USC Football Goes To Oregon...Once Again
Oct. 20, 2002
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USC FOOTBALL GOES TO OREGON...ONCE AGAIN
USC (5-2 overall, 3-1 Pac-10) vs. Oregon (6-1 overall, 2-1 Pac-10), Saturday, Oct. 26, 12:30 p.m. PDT, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.
Oregon the sixth AP-ranked team USC has faced in 8 games in 2002 has become quite a nemesis for Troy recently. The Trojans have lost their last 4 to the Ducks and 5 of the last 6. For the second year in a rowand for the fourth time in the last 5 meetings USC will travel to Oregon, where it has lost in its last 3 trips (by a total of just 9 points). And, for the fourth straight time it has been to Eugene, USC will play in a sold-out (and noisy) Autzen Stadium. The Ducks are likely to be angry, having suffered their first loss of 2002 last week to Arizona State to snap an 11-game winning streak. USC, on the other hand, posted a big home win over Washington. Oregon has won 29 of its last 31 in Autzen. The Trojan defense which ranks high nationally in several statistical categorieswill look to stop the Pac-10 leaders in rushing (TB Onterrio Smith) and passing efficiency (QB Jason Fife), who both rank in the NCAA Top 10 this week. Troy has not allowed a runner to run for 100 yards in any game this year, while Smith has eclipsed that number in every 2002 outing. USC's Kareem Kelly and Oregon's Keenan Howry each need a catch in the game to establish a new Pac-10 record for consecutive games with a reception (they're at 42 now). After this game, the Trojans get a bye before returning to the road at Stanford to start their November slate. The game will be televised live regionally on ABC-TV.
USC is ranked 15th by AP and 16th by USA Today/ESPN. Oregon is ranked 14th by AP and 12th by USA Today/ESPN.
USC holds a 33-15-2 record in its series with Oregon, dating to 1915. In the last 23 meetings, Troy is 16-6-1 against the Ducks, but has lost the last 4 and 5 of the last 6. In Trojan-Duck games in the state of Oregon (Eugene or Portland), USC is just 10-9-1 (7-4-1 in its past 10 trips there), but has lost its last 3 in Eugene. Last year in Eugene, freshman Jared Siegel hit a 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds to play to give No. 7 Oregon a dramatic 24-22 win over USC. The loss was USC's second straight heartbreaker of 2001 (both to Top 12 teams) and was reminiscent of Troy's previous visit to Eugene, a 33-30 triple overtime loss to the Ducks in 1999 that also was decided by a field goal despite a furious Trojan comeback. It was USC's fourth consecutive loss to UO and it extended Oregon's school-record home winning streak to 23 games. It was the Pac-10 opener for both squads, as well as the Trojans' first road contest of the year. USC trailed 21-6 midway through the third quarter before QB Carson Palmer threw a swing pass to TB Sultan McCullough, who raced 75 yards with it for a score. Next, on the opening play of the fourth quarter with the Trojans pinned at their 7-yard line by a Duck punt, Palmer hit wide-open WR Kareem Kelly for a 93-yard score to pull within 21-19 (Palmer tripped to the ground on the unsuccessful 2-point conversion attempt). Kelly's catch was the longest of his career (and the longest in Autzen Stadium history), while Palmer's 2 TD tosses were the longest aerials in his career. Then, on USC's next possession, PK David Davis nailed a 39-yard field goal to give Troy a 22-21 lead with 10:20 to go. It was Davis' third 3-pointer of the evening (and they were the first of his career). USC held Oregon on its next 2 possessions, with DE Bobby DeMars blocking PK David Rosenberg's 43-yard field goal try with 1:30 to go. But the Ducks stopped USC and got the ball back at their 24-yard line with 56 seconds to play, long enough to march 61 yards in 7 plays to the winning kick. Oregon had a 14-6 halftime lead on a 35-yard trick pass from TB Onterrio Smith to TE Justin Peelle in the first quarter and a 38-yard scoring interception return by CB Steve Smith (he had 3 picks in the game, tying a stadium record) late in the second quarter. Davis provided USC with its early points on field goals of 32 yards late in the first quarter and a 43-yarder late in the second quarter. Oregon added a TD on its first possession of the second half (3 plays after Smith's third interception) when QB Joey Harrington hit Peelle for 21 yards. Palmeroperating often out of a no-huddle attackset the USC single game total offense record with 419 yards and was 4 yards shy of tying the school passing yardage mark as he threw for a career-high 411 yards while hitting 25-of-40 tosses, but he had 3 interceptions and was sacked 5 times. WR Keary Colbert had a game-best 6 grabs for 67 yards, while Kelly (with a game-high 165 yards) and TE Kori Dickerson (32 yards) each had 4 receptions. The Trojans had the edge in total yards (451-303), plays (72-62) and possession time (32:08-27:52). USC averaged 6.3 yards per play, but managed only 40 rushing yards and was penalized 10 times. For Oregon, Harrington was 22-of-35 for 188 yards (including 5-of-6 for 61 yards on the game-winning drive), Peelle had 6 catches for 95 yards, TB Maurice Morris ran for a game-high 86 yards on 15 carries and TB Allan Amundson returned 4 kickoffs for 181 yards (overall, Oregon returned 6 kickoffs for 228 yards). LB Mike Pollard had a game-best 11 tackles for Troy. It was the highest-ranked Oregon squad USC had ever faced. And, despite both teams coming off of byes, there was a reflective mood to the game as it was college football's first weekend of games since the tragic Sept. 11 hijackings on the East Coast.
USC is 13-9-1 in its last 23 games on artificial turf.
S Troy Polamalu (Douglas HS in Winston) is the only Trojan who prepped in Oregon...Some 55 Ducksmore than half of the teamclaim 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 DT Bernard Riley's father, Bernard Sr., was a starting offensive guard at Oregon in 1975...USC S Troy Polamalu's cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon (Sualua is also the nephew of USC running back coach and special teams coordinator Kennedy Pola)...Oregon senior 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).
NEW USC JERSEYS
In its first major uniform change in 30 years, USC are wearing jerseys in 2002 with a style that harkens back to the heyday era of the 1960s. The new jerseys are similar to those worn by Trojan teams from 1958 to 1969 (when Troy won 2 national titles and played in 5 Rose Bowls under coach John McKay). The jerseys feature a single crescent stripe on each shoulder pad and numbers on the sleeve (all stripes and numbers are sewn in). There also is an interlocking 'SC' logo on the bottom of the neckline. Per tradition, there will be no names on the back of the jersey. The last time USC underwent a uniform change of this magnitude was in 1972, when the jerseys worn up until last season (3 stripes on each sleeve) were first introduced. (In 1970 and 1971, USC's jerseys had no markings except for the front and back numeral.)
S Troy Polamalu (for the second consecutive year) and QB Carson Palmer have been selected by their teammates as season captains. Each game, they will join captains representing the special teams and the service (scout) team.
USC, as usual, is playing one of the nation's most difficult 12-game schedules. This week's NCAA ranking and the current USA Today/Sagarin ranking both again have USC playing the nation's toughest schedule. Coming into the season, Sports Illustrated listed Troy's slate as the nation's toughest. The cumulative record of USC's 12 opponents currently is 58-26 (69.0%); at the time they played USC, the first 8 foes were 26-7. Six of Troy's 2002 opponents currently are ranked in the AP poll (6 of USC's first 8 foes were ranked going into the game). Seven opponents played in bowls last season and 5 were ranked in the final 2001 AP Top 20 (3 were in the Top 10). The Trojans opened up 2002 on Labor Day evening against Auburn; the other non-conference games included early road contests at Colorado and Kansas State, then the regular season finale at home with Notre Dame. In Pac-10 games, USC hosts Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State and California, and goes to Oregon, Washington State, Stanford and UCLA.
QB Carson Palmer threw 4 touchdown passesincluding 3 to WR Mike Williamsto lead No. 19 USC to a 41-21 victory over No. 22 Washington before 52,961 fans in the Coliseum and a regional ABC-TV audience. It was Troy's most points against the Huskies since 1974. USC scored 27 unanswered points to open up a 34-7 lead after 3 quarters. Late in the first quarter, Palmer threw a 43-yard scoring bomb to Williams to start the scoring. Then, after UW QB Cody Pickett hit WR Paul Arnold with a 5-yard TD toss on the following series, Palmer found WR Keary Colbert on a 61-yard scoring bomb (it was Colbert's longest catch as a Trojan) and PK Ryan Killeen hit a 30-yard field goal to put USC up 17-7 at halftime. USC scored on its first 3 possessions of the second half: 14- and 11-yard Palmer passes to Williams and a 33-yard Killeen field goal. The Huskies made a run early in the fourth quarter on a pair of Pickett TD throws (2 yards to TE Kevin Ware and 27 yards to WR Reggie Williams). TB Justin Fargas scored his first touchdown as a Trojan on a 13-yard run late in the game to conclude the scoring. Palmer was 21-of-34 for 348 yards (his seventh career 300-yard outing, the third of 2002) and his 4 TD aerials equaled a career best. Mike Williams not only tied a USC game record with his 3 TD grabs, but his 9 catches in the game equaled Kareem Kelly's USC freshman mark and his 159 receiving yardsa career highwas his third consecutive 100-yard performance (the most by a Trojan since Keyshawn Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995). Colbert finished with 7 receptions for a career-high 146 yards, his third 100-yard career outing. It was the first time that 2 Trojans had 100 yards receiving in the same game since Kelly and Windrell Hayes did so against Arizona in 1999. Kelly tied a Pac-10 record by catching a pass in his 42nd consecutive game. USC held Washington to 5 yards rushing (the fewest against the Trojans since Oregon had 10 in 1992) and 356 total yards (124 under its average, which was fourth best in the nation). Pickett was 34-of-61 for 350 yards but he threw 2 interceptions. UW's 38 completions were the most ever by a team in a Pac-10 game. TB Braxton Cleman caught 15 passes (a Husky record and USC opponent mark) for 69 yards, while Reggie Williams had 7 receptions for 134 yards. USC S DeShaun Hill and LB Melvin Simmons each had a game-best 7 tackles. LB Matt Grootegoed had his first career interception (setting up a USC TD) and S Troy Polamalu got his sixth career pick (to set up a field goal). It was USC's seventh consecutive home win. It was also the first Trojan-Husky game in the Coliseum since 1998.
This is the third consecutive year that USC has played an Oregon team ranked in the AP Top 15 (No. 9 in 2000, No. 7 last year and No. 14 this season). In fact, the Trojans have only played a ranked Oregon team 6 times, going 1-5 (losing to No. 7 Oregon in 2001, 24-22, losing to No. 9 Oregon in 2000, 28-17, losing to No. 12 Oregon in 1998, 24-22, beating No. 18 Oregon in 1988, 42-14, losing to No. 15 Oregon in 1958, 25-0, and losing to No. 16 Oregon in 1957, 16-7).
Pete Carroll brought big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program when he was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). After Troy started off his opening 2001 season slowly at 1-4, Carroll stayed the course and got his troops to rally by winning 5 of their last 7 games (including the final 4 regular season contests) to finish at 6-6 overall. USC, which won its last 5 Pac-10 games after beginning league play at 0-3, placed fifth in the conference at 5-3 and earned a berth into the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl. Putting an exclamation point on the regular season was a 27-0 blanking of No. 20 UCLA, USC's first shutout in the crosstown rivalry since 1947 and the series' biggest margin of victory since 1979. The 51-year-old Carroll has 27 years of NFL and college experience, including 11 on the college level. He is 11-8 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, who played tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware) and is now an assistant at USC, and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a junior at USC who played on the Women of Troy's highly-ranked volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
Senior Troy Polamalu (34 tac, 3 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), in his third year starting at strong safety, is a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award in 2002 after last fall becoming USC's first All-American first team safety since Thorpe recipient Mark Carrier in 1989. A 2002 pre-season All-American, he is on the 'Watch List' for the 2002 Walter Camp Award, Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Award. Sports Illustrated named him as 1 of 5 'Terminators' in college football in 2002, a player 'boasting an otherworldly combination of speed, strength and athleticism...who can single-handedly kill off drives and wreak havoc on game plans.' His jersey currently is on display at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., in the 'Race for the Pantheon' exhibit that highlights the nation's 10 leading candidates for post-season individual honors. He will play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game. Polamalu, who twice won Pac-10 Player of the Week honors in 2001, made big plays in seemingly every game last season. Last year, he had 118 tackles (13 for losses, with a sack), 6 deflections, 3 interceptions (2 for TDs), 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 3 blocked punts. His 118 tackles topped USC and were tied for second in the Pac-10. His tackle totals were game highs 7 times, including a Las Vegas Bowl record 20 against Utah. In his career, he has run back 3 of his 5 picks for scores and blocked 4 punts.
'Troy Polamalu is one of the best players I've ever coached,' said USC head coach Pete Carroll, who has tutored such star defensive backs as Ronnie Lott, Tim McDonald, Aaron Glenn, Merton Hanks, Eric Davis and Lawyer Milloy. 'He is a tremendous football player and it shows in every phase of the game: pass defense, run defense, blitzing and special teams. Pound for pound, he is our strongest player (600 pounds in the squat and 353 pounds in the power clean) and he has been a star in our off-season conditioning program. He is a team player, as shown by his desire and performance on special teams. He is also a humble, dedicated team leader who is respected greatly by his teammates, as evidenced by the rare feat of being voted a team captain as just a junior last year. I can't imagine a better safety in college football in 2002.'
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT TROY POLAMALU
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville: 'He plays everywhere. You can tell he loves contact. He's all over the field. He reminds me of Benny Blades when I coached at Miami. He's a tremendous athlete and he can probably play several other positions on the football team either on offense or defense.'
Colorado wide receiver Derek McCoy: 'He is one of the best defensive backs I have seen. He's all over the place, always ready to make a big play.'
Colorado head coach Gary Barnett: 'Troy Polamalu, what do you do, what do you say? He's a great football player. He's a punishing tackler and a tremendous leader.'
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder: 'He is a very talented player who runs extremely well and plays the game extremely hard. He's a sideline to sideline player. He's good at what he does. He's a good tackler.'
Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson: 'Troy Polamalu is as good as there is.'
Former Utah offensive guard Ed Ta'amu: 'When we watched film, everywhere we looked he was in the picture.'
UCLA head coach Bob Toledo: 'He's a great football player. He's all over the field. He makes plays. You'd better account for him because he's going to be around the football all the time.'
Ken Peters, Associated Press: 'Sometimes it seems there's a whole group of Trojans wearing No. 43, blocking punts, returning interceptions for touchdowns, forcing fumbles, smacking punt returners to the ground. Actually, there's only oneTroy Polamalu, playing 'Fa'a Samoan' style. That roughly translates, he says, to being a gentleman everywhere but on the football field.'
PALMERSenior quarterback Carson Palmer (164-of-272, 60.3%, 1,981 yds, 13 TD, 7 int in 2002, plus 30 tcb, -80 yds, -2.7 avg, 3 TD) is one of the nation's marquee signalcallers. He currently is 16th nationally in total offense (271.6, third in Pac-10). His 164 completions puts him tied for 10th on the USC season list. He is on the 2002 Davey O'Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award 'Watch Lists.' He was listed as a 2002 Heisman Trophy candidate by The Sporting News.com, CBS Sportsline.com and FOX Sports.com. Now in his fourth year as a starter, he owns 6 USC career records: total offense (9,702, third on the Pac-10 chart), plays (1,587), passing yardage (9,857, third on the Pac-10 list), completions (782), attempts (1,362) and interceptions (46). His 52 career TD tosses are third most at USC (tied for 15th in the Pac-10). In 2002, he has completed passes to 12 different receivers. With 39 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 20 times (including 8 contests at 70.0%-plus) and has thrown for 300-plus yards in 7 games. Last fall, he was 221-of-377 (58.6%) for 2,717 yards with 13 TDs and 12 interceptions. His 58.6% completion rate in 2001 topped the Pac-10 and his 419 yards of total offense at Oregon was a USC game record (his 411 passing yards in that game were 4 shy of tying another school mark). He will play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT CARSON PALMER
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder: 'A guy who throws in excess of 8,000 yards in a career tells you a lot of things. It tells you he's very accurate, very confident, very efficient and he has an awful lot of experience. He's got good size and people would say he's the prototype NFL quarterback. He's extremely talented and he has some mobility about him.'
Kansas State defensive end Andrew Shull: 'He's a great quarterback. He's tall, has a great arm and good scrambling capabilities. He puts the ball where it needs to be.'
Oregon state head coach Dennis Erickson: 'Carson Palmer is playing like everyone thought he would. He's such a talent. He's not making mistakes and has a great arm and is throwing it well.'
Three relatively untested youngsters are behind Carson Palmer at quarterback: sophomore Matt Cassel (0-of-1, 00.0%, 0 yards in 2002), who completed 1-of-2 passes for 5 yards and also played some as a tight end-in-motion (he had a 12-yard catch in 2001) and on special teams (1 tackle in 2001) last season, and redshirt freshmen Matt Leinart and Billy Hart, who is also a reserve infielder for the Trojan baseball team. Cassel, who was slowed in 2002 fall camp after suffering a bone chip in his knee, has emerged as the No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Leinart (his only career action was 2 snaps at the end of the 2002 Colorado game). Junior Brandon Hance, who started Purdue's first 9 games of 2001 and completed 136-of-258 passes (52.7%) for 1,529 yards with 8 TDs (he also ran for 242 yards and 4 scores), enrolled this fall, but he must sit out the 2002 season per the NCAA transfer rule.
Last year demonstrated why it is critical to have depth in the tailback corps. Injuries decimated USC's runners in 2001 and by midseason a fullback was starting at tailback. It's no wonder the Trojans averaged just 87.7 rushing yards a game last fall. USC is 5-deep at tailback in 2002, including 3 experienced seniors. Speedy senior Sultan McCullough (139 tcb, team-best 566 yds, 4.1 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 9 rec, 7.1 avg and 2 KOR, 19.0 avg) returns after starting Troy's first 6 games of 2001. But he was sidelined the rest of that year with a strained abdominal muscle that required surgery and finished with 410 yards on 115 carries (3.6 avg) with 5 TDs. He ran for 1,163 yards in 2000 and is eighth on USC's prestigious career rushing ladder (2,552 yards, tied for 41st on the Pac-10 list). He has rushed for 100 yards 11 times in his career (twice in 2002). The 1999 Pac-10 100-meter champion, he is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17). Senior Malaefou MacKenzie (31 tcb, 102 yds, 3.3 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 21 rec, 11.9 avg, 2 TD and 2 tac), who has 867 rushing yards and 58 receptions in his Trojan career (he has started 7 times), gained a sixth year of eligibility in 2002 from the NCAA. He was expected to team with McCullough to give Troy a 1-2 punch at the tailback position in 2001. But he left school at midseason last fall without seeing any action and returned home to Western Samoa (he missed 4 early games with a knee sprain and a fifth to attend his father's funeral). He plays often in 2002 in 2-back sets, on passing downs and even as a fullback. Senior Justin Fargas (43 tcb, 125 yds, 2.9 avg, 1 TD in 2002), who was impressive while serving as USC's scout team tailback in 2001 and had an eye-opening performance in 2002 spring drills (139 and 111 rushing yards in 2 intrasquad scrimmages), is looking to make an impact this season (a hamstring strain suffered in 2002 fall camp slowed him for USC's first 2 games). He sat out the 2001 campaign after transferring from Michigan, where he had 362 rushing yards in an injury-plagued career. Sophomore Darryl Poston (4 tcb, -2 yds, -0.5 avg, 1 TD in 2002) showed brief flashes last fall, but was bothered by a mid-year knee sprain. He, too, looked good in 2002 spring practice, but a back injury early this season has sidelined him. Prep All-American Hershel Dennis (15 tcb, 51 yds, 3.4 avg in 2002, plus 1 rec, 4.0 avg and 7 KOR, 16.6 avg) joined the tailback fray this fall as a freshman.
SENIOR TAILBACK TRIO
Few teams in the country can boast of having a trio of senior tailbacks of USC's quality. The combined career stats of Sultan McCullough, Malaefou MacKenzie and Justin Fargas: 909 carries, 3,896 yards, 4.3 average per carry, 27 TDs, 29 starts, 13 100-yard games...oh, and seven surgeries!
Senior Sunny Byrd (2 rec, 7.5 avg in 2002, plus 2 tac) enjoyed folk hero status in 2001 when he took over for Sultan McCullough at tailback and provided some hard-nosed running. He had never touched the ball at USC before then, but he started USC's last 6 contests and led the Trojans in rushing 5 times (he had at least 20 carries in 6 outings). Overall last fall, he ran for 336 yards on 123 carries (2.7 avg) with 4 TDs, plus had 11 catches (7.4 avg) and made 5 tackles. He is back at fullback in 2002, where he backs up another senior, Chad Pierson (6 rec, 9.3 avg in 2002). Pierson, who started once in 2000 and proved to be just as effective a runner and receiver as a blocker, missed the first half of 2001 with a back injury (he ran for just 11 yards, but did catch a TD). Also in the mix at fullback to replace Charlie Landrigan, a 3-year starter known for his leadership, rugged blocking and good hands (49 career receptions), are freshman Brandon Hancock (3 tcb, 8 yd, 2.7 avg in 2002, plus 2 rec, 7.5 avg and 1 tac, 1 FR), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors, sophomore Lee Webb, a converted linebacker, and redshirt freshman David Kirtman (2 tac, 1 FF in 2002).
Swift senior Kareem Kelly (26 rec, 9.7 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 1 yd, 1.0 avg and 7 PR, 7.1 avg), a 4-year starter, is second on Troy's career pass catching list (184 receptions, eighth on the Pac-10 chart). He is within range of Johnnie Morton's school records for receptions (201) and receiving yards (3,201; he has 2,750, eighth on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 42 games he has played as a Trojan, a USC record and tying the Pac-10 mark (Oregon's Keenan Howry currently also has a 42-game streak); the NCAA record is 46. He was on the 'Watch List' for the 2002 Biletnikoff Award. He has had 100-yard receiving games 9 times in his career. In 2001, he had 49 catches (16.3 avg) with 3 TDs, plus ran 6 reverses for a 6.3 average. He also sprints and runs relays for the USC track team.
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
Like last year, USC's wide receivers are a deep and talented group with starters returning at both spots. Besides Kareem Kelly, junior Keary Colbert (team-high 40 rec, 13.7 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 2 yds, 2.0 avg and 1 tac) returns at the other wideout spot. He currently is tied for 23rd nationally in receptions (5.7, third inPac-10). The consistent 2-year starter has 105 career grabs to put him tied for 11th on USC's career reception chart, including 34 (13.0 avg) in 2001 with 2 TDs. Also making a huge impact is true freshman Mike Williams (37 rec, 16.0 avg, 7 TD in 2002, plus 2 tcb, 9 yds, 4.5 avg and 1 tac, 1 FF, 1 FR), a prep All-American. He has 3 100-yard receiving games in 2002 (all consecutive, the most since Keyshawn Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995). His 7 TD receptions are the most by a Trojan in a season since R.Jay Soward had 8 in 1997. His 3 TD receptions against Washington in 2002 tied a USC game record and his 9 catches in that game equaled Kareem Kelly's freshman mark. Two other Trojans started a game in 2001: senior Grant Mattos (3 rec, 8.0 avg in 2002), who missed part of last season with a knee sprain but had 10 catches for a 10.4 average, and junior D. Hale, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship this past spring after getting 7 catches (15.1 avg) in 2001 (an ankle sprain has sidelined him). Also possibilities in the rotation are junior Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 11.7 avg in 2002), a 2001 junior college All-American who enrolled at USC this past spring (a back injury has sidelined him), junior Sandy Fletcher (1 tac in 2002), a converted safety (he's battling an ankle sprain), and another freshman who came aboard this fall, prep All-American Chris McFoy. Redshirt freshman walk-on Greig Carlson (13 PR, 6.3 avg in 2002) also sees some action.
For the second consecutive year, USC is starting a new tight end, this time in place of Kori Dickerson, the one-time linebacker who had 25 catches and 2 scores last fall. Junior Alex Holmes (14 rec, 10.1 avg in 2002, plus 3 tac) is the most experienced tight end on the roster, as he saw significant action the past 2 seasons as the backup. He has 43 career catches with 2 touchdowns, including 22 grabs (7.5 avg) with 2 TDs in 2001. He rotates with sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr. (4 rec, 6.8 avg in 2002), who at 6-8 also was a reserve center on the 2002 Trojan men's basketball team that advanced to the NCAA tourney. Also available is senior Scott Huber, who played some at fullback in 2001 (a hip injury has sidelined him). Dominique Byrd, a prep All-American who also has worked at defensive end, enrolled in the fall as a freshman.
USC's offensive line from a year agosave for 2-year starting guard-tackle Faaesea Mailocame back. But this groupwhich has seen some early-season experimentation on the right sideneeds to improve its performance if the Trojan offense is to click. Senior guard Zach Wilson has started the past 3 years on the right side and has been solid, but a foot injury slowed him the first 2 games. Starting junior tackles Jacob Rogers (left side) and Eric Torres (right side) started for the first time in 2001 and did commendable jobs (Torres also is being used at right guard and left tackle). Steady junior Lenny Vandermade started at center the past 2 years, but was moved to left guard in 2002 spring practice and starts there in 2002 (he started 5 times there in 2000). And junior Norm Katnik, the line's utility man after having started at all 3 positions in 2001 (5 times at guard, 4 at center and once at tackle), handles the starting center job in 2002. Veterans angling for backup duty are senior Phillip Eaves at tackle, sophomore Travis Watkins at guard and senior Derek Graf at center and guard. Freshmen help arrived this fall with a quartet of prep All-Americans
Although half of last year's 4-man defensive front2-year starting end Lonnie Ford (81 tackles, 30 for a loss, 16 sacks in his career) and 3-year starting tackle Ryan Nielsen (107 career tackles)is gone, USC is still in good shape here in 2002. In fact, some media have called Troy's 2002 defensive front, 'The Wild Bunch II,' in honor of USC's famed 1969 defensive line. Two of the nation's top young defensive linemen returned as sophomore starters: tackle-end Shaun Cody (20 tac, 1 for loss, 1 FR, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2002), who was a Freshman All-American first team pick last season, and end Kenechi Udeze (28 tac, 11 for loss, 4.5 sack, 3 FF, 1 dfl, 1 BLK FG in 2002), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year. Both are destined for big things at USC; in fact, both are on the 2002 Lombardi Award 'Watch List.' However, Cody suffered a torn knee ligament against California and is sidelined for the rest of 2002. He had 39 tackles (7 for losses, with 5 sacks) and a fumble recovery in 2001, while Udeze added 35 stops (9 for losses, with 4 sacks, plus a fumble recovery, 3 forced fumbles and a deflection). Senior tackle Bernard Riley (7 tac in 2002), who started Troy's first 5 games of 2001 before injuring his knee (he also started in 2000), also is back and returned to the starting lineup at nose tackle after Cody's injury. He had 26 tackles (5 for losses, with a sack, plus a fumble recovery and interception last year. Sophomore Mike Patterson (26 tac, 8.5 for loss, 5.5 sack, 2 FR including 1 for a TD, 1 dfl in 2002) started at Riley's nose tackle spot the first half of 2002, then moved over to Cody's position when Cody was injured. Senior Anthony Daye (2 tac in 2002), who can also play end, and junior Nate Steinbacher, a converted offensive tackle, also are available at tackle. The other end spot is being manned by junior Omar Nazel (29 tac, 7 for loss, 4 sack, 1 int, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2002). Among his backups are senior Doyal Butler, a converted tight end or several newcomers who joined USC this fall: a pair of junior college All-Americansends Daniel Urquhart, who is a junior (he's been out with an arm injury), and sophomore Van Brown (1 tac in 2002)plus freshmen ends LaJuan Ramsey (1 FR in 2002) and Travis Tofi. Sophomore walk-on Jay Bottom has also seen brief action at end.
The linebacking corps, an area of concern last year because of 3 new starters, has become a position of strength for USC in 2002. Two starters return from 2001: reliable senior Mike Pollard (21 tac, 4 for loss, 2 FR, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (team-best 43 tac, 8.5 for loss, 2 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2002) on the strong side. Pollard was second on the Trojans in tackles (81, including 8 for losses) and first in deflections (7) last fall, and added a fumble recovery and 2 forced fumbles. Grootegoed broke his leg near the end of last season, but posted 32 tackles (8 for losses, with a sack), plus a fumble recovery and 2 deflections. Junior Melvin Simmons (42 tac, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl in 2002) sat out last season after transferring from Washington State, where he was a starter in 2000, but he has emerged as the weakside replacement for Frank Strong, who had 82 tackles and 2 interceptions in his career (he also was a safety, tailback and returner at USC). There is plenty of quality depth behind these linebackers. Senior Aaron Graham has started 5 times in the middle in his career (he had 11 tackles in 2001), but is a backup on the weak side in 2002 (he's out with a hip injury). Sophomore Bobby Otani (5 tac in 2002) on the weak side saw measurable action last fall, although he suffered a midseason knee injury. Two prep All-AmericansOscar Lua (8 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) and Dallas Sartz (4 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int in 2002)joined this group this fall as freshmen. Sophomore Lofa Tatupu (from Maine) and redshirt freshman Frostee Rucker (Colorado State) both must sit out the 2002 season after transferring in this fall.
At first glance, the secondary appeared to be an area of worry for USC in 2002, considering that 3 top-quality starters departed. Gone are 4-year starting safety-cornerback Antuan Simmons (208 tackles, 9 interceptions, 6 blocked kicks in his career), who beat a life-threatening illness in 2000 and had an impressive 2001 season (he'll long be remembered for his amazing between-the-legs interception for a TD versus UCLA), and cornerbacks Kris Richard (125 tackles, 8 picks as a 3-year starter) and Chris Cash (86 tackles, 4 interceptions as a 2-year starter), both who were NFL draft picks. But things are not as dire as they appear, especially not when the Trojans return perhaps the nation's best safety in previously-mentioned senior All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu. Add a collection of experienced players alongside Polamalu and, if the cornerback positions solidify, USC's secondary could be as effective as it was last season (defensive backs accounted for 15 of the Trojans' 20 interceptions and 6 of the defense's 8 touchdowns; USC was 16th nationally in pass defense). The cornerback spot did take a huge hit when senior Kevin Arbet (25 tackles, 3 for losses, 2 sacks, 6 deflections, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery in 2001), a 4-time career starter who won All-Pac-10 first team laurels last year as a special teams player and who returned 1 of his 3 picks for a TD, was lost for the 2002 season after breaking a bone in his foot during fall camp. So, the new cornerbacks are senior Darrell Rideaux (20 tac, 1 for loss, 4 dfl in 2002), who has 13 career starts, and then a new face. Junior college All-American Ronald Nunn (3 tac in 2002), who is a junior, started the first 3 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. So, redshirt freshman William Buchanon (13 tac, 1 for loss, 6 dfl in 2002), a converted wide receiver, took over the next 3 games, with help from prep All-American Justin Wyatt (4 tac, 1 FR in 2002), who is a freshman, before being replaced by junior Marcell Allmond (11 tac, 2 dfl in 2002), another converted wide receiver who redshirted last fall while suspended from USC for a student conduct violation (he has 30 career catches while starting 6 times on offense, but he last played defense as a 1998 high school senior). Rideaux (sprints, relays) and Allmond (hurdles) also compete for the USC track team. Senior DeShaun Hill (30 tac, 1 FR, 1 FF, 5 dfl in 2002) won the starting free safety job, as he started 8 games earlier in his career (he had 42 tackles, 2 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble in 2001). Other safeties include sophomore Jason Leach (16 tac, 1 for loss, team-high 3 int, 2 dfl in 2002), redshirt freshman John Walker (he also can play cornerback), and first-year freshman Mike Ross (2 tac, 1 TD on a blocked punt recovery in 2002).
Senior David Davis (1-of-3 FG, 7-of-10 PATs in 2002), 16-of-21 on field goals and 38-of-44 on PATs in his USC career, had an impressive showing in 2001 after transferring from a junior college. The lefty was the Pac-10's most accurate field goal kicker last fall (83.3%) and was tied for 18th nationally in field goals (1.3). He hit 12 field goals in a row at one point. Overall in 2001, he nailed 15-of-18 field goals and 31-of-34 PATs. He even ran for a short TD on a fake field goal. He is on the 2002 Lou Groza Award 'Watch List.' However, when Davis struggled early in 2002, he was replaced by sophomore Ryan Killeen (8-of-12 FG, 14-of-15 PAT in 2002, plus 1 tac), a junior college fall transfer. Killeen also handles the kickoffs, replacing David Newbury, who last year compensated for a lack of leg strength by pooching his kickoffs (which resulted in 14 fair catches). Those short kickoffs accounted for USC's creditable kickoff coverage average of 20.2 yards in 2001 (second best in the Pac-10), although only 1 of Newbury's 62 kickoffs was a touchback and just 7 pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line. So far this year, 20 of Killeen's 40 kickoffs have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 17 touchbacks. USC's punter the past 4 seasonsMike MacGillivray, who set school career records for punts (298) and punt yardage (11,700) while owning a 39.3-yard averagehas graduated. The Trojans are hoping his replacement will be more consistent: freshman Tom Malone (42.2 avg in 2002), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors. He showed a strong leg in 2002 spring practice. This season, 15 of his 37 punts have kept foes within the 20-yard line and 8 have traveled at least 50 yards. Both of USC's snappersjunior center Joe Boskovich, who hikes on placekicks, and junior linebacker Matt Hayward, who snaps on puntsare back after doing flawless work last fall. There's a new holderMalone, backed by QB Matt Leinartnow that MacGillivray, who handled the job last year, is gone. USC's top punt returnersenior cornerback Kevin Arbet (25 punt returns, 9.0 average in 2001, plus 3 kickoff returns, 17.7 average)is sidelined in 2002 with a foot injury, but last year's top kickoff returnersenior cornerback Darrell Rideaux (19 kickoff returns, 19.1 average in 2001)is back. However, punts are being handled by redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Greig Carlson (13 PR, 6.3 avg in 2002) or senior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (7 PR, 7.1 avg in 2002), while the kickoff return duties are manned by freshman tailback Hershel Dennis (7 KOR, 16.6 avg in 2002), junior cornerback Marcell Allmond, senior tailbacks Justin Fargas and Sultan McCullough (2 KOR, 19.0 avg in 2002) or junior wide receiver Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 11.7 avg in 2002).
STATISTICS OF NOTE
CAPITALIZING ON TURNOVERS
USC has capitalized 68.4% of the time when it gets a turnover. So far in 2002, the Trojans have collected 19 turnovers and scored 13 times (10 touchdowns and 3 field goals).
FIELD GOAL, PAT ADVENTURES
USC's field goal and PAT tries have been an adventure at times in 2002. The Trojans are 9-of-15 on field goals, 21-of-25 on PAT kicks and 0-of-1 on PAT passes.
NEWCOMERS SEE ACTION
Eighteen new Trojans have seen action for the Trojans in 2002: 12 first-year freshmen (WR Mike Williams, P Tom Malone, CB Justin Wyatt, TB Hershel Dennis, FB Brandon Hancock, S Mike Ross, LB Dallas Sartz, LB Oscar Lua, OG Fred Matua, TE Dominique Byrd, OT Winston Justice and DE LaJuan Ramsey), 4 junior college transfers (PK Ryan Killeen, WR Jason Mitchell, CB Ronald Nunn and DE Van Brown) and 2 college transfers (LB Melvin Simmons and TB Justin Fargas). Also, 9 walk-ons have played: WR Greig Carlson, DE Jay Bottom, SNP Joe Boskovich, DT Spencer Torgan, WR Forrest Mozart, S Greg Farr, LB Collin Ashton, WR Steve Levario Jr. and WR Matt Haugen. Fourteen newcomers and 3 walk-ons saw action in the Auburn opener.
NEW ASSISTANT COACHES
There are two new full-time assistant coaches in 2002: Greg Burns, who handles the secondary, and Tim Davis, who is in charge of the offensive line (guards and centers). Burns, a one-time Washington State defensive back spent the past 4 years at Louisville after a year at Idaho. Davis was at Wisconsin the last 5 years after a 7-year stint at Utah. Also, Brennan Carroll (head coach Pete Carroll's son who was a tight end at Pittsburgh the last 3 years), joined the staff as a graduate assistant working with the offense and special teams. Several returning assistant coaches have different responsibilities in 2002. Steve Sarkisian, who was the offensive graduate assistant in 2001, now works fulltime as the quarterbacks coach. Kennedy Pola, last year's special teams coordinator, added the duty of running backs coach. Lane Kiffin switched from tight ends to wide receivers coach. Keith Uperesa, last year's offensive line coach, now is in charge of offensive tackles and tight ends. And offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who also was USC's quarterbacks coach in 2001, just handles the coordinator duties in 2002.
IN THE NFL
USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 39 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 26 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OL Tony Boselli, DL Willie McGinest, WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Johnnie Morton and Curtis Conway, QB Rob Johnson and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight, Rashard Cook and Daylon McCutcheon. Five 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 and Miami's Dave Wannstedt. Ten current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: DE Van Brown (brother, Chad Brown), CB-WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), OG-DT Fred Matua (cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), TB Sultan McCullough (brother, Saladin McCullough), S Troy Polamalu (cousin, Nicky Sualua), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi Tatupu), OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins) and OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistant Lane Kiffin was an NFL assistant. Four assistant coaches played professionally: Keith Uperesa in the NFL, Norm Chow, Steve Sarkisian and Tim Davis in the CFL (Davis also played in the USFL).
USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 302 times, including 168 of the past 170 games. In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997 (snapped against Oregon State) and another streak of 48 in a row from 1997 to 2001 (broken against California).
PAC-10'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY
The 2002 season marks the 25th year of the Pacific-10 Conference as Arizona and Arizona State joined the league prior to the 1978 football season. USC became a member in 1922 when the league was called the Pacific Coast Conference (it later was called the Athletic Association of Western Universities, the Pacific-8 Conference and now the Pac-10).
There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2002 USC football media guide:
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANSLOFA TATUPUH - will have to sit out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer rules...He started at linebacker as a first-year freshman in 2001 at Maine...He was second on the Black Bears in tackles with 67, including 13 for losses (with 3.5 sacks), tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3 (returned for a 16.7 average), and had 2 deflections, 1 forced fumble and 4 kickoff returns (for a 14.8 average)...He was named the team's Defensive Rookie of the Year...Maine went 9-3 in 2001, winning a share of the Atlantic 10 title and its first post-season game en route to advancing to the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals...As a 2000 senior at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., he recorded 110 tackles at linebacker and threw for 800 yards and 10 TDs as a quarterback while also rushing for 450 yards and 5 TDs...He was a 2000 All-State pick, as well as a 2-time (1999-2000) Sun Chronicle All-Star and All-League linebacker (earning All-League Defensive MVP honors as a senior)...King Philip Regional's head coach was his father, former USC fullback Mosi Tatupu (1974-77), who was a member of Troy's 1974 national championship team (he ran for 1,277 yards on 223 carries in his Trojan career and was USC's Offensive Player of the Year and Most Inspirational Player in 1977) and then played 14 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1978-90) and Los Angeles Rams (1991)....His name is pronounced 'LOW-fah ta-TOO-poo.'
FROSTEE RUCKERH - will have to sit out the 2002 season because of NCAA transfer rules...He redshirted as a first-year freshman outside linebacker at Colorado State in 2001...He was named to the 2000 All-CIF Division VI first team (as a running back), Orange County Register All-Orange County second team (as a linebacker) and All-Golden West League MVP as a senior at Tustin (Calif.) High.
TRAVIS TOFIH - was a 2-time (2000-01) All-Star (winning Defensive Line MVP in 2001) as a senior defensive end at Fagaitua (American Samoa) High...He had 49 tackles and 9 sacks in 2001...He also won a Samoa International Sports Award in 2001, which recognizes the achievements of Samoan athletes...His real first name is Tupula...His cousin, Suaese 'Pooch' Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech...Tofi's last name is pronounced 'TOE-fee.'
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.
Two of USC's most recent graduation rates for football were the highest in USC history. The 2001 official NCAA graduation rate for Trojan football players was 82%, an all-time high (topping the previous USC high of 80% in 2000). That rate compared to 73% for the general USC student body...and it was about 30 percentage points higher than the national football average for Division I schools. Among the top scholars on the 2002 Trojan squad are: FB Brandon Hancock (team-high 3.81 GPA, business), S Andre Woodert (3.43), QB Billy Hart (3.35, business), LB-SNP Matt Hayward (3.29, business), QB Matt Cassel (3.23, communication), P Tom Malone (3.2, kineseology), DT Spencer Torgan (3.04, business), LB Melvin Simmons (3.01, social sciences/history), TE Scott Huber (2.97, communication), FB David Kirtman (2.92, business), C-SNP Joe Boskovich (2.87, business), OT Justin Brown (2.82, business) and DE Jay Bottom (2.78). 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.
Eighth-year head coach Mike Bellotti's 2-time defending Pac-10 champion Oregon squad had several streaks snapped when it lost to Arizona State last Saturday at home, 45-42: its 11-game overall win streak (second best in the nation), its 6-game Pac-10 string and its 6-game home streak. Offensively, the Ducks are third nationally in passing efficiency (159.9, first in Pac-10) and 10th in scoring offense (38.1, first in Pac-10). Junior TB Onterrio Smith (182 tcb, 936 yds, 5.1 avg, 12 TD in 2002, plus 11 rec, 7.0 avg)who has rushed for 100-plus yards in every game in 2002is the nation's No. 6 rusher (133.7, first in Pac-10), as well as tied for No. 11 in scoring (10.3, first in Pac-10) and is 22nd in all-purpose yards (149.1, second in Pac-10). Junior QB Jason Fife (109-of-172, 60.9%, 1,614 yds, 15 TD, 2 int in 2002) is second in the nation in passing efficiency (162.1, first in Pac-10). Senior WR Keenan Howry (17 rec, 17.1 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 20 PR, 14.1 avg)a 2001 All-Pac-10 first teamerhas caught a pass in his last 42 games, to join USC's Kareem Kelly in tying the Pac-10 record and also is 24th in the country in punt returns (14.1, second in Pac-10). He is third on Oregon's career lists for receptions (150), TD catches (21) and punt return yards (1,045), as well as and fourth in receiving yards (2,204), eighth in all-purpose yards (3,326) and 10th in scoring (152). Other top receivers are junior WR Samie Parker (32 rec, 15.8 avg, 6 TD in 2002) and junior TE George Wrighster (23 rec, 14.6 avg, 5 TD in 2002). Oregon's defensewhich has at least 1 interception in the last 11 gamesranks fourth in the nation in rushing defense (75.4, first in Pac-10). Also, the Ducks are tied for 23rd nationally in turnover margin (+1.6, first in Pac-10). Defensive leaders include junior ILB Kevin Mitchell (team-high 53 tac, 5 for loss, 4 sack, 1 BLK in 2002), senior MLB David Moretti (52 tac, 3 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002), junior FS Keith Lewis (44 tac, 4.5 for loss, 3 int, 5 dfl, 1 FF, 2 BLK in 2002) and senior ROV Rasuli Webster (39 tac, 4 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 2 dfl in 2002). Sophomore PK Jared Siegel (12-of-13 FG, 31-of-32 PAT in 2002), who kicked a 59-yard field goal at UCLA this year and has nailed his last 9 three-pointers, is tied for fifth in the country in field goals (1.7, tied for first in Pac-10 and 19th in scoring (9.6, second in Pac-10).
OUT: DT Shaun Cody (knee), LB Aaron Graham (hip), TE Scott Huber (hip), DE Daniel Urquhart (arm), TB Darryl Poston (back), WR Jason Mitchell (back), CB Ronald Nunn (knee), CB Kevin Arbet (foot), WR D. Hale (ankle), OG-OT Joe McGuire (shoulder), DE-DT A.J. Single (shoulder), QB Nick Vanderboom (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: OT Jacob Rogers (knee), WR Sandy Fletcher (ankle), OG Fred Matua (knee)
6-0, 200, Junior
Los Angeles, Calif.
Not everyone appreciates freedom. It's often taken for granted these days.
USC's Marcell Allmond is a person who embraces freedom. He's a freewheeling, multi-talented athlete who likes nothing more than to be his own man, whether he's stuck out on an island covering a receiver, grabbing center stage at a track meet, or slicing through traffic on his motorcyle.
'I've always been the kind of guy who wanted to be on my own, to take care of myself,' said Allmond, a junior who started for the first time at cornerback last Saturday against Washington. 'I'm my mother's only child, and the oldest of my father's five children. So I know what it's like to be independent or to be just part of the group. I prefer being independent.'
That's a good trait for a cornerback to have. How else can you handle running stride for stride all alone with a receiver 50 yards down the field with no one to help you?
'I have a lot of freedom at cornerback, more so than I would have on offense,' said Allmond, who was switched from wide receiver last spring. 'Coach Carroll lets us be ourselves while also following his techniques and assignments. But I can be myself on defense and let my personality out and show my aggressive side.'
Marcell Allmond wasn't always so free. At least not while at USC. When he first became a Trojan in 1999, he was a highly-regarded wide receiver from St. Paul High in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. In his first two years, he made a nice name for himself, too, catching 30 passes and scoring two touchdowns while starting seven games. But those numbers would have been better if not for breaking his leg five games into his sophomore season. And when he came back, he compounded things by getting himself suspended for the 2001 season for fighting. By the time he returned to the team, he was moved over to cornerback. Things were certainly looking up again.
Except they didn't.
As the 2002 season started, Allmond was slowed first by an infected leg as a result of a minor car accident and then by a broken wrist. It wasn't until his leg healed and the cast came off that he finally got his chance to show what he could do as a defender. No longer a caged bird, he was let loose to wreak havoc once again.
'Things happen for a reason,' said Allmond, who has 11 tackles and two pass deflections so far this season. 'I'm a firm believer in that. Maybe I wasn't meant to start at the beginning of the season. Maybe I was meant to play along and get the position down before I got out there.
'It's coming along. I've come a long way and I'm starting to get it down.'
He's getting it down while being given the task of covering some of the bigger recievers in the Pac-10. But he can be forgiven if occasionally he casts a wistful sideways glance at the other side of the ball.
'I miss it sometimes,' admitted Allmond. 'When the offense is out there, I sometimes think about it. But other times I think about how much I like playing defense, too. I'm happy on defense.'
One of the things that makes him happy on defense is the chance to cover his old running mate on offense, Kareem Kelly. The two of them both came to USC in 1999 as football/track double threats.
'It's fun in practice,' said Allmond. 'There's a lot of trash talking that goes on between us, but it's all fun and games. I like going against Kareem. He makes me better and I try to make him better.'
One sport where Allmond would like to continue to get better in is track and field. He was a high school All-American in the decathlon and a two-time California state champ in the 110-meter hurdles. In 2000, he was the Pac-10 runner up in the 110-meter hurdles and was also seventh in the decathlon. If he chose the path of track and field, there is no doubt that he would be an impact performer. After all, it's been one of his loves since before he was a teenager.
'I got involved with track when I was 11,' said Allmond. 'Back then, I ran the 100 and 200 meters, like everyone does at that age. I got involved in the hurdles when I was 12 and in the pentathlon when I was 14. Between football and track, I still can't say which one is my first love. I give my heart out in both of them.'
If any event encompasses Allmond's personality, it is the decathlon. It's a grueling, two-day affair that challenges an athlete both mentally and physically.
'The decathlon is about freedom for me,' said Allmond, who one day wants to have a career in computer animation. 'You have a lot of events to focus on. It's not just one set event. If you mess up in one event, you can make it up in another. '
For a guy who has been through so much injury and misfortune, you would think that Allmond would be playing it cautious. But he's not. That would not be in his nature. That's why he wears another helmet besides the Trojan football helmet--the one he wears when he's riding his motorcycle.
'My dad always rode motorcycles,' said Allmond. 'He always had me and my brothers and sisters up there with him. I always wanted one, but I never had the guts. I finally bought one, though.
'I don't do wheelies or anything like that. I don't ride far. I ride from USC to home. About half a mile. That's it.'
Okay, fine, he's not much of an 'Easy Rider' type. To his credit, Allmond has finally learned to rein in his wild nature a bit.
But not too much.
'I don't take my motorcycle riding to the max,' said Allmond. 'It's more of a freedom thing.
'I just like being out in space and feeling the air blow by.'
by Chris Huston, Assistant Sports Information Director