Palmer, Trojans Off To Good Start

Sept. 18, 2002

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Since becoming USC's coach nearly two years ago, PeteCarroll has insisted that Carson Palmer is one of the best collegequarterbacks in the country.

A fifth-year senior, Palmer has struggled much of his USC career, but twogames and two wins into this season, he's finally living up to expectations.

He's completed 45 of 63 passes for 546 yards and two touchdowns and has twoTD runs. And Carroll keeps heaping on the praise.

'He is flying out of the gate at a 72 percent completion rate and leadinghis team to two strong wins,' Carroll said. 'He is doing everything that hecan and that generally follows the success of a team. If we keep doing that,Carson is going to be recognized as one of the best players in America.

'He's talented enough to do that, talented enough to be a high first-rounddraft pick. I'm thrilled about it and I'll talk to anyone about it.'

Palmer guided the Trojans on a late drive against Auburn and scored thego-ahead touchdown on a sneak with 1:26 remaining for a 24-17 win. LastSaturday, completed 22-of-30 for 244 yards in a 40-3 romp over Colorado -the Buffaloes' worst home defeat in 19 years.

USC dominated Colorado with a balanced offense - Sultan McCullough rushedfor 110 yards - and a defense that gave up 61 yards, the fewest allowed by aTrojans' defense since Oregon State had 43 in 1952.

The Trojans, who have climbed from 20th in the preseason poll to No. 11,play at No. 25 Kansas State in a match of unbeatens on Saturday.

Asked about higher expectations for the Trojans, Carroll said: 'We just haveto stay with our routine. Right now, it's about habits. How we prepare,focus and practice every day is important. That's how you build for a greatperformance on the weekend.'

The Trojans, already strong and deep at tailback, may get an added boostthis weekend, with Justin Fargas, a senior transfer from Michigan who had tosit out last season, expected to get playing time against the Wildcats.Fargas carried once for 4 yards against Colorado.

'He has to have a good week of practice to get his playing time. We willrotate him in,' Carroll said. 'We look forward to his playing. I'm excitedto see the guy get his chance.'

USC and Kansas State will meet for the second season a row, and just thesecond time ever. The Wildcats beat the Trojans 10-6 last year at the LosAngeles Coliseum.

'They gave us all we could handle last year and we couldn't get the win,'Carroll said. 'This is a game that is going to give us a good feel for whatwe are all about. If we are fortunate enough to win, we will feel prettygood about the start of this season.'

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