USC Football Team Returns Home To Face Arizona State
Oct. 7, 2001
USC (1-4 overall, 0-3 in Pac-10 for 10th place) vs. Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 for sixth place), Saturday, Oct. 13, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles Coliseum.
Will this be the week that USC's tough luck changes? Troy-coming off a disheartening loss when Washington kicked a field goal as time expired-might be the unluckiest team in America. In their 4-game losing skid, the Trojans have fallen by a combined 14 points (twice on last-second field goals and 3 times to AP Top 12 teams). Never before has USC lost 4 times in a season by 5 points or less.
Troy, off to its slowest start since 1958, is looking to avoid a 5-game losing streak for the third year in a row. Now comes Arizona State, featuring one of the nation's top offenses (ranked in the Top 7 in scoring, passing and total yards) and the Pac-10's leading passer (QB Jeff Krohn).
The Sun Devils-riding a 36-point non-conference win last week-are the first team USC has played this year with a loss to their name, further proof that the Trojans are playing one of the nation's most difficult schedules. ASU-which Troy has played less than any other league team-is the only Pac-10 squad with a winning record over USC, but a Trojan win would even the series. Both teams are looking for their first league win of 2001. It's a match-up of coaches new to the Pac-10 this year. Besides trying to snap its losing streak, USC is looking to reverse 2 recent slumps: losing both in October and at home. The game will be shown live throughout the West on the 17-station FOX Sports Net Syndicate.
USC and Arizona State are not ranked.
Arizona State is the only Pac-10 school with a winning record against USC, as the Trojans trail in the series which began in 1978, 8-9. ASU won 5 of the first 7 games, but USC then captured 4 of the next 5 meetings before ASU come back to win 3 of the past 5 contests. ASU is also USC's newest and least played Pac-10 rival. In Los Angeles contests, USC is 3-4 (with the wins in 1980-85-98 and the losses in 1983-86-91-99).
Last year in Tempe, USC--which had a 29-point second half lead--snapped its 5-game season losing streak with a dramatic double overtime 44-38 win over Arizona State. It was the Trojans' first win in Tempe since 1992. It also was an NCAA record third consecutive overtime game for the Sun Devils (and second double overtime loss in a row). After the teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime--a 27-yarder by ASU PK Mike Barth and then a 23-yarder by PK John Wall to make it 38-38--USC FB Chad Pierson scored on a 2-yard run in the second overtime (Wall's PAT kick was blocked). On ASU's series, DE Sultan Abdul-Malik stripped QB Griffin Goodman on second down at the 25 and DE Matt Childers came up with the fumble to give USC the victory. For the first three-fourths of the game, USC thoroughly dominated ASU. The Trojans got on the board first on TB Sultan McCullough's 51-yard first quarter sprint.
But ASU responded with a 28-yard Barth field goal. The Trojans took a 21-3 halftime lead behind an 18-yard TD pass from QB Carson Palmer to WR Keary Colbert in the second quarter and then a 1-yard TD run by TB Petros Papadakis. On the opening drive of the second half, USC WR Matt Dalton blocked Nick Murphy's punt and WR Steve Stevenson ran it in 3 yards for a score. Barth then hit a 45-yard field goal after USC fumbled away a punt on the next series, the first of 6 turnovers by the Trojans (including 4 fumbles). But Troy opened up a 29-point lead on the following possession as Palmer hit TE Antoine Harris for a 24-yard score to make it 35-6. From that point, ASU scored 32 unanswered points (including 29 straight in the final 15:46 of regulation) as the Trojans turned the ball over on 5 of their next 7 possessions. First, 3 plays after a USC fumble, TB Tom Pace had a 3-yard TD run with 46 seconds to go in the third quarter. Then, when USC lost a fumble 3 plays later, ASU took just 1 play--a 45-yard Goodman to Pace pass--to score (Goodman had relieved injured starting QB Jeff Krohn in the drive after USC took its 35-6 lead).
When USC had to punt on its next possession, WR Shaun McDonald returned it 81 yards for a TD to bring the Sun Devils to within 35-27. The Trojans were forced to punt again on their next series and ASU took just 6 plays to tie the game with 4:21 left in regulation as WR Donnie O'Neal hauled in a 32-yard scoring pass from Goodman (the duo also hooked up on the conversion). USC had its highest rushing output of 2000, getting 261 yards. McCullough ran for a career-best and game-high 176 yards on 23 carries (he had 103 yards by halftime), his fourth consecutive 100-yard outing. It was the most rushing yards by a Trojan since 1994. Pierson, who came into the game with only 15 rushing yards on 4 carries in his career, had his best-ever outing with 72 yards on 16 tries while running out of the tailback and fullback spots. Palmer hit 22-of-37 passes for 279 yards. Colbert (75 yards) and Kelly (a game-high 85 yards) each had 6 receptions.
Defensively, S Troy Polamalu led USC with 14 tackles, while LB Zeke Moreno had 10 and LB Aaron Graham--in his first career start (for an injured Markus Steele)--had 9. S Frank Strong returned an interception (the first of his career) 67 yards. The Trojans posted 4 sacks. For ASU, Goodman was 13-of-21 for 164 yards in relief of Krohn, who was 17-of-33 for 150 yards. O'Neal (83 yards) and TE Todd Heap (51 yards) each had a game-best 7 catches, while WR Richard Williams had 6 for 41 yards and McDonald had 4 for 45 yards (plus 121 yards on 4 punt returns). Pace ran for 70 yards on 21 carries, but ASU managed just 77 rushing yards overall. USC had 540 total yards to ASU's 391 despite running off 8 fewer plays (90-82). USC converted 7-of-13 third downs, but was penalized 14 times for 135 yards.
In 1999 in the last USC-ASU meeting in Los Angeles, the Trojans lost their season's fifth game in a row as they fell to ASU, 26-16. After Troy jumped to a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard run by TB Chad Morton, the Sun Devils responded with 3 consecutive TDs (a 2-yard pass from QB Ryan Kealy to TE Todd Heap and a pair of short runs by TB J.R. Redmond). USC closed to 19-10 at halftime on a 29-yard field goal by PK David Newbury and then to within 3 points in the fourth quarter when DT Ennis Davis returned an interception 30 yards. Redmond's 14-yard TD run sealed the victory. USC QB John Fox, who made his first start since 1997, was 15-of-24 for 148 yards, but was replaced early in the second half by Mike Van Raaphorst, who hit 12-of-24 passes for 91 yards. Kealy was 18-of-29 for 223 yards, including 7 to Heap for 100 yards. Redmond rushed for 148 yards on 34 carries.
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 359-122-27 (.733) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923, however the Trojans have lost 7 of their last 8 at home.
USC has a 263-102-19 (.710) all-time record while playing in the month of October, but the Trojans have lost their last 8 October contests.
While only 2 Trojans claim Arizona as home-USC TE Doyal Butler went to Sabino HS in Tucson and then Mesa Community College, while SNP Matt Hayward attended Mountain Ridge HS in Glendale and then Glendale Community College-34 Sun Devils hail from California...ASU DT Tommie Townsend was on USC's team in 1997 (he redshirted)...USC secondary coach DeWayne Walker played for the USFL's Arizona Outlaws in 1985...ASU men's golf coach Randy Lein was USC's coach from 1984 to 1992...ASU women's tennis coach Sheila McInerney played for the Women of Troy from 1977 to 1980.
For the second time this season, USC lost on a late field goal, this time as PK John Anderson kicked a 32-yard field goal at the gun to give No. 11 Washington a 27-24 win before 72,946 fans in sold-out Husky Stadium and a FOX Sports Net national cable audience in first meeting between the schools after a 2-year layoff. It was USC's fourth consecutive loss of 2001 (by a total of just 14 points) and dropped the Trojans to 1-4, their worst start since 1958. It was also the Huskies' 12th straight win (and ninth Pac-10 victory in a row). After UW scored late in the first quarter on a 7-yard pass from QB Cody Pickett to FL Todd Elstrom following a Trojan turnover, USC took a 14-7 halftime lead (its first at a half since the San Jose State opener) on a 21-yard pass from QB Carson Palmer to FB Charlie Landrigan (Landrigan's first-ever TD) and then a 22-yard interception return by S Troy Polamalu (the second scoring runback of his career).
The game see-sawed in the second half, starting with Washington tying the score on its opening possession on a 13-yard pass from QB Tyler Barton-who replaced an injured Pickett-to WR Reggie Williams. PK David Davis put USC back ahead on a 40-yard field goal later in the quarter. Anderson's 25-yard field goal tied it up again early in the fourth period and then, after Anderson missed a 35-yard try on UW's next possession, the Huskies took the lead with 5:35 to go on Barton's 14-yard toss to TB Willie Hurst. But USC struck right back to tie it at 24-24 as Palmer hit WR Kareem Kelly on a 58-yard bomb with 3:47 left. The Huskies then drove 49 yards to set up Anderson's game-winner. The statistics were close at halftime, but the Huskies controlled the second half stats, allowing USC to hold the ball only 11:33 while getting more total yards (305 to 115), plays (42 to 23) and first downs (14 to 5) than the Trojans. Overall, Washington had more total yards (441-286), plays (75-55), first downs (22-15) and possession time (32:57-27:03).
Although USC was penalized just 3 times to UW's 10 (Troy's fewest since getting 3 at Notre Dame in 1999), the Trojans converted just 3-of-12 third downs and had a stretch after Davis' field goal of 4 consecutive 3-and-out series. However, USC re-established its running game by getting 134 yards (including 71 by the end of the first quarter) after getting just 68 yards on the ground in the previous 2 games. TB Sultan McCullough ran for a game-high 132 yards (his ninth career 100-yard outing and second of 2001) on a career-best 32 carries (the most by a Trojan since Chad Morton ran 36 times versus UCLA in 1999).
Palmer was 8-of-14 passing for 152 yards with the 2 TDs (his fewest completions since the 1998 Washington State game and his fewest attempts since the 1999 Oregon game), including 7-of-7 for 94 yards in the first half. Kelly caught 3 passes for 93 yards. For Washington, Hurst had 102 yards on 19 rushes, Barton was 11-of-20 for 197 yards and 2 scores in relief of Pickett, who went 8-of-14 for 70 yards with a TD, and Williams had 5 grabs for 101 yards (both game highs). Polamalu led USC with 13 tackles (2 for losses).
USC might be the unluckiest team in America, as all 4 of its losses have been by a combined 14 points (3.5 average). No loss has been by more than 5 points (2, 3, 4 and 5 points). Troy has never had a season in which it lost 4 games by 5 points or less. Two of the losses have come when foes have kicked field goals in the final 12 seconds, including once at the gun, the first time the Trojans have lost twice in a season in the final 12 seconds. The 4 teams USC has lost to are all currently ranked in the AP Top25.
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. Five opponents are ranked in this week's AP Top 25 poll. The current USA Today/Sagarin rankings say USC is playing the nation's sixth toughest schedule. To date, 3 of USC's 6 opponents have been ranked in the AP Top 12 at the time of the game and 5 foes were undefeated at game time (the sixth had just 1 loss). The combined record of USC's first 6 opponents at the time of their game with the Trojans was 10-1. At the start of the season, 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 plays 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.
USC has yet to appear on an ABC-TV broadcast this season and has only 1 remaining game (Oregon State) scheduled for that network. Only 2 remaining Trojan contests-Arizona and California-have yet to be selected for TV, although ABC could pick up either or both of those. The last time USC was televised as few as 3 times by ABC was in 1986, when the network showed Troy twice.
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 1-4 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 coordinatorand 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 highly-ranked volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
USC has one of the nation's better signalcallers in 2001 in junior Carson Palmer (92-of-160, 57.5%, 1,213 yds, 4 TD, 6 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 (489 completions). He is also third on USC's all-time total offense chart (6,320 yards), 24th on the Pac-10 career list. His 6,372 career passing yards are third-most in USC history and 23rd in Pac-10 annals. He owns the USC single game total offense record (419 yards at Oregon in 2001) and his 411 passing yards in that game were 4 shy of tying another school mark. 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 25 career starts under his belt, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 11 times (including 5 contests at 70.0%-plus) and thrown for at least 200 yards 15 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). His 5,159 career passing yards through the 2000 season were the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year.
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.
Troy returned a 1,000-yard runner in 2001 and he's a good one: speedy junior tailback Sultan McCullough (111 tcb, 402 yds, 3.6 avg, 5 TD in 2001, plus 6 rec, 16.7 avg, 1 TD). He is listed as a candidate for the 2001 Doak Walker Award. He is 14th on USC's prestigious career rushing chart with 1,998 yards and has run for at least 100 yards in 9 games at Troy (twice in 2001). 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).
OTHER RUNNING BACKS
Coming into 2001, it looked like the Trojans would have a 1-2 punch at tailback with Sultan McCullough joined by 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. But MacKenzie has yet to play this season: he missed USC's first 2 games with a knee sprain, the third while attending his father's funeral in Samoa and the next 2 after re-spraining his knee. He was second on the Trojans in rushing last season (284 yards) 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. Besides McCullough and MacKenzie, Troy's other tailbacks have carried the ball only 4 times in their careers. Redshirt freshman Chris Howard (2 tcb, 0 yds, 0.0 avg in 2001), who is coming off 2000 knee surgery, and freshmen Darryl Poston (2 tcb, 1 yds, 0.5 avg in 2001), a 2000 prep All-American, are angling for backup tailback duty. At fullback, senior Charlie Landrigan (5 tcb, 6 yds, 1.2 avg in 2001, plus 15 rec, 15.0 avg, 1 TD), an outstanding blocker, returned as the starter. Behind him are senior Sunny Byrd (1 rec, 9.0 avg in 2001), 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.
Kareem Kelly (team-best 23 rec, 17.3 avg, 1 TD 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 fifth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 132 grabs. His 132 receptions puts him tied for 41st on the Pac-10 career list and his 2,095 career yards is 38th on the Pac-10 career ladder. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school record for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 28 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).
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 (13 rec, 10.5 avg in 2001) and junior Marcell Allmond (16 rec, 15.2 avg in 2000). However, Allmond-who doubles as a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team-will miss USC's 2001 games while suspended for a student conduct violation. He was off to a good start in 2000 before breaking his leg in the fifth game and sitting out the rest of the way. Colbert took over for him then 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 (9 rec, 10.2 avg in 2001), a junior, and sophomore Devin Pitts (5 rec, 7.4 avg in 2001)-and junior Steve Stevenson (1 rec, 0.0 avg in 2001), who has 22 catches and 3 starts in his career.
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 (11 rec, 13.9 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 sophomore Alex Holmes (8 rec, 8.0 avg in 2001), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year, and junior Doyal Butler (4 rec, 13.0 avg in 2000).
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 3-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 and then again versus Stanford (Mailo came in off the bench in both of those games). 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 all 3 line spots, even starting at center at Oregon and Washington and at guard against Stanford. Sophomore Lenny Vandermade returned 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. He did not see action at Washington this seasno. 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.
The situation on the USC defensive line coming into 2001 was not as dire as it might have appeared. Although starters were 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 had plenty of quality bodies to fill in. Last year, senior Ryan Nielsen (12 tac, 1 dfl in 2001) and junior Bernard Riley (26 tac, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 dfl, 1 int in 2001) shared a tackle spot. This season, Nielsen-a 3-year starter-and Riley are side by side at tackle. However, Nielsen sprained his shoulder against Stanford and missed the Washington game, so 2000 prep All-American freshman Shaun Cody (9 tac, 1 for loss in 2001), who was USA Today's national Defensive Player of the Year, started at Washington (Cody began the year as a backup end, but moved to tackle after the second contest). Another first-year freshman, Mike Patterson (2 tac, 1 FR in 2001), also sees backup duty at tackle. One end spot is a pseudo-linebacker, giving USC's 4-3 look a 3-4 feel. Senior Lonnie Ford (17 tac, 5 for loss, 2 sack, 2 dfl, 2 FF in 2001), who has 21 tackles for losses and 18 starts in his career, is the ideal man for that job, with soph Omar Nazel (6 tac, 2 for loss, 2 sack, 1 dfl in 2001), who saw brief action in 5 games last season without making a stop, backing him up. The other end has been shared by senior Bobby DeMars (1 tac, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2001), who had seen limited action entering the 2001 season, and redshirt freshman Kenechi Udeze (17 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR in 2001). Udeze started the San Jose State, Kansas State and Washington games and DeMars started against Oregon and Stanford (but DeMars suffered a neck sprain versus Stanford and missed the Washington contest).
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 (38 tac, 4 for loss, 4 dfl, 1 FF in 2001) as the starter and backup 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 backup Lee Webb (6 tac in 2001), a converted fullback who broke his foot against Stanford. 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 (23 tac, 3 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2001), who was a free safety the previous 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 (11 tac, 2 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 and Grootegoed missed the Oregon and Stanford games with a shoulder sprain (he didn't start at Washington, but saw brief duty on special teams), senior John Cousins (17 tac, 1 for loss in 2001)-who is deaf in one ear and hearing impaired in the other-got the starts versus Kansas State and Oregon and sophomore Chris Prosser (12 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl in 2001), who missed USC's first 2 games of 2001 while ineligible, got the start versus Stanford and Washington. Also seeing backup duty on the outside is true freshman Bobby Otani (1 tac in 2001).
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 50 tac, 7 for loss, 3 dfl, 1 int which was returned for a TD, 1 FF, 1 blk P in 2001) was the team's No. 2 tackler last fall (83) while starting all season at strong safety. He currently is second in the Pac-10 in tackles (10.0). Senior Antuan Simmons (15 tac, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2001), a 4-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 190 tackles, 8 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career. Behind Simmons is junior DeShaun Hill (13 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 int, 1 FR in 2001), who shared the starting free safety duty last season with Frank Strong, while redshirt freshman Jason Leach (1 tac in 2001) backs up Polamalu. The corners are equally stacked. Senior Chris Cash (26 tac, 2 for loss, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2001) starts on one side and is backed by the player he shared the spot with in 2000, junior Darrell Rideaux (5 tac in 2001, plus 12 KOR, 20.1 avg), who also is a sprinter for USC's track team with a best of 10.27 in the 100 meters. On the other side, there's senior 3-year starter Kris Richard (24 tac, 1 for loss, 4 dfl, 1 TD on a blk FG 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 and serving as the nickel back is junior Kevin Arbet (12 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 2 dfl, 1 FR in 2001, plus 10 PR, 10.2 avg and 2 KOR, 13.5 avg), a 4-game starter last year and the stepson of ex-USC receiver Jeff Simmons.
Senior Mike MacGillivray (39.0 avg in 2001), who owns a 39.3 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 (87) of his career punts have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line (including 13 of his 32 boots in 2001) and 28 have traveled 50-plus yards. With 251 punts for 9,866 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 (8-of-9 PAT, 5-of-7 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 4 of his 21 kickoffs pinning opponents within the 20, with 1 touchback). 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).
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.
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.
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%.
Tickets for the USC-Arizona State game, priced at $29, are available at the USC Ticket Office (213-740-GO SC), L.A. Sports Arena box office and all Ticketmaster agencies. For group discounts (25 or more), call (213) 740-4170.
Live regional TV: 3:30 p.m. (PDT), FOX Sports Net Syndicate, Barry Tompkins, Warren Moon, John Jackson (see page 10 for complete list of 17 network stations). Local cable TV replay: 7 p.m. (PDT), Sunday (Oct. 14), and 7 p.m. (PDT), Tuesday (Oct. 16), FOX Sports Net 2, Barry Tompkins, Warren Moon, John Jackson. Live local radio: 2:30 p.m. (PDT), KMPC-AM (1540), Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, Tim Ryan, Petros Papadakis (includes 1-hour USC pre- and post-game shows). Nine other stations are included on the USC radio network: KPLS-AM 830 in Orange, KFMB-AM 760 in San Diego, KMXN-AM 1510 in Rancho Cucamonga, 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 Spanish-language radio: 3:30 p.m. (PDT), XPRS-AM (1090), Jorge Villanueva, Efren Dominguez, Victor Duarte. USC Sports Magazine Show: 6:30 p.m. (PDT), Thursday (Oct. 11), and 11 p.m. (PDT), Thursday, (Oct. 11), and 2 p.m. (PDT), Friday (Oct. 12), 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.
Dial (213) 743-2989 for a brief taped interview with USC coach Pete Carroll.
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 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.
RELATED NEWS & VIDEOS
TODAY | 1:00pm PTLive