2004 Football Notes
July 27, 2004
Here's a look at where the 2004 Trojans are ranked by various pre-season prognosticators:
|Street & Smith's||1st||1st|
|The Sporting News||2nd||1st|
...AND PRE-SEASON HONORS
QB Matt Leinart (Playboy, Lindy's, The Sporting News, Blue Ribbon, Phil Steele's, NationalChamps.net), DE-DT Shaun Cody (Playboy, Athlon, Street & Smith's, The Sporting News, Collegefootballnews.com, Blue Ribbon, Rivals.com, NationalChamps.net), P Tom Malone (Playboy, Lindy's, Phil Steele's, Collegefootballnews.com), TB Reggie Bush (Athlon, Phil Steele's), LB Matt Grootegoed (Street & Smith's) and DT Mike Patterson (Gold Sheet, Football Action) have been named to various pre-season All-American first teams. S Darnell Bing made pre-season All-American third team.
The following Trojans have made the official 'Watch Lists' for national 2004 post-season awards:
|QB Matt Leinart||Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback)|
|QB Matt Leinart||Maxwell Award (top player)|
|DE-DT Shaun Cody||Lombardi Award (top lineman)|
|DE-DT Shaun Cody||Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player)|
|DE-DT Shaun Cody||Outland Trophy (top lineman)|
|DE-DT Shaun Cody||Bednarik Award (top defensive player)|
|LB Matt Grootegoed||Lombardi Award (top lineman)|
|LB Matt Grootegoed||Bednarik Award (top defensive player)|
|DT Mike Patterson||Lombardi Award (top lineman)|
|DT Mike Patterson||Outland Trophy (top lineman)|
|WR Mike Williams||Maxwell Award (top player)|
|TE Alex Holmes||Mackey Award (top tight end)|
USC will defend its national championship against a schedule that features 6 opponents who played in bowls last season. The challenge starts right away, as the Trojans open on Aug. 28 against perennial power Virginia Tech in the Black Coaches Association Football Classic in Landover, Md. USC then hosts Colorado State and travels to BYU and Stanford before having a trio of home games (California, Arizona and Washington) followed by another pair of road contests (Washington State and Oregon State). The Trojanswho have 3 byes in 2004 for the second consecutive yearthen return home to host Arizona and Notre Dame before concluding their season on 'Championship Saturday' (Dec. 4) at UCLA. It's a schedule that could help USC better the average overall (72,806) and home (77,804) attendance school records it set last year...and gives credence to the Trojan marketing department's 2004 slogan of 'Still The Hottest Ticket In Town.'
USC PRE-SEASON PRACTICE SCHEDULE/PLAYER AND COACH INTERVIEW AVAILABILITY
The Trojans will conduct all 3 weeks of their 2004 pre-season practices on the USC campus. Drills begin Aug. 4 and lead up to Troy's Aug. 28 opener against Virginia Tech at Landover, Md. Player and coach interviews are available following any of the practices. Contact the USC Sports Information Office for specific practice times.
QUOTING Pete Carroll
THE 2004 TROJANS
'The talk of defending our national championship is beyond our control. But because of our accomplishments the past two seasons, we know we'll be challenged to the max each game now. We understand that we'll always see our opponents at their best. So we must take our game to the next level and be ready for everyone's best shot.
'The key for us this year will be whether we can return to the work ethic that made it possible to have the success we've had the past few years. It's a work ethic we must have in workouts, in practices and in games. We'll have a very competitive environment each day to determine playing time and starting roles. Each player must bring his best every day. If we can have that kind of work ethic, we'll be on the right track.'
'My fundamental approach to the game is control the ball on offense, go get it on defense and make things happen on special teams.
'We understand how to handle personnel losses and move on. Our team is well-prepared for this because it presents a great opportunity for others to step to the front. They'll take this challenge on with great excitement this year. It'll be fun to see who steps up.
'Once again, this is a tremendously challenging schedule. It starts with a big-time opener against a premier program and never lets up. We had tremendous fan support last year and we'll need all of them again in our quest to be the best in 2004.'
'We did a great job offensively last season. We had a lot of weapons and scored lots of points. We were efficient and took care of the football. A lot of the key players from that offense return this year.
'But we must overcome several obstacles on the offensive side of the ball. First, some wide receivers must emerge and we must reconstruct the line. Then, we need to continue developing those young players who contributed so much last year and hope that they can elevate their play. Finally, senior leadership must surface even though we might not have more than two or three seniors starting on offense.'
'The past two years, we were really good on defense and we played just how we drew it up. The challenge is whether we can keep it up. I really like what our returning defensive players bring. There's a lot of leadership in this group. We'll attempt to continue to play defense fast and aggressively, looking to take away the football.'
THE SPECIAL TEAMS
'We've made so much progress on special teams. Our kicking game should be very strong. You won't find anyone better than Tom Malone or Ryan Killeen. Both are weapons for us. And we have the potential to be explosive in the return game.'
The Trojans return 14 starters (7 on offense and 6 on defense, plus both kickers) from last year. In all, 78 squadmen return from last year's national championship team, including 55 who saw playing time in 2003 (50 were lettermen and 32 were on the season-ending 2-deep). Some 24 Trojans have started at least once in their career. Joining them will be 20 new scholarship players, including 3 who enrolled at USC this past spring and participated in spring practice. They comprise what many are saying is the school's second consecutive No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
The Trojans have captured their last 15 home games (with 2 shutouts). That's USC's longest Coliseum win streak since getting 19 in a row during the 1931 through 1933 campaigns. Besides that Pac-10 leading 15-game home winning streak, USC also has the longest current Pac-10 win streaks for overall games (9), Pac-10 games (7) and road games (5).
USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 18 games, its longest string since 34 in a row in 1978-80. The Trojans have been in the AP Top 5 in 13 of the last 17 polls.
USC'S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
USC now has won 10 national championships in football: 1928-31-32-39-62-67-72-74-78-2003. In 5 other years (1929-33-76-79-2002), the Trojans were picked by some as No. 1, but the selectors were deemed not all-encompassing enough to claim a legitimate national crown.
After sharing the Pac-10 championship in 2002, USC won the 2003 Pac-10 title outright (its first outright crown since 1989). That was the first time that USC won back-to-back Pac-10 titles since 1988 and 1989 (the Trojans also won it in 1987). USC has now won the league title 33 times, nearly twice as much as any other school.
1979 Dï¿½Jï¿½ VU?
There were numerous similarities between last year's national champion Trojans and the USC team from 25 years earlier, the 1978 national champs. This year, again there are many coincidental repeats between the 2004 Trojans and the USC team from 25 years earlier, the 1979 squad that went 11-0-1 and finished No. 2 in the polls. As in 2004, that 1979 team was a pre-season No. 1 coming off a controversial split national title shared with an SEC team (Alabama) and a Rose Bowl win over a Top 5 Michigan team, and was led by a head coach in his fourth year at the helm (John Robinson). More similarities for both teams: the opener against a 'Tech' team (Texas Tech, Virginia Tech), an efficient left-handed quarterback in his second year as a starter (Paul McDonald, Matt Leinart) who set the school touchdown pass record the previous season, a running back named White (Charles, who wore 12, and LenDale, who is No. 21), a player named Mike McDonald (this year's Mike is the son of the 1979 quarterback, Paul), a highly-touted freshman receiver from New Jersey (Timmy White, Dwayne Jarrett), a record-breaking receiver named Williams (Kevin then, maybe Mike now!), a top Heisman candidate (Charles White, Matt Leinart) and a No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Also, eerily, the previous season for both squads featured a Heisman winner from Oklahoma who returned for his final year (Billy Sims, Jason White).
USC was named the 2003 national champion by Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News, New York Times, ESPN.com, SI.com, CBS.SportsLine.com, Collegefootballnews.com and several other organizations. Last year's record-setting team won its last 9 games en route to a 12-1 overall mark. Troy captured its second consecutive Pac-10 title (going 7-1) and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl to secure its 10th national crown (its first in 25 years). Along the way, USC swept traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame for the second year in a row (only the second time it has ever done that in back-to-back seasons). All of that came on the heels of USC's nearly-as-successful 2002 campaign that ended with an 11-2 mark, a victory in the Orange Bowl and a No. 4 final ranking. The Trojans have won 20 of their last 21 games (and their past 15 home contests) and have been dominant on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Troy has scored at least 20 points in the past 26 outings, with stretches of 11 consecutive 30-point games and 7 straight 40-point performances, and last year scored a Pac-10 record 534 points. And the Trojan defensewhose +1.33 turnover margin and +111 takeaways in Carroll's first 3 seasons are best in the nationtopped the country in 2003 in rushing defense. Last year, 2 Trojans finished in the Top 10 in the Heisman Trophy balloting, 5 were All-American first team selections and 9 were All-Pac-10 first teamers.
GONE FROM 2002
Key losses from the offense are wide receiver Keary Colbert, a 4-year starter who set the USC career receptions record (207), and a trio of experienced linemen: All-American tackle Jacob Rogers (a 3-year starter), All-Pac-10 center Norm Katnik (a 3-year starter) and guard Lenny Vandermade (a 4-year starter). Gone from the defense are All-American end Kenechi Udeze, a 3-year starter who left after his junior season to enter the NFL draft (he was the nation's sack co-leader in 2003 when he had 16.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumbles), and fellow end Omar Nazel (a 2-year starter), plus both starting cornerbacks (All-Pac-10er Will Poole, who had 7 interceptions and 80 tackles in 2003, and Marcell Allmond, who led USC to an 18-1 mark when he started in the secondary) and 2-year starting outside linebacker Melvin Simmons.
It took energetic and charismatic USC head football coach Pete Carroll only 3 years to restore the glory of the Trojan football program and return Troy to national prominence. He is 29-9 (76.3%) 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 27-4 (87.1%). He is 10-0 in November. His teams already have posted 4 shutouts. He also serves as USC's defensive coordinator.
--The 2003 seasonhis third at Troywas one of the best in USC history. The Trojans won the AP national championship (USC's first national crown since 1978) and entered the Rose Bowl also ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN poll but weren't allowed to keep the top spot after winning that bowl because of a contractual agreement which required the coaches to vote the Sugar Bowl winner as their poll's champion (USC ended up second). USC was 12-1 overall (the only loss was by 3 points at California in triple overtime) and, at 7-1 in the Pac-10, Troy won its second consecutive league title for the first time since 1988-89 (and its first outright crown since 1989). His Trojans won their last 9 games (and 20 of the last 21) and posted back-to-back seasons of double digit wins for the first time since 1978 and 1979. For just the second time in history (the other time also was 1978 and 1979), USC swept traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame in consecutive years. His 2003 squad featured a potent offense, a stingy defense and productive special teams. USC, which scored at least 20 points in its last 26 games (a school record), had a stretch of 11 consecutive 30-point games (also a school mark) and 7 straight 40-point contests (a Pac-10 record). USC's 534 points was a Pac-10 record. The defense led the nation in rushing defense and was second in turnover margin, forced 42 turnovers and scored 8 touchdowns. And the Trojans topped the nation in net punting. Five Trojanswide receiver Mike Williams, offensive tackle Jacob Rogers, defensive end Kenechi Udeze, punter Tom Malone and quarterback Matt Leinartwere first team All-Americans (Leinart and Williams finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in the Heisman Trophy voting). For all this, Carroll was named the 2003 American Football Coaches Association Division I-A Coach of the Year, Home Depot National Coach of the Year, Maxwell Club College Coach of the Year, ESPN.com National Coach of the Year, Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. Coach of the Year and All-American Football Foundation Frank Leahy Co-Coach of the Year. He also was the Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year (USC's first honoree since Larry Smith in 1988), a finalist for the Paul 'Bear' Bryant Coach of the Year, 1 of 6 semifinalists for the Eddie Robinson/Football Writers Association of America Coach of the Year and American Football Coaches Association Division I-A Region 5 Coach of the Year. In early 2004, he received the Chuck Benedict Founders Award (for special achievement) from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association, the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year Award, the Spirit of Los Angeles Award from the Los Angeles Headquarters Association and the Vincent T. Lombardi Hall of Fame Award from the Boy Scouts of America San Gabriel Valley Council.
--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.
--Carroll brought big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program when he was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). After 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 52-year-old Carroll has 29 years of NFL and college experience, including 13 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 inducted into the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995. 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, 24, who played tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware) and is now an assistant at USC, and Nathan, 16, and daughter Jaime, 21, a senior 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.
Seven starters return on offense in 2004: quarterback Matt Leinart, wide receiver Mike Williams, tailback Hershel Dennis, guard Fred Matua, tight end Gregg Guenther Jr., fullback Brandon Hancock and tackle Winston Justice. Guenther (basketball), Hancock (injury) and Justice (suspended) won't play this season, while Williams' reinstatement status is still pending. Others back with starting experience include guard John Drake, tight end Dominique Byrd, fullbacks Lee Webb and David Kirtman, and wide receivers Chris McFoy and William Buchanon. USC's top 4 rushers (and 14 of its 17 ballcarriers), its top 4 passers and 15 of the 17 players who caught passes last year return in 2004. But this year's offense has a high standard to live up to: in 2003, the Trojans were fifth nationally in passing efficiency (159.1, first in Pac-10) and scoring offense (a school-record 41.4, first in Pac-10), 13th in passing offense (291.6, second in Pac-10) and 14th in total offense (447.5, second in Pac-10). And USC's rushing offense (155.9), though not nationally ranked, was its best since 1991. Troy scored 68 touchdowns and 534 points last year, both Pac-10 records, and its 6.5 yards per play average was a school record. As an indication of just how prolific USC's offense has become under coordinator Norm Chow, consider that the Trojans have scored at least 20 points in their last 26 games (a school record), including a stretch of 11 consecutive 30-points games (also a USC mark) and 7 straight 40-point contests (a Pac-10 record). And of Troy's 77 offensive scoring drives in 2003, 59 took less than 3 minutes.
USC has perhaps the nation's top quarterback in record-setting All-American first teamer Matt Leinart (255-of-402, 63.4%, 3,556 yds, 38 TD, 9 int in 2003), a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. The junior finished sixth in last year's Heisman Trophy voting and was only the second sophomore (along with Stanford's John Elway) to win Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year honors. The accurate and efficient left-handed Leinart came out of relative obscurity to more-than-capably fill the shoes of 2002 Heisman winner Carson Palmer. In the process, Leinart has thrust himself to the front of this year's Heisman race and is also a leading candidate for the Davey O'Brien Award. He gave an early indication of his talent when his first career pass went for a touchdown at Auburn in last fall's opener. He went on to throw a Pac-10 record 38 TDs (1 shy of the NCAA sophomore mark). His 164.5 passing efficiency rating ranked third nationally and was a USC record (he's the nation's top-rated returning passer). He set a Pac-10 season mark with 212 consecutive passes without an interception (just 4 throws short of the league's career record). And he punctuated USC's Rose Bowl victory over Michigan by catching a 15-yard scoring pass off a reverse.
Behind Matt Leinart is a stable of very capable backups. Sophomore John David Booty (7-of-14, 50.0%, 90 yds in 2003), 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 when he did so last year, became Leinart's backup by the middle of the 2003 season before breaking his wrist late in the year. Then there's senior Brandon Hance (4-of-9, 44.4%, 44 yds in 2003), who started 9 games at Purdue in 2001 and was No. 2 at USC after Booty got hurt last year, as well as senior Matt Cassel (6-of-13, 46.2%, 63 yds in 2003), who has also spent time in his career at tight end and is a pitcher on the Trojan baseball team, junior Billy Hart, an infielder/outfielder on USC's baseball team (he has yet to throw a pass at USC and has seen only brief action in 2002), and walk-on redshirt freshman Michael McDonald, the son of ex-USC All-American Paul McDonald. Joining the signalcalling corps this fall as a freshman is prep All-American Rocky Hinds (St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey, Calif.).
USC is loaded once again at the running back spots. Last fall, the Trojans used a rotation of 3 young tailbacks that worked so well, look for more of the same in 2004. The threesome combined for 1,906 rushing yards (146.6 yards a game) with 20 TDs in 2003; each rushed for at least 500 yards (the first time that had happened at USC since 1988) and averaged at least 4.8 yards per carry. Junior Hershel Dennis (137 tcb, 661 yds, 4.8 avg, 4 TD in 2003, plus 10 rec, 62 yds, 6.2 avg, 1 TD), the veteran of the group, started each game last year and was effective. He'd then give way to LenDale White (141 tcb, team-high 754 yds, 5.3 avg, 13 TD in 2003, plus 6 rec, 15 yds, 2.3 avg, 1 TD) and Reggie Bush (90 tcb, 521 yds, 5.8 avg, 3 TD in 2003, plus 15 rec, 314 yds, 20.9 avg, 4 TD and team-best 18 KOR, 492 yds, 27.3 avg, 1 TD), now both sophomores. The bull-like White, who had a trio of 100-yard games last season, was the first true freshman to lead USC in rushing (his 754 yards were the second most by a Trojan frosh behind Charles White's 858 in 1976) and his 13 rushing TDs were a USC freshman mark (his 14 total TDs tied the USC frosh record). The electrifying Bush earned Freshman All-American first team honors as he set the USC freshman all-purpose yardage record (1,331 yards) and, as a hold-your-breath-when-he-gets-the-ball runner, had 24 plays of 20-plus yards in 2003. He was 10th nationally in kickoff returns (27.3, first in Pac-10) and had a scoring runback. He might sprint for the USC track team this spring (he has a best of 10.42 in the 100 meters). Looking to break into the tailback rotation are sophomore Chauncey Washington (19 tcb, 65 yds, 3.4 avg, plus 1 rec, 6 yds, 6.0 avg), another power runner who might have figured more prominently in 2003 had an early ankle injury not hampered him, and quick redshirt freshman Desmond Reed, who worked at wide receiver and in the secondary last fall, along with a pair of walk-ons in junior Andre Woodert (3 tcb, 19 yds, 6.3 avg in 2003) and redshirt freshman John Griffin.
At fullback, fleet junior Brandon Hancock (1 tcb, -2 yds, -2.0 avg in 2003, plus 13 rec, 160 yds, 12.3 avg, 2 TD), a tough blocker and excellent receiver, was expected to return as the starter, but he'll miss 2004 while recuperating from knee surgery. So senior Lee Webb (9 tac, 1 FF in 2003, plus 4 tcb, 0 yds)he started 5 times at fullback last year after seeing action at linebacker (where he played in 2001 and the first half of 2002)will take over the starting job. Backing him will be junior David Kirtman (5 tcb, 23 yds, 4.6 avg in 2003, plus 5 rec., 28 yds, 5.6 avg), a rugged blocker who has starting experience and is a key special teamer, and redshirt freshman Jody Adewale, a converted tailback. Walk-on redshirt freshman Sean Kelly, another former tailback, also is available.
This past February when a court ruled that players didn't have to wait until after their third year out of high school to enter the NFL draft, All-American first teamer Mike Williams quickly decided to give up his final 2 seasons at Troy and go pro. But he was not selected because of a judicial stay on that ruling, which was then overturned. So he sought to have his collegiate eligibility restored (as of late-July, the NCAA hadn't ruled). In his 2-year Trojan career, Williams has 176 receptions for 2,579 yards and a USC record 30 touchdowns. He has 12 100-yard receiving games in his career. He averages a touchdown every 6.1 times he touches the ball. As a sophomore in 2003 when he placed eighth in the Heisman balloting, he had 95 catches for 1,314 yards (his second consecutive 1,000-yard season) and a USC record 16 TDs. He was sixth nationally in receptions (7.3, second in Pac-10) and 10th in receiving yards (101.1, third in Pac-10) in 2003. He'll long be remembered for his spectacular one-handed, Frisbee-like TD grab against Oregon State last fall. As a 2002 freshman, he set NCAA frosh records for receiving yards (1,265) and TD catches (14) and the Pac-10 frosh mark for receptions (81).
USC CAREER PASS CATCHING LEADERS
(Includes bowl games)
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
It's always difficult to lose a player the caliber of 4-year starter Keary Colbert, USC's career receptions leader (207) who had 1,000-yard receiving seasons the past 2 years (including 1,013 yards and 9 TDs on 69 catches in 2003). His underrated, yet steady, abilityremember his highlight reel touchdown grabs against Michigan in last season's Rose Bowlmade it unwise for teams to double-cover Williams. Colbert was selected in the NFL's second round. But there's a host of talented players hoping to fill the void: promising sophomores Steve Smith (17 rec, 319 yds, 18.8 avg, 2 TD in 2003), who was USC's No. 3 wideout last fall, Whitney Lewis (3 rec, 27 yds, 9.0 avg in 2003, plus 3 tcb, 11 yds, 3.7 avg) and Chris McFoy (2 rec, 23 yds, 12.5 avg in 2003), senior Jason Mitchell (2 rec, 27 yds, 13.5 avg in 2003), and juniors Greig Carlson, who was USC's top punt returner last season (21 PR, 188 yds, 9.0 avg in 2003), and one-time cornerback William Buchanon (3 tac, 1 dfl, 1 int in 2003). Walk-ons Wil Smith, a sophomore, and redshirt freshman John Zilka are also available. Three of the nation's top recruits could make an immediate impact as freshmen (all were prep All-Americans). Fred Davis graduated a semester early from Rogers High in Toledo, Ohio, and enrolled at USC this past spring. Dwayne Jarrett (New Brunswick High in New Brunswick, N.J.) and Derrick Jones (Long Beach Poly High in Long Beach, Calif.) come in this fall.
Another deep unit for USC in 20049 deep, in factis the tight ends corps. Senior Gregg Guenther Jr. (17 rec, 167 yds, 9.8 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 1 blk FG) became the starter by mid-2003 and performed well. USC's tallest player at 6-8, once football season concludes he changes into a basketball jersey and stars for the Trojan hoopsters. It's likely he'll concentrate solely on basketball in his senior season. Junior Dominique Byrd (14 rec, 268 yds, 19.1 avg, 1 TD in 2003) started the first half of 2003 and was impressive before suffering a season-ending knee injury (he missed 2004 spring drills while recuperating). Senior Alex Holmes, who has 58 career catches, is back after sitting out last fall with a back injury. He started all of 2002 and could win back his job in 2004. Also in the mix are sophomore ex-center Kurt Katnik (1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 avg in 2003), plus walk-ons Nick Vanderboom, a sophomore, and senior Owen Hanson. Coming aboard this fall as freshmen are 3 prep All-Americans: former high school teammates Jimmy Miller and Michael Stuart (Westlake High in Westlake Village, Calif.), plus Dale Thompson (Santiago High in Corona, Calif.)
A key to USC's success in 2004 will be the play of the partially-rebuilt offensive line, which could be the biggest in Trojan history (there are 8 linemen who weigh at least 300 pounds). There will be an entirely new left side and middle, as 10 years of starting experience must be replaced now that 2003 All-American first team left tackle Jacob Rogers (3-year starter), who was a second round NFL pick, plus All-Pac-10 first team center Norm Katnik (3-year starter) and left guard Lenny Vandermade (4-year starter) are gone. Last year, USC allowed just 1.2 sacks a game (its lowest average since 1987). Also, junior tackle Winston Justice, who from his right side spot protects Leinart's blind side, was slated to start for his third year and be an All-American candidate. But he was ineligible for this past spring's practice and will not participate in the 2004 season because of a student conduct violation. Sophomore Fred Matua started most of last season at right guard and brings a defensive lineman's mentality to the offensive front. He likely will start again, as could senior guard John Drake, if he's healthy. After transferring from a junior college, Drake had moved into the lineup by mid-2003, where he split 7 starting assignments between rightside guard and tackle. He proved to be a load at 350 pounds before breaking his ankle late in the year (he missed 2004 spring drills while recuperating). A new center must emerge, with the candidates coming from sophomore Ryan Kalil, incoming freshman prep All-American Jeff Byers (Loveland High in Loveland, Colo.), who was the national high school player of the year in 2003, and junior walk-on Ross Burruel. Competing for time at guard are senior Travis Watkins, sophomore walk-on John Lanza, sophomore junior college transfer Alatini Malu (Long Beach City College in Long Beach, Calif.), who enrolled at USC this spring, freshman Travis Draper (originally a 2003 signee, he didn't enroll at USC until this spring), and prep All-American Chilo Rachal (Dominguez High in Compton, Calif.), an incoming freshman who also can play tackle. In the hunt for the tackle jobs are sophomore Kyle Williams, redshirt freshmen Sam Baker, Drew Radovich and Matt Spanos, plus incoming 370-pound junior Taitusi Lutui (Snow Junior College in Ephraim, Utah), a J.C. All-American. Williams came out of 2004 spring drills as the frontrunner on the right side and Baker was the starter on the left.
Six defensive starters return from 2003: end-tackle Shaun Cody, tackle Mike Patterson, linebackers Matt Grootegoed and Lofa Tatupu and safeties Darnell Bing and Jason Leach. Others back with starting experience include cornerbacks Ronald Nunn and Kevin Arbet, linebacker Dallas Sartz, end Frostee Rucker and linebacker Collin Ashton. USC's top 2 tacklers (and 4 of its top 5) return from a 2003 defense that was first nationally in rushing defense (a school-record 60.2), second in turnover margin (+1.5) and tied for 17th in scoring defense (18.4), all Pac-10 bests. It was the third consecutive year that Troy led the league in scoring defense. Opponents averaged just 1.8 yards per carry against the Trojans last fall, a school record and 2003 national low. USC's defense last season posted a national-best 55 sacks, forced 42 turnovers and scored 8 touchdowns (and had 2 safeties). USC has intercepted a pass in 22 of the last 23 games, held 20 of its past 26 opponents to less than 100 rushing yards (and allowed only 1 player to crack the 100-yard rushing barrier in the last 25 contests) and had a stretch of 22 consecutive quarters without allowing a rushing touchdown. The Trojans have done a superb job of getting turnovers under Carroll, as their +1.33 turnover margin and +111 takeaways the past 3 seasons are the best marks in the nation.
USC's highly-regarded 'Wild Bunch II' defensive line of the past 2 years is now down to 'Wild Bunch ï¿½,' as veteran starting ends Kenechi Udeze and Omar Nazel are gone. All-American first teamer Udezea 3-year starter and Hendricks Award finalist who tied for the national lead in sacks in 2003 while posting 56 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumblesopted to skip his senior year and head to the NFL, where he was a first round pick. Nazel, the defense's vocal leader, was a 2-year starter who last year notched 27 tackles, including 6.5 for loss (with 4 sacks), 2 fumble recoveries and an interception. But all is not lost, as 2 starters return...and they're among the nation's best. Both are battle-tested seniors and are All-American nominees after winning All-Pac-10 first team honors last fall. Shaun Cody (26 tac, 10.5 for loss, 6 sack, 1 FF, 1 dfl, 3 blk FG in 2003) will be starting for his fourth year, this year sliding out to end after spending his career at tackle. Nose tackle Mike Patterson (55 tac, 13.5 for loss, 7 sack, 3 FR with 1 for a TD in 2003), who last fall had the most tackles for a loss of any Trojan tackle since 1996, will be starting for his third season. Both have a knack for creating havoc. Cody's move to end means sophomore Manuel Wright (8 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 3 dfl in 2003) will assume his tackle spot. The backup tackles will be junior LaJuan Ramsey (6 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF in 2003), who also might work at end, sophomore Travis Tofi (3 tac, 1 for loss, 2 dfl, 1 sack for a safety in 2003), and redshirt freshmen Sedrick Ellis and Ryan Watson. Joining the tackles in the fall as a freshman is prep All-American Lawrence Miles (La Quinta High in La Quinta, Calif.). A mix of players with experience and youth will contend for the vacant end job: junior Frostee Rucker (26 tac, 4 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 FF, 2 FR in 2003), who started 5 games last year when Nazel was injured, and redshirt freshmen Chris Barrett, Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow. A pair of prep All-AmericansThomas Herring (Fremont High in Los Angeles, Calif.) and Jeff Schweiger (Valley Christian High in San Jose, Calif.)have a chance to make a contribution as freshmen when they arrive in the fall.
USC's strength on defense will be its linebacking corps. Only 2-year starting weakside linebacker Melvin Simmons is gone (he had 55 tackles and 3 fumble recoveries last season). Junior middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (98 tac, 11.5 for loss, 3 sack, 10 dfl, 4 int with 1 for a TD, 1 FF in 2003) returns after making the improbable jump from starting at Maine in 2001 to doing so at USC last fall. He ended up as the Trojans' leading tackler in 2003. Senior Matt Grootegoed (41 tac, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FR, 2 FF), who has started the past 3 years at strongside linebacker (he'll be on the weak side in 2004), has a knack for always being around the ball. He's good enough to merit All-American consideration (he was a Butkus Award and Lombardi Award semifinalist last season). Junior Dallas Sartz (60 tac, 6 for loss, 2 sack, 4 dfl, 1 blk P in 2003) assumes the starting strongside job. He's more than capable, as he started there the last 6 games of 2003 when Grootegoed was bothered by an ankle sprain. Other possibilities on the outside among the returnees are junior walk-on Collin Ashton (28 tac, 0.5 for loss, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2003), who performed admirably while starting twice late last year when Simmons was injured, and redshirt freshman Thomas Williams, plus walk-on sophomore Mike Brittingham, who also can play fullback. On the inside, there is senior walk-on Marco Chavez (he sat out 2003 after transferring from Hawaii), plus sophomore Oscar Lua, who was sidelined most of last season because of a knee injury (he missed some of 2004 spring drills while recuperating). Enrolling this fall is J.C. All-American Ryan Powdrell (Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif.), who is a junior, and prep All-Americans Keith Rivers (Lake Mary High in Lake Mary, Fla.) and Eugene Germany (Pomona High in Pomona, Calif.), who both are freshmen.
The good news in the secondary is that both starting safeties return. Sophomore strong safety Darnell Bing (69 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FR, 2 int, 5 dfl in 2003) was a Freshman All-American first team selection last year and he has an unlimited future. Hard-hitting senior free safety Jason Leach (88 tac, 5.5 for loss, 1 sack, 6 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF, 2 int with 1 for a TD in 2003) was USC's No. 2 tackler last season. Providing that safety depth will be twin redshirt freshmen Brandon Ting (3 tac in 2003) and Ryan Ting (1 tac in 2003), and senior walk-ons Greg Farr (6 tac in 2003) and Chris Bocage (1 tac in 2003), who missed 2004 spring practice while recovering from a knee injury. Ryan Ting also can play cornerback. Then, enrolling in the fall is J.C. All-American Scott Ware (Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif.), who is a junior, and prep All-American Josh Pinkard (Hueneme High in Oxnard, Calif.), who is a freshman. Both of 2003's starting cornerbacks are gone: Will Poole, an All-Pac-10 first teamer and NFL fourth rounder whose 7 interceptions (the most at USC since 1994) and 19 deflections last year ranked him in the top 10 nationally in those categories (he also had 80 tackles, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries), and Marcell Allmond, who helped Troy to an 18-1 record when he started in the secondary (he had 3 picks and 48 stops in 2003). Losing that duo might not be as much of a concern as it appears, however, because their possible replacements are experienced seniors with plenty of starts under their belts. Ronald Nunn (40 tac, 4 for loss, 3 sack, 1 int for a TD, 4 dfl, 1 FF, 3 FR with 1 for a TD in 2003), known for his big plays, started 3 times in 2002 and played often in extra defensive back formations last year. Kevin Arbet (5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2003, plus 4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg) has 6 career starts. He received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA because he was out of action for most of the past 2 seasons with a foot injury (he missed 2004 spring drills while recuperating). Also a key special teams player, he led the Trojans in punt returns in 2001 with 25 for 225 yards (9.0 average) and earned All-Pac-10 first team honors as a special teamer that season. Also pushing for playing time at the corner spots will be juniors Justin Wyatt (10 tac in 2003, plus 3 rec, 20 yds, 6.7 avg and 3 KOR, 41 yds, 13.7 avg), who also saw some action at wide receiver last fall, and John Walker (3 tac, 1 dfl in 2003), and redshirt freshmen Eric Wright and Terrell Thomas, plus junior walk-ons Alex Gomez and Justin Tolliver.
SPECIAL TEAMS OVERVIEW
Most of USC's specialists from 2003 return, including perhaps the nation's premier punter (Tom Malone) and placekicker (Ryan Killeen), plus an exciting kickoff returner (Reggie Bush), a dependable punt returner (Greig Carlson) and a steady holder (Malone). But a new snapper (for both short and long snaps) must be developed. The Trojan special teams in 2003 were much-improved from previous years. USC fielded record-setting punt and placekicking squads. Troy led the nation in net punting (43.7 avg.) for the first time ever. The Trojans returned a kickoff for a TD for the first time since 1998. And USC blocked 7 kicks (6 field goals and a punt). But things can still be shored up a bit in 2004, as opponents blocked 4 Trojan kicks (2 punts and 2 PATs) and returned a kickoff for a touchdown last year.
All-American junior Tom Malone (49.0 avg in 2003), the nation's best punter, has proven to be a weapon whenever he boots the ball. The Ray Guy Award candidate broke the USC season punting average record by 3.4 yards last fall (his 49.0 mark was just 0.3 off of the Pac-10 standard). He led the nation in punting for 5 consecutive weeks in the middle of the 2003 campaign and would have finished as the leader (by 1.0 yards), but the efficiency of USC's offense left him 5 punts shy of having the NCAA-required minimum 3.6 punts per game. In 2003, 24 of his 42 punts traveled at least 50 yards and 28 pinned opponents within the 20-yard line. His career average of 44.9 is nearly a yard above the school standard. Senior Ryan Killeen (19-of-24 FG, 65-of-57 PAT in 2003) ranks among the nation's top placekickers. The Lou Groza Award candidate was 12th nationally in scoring (9.4, second in Pac-10) and tied for 18th in field goals (1.5, third in Pac-10) in 2003. His 65 PATs last fall were a Pac-10 season record and his 19 field goals tied the USC season mark. The 122 points he scored in 2003 were the second-most ever tallied at USC. He had 35 touchbacks among his 99 kickoffs in 2003 (and he kept foes within the 20-yard line 58 times). He also backs up Malone at punter. Behind Killeen is walk-on redshirt freshman Mario Danelo, the son of ex-NFL kicker Joe Danelo. It might not sound like a big deal, but USC must replace both of its long-time snappers: 4-year short snapper Joe Boskovich and 3-year long snapper Matt Hayward. Both performed flawlessly during their careers. The leading candidates for both roles are redshirt freshman Will Collins, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, and junior walk-on linebacker Collin Ashton. Junior punter Tom Malone will be the holder for his third season. Senior quarterback Matt Cassel could be his backup. USC has back from last year its top kickoff returner in sophomore tailback Reggie Bush (18 KOR, 492 yds, 27.3 avg, 1 TD in 2003), who was 10th nationally in kickoff returns (27.3, first in Pac-10) and was the first Trojan to lead the league in kickoff returns since Anthony Davis in 1974, and its top punt returner in junior wide receiver Greig Carlson (21 PR, 188 yds, 9.0 avg in 2003). Bush might also return punts. Other potential returners are junior tailback Hershel Dennis, who led USC in kickoff returns in 2002 (9 KOR, 151 yds, 16.8 avg), senior cornerback Kevin Arbet (4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg in 2003), who led USC in punt returns in 2001 (25 PR, 225, yd, 9.0 avg), and junior cornerback Justin Wyatt (3 KOR, 41 yds, 13.7 avg in 2003).
USC's assistant coaching staff welcomed 3 new faces in 2004: QB coach Carl Smith, who has 32 years of coaching experience (his last 17 years were spent in the NFL); RB coach Todd McNair, a former NFL running back and assistant; and DEF/LB coach Ken Norton Jr., the ex-NFL and UCLA star linebacker. There were also some slight adjustments involving 3 returning coaches. Rocky Seto switched from safeties to linebackers. Brennan Carroll, an offensive assistant the past 2 seasons, became a full-time assistant, handling the tight ends. And WR coach Lane Kiffin took on the added duty of passing game coordinator.
STATS OF NOTE
USC has been effective in the takeaway department during head coach Pete Carroll's 3 seasons. In 2003, USC was +1.5 in turnover margin (second in the U.S. and first in the Pac-10) by getting 22 interceptions and 20 fumbles (and yielding only 9 interceptions and 13 fumbles). USC's +1.33 turnover margin over Carroll's first 3 seasons was the best in the nation and its 113 takeaways during that span also were the most. In 2002, the Trojans had 36 takeaways (19 fumbles and 17 interceptions) and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.4). In 2001, 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 (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 43 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 28 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau, Chris Claiborne and Zeke Moreno, DL Willie McGinest, WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Johnnie Morton and Curtis Conway, QBs Carson Palmer, Rodney Peete and Rob Johnson and DBs Sammy Knight, Troy Polamalu, Brian Kelly and Daylon McCutcheon. Six NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Miami's Dave Wannstedt, Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio and Oakland's Norv Turner. Ten current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: QB John David Booty (brother, Josh Booty), WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), PK Mario Danelo (father, Joe Danelo), OG Fred Matua (cousins, Navy and Manu Tuiasosopo), 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 OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). OT 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 assistants Carl Smith, Lane Kiffin and Todd McNair were NFL assistants. Four assistant coaches played professionally: Ken Norton Jr. and Todd McNair were in the NFL, while Norm Chow and Tim Davis were 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 321 times, including 187 of the past 189 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).
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 2004 Trojan squad are: CB Ryan Ting (3.93 GPA), FB Brandon Hancock (3.86 communication major), S Brandon Ting (3.7 GPA), QB Brandon Hance (3.47, music industry), WR John Zilka (3.46), TE Nick Vanderboom (3.4, business), OG Travis Draper (3.35), QB Billy Hart (3.30, business), QB Matt Cassel (3.28, communication), TB Andre Woodert (3.15, kinesiology), FB Mike Brittingham (2.93), WR Wil Smith (2.85, public management and planning), FB Jody Adewale (2.77, psychology), FB David Kirtman (2.76, business), S Greg Farr (2.76, international relations) and QB Matt Leinart (2.75, sociology). Hancock was a 2003 CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII first team and Pac-10 All-Academic first team selection. 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.
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.
USC'S 125TH CELEBRATION
The USC 125th Anniversary Project (1880-2005) showcases USC's leadership in redefining the research university of the 21st century while celebrating and honoring its proud heritage as one of the oldest continuing academic and cultural institutions in the region. USC has been reinventing itself since 1880. Thanks to the dedication, talent, and resources of the Trojan Family, USC will be inventing the future for generations to come. Between now and spring 2006, USC will host a variety of university-wide as well as school-based academic programs, including conferences and guest lectures focused on the first part of USC's 125th anniversary theme 'inventing the future.' At the same time, the university will explore the second part of the theme 'honoring the past' through history projects, celebrations, campus tours, and publications reflecting our rich heritage. Finally, USC's 125th anniversary year 2005-2006 will culminate in spring 2006 with a university-hosted international academic conference aimed at defining the research university of the 21st century.
QB John David Booty, on the biggest adjustments he faced coming from his Louisiana high school to USC: 'Speed and the mental game of college football, and the speed of life in L.A. compared to Louisiana. Everybody's trying to go to the top out here. If you stop, you're going to get run over. But that's good. That's what I needed in my life.'
DE-DT Shaun Cody, on his 'SC' tattoo: 'When I signed my letter of intent, I got the tattoo. I had thought about it for a while. I thought about the double meaning, how 'SC' also can mean Shaun Cody and all that. But the tattoo also looks like the school logo, so that kind of gives away the true meaning.'
OG John Drake, on his outlook: 'As long as you're laughing, it means something good is happening. I smile as much as possible. How bad can things be for me? I'm at USC and I was starting. Life isn't that bad.'
LB Matt Grootegoed, on his low-key approach: 'I'm not a flashy guy. I just do my job. I don't count how many tackles I make. I count how many missed tackles I have. If I do something good, that's what I'm supposed to do. You won't see me doing a little dance or high-stepping. I would probably fall over.'
S Jason Leach, on hitting: 'I like to hit. If the ball is in the air and nearby, I'll try to go for it. But if it's out of reach, I'll just hit the person.'
QB Matt Leinart, on his 2003 season: 'If you'd told me when the season started that I'd do what I did, I never would have believed it. The season I had, that the team had, I think no one really expected that. It was a dream come true. It was kind of surreal in a way. With all the talent around me, it would've been hard not to be successful.'
P Tom Malone, on becoming a punter: 'I was a wide receiver as a freshman in high school. One day, after I dropped a pass in practice, in frustration I picked up the ball and kicked it as hard as I could. The ball sailed high and kept going and going. The coaches saw that and made me the punter.'
OG Fred Matua, on talkative nature: 'You've got to be loud. Being loud puts pressure on yourself. I want to be the person calling the shots. It's a street attitude. Defense was my identity when I came here. On offense, you can't talk so much because you might end up missing your assignment. '
S Brandon Ting, on graduating high school a semester early (with his twin brother, Ryan) and enrolling at USC: 'At first the transition was weird because we didn't know what it was like to live in a new setting and things were coming at us so fast. But we got comfortable once we got in the system and knew what was expected of us. My brother thought it was like being away at camp and he thought the following week we would be going home.'
WR Mike Williams, on his uniform number (No. 1): 'I wear No. 1 because I like everything that comes with the number. Not in an arrogant kind of way but people naturally expect more from people who wear that number. That person must be dependable and accountable and also is expected to be a leader.'
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