Trojans Set To Renew Famous Rivalry With Notre Dame
Nov. 24, 2002
NO. 6 USC FOOTBALLRIDING 6-GAME WIN STREAK AND 8 IN ROW AT HOMEWILL TRY TO DO SOMETHING IT HASN'T DONE SINCE 1981 WHEN IT HOSTS NO. 7 NOTRE DAME
USC (9-2 overall, 7-1 Pac-10) vs. Notre Dame (10-1 overall), Saturday, Nov. 30, 5 p.m. PST, Los Angeles Coliseum
It's the 74th USC-Notre Dame game, the most famous intersectional rivalry in college football. The Trojans have the chance to do something they haven't done since 1981: defeat UCLA and the Irish in the same season (the last time Troy beat both teams in back-to-back games was 1978). Both squads are having wonderful seasons (USCthe Pac-10 co-champ at worstis riding a 6-game winning streak, including its fourth in a row over the Bruins last Saturday, while the Irish opened this season with 8 straight victories before falling). The Trojans have won their last 8 in the Coliseum. Both squads are angling for a BCS post-season game. The last time both teams entered the game in the AP Top 10 was 1989. ND is the eighth AP-ranked opponent USC has faced in 2002 (the most Troy has ever played in a season). The winner gets year-long possession of The Shillelagh. USC is looking to snap a 3-game losing skid to the Irish. The series is knotted in Los Angeles meetings. USC will see a familiar face across the field in Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham, formerly at Stanford. It's the final home game for USC's 21 seniors, including Heisman Trophy contending QB Carson Palmer and All-American S Troy Polamalu. Palmer, who this week is in the NCAA's Top 10 in passing efficiency and total offense despite facing the nation's toughest schedule, is the Pac-10's career passing leader. He needs 1 TD pass to tie the USC season record. WR Kareem Kelly needs 3 catches to equal the USC career record and WR Mike Williamsthe Pac-10 freshman receiving recordholderneeds only a 3-yard reception to hit the 1,000-yard mark. USC shows up in the Top 25 of almost every NCAA team statistical category. Notre Dame has a 1,000-yard runner in RB Ryan Grant and a staunch defenseled by Butkus Award finalist LB Courtney Watson and Thorpe Award semifinalist Shane Waltonthat is in the Top 10 in all 4 national team defensive categories. The game is sold out in the 92,000-seat Coliseum. It will be televised live throughout about half the nation by ABC-TV. Cy Young winners Randy Johnson and Barry Zito Trojan alums (the first time a school has had both winners in the same year)will be honored during an on-field presentation. USC and Notre Dame meet the night before in a women's basketball game in the Sports Arena, while the Trojan men host a non-conference game on Saturday before the football game.
USC is ranked sixth by AP and USA Today/ESPN. Notre Dame is seventh by AP and USA Today/ESPN.
Notre Dame leads the series with USC which began in 1926, 42-26-5, and the Irish have won the last 3 meetings after Troy won the 3 before that. Since 1967, ND holds a slight edge, 17-15-3. In Los Angeles games, the series is tied at 17-17-4.
Last year in South Bend, Notre Dame used a strong second half showing to beat USC for the third consecutive year, this time 27-16 in the 75th anniversary of the series. The Irishtrailing 13-10 at halftimehad 214 of their 346 total yards and 12 of their 19 first downs in the second half while holding the ball for 18:25 of that half. They limited Troy to just 98 yards and 3 first downs after the intermission (USC had 290 total yards, including 230 through the air, and 12 first downs overall). Notre Dame ran for 208 yards in the game. USC converted just 4 of 16 third downs on the day and had 3 turnovers, all in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame, which trailed 13-3 at one point, scored 24 of the game's final 27 points. After Irish PK Nicholas Setta hit a 38-yard field goal on ND's first possession, the Trojans answered as QB Carson Palmer hit FB Chad Pierson for a 54-yard scoring pass (it was the first time Pierson touched the ball in 2001, following a back injury). Then, early in the second quarter, after S Troy Polamalu recovered an Irish fumble, WR Keary Colbert ran 20 yards with a Palmer aerial for another touchdown (PK David Davis' point after kick was wide). But, late in the half, after USC P Mike MacGillivray was stopped short on a fake punt at the USC 28, the Irish closed to 13-10 on TB Terrance Howard's 4-yard run. LB Frank Strong recovered QB Carlisle Holiday's fumble near midfield on the opening drive of the second half, but the Trojans had to settle for Davis' 18-yard field goal after they couldn't get into the end zone despite having first-and-goal at the Irish 1. Notre Dame recaptured the lead for good on its next possession, as Holiday raced 35 yards for a score. Late in the fourth quarter, Setta added a 29-yard field goal and TB Julius Jones ran for a 5-yard TD after Palmer fumbled the ball away. USC FB Sunny Byrd, who started at tailback, led USC with 62 yards on 22 carries, Palmer was 19-of-30 for 230 yards and the 2 TDs, but was picked off twice, FB Charlie Landrigan had a game-best 6 catches for 46 yards and Colbert added 5 grabs for a game-high 88 yards. For Notre Dame, Holiday ran for a game-best 98 yards on 18 carries and completed 9-of-12 passes for 133 yards, while Jones had 95 yards on 21 rushes. LB Mike Pollard and S Troy Polamalu each had a game-topping 11 tackles, while 3 of DE Lonnie Ford's 8 tackles were for losses (he also forced a fumble) and 2 of DT Shaun Cody's 6 stops were sacks. It was only the third time in the series' 73 games that both teams had losing records and just the eighth time that both squads were unranked.
In the last USC-ND game in the Coliseum, Troyplagued by costly turnovers and blocked punts and unable to stop Notre Dame's powerful ground attackclosed out its 2000 season by losing to the No. 11 Irish, 38-21. The game was the final one for third-year USC head coach Paul Hackett, who was fired 2 days later. The loss also gave USC its first losing season (5-7) since 1991. It was Notre Dame's first win in Los Angeles since 1992 and seventh consecutive victory in 2000. It also assured the school of a BCS bowl berth. The Irish scored first, on a 1-yard run by TB Terrance Howard late in the first quarter following a partially blocked Trojan punt. But USC responded on its ensuing possession, as QB Carson Palmer ran 3 yards with a bootleg for a TD. Notre Dame blocked USC's next punt early in the second quarter to set up another score, this time on a 13-yard run by QB Matt LoVecchio. Palmer was intercepted on Troy's following possession and the Irish scored again, on a 1-yard run by TB Tony Fisher. USC closed to 21-14 the next time it got the ball, with Palmer hitting WR Kareem Kelly on a 59-yard TD bomb. LoVecchio scored his second 1-yard TD late in the third quarter after ND intercepted another Palmer aerial, but USC countered with a 10-yard Palmer scoring toss to TE Antoine Harris early in the fourth quarter to pull within 28-21. The Irish put it out of reach on their next 2 possessions with a 39-yard field goal by PK Nick Setta and a 2-yard TD run by TB Julius Jones. Notre Dame rushed for 246 yardsND ran the ball on its final 24 plays (beginning late in the third quarter)and held the ball for 35:59. The Irish did not have a turnover, tying an NCAA record for fewest in a season (8). USC had 329 total yards, including 251 passing, but converted just 2-of-13 third downs. Palmer was 17-of-35 passing for 251 yards and 2 TDs, but his 2 picks gave him 18 on the year to tie a USC season record. He also rushed for a team-high 22 yards, the first time a Trojan quarterback led the team in rushing since Rodney Peete did so versus Michigan State in the 1988 Rose Bowl. Harris had a game-best 6 catches for 62 yards, while Kelly added 4 for 91 yards. For ND, Fisher (15 carries) and Jones (20 carries) each ran for 71 yards, while Howard added 47 yards on 9 tries. LoVecchio, a true freshman who became 7-0 as a starter, hit 9-of-14 passes for 142 yards and ran for 45 yards on 11 attempts. LB Zeke Moreno and S Troy Polamalu each had a game-best 14 tackles.
The last time USC beat both UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season was 1981 (the last time it did so in back-to-back games was in 1978). Troy has accomplished that feat 11 times overall, with 8 of those occasions occurring in back-to-back Bruin/Irish games (1938-56-62-64-72-74-76-78) and the other 3 times (1967-79-81) coming when the Irish game was in October and the Bruin contest in November.
USC-ND WHEN RANKED
USC is 11-9-3 when it enters the game ranked by AP higher than the Irish...USC is 10-7-1 against ND when Troy is ranked No. 6 or higher by AP...The series is tied at 7-7-1 when both teams are in the AP Top 10 (most recently in 1989, as No. 1 ND beat No. 9 USC)...USC is 10-16-2 against Notre Dame when both teams enter the game ranked by AP (the Trojans have lost the past 5 such games, last winning in 1980)...USC is 16-25-4 against AP-ranked Notre Dame teams...This is the highest AP ranking USC has had entering this game since 1995 (when it was fifth) and the highest the Irish have come into the contest since 1993 (when they were second) ...The last time both squads met when they were in the AP Top 7 was 1988 (No. 1 ND beat No. 2 USC).
2002 marks the 30th anniversary of TB Anthony Davis' 6-touchdown game against Notre Dame (a 45-23 Trojan win in 1972), the 25th anniversary of the famed 'Green Jersey' game (when the Irish game out wearing green jerseys to beat Troy in 1977, 49-19) and the 20th anniversary of the 1982 game that USC won in the final minute, 17-13, on a disputed fumbling touchdown by TB Michael Harper (the final game of John Robinson's first coaching tenure at USC).
HOME WIN STREAK
USC has won its last 8 games in the Coliseum, with shutouts in 2 of the past 6 home contests. It is USC's longest Coliseum winning streak since Troy won 10 in a row during the 1987 and 1988 seasons.
USC's 6-game winning streak is its longest since capturing the last 3 of the 1999 season and the opening 3 in 2000. The last time USC won 6 in a row in a season was in 1995. USC hasn't won 7 in a row since the last game of 1994 and the first 6 of 1995 (and it hasn't had 7 consecutive victories in a season since 1988, when it won its first 10 before losing to...Notre Dame).
USC has captured a share of the Pac-10 title in 2002 and Troy will win it outright if Washington State loses at UCLA on Dec. 7. The Trojans now have won or split 32 conference championships, most recently tying for the crown in 1995.
USC's No. 6 AP ranking is its highest since the 1995 team reached No. 5 midway through the season. This is also USC's best ranking this late into a season since the 1988 team was No. 5 after 11 games. It is also the first season since 1995 that USC has been ranked in the AP poll each week (Troy was never ranked in 2001).
USC's 9-2 record is its best after 11 games since the 1988 squad was 10-1. Its 9 wins are the most since going 9-2-1 in 1995 (including a Rose Bowl victory) and the most regular-season victories since being 10-1 in 1988.
USC has scored at least 30 points in its last 6 games (all victories), the first time that has happened since doing so in the first 7 contests of 1972. It is also only the third time the Trojans have ever done this (they also had 6 in a row in 1930). On the year, the Trojans have scored 30 points 7 times, the most since getting 7 in 1998. USC's 383 total points and 50 TDs in 2002 are the most since the 1979 club had 389 and 53.
USC VS. TOP RUNNERS, PASSERS, OFFENSES
USC is fifth nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 83.9 yards on the ground. No runner has rushed for 100 yards against USC in 2002 (there have been only 3 seasons1963-72-82when the Trojans went an entire season without allowing a runner to hit 100 yards). USC has done this despite facing 5 running backs who have gained 1,000 yards in 2002 (Troy will face a fifth this week in Notre Dame's Ryan Grant), plus 2 others who are within striking distance of eclipsing that 1,000-yard barrier.
USC also has faced 6 quarterbacksWashington's Cody Pickett, Arizona State's Andrew Walter, Oregon State's Derek Anderson, Washington State's Jason Gesser, California's Kyle Boller and Oregon Jason Fifewho have thrown for 2,500-plus yards in 2002 (Pickett has 4,000 yards and Walter has 3,000). The Trojans have held 5 teams under 200 yards passing. And 5 Trojan foesWashington, Washington State, Kansas State, Oregon State and Coloradorank in the top 25 nationally in total offense in 2002 (each averaging at least 400 yards). So, it is an accomplishment that USC currently is 14th nationally in total defense while allowing just 297.5 yards per game.
USC has been effective in the takeaway department under head coach Pete Carroll's 2 seasons. So far in 2002, the Trojans have 31 takeaways (18 fumbles and 13 interceptions) and rank ninth nationally in turnover margin (+1.5). Last year, Troy had 35 takeaways (20 picks, 15 fumbles) to rank fifth in the nation in turnover margin at +1.3. USC's ball security is impressive, too, the past 2 seasons: 19 turnovers in 2001 and just 15 this year.
IN THE COLISEUM
USC has a 367-122-27 (.737) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923.
USC has no players from Indiana, but there are 7 Californians on the Notre Dame roster...USC TB Justin Fargas attended Notre Dame (make that Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, Calif.!)...Notre Dame women's volleyball coach Debbie (Landreth) Brown was a 2-time All-American (1976-77) at USC on a pair of national championship teams (she recently received a prestigious NCAA Silver Anniversary Award)...The athletic departments and business schools at USC and Notre Dame, along with those at North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan and Texas, conduct the Sports Management Institute for mid- and upper-level sports administrators who aspire to be athletic directors, executive directors or general managers in college, amateur or pro sports.
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 rankings by the NCAA, USA Today/Sagarin and the BCS all 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 90-47 (65.7%); at the time they played USC, these 12 foes were 52-21 (only Stanford came in with a losing record) and 8 were ranked by AP (the most USC has ever faced in a season). Five of Troy's 2002 opponents currently are ranked in the AP poll. 'Nobody has played a tougher schedule since Germany in World War II,' said ESPN's Beano Cook. 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: early road contests at Colorado and Kansas State, then the regular season finale at home with Notre Dame. In Pac-10 games, USC hosted Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State and California, and went to Oregon, Washington State, Stanford and UCLA.
From the opening kickoff, No. 7 USC dominated No. 25 UCLA while posting a 52-21 victory before a sold-out Rose Bowl crowd of 91,084 and a regional ABC-TV audience. It was Troy's fourth win in a row over the Bruins (only the second time it has done that) and, combined with Washington State's loss later in the day, gave the Trojans at least a share of the Pac-10 title. It was USC's most points against UCLA since scoring 52 in 1930 (the second game in the series) and biggest margin of victory over the Bruins since a 35-point win in 1979. It took USC just 16 seconds to get on the board as the Trojans scored on their first 3 possessions. After WR Grant Mattos recovered a Bruin fumble on the opening kickoff (caused by S Jason Leach), QB Carson Palmer lofted a 34-yard TD pass to leaping WR Kareem Kelly on the first play. After UCLA had to punt after its first series, Troy took 5 plays to get in the end zone again, a 51-yard Palmer bomb to WR Keary Colbert. A snap over the punter's head on UCLA's next possession set up a 1-yard TD run by TB Justin Fargas (following a 22-yard scramble by Palmer where he somersaulted to the 1-yard line). The Bruins got on the board early in the second quarter on a 7-yard run by FB Manuel White, but USC countered after DT Mike Patterson recovered a Bruin fumble at the UCLA 14 as Palmer hit TB Malaefou MacKenzie on a 2-yard scoring toss to go up 28-7. In the second half, Troy scored 3 more touchdowns (Colbert's 34-yard reverse, Palmer's 3-yard pass to TE Gregg Guenther and TB Hershel Dennis' 38-yard fourth down burst) and a 27-yard field goal by PK Ryan Killeen (following Patterson's second fumble recovery) to go up 52-7 before UCLA scored twice in the final 3 minutes off of the Trojan reserves and walk-ons (a 10-yard pass from QB Matt Moore to White and a 14-yard aerial from QB John Sciarra to TE Marcedes Lewis). Palmer, who hit his first 7 passes for 128 yards (with a pair of TDs), was 19-of-32 for 254 yards and the 4 scores (with no interceptions for the third consecutive game). In the process, he set Pac-10 career records for passing yardage, completions and attempts. WR Mike Williams had a game-high 6 catches for 66 yards to set the Pac-10 freshman receiving yardage mark. Kelly (94 yards) and Colbert (84 yards) each had 4 grabs. Dennis had a game-best 57 yards on 8 rushes, while Fargas added 41 yards on 16 carries. USC put up 468 yards of total offense (271 passing, 197 rushing), its seventh straight outing with 400-plus yards. The Trojans limited UCLA to 290 total yards (just 40 on the ground), 27:49 of possession time and 4-of-12 on third downs (and 0-of-2 on fourth downs). The Trojans had 5 sacks and came up with 5 turnovers (the others were a fumble recovery by LB Melvin Simmons and an interception by CB Marcell Allmond). LB Matt Grootegoed had a game-best 8 tackles, Simmons added 6 and all 4 of DE Kenechi Udeze's stops were for losses (with 2 sacks). For UCLA, QB Drew Olson was 8-of-17 for 121 yards, Moore was 7-of-11 for 64 yards and Sciarra was 4-of-5 for 65 yards. TB Tyler Ebell, who came in with 6 straight 100-yard games, was held to 56 yards on 12 attempts, while White had 45 yards on 7 tries. White (56 yards) and SE Craig Bragg (91 yards) each had 5 receptions. The game marked the first time since 1993 that both teams were ranked.
USC'S PAC-10 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Trojans have won Pac-10 Player of the Week honors 5 times so far in 2002 (USC had only 3 honorees all of 2001).
FUN FACT I
USC is 15-19-4 against Notre Dame in games immediately following the UCLA game. When the Trojans are coming off a win over the Bruins, they are 8-9-3 against ND.
FUN FACT II
This is the 12th time the Trojan-Irish game has sold out in the Coliseum, most recently in 1996.
FUN FACT III
USC and Notre Dame have beaten each other more than any other opponent.
FUN FACT IV
First-year Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham was 4-3 versus USC while at Stanford.
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 15-8 as a college head coach (all at USC); his losses were by a total of 39 points (4.9 average) and only 1 was by more than a touchdown (it was by 11 points). After starting off his Trojan career 2-5, he has gone 13-3. 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 (63 tac, 7 for loss, 3 sack, 1 int, 6 dfl, 2 FF in 2002), in his third year starting at strong safety, is 1 of 14 semifinalists 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 was on the 'Watch List' for the 2002 Walter Camp 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 was invited to play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game. He has played with a nagging ankle sprain for the second half of 2002. In his career, he has 273 tackles (27 for losses), 6 interceptions (3 returned for TDs), 13 deflections, 2 fumble recoveries and 4 blocked punts. 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.
-He had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) against Auburn.
-He had a team-high 11 tackles at Colorado, earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
-At Kansas State, he had 7 tackles (2 for losses, with a sack), a deflection and forced a fumble (which DT Mike Patterson picked up and ran 3 yards for a TD).
-He had 4 tackles and a deflection against Oregon State.
-He sprained his ankle on the first series at Washington State and saw only brief action late in the second half (he didn't make a tackle).
-He sat out the California game with the ankle sprain.
-He had 5 tackles, an interception (which he returned 33 yards to set up a USC field goal) and a deflection against Washington.
-At Oregon, he had 7 tackles (1 for a loss).
-He had a game-high 13 tackles at Stanford, including 2 for losses (with a sack).
-He made 5 tackles and had a deflections against Arizona State.
-He had 4 tackles (with a sack), a forced fumble and 2 pass deflections at UCLA.
'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.'
THE CARSON SHOW
Senior quarterback Carson Palmer (256-of-412, 62.1%, 3,214 yds, 28 TD, 8 int in 2002, plus 42 tcb, -120 yds, -2.9 avg, 4 TD), the Pac-10's career passing leader, is among the leading 2002 Heisman Trophy contenders. He currently is ninth nationally in passing efficiency (146.2, second in Pac-10) and 10th in total offense (281.3, second in Pac-10). In his last 5 games, he has thrown for 1,581 yards and 19 TDs (and in his last 7 games, he has gone for 2,251 yards and 23 TDs). He has thrown a TD pass in every game in 2002, including at least 2 in the past 8 outings (he has thrown at least 4 TDs in 4 of the last 5 games). He currently has thrown 125 consecutive passes without an interception (the USC record is 143 by Paul McDonald, all in 1979). His 256 completions in 2002 puts him second on the USC season list (first is Rob Johnson's 308 in 1993), as does his 3,214 passing yards (Johnson had 3,630), his 28 TD passes (Johnson had 29; Palmer is 5 shy of the Pac-10 season record), and his 3,094 yards of total offense (Johnson had 3,425). He is 1 of 5 semifinalists for the 2002 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, 1 of 10 finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and 1 of 14 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. Now in his fourth year as a starter, he owns 4 Pac-10 career records and numerous USC career records, including: total offense (10,895, second on the Pac-10 chart just 390 yards behind the 11,285 of UCLA's Cade McNown), plays (a Pac-10 record 1,739), passing yardage (a Pac-10 record 11,090), passing touchdowns (67, tied for third on the Pac-10 ladder), completions (a Pac-10 record 874), attempts (a Pac-10 record 1,502) and interceptions (47). His 3 seasons with 2,500-plus yards of total offense ties a Pac-10 record (with Stanford's John Elway and Oregon State's Erik Wilhelm). His 10,660 non-bowl career passing yards ranks 13th on the NCAA ladder and his 10,367 non-bowl career total offense yardage is 18th in the NCAA. In 2002, he has completed passes to 13 different receivers. With 43 career starts, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 22 times (including 9 contests at 70.0%-plus), with 7 of those coming in 2002, and has thrown for 300-plus yards in a co-USC-record 9 games in his career (a co-USC record 5 in 2002, including 4 of the past 7), with a pair of 400-yard outings (a USC record). His 3 consecutive 300-yard outings (all this year) and his 29 200-yard games are USC marks (his 10 200-yard games in 2002 ties a school record). He owns 3 USC game records: total offense (434), passing yards (448) and TD passes (5, shared with Rodney Peete), all set at Oregon in 2002. He is the first player to lead USC in passing for 4 years. 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 since-broken USC game record (his 411 passing yards in that game were 4 shy of tying that school mark). He was invited to play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game.
-He completed 23-of-32 passes (71.9%) for 302 yards with 1 TD and 2 interceptions against Auburn (he had 3 drops) and also scored the game-winning TD on a 1-yard sneak with 1:26 to play to earn Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors. He was 11-of-13 in the second half and completed passes to 8 different receivers in the game.
-He hit 22-of-30 passes (73.3%) for 244 yards with 1 TD at Colorado and also scored a TD on a 1-yard sneak. He hit his first 6 passes in the game and then was 8-of-8 in the second half. His completions went to 7 different receivers.
-At Kansas State, he hit 18-of-46 passes (8 throws were dropped) for 186 yards and a TD while setting USC career records for plays, completions and passing yards.
-He completed 23-of-41 passes for 231 yards with 2 TDs against Oregon State while setting the USC career total offense mark.
-At Washington State, he hit 32-of-50 passes (both career highs and just 1 completion short of the USC game record) for 381 yards and 2 TDs (with an interception), plus he scrambled for a 3-yard score.
-He was 25-of-39 for 289 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions against California.
-He hit 21-of-34 passes for 348 yards with 4 TDs (equaling a then-career best) against Washington.
-He had a record-setting performance at Oregon: he set USC single game marks for passing yardage (448) and total offense (434) while hitting 73.8% (31-of-42) of his throws (he had 1 interception) and his 5 TD tosses equaled a USC record. He was 14-of-18 for 216 yards in the first half and then 12-of-14 for 183 yards in the third quarter. For this, he was named National Player of the Week by CNNSI.com, USAToday.com and SportingNews.com, as well as Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week.
-At Stanford, he threw 4 touchdowns while going 22-of-32 for 317 yards and no interceptions.
-He threw for 2 touchdowns (on 20-of-34 passing with no interceptions) and ran for another (2 yards) against Arizona State.
-At UCLA, he became the Pac-10's career leader in passing yards, completions and attempts as he was 19-of-32 for 254 yards and 4 TDs with no interceptions (he started off 7-of-7 for 128 yards with 2 scores) and he also had a 22-yard scramble where he somersaulted to the 1-yard line to set up a TD.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT CARSON PALMER
USC head coach Pete Carroll: 'He's got to be one of the best quarterbacks in America. I don't know who could possibly be better. He's the best player, playing against the toughest schedule. What more do you have to do?'
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville: 'That ol' boy ought to win the Heisman. He would be my choice.'
Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens: 'He has been mentioned as a Heisman possibility and I think it's justified. He throws the ball well. He hits all different types of throws. He's mobile for a big guy. He'll adjust if he gets flushed. He seems to have a good presence. The guys we had when I was at Florida, he's as good as anyone I've seen in that section of the country.'
Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti: 'He's always been a great athlete, but he's playing like a great quarterback right now.'
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.'
Hunter S. Thompson, ESPN.com: 'Let me tell you about this vision I had. Who can know for sure about these things. In my vision, Beano Cook is saying he 'has no idea who will win the Heisman Trophy this year.' But I do. Try Carson Palmer from USC, who has a bitchin' arm and a nice habit of lulling a defense to sleep with normal stuff, and then breaking their backs with long weird strikes to the heart. Sudden death: WHACK! Right down the middle, so fast that it catches you flat-footed, two steps behind and stupid.'
Mel Kiper, ESPN.com: 'Palmer has turned in Drew Bledsoe-type passing performances on a week-to-week basis this season in the Pac-10. If Palmer continues to perform at this level the rest of the campaign and then puts on a show in the post-season, he could ultimately become a top-five pick in round one of the NFL draft. And he could potentially be in the mix as the No. 1 overall selection.'
Terry Bowden, ABCSports.com: 'He is without a doubt the hottest quarterback in the country. He is on an incredible run. If he finishes out in the same fashion, there may be a lot more people wanting tickets to the Carson Show.'
Gary Cole, Playboy.com: 'He's having an unbelievable season. In fact, if we were casting our Heisman vote tomorrow, Palmer would get it hands down.'
Keith Jackson, ABC-TV: 'Right now, Carson Palmer is as good as any player I've seen.'
Stewart Mandell, CNNSI.com: 'With the Heisman race still more uncertain than Michael Jackson's facial features, the case for USC's Carson Palmer is as solid as anyone's.'
Three relatively untested youngsters are behind Carson Palmer at quarterback: sophomore Matt Cassel (3-of-4, 75.0%, 27 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. 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.
-At Colorado, Cassel was 0-of-1 while directing 2 late drives (including 1 for a score), while Leinart took the game's final 2 snaps, but didn't throw a pass.
-Cassel played the final series versus Oregon State, but didn't throw a pass (he also held on placekicks).
-Cassel played the final series against Washington, but didn't throw a pass, while Hart saw his first action as a Trojan while playing on the punt return team.
-Leinart directed 3 late series at Oregon, but didn't throw a pass.
-Cassel completed his only pass attempt (for 10 yards) while directing 2 late drives at Stanford.
-Cassel played the final series against Arizona State, but didn't throw a pass.
-Cassel was 2-of-2 for 17 yards late in the UCLA game, while Leinart and Hart each took a snap in the final series.
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 (159 tcb, team-best 694 yds, 4.4 avg, 6 TD in 2002, plus 11 rec, 67 yds, 6.1 avg and 2 KOR, 38 yds, 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 (2,680 yards, 35th 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 (39 tcb, 149 yds, 3.8 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 34 rec, 330 yds, 9.7 avg, 5 TD and 2 tac), who has 914 rushing yards and 71 receptionstied for 23rd on the all-time USC receiving chartin his Trojan career (he has started 12 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 lately has started at fullback. Senior Justin Fargas (121 tcb, 473 yds, 3.9 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 3 rec, 51 yds, 17.0 avg and 4 KOR, 73 yds, 18.2 avg), 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. He has a trio of 100-yard games in his career, including 2 at USC. He has been invited to play in the Senior Bowl. 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 (44 tcb, 171 yds, 3.9 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 4 rec, 23 yds, 5.8 avg and 8 KOR, 136 yds, 17.0 avg and 1 tac, 1 for loss) joined the tailback fray this fall as a freshman.
-MacKenzie, in his first game since 2000, started against Auburn and had a game-best 6 catches for 117 yards (the first 100-yard receiving game by a USC running back since Mike Garrett had 122 yards against California in 1964) as well as running for 33 yards on 10 tries, while McCullough led USC with 58 rushing yards on 20 carries (he also caught a 10-yard pass and returned a kickoff 20 yards) and Poston had 1 carry for 2 yards (Fargas was sidelined with a hamstring strain and Dennis was used on kickoff returns, but did not touch the ball).
-At Colorado, McCullough had a game-high 110 yards on 15 carries (his 10th career 100-yard outing), including a career-long 62-yard run for a TD, while MacKenzie broke several tackles while scoring on a 32-yard pass and a 14-yard run (he rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries and caught 2 passes for 38 yards overall), Poston scored on a 4-yard run, Dennis ran for 32 yards on 5 tries and caught a 4-yard pass, and Fargas saw his first action as a Trojan (he had a 4-yard run).
-McCullough had a team-high 73 yards on 11 carries, including a 25-yard TD, at Kansas State, while Fargas added 24 yards on 6 tries, MacKenzie had 12 yards on 6 rushes and Dennis ran for 9 yards on 3 carries and returned a kickoff 10 yards.
-McCullough ran for a team-best 50 yards on 19 carries (he also caught 4 passes for 38 yards) against Oregon State, Fargas added 41 yards on 17 rushes, MacKenzie gained 7 yards on 2 carries and 6 yards on 3 receptions and Dennis ran for 3 yards on 4 tries and returned a kickoff 21 yards.
-McCullough ran for a team-best 62 yards on 13 tries at Washington State (with a 6-yard TD) and caught 2 passes for 12 yards, MacKenzie had 4 catches for 53 yards (with a 15-yard scoring reception) and Fargas added 33 yards on 12 rushes.
-Against California, McCullough equaled a career-high with 176 rushing yards (his 11th career 100-yard game) and had a touchdown on a career-best 39 carries (the most by a Trojan since Steven Webster had 40 against Washington in 1987), plus he caught a 3-yard pass, to earn Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors, while MacKenzie ran for 15 yards on 3 tries, caught 4 passes for 24 yards and had a tackle, Dennis returned 3 kickoffs for 40 yards and Fargas had a 1-yard carry.
-McCullough had 37 yards on 22 carries against Washington, while Fargas added 22 yards on 6 tries (with a 13-yard TD. his first at USC), MacKenzie caught 2 passes for 12 yards (he started at fullback) and Dennis ran for 7 yards on 2 carries.
-At Oregon in his first start as a Trojan, Fargas ran for a career-high 139 yards on 27 carries with a 15-yard TD, MacKenzie caught 6 passes for 43 yards (with a pair of 8-yard TDs) and ran 4 yards on 3 tries from fullback, Dennis rushed for 19 yards on 10 carries (he also caught a 2-yard pass) and McCullough added 16 yards on 2 carries.
-Fargas has a team-best 43 yards on 9 carries (with a 7-yard TD) at Stanford, MacKenzie added 41 yards on 3 tries (with a 4-yard score), Dennis had 21 yards on 6 carries and McCullough had 14 yards on 7 tries (with a 6-yard TD).
-Fargas ran for a game-best 125 yards on 26 carries with a 3-yard TD (he also caught 2 passes for 48 yards and returned a kickoff 22 yards) versus Arizona State, McCullough added 69 yards on 4 tries (with a 59-yard burst), MacKenzie caught 3 passes for 5 yards and Dennis had 23 yards on 5 rushes.
-At UCLA, Dennis had a game best 57 yards on 8 carries, with a 38-yard TD on a fourth-down play, while Fargas added 41 yards on 16 tries (he scored a 1-yard TD) and he had a 3-yard reception, McCullough had 29 yards on 7 tries and MacKenzie had 2 carries for 2 yards and 2 catches for 9 yards (with a 7-yard TD).
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: 1,015 carries, 4,419 yards, 4.4 average per carry, 33 TDs, 37 starts, 15 100-yard games...oh, and seven surgeries!
Senior Sunny Byrd (3 tcb, 11 yds, 3.7 avg in 2002, plus 2 rec, 15 yds, 7.5 avg and 3 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, 56 yds, 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, 15 yds, 7.5 avg and 4 tac, 1 FR), who enrolled at USC this past spring after earning prep All-American honors, sophomore Lee Webb (2 tac in 2002), a converted linebacker, and redshirt freshman David Kirtman (2 tac, 1 FF in 2002).
-Byrd started against Auburn and caught 2 passes for 15 yards, while Hancock had a 1-yard run, a 3-yard catch and a tackle (Pierson was sidelined by a hamstring strain).
-Pierson caught a 2-yard pass at Colorado and Hancock had an 8-yard run.
-No fullbacks touched the ball at Kansas State.
-Against Oregon State, Pierson caught a 7-yard pass, Hancock lost 1 yard on a rush and Kirtman made a tackle.
-Pierson caught 4 passes for 47 yards at Washington State, while Hancock had a 12-yard reception and recovered a fumble (which led to a USC TD).
-No fullbacks touched the ball versus California, Washington, Oregon, Stanford or Arizona State.
-Byrd had 3 carries for 11 yards at UCLA and Hancock made a tackle.
Swift senior Kareem Kelly (40 rec, 519 yds, 13.0 avg, 4 TD in 2002, plus 1 tcb, 1 yd, 1.0 avg and 9 PR, 65 yds, 7.2 avg), a 4-year starter, is second on Troy's career pass catching list (198 receptions, seventh 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 3,018, seventh on the Pac-10 chart). He has a catch in all 46 games he has played as a Trojan, a USC record and 1 shy of Pac-10 recordholder Keenan Howry of Oregon (Howry has played in 1 more game this year, but Oregon only has 1 game left at most while USC has 2). The Pac-10 counts bowl games in its career records. The NCAA record for consecutive games with a catchwhich until this year did not include bowl gamesis 46 in a row (held by New Mexico's Carl Winston); that means that Howry (who has played in 3 bowls) is at 44 when it comes to the pursuit of the NCAA mark and therefore cannot reach Winston's record, while Kelly (who has played in 1 bowl) is at 45 and could surpass it. Kelly 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.
-He caught a game-best 6 passes for 66 yards with a TD against Auburn and also returned 2 punts for 0 yards.
-He had 4 catches for 36 yards at Colorado and returned 4 punts for 31 yards.
-At Kansas State, he caught 3 passes for 42 yards and returned a punt 19 yards.
-He had a 6-yard catch against Oregon State.
-He had a game-best 8 catches for 66 yards at Washington State.
-He grabbed 3 passes for 19 yards against California, including a 6-yard TD.
-He caught a 16-yard pass against Washington.
-At Oregon, he had 6 receptions for 94 yards, with a 31-yard TD.
-He had 3 receptions for 69 yards (including a 50-yarder) at Stanford.
-He had an 11-yard catch versus Arizona State.
-At UCLA, he had 4 catches for a game-high 94 yards and leaped high for a 34-yard TD grab on the game's first play.
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 (60 rec, 873 yds, 14.6 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 2 tcb, 36 yds, 18.0 avg, 1 TD and 1 tac) returns at the other wideout spot. His 60 receptions in 2002 is eighth on the USC season list. The consistent 2-year starter has 127 career grabs to put him sixth 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 (team-high 65 rec, 997 yds, 15.3 avg, 11 TD in 2002, plus 1-of-1 passing for 19 yds and 2 tcb, 9 yds, 4.5 avg and 1 tac, 1 FF, 1 FR), a prep All-American. ESPN analyst Lee Corso calls him 'the best freshman wide receiver in the nation,' while former USC star receiver Keyshawn Johnsonin his own modest waysays 'he could be the second best receiver to play at USC.' He currently is 19th nationally in receiving yards (90.6, fifth in Pac-10) and 21st in receptions (5.9, fourth in Pac-10). His 65 catches in 2002 is sixth on the USC season list. With 997 receiving yards, he is aiming to become USC's first 1,000-yard receiver since Keyshawn Johnson had 1,434 yards in 1995 (and only the fifth ever). Williams has 4 100-yard receiving games in 2002 (all in a rowversus Washington State, California, Washington and Oregonthe most since Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995). He caught a TD pass in 7 consecutive games. His 11 TD receptions are the most by a Trojan in a season since Johnnie Morton had a USC-record 14 in 1994. His 3 TD receptions against Washington in 2002 tied a USC game record and his 13 catches at Oregon was a USC freshman mark. He owns the Pac-10 and USC freshman records for catches (65) and receiving yards (997), and he is within range of the NCAA frosh marks in those categories (79 by Marshall's Josh Davis and 1,185 by Florida's Jabar Gaffney) plus the most TD catches by a freshman (14 by Gaffney). Two other Trojans started a game in 2001: senior Grant Mattos (2 rec, 16 yds, 8.0 avg in 2002, plus 2 tac, 1 FR), 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 sidelined him the first half of 2002). Also possibilities in the rotation are junior Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 35 yds, 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 (2 tac in 2002), a converted safety (an ankle sprain slowed him earlier this seasn), and another freshman who came aboard this fall, prep All-American Chris McFoy. Redshirt freshman walk-on Greig Carlson (22 PR, 101 yds, 4.6 avg in 2002) also sees some action.
-Against Auburn, Williams made his Trojan debut by catching 4 passes for 56 yards off the bench, Colbert started and had 2 grabs for 23 yards and Mattos had a 12-yard reception.
-Williams had a game-high 7 grabs for 90 yards at Colorado, while Colbert added 4 catches for 52 yards.
-At Kansas State, Colbert caught 11 passes for 125 yards (both career highs and game bests) with a 5-yard TD, Williams had an 11-yard catch, Mitchell returned 3 kickoffs for 35 yards and Carlson had 2 punt returns for 23 yards.
-Colbert had 6 catches for 67 yards (both game highs) versus Oregon State, Williams caught 4 passes for 62 yards, including a pair of TDs (11 and 16 yards) and Carlson returned 3 punts for 4 yards.
-Williams caught 6 passes for 112 yards at Washington State, including a 55-yard TD bomb in which he outjumped the defender, while Colbert added 5 catches for 60 yards.
-Williams had 6 receptions for 103 yards with a 21-yard TD against California, Colbert added 6 grabs for 75 yards, Kelly had 3 catches for 19 yards and Carlson returned 4 punts for 27 yards.
-Against Washington, 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), and Mattos had a 4-yard catch.
-At Oregon, Williams had another huge game with 13 receptions (a USC freshman record) for 226 yards (both career bests) and 2 TDs (35 and 16 yards)his fourth consecutive 100-yard game and fifth game in a row with a TD grabwhile Colbert added 4 catches for 77 yards.
-Williams caught 8 passes for 94 yards (with an 8-yard TD) at Stanford while setting the Pac-10 freshman record for receptions, while Colbert had 5 grabs for 66 yards (with a pair of scores, 17 and 13 yards).
-Colbert had 7 catches for 98 yards (both game highs) versus Arizona State, while Williams added an 18-yard TD grab (he also completed a 19-yard pass to Colbert).
-At UCLA, Williams had a game-high 6 catches for 66 yards, Colbert caught 4 passes for 84 yards (including a 51-yard TD) and took a reverse 34 yards for another score, Mattos had 2 tackles and recovered a Bruin fumble on the opening kickoff to set up a TD and Fletcher had a tackle.
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 (23 rec, 249 yds, 10.8 avg 2 TD in 2002, plus 4 tac) is the most experienced tight end on the roster, as he saw significant action the past 2 seasons as the backup. He has 54 career catches with 4 touchdowns, including 22 grabs (7.5 avg) with 2 TDs in 2001. Backing him is sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr. (7 rec, 39 yds, 5.6 avg, 1 TD 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 (he plans to play again in 2003). Also available is senior Scott Huber, who played some at fullback in 2001 (a hip injury has sidelined him). Dominique Byrd (1 rec, 10 yds, 10.0 avg in 2002, plus 2 tac), a prep All-American who also has worked at defensive end, enrolled in the fall as a freshman.
-No tight end caught a pass against Auburn.
-Guenther caught 3 passes for 22 yards at Colorado.
-Guenther had a 5-yard reception at Kansas State and Holmes caught a 2-yard toss.
-Holmes caught 4 passes for 45 yards (both career bests) against Oregon State.
-Holmes had 3 receptions for 19 yards at Washington State.
-Holmes caught 5 passes for 65 yards (both then-career highs) against California.
-Holmes had an 11-yard catch and 2 tackles against Washington.
-Guenther caught a 6-yard pass at Oregon.
-Holmes grabbed 3 passes for 57 yards at Stanford, including a 22-yard TD.
-Holmes had a career-high 6 catches for 50 yards against Arizona State, while Guenther added a 3-yard grab.
-Guenther caught a 3-yard TD pass at UCLA, while Holmes made a tackle.
USC's offensive line from a year agosave for 2-year starting guard-tackle Faaesea Mailocame back. But this group had to improve its performance if the Trojan offense was 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. Steady junior Lenny Vandermade started at center the past 2 years, but was moved to left guard in 2002 spring practice and started there first 9 games there in 2002 before suffering a season-ending torn bicep tendon (he started 5 times there in 2000). Starting junior left tackle Jacob Rogers started for the first time in 2001 and did a commendable job, as did Eric Torres at right tackle. Torres, who started the opener there this year, has since been used at right guard, left guard and left tackle (he has started at least once at each spot in 2002), but he has assumed Vandermade's left guard spot now. 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-tackles Winston Justicehe has emerged as the starting right tackleand Kyle Williams, guard Fred Matua, and center-guard Chris Doyleplus guard Kurt Katnik, Norm's younger brother.
-In the Auburn opener, Rogers and Torres started at the tackle spots, Vandermade was at left guard, Norm Katnik was at center and Graf saw his first appreciable career action when he started for Wilson (ankle sprain) at right guard (Matua also saw time there).
-At Colorado, Rogers (left tackle), Vandermade (left guard) and Norm Katnik (center) started at their usual spots, while Torres moved inside to right guard for the injured Wilson and Winston Justice celebrated his 18th birthday by starting at right tackle (becoming the first true freshman to start on the offensive line since OG Travis Claridge and OT Faaesea Mailo did so in 1996 against Notre Dame).
-At Kansas State, Wilson got his first start of 2002 (at right guard), joining Rogers (left tackle), Vandermade (left guard), Norm Katnik (center) and Justice (right tackle).
-The line starters of Rogers, Vandermade, Norm Katnik, Wilson and Justice remained intact versus Oregon State, Washington State and California.
-Against Washington, Torres started at left tackle for an injured Rogers, while Vandermade (left guard), Norm Katnik (center), Wilson (right guard) and Justice (right tackle) remained in place.
-The usual starting line of Rogers, Vandermade, Norm Katnik, Wilson and Justice started at Oregon and Stanford.
-Against Arizona State and UCLA, Torres started at left guard for an injured Vandermade, while Rogers (left tackle), Nortm Katnik (center), Wilson (right guard) and Justice (right tackle) remained in place.
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 (43 tac, team-high 16 for loss, team-high 7.5 sack, team-high 6 FF, 1 FR, 1 int, 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 were on the 2002 Lombardi Award 'Watch List.' Udeze currently shares the Pac-10 lead in forced fumbles (6). His 6 forced fumbles is a USC record. 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 (18 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack 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 (33 tac, 10.5 for loss, 5.5 sack, 4 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. Patterson currently shares the Pac-10 lead in fumbles recovered (4). Senior Anthony Daye (2 tac in 2002), who can also play end, and junior Nate Steinbacher (1 dfl in 2002), a converted offensive tackle, also are available at tackle. The other end spot is being manned by junior Omar Nazel (34 tac, 9.5 for loss, 5.5 sack, 1 int, 4 dfl, 1 FF in 2002). Among his backups are senior Doyal Butler (4 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1.5 sack in 2002), 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 (4 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1.5 sack in 2002)plus freshmen ends LaJuan Ramsey (1 tac, 1 FR in 2002) and Travis Tofi. Sophomore walk-on Jay Bottom has also seen brief action at end.
-Patterson, in his first career start, had a team-high 8 tackles (1.5 for loss) versus Auburn, while Nazelalso making his first starthad 6 stops and intercepted a pass (to set up a USC touchdown), 3 of Udeze 5 tackles were for losses, and Cody had 2 stops and Daye added 1 tackle.
-At Colorado, Patterson had 5 tackles (including 2 sacks), Cody and Nazel each added 4 stops, Riley had 3, Udeze had a tackle for a loss, Brown and Daye each had a tackle and Ramsey returned a fumble 19 yards to set up a USC TD.
-Cody and Udeze both had 5 tackles at Kansas State (Cody also blocked a field goal and Udeze forced a fumble, which USC recovered and led to a TD), Patterson had 4 stops (with a sack) and returned a fumble 3 yards for a TD, and Nazel had 3 stops (1 for a loss) and a deflection.
-The defensive linemen was dominant against Oregon State (8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 deflections, 2 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries which led to scores) as Nazel had a team-best 7 tackles (4 for loss with 2 sacks) plus a deflection and forced fumble to earn Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors, Udeze and Patterson each had 4 stops, with 2 for losses (Udeze had a sack, deflection and forced fumble, while Patterson had 2 sacks and recovered a fumble), Riley had 2 tackles and Cody recovered a fumble.
-At Washington State, Udeze had 5 tackles (with a sack) and forced a fumble, Cody added 4 stops with a deflection, 2 of Patterson's 3 tackles were for losses and Nazel had 3 stops.
-Cody had 5 tackles (1 for a loss) against California because leaving with a knee sprain, Nazel added 4 stops (with a sack) and Udeze had 3 tackles.
-Udeze had 5 tackles, including 4 for losses of 23 yards (with 2 sacks), a forced fumble and he blocked a field goal against Washington, while Nazel added 3 stops (with a sack) and Riley and Patterson each had 2 (Patterson also had a deflection).
-At Oregon, Riley had 3 tackles, Patterson had 2, Butler posted a sack, and Udeze and Nazel each had a stop.
-Udeze had 5 tackles and intercepted a pass that he batted into the air at the line of scrimmage at Stanford, while Brown, Patterson and Riley each had 3 stops (Brown had 1.5 sacks and Patterson had 1 for a loss), Butler had 2 tackles (0.5 sacks) and Ramsey had a stop.
-Against Arizona State, Udeze had 4 tackles, a fumble recovery (to set up a USC TD) and a forced fumble, Nazel had 2 stops (with a sack), Riley had a tackle and Patterson had a tackle for a loss.
-All 4 of Udeze's tackles at UCLA were for losses (with 2 sacks) and he forced a fumble (which USC recovered to set up a field goal), Riley had 4 tackles (with a sack), Nazel had 2 stops (1 for a loss) and a deflection, Patterson had a tackle and recovered 2 fumbles (to set up a TD and a field goal), Butler had a tackle and Steinbacher had a deflection.
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 (37 tac, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 2 FR, 1 FF, 3 dfl in 2002) in the middle and versatile sophomore Matt Grootegoed (team-best 72 tac, 13.5 for loss, 6 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 int, 3 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 (61 tac, 6.5 for loss, 2.5 sack, 1 FR, 2 int, 3 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 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 reserve on the weak side in 2002 (he's out with a hip injury). Sophomore Bobby Otani (10 tac in 2002) on the weak side saw measurable action last fall, although he suffered a midseason knee injury. Two prep All-AmericansOscar Lua (12 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) and Dallas Sartz (8 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int, 1 dfl 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.
-Simmons had 5 stops (1.5 for loss, with a sack) against Auburn in his Trojan debut, while Pollard and Grootegoed each added 3 tackles (Pollard also forced a fumble, which he recovered to set up a USC TD) and Lua had 1 stop.
-At Colorado, Simmons had 9 tackles, Pollard had 4 stops (including 2 for losses, with a sack), Otani also had 4 tackles, Grootegoed had 3, and Lua and Sartz each had a stop (Lua's was a sack, forcing a fumble which USC recovered).
-At Kansas State, Simmons had a game-high 11 tackles (1.5 for loss), Grootegoed added 9 stops (1.5 for loss), Pollard had 4 tackles and recovered a fumble (to set up a USC TD), Otani had a stop and Lua recovered a fumble.
-Grootegoed had 5 tackles (3 for loss) and a deflection against Oregon State, Lua had 2 stops, Pollard had a tackle for loss and a deflection, Simmons had a tackle and Sartz returned an interception 22 yards.
-Grootegoed had a team-best 9 tackles (1 for a loss) at Washington State, Simmons (with a deflection) and Pollard (1 for a loss) each had 4 stops, Lua had 2 and Sartz 1.
-Grootegoed made a team-high and career-best 11 tackles (2 were sacks) and also forced a fumble (on a sack) that he recovered (to set up a TD) against California (he also recovered a late on-side kick), while Simmons added 5 tackles (2 for losses), Lua had 2 stops and Pollard 1.
-Simmons had a game-best 7 tackles against Washington, Pollard added 4 stops (1 for a loss), Grootegoed had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and an interception (which he returned 49 yards to set up a USC TD) and Sartz had 2 tackles (1 for a loss).
-Grootegoed had a team-best 8 tackles at Oregon (with a deflection), Pollard added 4 stops (1 for a loss), Otani had 2, and Simmons, Sartz and Lua had 1 (Simmons also had an interception to set up a TD and Sartz had a deflection).
-At Stanford, Simmons had 10 tackles (0.5 sacks), Grootegoed added 8 stops (including 3 sacks for 18 yards) and a deflection, Pollard had 6 tackles, Otani and Sartz had 3 each and Lua had 1.
-Grootegoed had 5 tackles (with a sack) against Arizona State, Pollard had 3 stops (with a sack) and a deflection and Simmons intercepted a pass (to set up a USC TD) to go along with his 2 tackles (1 was a sack) and 1 deflection.
-Grootegoed had a game-best 8 tackles (1 for a loss) at UCLA, Simmons added 6 stops, a fumble recovery and a deflection, Pollard had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection and Lua had 2 stops.
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 2002 cornerbacks are senior Darrell Rideaux (39 tac, 4 for loss, 2 sack, 1 int, 4 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), who has 17 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 (18 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 (10 tac, 2 FR, 1 dfl in 2002, plus 1 PR, 16 yds, 16.0 avg), who is a freshman, before being replaced by junior Marcell Allmond (27 tac, 1 int, 6 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 (49 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 1 FR, 2 FF, 8 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 (27 tac, 1 for loss, 1 FF, team-high 3 int, 3 dfl in 2002), redshirt freshman John Walker (1 tac in 2002, who also can play cornerback, and first-year freshman Mike Ross (7 tac, 1 TD on a blocked punt recovery in 2002).
-Against Auburn, Rideaux had 5 tackles as a starter, Leach and Hill had 4 each (Hill also forced a fumble and deflected a pass), and Wyatt and Nunn (making his first start at Troy) both had 1.
-Hill and Wyatt had 2 tackles at Colorado, Buchanon had 11, Leach had an interception and Ross recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a TD.
-At Kansas State, Rideaux had 7 tackles, Buchanon made 4 stops and had a deflection, Nunn had 2 tackles before injuring his knee, Hill had 2 stops and recovered a fumble and Wyatt recovered a fumble.
-Hill had 6 tackles with 2 deflections against Oregon State, Leach and Buchanon both added 2 stops, including 1 for a loss (Leach had 2 deflections and Buchanon had 1), and Rideaux and Wyatt each had a tackle.
-At Washington State, Hill had 8 tackles and a deflection, Leach filled in for an injured Polamalu and made 6 stops and intercepted a pass, Rideaux had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection, Buchanon had 2 tackles and 3 deflections, Ross had a tackle and Allmond had a breakup.
-Allmond had 5 tackles against California, Buchanon added 3 with a deflection, while Leach (with an interception while starting for an injured Polamalu), Rideaux (with a deflection) and Hill each had 1 stop.
-Against Washington, Hill had a game-high 7 tackles, Allmond had 6 stops and a deflection, Rideaux had 3 tackles and 2 deflections, Leach had 3 stops and Buchanon had 1.
-At Oregon, Rideaux and Hill had 5 tackles (Rideaux also had 1.5 sacks and an interception, while Hill had 2 deflections), Allmond and Ross had 4 stops (Allmond added a deflection), Leach had 3 tackles and a deflection, Buchanon had a stop and Wyatt broke up a pass.
-Rideaux had 7 tackles (0.5 sacks) and forced a fumble at Stanford, while Hill and Leach each had 5 stops, Allmond and Wyatt both had 4 (Wyatt also recovered a fumble) and Buchanon had 2.
-Rideaux and Hill each had a team-best 6 tackles against Arizona State (Rideaux had 1 for a loss, while Hill made a diving interception in the end zone), Allmond had 4 tackles and 2 deflections, Wyatt had 2 stops (and returned a punt 16 yards) and Leach had 1.
-At UCLA, Allmond had 4 tackles, an interception (the first of his career) and a deflection, Hill had 3 stops (with a sack to force a fumble which USC recovered) and 2 deflections, Leach and Buchanon had 2 tackles each (Leach also forced a fumble which USC recovered to set up the opening TD) and Rideaux, Walker and Ross each had a tackle.
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 in 2001. 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 was on the 2002 Lou Groza Award 'Watch List.' However, when Davis struggled early in 2002, he was replaced by sophomore Ryan Killeen (12-of-17 FG, 37-of-39 PAT in 2002, plus 1 tac), a junior college fall transfer. He has hit his last 20 PATs. 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, 31 of Killeen's 73 kickoffs have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 25 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 currently is 25th nationally in punting (42.2, second in Pac-10). He showed a strong leg in 2002 spring practice. This season, 25 of his 57 punts have kept foes within the 20-yard line and 12 have traveled at least 50 yards (including a 72-yarder). 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 (22 PR, 101 yds, 4.6 avg in 2002), freshman cornerback Justin Wyatt (1 PR, 16 yds, 16.0 avg in 2002) or senior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (9 PR, 65 yds, 7.2 avg in 2002), while the kickoff return duties are manned by freshman tailback Hershel Dennis (8 KOR, 136 yds, 17.0 avg in 2002), junior cornerback Marcell Allmond (4 KOR, 75 yds, 18.8 avg in 2002), senior tailbacks Justin Fargas (4 KOR, 73 yds, 18.2 avg in 2002) and Sultan McCullough (2 KOR, 38 yds, 19.0 avg in 2002) or junior wide receiver Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 35 yds, 11.7 avg in 2002).
-Against Auburn, Davis hit his only field goal try (a 37-yarder) and all 3 PATs, Malone averaged 42.0 yards on 3 punts in his Trojan debut (including a 50-yarder) and Killeen had 2 of his 5 kickoffs pin the Tigers within the 20-yard line.
-Malone averaged 51.2 yards on his 4 punts at Colorado (including a 60-yarder), but had a punt blocked, while Davis had a field goal and PAT blocked (another PAT missed) while hitting 4-of-6 PATs and Killen had 5 of his 7 kickoffs hold the Buffaloes within the 20 (with 4 touchbacks).
-At Kansas State, Davis missed a 30-yard field goal and had a PAT blocked (and returned for a defensive PAT) before giving way to Killeen, who hit both of his PATs and also put all 3 of his kickoffs out of the end zone, while Malone averaged 36.9 yards on 11 punts (4 pinned the Wildcats within the 20 and 2 traveled 50-plus yards).
-Killeen replaced Davis as the placekicker against Oregon State and hit 3-of-4 field goals (43, 42 and 32 yards), including the first 2 tries of his career, plus added an extra point and saw 2 of his kickoffs pin the Beavers within the 20 to earn Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week notice, while Malone averaged 39.8 yards on his 6 punts (with 3 keeping OSU within the 20).
-At Washington State, Malone averaged 43.7 yards on 6 punts (with 3 pinning the Cougars within the 20), but Killeen missed a pair of field goals and 1 of his 4 PATs (however, 3 of his 5 kickoffs were touchbacks).
-Killeen hit 3-of-4 field goals (34, 32 and 18 yards) and all 3 of his PATs (plus had a touchback among his 7 kickoffs) against California, while Malone averaged 49.0 yards (with a 50-yarder) on his 2 punts.
-Against Washington, Killeen hit a pair of field goals (30 and 33 yards) and all 5 of his PATs, plus 4 of his 7 kickoffs were touchbacks, while Malone averaged 45.2 yards on his 5 punts (with 54- and 52-yarders) and twice pinned the Huskies within the 20-yard line.
-Killeen was 5-of-6 on PATs and 1-of-2 on field goals (a career-long 48-yarder) at Oregon (1 of his 8 kickoffs were touchbacks), while Malone averaged 49.0 yards on his 2 punts (with a 52-yarder), with 1 pinning the Ducks within the 20.
-Killeen hit all 7 of his PATs at Stanford and pinned the Cardinal within the 20 on 3 of his 8 kickoffs (with 2 touchbacks), while Malone averaged 41.8 yards on his 5 punts (with a 54-yarder), with 1 pinning Stanford within the 20.
-Malone averaged 42.1 yards on his 7 punts against Arizona State, including a 72-yarder (USC's longest since John Stonehouse nailed a 76-yarder versus Washington State in 1994), and pinned the Sun Devils 4 times within the 20, while Killeen was perfect on his field goals (20 and 41 yards) and PATs (4-of-4) and pinned ASU within the 20 on 4 of his 7 kickoffs (with 3 touchbacks).
-At UCLA, Malone averaged 40.7 yards on his 6 punts (with a 53-yarder) and 4 pinned the Bruins within the 20, while Killeen hit all 7 of his PATs and a 27-yard field goal, plus 3 of his 10 kickoffs kept them within the 20 (with 2 touchbacks).
STATISTICS OF NOTE
***Defensively, USC is fifth nationally in rushing defense (83.9, first in Pac-10), ninth in turnover margin (+1.5, second in Pac-10), 14th in total defense (297.5, second in Pac-10) and tied for 25th in scoring defense (19.1, second in Pac-10).
***On offense, USC is eighth nationally in passing efficiency (146.4, first in Pac-10), 10th in passing offense (296.4, third in Pac-10), tied for 13th in scoring offense (34.8, second in Pac-10) and 16th in total offense (425.5, third in Pac-10).
***USC has a balanced attack, with 428 rushing attempts and 417 passing attempts in 2002.
***USC has had 400-plus yards of total offense in each of its past 7 games in 2002 (and 8 times overall this season), the most consecutive in a season since 9 in a row in 1989.
***USC is allowing opponents to convert just 27.3% of third downs (second in the Pac-10) in 2002.
***USC is averaging 33:28 time of possession (tops in the Pac-10) in 2002 and has won the possession battle in 9 games (all but Kansas State and Stanford).
***USC is completing 62.4% of its passes in 2002 (tops in the Pac-10).
***In the red zone, USC has scored 45-of-53 times (84.9%) in 2002.
***Conversely, USC's opponents are scoring just 77.1% of the time (27-of-35) when in the red zone in 2002 (tied for fourth in the Pac-10).
***USC is last in the Pac-10 in punt returns (6.2) and kickoff returns (17.0)the Trojans have returned 10 less kickoffs than any other teamand ninth in kickoff return coverage (23.5).
***In first halves in 2002, USC allowed 54 total yards to Colorado, 118 to Kansas State and 98 to Oregon State.
***In second halves in 2002, USC allowed 35 total yards to Auburn, 7 to Colorado, 33 to Oregon State, 107 to California, 86 to Stanford and 107 to Arizona State.
***USC has held 8 opponents under 100 yards rushing in 2002, including the past 6.
***No opposing runner has rushed for 100 yards against USC in 2002 (there have been only 3 seasons1963-72-82when the Trojans went an entire season without allowing a runner to hit 100 yards).
***USC has had at least 20 first downs in all but 2 games (Kansas State and Washington) in 2002, including 31 at Oregon and 28 against both Washington State and California (the Trojans had at least 20 first downs only once in 2001).
***USC has come out of halftime strong, with a 88-20 scoring margin in the third quarter.
***USC has finished its halves well in 2002, outscoring opponents 80-49 in the second quarter and 118-77 in the fourth quarter.
***USC also has had dominant second halves in 2002, outscoring foes 206-100.
***USC scored 40-plus points in 3 consecutive games (Washington, Oregon, Stanford) in 2002. That was the first time Troy did that since the final game of 1994 and the first 2 games of 1995 (it was also the first time it happened in the same season since 1972). On the year, the Trojans have had 40-plus games 5 times, the most since getting 5 in 1979.
***USC has a knack for scoring a string of unanswered points in 2002. The Trojans scored 31 and 21 unanswered points at UCLA, 30 at Oregon, 28 at Stanford, 27 against California and Washington, 22 versus Oregon State and 20 (twice) at Colorado.
FIELD GOAL, PAT ADVENTURES
USC's field goal and PAT tries have been an adventure at times in 2002. The Trojans are 13-of-20 on field goals, 44-of-49 on PAT kicks and 0-of-1 on PAT passes. USC has had 5 kicks blocked.
CAPITALIZING ON TURNOVERS
USC has capitalized 67.7% of the time when it gets a turnover. So far in 2002, the Trojans have collected 31 turnovers and scored 21 times (17 touchdowns and 4 field goals).
NEWCOMERS SEE ACTION
Eighteen new scholarship 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, 15 walk-onsincluding 4 newcomershave played: WR Greig Carlson, DE Jay Bottom, SNP Joe Boskovich, DT Spencer Torgan, CB-WR Forrest Mozart, S Greg Farr, LB Collin Ashton, WR Steve Levario Jr., WR Matt Haugen, CB Chris Bocage, OT Justin Brown, LB Alex Bottom, S Kyle Matthews, S Matt Lemos and WR John Zilka. 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.
***S Troy Polamalu and QB Carson Palmer were invited to play in the 78th annual East-West Shrine Game at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco on Jan. 11, 2003. TB Justin Fargas was invited to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 18, 2003.
***S Troy Polamalu's 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.
***USC head coach Pete Carroll vacationed in Italy this past July, which meant in the span of several months he walked the floor of Rome's Colosseum and Los Angeles' Coliseum, perhaps the world's two most historic stadiums.
***USC has 3 players who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC in the spring. Starting OT Jacob Rogers did so in the spring of 1999, while starting P Tom Malone and key backup FB Brandon Hancock came to USC this past spring.
***Former USC All-American back Jon Arnett was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this past Aug. 9-10, while ex-USC All-American safety Ronnie Lott will be inducted into the Hall at a Dec. 10 dinner in New York (he'll be enshrined in August of 2003). Arnett was a 1955 All-American who rushed for 1,898 career yards at Troy and then played 10 years in the NFL with the Rams and Bears. Lott, a 1980 All-American, had 250 tackles and 14 interceptions at USC before a 15-year NFL career that saw him land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
***A bronze sculpture of 'The Wild Bunch,' USC's famous 1969 defensive line (Al Cowlings, Jimmy Gunn, Willard Scott, Tody Smith and Charlie Weaver), was unveiled in front of Heritage Hall in September of 2002. Commissioned by a donor who wished to remain anonymous, it was sculpted by Don Winton and Ernie Shelton (USC's 1954 and 1955 high jump champion).
***Strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle has beaten cancer. He learned he had Hodgkin's Disease in December of 2000, began radiation treatments in Tennessee (where he was still the Volunteers' associate strength and conditioning coach), was hired by USC in February of 2001, kept his illness a secret except to Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, continued treatments in Tennessee and at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, then doctors told him in the summer of 2001 that the cancer was in remission. He informed the USC players of his ordeal at the start of fall 2001 camp.
***A new tradition at Troy's home games (started in 2001) sees the USC team buses unload the Trojan players amid the tailgaters in front of the Coliseum peristyle about 2 hours before kickoff. The players walk through the crowd into the Coliseum before going to dress in the locker room.
***USC's oldest living football letterman is 102-year-old James Pursell. He lettered in 1921-22-23 as a 156-pound guard and was a member of USC's first Rose Bowl team.
***USC's football team can field a pretty imposing track and field squad...and, in fact, Trojan track coach Ron Allice benefits from a number of footballers (many helped Troy win the 2000 Pac-10 meet). TB Sultan McCullough is the fastest Trojan football player ever, having run a 10.17 in the 100 (fifth fastest of any USC trackster in history!). He was the Pac-10 100 champ in 1999. WR Kareem Kelly, who owns the world junior record in the indoor 50, has clocked 10.28 in the 100 and anchored USC's sprint relay squad which finished fifth at this year's NCAA meet. CB Darrell Rideaux has gone 10.27 and ran leadoff on the 2002 sprint relay team. CB Marcell Allmond is a 13.54 high hurdler (he was a 2-time California state prep champ) and national Junior Olympic record-setting decathlete. TB Justin Fargas has run the 100 in 10.47. Fargas (1997), Rideaux (1998) and Kelly (1999) all won the California state high school 100.
***USC players are sporting a gold football-shaped decal reading 'Goux' on the back of their helmets this year. The decal is in memory of Marv Goux, the legendary USC assistant football coach (1957-82) and star Trojan player (1952, 54-55) who died this past July 27 at age 69.
***Two TrojansTE Gregg Guenther Jr. and S Sandy Fletcherhave played on the USC basketball team. Guenther saw action in 9 games (starting 3) as a center in 2002 and Fletcher played in 4 games as a point guard in 2000. And, as a youngster, LB Collin Ashton was a ballboy for several years for the USC men's basketball team.
***OT Phillip Eaves spent part of 1997 in the Army at Fort Jackson, S.C.
***PK David Davis wants to be a firefighter and paramedic. In fact, while in junior college, he became certified as an emergency medical technician when he worked 2 years as a fire explorer at an Inglewood fire station and with a Los Angeles ambulance company.
***Four Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, USC S-CB John Walker was a television actor who appeared in such shows as 'E.R.' and '7th Heaven' (in fact, he didn't play football until his sophomore year of high school because a clause in his acting contract prevented him from doing anything that could affect his appearance). TB Justin Fargas is the son of actor Antonio Fargas, who has appeared in television (including as Huggy Bear on 'Starsky and Hutch') and film ('Shaft,' 'Pretty Baby,' 'The Gambler' and 'Car Wash,' among others). C Derek Graf's father, Allan, is a stuntman, stunt coordinator and second unit director who has been involved in many noted Hollywood films, 'On Any Given Sunday' and 'The Replacements.' USC linebackers coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence 'Buster' Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
***Three Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: C Derek Graf (father, Allan, was on the 1972 team), S Kyle Matthews (father, 1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team) and LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi, was on the 1974 team).
***Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. QB Morgan Craig is the grandson of ex-USC 1939 All-American QB Grenville 'Grenny' Lansdell. CB Kevin Arbet is the stepson of ex-Trojan (1980-82) Jeff Simmons. Two Trojans have cousins who played at USCWR Kareem Kelly (Rashard Cook, 1995-98) and TE-SNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)and five have uncles who were Trojan footballers: S Troy Polamalu (Kennedy Pola, 1982-85, now USC's running backs coach and special teams coordinator), C Norm Katnik/OG Kurt Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87) and OG-DT Fred Matua (Titus Tuiasosopo, 1990-92) and S Kyle Matthews (Bruce Matthews, 1980-82, 1982 All-American).
***Speaking of genes: CB Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, is a sophomore defensive lineman at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. DE Van Brown's brother, Chad, is an All-Pro linebacker who has played with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1993-96) and Seattle Seahawks (1997-2001) after starting 4 seasons at Colorado (1989-92). CB-WR William Buchanon is the son of ex-NFL star Willie Buchanon, a 1971 All-American cornerback at San Diego State who was a 3-time Pro Bowler during his 11-year (1972-82) NFL career with the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers. QB Matt Cassel's older brother, Jack, is a pitcher in the San Diego Padres organization. WR Keary Colbert's cousin is ex-Arizona State DT Tommie Townsend (1999-2001). TB Hershel Dennis' father, Hershel Sr., played tailback at North Carolina A&T. LB Matt Grootegoed's brother, John, was an offensive guard at San Jose State in 1994 and 1995. WR D. Hale's brother, Damon Boddie, played tailback at Montana in the mid-1990s. TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975. C Norm Katnik's and OG Kurt Katnik's father, Norman, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). FB David Kirtman's father, Louis, ran track at California and his uncle, Nate Kirtman, played football at Stanford in 1967. S Jason Leach's cousin is Arizona State senior S Alfred Williams. WR Grant Mattos' sister, Adrienne, was an All-American swimmer at California. OG-DT Fred Matua's uncle, Navy Tuiasosopo, played offensive line at Utah State and later with the Los Angeles Rams and a distant cousin, Manu Tuiasasosopo, was a 3-time All-Conference defensive lineman at UCLA (1976-78) who then played with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. TB Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, was a tailback at Oregon in 1996 and 1997 who has played in the XFL and NFL, while his late father, Bruce, ran track at San Jose State in the 1960s and his mother, Mabel, played basketball on the 1959 Arkansas high school championship team. WR Jason Mitchell's cousin, Christian Radley, is a junior coxswain on the USC women's rowing team. QB Carson Palmer's brother, Jordan, is a freshman quarterback at UTEP. S Troy Polamalu's brother, Kaio Aumua, played football at UTEP; an uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State; a cousin, Nicky Sualua, was a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys who attended Ohio State, another cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon, and another cousin, Joe Polamalu, played for Oregon State in 1987 and 1988. DT Bernard Riley's father, Bernard Sr., was a starting offensive guard at Oregon in 1975. DE-DT A.J. Single's father, Doug, played at Stanford, then was the Cardinal's offensive line coach before serving as athletic director at Northwestern and SMU. LB Dallas Sartz's father, Jeff, played safety at Oregon State and his grandfather, also named Dallas, was a Golden Gloves boxer at Washington State and a professional hydroplane racer. DE Travis Tofi's cousin, Suaese 'Pooch' Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech. OG Travis Watkins' brother, Todd, is a redshirt freshman wide receiver on the Norfolk State football team, while his father, Don, was a lineman at Pasadena City College and his uncle, Tom Watkins, played 8 seasons in the NFL in the 1960s with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. OT Kyle Williams' father, Scott, played college basketball, while an uncle, Eric Williams, was a defensive lineman with the Detroit Lions (1984-89) and Washington Redskins (1990-93, including on the 1991 Super Bowl champs) after earning 1983 All-Pac-10 first team honors in his 3 years (1981-83) at Washington State; his grandfather, Roy Williams, played for the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, another uncle played professional basketball in Europe, while his other grandfather played 3 sports at Lehigh in the 1960s. DB coach Greg Burns' brother, Dexter, was a defensive back at San Jose State in the mid-1990s. LB coach Nick Holt's wife, Julie, was the head women's basketball at Nevada Reno, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho (she currently is the head coach at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College). WR coach Lane Kiffin's father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he is a longtime NFL and collegiate assistant coach who also served as North Carolina State's head coach in the early 1980s). OT/TE coach Keith Uperesa's brother, Kevin, played football at California in 1977 and 1978, while his nephew Dane, is a freshman offensive lineman at Hawaii. OFF/SPT coach Brennan Carroll is the son of USC head coach Pete Carroll.
***How about these names: FB Sunny Byrd. LB Frostee Rucker. Walk-on CB-WR Forrest Mozart. DE Kenechi Udeze (he goes by BKU, as in Big Kenechi Udeze; he's 6-4 and 280). LB Lofa Tatupu. DE Travis Tofi. WR D. Hale (it's for Donald, but he goes by D.; he says only his mother calls him Donald).
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 306 times, including 172 of the past 174 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:
***There are 3 new scholarship players (their complete bios are below): #58 Lofa Tatupu (LB, 5-11, 215, So./So., Plainville, MA, King Philip Regional HS/Maine), #90 Frostee Rucker (LB, 6-4, 240, Fr.*/So., Tustin, Tustin HS/Colorado State) and #98 Travis Tofi (DE, 6-4, 235, Fr./Fr., Aoa, American Samoa, Fagaitua HS).
***Eleven other players have joined the team as walk-ons: #5 Morgan Craig (QB, 6-2, 190, Fr./Fr., Newport Beach, Newport Harbor HS), #9 Chase McBride (S, 6-2, 195, Fr./Fr., Solana Beach, Santa Fe Christian HS), #17 Nick Vanderboom (QB, 6-4, 215, Fr./Fr., Medina, MN, Breck HS), #19 Matt Newhouse (LB, 6-4, 205, Fr./Fr., Diamond Bar, Diamond Bar HS), #27 John Zilka (WR, 6-4, 185, Fr./Fr., Lake Forest, IL, Lake Forest HS), #29 Matt Haugen (WR, 6-0, 290, Fr./Fr., Irvine, Mater Dei HS), #38 Kirk Shepherd (CB, 5-10, 160, Fr./Fr., Rancho Palos Verdes, Peninsula HS), #40 Greg Farr (S, 6-0, 195, Jr./Jr., Carlsbad, Carlsbad HS/Palomar JC), #49 Mike Brittingham (S, 6-1, 195, Fr./Fr., Santa Ana, Foothill HS), #60 Jonathan Lanza (OT, 6-3, 265, Fr./Fr., San Diego, Horizon HS) and #80 Steve Levario Jr. (WR 5-9, 170, So.*/Jr., West Covina, Wilson HS/Mt. San Antonio JC).
***Seven players have switched positions: William Buchanon is now at CB, Nate Steinbacher is at DT, Doyal Butler is at DE-TE, John Walker is at S-CB, Dominique Byrd is at TE-DE, Lee Webb is at FB and Forrest Mozart is at CB-WR.
***Also, delete DE Austin Jackson, WR Frank Candela, CB Miguel Fletcher, CB Justin Tolliver and CB Marcus Johnson, who all quit the team, and LB-DE Chris Prosser, who quit for medical reasons, plus S Darnell Bing and DT Manuel Wright, who both did not qualify for admission.
BIOS OF NEW SCHOLARSHIP TROJANS
He 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.'
He 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.
He 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). Hayward and Simmons were named to the 2002 Pac-10 All-Academic second team. 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.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame won the first 8 games of new coach Tyrone Willingham's debut season in 2002 before falling to Boston College, 14-7. But the Irish have bounced back to win their past 2, including 42-0 over Rutgers at home last Saturday. Willingham's 10 victories this year are the most ever by a first-year ND coach. Junior QB Carlyle Holiday (116-of-222, 52.3%, 1,696 yds, 10 TD, 2 int in 2002, plus 84 tcb, 185 yds, 2.2 avg, 3 TD) engineers the Irish attack. Sophomore RB Ryan Grant (230 tcb, 1,001 yds, 4.4 avg, 9 TD in 2002, plus 8 rec, 22 yds, 2.8 avg) is the leading rusher, with senior WR Arnaz Battle (46 rec, 696 yds, 15.1 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 12 KOR, 253 yds, 21.1 avg and 2 PR, 12 yds, 6.0 avg) topping a receiving corps that also includes junior WR Omar Jenkins (31 rec, 558 ydsd, 18.0 avg, 3 TD in 2002), senior TE Gary Godsey (15 rec, 150 yds, 10.0 avg in 2002) and freshman WR Maurice Stovall (14 rec, 280 yds, 20.0 avg, 3 TD in 2002). Senior C Jeff Faine is a Lombardi Award semifinalist. Notre Dame has one of the nation's premier defenses, as it currently ranks in the Top 20 in every NCAA defensive category: second in pass efficiency defense (85.9), third in scoring defense (13.2), fifth in total defense (270.6) and ninth in rushing defense (90.5). Senior ILB Courtney Watson (83 tac, 9 for loss, 3 sack, 3 int with 1 TD, 4 dfl in 2002)a Butkus Award finalistis the leading tackler, with support from the likes of senior FS Glenn Earl (69 tac, 4 for loss, 1 sack, 2 int, 3 dfl, 2 FR, 2FF in 2002), junior ILB Mike Goolsby (61 tac, 13 for loss, 4 sack, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), senior SS Gerome Sapp (60 tac, 3 for loss, 4 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2002), senior Thorpe Award semifinalist CB Shane Walton (56 tac, 4 for loss, 7 int with 2 TD, 7 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002, plus xxx PR) and junior CB Vontez Duff (30 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int with 1 TD, 5 dfl, 2 FR, 1 BLK in 2002, plus 15 KOR, 438 yds, 29.2 avg, 1 TD and 37 PR, 313 yds, 8.5 avg, 1 TD). Walton is fifth nationally in interceptions (0.6), while Duff is fourth in kickoff returns (29.2).
The USC women's basketball team hosts Top 10-ranked Notre Dame on Friday (Nov. 29) at 7 p.m. in the Sports Arena. The Trojan men host Morris Brown on Saturday (Nov. 30) at 1 p.m. in the Sports Arena.
USC's 21 senior footballers will be saluted prior to the game and they will run onto the field through a 'Heritage Tunnel' made up of numerous former USC players...Former USC pitchers Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Barry Zito of the Oakland A's, the reigning Cy Young Award winners (the first time the award was presented to alums from the same school in the same year), will be saluted during an on-field presentation...The 2-time defending Pac-10 champion USC baseball team will be recognized during the Team Trojan Spotlight...Sophomore Melissa Astete, a business major who is the USC record holder in the pole vault, will be honored during the Verizon Academic Salute...QB Carson Palmer (Trojans in the News) and 1988 All-American QB Rodney Peete (FOX Sports Greatest Trojan) will be featured during video board presentations.
OUT: OG Lenny Vandermade (bicep), 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), OG-OT Joe McGuire (shoulder), DE-DT A.J. Single (shoulder)QUESTIONABLE: OG Fred Matua (knee)POSSIBLE: C Norm Katnik (ankle)
Gregg Guenther Jr.
Tight End / Forward
6-8, 245, Sophomore
What's harder? Knocking heads or banging elbows?
USC redshirt sophomore Gregg Guenther Jr. has done both at USC.
He's done plenty of knocking heads as a 6-foot-8, 245-pound backup tight end in his third season on the Trojan football team. A two-sport player, however, Guenther also banged his share of elbows as a 6-foot-8, 245-pound backup forward on the USC basketball team last year, a moonlighting venture he plans to continue three more years.
So what's more demanding? Keeping players like Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs out of the backfield or boxing out guys like former Stanford and current NBA center Curtis Borchardt.
'In football, it's more of an all out war,' the Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) High grad said. 'You've got to use every part of your body to do what you need to do. In basketball, it's more legs, running and jumping. In football, you're using every muscle. There are physical points to basketball, no question. But it's just not the same. A helmet hurts a lot more than someone's elbow.'
Guenther has become a key member of the USC football offensive juggernaut. More lean than mean, Guenther is developing a blocker's mentality to complement his skills as a pass catcher. Used primarily as a blocker, he has seven receptions for 39 yards and scored his first career touchdown on a 3-yard pass against UCLA last week.
He came to USC as one of the most highly-recruited tight ends on the West Coast, but he was also an All-Los Angeles City basketball player who once listed former California two-sport star and current NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez as his sports hero.
'Basketball coaches were wondering if I was a football player and football coaches were wondering if I wanted to play basketball,' said Guenther, who briefly played baseball and participated in track, as well, in high school. 'Most coaches were open to it. It just came down to USC. Both programs were going in the right direction.'
His parents were also pushing USC, noteworthy because the big push came from his mother, Cheri, a mathematics coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District, but a UCLA graduate.
'She had heard a lot about USC and what the school did for its students after athletics and about all of the opportunities,' he said. 'She knew that USC took care of its people.'
The decision was made, but a herniated disk suffered during his first summer camp with the football team in 2000 derailed plans to play one sport, let alone two.
He had surgery in September of 2000 and was out of action for five months. But the recovery process was slow. He participated in spring drills in 2001, but was anything but 100%.
'It was hard to hit people. I felt real awkward at first,' he said. '(The injury) wouldn't allow me to play at full speed and I was really protective of it.'
He wasn't available to play until near the end of the 2001 season, but he didn't get into any games.
Because USC played in the Las Vegas Bowl, the football season didn't end until Dec. 25. The next day, the Trojan basketball team took off on a road trip to play at Washington and Washington State.
Those few days constituted Guenther's break. When the basketball team resumed practice on Dec. 31, Guenther was there in the North Gym in shorts and a tanktop. No longer squaring off against defensive ends like Kenechi Udeze in practice, he was now battling for rebounds against people like Sam Clancy, the 2002 Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Did he mind not getting much of a break?
'I had three or four days to rest,' he said. 'It was good. I've been doing year-round sports since I was 5. I'm used to it. It's just more intense now.'
In football, Guenther was learning how to become more physical. But in basketball, his size and girth was plenty for Coach Henry Bibby.
Praised for his toughness, Guenther's main role was to add a physical edge to practice, but he ultimately played in nine games, even started three times. His appearances were never long, but he was effective.
His first start came at Stanford where he played only 12 minutes, but had three rebounds and helped contain Borchardt, the Cardinal's 7-foot center, in a Trojan victory.
'I was really excited for the first start,' Guenther said. 'I just tried to do the best I could and not mess up. I wasn't nervous. I'd played 7-footers before.'
Guenther said the hardest part of the transition was getting to know the playbook.
'In basketball, you have three or four options after the first option,' he said. 'You have to learn multiple plays within a play. It's more strenuous to learn basketball plays than football plays.'
Basketball season ended in mid-March and Guenther was at it again in April, participating in football's spring drills. But for the first time as a USC football player, he was nearly 100% and earned high praise from the coaching staff.
'It was the best I'd felt in a long time,' Guenther said. 'I tried to prove to the coaches that I was here for a reason. They had kind of written me off and I wanted to show I could be part of the team's success.'
During the summer, Guenther worked out with the football team in the morning and then would play pick up games with the basketball team in the afternoon.
'It really helped me develop in both sports,' Guenther said.
Guenther is relishing his role as a big contributor on the football team.
'It feels a lot better playing,' he said. 'It felt awkward last year. It didn't feel like I should be out there when I was on the bench. This year, it feels a lot better. It's coming along well. I'm finally getting to the point where I can contribute. I still have a long way to go. I just want to have the opportunity to showcase my ability.'
And hopefully sometime in early January Guenther will start playing basketball again and reaffirm his value to a different set of coaches.