25 interceptions a season and led the NFL in passing defense in 1989. Carroll spent the 2000 season as a consultant for pro and college teams, doing charitable work for the NFL and writing a column about pro football for CNNSI.com. Carroll was a 2-time (1971-72) All-Pacific Coast Conference free safety at Pacific and earned his bachelor's degree in 1973 in business administration. He received his secondary teaching credential and a master's degree in physical education from Pacific in 1976. He was a 3-sport (football, basketball and baseball) standout at Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., earning the school's Athlete of the Year award as a senior. He played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. He then played football at Marin Junior College in Kentfield, Calif., in 1970. He was born on Sept. 15, 1951 in San Francisco. He and his wife, Glena, who played volleyball at Pacific, have 3 children: sons Brennan, 22, who played tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware) and is now an assistant at USC, and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a junior at USC who played on the Women of Troy's highly-ranked volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
Senior Troy Polamalu (54 tac, 6 for loss, 2 sack, 1 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), in his third year starting at strong safety, is a semifinalist 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.
'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 (217-of-346, 62.7%, 2,746 yds, 22 TD, 8 int in 2002, plus 36 tcb, -126 yds, -3.5 avg, 3 TD) is one of the nation's marquee signalcallers. He currently is ninth nationally in total offense (291.1, second in Pac-10) and 12th in passing efficiency (145.7, third in Pac-10). In his last 3 games, he has thrown for 1,113 yards and 13 TDs (and in his last 5 games, he has gone for 1,783 yards and 17 TDs). His 217 completions in 2002 puts him sixth on the USC season list and his 2,620 yards of total offense is sixth on the Trojan season 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 among the leading 2002 Heisman Trophy contenders by numerous media, including CNNSI.com, SportingNews.com, CBS.Sportsline.com and FOXSports.com. Now in his fourth year as a starter, he owns 7 USC career records: total offense (10,421, second on the Pac-10 chart), plays (1,667), passing yardage (10,622, second on the Pac-10 list), passing touchdowns (61, seventh on the Pac-10 ladder), completions (835), attempts (1,436) and interceptions (47). He is within range of the Pac-10 career marks for total offense (11,285), plays (1,689), passing yardage (10,911), completions (870) and attempts (1,480). His 3 seasons with 2,500-plus yards of total offense ties a Pac-10 record (with Stanford's John Elway and Oregon State's Erik Wilhelm). His 10,192 non-bowl career passing yards ranks 18th on the NCAA ladder and his 9,893 non-bowl career total offense yardage is 24th in the NCAA. In 2002, he has completed passes to 12 different receivers. With 41 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 22 times (including 9 contests at 70.0%-plus), with 7 of those coming in 2002, and has thrown for 300-plus yards in 9 games (5 in 2002, including 4 of the past 5), 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.
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.'
Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens: 'He has been mentioned as a Heisman possibility and I think it's justified. He throws the ball well. He hits all different types of throws. He's mobile for a big guy. He'll adjust if he gets flushed. He seems to have a good presence. The guys we had when I was at Florida, he's as good as anyone I've seen in that section of the country.'
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.'
Mel Kiper, ESPN.com: 'Palmer has turned in Drew Bledsoe-type passing performances on a week-to-week basis this season in the Pac-10. If Palmer continues to perform at this level the rest of the campaign and then puts on a show in the post-season, he could ultimately become a top-five pick in round one of the NFL draft. And he could potentially be in the mix as the No. 1 overall selection.'
Three relatively untested youngsters are behind Carson Palmer at quarterback: sophomore Matt Cassel (1-of-2, 50.0%, 10 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.
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 (148 tcb, team-best 596 yds, 4.1 avg, 6 TD in 2002, plus 10 rec, 72 yds, 7.2 avg and 2 KOR, 38 yds, 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 (2,582 yards, 40th 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 (37 tcb, 147 yds, 4.0 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 29 rec, 316 yds, 10.9 avg, 4 TD and 2 tac), who has 912 rushing yards and 66 receptions in his Trojan career (he has started 10 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 lately has started at fullback. Senior Justin Fargas (79 tcb, 307 yds, 3.9 avg, 3 TD in 2002, plus 3 KOR, 51 yds, 17.0 avg), 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 (31 tcb, 91 yds, 2.9 avg in 2002, plus 2 rec, 6 yds, 3.0 avg and 8 KOR, 136 yds, 17.0 avg) joined the tailback fray this fall as a freshman.
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: 960 carries, 4,153 yards, 4.3 average per carry, 31 TDs, 33 starts, 14 100-yard games...oh, and seven surgeries!
Senior Sunny Byrd (2 rec, 15 yds, 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, 56 yds, 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, 15 yds, 7.5 avg and 3 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).
Swift senior Kareem Kelly (35 rec, 414 yds, 11.8 avg, 3 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 1 yd, 1.0 avg and 7 PR, 50 yds, 7.1 avg), a 4-year starter, is second on Troy's career pass catching list (193 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 2,913, seventh on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 44 games he has played as a Trojan, 1 shy of Pac-10 recordholder Keenan Howry of Oregon (Howry has played in 1 more game this year, but Oregon only has 3 games left while USC has 4). The Pac-10 counts bowl games in its career records. The NCAA record for consecutive games with a catchwhich until this year did not include bowl gamesis 46 in a row (held by New Mexico's Carl Winston); that means that Howry (who has played in 3 bowls) is at 42 when it comes to the pursuit of the NCAA mark and therefore cannot reach Winston's record, while Kelly (who has played in 1 bowl) is at 43 and could surpass it. 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.
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 (49 rec, 691 yds, 14.1 avg, 4 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 2 yds, 2.0 avg and 1 tac) returns at the other wideout spot. His 49 receptions in 2002 is tied for 16th on the USC season list. The consistent 2-year starter has 116 career grabs to put him eighth 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 58 rec, 913 yds, 15.7 avg, 10 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 12th nationally in receiving yards (101.4, fourth in Pac-10) and 14th in receptions (6.4, third in Pac-10). His 58 catches in 2002 is seventh on the USC season list. With 913 receiving yards, he is aiming to become USC's first 1,000-yard receiver since Keyshawn Johnson had 1,434 yards in 1995. Williams has 4 100-yard receiving games in 2002 (all in a rowversus Washington State, California, Washington and Oregonthe most since Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995). He has caught a TD pass in each of the last 6 games. His 10 TD receptions are the most by a Trojan in a season since Johnnie Morton had a USC-record 14 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 owns the Pac-10 freshman record for catches (58) and is within range of the Pac-10 freshman mark for receiving yards (973; he has the USC freshman record with 913), as well as NCAA frosh marks in those categories (79 by Marshall's Josh Davis and 1,185 by Florida's Jabar Gaffney) as well as most TD catches by a freshman (14 by Gaffney). Two other Trojans started a game in 2001: senior Grant Mattos (2 rec, 16 yds, 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, 35 yds, 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 (an ankle sprain slowed him earlier this seasn), and another freshman who came aboard this fall, prep All-American Chris McFoy. Redshirt freshman walk-on Greig Carlson (19 PR, 93 yds, 4.8 avg in 2002) also sees some action.
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 (17 rec, 199 yds, 11.7 avg 1 TD 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 48 career catches with 3 touchdowns, including 22 grabs (7.5 avg) with 2 TDs in 2001. Backing him is sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr. (5 rec, 33 yds, 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 (1 rec, 10 yds, 10.0 avg in 2002, plus 2 tac), a prep All-American who also has worked at defensive end, enrolled in the fall as a freshman.
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, left 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.
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 (35 tac, 12 for loss, 5.5 sack, 4 FF, 1 int, 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 (13 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 (31 tac, 9.5 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 (3 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1.5 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 (4 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1.5 sack in 2002)plus freshmen ends LaJuan Ramsey (1 tac, 1 FR in 2002) and Travis Tofi. Sophomore walk-on Jay Bottom has also seen brief action at end.
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 (31 tac, 5 for loss, 2 FR, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (team-best 59 tac, 11.5 for loss, 5 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 int, 3 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 (53 tac, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 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 reserve on the weak side in 2002 (he's out with a hip injury). Sophomore Bobby Otani (10 tac in 2002) on the weak side saw measurable action last fall, although he suffered a midseason knee injury. Two prep All-AmericansOscar Lua (10 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) and Dallas Sartz (8 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.
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 2002 cornerbacks are senior Darrell Rideaux (32 tac, 3 for loss, 2 sack, 1 int, 4 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), who has 15 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 (16 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 (8 tac, 2 FR, 1 dfl in 2002), who is a freshman, before being replaced by junior Marcell Allmond (19 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 (40 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 (24 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).
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, 26-of-28 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, 24 of Killeen's 56 kickoffs have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 20 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 (42.5 avg in 2002), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors. He currently is 23rd nationally in punting (42.5, first in Pac-10). He showed a strong leg in 2002 spring practice. This season, 17 of his 44 punts have kept foes within the 20-yard line and 10 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 (19 PR, 93 yds, 4.9 avg in 2002) or senior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (7 PR, 50 yds, 7.1 avg in 2002), while the kickoff return duties are manned by freshman tailback Hershel Dennis (8 KOR, 136 yds, 17.0 avg in 2002), junior cornerback Marcell Allmond (2 KOR, 28 yds, 14.0 avg in 2002), senior tailbacks Justin Fargas (3 KOR, 51 yds, 17.0 avg in 2002) and Sultan McCullough (2 KOR, 38 yds, 19.0 avg in 2002) or junior wide receiver Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 35 yds, 11.7 avg in 2002).
STATISTICS OF NOTE
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, CB-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.
IN THE NFL
USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 39 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 26 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OL Tony Boselli, DL Willie McGinest, WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Johnnie Morton and Curtis Conway, QB Rob Johnson and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight, Rashard Cook and Daylon McCutcheon. Five NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci and Miami's Dave Wannstedt. Ten current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: DE Van Brown (brother, Chad Brown), CB-WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), OG-DT Fred Matua (cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), TB Sultan McCullough (brother, Saladin McCullough), S Troy Polamalu (cousin, Nicky Sualua), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi Tatupu), OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins) and OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistant Lane Kiffin was an NFL assistant. Four assistant coaches played professionally: Keith Uperesa in the NFL, Norm Chow, Steve Sarkisian and Tim Davis in the CFL (Davis also played in the USFL).
USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 304 times, including 170 of the past 172 games. In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997 (snapped against Oregon State) and another streak of 48 in a row from 1997 to 2001 (broken against California).
PAC-10'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY
The 2002 season marks the 25th year of the Pacific-10 Conference as Arizona and Arizona State joined the league prior to the 1978 football season. USC became a member in 1922 when the league was called the Pacific Coast Conference (it later was called the Athletic Association of Western Universities, the Pacific-8 Conference and now the Pac-10).
There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2002 USC football media guide:
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
LOFA TATUPUH - will have to sit out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer rules...He started at linebacker as a first-year freshman in 2001 at Maine...He was second on the Black Bears in tackles with 67, including 13 for losses (with 3.5 sacks), tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3 (returned for a 16.7 average), and had 2 deflections, 1 forced fumble and 4 kickoff returns (for a 14.8 average)...He was named the team's Defensive Rookie of the Year...Maine went 9-3 in 2001, winning a share of the Atlantic 10 title and its first post-season game en route to advancing to the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals...As a 2000 senior at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., he recorded 110 tackles at linebacker and threw for 800 yards and 10 TDs as a quarterback while also rushing for 450 yards and 5 TDs...He was a 2000 All-State pick, as well as a 2-time (1999-2000) Sun Chronicle All-Star and All-League linebacker (earning All-League Defensive MVP honors as a senior)...King Philip Regional's head coach was his father, former USC fullback Mosi Tatupu (1974-77), who was a member of Troy's 1974 national championship team (he ran for 1,277 yards on 223 carries in his Trojan career and was USC's Offensive Player of the Year and Most Inspirational Player in 1977) and then played 14 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1978-90) and Los Angeles Rams (1991)....His name is pronounced 'LOW-fah ta-TOO-poo.'
FROSTEE RUCKERH - will have to sit out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer rules...He redshirted as a first-year freshman outside linebacker at Colorado State in 2001...He was named to the 2000 All-CIF Division VI first team (as a running back), Orange County Register All-Orange County second team (as a linebacker) and All-Golden West League MVP as a senior at Tustin (Calif.) High.
TRAVIS TOFIH - was a 2-time (2000-01) All-Star (winning Defensive Line MVP in 2001) as a senior defensive end at Fagaitua (American Samoa) High...He had 49 tackles and 9 sacks in 2001...He also won a Samoa International Sports Award in 2001, which recognizes the achievements of Samoan athletes...His real first name is Tupula...His cousin, Suaese 'Pooch' Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech...Tofi's last name is pronounced 'TOE-fee.'
USC IS THE PLACE TO BE
Based on several national accolades it has received recently, USC can stake its claim as one of the nation's premier schools. USC was named the 'College of the Year' by the 2000 edition of the Time/Princeton Review College Guide because of the remarkable bonds it has forged with the local community. The editors said USC has one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university in the nation and cited the school's model of service learning (applying academic theory to real-life situations through public service). They also pointed out that USC's undergraduate applications have nearly doubled over the last few years and it is enrolling the most academically accomplished freshman classes in its history. Troy also was selected as one of America's nine 'hottest schools' by the 2001 edition of the Newsweek/Kaplan College Guide because it lives up to its reputation as a top-notch institution of higher education. Students quoted in the guide said that what attracted them to the university was Los Angeles' ethnic diversity, the offer of scholarships, the small classroom sizes and USC's standing in academe. Also in 2001, the Association of American Colleges and Universities picked USC as one of 16 'Leadership Institutions' for providing stimulating educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. USC was cited for emphasizing a campus culture featuring new learning techniques, curriculum and organizational structure and for demonstrating a strong commitment to liberal arts education relevant to the contemporary world. The organization said USC not only linked liberal arts and pre-professional study, but offered students the opportunity to learn by doing through off-campus work in community projects and internships. Also, USC was lauded for stressing critical thinking, effective communication and contributing to a diverse society.
Two of USC's most recent graduation rates for football were the highest in USC history. The 2001 official NCAA graduation rate for Trojan football players was 82%, an all-time high (topping the previous USC high of 80% in 2000). That rate compared to 73% for the general USC student body...and it was about 30 percentage points higher than the national football average for Division I schools. Among the top scholars on the 2002 Trojan squad are: FB Brandon Hancock (team-high 3.81 GPA, business), S Andre Woodert (3.43), QB Billy Hart (3.35, business), LB-SNP Matt Hayward (3.29, business), QB Matt Cassel (3.23, communication), P Tom Malone (3.2, kineseology), DT Spencer Torgan (3.04, business), LB Melvin Simmons (3.01, social sciences/history), TE Scott Huber (2.97, communication), FB David Kirtman (2.92, business), C-SNP Joe Boskovich (2.87, business), OT Justin Brown (2.82, business) and DE Jay Bottom (2.78). Huber was a 1999 and 2000 Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention choice. In its history, USC football has produced 22 Academic All-American first teamers (tops in the Pac-10 and sixth in the nation), 20 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners, 12 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, 4 NCAA Today's Top Six winners, 1 Rhodes Scholar and 1 Academic All-American Hall of Famer.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
Arizona State, under second-year head coach Dirk Koetter, has dropped its past 2 games (including 55-38 at home to California last Saturday) after capturing 7 of the previous 8 contests. The Sun Devils possess a potent offenseled by sophomore QB Andrew Walter (197-of-342, 57.6%, 2,992 yds, 25 TD, 10 int in 2002) and junior WR Shaun McDonald (71 rec, 1,207 yds, 17.0 avg, 12 TD in 2002)that is 15th in the nation in scoring offense (34.4, third in Pac-10) and eighth in passing offense (306.3, second in Pac-10). Walter, who threw for a Pac-10 record 536 yards at Oregon last month and has hit the 400-yard mark 4 times this year, owns the ASU season record for passing yards (2,992). He currently is ninth nationally in passing efficiency (149.4, second in Pac-10) and 20th in total offense (258.1, fourth in Pac-10). McDonald, who owns the school season marks for receptions (71) and receiving yards (1,207), is eighth nationally in receiving yards (109.7, first in Pac-10) and 13th in receptions (6.5, second in Pac-10). Top runners are redshirt freshman TB Cornell Canidate (130 tcb, 493 yds, 3.8 avg, 7 TD in 2002, plus 10 rec, 80 yds, 8.0 avg, 1 TD), junior TB Mike Williams (65 tcb, 280 yds, 4.3 avg, 3 TD in 2002) and redshirt frosh TB Hakim Hill (90 tcb, 268 yds, 2.9 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 20 rec, 224 yds, 11.2 avg, 3 TD, and 32 KOR, 701 yds, 21.9 avg and 11 PR, 114 yds, 10.4 avg). Another key receiver is soph WR Daryl Lightfoot (35 rec, 389 yds, 14.0 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 22 PR, 158 yds, 7.4 avg). McDonald won 2001 All-Pac-10 first team honors, as did junior DE Terrell Suggs (55 tac, 26 for loss, 19.5 sack, 1 int, 3 dfl, 5 FF in 2002). Suggs, the national leader in sacks and the NCAA season recordholder, headlines a Sun Devil defense that is 18th nationally in rushing defense (107.6, sixth in Pac-10). ASU tops the Pac-10 in interceptions (19, by 12 players) and has 33 total takeaways. Among the other top defenders are sophomore FS Jason Shivers (team-best 90 tac, 1 int, 2 FR, 2 FF in 2002), senior LB Mason Unck (86 tac, 11.5 for loss, 2 sack, 2 dfl, 5 FF in 2002) and soph S Riccardo Steward (83 tac, 11.5 for loss, 3 sack, 1 int2 dfl, 1 FF in 2002). Senior PK Mike Barth (17-of-26 FG, 41-of-41 PAT in 2002) is 12th nationally in field goals (1.6, fifth in Pac-10).
Players representing Southern California's 4 reigning professional championship teamsthe Angels, Lakers, Galaxy and Sparkswill be saluted during an on-field presentation...The USC women's basketball team will be recognized during the Team Trojan Spotlight...Baseball pitcher Brett Bannister, a sophomore business major, will be honored during the Verizon Academic Salute...2002 U.S. Amateur champion golfer Becky Lucidi (Trojans in the News) and 3-time (1992-94) and USC passing leader Rob Johnson (FOX Sports Greatest Trojan) will be featured during video board presentations.
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: OG Lenny Vandermade (elbow), WR Mike Williams (ankle)
LIFE AS A SNAPPER
Junior Short Snapper Joe Boskovich
6-4, 240, Westlake Village, Calif.
Junior Long Snapper Matt Hayward
6-1, 215, Glendale, Ariz.
That's because, if you do, it most likely will be because they have just messed up.
You see, Boskovich and Hayward are both snappers for the USC football team. Boskovich, a 6-4, 240-pound junior, is the snapper for field goals and extra points. Hayward, a 6-1, 215-pound junior, snaps for punts.
They've spent the last couple years toiling in obscurity, perfecting their craft and honing their skills. They only get called on once in a while, but they are always ready to go--even if no one takes the time to recognize them.
'We have really important jobs,' said Hayward, who is in his second season at USC after transferring in from Glendale (Ariz.) College. 'Personally, I just try to go out there and get it done.'
'People don't realize how important snapping is,' added Boskovich, who is in his third season snapping for the Trojans. 'Look at some of the teams that have played against us and made snapping mistakes. You can look back and really see the impact that had on games.'
At Mountain Ridge (Ariz.) High, Hayward started out as a guard and then moved to linebacker. He did pretty well for himself at those positions, but his coaches had other plans for him.
'The coaches liked my work ethic and decided that I would be a good snapper,' said Hayward. 'So they got me doing a lot of different drills and I had a knack for it. I still miss linebacker, but I understand my role here. I just want to help the team however I can.'
Boskovich was a star tight end at Westlake (Calif.) High, but he tore ligaments in both knees on a single play in training camp before his senior year. He walked on at USC and redshirted his first year before eventually settling into his current role.
'I learned how to snap from Kevin Richardson, who snapped at Stanford,' said Boskovich. 'He taught me when I was in seventh grade. I played defensive end and tight end in high school. Mike Seidman of UCLA was my teammate. He was the go-to guy and whenever they triple-covered him, they threw to me. I love playing tight end and I wish I was still playing tight end, but I grew up loving the Trojans (his cousin, Martin, punted for USC in 1993 and his father, Joseph, is on USC's Board of Trustees). I would rather be a snapper at USC than an All-American tight end anywhere else.'
Both snappers took time to adjust to the techniques of the position. But it is also a position fraught with peril.
'Timing is important,' said Hayward. 'You have to get it back there fast. You can't move the punter. You have to make sure you do all that and then get up and block and then go down and try to tackle someone. That's difficult to learn.'
'I pretty much have to just snap the ball and then get big in the middle,' added Boskovich.
They both have to deal with the discomfort of being bull rushed by linemen much bigger than they are.
'It's not easy when there is a 330-pound nose guard right across from you,' said Hayward.
'You just have to take it like a man,' said Boskovich. 'It's tough because you have your head between your legs. You have to snap it and then get up quickly.'
Then, there is the pressure-packed situations that they are involved in.
'The most nerve-wracking situations were when we kicked those field goals to beat UCLA and Colorado in 2000, said Boskovich.
'Thankfully, we haven't been in that situation this year. I just remember watching the offense go down the field on the last drives in those games and thinking, 'Uh oh, here we go.''
In preparation for their jobs, Hayward immerses himself with drills, while Boskovich has some superstitions he follows to a tee.
'I do a whole bunch of drills,' said Hayward. 'I line up 10 balls and grab them and snap them as fast as I can. The goal is to get used to snapping and being accurate.'
'I snap in the hotel room the night before the game,' said Boskovich. 'I snap eight times the night before and eight the next morning when I wake up. I guess I'm a nutcase. The first game I did that was Penn State. We had a good game, so I thought, 'Why change it?' During the actual game, I buckle my chinstrap different ways and spit on my hands about 30 times.'
'I try not to be superstitious,' added Hayward. 'It's all mental.'
Neither of them are expecting a career in the NFL, but Boskovich and Hayward realize that if they did make it, their position lends itself to great longevity, unlike other positions.
'Not many people realize it, but snappers play for a long time,' said Hayward. 'I'm going to give it a try. My friend, Joe Maese, is on the Baltimore Ravens as a snapper. I train with him in the offseason. My snapping is pretty close to his. All I have to do is get bigger and be more consistent.'
'It would be fun to go on,' said Boskovich. 'I'm not counting on it. But if it happens, it happens.'
In the meantime, they both will continue their valuable roles on the USC football team, though Hayward would be happy if he never gets on the field again.
'It's weird for me,' said Hayward. 'If I have to snap, it's not good for our team. It means that we didn't get a first down. So I guess if I only snapped the ball once or twice per game, I'd be happy.'
'I hope I snap 30 times per game,' countered Boskovich.
RELATED NEWS & VIDEOS
TODAY | 11:30am PTLive
TODAY | 1:00pm PTLive
TODAY | 4:00pm PTLive