No. 9 USC Football--Looking For 700th Win--Returns Home To Host Stanford
Oct. 5, 2003
USC (4-1 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) vs. Stanford (2-1, 0-1), Saturday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum.
No. 9 USC, which rebounded from its triple overtime loss at California with a big win at Arizona State last week, returns to the Coliseum from a 2-game road trip and looks to extend its home winning streak to 12 in a row. With a win, USC would become just the 10th school to post 700 all-time victories. Stanford is coming off a bye after starting the season at 2-1. The Cardinal is USC's oldest current opponent. Two of the nation's best rushing defenses will be on display. USC P Tom Malone has turned into a weapon, as he continues to lead the nation in punting. The game will be shown live nationally on FOX Sports Net cable.
USC is ranked ninth by AP and USA Today/ESPN. Stanford is not ranked.
Stanford is USC's oldest rival, with the series dating back to 1905. USC holds a 54-24-3 lead over Stanford (including a win last year), but Troy has lost 3 of the last 4 meetings and 4 of the last 7. In its last 27 meetings with the Cardinal, USC has gone 20-6-1 (and Troy is 35-9-1 in the past 45 games). In games in the Los Angeles area (including a 1918 game in Pasadena), USC leads 24-15-1 (16-5-1 since 1959). USC has outscored the Cardinal 307-188 in the past 9 meetings in the Coliseum.
Last year in Palo Alto, QB Carson Palmer threw 4 touchdowns and Trojan runners ran for 3 more scores as No. 10 USC thrashed Stanford, 49-17. 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 Cardinal--which was averaging 149.4 yards on the ground--to 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).
In 2001 in the last meeting in the Coliseum, USC fell to Stanford, 21-16. It was Stanford's third win in a row over USC (by a margin of just 11 points), the first time that has happened since 1954-56. The Cardinal jumped off to a 21-0 halftime lead (Troy's largest halftime deficit since a 35-point gap in the 1994 Penn State game) on a 4-yard run by TB Kerry Carter in the first quarter and a pair of second quarter passes from QB Randy Fasani to FL Luke Powell (34 yards) and TE Brett Pierce (2 yards). The last 2 scores followed Trojan turnovers in USC territory. The Trojans got untracked in the second half, sparked by some big defensive and special teams plays. First, after CB Kevin Arbet recovered a fumble, PK David Davis nailed a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter. Then 2 series later, after Arbet returned a punt a career-long 47 yards to the Stanford 8-yard line, TB Sultan McCullough ran it in on the next play. Finally, with 6:34 to play in the game, CB Chris Cash blocked PK Mike Biselli's 39-yard field goal try and CB Kris Richard raced 65 yards for a TD (USC's 2-point conversion try failed). It was Troy's first TD return with a blocked field goal since Jerald Henry's 60-yarder against California in 1994. The Trojans got the ball back again with 5:20 to go, but had to punt after 3 plays and Stanford ran out the clock (in fact, it was Troy's only possession of the quarter). USC missed on several other scoring opportunities, getting within the Cardinal 36-yard line 4 times but coming away with no points, and was hampered by some untimely penalties (9 for 93 yards). Overall, USC had just 268 total yards (only 28 on the ground, with just 1 rushing yard in the first half) to Stanford's 397 (only 166 came after the half, including just 44 passing). The Trojans held the ball only 24:12, converted only 4-of-15 third downs, had just 13 first downs and had 3 turnovers. For USC, QB Carson Palmer was 22-of-42 for 240 yards, but had 2 interceptions, while WR Kareem Kelly caught a game-high 6 passes for 46 yards. Fasani was 11-of-25 for 194 yards and the 2 scores, but was picked off once and lost 2 fumbles (he added 43 yards on 10 rushes). Pierce caught 5 passes for 40 yards, Powell had 4 grabs for a game-best 124 yards, Carter ran for 79 yards on 23 carries and TB Brian Allen added 63 yards on 12 tries. S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 10 tackles and blocked a punt, LB Mike Pollard added 9 stops and 3 deflections and S DeShaun Hill made 7 stops and intercepted a pass.
NEARING 700 WINS
USC is 1 victory shy of becoming the 10th Division I team to collect 700 victories. USC's all-time record is 699-297-54 (69.1%).
USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 11 games, its longest string since 13 in a row in 1988-89.
The Trojans have captured their last 11 home games (with 2 shutouts). That's USC's longest Coliseum win streak since getting 11 in a row during the 1977 through 1979 campaigns (next is a 19-game streak in 1931-33).
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 370-122-27 (.739) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
USC has 8 players who previously attended a Bay Area school: DE Omar Nazel (Skyline HS in Oakland), CB Ronald Nunn (St. Francis HS in Mountain View and San Francisco CC), S Matt Lemos (St. Francis HS in Mountain View), WR Forrest Mozart (St. Francis HS in Mountain View), DE Alex Morrow (Rancho Cotate HS in Rohnert Park), CB Eric Wright (Riordan HS in San Francisco) and twin DBs Brandon and Ryan Ting (James Logan HS in Union City)...USC head coach Pete Carroll has Bay Area roots: he was born in San Francisco, played football at Redwood High in Larkspur, Marin Junior College and Pacific, then was an assistant coach at Pacific (1974-76, 1983) and with the San Francisco 49ers (1995-96)...USC linebackers coach Nick Holt played football at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose and USC offensive line coach Tim Davis played at Castro Valley High and Chabot Junior College...USC graduate assistant coach Brennan Carroll attended Saratoga High...USC secondary coach Greg Burns' brother, Dexter, was a defensive back at San Jose State in the mid-1990s...USC FB David Kirtman's father, Louis, ran track at Cal (his uncle, Louis, played football at Stanford in 1967)...Stanford FS Marcus McCutcheon is the brother of ex-USC CB Daylon McCutcheon (1995-98)...Three Stanford assistant coaches once coached at USC: co-defensive coordinator/secondary A.J. Christoff (he was Troy's linebackers coach in 2000), offensive line coach Steve Morton (he handled USC's tight ends in 1999 and the offensive line in 2000) and running backs coach Wayne Moses (he held the same role at Troy in 2001)...Stanford men's basketball coach Mike Montgomery's daughter, Anne, is a freshman defensive specialist on the USC women's volleyball team.
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 toughest--it 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. Two 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 ventured 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).
TB LenDale White rushed for more yards than any true freshman in USC history, QB Matt Leinart shook off mid-game knee and ankle injuries and PK Ryan Killeen hit 3 field goals to lead No. 10 USC to a 37-17 win at hot (90 degrees) Arizona State before 56,527 fans and an ABC-TV regional audience. White came off the bench to run for 140 yards (becoming only the sixth USC first-year freshman to rush for 100 yards) on 21 carries, scoring twice. Leinart, who missed most of the second quarter after injuring his knee and ankle, returned in the second half and ended up hitting 13-of-23 passes for 289 yards and 2 TDs. The game was tied at 10-10 at halftime: first, Leinart hit wide-open WR Keary Colbert on a 57-yard scoring bomb on USC's first possession to cap a 95-yard drive, then ASU responded on its ensuing series (QB Andrew Walter found WR Skyler Fulton for a 12-yard TD) before the teams traded second quarter field goals (a 25-yarder by ASU PK Jesse Ainsworth at the top of the quarter and a 45-yarder by Killeen with 3 seconds to go in the half). The Sun Devils scored again on their opening series of the second half on a 1-yard run by TB Loren Wade, but the Trojans then scored the game's final 27 points. First, White bounced outside for a 33-yard TD run on the following series and then, on fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter, Leinart hit FB Brandon Hancock on a short pass and Hancock raced 33 yards for a score. Killeen then nailed a pair of fourth quarter field goals (28 and 38 yards) on USC's next 2 possessions before White ran 6 yards on the Trojans' subsequent drive to finish the scoring. USC piled up 529 yards of total offense (including 198 rushing) and limited ASU to 366 total yards (only 61 rushing, including just 3 in the second half). Colbert (100 yards) and WR Mike Williams (108 yards) each had 5 grabs to eclipse the century mark in receiving yards. QB Matt Cassel was 4-of-10 for 42 yards in relief of Leinart in the second quarter. For ASU, which operated out of the no-huddle offense most of the game, Walter completed 19-of-38 passes for 305 yards, while WR Derek Hagan caught 8 aerials for 170 yards and TB Hakim Hill rushed for 74 yards on 27 carries. USC LB Daniel Urquhart got his first career start in place on injured LB Lofa Tatupu and responded with a team-best 10 tackles, while LB Matt Grootegoed had 9 stops (2 for losses) and S Jason Leach (who had an interception) and CB Will Poole each added 8 tackles. CB Ronald Nunn recovered a fumble. USC posted 5 sacks, including 2.5 by DT Shaun Cody. It was USC's fourth consecutive win over Arizona State.
This will be only the second time that USC and Stanford have played on Oct. 11. The first time: 1969, when Trojan PK Ron Ayala kicked a game-winning 34-yard field goal at the final gun to give No. 4 USC a 26-24 victory over No. 16 Stanford in the Coliseum.
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). He is 21-9 as a college head coach (all at USC); his losses were by a total of 42 points (4.7 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 19-4. He is 7-0 in November. His teams already have posted 3 shutouts. 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). USC--which beat Iowa in the Orange Bowl--posted 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 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 (85-of-147, 57.8%, 1,213 yds, 10 TD, 7 int in 2003) emerged with an ever-so-slight edge--despite never having thrown a pass at USC while seeing brief action in 3 games in 2002--and 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 (6-of-13, 46.2%, 63 yds in 2003), Palmer's backup the past 2 seasons who had thrown just 6 passes in his career before this year. Also available are junior Brandon Hance (1-of-2, 50.0%, 13 yds in 2003), 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, whose only action was briefly in 2002 but he 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.
- --In his first career start, Leinart was an efficient 17-of-30 for 192 yards with a touchdown (on his first career pass) at Auburn.
--Leinart threw 3 touchdown passes against BYU while hitting 19-of-34 passes for 235 yards (but he had 3 interceptions).
--Leinart completed 71.4% of his passes (15-of-21) for 220 yards and 2 TDs (with no picks) in 3 quarters of action against Hawaii, while Cassel was 2-of-3 for 21 yards and Hance hit 1-of-2 throws for 13 yards.
--Leinart was 21-of-39 for 277 yards and 2 scores (but threw 3 interceptions) at California (in the second half, he hit 16-of-24 throws for 191 yards).
--Leinart completed 12-of-23 passes for 289 yards and 2 TDs (57 and 33 yards) with an interception despite missing most of the second quarter with a banged up knee and ankle at Arizona State (he played while hobbled during the second half), while Cassel came in as his replacement in the second quarter and was 4-of-10 for 42 yards (Hance came in for the game's final series, but did not throw a pass).
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 (64 tcb, 249 yds, 3.9 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 5 rec, 24 yds, 4.8 avg). 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 LenDale White (38 tcb, 210 yds, 5.5 avg, 5 TD in 2003, plus 1 rec, -2 yds, -2.0 avg and 2 tac), Reggie Bush (28 tcb, 116 yds, 4.1 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 2 rec, 22 yds, 11.0 yds and 5 KOR, 111 yds, 22.2 avg) and Chauncey Washington (9 tcb, 40 yds, 4.4 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, 6 yds, 6.0 avg and 3 tac) and, plus frosh Jody Adewale. Dennis and Bush are speedy, darting runners, while Washington and White are known as the 'The Bruise Brothers.' Prep All-American Whitney Lewis (3 tcb, 11 yds, 3.7 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, 2 yds, 2.0 avg) came to USC as a wide receiver, but so far in 2003 he has mainly played as a running back, first at fullback (usually in motion) and then at tailback. Also available are 3 walk-ons: sophomore converted safety Andre Woodert and freshmen John Griffin and Sean Kelly.
- --In his first career start, Dennis ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries at Auburn, including a second-effort 14-yard TD, while Washington added 24 yards on 3 attempts, Bush 9 yards on 5 carries and White 6 yards on 5 tries.
--Dennis ran for 40 yards on 16 carries, with an 11-yard TD, against BYU, while Bush had 19 yards on 6 tries (he also returned a kickoff 30 yards), Washington gained 8 yards on 3 attempts (he also made 2 tackles on special teams) and Lewis caught a 2-yard pass.
--Against Hawaii, White had a game-best 58 rushing yards on 10 carries with 2 TDs (5 and 20 yards) and made a tackle on special teams, Bush added 54 yards on 9 carries with 2 scores (23 and 27 yards), plus he caught a 28-yard pass and returned a kickoff 20 yards, Dennis ran for 54 yards on 9 attempts and caught 2 passes for 5 yards, and Washington ran for 8 yards on 3 tries and caught a 6-yard pass before going out with an ankle sprain.
--Dennis rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries at California (he also caught 2 passes for 7 yards), while Bush ran for 7 yards on 4 tries (he also returned 2 kickoffs for 38 yards) and White had 6 yards on 2 carries (with a 6-yard TD).
--White ran for 140 yards--the most rushing yards ever by a Trojan first-year freshman--and 2 TDs (25 and 6 yards) on 21 carries at Arizona State (he became just the sixth USC true freshman to rush for 100 yards), while Bush added 27 rushing yards on 4 tries (he also returned a kickoff 23 yards) and Dennis ran for 19 yards on 4 carries (he also caught a 12-yard pass).
With Malaefou MacKenzie gone, a new fullback must emerge. Sophomore Brandon Hancock (2 rec, 42 yds, 21.0 avg, 1 TD in 2003, plus 1 tac), who started twice last fall, was slated to be the starter, but an ankle sprain in fall camp slowed him in USC's first 3 games of 2003. So junior Lee Webb (1 tac in 2003), who also has played linebacker at USC, assumed the starting job until Hancock returned to the starting lineup in the fifth game. Sophomore David Kirtman (1 rec, 3 yds, 3.0 avg in 2003) sees action as a backup. Walk-on redshirt freshmen Mike Brittingham, a converted safety, and Morgan Craig, a one-time quarterback, also are in the mix.
- --Kirtman had a 3-yard catch against Hawaii (on a key fourth down play).
--Hancock returned to the starting lineup at Arizona State and caught 2 passes for 42 yards (including a 33-yard TD on fourth down), while Webb made a tackle.
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 (23 rec, 348 yds, 15.1 avg, 4 TD in 2002, plus 2 tcb, 17 yds, 8.5 avg) starts for his fourth season. He has caught a pass in 28 consecutive outings. He is tied for fifth on USC's career receptions ladder with 161 grabs (tied for 21st 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. His 2,299 career receiving yards is 33rd on the all-time Pac-10 list. He has 4 100-yard receiving games in his career. Even if Colbert breaks Kelly's reception mark, Keyshawn-esque sophomore Mike Williams (32 rec, 502 yds, 15.7 avg, 4 TD in 2003, plus 1 tcb, 17 yds, 17.0 avg and 1 tac) is poised to shatter the standard before his career concludes. He already is tied for ninth on USC's career receptions list (113) and has 8 100-yard receiving games in his young career (3 times in 2003). He has caught 18 touchdowns in his 18-game career (and he has had multiple TD games 5 times). He is averaging a touchdown every 6.5 times he touches the ball (18 TDs on 117 touches, including his 3 rushes and 1 pass attempt). He currently is tied for 20th nationally in receptions (6.4, third in the Pac-10) and is 14th in receiving yards (100.4, third 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.
- --At Auburn, Williams had a game-best 8 catches for 104 yards (his sixth career 100-yard receiving game) with a 5-yard TD, while Colbert added 2 receptions for 13 yards.
--Williams grabbed a game-high 10 passes for 124 yards, including a pair of touchdowns (a 1-yarder to open USC's scoring and then an 18-yarder in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach) against BYU, while Colbert had 3 catches for 68 yards, including a nifty 48-yard catch-and-run for a TD.
--Colbert had 5 catches for 86 yards (with a 32-yard TD) against Hawaii and Williams added 3 grabs for 70 yards (with a 33-yard TD).
--Colbert had a game-best 8 catches for 81 yards (with a 10-yard TD) at California and Williams added 6 grabs for 96 yards (each were also credited with a run while catching a backwards pass, Williams for 17 yards and Colbert for 11).
--Williams (108 yards) and Colbert (100 yards) each had a 100-yard receiving day (the second they've combined to do that in their careers) at Arizona State, with Colbert grabbing a 57-yard TD (he also ran 6 yards on a reverse).
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 Sandy Fletcher and D. Hale, a walk-on-turned-scholarship winner who has started once in his career (an ankle injury could sideline him this year), junior Jason Mitchell (1 KOR, 18 yds, 18.0 avg in 2003), sophomores Greig Carlson (5 PR, 71 yds, 14.2 avg in 2003) and converted cornerback Justin Wyatt (3 rec, 20 yds, 6.7 avg in 2003, plus 2 KOR, 31 yds, 15.5 avg and 2 tac), and sure-handed redshirt freshman Chris McFoy (1 rec, 15 yds, 15.0 avg in 2003). 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, one of the nation's most highly sought-after high school pass catchers enrolled at USC this fall as a freshman: prep All-American Steve Smith (2 rec, 16 yds, 8.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 tcb, 8 yds, 8.0 avg).
- --Smith (7 yards) and Wyatt (5 yards) each had a catch at Auburn, the first of their careers.
--Wyatt had 2 catches for 15 yards versus BYU, while Smith had an 8-yard run on a backwards pass.
--McFoy caught a 15-yard pass against Hawaii, Mitchell had an 18-yard kickoff return and Wyatt had a 31-yard kickoff return.
--Smith had a 9-yard reception at California.
USC is well-stocked at tight end, with a returning starter and a pair of experienced backups. But that returning starter--senior 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 (12 rec, 238 yds, 19.8 avg in 2003) has taken over. Playing often behind (or with) Byrd is junior Gregg Guenther Jr. (5 rec, 40 yds, 8.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 blk FG), who started once last fall. USC's tallest player at 6-8, he also stars on the Trojans men's basketball squad. Then there are redshirt freshmen Kurt Katnik (1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 tac), 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.
- --Byrd caught 3 passes for 63 yards at Auburn, including a 42-yarder, while Guenther added a 6-yard grab.
--Against BYU, Byrd caught 2 balls for 19 yards and Guenther added a 7-yard grab.
--Byrd had 3 catches for 28 yards against Hawaii, while Katnik grabbed a 13-yard pass.
--Byrd had 2 catches for 60 yards (with a 27-yard TD) at California, while Guenther caught 2 passes for 24 yards and blocked a field goal in the first overtime period.
--Byrd caught 2 passes for 68 yards at Arizona State, while Guenther had a 3-yard catch and Katnik made a tackle.
The 2003 version of USC's offensive line might be Troy's best in years. Players returned at 4 positions--only 4-year starting right guard Zach Wilson is gone--and 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 finally contributing in 2003 after missing the first 4 games of the season. 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.
- --Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started at Auburn, with Drake and Watkins seeing significant action as backups.
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started versus BYU, with Drake getting some time.
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started against Hawaii, with many backups also seeing action.
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started at California (Drake also played some).
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik and Matua started at Arizona State, with Drake starting for an injured Justice (and Torres saw his first action of the year as Drake's backup).
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 (Al Cowlings, Jimmy Gunn, Willard Scott, Tody Smith, Charlie Weaver and Tony Terry), 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 (14 tac, 5 for loss, 3 sack, 1 FR, 1 int for a TD in 2003) and junior Kenechi Udeze (19 tac, 5 for loss, 2.5 sack 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 (27 tac, team-best 7 for loss, 3 sack, 1 FR 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 Riley--he had 19 career starts, including the last 7 games of 2002, when he posted 25 tackles--is gone, a familiar face has re-assumed that defensive tackle spot. Junior Shaun Cody (10 tac, 5.5 for loss, team-high 4 sack, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG 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 (9 tac, 1.5 for loss, 0.5 sack, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2003), who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado State, and at tackle are soph LaJuan Ramsey (5 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF in 2003) and redshirt freshman Travis Tofi (3 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack for a safety in 2003). Then there's junior walk-on Jay Bottom (2 tac in 2003) at end. Six new players enrolled at USC this fall as freshmen. The ends are prep All-Americans Chris Barrett (he's bothered by a shoulder injury), Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow, while the tackles are prep All-Americans Sedrick Ellis and Manuel Wright, plus Ryan Watson.
- --The 'Wild Bunch II' was dominant at Auburn, as Patterson had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) to earn Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors, Cody had 3 stops (1.5 for a loss, with a sack) and a deflection, Ramsey had 2 tackles for a loss (with a sack) and a forced fumble, Rucker had 2 tackles and a deflection, Udeze had 2 tackles (0.5 for a loss) and Nazel had a sack and fumble recovery.
--Against BYU, Patterson had 7 tackles (with 1.5 sacks), Rucker added 6 stops (including 1.5 for loss, with 0.5 sack), Nazel had 5 tackles (2 for a loss, with a sack) and returned a point-blank interception 16 yards for a TD, Udeze had 4 stops (1.5 sacks) and Ramsey had 2 stops (0.5 sacks).
--Udeze (with a sack), Tofi (with a sack for a safety) and Patterson had 3 tackles each against Hawaii, while Nazel (1 for a loss) and Bottom each added 2 stops, and Rucker grabbed an interception on a tipped pass at the Rainbow 4-yard line.
--At California, Patterson had 5 tackles, including 2 for losses (with a sack), and recovered a fumble, Nazel also had 5 stops, Udeze added 4 tackles (1 for a loss) and Cody made 3 stops (1.5 for losses, with 0.5 sack) and blocked a field goal.
--At Arizona State, Udeze had 6 tackles (1 for a loss), Patterson had 5 stops (2.5 for losses, with 0.5 sack), 2.5 of Cody's 4 tackles were sacks, Nazel had 2 tackles (with a sack) and Rucker and Ramsey each had a tackle (Rucker also forced a fumble).
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.'
Tom Dienhart, The Sporting News: 'Southern California has the nation's best defense. No doubt, Oklahoma's defense is formidable, but the Trojans' unit is better. It starts with the best line in the nation, aptly named the 'Wild Bunch II.'
USC is solid at the outside linebacker spots, as junior Matt Grootegoed (co-team-high 35 tac, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FR, 2 FF in 2003) returns on the strong side and senior Melvin Simmons (19 tac, 3 for loss, 2 FR, 1 dfl 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, is currently tied for 17th nationally in forced fumbles (0.5, tied for first in Pac-10). He 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 Pollard--a 2-year starter who had 49 stops last year--has departed. The starter is sophomore Lofa Tatupu (co-team-high 35 tac, 6.5 for loss, 3 sack, 3 dfl, 1 int for a TD 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 currently tied for 23rd nationally in tackles for loss (1.6, third in Pac-10). He is backed by junior Daniel Urquhart (20 tac in 2003), a converted defensive end. Then there's sophomore Oscar Lua, who tore knee ligaments prior to the Orange Bowl and missed spring practice (he had surgery on his other knee early this fall and is sidelined). Other linebackers from last year's roster looking to get in the mix are junior Bobby Otani (3 tac in 2003) and sophomore Dallas Sartz (3 tac in 2003), who can also play safety, plus walk-on sophomore Collin Ashton (6 tac in 2003). Prep All-American Thomas Williams, along with Salo Faraimo (2 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.
- --Tatupu had a game-best 12 tackles (3.5 for losses of 19 yards, including 2 sacks) at Auburn while making his first career start, while Grootegoed added 5 stops (with a sack) and forced a fumble, Simmons had 3 tackles, Urquhart had 2 and Faraimo and Ashton each had 1.
--Tatupu had a game-high 11 tackles (with 2 for a loss, including a sack) and a deflection against BYU, while Grootegoed added 9 stops, a fumble recovery and a deflection, Simmons had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery, Urquhart had 2 tackles and both Ashton and Faraimo had 1.
--Tatupu (1 for a loss, with a deflection) and Grootegoed (1 for a loss, with a forced fumble) each had 4 tackles against Hawaii, while Otani, Sartz (playing safety) and Urquhart added 3 stops apiece and Ashton had 2.
--At California, Simmons had 9 tackles (3 for losses), recovered a fumble and broke up a pass, Tatupu had 8 stops, a deflection and returned an interception 26 yards for a TD, Grootegoed had 8 tackles (with 0.5 sack), Urquhart had 3 stops and Ashton had a tackle.
--Urquhart started for an injured Tatupu at Arizona State and posted a team-best 10 tackles, while Grootegoed added 9 stops (2 for losses), Simmons had 3 and Ashton had 1.
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 (18 tac, 1 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2003, plus 4 KOR, 97 yds, 24.3 avg) returned as a starter. The Trojans are 10-1 when he starts in the secondary. 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 (5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, FF in 2003, plus 4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg), who missed all of last season with a broken foot, junior Ronald Nunn (10 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 2 FR with 1 for a TD in 2003) and sophomore William Buchanon (1 tac in 2003). Arbet--who started 4 times in 2000 and was an All-Pac-10 first teamer as a special teams player in 2001--won the job going into 2003 and started the first 2 games, but his foot injury flared up and has sidelined the rest of this year. So Will Poole (28 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FF, 2 int, team-high 6 dfl in 2003), a senior who started at Boston College in 2000 before earning J.C. All-American laurels last fall and then enrolling at USC this fall, has taken his place. He is backed by Nunn and Buchanon. 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 (32 tac, 0.5 for loss, 2 dfl, 2 int with 1 for a TD 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 (26 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FR, 1 int, 1 dfl 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). Other cornerbacks back from last year's group are sophomore John Walker and walk-on sophomore Alex Gomez. Identical twin freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Ting (1 tac in 2003) 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 (5 tac in 2003), plus 5 walk-ons in seniors Greg Farr and top special teams player Forrest Mozart and juniors Chris Bocage (1 tac in 2003), who is out with a knee injury, Matt Lemos and Kyle Matthews. This fall, joining the fray were 3 incoming freshmen who were prep All-Americans: safety-cornerback Desmond Reed, safety Terrell Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright (Thomas and Wright are out with injuries).
- --At Auburn, Leach had 8 tackle, Bing had 4 stops, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, Arbet had 4 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection and also returned 2 punts for 11 yards, Poole made 3 stops and had a deflection in the nickel package, and Allmond and Nunn each made a tackle.
--Allmond had 4 tackles, an interception and a deflection against BYU and Poole also had 4 stops (1 for a loss), an interception and a deflection, while Bing had 3 tackles and a deflection, Leach also had 3 stops, and Arbet, Ross and Brandon Ting each had 1 tackle.
--Poole had a game-high 9 tackles against Hawaii (with 2 deflections and a forced fumble) while making his first USC start, Nunn returned a fumble 38 yards for a TD to go along with his 4 tackles, Leach returned an interception 25 yards for a TD to go with his 3 tackles, Bing and Allmond each had 4 stops, Ross had 3 tackles, and Buchanon and Bocage added 1 tackle each.
--Leach had a game-high 11 tackles (with a deflection) at California, while Bing added 9 stops (1 for a loss), Poole had 7 tackles (1 for a loss), a deflection and an interception (in the end zone), Allmond had 3 stops, a deflection and a forced fumble and Nunn had 2 tackles.
--At Arizona State, Leach and Poole each had 8 tackles and a deflection (Leach also had an interception), Allmond and Bing each had 6 stops (1 of Bing's was for a loss), Nunn had 3 tackles (1 for a loss), a deflection and a fumble recovery, and Ross had a tackle.
Sophomore Tom Malone (48.7 avg in 2003) has proven to be one of the nation's top punters. He currently leads the nation in punting (48.7, first in Pac-10)--for the second consecutive week--and is aiming to become only the second Trojan to lead the country in punting (Des Koch did so in 1952 with a 43.5 average). His 48.7 punting average is way above Jim Wren's USC season record of 45.6, set in 1996 (and close to the Pac-10 season record of 49.3 set by UCLA's Kirk Wilson in 1956). So far in 2003, 16 of his 25 punts have gone at least 50 yards and 15 have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line. 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 (8-of-10 FG, 23-of-23 PAT in 2003, plus 1 tac) is in his second year as the placekicker. He currently is tied for 19th nationally in field goals (1.6, second in Pac-10) and tied for 15th in scoring (9.4, third in Pac-10). So far in 2003, 11 of his 35 kickoffs have been touchbacks. 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 snappers--seniors 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 returner--sophomore wide receiver Greig Carlson (5 PR, 71 yds, 14.2 avg in 2003)--and kickoff returner--soph tailback Hershel Dennis--from last season are back (Carlson had 177 yards and Dennis had 151 in 2002). But in 2003, senior cornerback Kevin Arbet (4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg in 2003)--who led USC in punt returns in 2001 (225 yards)--handled the chore before being sidelined with an injury, so Carlson and sophomore wide receiver Justin Wyatt (1 PR, 0 yds, 0.0 avg in 2003) have taken over. Arbet and senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (4 KOR, 97 yds, 24.3 avg in 2003) were the kickoff returners in 2003 before Arbet's injury. So joining Allmond now are Wyatt (1 KOR, 31 yds, 31.0 avg in 2003) and freshman tailback Reggie Bush (5 KOR, 111 yds, 22.2 avg in 2003).
- --At Auburn, Malone boomed 7 punts for a 45.1 average (including 5 within the 20-yard line and 3 that went 50-plus yards, with a 70-yarder and then nailing his last one out of bounds at the Auburn 2), while Killeen was perfect on his field goals (28, 42 and 35 yards) and both PATs, as well as having 2 touchbacks on 6 kickoffs.
--Malone rocketed 5 of his 6 punts more than 50 yards (including a 59-yarder) against BYU for a 52.0 average and 5 of his boots pinned the Cougars within the 20-yard line (he was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week), while Killeen hit all 5 of his PATs.
--Killeen hit his only field goal (a 24-yarder) and all 8 of his PATs against Hawaii, while Malone averaged 53.7 yards on 3 punts (with a 69-yarder).
--At California, Malone averaged 50.5 on his 4 punts (2 pinned the Bears within the 20) but had a punt blocked, while Killeen hit all 4 of is PATs and nailed a 33-yard field goal with 16 seconds to play in regulation to force the game into overtime (but he missed a 29-yarder in the third overtime period).
--Killeen hit all 3 of his field goals (45, 28 and 38 yards) and all 4 of his PATs, as well as having 5 touchbacks on 8 kickoffs at Arizona State, while Malone averaged 45.2 yards on his 5 punts (1 pinned ASU within the 20).
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 +1.0 in turnover margin (tied for 17th in the U.S., second in the Pac-10) by getting 8 fumbles and 9 interceptions. 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.