Trojans Go Duck Hunting
Sept. 16, 2001
RADIO-TV-Live national cable TV: 7:15 p.m. (PDT), FOX Sports Net, Steve Physioc, Tom Ramsey, Lewis Johnson.
Local cable TV replay: 1:30 a.m. (PDT), Sunday (Sept. 23), FOX Sports Net, plus 7 p.m. (PDT), Sunday (Sept. 23), FOX Sports Net 2, Steve Physioc, Tom Ramsey, Lewis Johnson.
Live national radio: 7:15 p.m. (PDT), Pacific West Radio network, Larry Kahn, Bruce Snyder.
Live local radio: 6:15 p.m. (PDT), KMPC-AM (1540), Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, Tim Ryan, Petros Papadakis (includes 1-hour USC pre- and post-game shows). Eight other stations are included on the USC radio network: KPLS-AM 830 in Orange, KFMB-AM 760 in San Diego, KXPS-AM 1010 in Palm Springs, KGEO-AM 1230 in Bakersfield, KCBL-AM 1340 in Fresno, KVBL-AM 1400 in Visalia, KRLV-AM 1340 in Las Vegas, Nev., and KAOI-AM 1110 in Wailuku, Hi. Fans also can hear the live KMPC broadcast on the Internet as a 'cybercast' on www.usctrojans.com or can pay to listen to it live by dialing 1-800-846-4675 ext. 5933.
Live local Spanish-language radio: 7:15 p.m. (PDT), XPRS-AM (1090), Jorge Villanueva, Efren Dominguez, Victor Duarte.
USC Sports Magazine Show: 4 p.m. (PDT), Thursday, (Sept. 20), and 1 a.m. (PDT), Friday (Sept. 21), FOX Sports Net 2, Tom Kelly.
USC Insider Show: 7 p.m. (PDT), Tuesdays during football season, KMPC-AM (1540) and KPLS-AM (830), Pete Arbogast, Rory Markas.
USC Trojan Talk: 7 p.m. (PDT), Sundays during football season, KDWN-AM (720), Harvey Hyde, Chuck Hayes.
USC HOTLINE--Dial (213) 743-2989 for a brief taped interview with USC coach Pete Carroll.
USC ONLINE--The USC athletic department has an official 'home page' on the World Wide Web, featuring current and historical information about Trojan sports. For access, type http://www.usctrojans.com.
IT'S NOT SOUTHERN CAL--Note to the media: In editorial references to athletic teams of the University of Southern California, the following are preferred: USC, Southern California, So. California, Troy, Trojans and (for women's teams) Women of Troy. PLEASE do not use Southern Cal.
PAC-10 ONLINE--Pac-10 information, press releases, statistics and links to all league schools are available online at http://www.pac-10.org.
PAC-10 SATELLITE FEED-The Pac-10 provides a weekly satellite feed featuring interviews with coaches and selected players regarding upcoming games along with highlight footage. The half hour feed airs every Wednesday (Sept. 5 through Nov. 21) at 11:30 a.m. (PDT). Coordinates are Telstar 6, Transponder 9 (C-band). Trouble numbers: 310-543-1835 (or pager 888-423-0095), 310-282-2611 (or pager 888-451-5861) or 925-932-4411.
PAC-10 COACHES TELECONFERENCES-Pac-10 football coaches are available for 10 minutes each on a media teleconference beginning at 10 a.m. (PDT) every Tuesday (Sept. 11 through Nov. 6) during the season. USC coach Pete Carroll comes on at 10:30 a.m. (PDT). Beginning at 2:30 p.m. (PDT) each of those Tuesdays, a taped replay of the teleconference is available anytime. Call the Pac-10 office (925-932-4411) or USC sports information office (213-740-8480) to obtain the media-only phone numbers for the Pac-10 Coaches Teleconference.
1. Miami (Fla.)2. Florida3. Oklahoma4. Nebraska5. Texas6. Florida State7. Oregon8. Tennessee9. Virginia Tech10. Georgia Tech11. Fresno State12. Kansas State13. Washington14. UCLA15. LSU16. Northwestern17. Mississippi State18. South Carolina19. Clemson20. Michigan21. Ohio State22. Oregon State23. Notre Dame24. BYU25. Louisville
USA TODAY/ESPN POLL
1. Miami (Fla.)2. Florida3. Oklahoma4. Nebraska5. Florida State6. Texas7. Oregon8. Tennessee9. Virginia Tech10. Kansas State11. Georgia Tech12. UCLA13. Washington14. LSU15. Fresno State16. Mississippi State17. Michigan18. Clemson19. Northwestern20. South Carolina21. Ohio State22. Oregon State23. Notre Dame24. Purdue25. BYU
THE FACTS-USC (1-1 overall) vs. Oregon (2-0), Saturday, Sept. 22, 7:15 p.m. PDT, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.
THEMES-It's the Pac-10 opener for USC and Oregon. Both teams are coming off byes, although USC has been simmering for 2 weeks after a close loss to highly-ranked Kansas State while Oregon is undefeated in 2001. For the third straight time it has been to Eugene, USC will play in a sold-out (and noisy) Autzen Stadium, where Oregon is riding a school-record 22-game winning streak. The last time Troy played there was the wild triple overtime loss in 1999 when QB Carson Palmer suffered a season-ending broken collarbone. This is the highest-ranked Oregon team that USC has ever played. It's the first road game of 2001 for USC (and new coach Pete Carroll), as the Trojans play 4 of their next 6 contests away from home. The Ducks, playing their third consecutive home game, are billboarded by Heisman hopeful QB Joey Harrington. Perhaps the biggest unknown is the psyche of both teams in light of the recent tragic events on the East Coast. The game will be shown live nationally on FOX Sports Net.
RANKINGS-Oregon is ranked seventh by both AP and USA Today/ESPN. USC is not ranked in either poll.
SERIES-USC holds a 33-14-2 record in its series with Oregon, dating to 1915. In the last 22 meetings, Troy is 16-5-1 against the Ducks, but has lost the last 3 and 4 of the last 5. In Trojan-Duck games in the state of Oregon (Eugene or Portland), USC is just 10-8-1 (7-3-1 in its past 10 trips there), but has lost its last 2 in Eugene.
Last year in the Coliseum, QB Joey Harrington threw 4 TD passes to lead No. 9 Oregon to a 28-17 win. It was UO's first win in the Coliseum since 1994 and was the first time since 1957 that the Trojans were 0-3 in conference play. USC scored on the game's opening possession as TB Sultan McCullough raced 59 yards for a TD. It was the longest run of his career and helped him rush for a career-best and game-high 152 yards on 23 carries. But Oregon struck back on its first possession, driving 79 yards in 13 plays as TB Maurice Morris ran for an 8-yard score with a shovel pass from Harrington. The Ducks opened up a 21-7 lead on a Harrington's 23-yard pass to FB Josh Line early in the second quarter and his 13-yard toss to TE LaCorey Collins early in the third quarter after the Trojans fumbled away a punt return deep in their territory. But Troy came right back on the ensuing series, as PK John Wall nailed a 25-yard field goal (USC had first-and-goal at the 8, but had to settle for the 3-pointer). The Trojans scored again the next time they had the ball on a 7-yard TD pass from QB Carson Palmer to TE Antoine Harris to pull within 21-17 early in the fourth quarter. But USC couldn't get past midfield on its final 3 possessions and Oregon sealed the game with Harrington's 18-yard TD pass to TE Justin Peelle with 1:10 to go after Troy turned the ball over on downs at its 25-yard line. Palmer was 15-of-35 for 194 yards with an interception. Harrington was a career-best 28-of-42 for a career-high 382 yards (his 4 TD passes tied a USC opponents record and were the most against USC since Notre Dame's Steve Beurlein threw 4 in 1986), Morris ran for 85 yards on 32 tries and caught 6 passes for another 27 yards and FL Keenan Howry had 8 receptions for 126 yards (both game and personal bests). USC S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 13 tackles (2 for losses) and intercepted a pass, while LB Markus Steele added 9 stops (3 for losses).
In 1999 in USC's last visit to Eugene, Troy fell in triple overtime, 33-30, turning a heroic comeback into a devastating loss. Down 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, USC TB Chad Morton scored on a pair of short runs to go up 23-20 with 3:08 to go. But Oregon PK Nathan Villegas hit a 26-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to tie it up. Both teams missed field goals in the first overtime and then matched TDs in the second overtime before PK Josh Frankel (subbing for an injured Villegas) hit a game-winning 27-yard field goal following a USC miss in the third overtime. USC QB Mike Van Raaphorst, who filled in when starting QB Carson Palmer broke his collarbone at the end of the first half, was 20-of-36 for 227 yards. USC was penalized a Pac-10 record-tying 21 times in the game.
PAC-10 OPENERS-USC is 60-14-5 (.791) in conference openers and Troy has won 22 of its last 30 (and 35 of its last 44). In conference openers on the road, the Trojans are 24-7-2 (.758), having won 19 of their last 24.
VERSUS PAC-10-USC is won 67.1% (348-148-29) of its games against Pac-10 opponents. Troy has won or shared 31 conference titles.
ROAD OPENERS-USC is 70-26-8 (.712) in road openers.
AFTER BYES-USC is 76-40-4 in all regular season games it ahs played following byes. Since 1955, the Trojans are 37-11-1 following byes (6 of those losses and the tie were to UCLA).
ARTIFICIAL TURF-USC is 13-5-1 in its last 19 games on artificial turf.
CONNECTIONS-Two Trojans prepped in Oregon: S Troy Polamalu (Douglas HS in Winston) and TE Chad Cook (Jesuit HS in Portland)...Some 55 Ducks-more than half of the team-claim California as their home state...Oregon defensive line coach Steve Greatwood was USC's offensive line coach for 2 years (1998-99)...Oregon wide receiver coach Dan Ferrigno was USC's wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator in 2000...USC TB Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, was a tailback at Oregon in 1996 and 1997 (he scored a touchdown against the Trojans in 1997)...USC S Troy Polamalu's cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon (Sualua is also the nephew of USC special teams coordinator Kennedy Pola)...Oregon associate athletic director Renee (Mack) Baumgartner captained the USC women's golf team in 1995 and served as the Women of Troy's coach for 2 years (1994-95)
LAST GAME-USC came oh-so-close to upsetting No. 12 Kansas State in the first-ever meeting between the teams, but Troy fell 10-6 in a hard-fought game before 69,959 fans in the Coliseum and a live FOX Sports Net cable audience. It was the fewest points scored by KSU in an opener since being shut out in 1989 (coach Bill Snyder's first season there) and it was USC's fewest points in a game since being blanked at Washington in 1997. The win was Snyder's 100th and marked the first loss for new Trojan head coach Pete Carroll. USC fell behind 10-0 in the first half following a 41-yard field goal by PK Jared Brite on KSU's opening series and then a Wildcat touchdown midway through the second quarter when OG Nick Leckey fell on TB Josh Scobey's fumble in the end zone. But the Trojans rallied in the second half, as TB Sultan McCullough ran for a 7-yard score midway through the third period just 4 plays after DT Bernard Riley recovered a KSU fumble (however, PK David Davis' conversion kick was blocked, he also came up short on a second quarter 42-yard field goal). USC threatened late in the game, driving to the Wildcat 24-yard line before QB Carson Palmer fumbled the ball away on a scramble. Overall, Kansas State had more total yards (366-297), first downs (20-13) and possession time (35:27-24:33). KSU got 340 of its yards rushing, the most against USC since California had 389 in 1991. However, the Trojans held the Wildcats to just 26 passing yards, the fewest by a USC opponent since Oregon State had no yards in 1993. Scobey had a game-best and career-high 165 rushing yards on 27 carries and QB Ell Roberson added a career-best 119 yards on 21 tries, the first time a pair of opposing players rushed for 100 yards in a game against Troy since 1993. For USC, Palmer had a team-best and career-high 60 yards on 12 carries (the most rushing yards by a Trojan quarterback since Reggie Perry's 60 versus Memphis State in 1991) and hit 16-of-36 passes for 197 yards, while WR Kareem Kelly had 7 catches for 75 yards (both game bests) and FB Charlie Landrigan caught 5 passes for 58 yards (both career highs). Both punters had impressive performances, as USC's Mike MacGillivray averaged 41.6 yards on 9 boots and Brite averaged 43.1 yards on 8 kicks. Trojan S Troy Polamalu had a game-high 11.5 tackles (2.5 for losses) and forced a fumble, Riley added 8 stops and S Antuan Simmons intercepted a pass (the eighth of his career). Both teams were penalized 10 times and both teams penetrated the opponent's 30-yard line just 3 times.
SCHEDULE-USC's 11-game schedule is challenging, featuring 7 teams that played in bowls last season and 5 that were ranked in AP's final Top 15. Six opponents are ranked in this week's AP Top 25 poll. Sports Illustrated said USC has the nation's toughest schedule, Phil Steele's magazine ranked it sixth toughest nationally and The Sporting News said USC will play the toughest schedule among TSN's pre-season Top 25 teams. Troy opened its 2001 slate at home against San Jose State, also visiting the Coliseum are last year's No. 4 Oregon State, No. 9 Kansas State, Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. On the road, USC goes to No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Oregon, No. 15 Notre Dame, Arizona and California.
FUN FACT-This is the second consecutive year that USC has played an Oregon team ranked in the AP Top 10 (No. 9 last year and No. 7 this season)...and this is the highest-ranked UO team Troy has ever faced. Before 2000, USC had never faced a Top 10 Duck squad. In fact, the Trojans have only played a ranked Oregon team 5 times, going 1-4 (losing to No. 9 Oregon in 2000, 28-17, losing to the No. 12 Ducks in 1998, 24-22, beating No. 18 Oregon in 1988, 42-14, losing to the No. 15 Ducks in 1958, 25-0, and losing to No. 16 Oregon in 1957, 16-7).
CARROLL--Pete Carroll, who led the New England Patriots to the NFL playoffs twice in 3 years, brings big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program. He was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). The 50-year-old Carroll, who also has coached on the college level for 10 years, has 26 years of NFL and college experience. He is 1-1 as a college head coach. He was the head coach of the NFL's New England Patriots for 3 seasons (1997-99) and New York Jets for 1 year (1994). He guided the Patriots into the playoffs in his first 2 seasons, winning the AFC Eastern Division title at 10-6 in 1997 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, then posting a 9-7 regular season mark in 1998. His overall record in New England was 27-21 in the regular season (including 8-8 in 1999) and 1-2 in the playoffs. He owns the franchise's second-best winning percentage (54.9%). After serving as the Jets' defensive coordinator for 4 seasons (1990-93), he became the team's head coach the following season. His 1994 Jets went 6-10. Only 3 other Jets head coaches won more games in their rookie campaign. He spent the next 2 years (1995-96) as the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, who won the NFC Western Division title both seasons. The 49ers were 11-5 in the 1995 regular season when they had the NFL's top-ranked defense and then went 12-4 in 1996. Carroll began his coaching career at the college level, serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, for 3 years (1974-76), working with the wide receivers and secondary. He then spent a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, at Iowa State (1978) under Earle Bruce (the Cyclones played in the 1978 Hall of Fame Bowl) and at Ohio State (1979) under Bruce. That Buckeye squad lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl. He next spent 3 seasons (1980-82) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at North Carolina State, then returned to Pacific in 1983 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He entered the NFL in 1984 as the defensive backs coach of the Buffalo Bills, then held a similar position with the Minnesota Vikings for 5 seasons (1985-89). The Vikings advanced to the playoffs his last 3 years there, getting to the NFC Championship game in 1987. The 1988 team was 11-5 in the regular season and the 1989 squad won the NFC Central Division crown with a 10-6 mark. His secondary averaged 25 interceptions a season and led the NFL in passing defense in 1989. Carroll spent the 2000 season as a consultant for pro and college teams, doing charitable work for the NFL and writing a column about pro football for CNNSI.com. Carroll was a 2-time (1971-72) All-Pacific Coast Conference free safety at Pacific and earned his bachelor's degree in 1973 in business administration. He received his secondary teaching credential and a master's degree in physical education from Pacific in 1976. He was a 3-sport (football, basketball and baseball) standout at Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., earning the school's Athlete of the Year award as a senior. He played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. He then played football at Marin Junior College in Kentfield, Calif., in 1970. He was born on Sept. 15, 1951 in San Francisco. He and his wife, Glena, who played volleyball at Pacific, have 3 children: sons Brennan, 22, a senior tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware), and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a sophomore on the USC women's volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
PALMER-USC has one of the nation's best signalcallers in 2001 in junior Carson Palmer (37-of-64, 57.8%, 410 yds, 1 int in 2001). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Davey O'Brien Award. He already ranks third on Troy's career passing list (434 completions). He is also fourth on USC's all-time total offense chart (5,516 yards). His 5,159 career passing yards through the 2000 season were the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year. He is on pace to break Rob Johnson's school career records for completions (676) and passing yardage (8,472), plus Rodney Peete's USC career total offense yardage mark (8,640). With 22 career starts under his belt, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 10 times (including 5 contests at 70.0%-plus) and thrown for at least 200 yards 13 times. After missing the last 9 games of 1999 with an injury, in 2000 he showed signs of brilliance (his 228 completions and 2,914 passing yards were the second most in USC history) and rustiness (he tied the school interception mark with 18). Look for him to thrive now in Norm Chow's offense.
--He was 21-of-28 for 213 yards (with an interception) and hit his first 9 aerials in the San Jose State opener.
--Against Kansas State, he ran a team-best and career-high 60 yards on 12 carries (the most rushing yards by a Trojan quarterback since Reggie Perry's 60 versus Memphis State in 1991) and hit 16-of-36 passes for 197 yards.
OTHER QUARTERBACKS-Besides Carson Palmer, no other quarterback on the Trojan roster has ever thrown a pass in college. Redshirt freshman Matt Cassel and 2000 prep All-American freshman Matt Leinart are competing to be Palmer's backup in 2001.
McCULLOUGH/MacKENZIE--Troy returned a 1,000-yard runner in 2001 and he's a good one who should only get better: speedy junior tailback Sultan McCullough (43 tcb, 207 yds, 4.8 avg, 4 TD in 2001). He currently is tied for 10th nationally in scoring (12.0, tied for second in Pac-10). He is listed as a candidate for the 2001 Doak Walker Award. He is 19th on USC's prestigious career rushing chart with 1,783 yards and has run for at least 100 yards in 8 games at Troy. His rushing total of 1,163 yards last fall was the most at USC since 1990. He hit the 100-yard rushing barrier 7 times in 2000 (the most by a Trojan since 1989), including 4 games in a row. That was good enough to earn him All-Pac-10 second team acclaim in 2000. The 1999 Pac-10 champion in the 100-meter dash, he is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17 in the 100 meters). Giving the Trojans a 1-2 punch at tailback is powerful and experienced senior Malaefou MacKenzie (41 tcb, 284 yds, 6.9 avg in 2000, plus 27 rec, 9.2 avg), a threat running and receiving. He missed USC's first 2 games of 2001 with a knee sprain. He was second on the Trojans in rushing last season and his 27 receptions were the most by a USC running back since 1996. In his career (which includes 4 starts), he has 765 rushing yards and 37 receptions.
--McCullough rushed for 167 yards with 3 TDs (14, 35 and 7 yards) on 25 carries (all game highs) in San Jose State opener (it was the most rushing yards by a Trojan in a season opener since Marcus Allen had 210 yards versus Tennessee in 1981, as well as McCullough's eighth 100-yard outing in his career and his first multi-TD game), MacKenzie sat out with a knee sprain.
--McCullough scored USC's only touchdown (a 7-yard run) versus Kansas State and ran for 40 yards on 18 carries, MacKenzie missed the game with a knee sprain.
OTHER RUNNING BACKS-Besides Sultan McCullough and Malaefou MacKenzie, none of Troy's other tailbacks has carried the ball yet. Redshirt freshman Chris Howard, who is coming off 2000 knee surgery, and freshmen Darryl Poston, a 2000 prep All-American, are angling for backup tailback duty. At fullback, senior Charlie Landrigan (1 tcb, 1 yd in 2001, plus 9 rec, 11.4 avg), an outstanding blocker, returned as the starter. Behind him are senior Sunny Byrd, who redshirted last fall after transferring from a junior college, and junior Scott Huber, a converted tight end who had 1 start last fall but no receptions.
--Landrigan caught a then-career-best 4 passes for 45 yards in the San Jose State opener.
--Against Kansas State, Landrigan grabbed 5 passes for 58 yards, both career highs.
KELLY-Kareem Kelly (10 rec, 9.3 avg in 2001, plus 1 tcb, 3 yds, 3.0 avg and 5 PR, 3.8 avg), an acrobatic, fleet junior, headlines USC's receiving corps. He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver. He already is seventh on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 119 grabs. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school record for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 25 games he has played as a Trojan. Last fall, he topped the Trojans in receptions (55) and receiving yardage (796), in 1999, he set Pac-10 freshman records for most catches (54) and receiving yards (902). He also sprints for USC's track squad (his 5.67 clocking in the 50-meter dash is an American collegiate and world junior record).
--He had 3 catches for 18 yards in the San Jose State opener and returned a punt 10 yards.
--He had 7 catches for 75 yards (both game bests) against Kansas State.
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS-In addition to Kareem Kelly, USC's wide receiver corps in 2001 has a nice blend of experienced, speedy veterans and talented newcomers. Last year's co-starters at the other wideout spot also return in sophomore Keary Colbert (1 rec, 7.0 avg in 2001) and junior Marcell Allmond (16 rec, 15.2 avg in 2000). Allmond, who doubles as a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team, missed USC's first 2 games of 2001 while suspended for a student conduct violation. He was off to a good start last fall before breaking his leg in the fifth game and sitting out the rest of the way. Colbert took over for him and ended up second on the team in receptions with 33 (the second most ever by a USC freshman). Also in the mix is a pair of junior college transfers-2000 J.C. All-American Grant Mattos (team-high 5 rec, 15.0 avg in 2001), a junior, and sophomore Devin Pitts (2 rec, 6.0 avg in 2001)-and freshman William Buchanon, a 2000 prep All-American who is the son of ex-NFL star cornerback Willie Buchanon.
--In the San Jose State opener, Mattos had a team-best 5 catches for a game-high 75 yards in his USC debut, Pitts added 2 grabs for 12 yards in his Trojan debut and Colbert had a 7-yard catch (Allmond sat out while under university suspension).
--Besides Kelly, no other wide receivers had catches versus Kansas State.
TIGHT ENDS--USC had quite a challenge in finding a replacement in 2001 for dependable 4-year starting tight end Antoine Harris, who had 61 catches and 7 scores in his career. Going into the 2001 season, the tight ends had just 11 catches and limited offensive playing time to their names. The starter comes from an unlikely spot: defense. Rangy senior Kori Dickerson (5 rec, 18.4 avg in 2001) was last season's starting strongside linebacker, where he notched 32 tackles. He was moved to tight end this past spring and was impressive. He doubles as a 6-8 high jumper for the USC track team. Behind him are junior Doyal Butler (4 rec, 13.0 avg in 2000) and sophomore Alex Holmes (5 rec, 5.6 avg in 2001), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year.
--In the San Jose State opener, Dickerson-in his first game as a tight end-caught 3 passes for 41 yards and Holmes had another 3 receptions for 15 yards.
--Dickerson (51 yards) and Holmes (13 yards) each had 2 catches against Kansas State.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN--Three-fifths of USC's starters on the offensive line are back in 2001 and each is an outstanding player. But the rest of the unit is relatively inexperienced, which is a concern since Troy starts new tackles and must develop some reliable depth along the line. Manning the guard spots are senior Faaesea Mailo, who started at tackle last season but had 6 starts earlier in his career at left guard, and junior Zach Wilson, a 2-year starter on the right side. Both tip the scales at more than 300 pounds. Mailo, the only senior lineman, fills the left guard spot held by Trevor Roberts last fall. A twisted knee slowed him in fall camp, so sophomore Norm Katnik started there in the San Jose State opener (although Mailo did play). Katnik can play any line position: he worked mainly at center in 2000, was moved to tackle last spring, went back to center this fall and now is also working at guard. So far in 2001, he has appeared at both guard and tackle. Sophomore Lenny Vandermade returns as the center after earning Freshman All-American first team honors last year (he also started some at guard in 2000). He is on the 'Watch List' for the 2001 Dave Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center. Sophomores Jacob Rogers (he missed last spring's practice while recovering from shoulder surgery) and Eric Torres (he saw limited time in 2000) won the starting tackle jobs vacated by 3-year starter Brent McCaffrey on the left and Mailo on the right. Redshirt freshmen Joe McGuire is also in the mix at guard and tackle. Besides Mailo, Wilson and Vandermade, only Rogers had seen significant line action before this year.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN--The situation on the USC defensive line in 2001 is not as dire as it might appear. Although starters are gone at 3 positions-tackle Ennis Davis (who had 146 tackles, including 36 for losses with 15 sacks, as a 3-year starter) and ends Sultan Abdul-Malik (a 3-year starter who had 22.5 career sacks) and Matt Childers (a 2-year starter)-USC has plenty of quality bodies to fill in. Last year, senior Ryan Nielsen (5.5 tac in 2001) and junior Bernard Riley (11 tac, 0.5 for loss, 1 FR, 1 int in 2001) shared a tackle spot. This season, Nielsen-a 2-year starter-and Riley are side by side at tackle. One end spot is a pseudo-linebacker, giving USC's 4-3 look a 3-4 feel. Senior Lonnie Ford (7.5 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2001), who has 17.5 tackles for losses and 15 starts in his career, is the ideal man for that job, with soph Omar Nazel (2 tac, 1 dfl in 2001), who saw brief action in 5 games last season without making a stop, backing him up. The other end is shared by redshirt freshman Kenechi Udeze (39 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack in 2001) and 2000 prep All-American freshman Shaun Cody (1 tac in 2001), who was USA Today's national Defensive Player of the Year.
--In the San Jose State opener, Udeze had 3.5 tackles (1 for a loss), Riley had 3 stops and made a nice 1-handed interception of a deflected pass, Nielsen had 2.5 tackles, Ford and Nazel each had 2 stops and a deflection and Cody had a tackle.
--Against Kansas State, Riley had 8 tackles, recovered a fumble (to set up a USC TD) and deflected a pass, Udeze and Ford both had 5.5 stops (both had a sack and Ford forced the fumble which Riley recovered) and Nielsen added 3 tackles.
LINEBACKERS--Of any area on the USC team, the linebacking corps faced the biggest challenge in 2001. After all, Troy had to replace all 3 starters, including a pair of elite linebackers: 3-year starter Zeke Moreno, who posted 285 tackles (33 for loss), 5 picks and 4 touchdowns in his career while topping the Trojans in stops the past 2 seasons, and 2-year starter Markus Steele, who made 152 tackles (29 for loss) in his career. Last year's starter on the strong side (Kori Dickerson) moved to tight end. Filling in at middle linebacker for Moreno are juniors Mike Pollard (8.5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2001) and Aaron Graham (26 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sac, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2000), who started there for USC's final 4 games last fall when Moreno moved to the weakside for an injured Steele, and redshirt freshman Lee Webb (6 tac in 2001), a converted fullback. The outside spots manned last season by Steele on the weak side and Dickerson on the strong side are being handled by a pair of converted safeties: senior Frank Strong (7 tac, 2 dfl in 2001), who was a free safety the past year-and-a-half and also was USC's top kickoff returner last year (21.6 avg on 25 runbacks), on the weak side and redshirt freshman Matt Grootegoed (9 tac, 1.5 for loss in 2001), who sat out last year with mononucleosis, on the strong side. When Strong missed the Kansas State game with a knee sprain, senior John Cousins (4 tac in 2001) got the start.
--In the San Jose State opener, Strong had a team-high 7 tackles and 2 deflections, Pollard added 3.5 stops while forcing a fumble which USC recovered and deflecting a pass which Troy intercepted, Grootegoed had 1.5 tackles and Webb added a stop.
--Grootegoed had 7.5 tackles (1 for a loss) against Kansas State, Pollard and Web added 5 stops each and Cousins had 4.
DEFENSIVE BACKS--There is an embarrassment of riches in the USC secondary in 2001 in terms of experience and depth. Seven players have started there in their careers. Junior Troy Polamalu (team-high 17.5 tac, 3.5 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2001) was the team's No. 2 tackler last fall (83) while starting all season at strong safety. Senior Antuan Simmons (4.5 tac, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2001), a 3-year starter at cornerback (he was moved to safety this fall) who sat out the 2000 campaign while battling a life-threatening illness (a benign abdominal tumor that left him hospitalized for 6 weeks), has emerged as the starter at free safety. He slowly worked his way back into shape, was impressive in last spring's practice and won the free safety job this fall. He is an impact player, with 179.5 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career. Behind Simmons is junior DeShaun Hill (3.5 tac, 1 FR in 2001), who shared the starting free safety duty last season with Frank Strong. The corners are equally stacked. Senior Chris Cash (5.5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int in 2001) and junior Darrell Rideaux (1 tac in 2001, plus 3 KOR, 20.3 avg), also a sprinter for USC's track team with a best of 10.27 in the 100 meters, once again are fighting it out for the spot they shared in 2000. On the other side, there's senior 2-year starter Kris Richard (8 tac, 1 dfl in 2001), who also was Troy's top punt returner last season (7.5 avg on 13 runbacks). He has 6 career picks. Backing him up is junior Kevin Arbet (2 tac in 2001), a 4-game starter last year and the stepson of ex-USC receiver Jeff Simmons.
--In the San Jose State opener, Polamalu had 6 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection, Hill and Simmons added 3.5 stops each (Hill also recovered a fumble), Cash had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and an interception, Richard had 2.5 stops, Arbet had 2 tackles and Rideaux made a tackle and returned a kickoff 15 yards.
--Against Kansas State, Polamalu had a game-high 11.5 tackles (2.5 for losses) and forced a fumble, Richard had 5.5 stops and broke up a pass, Cash had 2.5 tackles and Simmons had a tackle and intercepted the eighth pass of his career.
SPECIALISTS--Senior Mike MacGillivray (39.9 avg in 2001), who owns a 39.4 career punting average while punting for the fourth year, is a battle-tested veteran but has struggled with his consistency. An effective placement punter, more than a third (82) of his career punts have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line and 27 have traveled 50-plus yards. With 233 punts for 9,177 yards, he is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's USC career records for punts (259) and punt yardage (10,578). USC's placekicking was an adventure in 2000 and 2 of the 3 kickers are back, but a newcomer has won the job: junior David Davis (3-of-4 PAT, 0-of-1 FG in 2001), a junior college transfer who had an impressive fall camp. Senior David Newbury (4-of-9 FG, 9-of-12 PAT in 2000) began 2000 as the kicker, but he was inconsistent (he is handling the kickoffs this fall, with 2 of his 6 kickoffs pinning opponents within the 20, with both being touchbacks). Newbury was replaced midway through last season's fifth game by sophomore John Wall (5-of-5 FG, 9-of-14 PAT in 2000), whose field goals were all within 27 yards and his 5 missed extra points were all blocked. When Wall was sidelined by a groin injury and then a knee injury in the final 3 contests of 2000 (he's still coming around from that knee injury), the now-graduated David Bell took over. Primarily USC's effective kickoff man the past 4 years (nearly 50% of his 243 career kickoffs were not returned past the 20-yard line, with 62 touchbacks), Bell will long be remembered for his game-winning field goal with 9 seconds to go at UCLA last fall (it was only the second three-pointer of his career and the first after 3 misses in 2000).
--Davis hit all 3 of his PAT tries in his debut in the San Jose State opener, while 2 of Newbury's 4 kickoffs pinned SJSU within the 20-yard line.
--MacGillivray averaged 41.6 yards on 9 punts against Kansas State and 7 of them pinned the Wildcats within the 20-yard line (2 of his boots were 50-plus yards), while Davis came up short on a 42-yard field goal try and had his PAT kick blocked.
STAT NOTES-In two games this year, USC already has 5 takeaways after getting only 17 all of last year...The Trojans have 3 interceptions this year and had only 7 all of 2000...On the other hand, USC has turned the ball over just twice this season after having a nation-leading 36 turnovers in 2000...USC this week is 12th nationally in pass efficiency defense (77.5), 16th in pass defense (119.5) and tied for 15th in scoring defense (10.0)--all second in the Pac-10 behind Arizona State--plus tied for 16th nationally in turnover margin (+1.5)...In 2 of USC's last 3 games, Carson Palmer has lead the team in rushing (with 22 yards versus Notre Dame in 2000 and 60 yards against Kansas State in 2001), before that, the last time a quarterback led USC in rushing in a game was when Rodney Peete did so in the 1988 Rose Bowl versus Michigan State.
ASSISTANT COACHES-With the head coaching change this year, there are 7 new assistant coaches on the USC staff: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Norm Chow (who worked wonders last year at North Carolina State and before that for 27 years at BYU, where he coached such star quarterbacks as Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Ty Detmer and Robbie Bosco), associate head coach/secondary coach DeWayne Walker (he spent the past 3 years with the New England Patriots after stops at Utah State, BYU, Oklahoma State and California), running backs coach Wayne Moses (who has coached Pac-10 runners the last 11 years at Washington, California and UCLA), wide receiver coach Kirby Wilson (he was with the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots following stints at Iowa State, Southern Illinois and Wyoming), offensive line coach Keith Uperesa (he came from Idaho State after a long and successful career at Snow J.C.), linebackers coach Nick Holt (previously at Louisville and Idaho) and tight ends coach Lane Kiffin (the son of longtime NFL and college coach Monte Kiffin). They join holdovers Ed Orgeron (defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator) and Kennedy Pola (special teams coordinator). Two young coaches-offensive assistant Steve Sarkisian (a record-setting quarterback under Chow at BYU) and defensive assistant Rocky Seto (a former USC linebacker)-joined the staff as graduate assistants.
***Now that senior CB-S Antuan Simmons-a 3-year starter with 179.5 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career-has stepped onto the field in 2001, it should be regarded as the comeback of the year in college football. After all, he has recovered from a life threatening illness. Simmons was set to start for his fourth season in 2000 and was a pre-season All-American who might have been a first round draft choice this past spring. But, while getting an MRI as part of his rehab for a back injury that occurred late in the 1999 season, doctors noticed a benign abdominal tumor. He had surgery in May of 2000 to remove the tumor and was expected to be hospitalized for 4-5 days. Instead, he was hospitalized for 6 weeks, had 2 surgeries and came close to death 3 times. He lost 40 pounds. He redshirted the 2000 season while recuperating and had additional surgery in November for a hernia. He wasn't expected to participate fully in 2001 spring practice, but he was ahead of schedule, so he was allowed to go full-speed from the start and really opened some eyes. At the end of the spring, he was listed as a co-starter at cornerback, but was moved to free safety this fall and has been the starter there.
***Speaking of comebacks, new 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 the Volunteers' associate strength and conditioning coach the previous 3 years), 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 this summer that the cancer was in remission. He informed the USC players of his ordeal at the start of this fall's camp.
***The 2001 season marks the 40th anniversary of Traveler, USC's white horse mascot.
***This year is also the 20th anniversary of USC's most recent Heisman Trophy, won by TB Marcus Allen in 1981 (USC's fourth).
***Pete Carroll's arrival at USC is extra special, because he gets to see his daughter, Jaime, on a daily basis now. She is a sophomore defensive specialist on USC's highly-ranked women's volleyball team which last fall reached the NCAA Final Four (and is a favorite to win the title in 2001). However, Carroll will miss out on watching his oldest son, Brennan, a senior tight end at Pittsburgh.
***Look for 2 slight retro changes on USC's uniform in 2001: the Trojans have gray facemasks (instead of cardinal) and wear white shoelaces (instead of black). Also, on the back of their helmets is a gold football-shaped decal reading 'McKay' in memory of legendary coach John McKay (4 national championships, 8 Rose Bowl trips, 127 victories), who died this past June 10.
***A new tradition has started at Troy's home games in 2001 as the USC team buses unload the Trojan players amid the tailgaters in front of the Coliseum peristyle about 2 hours-and-20-minutes before kickoff. The players walk through the crowd into the Coliseum before going to dress in the locker room.
***USC's oldest living football letterman is 101-year-old James Pursell. He lettered in 1921-22-23 as a 156-pound guard and was a member of USC's first Rose Bowl team.
***USC's football team can field a pretty imposing track and field squad...and, in fact, Trojan track coach Ron Allice benefits from a number of footballers (many helped Troy win the 2000 Pac-10 meet). TB Sultan McCullough is the fastest Trojan football player ever, having run a 10.17 in the 100 (fifth fastest of any USC trackster in history!). He was the Pac-10 100 champ in 1999. WR Kareem Kelly, who owns the world junior record in the indoor 50, has clocked 10.28 in the 100. CB Darrell Rideaux has gone 10.27, CB Miguel Fletcher has gone 10.31 and Michigan transfer TB Justin Fargas (he's ineligible this season) is a 10.47 guy. Fargas (1997), Rideaux (1998) and Kelly (1999) all won the California state high school 100. WR Marcell Allmond is a 13.54 high hurdler (he was a 2-time California state prep champ) and national Junior Olympic record-setting decathlete. And, get this, 6-4, 235-pound TE Kori Dickerson (he started at linebacker last fall, but starts on offense this year) is a 6-8 high jumper who placed second in this past season's USC-UCLA dual meet (and third the previous 2 years). OT Nate Steinbacher and OG Travis Watkins are shot putters for Troy. And, among the freshmen, WR William Buchanon, TB Darryl Poston and S-CB John Walker are legitimate speed threats.
***OG Faaesea Mailo, a 6-3, 325-pound Hawaiian, participated in the sumo club in high school, where he won the Hawaii state championship. He even went to Japan in 1996 to train with pro sumo wrestlers, who tried unsuccessfully to convince him to take up the sport as a profession. He missed the 1997 and 1998 USC seasons while on a Mormon mission in Sapporo, Japan (imagine opening your door and seeing him!). He is fluent in Japanese. In short yardage situations the past 2 seasons, he lined up at fullback a la Refrigerator Perry and proved to be a devastating blocker.
***LB John Cousins is deaf in his left ear and impaired in the right. He wears a hearing aid in the right ear and reads lips. That handicap could present some unique challenges on the football field. Incidentally, PK John Wall knows sign language and has volunteered with deaf and hearing-impaired youth programs.
***OT Phillip Eaves spent part of 1997 in the Army at Fort Jackson, S.C.
***USC has a 23-year-old freshman in WR Frank Candela. The one-time Boston prep football sensation spent the past 4 seasons playing minor league baseball in the Brewers organization, but wanted to give football another try. Known for his speed and quickness, the 5-8, 175-pounder is nicknamed The Flash. He was born in Boston, but soon after moved with his family to the Italian island of Sicily, where he lived for 7 years before coming back to Boston (his parents returned to live in Sicily when he was 14 and Candela remained in Boston with an older brother).
***Four Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, USC freshman S-CB John Walker was a television actor who appeared in such shows as 'E.R.' and '7th Heaven' (in fact, he didn't play football until his sophomore year of high school because a clause in his acting contract prevented him from doing anything that could affect his appearance). TB Justin Fargas is the son of actor Antonio Fargas, who has appeared in television (including as Huggy Bear on 'Starsky and Hutch') and film ('Shaft,' 'Pretty Baby,' 'The Gamble' and 'Car Wash,' among others). C-OG Derek Graf's father, Allan, is a stuntman, stunt coordinator and second unit director who has been involved in many noted Hollywood films, 'On Any Given Sunday' and 'The Replacements.' USC linebackers 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 before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
***Four Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: C-OG Derek Graf (father, Allan, was on the 1972 team), LB Austin Jackson (father, Melvin, was on the 1974 squad), LB-S Kyle Matthews (father, 1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team) and CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams, was on the 1978 team). Matthews' uncle, Bruce, was a 1982 All-American offensive guard at USC. Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. CB-S Kevin Arbet is the stepson of ex-Trojan (1980-82) Jeff Simmons. Two Trojans had cousins who played at USC-WR Kareem Kelly (Rashard Cook, 1995-98) and TE-SNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)-and two had uncles who were Trojan footballers: S Troy Polamalu (Kennedy Pola, 1982-85, now USC's special teams coordinator) and OT-C Norm Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87).
***Speaking of genes: CB-S Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, is a sophomore defensive lineman at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. WR William Buchanon is the son of ex-NFL star Willie Buchanon, a 1971 All-American cornerback at San Diego State who was a 3-time Pro Bowler during his 11-year (1972-82) NFL career with the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers. TB Miguel Fletcher's father, Ned, was on the football and track teams at Cal State Northridge. TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975. TE Kolomona Kapanui's cousin, Chad Kapanui, plays football at Hawaii. OT-C Norm Katnik's father, Norman, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). TB-FB David Kirtman's uncle played football at California. FB Charlie Landrigan's father was a quarterback at a small college in North Dakota. TB Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, was a tailback at Oregon in 1996 and 1997 who has played in the XFL and NFL, while his late father, Bruce, ran track at San Jose State in the 1960s and his mother, Mabel, played basketball on the 1959 Arkansas high school championship team. OG Faaesea Mailo's father, James, played football at Hawaii, while his brother, Anipati, is a junior linebacker at Hawaii and another brother, Fulutusi, was a linebacker at Montana State. PK David Newbury's father, Gerry, played professional soccer in England. WR Devin Pitts' mother, LaVerne, was on the basketball and track teams at Cal State Dominguez Hills, while his older brother, Chester, is a senior offensive lineman at San Diego State, his cousin is major league slugger Barry Bonds. S Troy Polamalu's uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State, a cousin, Nicky Sualua, was a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys who attended Ohio State, another cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon, and another cousin, Joe Polamalu, played for Oregon State in 1987 and 1988. C A.J. Single's father, Doug, played at Stanford, then was the Cardinal's offensive line coach before serving as athletic director at Northwestern and SMU. OG Travis Watkins' brother, Todd, is a freshman on the Norfolk State football team, while his father, Don, was a lineman at Pasadena City College and his uncle, Tom Watkins, played 8 seasons in the NFL inthe 1960s with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. LB coach Nick Holt's wife, Julie, was the head women's basketball at Nevada Reno, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho. TE coach Lane Kiffin's father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he is a longtime NFL and collegiate assistant coach who also served as North Carolina State's head coach in the early 1980s).
***How about these names: FB Sunny Byrd. Walk-on WR Forrest Mozart. OG Faaesea Mailo (his first name means 'Someone who does things differently'). 6-3, 295-pound DT-DE Kenechi Udeze (he goes by BKU, as in Big Kenechi Udeze). Walk-on WR D. Hale (it's for Donald, but he goes by D.).
USC IS THE PLACE TO BE
Based on several national accolades it has received recently, USC can stake its claim as one of the nation's premier schools. USC was named the 'College of the Year' by the 2000 edition of the Time/Princeton Review College Guide because of the remarkable bonds it has forged with the local community. The editors said USC has one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university in the nation and cited the school's model of service learning (applying academic theory to real-life situations through public service). They also pointed out that USC's undergraduate applications have nearly doubled over the last few years and it is enrolling the most academically accomplished freshman classes in its history. Troy also was selected as one of America's nine 'hottest schools' by the 2001 edition of the Newsweek/Kaplan College Guide because it lives up to its reputation as a top-notch institution of higher education. Students quoted in the guide said that what attracted them to the university was Los Angeles' ethnic diversity, the offer of scholarships, the small classroom sizes and USC's standing in academe. Also in 2001, the Association of American Colleges and Universities picked USC as one of 16 'Leadership Institutions' for providing stimulating educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. USC was cited for emphasizing a campus culture featuring new learning techniques, curriculum and organizational structure and for demonstrating a strong commitment to liberal arts education relevant to the contemporary world. The organization said USC not only linked liberal arts and pre-professional study, but offered students the opportunity to learn by doing through off-campus work in community projects and internships. Also, USC was lauded for stressing critical thinking, effective communication and contributing to a diverse society.
WEIGHTY MATTERS-The conditioning of USC's players has markedly improved under new strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff (Carlisle was hired in February of 2001). For instance, the team average in the bench press at the end of 2000 spring practice was 318 pounds (with only 4 players lifting 400-plus pounds), but it improved to 341 pounds at the end of 2001 spring drills (15 hoisted 400-plus) and entering the 2001 fall season the average was at 369 pounds (with 25 players at 400-plus). In the power clean, the spring 2000 team average was 270 pounds (with just 4 players lifting 300-plus pounds), then the spring 2001 mark improved to 283 pounds (with 18 hitting 300-plus) and going into this fall season the average was at 292 pounds (32 players are at 300-plus). Additionally, every Trojan currently has a body fat lower than 20%.
ACADEMICS--USC's two most recent graduation rates for football are 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 2001 Trojan squad are LB Aaron Orndorff (team-high 3.89 GPA in geology), TE Chad Cook (3.22, business), TB Mark Gomez (3.22, political science), QB Matt Cassel (3.14), OG Spencer Torgan (3.03, business), DE Bobby DeMars (2.96, business administration), P Mike MacGillivray (2.95, public policy and management), C-SNP Joe Boskovich (2.92, business), TE-FB Scott Huber (2.91, communication), TE Alex Holmes (2.87, business), P Tommy Huff (2.85, history), CB Matt Lemos (2.81), TE Gregg Guenther (2.76) and DE Jay Bottom (2.75). Huber was a 1999 and 2000 Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention choice. In its history, USC football has produced 22 Academic All-American first teamers (tops in the Pac-10 and sixth in the nation), 20 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners, 12 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, 4 NCAA Today's Top Six winners, 1 Rhodes Scholar and 1 Academic All-American Hall of Famer.
IN THE NFL--USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 38 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 31 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OLs Tony Boselli and Bruce Matthews, DLs Willie McGinest and Darrell Russell, WRs Keyshawn Johnson and Johnnie Morton, QB Rob Johnson and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight and Daylon McCutcheon. Six NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Miami's Dave Wannstedt and San Diego's Mike Riley. Eight current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), LB Austin Jackson (father, Melvin Jackson), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), LB-S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr., father, Clay Matthews, uncle, Bruce Matthews), TB Sultan McCullough (brother, Saladin McCullough), S Troy Polamalu (cousin, Nicky Sualua), WR Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams) and OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins). Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistants DeWayne Walker, Kirby Wilson and Lane Kiffin were NFL assistants. Five assistant coaches played professionally: Keith Uperesa in the NFL, Walker, Wilson, Norm Chow and Steve Sarkisian in the CFL and Walker also played in the USFL.
ON TV--USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 286 times, including all 12 games each of the previous 3 seasons (1998, 1999 and 2000). In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997.
ROSTER UPDATES- There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2001 USC football media guide. There are 3 new scholarship players who have transferred this fall from junior colleges (their complete bios are below): #17 Devin Pitts (WR, 6-4, 190, So*./Jr., Carson, El Camino JC/North Torrance HS), #48 David Davis (PK, 5-11, 160, Jr./Jr., Hawthorne, El Camino JC/Bishop Montgomery HS) and #87 Grant Mattos (WR, 6-2, 220, Jr./Jr., Mountain View, Foothill JC/St. Francis HS, pronounced MAT-toaz). Five other players have joined the squad as freshmen walk-ons: #14 Greig Carlson (WR, 5-10, 190, Fr./Fr., Woodland Hills, Pacific Palisades HS), #15 Zach Sherwood (P, 6-3, 190, Fr./Fr., Irvine, University HS), #27 Andre Woodert (WR, 6-0, 195, Fr./Fr., Los Angeles, Agoura HS), #38 Justin Tolliver (CB, 5-8, 150, Fr./Fr., New Orleans, La., De La Salle HS) and #60 Collin Ashton (LB, 6-1, 205, Fr./Fr., Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo HS). Three returning walk-ons have changed jersey numbers: P Tommy Huff is now #16, TE-SNP Alex Bottom is now #46 and WR Forrest Mozart is now #47. Also, delete LB Henry Wallace and walk-ons PK Anthony Boscarini and CB Brien McMullen, who have quit, walk-on QB Matt Harris, who transferred to UNLV, and LB Marvin Simmons, DE Raymond Tago and DE Daniel Pryor, who each did not qualify for admission. Several players have switched positions: Frank Strong and Matt Grootegoed are now at LB, Antuan Simmons and Kevin Arbet are at CB-S, Eric Reese is a TB, Scott Huber is a TE-FB, Norm Katnik is an OT-C, Joe McGuire is an OT-OG, Kenechi Udeze is a DT-DE, John Walker is a S-CB, David Kirtman is a TB-FB and Kyle Matthews is a LB-S.
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
DEVIN PITTS-He was a 2000 J.C. Grid-Wire All-American honorable mention and Super Prep JUCO 100 pick as a redshirt freshman at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.)...He caught 68 passes for 1,156 yards (17.0 avg.) and 8 TDs in 2000, and was ranked 10th in the California juco ranks in receptions per game (6.3)...He attended El Camino in 1999, but did not play football because of an injury...Current Trojans Sunny Byrd and David Davis also attended El Camino...He won 1998 All-CIF Division X, South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay second team and All-Ocean League honors as a senior at North Torrance (Calif.) High...He had 48 receptions for 861 yards (17.9 avg.) and 9 TDs in 1998...He also ran track at North Torrance, with a best of 10.8 in the 100 meters...His mother, LaVerne, was on the basketball and track teams at Cal State Dominguez Hills, while his older brother, Chester, is a senior offensive lineman at San Diego State...His cousin is major league slugger Barry Bonds.
DAVID DAVIS-He was a 2000 J.C. Grid-Wire All-American second team and J.C. Athletic Bureau All-State Region IV first team pick as a sophomore placekicker at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.)...He hit 11-of-15 field goals and 29-of-31 PATs for 62 points in 2000...As a 1999 redshirt freshman at El Camino, he made 6-of-11 field goals and all 47 of his PATs for 65 points...He also played soccer in 1998 as a freshman at El Camino...Current Trojans Sunny Byrd and Devin Pitts also attended El Camino...He prepped at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance (Calif.), where he played football (placekicker and wide receiver as a 1997 senior), soccer and baseball...Current Trojan Eric Torres also prepped at Bishop Montgomery...He is a left-footed kicker.
GRANT MATTOS-He was a 2000 J.C. Athletic Bureau All-American first team, J.C. Grid-Wire All-American honorable mention, Super Prep JUCO 100, J.C. Athletic Bureau All-State Region II Offensive MVP and All-League MVP choice as a sophomore wide receiver at Foothill Junior College in Los Altos Hills (Calif.)...He had 76 receptions for 1,200 yards (15.8 avg.) and 14 TDs in 2000, plus returned 5 punts for 17 yards (3.4 avg.)...He was sixth in the California juco ranks in receptions per game (6.8) and 18th in scoring (7.8)...Foothill went 8-3 and won the Silicon Valley Bowl in 2000...As a 1999 freshman at Foothill, he had 46 catches for 509 yards (11.1 avg.) with 6 TDs...Foothill was 10-1 and won the Silicon Valley Bowl in 1999...He was named a Scholar-Athlete at Foothill...He was a 3-year (1996-98) starter at St. Francis High in Mountain View (Calif.), playing wide receiver, defensive back and defensive line...St. Francis won the CIF Central Coast Section Division I championship in 1996 and 1998 and was the runnerup in 1997...He was injured for most of his 1998 senior season...He caught 56 passes for 826 yards (14.8 avg.) with 4 scores, plus had 8 interceptions, as a 1997 junior while earning All-Area and All-West Coast Athletic League first team honors...He also competed in track at St. Francis...Current Trojans Matt Lemos and Forrest Mozart also prepped at St. Francis...His sister, Adrienne, is a senior All-American freestyler on California's swim team and set several school records.
SCOUTING OREGON-Seventh-year head coach Mike Bellotti's Oregon squad, coming off a bye, has home wins this year over Wisconsin (31-28) and Utah (24-10) to extend its Autzen Stadium winning streak to a school-record 22 consecutive games (second longest in Pac-10 history) and its Pac-10 home game victory streak to a league-record 13. The Duck offense is led by senior QB Joey Harrington (40-of-75, 53.3%, 498 yds, 5 TD, 2 int in 2001), who is 16-2 as a starter and has directed 8 fourth-quarter Oregon comeback victories in his career, along with sophomore TB Onterrio Smith (19 tcb, 133 yds, 7.0 avg in 2001), senior TB Maurice Morris (26 tcb, 76 yds, 2.9 avg, 1 TD in 2001), junior WRs Keenan Howry (12 rec, 11.4 avg, 2 TD in 2001, plus 4 PR, 8.8 avg), who has caught a pass in 25 consecutive games, and Jason Willis (15 rec, 12.7 avg in 2001), and senior TE Justin Peelle (6 rec, 21.8 avg, 2 TD in 2001). Top UO defenders are soph FS Keith Lewis (20 tac in 2001), senior CB Rashad Bauman (14.5 tac, 4 dfl in 2001) and senior OLB Wesley Mallard (11 tac, 1 int in 2001).
CARROLL SAYS-'With all that has gone on this past week, from the tough loss to Kansas State to the horrific events back East, we have taken some time as a team to try to get our minds right. It's only natural everyone has had some preoccupations with what went on with this tragedy. But we've worked our way back into football and I'm pleased that we've found a way to practice well. Now, we've turned our sights on to Oregon and we're looking forward to getting back to playing football...After seeing our team in the first 2 games, I can say that we're competitive and we play hard-nosed football. There's a lot of growth to watch in this team. In the next couple of weeks, we'll start hitting a solid stride...Now, we have to go up to Oregon and play an excellent Duck team. They have an outstanding quarterback and some special players on offense and defense. We'll have to be on our best game to get them. We're improving and we're developing. Hopefully we can get some confidence with a big win up there and take a big step forward.'
INJURY UPDATE-OUT: C-OG Derek Graf (leg), TB Mark Gomez (foot), TE Greg Guenther (back), FB Chad Pierson (back), DE Jamaal Williams (leg), WR Frank Candela (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: WR Marcell Allmond (suspension). POSSIBLE: TB Malaefou MacKenzie (knee). PROBABLE: LB Frank Strong (knee).
A LOOK AT USC'S...
6-0, 225, Junior
Long Beach, Calif.
When USC junior Mike Pollard started at middle linebacker in the 2001 season-opener against San Jose State, it was the culmination of a long journey fraught with many obstacles.
Academic difficulties in high school delayed his impact at USC. Pollard failed to qualify for what would have been his freshman year of 1997. He didn't join the Trojans until 1998.
The 6-0, 225-pound Pollard, who had already suffered one major knee injury as a junior at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High, then tore the ligaments in his other knee in the spring of 1999.
As a result, the heralded prep linebacker then spent much of his Trojan career-to-date riding the bench, a scout team player with hidden potential doomed to play behind stars like Chris Claiborne and Zeke Moreno.
Yet, when the Trojans ran out of the Coliseum tunnel this past September 1, Pollard was running out as the starting middle linebacker. Looking back, it seemed like the day would never come.
'It's been a long journey,' said Pollard. 'It all began my sophomore year in high school. I had a great sophomore season. Then, in my junior year I was blowing up. I had two great games, but then I tore my knee. The rehab was difficult. I was 17 and I just kept thinking, 'Why me?' But everything happens for a reason.'
For a while, Pollard doubted whether he'd ever be back to play football. He credits his parents with keeping him motivated.
'My mom and dad told me to hang in there,' Pollard said. 'They both come from tough backgrounds. My mom is the oldest out of 15 kids. She never really had a chance to go to school, plus she was from Alabama. So it was pretty tough. I think she only finished sixth grade. She told me that if I want to go to USC, I'd have to work hard. So that was my motivation right there to come back and play my senior season at Poly.'
It also helped that he had the support of USC and then-head coach John Robinson.
'Everyone had pretty much stopped calling me except for USC after the injury,' said Pollard. 'Everyone else shied away, but USC stuck with me. It made me really secure in my decision about where I wanted to go to school.'
Pollard came back from his injury and had a tremendous senior season before signing his letter of intent with the Trojans in the spring of 1997. But when he didn't qualify academically, he instead attended classes at Cypress Junior College that fall.
'I felt like a nobody,' said Pollard. 'All my friends at Poly, like Ken-yon Rambo and Marques Anderson were going off to school in the fall and I was still at home. So I got a tutor and buckled down and got a qualifying score. It was the greatest feeling in the world, because I knew I would get to go to college. I had had my doubts about getting to USC, but when I got the score I needed, I was on my knees thanking God.'
When Pollard arrived at USC, he got the opportunity to play behind one of the greatest Trojan linebackers ever, Butkus Award winner Chris Claiborne. Pollard absorbed as much knowledge as he could from Claiborne and seemed poised to win a lot of playing time after the All-American left for the NFL after his junior season. Then disaster struck.
In the spring of 1999, Pollard suffered another knee injury and was lost for the entire season. It was another setback from which to bounce back, another obstacle to overcome. Pollard was devastated and thought about quitting once again.
'It's over, that's what I thought,' said Pollard. 'I thought my football career was over. I thought I wouldn't play ball anymore.'
Then there was the thought of the grinding, painful road back through rehab.
'When I got hurt again, I thought about going through all that again,' said Pollard. 'The hardest part is when you have surgery and you lay there and then you have to get out of the hospital. They elevate your leg and then let it down and all the blood rushes back into the leg. Then they get you to try to bend your knee to get the range of motion back. That pain is so bad, I wouldn't wish that even on my enemies.'
Oddly enough, it was an offensive lineman who snapped him out of it, or at least helped him to do so. One day, then-coach Paul Hackett showed Pollard a film clip of former USC great Anthony Munoz. The mammoth tackle was just dominating his opponents. And, noted Hackett, his knees had been operated on five times.
'That just motivated me,' said Pollard. 'He lasted so long after all those surgeries. He barely played at USC because of them, but he had a long career afterwards. If he had five surgeries on his knees and could do that, I knew I could do it with just two. After that, it was all about getting my mindset right and being determined.'
'I knew I could play if someone gave me a chance,' said Pollard. 'I just buckled down and busted my butt through winter and spring.'
The hard work has paid off. Through two games as a starter, Pollard has 8.5 tackles, including one for a loss, one pass deflection (that led to an interception) and a forced fumble. Most importantly, he's running around making plays and feeling healthy while doing it.
Indeed, it looks like Mike Pollard is back to his old self again.
--By Chris Huston, Assistant Sports Information Director