USC Football Opens 2003 Home Slate With First Meeting Versus BYU, Norm Chow's Old Team
Sept. 1, 2003
USC (1-0 overall) vs. BYU (1-0), Saturday, Sept. 6, 5 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum
Fresh off a jaw-dropping road shutout at No. 6 Auburn, No. 4 USC begins its 2003 home schedule with its first-ever meeting versus BYU. Two of the greatest names in BYU football history former long-time assistant coach Norm Chow and ex-quarterback Steve Sarkisian will be on the USC side of the field as assistant coaches, facing their old school for the first time. The Trojans are riding a 9-game winning streak and they also have won their last 9 games in the Coliseum. The Cougars will be a bit more rested than USC, as they are coming off a home win versus Georgia Tech on Aug. 28. Based on its showing at Auburn, it appears that USC's defensefeaturing the 'Wild Bunch II' linecould be special. BYU hasn't been shut out in its past 351 games. The game will be shown live regionally by ABC-TV.
USC is ranked fourth by AP and fifth by USA Today/ESPN. BYU is not ranked.
USC and BYU have never met.
VERSUS MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
USC is 10-3-1 against teams from the Mountain West Conference: 6-3 versus Utah, 1-0 against both UNLV and Wyoming, and 2-0-1 against San Diego State. The Trojans lost their last meeting to a MWC foe (falling to Utah in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl, 10-6) to snap a streak of 11 consecutive unbeaten meetings against the MWC (the previous loss was in 1916 to Utah, although Troy tied San Diego State in 1992). On the other hand, BYU is 27-49-1 versus the Pac-10.
VERSUS OTHER UTAH SCHOOLS
Besides its 6-3 record versus Utah, USC is 4-0 against Utah State.
USC's record in home openers is 83-18-7 (.801).
The last time USC was ranked as high as fourth by AP going into its second game of the season was 1985.
USC is riding a 9-game winning streak, its longest since capturing 10 in a row in 1988. The Trojans also have captured their last 9 home games (with 2 shutouts in their past 7 home outings). That's USC's longest Coliseum win streak since getting 10 in a row during the 1987 and 1988 seasons.
NEARING 700 WINS
USC is 4 victories shy of becoming the 10th Division I team to collect 700 victories. USC's all-time record is 696-296-54 (69.1%).
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 368-122-27 (.738) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
USC has no players on its roster from Utah, while BYU has 19 who call California home...USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow spent 27 years (1973-99) as an assistant at BYU, where he coached 6 of the NCAA's top 12 career passing efficiency leaders and such quarterbacks as 1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen and Robbie Bosco...Chow also coached USC quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian, who threw for 7,755 yards and 55 TDs in his 2-year (1995-96) Cougar career...Chow (1965-67) and USC offensive line coach Tim Davis (1978-80) both were offensive linemen at Utah (Davis also coached the Utes' offensive line from 1990 to 1996).
In terms of difficulty, it might be hard to match USC's 2002 schedule, which was ranked by the NCAA, USA Today/Sagarin and BCS as the nation's toughestit featured 11 bowl-bound team, including 9 ranked by AP (and only 1 with a losing record) at the time of the game. But Troy's 2003 slate might not be far behind. USCwhich has 3 byes in 2003faces 8 teams that played in bowls last season, including 3 ranked in the final AP Top 20. Four USC foes are ranked in this week's AP poll. The Trojans opened at SEC power Auburn, ranked No. 6 at the time. Then, after hosting BYU and Hawaii, USC ventures into the always-difficult Pac-10 campaign, with 4 of its next 5 games on the road (including its annual tilt with non-conference rival Notre Dame). The Trojans play at California, Arizona State, Washington and Arizona, and host Stanford, Washington State and crosstown foe UCLA. The Pac-10 finale is a home contest against Oregon State on 'Championship Saturday' (Dec. 6, the latest USC regular season game since 1980).
Looking like it hadn't missed a beat from its successful 2002 season, No. 8 USC opened its 2003 campaign with a convincing 23-0 blanking at No. 6 Auburn in steamy weather before a vocal sold-out crowd of 86,063 and a national CBS-TV audience. It was USC's first shutout in an opener since 1973, its first shutout in a road opener since 1963, its first shutout of a Top 10 team since 1962, its first shutout ever at a Top 10 team's home and its biggest margin of victory over a team ranked as high as sixth since 1974. It was also the worst season-opening loss in Auburn history (and its worst shutout loss since 1980). The Trojans dominated from the start, as S Darnell Bing intercepted a Jason Campbell pass on the game's third play and then QB Matt Leinart hit WR Mike Williams for a 5-yard touchdown 3 plays later. PK Ryan Killeen then added a trio of field goalsa 28-yarder late in the first quarter, then from 42 and 35 yards in the third quarterbefore TB Hershel Dennis' 14-yard run early in the fourth quarter closed the scoring. USC's defense shut down an Auburn offense that was expected to be powerful. The Tigers managed just 164 total yards (only 43 rushing, with a 1.2 average per carry) and 11 first downs, while converting only 3-of-15 third downs and turning the ball over 3 times (USC scored 17 of its points off of turnovers). Auburn never penetrated inside USC's 33-yard line. Tiger TBs Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams (40 yards) and Ronnie Brown (28), who combined for 1,753 rushing yards in 2002, were held in check, while Campbell completed just 12-of-26 throws and was sacked 6 times. Leinart, making his first start as the replacement for 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer, was an efficient 17-of-30 for 192 yards (his first career pass was the TD). Williams had 8 catches for 104 yards, his sixth career 100-yard game. Dennis ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries in his first start. USC accumulated 315 total yards. LB Lofa Tatupu, also making his first start, had a game-high 12 tackles (3.5 for losses, with 2 sacks), while S Jason Leach added 8 stops and DT Mike Patterson had 7. Bing also had a fumble recovery to go with his pick. P Tom Malone averaged 45.1 yards on 7 punts, booming a 70-yarder and then nailing his last one out of bounds at the Auburn 2. It was USC's first-ever trip to Auburn (and its first visit to an SEC stadium since 1982) and the victory made Troy 3-0 in the state of Alabama.
25th ANNIVERSARY OF LAST NATIONAL TITLE
The 2003 season marks the 25th anniversary of USC's last national football championship. The 1978 Trojans, coached by John Robinson and led by such players as TB Charles White, QB Paul McDonald, OT Pat Howell, OG Brad Budde, OT Anthony Munoz, S Ronnie Lott, S Dennis Smith and LB Riki Gray, went 12-1 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Troy took the top spot in the UPI (coaches) poll, but finished second in the AP (writers) poll to Alabama despite beating the Crimson Tide earlier in the season. It was USC's eighth national championship.
1969 Dï¿½Jï¿½ VU?
There are some interesting similarities between the 1969 USC team (which went 10-0-1 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl) and the 2003 Trojans. Entering 1969, Troy lost a Heisman Trophy winner who was the first pick in the NFL draft (O.J. Simpson), had a new quarterback with no experience (Jimmy Jones), debuted a new tailback (Clarence Davis), featured a top incoming recruiting class (the 1972 seniors, who ended up helping USC to the national title), had a great defensive line (Wild Bunch I), had an offensive line featuring a returning all-conference tackle who was an All-American candidate and wore No. 77 (Sid Smith), faced a tough non-conference foe in its opener (Nebraska)...and the year prior saw Ohio State win the national title. The 2003 Trojans entered this season having lost a Heisman winner who was the NFL's first draft pick (Carson Palmer), had a new quarterback with no experience (Matt Leinart), debuted a new tailback (Hershel Dennis), had a top incoming recruiting class (ranked No. 1 by some), have a great defensive line (Wild Bunch II), have an offensive line featuring a returning All-Pac-10 tackle who is an All-American candidate and wears No. 77 (Jacob Rogers), met a challenging non-conference opponent in its opener (Auburn)...and saw Ohio State win last year's national title.
BYU has 38 married players on its team this year, while USC has just one (SNP Matt Hayward).
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). In 2002, just his second season at USC, his Trojans thrived despite playing what was ranked by the NCAA, Sagarin and the BCS as the nation's most difficult schedule (facing 9 AP-ranked teams and 11 bowl squads). USCwhich beat Iowa in the Orange Bowlposted an 11-2 overall record and a No. 4 ranking in the final polls, and won the Pac-10 championship while going 7-1. The Trojans also won their last 9 home games. It was USC's first 11-win season since 1979 and its highest ranking since 1988. Troy won its final 8 games (scoring at least 30 points in each), including blowouts of traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame (the first time USC beat both in the same season since 1981 and the first time in back-to-back games since 1978). USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (449.3) and total defense (284.9), as well as scoring offense (35.8) and scoring defense (18.5), and was in the NCAA's Top 25 in nearly every team statistical category on both sides of the ball. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer and safety Troy Polamalu were first team All-Americans. Carroll was 1 of 8 finalists for the 2002 Paul 'Bear' Bryant Coach of the Year Award and was 1 of 4 runners-up for the 2002 American Football Monthly Schutt Sports Division I-A Coach of the Year Award. After USC 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 28 years of NFL and college experience, including 12 on the college level. He is 18-8 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). After starting off his Trojan career 2-5, he has gone 16-3. He is 7-0 in November. His teams already have posted 3 shutouts. 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 as a graduate assistant working with the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, and then a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary 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.
USC's No. 1 concern in 2003 was finding a replacement for quarterback Carson Palmer, the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner whose Pac-10 record 11,818 career passing yards and 11,621 yards of total offense were among the 33 Pac-10 and USC marks he set. The All-American first teamer completed 63.2% of his passes (309-of-489) in 2002 for 3,942 yards, 33 TDs and just 10 interceptions. Four players got a shot at the job in 2003 spring practice and the competition remained nearly even throughout the spring, but left-handed sophomore Matt Leinart (17-of-30, 56.7%, 192 yds, 1 TD, 0 int in 2003) emerged with an ever-so-slight edgedespite never having thrown a pass at USC while seeing brief action in 3 games in 2002and he extended his hold on the job in this fall's practice (in Troy's 3 fall intrasquad scrimmages, he was 43-of-57, 75.4%, for 608 yards, 6 TDs and no interceptions). Backing him is junior Matt Cassel, Palmer's backup the past 2 seasons who has thrown just 6 passes in his career. Also available are junior Brandon Hance, who sat out last season after transferring from Purdue (he started 9 games there in 2001) and saw limited reps in 2002 practice after having surgery on his throwing shoulder, and sophomore Billy Hart, who has only seen brief action in 2002 but didn't throw a pass (he also plays on the Trojan baseball team). And don't count out heralded freshman John David Booty, believed to be the first football player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll at a major Division I-A university. Also able to take snaps is walk-on freshman Michael McDonald, the son of ex-USC All-American Paul McDonald.
Last year, USC relied on 3 effective senior tailbacks to carry the load: Justin Fargas (who started 5 late-season games and rushed for 715 yards and 7 TDs), Sultan McCullough (a 5-game starter who led the Trojans with 814 yards and 8 TDs, and finished eighth on the school's career rushing list with 2,800 yards) and Malaefou MacKenzie (a 3-game starter at tailback and 7-game starter at fullback who ran for 939 yards and caught 76 passes in his career). In 2003, the only experienced tailback entering the season was promising sophomore Hershel Dennis (21 tcb, 85 yds, 4.1 avg, 1 TD in 2003). He was USC's No. 3-leading rusher (198 yards) and its top kickoff returner (151 yards) in 2002. Joining him this fall as freshmen is a terrific trio of prep All-Americans in Reggie Bush (5 tcb, 9 yds, 1.8 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, -6 yds, -6.0 yds), Chauncey Washington (3 tcb, 24 yds, 8.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 tac) and LenDale White (5 tcb, 6 yds, 1.2 avg in 2003), plus frosh Jody Adewale. Dennis and Bush are speedy, darting runners, while Washington and White are known as the 'The Bruise Brothers.' Also available are 3 walk-ons: sophomore converted safety Andre Woodert and freshmen John Griffin and Sean Kelly.
With Malaefou MacKenzie gone, a new fullback must emerge. Sophomore Brandon Hancock, who started twice last fall, was slated to be the starter, but an ankle sprain in fall camp has slowed him. So junior Lee Webb, who also has played linebacker at USC, assumed the starting job, backed by sophomore David Kirtman. Walk-on redshirt freshmen Mike Brittingham, a converted safety, and Morgan Craig, a one-time quarterback, also are in the mix.
COLBERT AND WILLIAMS
Even though USC career reception leader Kareem Kellyhe had 204 catches, including 46 last fall, and set an NCAA record by catching a pass in 47 consecutive gamesis gone, the Trojans are in good shape in the wide receivers corps as a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (a first at Troy) are back. Both are playmakers who could win 2003 post-season honors and they form the top receiving duo in the country. Underrated, yet consistent, senior Keary Colbert (2 rec, 13 yds, 6.5 avg in 2002) starts for his fourth season. He has caught a pass in 24 consecutive outings. He is sixth on USC's career receptions ladder with 140 grabs (40th on the all-time Pac-10 chart) and a repeat of last season's 71-catch output (for 1,029 yards) will push him past Kelly as the school's all-time leading pass catcher. Even if Colbert breaks Kelly's mark, Keyshawn-esque sophomore Mike Williams (8 rec, 104 yds, 13.0 avg, 1 TD in 2003) is poised to shatter the standard before his career concludes. He already is 16th on USC's career receptions list (89) and has 6 100-yard receiving games in his young career. He currently is 12th nationally in receptions (8.0, tied for second in the Pac-10). The 2003 pre-season All-American won Freshman All-American first team status last fall and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year when he set NCAA frosh records for receiving yards (1,265) and receiving touchdowns (14) and the Pac-10 frosh mark for receptions (81). He was 16th nationally in receiving yards (97.3) and 20th in receptions (6.2) while starting twice in 2002. Last year, he caught a TD pass in 7 consecutive games (including 3 against Washington to tie a USC game record) and his 14 TD catches not only were the second most in the nation, but tied the USC season mark. He also had 5 100-yard receiving games, including 4 in a row, in 2002. He caught 13 passes at Oregon in 2002, a USC frosh record.
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
Dependable backup receivers have emerged behind Keary Colbert and Mike Williams (even though no other wide receiver on the roster caught a ball last year). The cast includes such veterans as seniors D. Hale, a walk-on-turned-scholarship winner who has started once in his career, and Sandy Fletcher, junior Jason Mitchell, sophomores Greig Carlson and converted cornerback Justin Wyatt (1 rec, 5 yds, 5.0 avg in 2003), and sure-handed redshirt freshman Chris McFoy. Carlson, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, was USC's top punt returner in 2002 (177 yards). Wyatt was the surprise of 2003 spring drills after his switch to offense. Two walk-ons also figure in junior Steve Levario Jr. and redshirt freshman John Zilka. Adding to all of this, a pair of the nation's most highly sought-after high school pass catchers enrolled at USC this fall as freshmen: prep All-Americans Whitney Lewis and Steve Smith (1 rec, 7 yds, 7.0 avg in 2003). Lewis might also play fullback.
USC is well-stocked at tight end, with a returning starter and a pair of experienced backups. But the returning startersenior Alex Holmes, who has caught 58 passes in his career (including 29 in 2002, the most by a Trojan tight end since 1993)has been bothered in 2003 by a back injury and might redshirt. In his place, sophomore Dominique Byrd (3 rec, 63 yds, 21.0 avg in 2003) has taken over. Playing often behind (or with) Byrd is junior Gregg Guenther Jr. (1 rec, 6 yds, 6.0 avg in 2003), who started once last fall. USC's tallest player at 6-8, he also stars on the Trojans men's basketball squad. Then there's redshirt freshmen Kurt Katnik, a converted center (and the younger brother of starting center Norm Katnik) and walk-on Nick Vanderboom, a converted quarterback, plus walk-on junior Owen Hanson, who also is on the Trojan men's volleyball team.
The 2003 version of USC's offensive line might be Troy's best in years. Players returned at 4 positionsonly 4-year starting right guard Zach Wilson is goneand there are some big-potential younger players angling for time. Both tackles returned and they're good ones: senior Jacob Rogers, a 2-year starter who earned All-Pac-10 first team laurels in 2002, and sophomore Winston Justice, a 2002 Freshman All-American first teamer. Both are in line for 2003 post-season honors. They make up the nation's best bookend tackles (Rogers on the left and Justice on the right). Senior Lenny Vandermade, a 3-year starter, returned at left guard (he also has started at center in his career), while reliable center Norm Katnik, another 2-year starter, also returned (he also has started at guard and tackle in his USC tenure). Redshirt freshman Fred Matua, a guard who was set to start the 2002 opener before a knee sprain sidelined him, has captured the starting job at Wilson's right guard spot. Versatile senior Eric Torres, who started 7 times in 2002 at every line spot except center (Torres started all of 2001 at right tackle), is not yet ready to contribute in 2003. He broke his left ankle in the Orange Bowl and missed spring drills (he was slowed in fall camp, too). Returning squadmen looking to work into the rotation are senior tackle Nate Steinbacher, who worked some at defensive tackle last fall, junior guard Travis Watkins, and redshirt freshman guard-tackle Kyle Williams, plus walk-on junior center Spencer Torgan, a converted defensive tackle, and walk-on redshirt freshman center-guard John Lanza. Coming aboard this fall were tackle John Drake, a junior college transfer who is a junior, plus a trio of freshmen who were prep All-Americans: Sam Baker and Drew Radovich at guard (Radovich can also play tackle) and Ryan Kalil at center. There's also freshman Matt Spanos , a converted defensive end.
Simply put, USC's defensive line is the best in the nation. Nicknamed the 'Wild Bunch II' in honor of USC's famous 1969 defensive front, 4 key veteranseach could win 2003 post-season honorsreturn from a unit that was sixth in the country last fall versus the rush (allowing just 83.2 yards per game) and let only 4 of 13 offenses run for more than 100 yards (no individual ever rushed for 100 yards). More than half of USC's 43 sacks last season were by defensive linemen. Both ends returned: senior Omar Nazel (1 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR in 2003) and junior Kenechi Udeze (2 tac, 0.5 for loss in 2003). Udeze, a 2-year starter, set a USC record with his Pac-10 leading 6 forced fumbles in 2002. Also back is junior Mike Patterson (7 tac, 1 for loss in 2003), who started 10 times at nose tackle (where he is in 2003) and 3 at defensive tackle last fall. His 4 fumble recoveries topped the Pac-10 in 2002. Although tackle Bernard Rileyhe had 19 career starts, including the last 7 games of 2002, when he posted 25 tacklesis gone, a familiar face has re-assumed that defensive tackle spot. Junior Shaun Cody (3 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl in 2003), a 2001 Freshman All-American first teamer, started the first 6 games of 2002 before tearing knee ligaments. He missed spring drills, but is fully recovered this fall. Among the returning squadmen pushing for time at end are junior Van Brown and sophomore converted linebacker Frostee Rucker (2 tac, 1 dfl in 2003), who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado State, and at tackle are soph LaJuan Ramsey (2 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FF in 2003) and redshirt freshman Travis Tofi. Then there's junior walk-on Jay Bottom at end. Eight new players enrolled at USC this fall as freshmen. The ends are prep All-Americans Chris Barrett, Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow, while the tackles are prep All-Americans Sedrick Ellis and Manuel Wright, plus Ryan Watson.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THE 'WILD BUNCH II'
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville:
'(Quarterback Jason Campbell) didn't have a chance. He was running around for his life. We just couldn't get any rhythm going. You could just feel our offensive line didn't feel good about being able to block those guys.'
USC is solid at the outside linebacker spots, as junior Matt Grootegoed (5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FF in 2003) returns on the strong side and senior Melvin Simmons (3 tac in 2003) is back on the weak side. Grootegoed, a 2-year starter and 2003 post-season honors candidate who has a knack for always being around the ball, won All-Pac-10 first team honors in 2002 when he led the Trojans in tackles (81), tackles for a loss (16.5) and sacks (8). Simmons was USC's No. 2 tackler last fall (71). But there's a new middle linebacker now that Mike Pollarda 2-year starter who had 49 stops last yearhas departed. The starter is sophomore Lofa Tatupu (12 tac, 3.5 for loss, 2 sack in 2003), who sat out last season after transferring from Maine, where he started in 2001 (he is the son of ex-USC and NFL fullback Mosi Tatupu). He is backed by junior Daniel Urquhart (2 tac in 2003), a converted defensive end, and sophomore Oscar Lua, who tore knee ligaments prior to the Orange Bowl and missed spring practice (he has been slowed this fall). Other linebackers from last year's roster looking to get in the mix are junior Bobby Otani and sophomore Dallas Sartz, plus walk-on sophomore Collin Ashton (1 tac in 2003). Prep All-American Thomas Williams, along with Salo Faraimo (1 tac in 2003), joined the linebacking corps this fall as freshmen. Walk-on junior Marco Chavez, who spent part of 2002 at Hawaii, will redshirt this year after transferring.
While the biggest holes to fill on USC's defense were in the secondary, the situation wasn't as dire as it might have appeared. Granted, the Trojans lost 3 quality starters in 2-time All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu (the 2002 Thorpe Award finalist was a 3-year starter who amassed 278 tackles and 6 interceptions in his career), free safety DeShaun Hill (he had 54 stops and a team-best 8 deflections last season) and cornerback Darrell Rideaux (he notched 46 tackles, 7 pass break-ups and 2 picks in 2002). Most critically, the void left from the loss of Polamalu's leadership cannot be discounted. Only senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (1 tac in 2003) returned as a starter. The Trojans are 8-0 when he starts. The one-time starting wide receiver also was a top-flight hurdler on USC's track squad. There were plenty of experienced options to fill the 3 open secondary spots. In fact, 3 players had starting experience at cornerback: senior Kevin Arbet (4 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl in 2003, plus 2 PR, 11 yds, 5.5 avg), who missed all of last season with a broken foot, junior Ronald Nunn (1 tac in 2003) and sophomore William Buchanon. Arbetwho started 4 times in 2000 and was an All-Pac-10 first teamer as a special teams player in 2001has won the job for 2003. Nunn started USC's first 3 contests in 2002 before tearing knee ligaments (he missed most of 2003 spring drills) and then Buchanon started the next 3 games (after converting from wide receiver) before giving way to Allmond. The new starting free safety is junior Jason Leach (8 tac, 0.5 for loss in 2003), who started twice at strong safety last fall for an injured Polamalu, including in the Orange Bowl. He led Troy in interceptions in 2002 with 4. Taking over Polamalu's strong safety spot is freshman Darnell Bing (4 tac, 1 FR, 1 int in 2003), who originally signed with USC in 2002 after a prep All-American career at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High but did not qualify for admission then (he enrolled at Troy this past spring). Bing currently is tied for fifth nationally in interceptions (1.0, tied for second in the Pac-10). Other cornerbacks back from last year's group are sophomore John Walker and walk-on sophomore Alex Gomez. Identical twin freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Ting and Ryan Ting, who were 2002 prep All-Americans, graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC this past spring (Brandon can also play safety). Battling for action at safety from last year's squad are sophomore Mike Ross, plus 5 walk-ons in seniors Greg Farr and top special teams player Forrest Mozart and juniors Chris Bocage, Matt Lemos and Kyle Matthews. This fall, joining the fray were junior college transfer Will Poole (3 tac, 1 dfl in 2003), a senior safety who started at Boston College in 2000 before earning J.C. All-American laurels last fall, and 3 incoming freshmen who were prep All-Americans: safety-cornerback Desmond Reed, safety Terrell Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright. Poole is USC's nickel back.
Sophomore Tom Malone (45.1 avg in 2003) has proven to be one of the nation's top young punters. He currently is 14th nationally in punting (45.1, first in the Pac-10). He earned Freshman All-American second team notice last fall when nearly half of his 62 punts pinned opponents within the 20-yard line and 12 traveled at least 50 yards (including a 72-yarder). He is backed by a pair of walk-ons, senior Tommy Huff and sophomore Zach Sherwood. Junior Ryan Killeen (3-of-3 FG, 2-of-2 PAT in 2003) is in his second year as the placekicker. He currently is tied for third nationally in field goals (3.0, second in the Pac-10). He was only supposed to handle the kickoff duty last year, but took over the placekicking job during the third game of 2002 and was impressive. His 16 field goals were 3 shy of the USC season record, he hit his last 30 PATs (and missed just 2 out of 49 all year), he led Troy in scoring (95 points) and 27 of his 89 kickoffs were touchbacks. Walk-on freshman Mario Danelo pushed him throughout 2003 fall camp. Both of USC's snappersseniors Joe Boskovich (placekicks) and Matt Hayward (punts)are back. It's the fourth season in that role for Boskovich, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, and the third year for Hayward. Both have been near flawless in their careers. Walk-on freshman Will Collins can also snap. Sophomore punter Tom Malone returns as the holder on all placekicks, with junior quarterback Matt Cassel the backup. USC's top punt returnersophomore wide receiver Greig Carlsonand kickoff returnersoph tailback Hershel Dennisfrom last season are back (Carlson had 177 yards and Dennis had 151 in 2002). But in 2003, senior cornerback Kevin Arbet (2 PR, 11 yds, 5.5 avg in 2003)who led USC in punt returns in 2001 (225 yards)will handle the chore, with Carlson serving as his backup. Arbet and senior cornerback Marcell Allmond are the kickoff returners in 2003. Other possible returners are sophomore cornerback Justin Wyatt and freshman tailback Reggie Bush.
USC's assistant coaching staff stayed relatively intact from 2002, with some slight positional changes. Tim Davis, who last year handled the offensive guards and centers, took over the entire line. Rocky Seto, a Trojan graduate assistant last fall, is now a full-time coach in charge of the safeties. Ed Orgeron, USC's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, this year added the title of assistant head coach. Dennis Slutak is the only newcomer on the staff; the one-time Florida State punter and North Carolina State graduate assistant is a graduate assistant working with the special teams.
STATS OF NOTE
USC has been effective in the takeaway department during head coach Pete Carroll's 3 seasons. In 2003, USC is +3.0 in turnover margin (fourth in the U.S., first in the Pac-10) by getting 2 fumbles and 1 interception (the Trojans have no turnovers). USC's +1.33 turnover margin over Carroll's first 2 regular seasons (2001 and 2002) was the best in the nation and its +69 takeaways during that span were third most (slightly behind Virginia Tech's +71 and Tulane's +70). In 2002, the Trojans had 36 takeaways (19 fumbles and 17 interceptions) and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.4). In 2001 (including the bowl), Troy had 35 takeaways (20 picks, 15 fumbles) and ranked fifth in the nation in turnover margin at +1.3. USC's ball security was impressive, too, those first 2 seasons: only 19 turnovers in 2001 and just 18 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 29 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. Six 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, Miami's Dave Wannstedt and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio. Twelve current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: QB John David Booty (brother, Josh Booty), DE Van Brown (brother, Chad Brown), CB William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), PK Mario Danelo (father, Joe Danelo), OG Fred Matua (cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), QB Michael McDonald (father, Paul McDonald), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi Tatupu), CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams), OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins), TB LenDale White (cousin, Darcey Levy) and OG-OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). OG Sam Baker's father, David, is the commissioner of the Arena Football League. And C Ryan Kalil's father, Frank, played in the USFL. Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistant Lane Kiffin was an NFL assistant. Three assistant coaches played professionally: 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 309 times, including 175 of the past 177 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).
Incoming scholarship freshman linebacker Drean Rucker, a 2002 prep All-American from Canyon Springs High in Moreno Valley (Calif.), drowned in the ocean off of Huntington Beach (Calif.) on July 21, just 2 weeks before he was to report to USC for fall practice. He was 18. His body was found on July 26. 'This is an extraordinary tragedy for Drean's family and for the Trojan Family,' said USC head coach Pete Carroll. 'Drean was a wonderful young man with a great spirit. He would light up a room with his smile. He was a highly-competitive and talented football player who was going to make an impact at USC on and off the field. It's just a terrible loss. The hearts and prayers of the Trojan Family go out to his family.' In his memory, the 2003 Trojans will wear a football-shaped sticker on their helmets with '#54' inside in gold lettering (that was the number he was assigned at USC); also, that jersey number will not be worn this season.
There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2003 USC football media guide.
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
JODY ADEWALE-He was named a 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West honorable mention, Tom Lemming All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best of the Rest, All-L.A. City second team and Los Angeles Times All-Central City first team (as a defensive back) selection as a senior at Roosevelt High in Los Angeles (Calif.)...He ran for 1,400-plus yards and 26 TDs as a running back and made 27 tackles with an interception as a defensive back...As a junior in 2001, he made All-L.A. City, Los Angeles Times All-Central City first team and All-League first team while running for 1,660 yards and 25 TDs and posting 144 tackles and an interception at linebacker...He also competed in basketball and track at Roosevelt...His last name is pronounced 'add-uh-WALL-lee.'
SALO FARAIMO-He was a 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best of the Rest, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, All-CIF San Diego Section Defensive MVP, San Diego Union-Tribune All-San Diego first team and All-Palomar League (as a running back and linebacker) pick as a senior at Vista (Calif.) High...He ran for 1,039 yards on 179 carries (5.8 avg.) with 21 TDs and had 128 tackles (69 solo) with 3 sacks in 2002...His brother, Preston, was a linebacker at Hawaii in 2000 and 2001...His name is pronounced 'SAL-low fuh-RAY-moe.'
MANUEL WRIGHT-He actually signed with USC in 2002, but did not qualify for admission, so he attended Long Beach (Calif.) City College that season as a part-time student (he didn't play football there)...He earned 2001 Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Tom Lemming All-American, Max Emfinger All-American, Student Sports All-American second team, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Dream Team, Super Prep All-Far West, Prep Star All-Western Region, Student Sports All-West first team, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Las Vegas Sun Super 11 first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division I Defensive MVP, Los Angeles Times All-Southeast/South Coast first team and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team Defensive MVP honors as a senior defensive lineman at Poly High in Long Beach (Calif.)...He had 142 tackles (60 solo), including 16 sacks, plus 4 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles, 20 deflections and an interception...As a junior in 2000, he made Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass first team, All-CIF Division I first team and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team while recording 95 tackles (57 solo), with 25 sacks...He was a 3-year starter as Poly went 39-1-1 and won 3 CIF Division I titles...Current Trojans Darnell Bing, Hershel Dennis and Winston Justice also prepped at Poly...His cousin is Arizona State senior tailback Mike Williams...Wright's first name is pronounced 'MAN-you-ull.'
USC IS THE PLACE TO BE
Based on several national accolades it has received in recent years, 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 2003 Trojan squad are: CB-S Brandon Ting (4.00 GPA), CB Ryan Ting (4.00), FB Brandon Hancock (3.82, business major), WR John Zilka (3.48), TB-S Andre Woodert (3.37, kinesiology), TE Nick Vanderboom (3.32, business), QB Matt Cassel (3.28, communication), QB Billy Hart (3.22, business), QB Brandon Hance (3.09, music industry), FB Mike Brittingham (3.01), SNP Matt Hayward (2.93, business), C Spencer Torgan (2.89, business), OT Winston Justice (2.78) and WR Chris McFoy (2.75). Hayward and LB Melvin Simmons were 2002 Pac-10 All-Academic second team picks. 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.
BYU, which opened up its 2003 slate with a 24-13 win versus Georgia Tech at home last Thursday (Aug. 28), went 6-7 last season (its first losing campaign since 1973). The Cougars are riding an NCAA record streak of 351 games without being shut out. Coach Gary Crowton is in his third year, having succeeded the legendary LaVell Edwards. The Cougar offense is guided by sophomore QB Matt Berry (31-of-46, 67.4%, 276 yds, 3 TD, 1 int in 2003), who started the last half of 2002. He currently is 20th nationally in total offense (268.0). He is joined by senior wide receiver Toby Christensen (6 rec, 51 yds, 8.5 avg, 1 TD in 2003), the son of ex-BYU and NFL star Todd, and freshman tight end Daniel Coats (6 rec, 93 yds, 15.5 avg, 2 TD in 2003), plus running backs like junior Reynaldo Brathwaite (13 tcb, 61 yds, 4.7 avg in 2003), junior Marcus Whalen (1 tcb, 3 yds, 3.0 avg in 2003), who had a team-best 918 rushing yards in 2002 but is hampered by a foot injury, and sophomore Naufahu Tahi (6 tcb, 6 yds, 1.0 avg in 2003, plus 4 rec, 9 yds, 2.2 avg), 1999's rushing leader (445 yards) before going on a Mormon mission. All 11 defensive starters return from a year ago, including 2002 All-Mountain West Conference first team DE Brady Poppinga (2 tac, 1 sack in 2003), a junior, along with junior S Aaron Francisco (6 tac, 2 FR, 1 FF in 2003) and senior LBs Colby Bockwoldt (2 tac in 2003) and Mike Tanner (9 tac in 2003). BYU currently is 18th nationally in total defense (243.0) and tied for ninth in turnover margin (+2.0). Junior P/PK Matt Payne (41.5 P avg, 1-of-2 FG, 3-of-3 PAT in 2003) was an All-MWC first teamer in 2002.
Free USC schedule posters will be passed out to all fans...All military personnel, friends and family can but 2-for-1 tickets as an Armed Forces special promotion...There will be a pre-game moment of silence for the late Drean Rucker, the incoming USC freshman linebacker who drowned this summer...The USC's team and individual national champions from 2002-03 (the women's volleyball and golf teams, plus swimmer Erik Vendt, tracksters Ryan Wilson, Julien Kapek, Allen Simms and Dawid Jaworski, and golfer Mikaela Parmlid) will be recognized at halftime during the Team Trojan Spotlight...Junior middle blocker Emily Adams of USC's top-ranked women's volleyball team, an international relations major, will be honored during the Verizon Academic Salute.
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