USC Football Pre-Season Notes
July 23, 2007
The 2007 Trojans will be in the hunt to win another national title and to capture their sixth straight Pac-10 title, according to various pre-season prognosticators. The following have USC ranked first in both the nation and Pac-10: Athlon, The Sporting News, Street & Smith's,Lindy's, Phil Steele's, USA Today Sports Weekly, CBS Sportsline.com, Scout, NationalChamps.net and SI Kids.
...AND PRE-SEASON HONORS
QB John David Booty (Athlon, The Sporting News, Blue Ribbon), OT Sam Baker (Athlon, The Sporting News, Street & Smith's, Lindy's, Phil Steele's, CBS Sportsline.com, Scout, Blue Ribbon, NationalChamps.Net), DT Sedrick Ellis (The Sporting News, Street & Smith's, Lindy's, CBS Sportsline.com), LB Keith Rivers (The Sporting News, Street & Smith's, Lindy's, Phil Steele's, Blue Ribbon, NationalChamps.Net), DE Lawrence Jackson (Street & Smith's, Phil Steele's), LB Rey Maualuga (Athlon, CBS Sportsline.com), LB Brian Cushing (Phil Steele's) and S Taylor Mays (Athlon) have been named to various pre-season All-American first teams. CB Terrell Thomas and DT Fili Moala made All-American third teams. Several of USC's position units are ranked No. 1 nationally by some of these media outlets: quarterbacks, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs. Besides the above-mentioned players, TE Fred Davis, OG Chilo Rachal and TB/KOR C.J. Gable have been selected to various pre-season All-Pac-10 first teams.
The following Trojans have made the official 'Watch Lists' for national 2007 post-season awards, to date:
OT Sam Baker--Lombardi Award (top lineman), Outland Trophy (top interior lineman)
QB John David Booty--Maxwell Award (top player)
LB Brian Cushing--Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Lott Trophy (top defensive impact player)
TE Fred Davis--Mackey Award (top tight end)
DT Sedrick Ellis--Lombardi Award (top lineman), Outland Trophy (top interior lineman), Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Lott Trophy (top defensive impact player)
DE Lawrence Jackson--Hendricks Award (top defensive end), Bednarik Award (top defensive player)
LB Rey Maualuga--Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Lombardi Award (top lineman), Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player)
LB Keith Rivers--Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Lombardi Award (top lineman), Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player), Lott Trophy (top defensive impact player)
USC's 2007 schedule features 7 opponents who were in bowls last season, including 4 who won at least 9 games. The Trojans open their 2007 campaign on Sept. 1 at home against Idaho, a team they last played in 1929. Troy then makes its first visit to Nebraska since 1969 before embarking on a full slate of Pac-10 play. This year, USC hosts Washington State, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon State and UCLA and travels to Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona State (on Thanksgiving Day). Midway through that Pac-10 schedule is an Oct. 20 visit to Notre Dame, a rival USC has beaten the past 5 years. Tickets to Trojan games figure to be hard to get again this fall. Last year, for the third straight season, USC set school records for home sellouts (all 6 games in 2006), regular season sellouts (10) and season sellouts (11). In 2006, Troy broke its Pac-10 record home average attendance mark for the fourth consecutive year (91,480) and its Pac-10 record home total attendance standard for the second straight year (548,880).
QUOTING Pete Carroll
THE 2007 TROJANS
'We don't make predictions, but if we can maintain the high level of competitiveness, intensity and work ethic that is the foundation of our program, then we can set ourselves up for some good things in the 2007 season. We have the nucleus of a very strong, successful team.
'If this past spring's practice is any indication, we have the makings of a very good football team. The spirit that we needed to recapture the work ethic and competitiveness on our practice field was present from the first day. Once fall practice starts, the competition will really increase with the newcomers and those players coming back from injuries.
'We are a very athletic team with a lot of speed. We have enough experience in a number of areas to give us a chance to perform at a high level.'
'We expect to have a balanced attack on offense in 2007. To do that, we need to improve the running game and get it to where it was in 2005 (when USC averaged 260.0 on the ground). We have the personnel to have that kind of offense, and with some hard work I anticipate we'll be productive offensively.'
'We expect great things from our defense in 2007. It should be faster, bigger, stronger, tougher, smarter and deeper than last year. We have a lot of talented, experienced players coming back. This should really be the strength of our team. We'll be able to do a lot more things scheme-wise with these guys than last year because they're smarter now and can handle it. The competition for playing time will be on the whole season and the most important time will be during practice when the players try to prove they're worthy of playing.
'One of our areas of emphasis, though, will be getting more turnovers. We need to hawk the ball better than we did last year. That will be a big indicator as to how well our defense does.'
THE SPECIAL TEAMS
'Special teams is an area where we're looking to be special, not average. We need to increase our productivity in every phase of special teams in 2007. We have that ability. C.J. Gable showed he's a legitimate kickoff returner and I expect he'll get some help from some of the incoming players. Desmond Reed proved to be a capable, sure-handed punt returner. Greg Woidneck did a solid job in his first year as the punter, and now he needs to build on that. Unfortunately, with the tragic death of Mario Danelo, our kick scoring ability will be severely challenged. We'll look to David Buehler to take over the kicking duties and, based on his showing in spring practice, we should be in good shape. But he might be challenged by some incoming walk-ons.'
USC returns 18 starters (7 on offense and 10 on defense, plus the punter) from 2006. In all, 72 squadmen are back from last year, including 55 who saw playing time. All but 3 of those 55 were lettermen, while 34 were on USC's season-ending 2-deep. On the roster are 30 Trojans who have started at least once in their career. Joining them in 2007 will be 20 new scholarship players, including 2 who enrolled at USC this past spring and participated in spring practice. That class was named No. 1 in the nation by some publications.
USC went 11-2 in 2006 (7-2 in the Pac-10), including a win in the Rose Bowl, and finished No. 4 in the final polls. The losses were by a total of just 6 points. The Trojan defensive unit ranked in the national Top 25 (and was tops in the Pac-10) last year in rushing defense (91.1), scoring defense (15.2), total defense (295.6) and pass efficiency defense (110.7). USC's offense ended up in the national Top 25 in passing (263.9), scoring (30.5) and total offense (391.9) in 2006.
GONE FROM 2006
Forty squadmen are gone from 2006, but only 19 were lettermen, just 6 were starters and only 5 were selected in the 2007 NFL draft. The offense, however, lost the best wide receiver combo in Trojan history: 2-time All-American first teamer Dwayne Jarrett, USC's career leader with 216 receptions and the Pac-10's all-time recordholder with 41 TD grabs who left after his junior season for the NFL, and 2006 All-American first team selection Steve Smith, fourth on Troy's career chart for receiving yards (3,019) and fifth for receptions (190) and TDs (22). Both were NFL second round picks. Also gone from the offensive lineup are 2006 All-American first team center Ryan Kalil, who was the heart and soul of USC's line (he was another NFL second rounder), and tackle Kyle Williams. Dependable wide receiver Chris McFoy (57 career catches, 17 starts) also is gone. USC's only loss from the 2006 defensive lineup is strongside linebacker Dallas Sartz, who was 32-2 in his 3 years as a starter. Also gone is middle linebacker Oscar Lua, who had 14 career starts and topped Troy in tackles in 2005, and tackle-end Chris Barrett, who started USC's first 6 games of 2006 at tackle. USC suffered an unexpected loss with the tragic death of placekicker Mario Danelo in early 2007. In his career, he was 26-of-28 on field goals and 127-of-134 on PATs. He set the NCAA season record for PATs (83) in 2005.
USC owns several active winning streaks:
--home games (a Pac-10 and school-record 33);
--Pac-10 home games (a Pac-10 and school-record 23);
--non-conference home games (10);
--non-conference road games (6, not including 4 neutral site wins and 1 neutral site loss);
--September games (10)
--November games (20).
USC'S PAST 5 YEARS UNDER CARROLL
Seventh-year USC head coach Pete Carroll has a system in place that has made the past 5 years (since 2002) glorious ones for the Trojans:
--Five AP Top 4 finishes, including national championships in 2003 and 2004;
--Five BCS bowl appearances;
--Five Pac-10 championships;
--Five seasons with at least 11 victories (only Nebraska 1993-97, Florida State 1996-2000 and Oklahoma 2000-04 have done that);
--Still-active win streaks for home games (33) and Pac-10 home games (23) to go along with the no-longer-active victory strings for overall games (34), Pac-10 games (27), road games (18), non-conference games (16), games against AP Top 25 teams (16) and Pac-10 road games (13);
--A winning record of 92.2% (59-5), including 9-1 against traditional rivals Notre Dame and UCLA;
--An AP Top 10 ranking for the past 56 games;
--56 wins in the last 60 games, with the losses coming by just 12 points (the first by 3 points in triple overtime at California in 2003, the second by 3 points in the final 19 seconds to Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl's BCS Championship Game to fall just short of an unprecedented third consecutive national championship, the third by 2 points on a failed 2-point conversion pass with 7 seconds to play at Oregon State in 2006 and the fourth by 4 points at UCLA in 2006 to deny Troy an appearance in a third straight BCS Championship Game);
--A no-longer-active national-record 63 straight 20-point games;
--A no-longer-active national-record 33 consecutive weeks as AP's No. 1-ranked team;
--Twenty-three victories over AP Top 25 teams (23-3 overall, 88.5%);
--Twenty-four All-American first teamers;
--Three Heisman Trophy winners;
--Thirty NFL draft picks, including 7 first rounders;
--Five Top 5 recruiting classes.
USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 56 games, a school record. The Trojans have been in the AP Top 5 in 63 of the last 68 polls (including 3 pre-season polls).
USC'S WINNINGEST 5, 4, 3, 2 AND 1 YEAR SPANS
USC's 59 wins during the previous 5 years (11 in 2002, 12 in 2003, 13 in 2004, 12 in 2005 and 11 in 2006) is the winningest 5-year period in Trojan history. Its 48 wins during the 4-year spans of both 2002-05 and 2003-2006 tied for its best 4-year spans. Troy's 37 wins from 2003-05 represented the winningest 3-year period in Trojan history. Also, USC's 25 wins during the 2-year spans of both 2003-04 and 2004-05 tied for its best 2-year spans. And USC posted its first 13-win season in 2004, its eighth perfect (unbeaten, untied) season ever.
USC'S PAC-10 TITLES
After sharing the Pac-10 championship in 2002, USC won the 2003 Pac-10 title outright (its first outright crown since 1989) and again in 2004 and 2005 before sharing it in 2006. Those 5 consecutive conference titles are unprecedented in Pac-10 history. USC has now won the league title 36 times, more than twice as much as any other school.
It didn't take long for seventh-year USC head football coach Pete Carroll to return the Trojan football program to national prominence. He is 65-12 (84.4%) in 6 years (2001-2006) as a college head coach (all at USC), the best winning percentage of any current Division I coach with at least 5 years of experience. He got to 50 career USC wins faster than any head coach in Trojan history. His losses have been by a total of 51 points (4.3 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 63-7 (90.0%) with a pair of national championships (2003-04). He is 42-7 in Pac-10 games, giving him an 85.7% winning mark (a league record). He is 20-0 in November. He has 24 victories over AP Top 25 teams (24-6 overall, 80.0%). His teams have been ranked in the AP Top 10 for the past 56 games. His teams have won an unprecedented 5 consecutive Pac-10 titles and appeared in a record 5 consecutive BCS bowls (including a pair of BCS Championship Games). His teams have recorded at least 11 victories in each of the past 5 seasons (only Nebraska, Florida State and Oklahoma have done that). USC's 13, 25, 37, 48 and 59 wins over the previous 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 years represent the winningest periods in Trojan history. Under Carroll, USC is riding winning streaks in a Pac-10 record 33 consecutive home games, a Pac-10 record 23 consecutive league home games, 20 November games, 10 September games, 10 non-conference home games and 6 non-conference road games (not including 4 neutral site contests). His USC teams also had a number of since-broken other winning streaks: a Pac-10-record 34 overall games, a Pac-10-record 27 Pac-10 games, a school-record 18 road games (not including 4 neutral site contests), 18 October games, 16 non-conference games, 16 games against AP Top 25 teams and a school-record 13 Pac-10 road games. His Trojans also set a no-longer-active NCAA record by scoring at least 20 points in 63 consecutive games. He was named the 2006 Pac-10 Coach of the Year (for the third time in his 6 years at USC) and was 1 of 15 semifinalists for the 2006 George Munger Award (given to the nation's top coach). USC was AP's No. 1 team for a national-record 33 straight polls (including 2 pre-season polls). Under Carroll, USC is the first school to have 3 Heisman Trophy winners in a 4-year span. Carroll has produced 25 All-American first teamers and 32 NFL draft picks (including 7 first rounders, with a No. 1 selection in Carson Palmer and a No. 2 in Reggie Bush). His last 5 recruiting classes have been ranked in the Top 5 nationally (including first each year by some experts). He also served as USC's defensive coordinator in his first 5 seasons at Troy.
Starters return at 7 positions on offense in 2007: quarterback John David Booty, tackles Sam Baker and Drew Radovich, guard Chilo Rachal, tight end Fred Davis, tailback C.J. Gable and the fullback spot (where fullback Stanley Havili, tailback Allen Bradford and linebacker Thomas Williams started 5 times in 2006). Others back with starting experience include tailbacks Chauncey Washington, Emmanuel Moody and Hershel Dennis, wide receiver Patrick Turner, guard-center Jeff Byers, tight end Dale Thompson and guard Alatini Malu. USC's top 3 passers and 6 leading rushers are back from 2006, but the Trojans lost their top 2 pass catchers who accounted for more than half of the team's receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian takes over the offensive coordinator reins this year after assisting in that duty last season. He will attempt to maintain the offense's aerial and scoring productivity of 2006, as Troy was 14th nationally in passing offense (263.9) and 18th in scoring offense (30.5), but the Trojans must get more out of the running game as its 128.0 rushing average last year was its lowest since Carroll's debut 2001 season. Despite that imbalance, USC ended up 21st nationally in total offense (391.9) in 2006. Also of concern from last year, the Trojans went 5 consecutive games scoring less than 30 points for the first time since the opening 5 contests of 2001. And USC's NCAA-record 63-game streak of scoring at least 20 points was snapped late last season.
John David Booty (269-of-436, 61.9%, 3,347 yds, 29 TD, 9 int in 2006) enters his 2007 senior season as a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy after a stellar 2006 showing. He made the All-Pac-10 first team and was a Manning Award finalist last year when he became only the fourth Trojan to eclipse 3,000 passing yards in a season (joining Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, plus NFLer Rob Johnson). With a season comparable to 2006, Booty--the first prep football player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll at a major university when he did so at USC in 2003--could jump into Troy's career Top 5 in passing and total offense. Last year, he threw a touchdown pass in 12 games (including 7 with at least 3 TDs) and had 200-plus passing yards 11 times (including the last 7 games). Behind Booty is promising but relatively untested sophomore Mark Sanchez (3-of-7, 42.9%, 63 yds in 2006). He was the national high school player of the year in 2004. Other quarterbacks on the roster are senior Michael McDonald (1-of-1, 100.0%, 20 yds, 1 TD in 2006), whose only 2 career passes went for touchdowns (he's the son of ex-USC All-American and NFL standout Paul McDonald), and sophomore Garrett Green (1 tac in 2006), who also played some at safety last fall, plus walk-on soph Jon Breuer, who started at NCAA Division II's Assumption in 2005. Sophomore Mitch Mustain, the 2005 national prep player of the year who went 8-0 as a true freshman starter at Arkansas in 2006, transferred to USC this summer, but will have to sit out the 2007 season because of NCAA transfer rules. Coming aboard this fall as a freshman is prep All-American Aaron Corp (Orange Lutheran High in Orange, Calif.).
It might appear as if there's an embarrassment of riches at USC's tailback spot in 2007, with 10 blue-chip runners. But the ensuing competition for playing time should help upgrade Troy's running attack in light of last year's mediocre 128.0 rushing average. Three players who started at tailback in 2006 return: sophomores C.J. Gable (111 tcb, 434 yds, 3.9 avg, 4 TD in 2006, plus 9 rec, 90 yds, 10.0 avg and 16 KOR, 432 yds, 27.0 avg) and Emmanuel Moody (79 tcb, 459 yds, 5.8 avg, 2 TD in 2006, plus 3 rec, 39 yds, 13.0 avg) and senior Chauncey Washington (157 tcb, 744 yds, 4.7 avg, 9 TD in 2006, plus 9 rec, 93 yds, 10.3 avg and 1 TD). Gable started 5 times last fall, while Moody and Washington each had 4 starts. Gable, who was the first USC true freshman to start an opener at tailback when he did so at Arkansas last season, was a Freshman All-American second teamer in 2006. Also an effective return man, he was 15th nationally in kickoff returns (27.0) last year. Moody was a 2006 Freshman All-American honorable mention choice. Washington, who missed the 2004 and 2005 seasons while academically ineligible, was nagged throughout 2006 by hamstring and then knee injuries. Two other sophomores--Allen Bradford (13 tcb, 42 yds, 3.2 avg, 1 TD in 2006, plus 3 rec, 33 yds, 11.0 avg, 1 TD and 1 KOR, 9 yds, 9.0 avg and 3 tac) and Stafon Johnson (3 tcb, 17 yds, 5.7 avg in 2006)--didn't see as much action last year, but are equally talented and will be in the mix. Bradford even started twice last fall at fullback. There is also a pair of veteran tailbacks who have clawed back from serious knee injuries: seniors Hershel Dennis and Desmond Reed (7 tcb, 12 yds, 1.7 avg in 2006, plus 5 rec, 51 yds, 10.2 avg and 20 PR, 109 yds, 5.4 avg and 2 KOR, 42 yds, 21.0 avg and 1 tac). Dennis, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility in 2007, started in 2003 (rushing for 661 yards) and was set to re-assume his starting job last season after redshirting in 2005 because of torn knee ligaments. But he re-tore those ligaments midway through 2006 spring practice and was sidelined again last fall. He has 968 career rushing yards. Reed contributed primarily as a punt returner in 2006 after recovering from torn knee ligaments in the 2005 Notre Dame game, although he is still bothered by subsequent nerve damage in his foot. He has 874 all-purpose yards in his career. Freshmen tailback reinforcements arrive in force this fall with a trio of touted prep All-Americans: Broderick Green (Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark.), Joe McKnight (John Curtis High in River Ridge, La.) and Marc Tyler (Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif.). McKnight was Parade's national Co-Player of the Year in 2006.
As loaded as it is at tailback, USC's fullback unit is pretty limited. Redshirt freshman Stanley Havili (4 rec, 24 yds, 6.0 avg in 2006) started the Arizona game early in 2006 and showed promise, but broke his leg in that contest and was allowed to redshirt. He was impressive, however, in 2007 spring practice. Redshirt freshman walk-on Cooper Stephenson moved over from tight end this past spring. Joining the fullback corps as a freshman this fall is prep All-American Jordan Campbell (Norco High in Norco, Calif.).
There's a sizable chasm that Troy needs to be overcome at the wide receiver spots in 2007, as USC's most productive wideout combo in history--two-time All-American Dwayne Jarrett and 2006 All-American first teamer Steve Smith--are gone. Between them, 63 of their 406 career catches went for 6 points. The 3-year starters were the first pair of Trojan wide receivers to earn All-American first team acclaim in the same season. Both were selected in the NFL's second round. Jarrett, who left after his junior season for the NFL, was USC's first-ever 2-time All-American first team receiver. He ended up as USC's career leader in receptions (216) and the Pac-10's career recordholder in TD catches (41); he came up 63 yards short (3,138) of the USC career receiving yardage mark. He caught a pass in all 38 games he played, with a TD catch in 25 of them, and he posted 13 100-yard outings. He had 70 receptions for 1,015 yards (14.5 avg.) and 12 TDs last fall. Smith finished his career fourth on Troy's all-time ladder for receiving yards (3,019) and fifth for receptions (190) and receiving TDs (22). He had 9 100-yard games in his career. He was USC's team MVP in 2006 as he had 71 grabs for 1,083 yards (15.3 avg.) and 9 scores. Additionally, key backup Chris McFoy also has graduated, taking with him his 57 career catches and 17 starts. USC will turn to a number of young players to replace Jarrett and Smith, with the most experienced being junior Patrick Turner (29 rec, 272 yds, 9.4 avg, 2 TD in 2006 and 2 tac). A big target at 6-5, he was third on the team in receptions last fall while starting twice. He has 41 career catches. A pair of sophomores--Vidal Hazelton (1 rec, 8 yds, 8.0 avg in 2006, plus 1 tcb, 7 yds, 7.0 avg) and Travon Patterson (3 rec, 63 yds, 21.0 avg in 2006, plus 1 tcb, 1 yd, 1.0 avg)--gained limited but valuable experience last year. Then there's redshirt freshmen Jamere Holland, a speedster (he won the California high school 100 and 200 meters in 2005) who was sidelined last fall with a collarbone injury, and David Ausberry, who is as tall as Turner. Senior walk-on Brad Walker has seen backup action in 31 games in his career, but has yet to catch a pass. Other walk-on wide receivers are redshirt freshmen Sean Calcagnie and Scott Stephens, along with true freshman Caleb Nelan. Sophomore Damian Williams transferred to USC in the spring of 2007 from Arkansas, where he started 5 games in 2006. He caught 19 passes for 235 yards (12.4 avg.) with 2 TDs last fall, including 4 clutches for 61 yards in the opener against USC, and was named a Freshman All-American third teamer. But he will have to sit out 2007 because of NCAA transfer rules. Supplementing this group is a pair of talented prep All-Americans who enroll at USC this fall as freshmen: Brandon Carswell (Milpitas High in Milpitas, Calif.) and Ronald Johnson (Muskegon High in Muskegon, Mich.).
Tight end is a deep, experienced unit for USC in 2007. Senior Fred Davis (38 rec, 352 yds, 9.3 avg, 3 TD in 2006) returns to the starting lineup. Known for his speed and downfield pass catching ability, he has 55 career catches. Fellow seniors Dale Thompson (3 rec, 19 yds, 6.3 avg in 2006), a key backup who started 3 times last year and is more the blocking type, and Jimmy Miller, who has 2 touchdowns in his 3 career catches, also are back. Then there's gifted sophomore Anthony McCoy, who missed most of the last half of the 2006 season with a hamstring injury. Rhett Ellison (St. Francis High in Mountain View, Calif.), the son of former USC and NFL linebacker Riki Gray Ellison, enrolls as a freshman this fall.
Although USC returns three-fifths of its offensive line, including a 2-time All-American first teamer, and also has several others with starting experience on the roster, the Trojans lost the front's leader with the graduation of 2006 All-American first team center Ryan Kalil. The 3-year starter won the Pac-10's Morris Trophy and was a Rimington Trophy finalist last fall before being picked in the NFL's second round. Also gone is right tackle Kyle Williams. USC features the best left tackle in the nation in 2-time All-American first teamer Sam Baker. The senior will be starting for his fourth season in 2007. Both starting guards return: junior Chilo Rachal on the right side and senior Drew Radovich, who started on the left side last fall but has moved to fill Williams' vacant right tackle spot for 2007. Rachal was a 2006 Sophomore All-American second team honoree. Two other linemen who have started games are back in junior guard-center Jeff Byers, who started 4 times at guard in 2004 but missed 2005 with a hip injury and all of 2006 but the opener with a back injury, and senior guard Alatini Malu, who started once last season. Byers likely will start at left guard in 2007. Senior center Matt Spanos, who sat out the 2006 season while academically ineligible, appears ready to assume Kalil's starting center position. Other linemen who'll battle for playing time are sophomore tackle Charles Brown, soph guard Thomas Herring, sophomore center Nick Howell, redshirt freshman guard Zack Heberer and redshirt freshman tackle Butch Lewis. Also in the mix is freshman tackle Martin Coleman (Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif.), a prep All-American who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC this past spring. Prep All-American center Kristofer O'Dowd (Salpointe Catholic High in Tucson, Ariz.) comes aboard as a freshman this fall.
Ten defensive starters return from 2006: linebackers Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, end Lawrence Jackson, tackles Sedrick Ellis and Fili Moala, safeties Kevin Ellison and Taylor Mays and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Cary Harris. Others back with starting experience are safety Josh Pinkard, linebackers Thomas Williams and Kaluka Maiava and cornerback Kevin Thomas. Eight of USC's 9 leading tacklers (including the top 2) from 2006 return, as do its leaders in tackles for a loss and deflections and all 8 players who made interceptions last year. Last season, Troy's defense ranked in the national Top 25 (and tops in the Pac-10) in rushing defense (ninth at 91.1), scoring defense (11th at 15.2), total defense (20th at 295.6) and pass efficiency defense (22nd at 110.7). But for the first time in the Pete Carroll era, USC's turnover margin did not surpass the previous year's; in 2006, the Trojans had a pedestrian +0.3 turnover margin after posting a +1.6 mark the prior season.
USC's defensive line returns nearly intact in 2007 and there are some top-notch backups, which means Troy should be especially stout up front on defense this year. Headlining this group is a pair of seniors who rank among the best in the country: nose tackle Sedrick Ellis (34 tac, 8 for loss, 4.5 sack, 2 FR, 1 FF, 1 BLK FG, 3 dfl in 2006), an All-American first teamer in 2006 when he won the Pac-10's Morris Trophy, and end Lawrence Jackson (43 tac, 11 for loss, 4 sack, 3 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 int, 2 BLK FG in 2006), who has 35 tackles for loss and 20 sacks in his career. Ellis will be starting for his third season and Jackson--a 2006 All-Pac-10 second teamer after earning first team honors in 2005--for his fourth. Junior Fili Moala (20 tac, 7 for loss, 2.5 sack, 1 FR, 4 dfl in 2006) returns at a tackle spot (he even started 3 times at nose tackle last year for an injured Ellis). Angling for time at tackle are sophomores Averell Spicer (3 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl in 2006) and Alex Parsons and redshirt freshman Derek Simmons, plus walk-on sophomore Asake Fifita. The other end spot, which opened up now that Brian Cushing moves back to his natural linebacker position in 2006, could be manned by junior Kyle Moore (5 tac, 1 dfl in 2006). Also in the mix at end are senior Alex Morrow (2 tac, 1 dfl in 2006) and junior Gerald Washington, who redshirted as a tight end last year. Looking to contribute immediately at end when they arrive this fall as freshmen are prep All-Americans Everson Griffen (Agua Fria High in Avondale, Ariz.), who was Super Prep's national Player of the Year in 2006, and Michael Reardon (Orange Lutheran High in Orange, Calif.), plus Trey Henderson (Vancouver College High in Vancouver, B.C.), believed to be the first Canadian player to be offered a scholarship to play football at USC. Incoming freshmen at tackle this fall are prep All-American DaJohn Harris (Serra High in Gardena, Calif.), plus Christian Tupou (Grant High in Sacramento, Calif.).
USC's 2007 linebacker corps is the best in the nation. Period. The 3 starters are each worthy of All-American and Butkus Award notice: 2006 USC tackle and forced fumble leader Keith Rivers (85 tac, 7.5 for loss, 2 sack, 1 FR, 3 FF, 2 dfl in 2006) on the weakside, fellow 2006 All-Pac-10 first teamer Rey Maualuga (78 tac, 5 for loss, 2 sack, 1 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2006) in the middle and Brian Cushing (57 tac, 13.5 for loss, 4.5 sack, 1 FF, 1 dfl, 1 BLK P in 2006, plus 1 KOR, 42 yds, 42.0 avg, 1 TD and 1 PR, 21 yds, 21.0 avg), who has moved back to his natural strongside spot after playing defensive end last year. Rivers, who will be starting for his third season, won All-American honorable mention notice in 2006, as did Maualuga. Maualuga, second on the Trojans in tackles in 2006, also was a Sophomore All-American first team pick and Butkus Award semifinalist last year. Cushing, who led USC in tackles for a loss last season and also returned an onside kick for a TD, was an All-Pac-10 second team and Sophomore All-American third team selection in 2006. Cushing will be filling in for departed Dallas Sartz, a 3-year starter on the strong side who helped USC to a 32-2 mark in games that he started. He had 70 tackles last year, including a team-best 7 sacks. The only other significant loss in this unit is Oscar Lua, who started 14 games in the middle in his career (3 last year) and topped Troy in tackles in 2005. Sartz was a fifth round NFL pick and Lua went in the seventh round. Not only is USC's linebacker corps talented, but it is deep. Versatile senior Thomas Williams (18 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 1 FF in 2006) has played every linebacker position and has 10 career starts (including 2 last year at fullback). Junior Kaluka Maiava (34 tac, 3.5 for loss in 2006) can play either side and started once on the strong side in 2005. Junior Clay Matthews (15 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack in 2006), the son of the former Trojan All-American and NFL star linebacker of the same name, earned a scholarship last season and saw significant action. Sophomore Luthur Brown (5 tac in 2006) made his mark mainly on special teams in 2006. That foursome also thrives on special teams. Then there's redshirt freshman Michael Morgan, as well as a pair of walk-ons in junior Nick Garratt (1 tac in 2006) and redshirt freshman Dan Deckas. Freshmen linebackers arriving this fall are prep All-Americans Chris Galippo (Servite High in Anaheim, Calif.) and Malcolm Smith (Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif.), the brother of ex-Trojan All-American wide receiver Steve Smith.
Not to sound like a broken record, but USC's secondary--like the rest of the defense--is loaded. All 4 starters return, as do 2 others who have starting experience. Aggressive junior strong safety Kevin Ellison (64 tac, 6 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF, 1 int, 5 dfl in 2006) is back after earning Sophomore All-American second team honors in 2006. At free safety, there's sophomore Taylor Mays (62 tac, 3 int, 3 dfl in 2006), who was a 2006 All-American second teamer, national Defensive Freshman of the Year, Freshman All-American first teamer and Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year. He led USC in interceptions last year. But he'll be challenged by junior Josh Pinkard (6 tac in 2006), a 2005 starter (primarily at cornerback) who started the 2006 opener before being sidelined for the year with a knee injury. Seeking time in the rotation at safety are junior Mozique McCurtis (4 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 int, 2 dfl in 2006), who was USC's often-employed nickel back in 2006, sophomore Will Harris, who has missed most of the past 2 seasons with injuries (including all of 2006 with a knee injury), and redshirt freshman Alfred Rowe. McCurtis is also available at cornerback. There also are 2 senior walk-on safeties: Brent Yoshida and Chase McWhorter. Both starting cornerbacks return from 2006. Senior Terrell Thomas (50 tac, 3 for loss, 3 sack, 2 int, 12 dfl, 2 FF, 1 TD on BLK FG return in 2006), a lockdown-type defender who led USC in deflections in 2006, was an All-Pac-10 second teamer last fall. On the other side is junior Cary Harris (45 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 int, 1 FR, 2 dfl in 2006, plus 6 KOR, 93 yds, 15.5 avg), who also tried his hand at returning kickoffs early in 2006. Junior Kevin Thomas (10 tac, 1 FR, 1 dfl in 2006) started twice at cornerback last season, but missed most of the year with foot and ankle injuries. Sophomores Shareece Wright (15 tac, 2 FR in 2006) and Vincent Joseph (2 tac in 2006, plus 2 KOR, 32 yds, 16.0 avg), who also returned some kickoffs last season, are also in the cornerback mix. Both were stellar special teams performers in 2006. Then there is junior walk-on cornerback Jim Abbott. Enrolling this fall as a freshman is prep All-American safety Marshall Jones (Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif.).
SPECIAL TEAMS OVERVIEW
USC's punter (Greg Woidneck), snapper (Will Collins), holder (Michael McDonald) and top kickoff returner (C.J. Gable) and punt returner (Desmond Reed) return in 2007, but a new placekicker and kickoff man must be found. The Trojans put up decent numbers in most special teams categories in 2006, especially in kickoff returns--15th nationally (23.2)--and placekicking, but they are aiming for improvement across the board (for instance, USC was in the lower half of the nation last year in net punting at 33.7 and punt returns at 6.2).
Junior walk-on Greg Woidneck (38.3 avg in 2006) did a steady job in his first year handling the punting duty after transferring from a junior college. He'll attempt to boost his average a few yards this year. He generally had good hang time on his punts, but opponents averaged 8.6 yards per return, thanks in part to a long scoring punt return and a blocked punt. Walk-on redshirt freshman Billy O'Malley will be his back up. When record-setting senior-to-be Mario Danelo fell to his unfortunate death in early January of 2007, USC lost not only a beloved teammate but one of the nation's most accurate kickers. He hit 26-of-28 field goals (including 15 in a row) in his 2-year career as the starter, as well as 127-of-134 PATs. He set NCAA records for season PATs (83) and PAT attempts (86) in 2005. Last year, he was 15-of-16 on field goals and 44-of-48 on PATs. Also gone is Troy Van Blarcom, USC's kickoff man the past 2 years who left school after his sophomore season. In his career, 98 of his 179 kickoffs pinned opponents within the 20-yard line (with 68 touchbacks). The task of succeeding them will fall on the right foot of junior David Buehler (1-of-1 FG in 2006). He nailed his only 3-point attempt when he was asked to try a 49-yarder against California last year (it was USC's longest field goal since 1998) and he also kicked off 8 times (7 of those were against Michigan in the Rose Bowl, with 6 pinning the Wolverines within the 20, including 3 touchbacks). He also doubled as a safety and fullback in 2006, seeing time in 10 games primarily on special teams in 2006. Several walk-ons could challenge him in the fall, but Buehler's fine showing in this past spring's practice has settled the coaches' uneasiness about the placekicking game. Senior Will Collins returns for his fourth year as the snapper, a role he has filled flawlessly. Untested senior wide receiver Brad Walker will back him up, along with walk-on sophomore Christian Putnam, who transferred from Pasadena (Calif.) City College. Senior quarterback Michael McDonald returns for his second season as the holder. He handled the job impeccably in 2006 and even threw a touchdown pass off a fake field goal. Sophomore quarterback Garrett Green and junior punter Greg Woidneck could back him up. Sophomore tailback C.J. Gable (16 KOR, 432 yds, 27.0 avg in 2006) handled most of the kickoff returns in 2006 and proved effective as he finished 15th nationally in kickoff returns. Others back who returned kicks in 2006 are junior cornerback Cary Harris (6 KOR, 93 yds, 15.5 avg in 2006) and sophomore cornerback Vincent Joseph (2 KOR, 32 yds, 16.0 avg in 2006). Senior tailback Desmond Reed (20 PR, 109 yds, 5.4 avg in 2006, plus 2 KOR, 42 yds, 21.0 avg) also was tried briefly on kickoff returns last year, but he was USC's primary punt returner. Reed figures to continue in that role this fall after doing a steady job in 2006. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jamere Holland also might be looked at as a kickoff and punt returner, while junior wide receiver Patrick Turner and sophomore wide receiver Travon Patterson could try their hands returning punts. More candidates will get looked at to handle the return duties when the freshmen arrive in the fall, including tailback Joe McKnight and wide receiver Ronald Johnson.
USC's coaching staff lost just one fulltime assistant, as offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Lane Kiffin became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian now takes on the offensive coordinator duty, tight ends coach Brennan Carroll adds the recruiting coordinator role and John Morton comes aboard as the wide receivers coach after being an NFL assistant with the Raiders and most recently with the New Orleans Saints. Also, special teams graduate assistant Sam Anno and video assistant Yogi Roth have swapped roles, with former Pittsburgh wide receiver Roth now helping Sarkisian with the quarterbacks. USC's holdovers maintained their same job responsibilities as in 2006: Nick Holt (defensive coordinator/defensive line), Todd McNair (running backs/special teams coordinator), Pat Ruel (offensive line), Ken Norton Jr. (linebackers), Rocky Seto (secondary), David Watson (defensive line) and Demetrice Martin (secondary graduate assistant).
STATS OF NOTE
***USC has won 45 of its last 48 games, 56 of its last 60, 57 of its last 62, 59 of its last 65 and 63 of its last 70.
***USC has won at least 11 games in each of the past 5 seasons, a school record.
***Offensively in 2006, USC was 14th nationally in passing offense (263.9, first in Pac-10), 18th in scoring offense (30.5, second in Pac-10) and 21st in total offense (391.9, third in Pac-10).
***Of USC's 64 offensive scoring drives in 2006, 31 took less than 3 minutes (including 21 under 2 minutes, with 7 of those less than a minute), while 21 consisted of 5 plays or less and 15 went 80-plus yards.
***Three USC wide receivers--Patrick Turner (12 versus Washington), Steve Smith (11 at both Washington State and Oregon State) and Dwayne Jarrett (11 versus Nebraska and Michigan)--caught at least 11 passes in a game in 2006, a first in a season in Trojan history.
***USC has scored at least 30 points in 47 of its last 60 games.
***USC has scored at least 40 points 34 times under Pete Carroll (including 13 times of at least 50 points).
***USC has scored at least 50 points in 6 of the last 17 games.
***USC has scored at least 20 points in 66 of its past 68 contests (including a since-broken NCAA record 63 consecutive games, a streak that was snapped in the 2006 UCLA game).
***USC had a streak of scoring 77 unanswered points in 2006 (the last 21 points at Oregon State and all 42 at Stanford).
***Since trailing late in the third quarter at Oregon State in 2006, 33-10, USC has outscored its opponents, 206-74.
***USC has a knack for scoring 20 or more unanswered points (5 times in 2006, 13 times in 2005, 12 times in 2004 and 11 times in both 2003 and 2002).
***During the Pete Carroll era, USC has more than doubled the score of its opponents in the second half of games (1,437 to 666 points).
***Since 2003, USC has scored touchdowns of 20-plus yards 102 times.
***USC won 5 consecutive games in 2006 by scoring less than 30 points each outing (Nebraska, Arizona, Washington State, Washington, Arizona State), the first time that happened since the first 5 contests of 2001 in Pete Carroll's first year at Troy.
***USC won 3 consecutive games by a touchdown or less in 2006 (Washington State, Washington, Arizona State), the first time that happened since 1968.
***Defensively in 2006, USC was tied for ninth nationally in rushing defense (91.1, tied for first in Pac-10), 11th in scoring defense (15.2, first in Pac-10), 20th in total defense (295,9, first in Pac-10) and 22nd in pass efficiency defense (110.7, first in Pac-10).
***USC allowed just 28 points in the first quarter in 2006.
***USC held 7 opponents to 14 points or less in 2006.
***USC scored 83 points following turnovers gained in 2006 (following 13 of the 22 times it has come up with a turnover).
***USC allowed just 2 offensive touchdowns longer than 10 yards in 2006.
***USC has intercepted a pass in 49 of the last 62 games.
***USC's turnover margin of +0.3 in 2006 was below the upward trend from each previous year under Pete Carroll (+1.3 in 2001, +1.4 in 2002, +1.5 in both 2003 and 2004 and +1.6 in 2005).
***USC has held 39 of its last 64 opposing teams to less than 100 rushing yards (6 times in 2006, 5 times in 2005, 8 times in 2004, 10 games in 2003 and 10 times in 2002).
***Only 6 opposing runners have rushed for 100 yards against USC in the past 59 games (California's Adimchinobe Echemandu did so in 2003 with 147, breaking a streak of 16 consecutive games without a 100-yard rusher, Cal's J.J. Arrington in 2004 with 112, Washington State's Jerome Harrison in 2005 with 147, Fresno State's Wendell Mathis in 2005 with 109, Texas' Vince Young in 2005 with 200 and Oregon State's Clinton Polk in 2006 with 100).
***Under Pete Carroll, USC is 33-1 when holding opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense (the loss was to UCLA in 2006).
***Since allowing a 69-yard TD pass in the third quarter of the BYU game in 2004, USC has not allowed a pass completion longer than 45 yards (a span of 129 quarters).
***USC in 2006 broke its Pac-10 record home average attendance record (91,480) for the fourth consecutive year and its Pac-10 record home total attendance record (548,880) for the second straight season.
***USC in 2006 broke the school record for the third straight year for home sellouts (6), regular season sellouts (10) and season sellouts (11).
***USC kicked off to start each of its 13 games in 2006.
***USC has played before crowds of at least 85,000 in 23 of its past 42 games.
***USC's last 10 home games have been sold out, a school record.
***USC had a streak of 12 consecutive games--home, road or neutral site--that were sellouts (from Washington State in 2005 to Arizona State in 2006).
***USC's last 12 home games (and 14 of its past 16) have been played in front of 90,000-plus crowds.
***USC played 7 night games in 2006, tying the school record first set in 2004.
***USC is 33-3 in the final 6 regular-season games in each of head coach Pete Carroll's 6 years (the losses were to Notre Dame in 2001 and Oregon State and UCLA in 2006).
***Eleven of the 12 losses in the Pete Carroll era at USC were by a touchdown or less (the other was by just 11 points).
Until the 2006 season, USC was effective in the takeaway department during head coach Pete Carroll's tenure. USC's +1.5 turnover margin over Carroll's first 5 seasons was the best in the nation and its 189 takeaways during that span also were the most. In Carroll's 6 seasons at USC, Troy is +98 overall (211 takeaways and 113 giveaways). The Trojans were just +0.3 in turnover margin in 2006 (getting 11 interceptions and 11 fumbles, while giving away 11 interceptions and 7 fumbles). USC was second nationally in turnover margin in 2005 (+1.6, first in Pac-10), getting 22 interceptions and 16 fumbles (while giving up only 10 interceptions and 7 fumbles) to continue an upward trend in its margin figure. In 2004, Troy led the nation with a +1.5 turnover margin by getting 22 interceptions and 16 fumbles (while giving up only 7 interceptions and 12 fumbles). 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). In 2002, the Trojans had 36 takeaways (19 fumbles and 17 interceptions) with only 18 turnovers and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.4). In 2001, Troy had 35 takeaways (20 picks, 15 fumbles) with just 19 turnovers and ranked fifth in the nation in turnover margin at +1.3.
***Former USC linebacker Richard Wood, USC's first 3-time All-American first team football player and a member of the Trojans' 1972 and 1974 national championship teams, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in New York City this Dec. 4. He then will be enshrined in ceremonies in South Bend, Ind., in the summer of 2008. Wood, nicknamed 'Batman,' was the first 3-year All-American selectee by AP from the West Coast when he was honored in 1972-73-74. He then played for the NFL's New York Jets (1975) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976-84). USC has 28 former players, 2 ex-head coaches, 4 one-time assistant coaches and a former athletic director in the College Football Hall of Fame.
***The 2006 season marks the 75th anniversary of USC's 1932 national championship team, which posted a 10-0 record (including a shutout victory over Pittsburgh in the Rose Bowl) under head coach Howard Jones.
***Head coach Pete Carroll has made it a practice to play first-year freshmen at USC. During Carroll's 6 years at Troy, 66 first-year freshmen have seen action at USC (7 in 2001, 12 in 2002, 13 in 2003, 8 in 2004, 11 in 2005 and 15 in 2006).
***QB John David Booty, who enrolled at USC in the fall of 2003, is 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.
***USC also currently has 3 players who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC in the spring. TE Fred Davis did so in the spring of 2004. S Kevin Ellison enrolled at USC in the spring of 2005. And OT Martin Coleman enrolled at USC this past spring. Since 1999, 11 Trojans have graduated at least a semester early from high school and come to USC.
***LB Kaluka Maiava participated in boxing in high school. DE Gerald Washington played tennis as a youth and competed in juniors tournaments. OT Martin Coleman, who grew up on the Tongan island of Vavau, played rugby as a youth.
***Before DE Gerald Washington entered junior college in 2004, he spent the previous 4 years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter mechanic.
***DE Trey Henderson is believed to be the first Canadian player offered a scholarship to play football at USC.
***Who's the fastest among the 2006 Trojans? It might be WR Jamere Holland, with bests of 10.36 in the 100 meters and 20.92 in the 200. He won the 100 and 200 at the 2005 California state meet (and he was second in the 100 in 2006). Right behind Holland is WR Travon Patterson (bests of 10.44 and 21.41), who was fourth in the 2006 California state 100. TB Joe McKnight has been clocked at 10.4 in the 100.
***Not only has head coach Pete Carroll produced numerous NFL draft picks (32) from his USC teams, but 10 of his Trojan assistant coaches went on to the NFL from USC: Lane Kiffin, Norm Chow, Kennedy Pola, Greg Burns, Tim Davis, Jethro Franklin, Steve Sarkisian (he has since returned to USC), Carl Smith, DeWayne Walker and Kirby Wilson. Kiffin, Franklin, Smith, Walker and Wilson all previously had NFL experience before coming to USC (as do current assistants Pat Ruel, Todd McNair and John Morton). And Nick Holt (Idaho) and Ed Orgeron (Mississippi) both left USC to become collegiate head coaches (Holt now is back at USC after a couple days' detour to the NFL).
*** TrojanTV All-Access, a new multimedia internet platform featuring live game broadcasts, replays of classic contests, exclusive behind-the-scenes video, a daily talk show, original programming and breaking news stories about USC athletics, will debut on Aug. 1 on USCTrojans.com. It will cover all 19 of USC's men's and women's sports, with a heavy emphasis on football and basketball. Nearly all of USC's home sporting events--and some road events--will be shown live, and will include pre- and post-game shows. Most home and road football, basketball and other games that are aired live on commercial or cable television networks, and thereby protected contractually from live coverage elsewhere, will be replayed almost immediately upon their conclusion on TrojanTV All-Access. Also featured on TrojanTV All-Access will be daily post-practice reports, live coverage of head football coach Pete Carroll's Tuesday and post-game press conferences and video blogs centered around key USC athletes, as well as coverage of breaking news pertaining to Trojan athletics. There will be a daily late morning talk show with longtime Trojan broadcaster Pete Arbogast, which will be webcast from the lobby of Heritage Hall. A vault of historic USC football games, dating to the 1930s, will be available for viewing, as will other archived Trojan sports programming. Arbogast and USC Hall of Fame broadcaster Tom Kelly will provide narration. The debut of TrojanTV All-Access coincides with the rollout of the redesigned USCTrojans.com, the official website of USC athletics. The popular site will be heavily video based, but will also include live 'GameTracker' statistical coverage of many of USC's events. USCTrojans.com will also continue to feature extensive historical material and an online athletic merchandise store and ticket office. A year's subscription to the premium content on TrojanTV All-Access is $99.95. Monthly subscriptions are $9.95. Content that is currently free on USCTrojans.com--including press releases, statistics and media guides--will continue to be free. Registration is available at USCTrojans.com.
***Head coach Pete Carroll has his own website, PeteCarroll.com. The site features a variety of Carroll-related information, multimedia and merchandise, as well as fan club membership that includes exclusive benefits. All proceeds benefit 'A Better L.A.,' the non-profit organization the Carroll founded to help reduce gang violence in Los Angeles. Carroll also is partnering with Lou Tice of the Pacific Institute on a book--'Leadership Is A Performance Art'--that will be available on the site. Proceeds from the book also will go to 'A Better L.A.'
***In 2003, head coach Pete Carroll helped develop 'A Better L.A.,' a non-profit group consisting of a consortium of local agencies and organizations working to reduce gang violence by empowering change in individuals and communities.
***USC offensive line coach Pat Ruel and Trojan football video assistant Sam Anno went to Japan for a week in July to teach football to youngsters. Anno, who was USC's special teams graduate assistant the past 2 years, is one-quarter Japanese.
***USC's current head coaches in football (Pete Carroll) and baseball (Chad Kreuter) both attended the same high school (Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif.).
***Three USC-related books will be published this fall. 'Tom Kelly's Tales From The USC Trojans' (Sports Publishing), penned with Los Angeles Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth, documents the 4-plus decades of memories of USC's former television and radio broadcaster. He is a member of the USC and Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association Halls of Fame. 'One Night, Two Teams: Alabama Vs. USC And The Game That Changed A Nation' (Taylor Trade Publishing), by Steven Travers, looks at the Trojans' 1970 visit to Birmingham to face the Crimson Tide in a game that helped integrate Southern football. 'Saturday Rules: A Season With Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines) (HarperCollins), by Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy, focuses on USC's 2006 season as proof why college football is better than the NFL.
***Strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle has beaten cancer. He learned he had Hodgkin's Disease in December of 2000, began radiation treatments in Tennessee (where he was still the Volunteers' associate strength and conditioning coach), was hired by USC in February of 2001, kept his illness a secret except to Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, continued treatments in Tennessee and at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, then doctors told him in the summer of 2001 that the cancer was in remission. He informed the USC players of his ordeal at the start of fall 2001 camp. He was 1 of 17 nominees for the 2003 Most Courageous Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America and 1 of 11 nominees for the 2005 award.
***Seven Trojans have relatives who played on national championship USC football squads: SNP Will Collins (uncle, Joe Collins, was on the 1974 team), TE Rhett Ellison (father, Riki Gray Ellison, was on the 1978 team), C Nick Howell (father, Pat Howell, was an All-American on the 1978 team), LB Clay Matthews (father, 1977 All-American Clay Matthews, was on the 1974 team and brother, Kyle Matthews, was on the 2003 team), QB Michael McDonald (father, 1979 All-American Paul McDonald, was on the 1978 team), LB Malcolm Smith (brother, 2006 All-American Steve Smith, was on the 2003 and 2004 teams) and WR Brad Walker (cousin, Norm Katnik, was on the 2003 team and cousin, Kurt Katnik, was on the 2003 and 2004 teams).
***Several Trojans have other relatives with USC football connections. SNP Will Collins' brother, Rob Collins, was a walk-on at USC in the 1980s. Two Trojans have uncles who were Trojan footballers: LB Clay Matthews (Bruce Matthews, 1980-82, 1982 All-American) and WR Brad Walker (John Katnik, 1986-87). QB Garrett Green's cousin is former Trojan quarterback Brandon Hance (2003-04). P Greg Woidneck's brothers, Brian and Rob, were managers with the USC football team (2001-02).
***Speaking of genes: OT Sam Baker's father, David, formerly played basketball at UC Irvine and then professionally in Europe, while his brother, Ben, was an offensive lineman at Duke. QB John David Booty's father, Johnny, played quarterback at Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State, while his brother, Josh, played quarterback at LSU for 2 seasons (1999-2000) following a 5-year (1994-98) baseball career as an infielder in the Florida Marlins' organization (he then played with the NFL's Cleveland Browns) and another brother, Abram, was a wide receiver at LSU (1997-99) and Valdosta State (2001). QB Aaron Corp's father, Chris, lettered at wide receiver for 2 years (1980-81) at Idaho State and was a member of the Bengals' NCAA Division I-AA championship team (he caught a TD pass in the title game), while his mother, Mary, played volleyball at Idaho State. TB Hershel Dennis' father, Hershel Sr., played tailback at North Carolina A&T. S Kevin Ellison's brother, Chris, was a defensive back at BYU in 1997 and 1998 and another brother, Keith, was a linebacker at Oregon State in 2004 and 2005 (he also played at San Diego State in 2002) who now plays with the NFL's Buffalo Bills, while his cousin, Donminic Ellison, played basketball at Washington State and New Mexico State. TE Rhett Ellison's father, Riki (Gray) Ellison, lettered at linebacker for 4 seasons (1978-80, 1982) at USC, where he was a member of the 1978 national championship team and earned All-Conference honors in 1979, then played in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-89), where he appeared in the 1985 and 1989 Super Bowls, and Los Angeles Raiders (1990-92), while his sister, Wesley, played water polo at Michigan for 4 years (2004-07). TB Broderick Green's half-brother is Kansas City Chiefs safety Greg Wesley. DE Everson Griffen's cousin is Arizona State tailback Keegan Herring. DE Lawrence Jackson's brother, Keith, was an offensive tackle at Arizona. LB Kaluka Maiava's grandfather is ex-pro wrestler Neff Maiava and his uncle is pro wrestler/actor The Rock (Dwayne Johnson, who played football at Miami). S Taylor Mays' father, Stafford Mays, was a defensive lineman at Washington in 1978 and 1979 who then played in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals (1980-86) and Minnesota Vikings (1987-88). TB Joe McKnight's sister, Johanna, is a junior on the basketball (guard) and track (sprints/jumps) teams at Richmond. TE Jimmy Miller's brother, Jeff, is a redshirt freshman defensive end at UCLA. DT Fili Moala's cousin is former Oregon defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, now with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. LB Michael Morgan's brother, Steve, was a defensive tackle at UCLA from 1999 to 2002. C Kristofer O'Dowd's grandfather, Jack, lettered in football at Arizona for 3 years (1930-32). DT Alex Parsons' brother, B. Jay Parsons, was a defensive end at Kentucky (2004-05). OT Drew Radovich's father, Mark, was a linebacker at Arizona State (1974-76). QB Mark Sanchez's brothers--Nick (Yale in 1992-93-94) and Brandon (DePauw in 1997)--played football in college. LB Malcolm Smith's brother, Steve Smith, was a 2006 All-American wide receiver at USC who lettered 4 years with the Trojans (2003-06) and finished his career as Troy's No. 5 career pass catcher (190 receptions with 22 TDs). TB Marc Tyler's father, Wendell Tyler, was a running back at UCLA (1973-76) who led the Bruins in rushing in 1975 (they won the Rose Bowl that season), earned All-Conference first team honors in 1976 and is fifth on the school's career rushing list, then was an All-Pro with the Los Angeles Rams (1977-82) and San Francisco 49ers (1983-86), appearing in the Super Bowl in 1980 and 1985. WR Brad Walker's uncle, Norman Katnik, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). Head coach Pete Carroll's wife, Glena, played volleyball at Pacific, while his son, Brennan, was a tight end at Delaware and Pitt (he currently is an assistant football coach at USC) and his daughter, Jaime, played on the 2000 USC women's volleyball team. DB coach Rocky Seto's wife, Sharla, played soccer at USC. TE coach Brennan Carroll is the son of USC head coach Pete Carroll. LB coach Ken Norton Jr. is the son of Ken Norton Sr., the former world heavyweight boxing champion who played football at Northeast Missouri State. DL coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence Buster Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist (he won a bronze in 1928) before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. DB graduate assistant coach Demetrice Martin's brother, Jason, was a cornerback at Idaho.
IN THE NFL
USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 41 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 26 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Lofa Tatupu and Chris Claiborne, DLs Willie McGinest and Kenechi Udeze, WRs Keyshawn Johnson and Johnnie Morton, QBs Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart and DBs Troy Polamalu, Sammy Knight, Brian Kelly and Daylon McCutcheon. Seven NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): Washington's Joe Gibbs, Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, Oakland's Lane Kiffin, San Diego's Norv Turner and Detroit's Rod Marinelli. Twelve current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: Current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: QB John David Booty (brother, Josh Booty), S Kevin Ellison (brother, Keith Ellison), TE Rhett Ellison (father, Riki Gray Ellison); TB Broderick Green (half-brother, Greg Wesley); C Nick Howell (father, Pat Howell), LB Clay Matthews (grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), S Taylor Mays (father, Stafford Mays), QB Michael McDonald (father, Paul McDonald), DT Fili Moala (cousin, Haloti Ngata), LB Malcolm Smith (brother, Steve Smith); TB Marc Tyler (father, Wendell Tyler); and WR Brad Walker (cousin, Norm Katnik). OT Sam Baker's father, David, is the commissioner of the Arena Football League. Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistants Todd McNair, John Morton, Pat Ruel and Steve Sarkisian were NFL assistants. Five assistant coaches played professionally: Ken Norton Jr. and Todd McNair were in the NFL, while Steve Sarkisian was in the CFL, John Morton was in the CFL and NFL Europe and Demetrice Martin was in NFL Europe and the Arena Football League.
USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 360 times, including 226 of the past 228 games (USC's last 67 games have been televised). 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).
Here are updates from the roster in the 2007 USC football media guide:
--Delete WR Jordan Cameron (did not qualify).
Among the top scholars on the 2007 Trojan squad are: QB Garrett Green (3.50, business administration), OG-C Jeff Byers (3.27, business administration), QB Mark Sanchez (3.24), S Brent Yoshida (3.16, architecture), SNP Christian Putnam (2.94, mathematics), LB Clay Matthews (2.90, international relations), LB Nick Garratt (2.90, history), P Greg Woidneck (2.83, business administration), Jim Abbott (2.83, business administration), QB Jon Breuer (2.77, economics), CB Cary Harris (2.73, health promotion and disease prevention), Cooper Stephenson (2.73) and WR Brad Walker (2.72, public policy, management and planning). Matthews made the 2006 Pac-10 All-Academic second team. In its history, USC football has produced 22 Academic All-American first teamers (tops in the Pac-10 and among the Top 10 in the nation), 20 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners, 12 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, 5 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award winners, 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.
QB John David Booty, on succeeding 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart: 'I knew I was going to be compared to Matt, just like he was compared to (2002 Heisman winner) Carson Palmer. You know what? Really, it wasn't such a big deal to me. I hope the next guy, when I leave, is compared to me. If you're half as good as either of those guys, you're a pretty good college quarterback.'
QB John David Booty, on one of the adjustments he faced coming from high school to USC: '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. I try my best to fit in, but I've still got a lot of Southern in me.'
SNP Will Collins, on snapping: 'Some people are rocket scientists. In my case, I'm a long snapper. If they announced my name at a game, I think I'd laugh. Either that or I'd start shaking.'
SNP Will Collins, on the difference between being a good and bad snapper: 'If you're a good snapper, no one knows you. If you're a bad snapper, everyone knows you. Personally, I'd prefer to remain anonymous.'
SNP Will Collins, on his view of the action: 'The brief time I get in the game, I'm seeing the action upside down and between my legs.'
DE Lawrence Jackson, on his philosophical nature: 'I'm interested in how the world turns. I'm really into the awareness of `If this happens, then that happens.' I look at things that happen and why they happen. When people look at something from one direction, they can't know everything fully. You have to understand what you don't understand to have a global point of view. I think about stuff the average person doesn't think about. I'm not a philosopher. I have a philosophical point of view. It's just the way I look at things. There's black and white, but there's also a gray area that not everybody focuses on, but it's there.'
QB Michael McDonald, on his role: 'I understand what's going on. I know I'm mostly an insurance policy around here. And if I get in a game, it's more or less a case of just making sure I don't do anything to hurt the team.'
TB Desmond Reed, on his popularity as a player: 'I think a lot of people like me because I'm energetic and I'm a small guy. I show a lot of people that little guys can make it, too.'
LB Thomas Williams, on why he covers his face with eye black for games: 'When I put it on, it feels like a mask. I can be a warrior under that mask. And then I can go and be Thomas off the field.'
TOMORROW | 6:00pm PTLive
Thu 1/26 | 6:30pm PTLive