USC Football Team Opens 2003 Season At Auburn In Matchup Of Top 8 Teams

Aug. 24, 2003

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USC (0-0 overall) vs. Auburn (0-0), Saturday, Aug. 30, 5 p.m. CDT/3 p.m. PDT, Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.


How's this for an opener: a pair of Top 8-ranked teams, both with national championship aspirations, meet in steamy, sold-out (86,063) Jordan-Hare Stadium in a CBS nationally-televised contest. No. 8 USC carries over an 8-game winning streak from 2002, while No. 6 Auburn is looking to avenge last year's loss to the Trojans. The last time USC played an opener when both teams were ranked this high was in its national championship season of 1972. It's USC's first-ever visit to Auburn (and only Troy's third trip to the state of Alabama), as well as its first journey to a Southeastern Conference stadium since 1982. It's also USC's third consecutive game against a Top 7 opponent. The Trojans are trying to continue the momentum of their magical 2002 campaign, when they finished with an 11-2 record, a No. 4 final ranking, a share of the Pac-10 championship, decisive wins over traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame and an impressive victory in the BCS' Orange Bowl. But USC, under third-year coach Pete Carroll, will have to do it without the likes of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer and 2-time All-American first team safety Troy Polamalu. Instead, it'll rely on a strong defense, led by the 'Wild Bunch II' line, and some talented offensive skill position players (including 2002 Freshman All-American wide receiver Mike Williams). Auburn also is coming off a stellar season, having gone 9-4 in 2002 while winning a share of the SEC Western Division title and beating Penn State in the Capital One Bowl to earn a No. 14 final ranking. The Tigers feature a fierce defense and a loaded running attack. The 2003 season marks the 25th anniversary of USC's last national championship (1978).


USC is ranked eighth by AP and USA Today/ESPN. Auburn is sixth in both polls.


USC and Auburn have played only twice before, with both teams winning once. Last year, the teams opened their 2002 campaigns in the Coliseum as No. 18 USC won, 24-17, on QB Carson Palmer's 1-yard sneak with 1:26 to play. USC shut down the Tigers in the second half. After allowing 246 total yards, including 142 on the ground, and 14 first downs in the first half, the Trojan defense held Auburn to just 35 total yards-including minus 2 yards rushing-and 5 first downs in the second half. The Tigers held the ball just 8:25 after halftime and scored only 3 points. Palmer, who was 23-of-32 (71.9%) for 302 yards overall, was 11-of-13 in the second half. TB Malaefou MacKenzie, playing in his first game since the 2000 season, had 6 catches for 117 yards (the first 100-yard receiving game by a Trojan running back since Mike Garrett had 122 yards against California in 1964) and added 33 yards on 10 carries. WR Kareem Kelly also had 6 grabs (for 66 yards), while WR Mike Williams made his Trojan debut with 4 catches for 56 yards. USC had 386 total yards to Auburn's 281 and held the ball 34:28 overall. The teams traded scores throughout the game. USC scored on its first possession following a fumble recovery by LB Mike Pollard as Palmer hit Kelly for a 14-yard TD. The Tigers responded when TB Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams, who rushed for 94 yards on 21 tries overall, ran 23 yards for a score just one play after an interception. In the second quarter, DE Omar Nazel picked off a pass, which led to a 3-yard TD run by TB Sultan McCullough. But Auburn came back near the end of the half; after intercepting another Palmer pass, TB Ronnie Brown recovered a fumble by QB Daniel Cobb in the end zone. Troy opened the second half with a 37-yard field goal by PK David Davis, but Auburn PK Damon Duval matched that with a 39-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Cobb was 11-of-22 for 141 yards. DT Mike Patterson, in his first career start, had a team-best 8 tackles (1.5 for losses), while S Troy Polamalu added 7 stops and Nazel had 6. Auburn LB Dontarrious Thomas had 13 tackles (2 for losses), including 10 solo stops. It was Auburn's first visit to California since 1936 and USC's first win over an SEC foe since 1981.

The teams' first meeting was a 16-7 Tigers win in the 1987 Citrus Bowl (following the 1986 season) in chilly Orlando, Fla. In Ted Tollner's final game as USC's head coach, the Trojan defense held down a high-powered Auburn offense (led by Brent Fullwood, one of the nation's top runners). But Troy's offense was ineffective. Behind DT Aundray Bruce (the game's MVP; he had 3 sacks), Auburn limited USC to only 10 first downs and 157 total yards while forcing 5 turnovers. OLB Marcus Cotton provided USC with its only score on a spectacular 24-yard scoring interception return early in the game. Two long second-quarter drives by Auburn, plus a safety late in the game, gave Auburn its only points. USC made it interesting at the end after Louis Brock blocked a Tiger punt, but the Trojans couldn't score on fourth-and-inches at the goal line. Fullwood had 152 yards rushing and one TD for Auburn, which had just 290 total yards on the day (the Tigers coughed up 4 turnovers).


USC is 14-10-1 against teams from the Southeastern Conference, but has beaten an SEC foe just once in its last 7 meetings (going 1-5-1, with the win coming last season over Auburn). The last time USC played at an SEC site was 1982, losing at Florida, 17-9 (Troy lost at South Carolina in 1983, but the Gamecocks hadn't joined the SEC yet). Conversely, Auburn is 4-2 against the Pac-10 (2-1 versus Arizona, 1-1 against USC and 1-0 versus Oregon State).


USC's record in all season openers is 79-23-8 (.755), with 35 shutout victories. USC has won its last 5 season openers (by a combined score of 163-56). In season openers on the road, the Trojans are 22-7-1 (.750). USC's record for road openers is 71-27-8 (.708).


The last time USC opened a season ranked as high as No. 8 was in 1996, when the No. 7 Trojans fell to No. 11 Penn State in the Kickoff Classic, 24-7. The last time USC opened a season against an opponent ranked as high as No. 6 was in 1997, when No. 23 Troy lost to No. 5 Florida State, 14-7. The last time USC played an opener when both teams were ranked No. 8 or better was in 1972, when the No. 8 Trojans beat No. 4 Arkansas in Little Rock, 31-10, en route to USC's sixth national championship. This is the third consecutive game that USC has played a team ranked seventh or higher (No. 6 USC beat No. 7 Notre Dame, 44-13, in the 2002 regular season finale before the No. 5 Trojans dumped No. 3 Iowa, 38-17, in the 2003 Orange Bowl).


USC has played in Alabama only twice, going 2-0 in Birmingham's Legion Stadium against Alabama: a 42-21 win in 1970 and a 24-14 win over the No. 1 Crimson Tide in Troy's 1978 national championship season.


In its history, only one Trojan letterman hailed from Alabama (C George Dye, 1929, Birmingham, Ala.). However, two Trojan lettermen-RE Chuck Griffith (1954-55) and C Dick Petty (1952-53)-came from Auburn...Auburn, Calif., that is!


USC is just 2-5 against Auburn's in-state rival, Alabama (Troy last faced the Crimson Tide in the 1985 Aloha Bowl, a 24-3 loss). But, in 1970, the No. 3 Trojans' 42-21 season-opening win over Alabama was historically significant because it helped to change societal attitudes in the South. The Trojans traveled to Birmingham where they faced an all-white Crimson Tide team coached by Paul 'Bear' Bryant. Thanks to dominating performances for USC by a trio of African-Americans (Sam Cunningham, Clarence Davis and Jimmy Jones), Bryant was convinced that he needed to recruit black players for his program. The rest of the Southeastern Conference soon followed suit and opportunities for black athletes in the South began to improve tremendously. Bryant was so impressed by Cunningham (who had 135 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 12 carries in the game) that he invited the sophomore fullback into the 'Bama locker room after the game. He brought his players to Cunningham one-by-one and introduced him, saying: 'This is what a football player looks like.' Alabama won at least a share of 3 national titles the rest of the 1970s.


USC has no players on its roster from Alabama and Auburn has none from California...DT LaJuan Ramsey was born in Alabama and spent many summers there after moving to California when he was 3...USC DE Lawrence Jackson will celebrate his 18th birthday on Saturday...When USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was on the Miami (Fla.) staff from 1988 to 1992, Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville was a fellow Hurricane defensive coach.


Head coach Pete Carroll directed the 2002 Trojans to an 11-2 record, a No. 4 final ranking, a share of the Pac-10 championship (going 7-1), decisive wins over traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame and an impressive victory in the BCS' Orange Bowl...all while playing what was ranked as the nation's toughest schedule. Indeed, 2002 was a season of superlatives for Troy, which accomplished all this despite having several key starters miss significant parts of the season because of injuries. It was USC's most wins since 1979, its highest final ranking since 1979 and its most points (465) and touchdowns (60) since 1972. It was the first time since 1981 that USC beat the Bruins and Irish in the same season (and the first time in back-to-back games since 1978). The Trojans finished in the nation's Top 20 in nearly every team statistical category, and led the Pac-10 in total offense and defense and in scoring offense and defense. USC produced 2 All-American first teamers, including its first Heisman Trophy winner since 1981, and a pair of Freshman All-American first teamers. USC enters 2003 riding an 8-game winning streak (and a 9-game home winning streak).


In terms of difficulty, it might be hard to match USC's 2002 schedule, which was ranked by the NCAA, USA Today/Sagarin and BCS as the nation's toughest-it featured 11 bowl-bound team, including 9 ranked by AP (and only 1 with a losing record) at the time of the game. But Troy's 2003 slate might not be far behind. USC-which has 3 byes in 2003-faces 8 teams that played in bowls last season, including 3 ranked in the final AP Top 20. Four USC foes are ranked in this week's AP poll. The Trojans open on Aug. 30 at SEC power Auburn, picked by some prognosticators as a national title contender in 2003. Then, after hosting BYU and Hawaii, USC ventures into the always-difficult Pac-10 campaign, with 4 of its next 5 games on the road (including its annual tilt with non-conference rival Notre Dame). The Trojans play at California, Arizona State, Washington and Arizona, and host Stanford, Washington State and crosstown foe UCLA. The Pac-10 finale is a home contest against Oregon State on 'Championship Saturday' (Dec. 6, the latest USC regular season game since 1980).


USC is riding an 8-game winning streak, its longest since capturing 10 in a row in 1988. The Trojans also have captured their last 9 home games (with 2 shutouts in their past 7 home outings). That's USC's longest Coliseum win streak since getting 10 in a row during the 1987 and 1988 seasons. The Trojans went undefeated at home in 2002 (6-0) for the first time since 1987.


USC is 5 victories shy of becoming the 10th Division I team to collect 700 victories. USC's all-time record is 695-296-54 (70.9%).


The 2003 season marks the 25th anniversary of USC's last national football championship. The 1978 Trojans, coached by John Robinson and led by such players as TB Charles White, QB Paul McDonald, OT Pat Howell, OG Brad Budde, OT Anthony Munoz, S Ronnie Lott, S Dennis Smith and LB Riki Gray, went 12-1 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Troy took the top spot in the UPI (coaches) poll, but finished second in the AP (writers) poll to Alabama despite beating the Crimson Tide earlier in the season. It was USC's eighth national championship.

1969 D�J� VU?

There are some interesting similarities between the 1969 USC team (which went 10-0-1 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl) and the 2003 Trojans. Entering 1969, Troy lost a Heisman Trophy winner who was the first pick in the NFL draft (O.J. Simpson), had a new quarterback with no experience (Jimmy Jones), debuted a new tailback (Clarence Davis), featured a top incoming recruiting class (the 1972 seniors, who ended up helping USC to the national title), had a great defensive line (Wild Bunch I), had an offensive line featuring a returning all-conference tackle who was an All-American candidate and wore No. 77 (Sid Smith), faced a tough non-conference foe in its opener (Nebraska)...and the year prior saw Ohio State win the national title. The 2003 Trojans enter this season having lost a Heisman winner who was the NFL's first draft pick (Carson Palmer), will feature a new quarterback with no experience (Matt Leinart), debut a new tailback (Hershel Dennis et al), feature a top incoming recruiting class (ranked No. 1 by some), have a great defensive line (Wild Bunch II), have an offensive line featuring a returning All-Pac-10 tackle who is an All-American candidate and wears No. 77 (Jacob Rogers), meets a challenging non-conference opponent in its opener (Auburn)...and saw Ohio State win last year's national title.


USC will call upon starters returning at 14 positions (6 on offense, 6 on defense and both kickers). In all, 74 squadmen return, including 56 who saw playing time in 2003 (49 were lettermen and 26 were on the season-ending 2-deep). Some 22 Trojans have started at least once in their career. Joining them are 28 new scholarship players who comprise what some publications have ranked as the nation's premier recruiting class of 2003. Three high school All-Americans enrolled at USC in the spring of 2003 and participated in spring drills, while the other 25 newcomers (including 18 who were prep and junior college All-Americans in 2002) began this fall.


USC has scored at least 20 points in its last 13 games (and 15 of its past 16).


It will be difficult in 2003 to offset the loss of such offensive stars as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer, the Pac-10's career passing and total offense leader who set 33 Pac-10 and USC records, tailbacks Justin Fargas (who ran for 715 yards while starting 5 times in 2002), Sultan McCullough (USC's No. 8 career rusher with 2,800 yards, including a team-high 814 in 2002 while starting 5 games) and Malaefou MacKenzie (who ran for 939 yards and caught 76 passes in his career, and who started the last 7 games of 2002 at fullback), wide receiver Kareem Kelly (USC's career reception leader with 204 and the NCAA recordholder for consecutive games with a catch at 47), and 4-year starting offensive guard Zach Wilson. USC also lost some key starters on defense: 2-time All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu, the 2002 Thorpe Award finalist who was a 3-year starter with 278 tackles, 6 interceptions (3 for TDs) and 4 blocked kicks in his career, 2-year starting middle linebacker Mike Pollard (49 tackles in 2002), free safety DeShaun Hill (54 tackles and a team-best 8 deflections in 2002), cornerback Darrell Rideaux (46 tackles, 7 deflections, 2 interceptions in 2002) and tackle Bernard Riley, who had 19 career starts, including the last 7 games of 2002.

Pete Carroll

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). In 2002, just his second season at USC, his Trojans thrived despite playing what was ranked by the NCAA, Sagarin and the BCS as the nation's most difficult schedule (facing 9 AP-ranked teams and 11 bowl squads). USC-which beat Iowa in the Orange Bowl-posted an 11-2 overall record and a No. 4 ranking in the final polls, and won the Pac-10 championship while going 7-1. The Trojans also won their last 9 home games. It was USC's first 11-win season since 1979 and its highest ranking since 1988. Troy won its final 8 games (scoring at least 30 points in each), including blowouts of traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame (the first time USC beat both in the same season since 1981 and the first time in back-to-back games since 1978). USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (449.3) and total defense (284.9), as well as scoring offense (35.8) and scoring defense (18.5), and was in the NCAA's Top 25 in nearly every team statistical category on both sides of the ball. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer and safety Troy Polamalu were first team All-Americans. Carroll was 1 of 8 finalists for the 2002 Paul 'Bear' Bryant Coach of the Year Award and was 1 of 4 runners-up for the 2002 American Football Monthly Schutt Sports Division I-A Coach of the Year Award. After USC 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 28 years of NFL and college experience, including 12 on the college level. He is 17-8 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 15-3. He is 7-0 in November. 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 as a graduate assistant working with the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, and then a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary 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 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.


Starters return at 6 positions on offense in 2003: wide receiver (Keary Colbert), tight end (Alex Holmes), both tackles (Jacob Rogers and Winston Justice), guard (co-starters Lenny Vandermade and Eric Torres, with Torres having started at every line position but center in 2003) and center (Norm Katnik). USC's top 2 receivers and its third-leading rusher are back. The offense, directed by coordinator Norm Chow, will attempt to replicate the success of last season's unit, which finished sixth nationally in passing efficiency (149.2, first in Pac-10), eighth in passing offense (306.8, second in Pac-10), eighth in total offense (449.2, first in Pac-10) and ninth in scoring offense (35.8, first in Pac-10). The Trojans scored 30 points in their last 8 games (a USC first) and tallied 40 points 6 times last fall (the most since 1972). USC had 400-plus yards of total offense in each of its last 9 games. And Troy held the ball more than 8 minutes longer per game than its opponents.


USC's No. 1 concern in 2003 will be finding a replacement for quarterback Carson Palmer, the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner whose Pac-10 record 11,818 career passing yards and 11,621 yards of total offense were among the 33 Pac-10 and USC marks he set. The All-American first teamer completed 63.2% of his passes (309-of-489) in 2002 for 3,942 yards, 33 TDs and just 10 interceptions. Four players got a shot at the job in 2003 spring practice: juniors Matt Cassel (3-of-4, 75.0%, 27 yds in 2002), Palmer's backup the past 2 seasons who has thrown just 6 passes in his career, and Brandon Hance, who sat out last season after transferring from Purdue (he started 9 games there in 2001) and saw limited reps in 2002 practice after having surgery on his throwing shoulder, and sophomores Matt Leinart and Billy Hart, neither of whom has thrown a pass at USC while seeing brief action (Hart also plays on the Trojan baseball team). The competition remained nearly even throughout the spring, with the left-handed Leinart emerging with an ever-so-slight edge and extending his hold on the job in this fall's practice. And don't count out heralded freshman John David Booty (Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, La.), believed to be the first football player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll at a major Division I-A university. Also able to take snaps is walk-on freshman Michael McDonald, the son of ex-USC All-American Paul McDonald.


Last year, USC relied on 3 effective senior tailbacks to carry the load: Justin Fargas (who started 5 late-season games and rushed for 715 yards and 7 TDs), Sultan McCullough (a 5-game starter who led the Trojans with 814 yards and 8 TDs, and finished eighth on the school's career rushing list with 2,800 yards) and Malaefou MacKenzie (a 3-game starter at tailback and 7-game starter at fullback who ran for 939 yards and caught 76 passes in his career). In 2003, the only experienced tailback is promising sophomore Hershel Dennis (49 tcb, 198 yds, 4.0 avg, 1 TD in 2002, plus 4 rec , 23 yds, 5.8 avg and 9 KOR, 151 yds, 16.8 avg). He was USC's No. 3-leading rusher and its top kickoff returner. Walk-on sophomore Andre Woodert, a converted safety, is also available. Joining them this fall as freshmen are a terrific trio of prep All-Americans in Reggie Bush (Helix High in La Mesa, Calif.), Chauncey Washington (South Torrance High in Torrance, Calif.) and LenDale White (Chatfield High in Littleton, Colo.), plus frosh Jody Adewale (Roosevelt High in Los Angeles, Calif.). Also available are walk-on freshmen John Griffin and Sean Kelly.


With Malaefou MacKenzie gone, a new fullback must emerge. Sophomore Brandon Hancock (3 tcb, 8 yds, 2.7 avg in 2002, plus 2 rec, 15 yds, 7.5 avg and 4 tac, 1 FR), who started twice last fall, is the leading candidate. Other possibilities are junior Lee Webb (3 tac in 2002), who also has played linebacker at USC, and sophomore David Kirtman (2 tac, 1 FF in 2002). Walk-on redshirt freshmen Mike Brittingham, a converted safety, and Morgan Craig, a one-time quarterback, also are in the mix.


Even though USC career reception leader Kareem Kelly-he had 204 catches, including 46 last fall, and set an NCAA record by catching a pass in 47 consecutive games-is gone, the Trojans are in good shape in the wide receivers corps as a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (a first at Troy) are back. Both are playmakers who could win 2003 post-season honors and they form the top receiving duo in the country. Underrated, yet consistent, senior Keary Colbert (71 rec, 1,029 yds, 14.5 avg, 5 TD in 2002, plus 2 tcb, 36 yds, 18.0 avg, 1 TD) will start for his fourth season. He is sixth on USC's career receptions ladder with 138 grabs and a repeat of last season's 71-catch output will push him past Kelly as the school's all-time leading pass catcher. Even if Colbert breaks Kelly's mark, Keyshawn-esque sophomore Mike Williams (81 rec, 1,265 yds, 15.6 avg, 14 TD) is poised to shatter the standard before his career concludes. The 2003 pre-season All-American won Freshman All-American first team status last fall and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year when he set NCAA frosh records for receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and the Pac-10 frosh mark for receptions. He was 16th nationally in receiving yards (97.3) and 20th in receptions (6.2) while starting twice. He caught a TD pass in 7 consecutive games (including 3 against Washington to tie a USC game record) and his 14 TD catches not only were the second most in the nation, but tied the USC season mark. He had 5 100-yard receiving games, including 4 in a row. He caught 13 passes at Oregon, a USC frosh record.


Dependable backup receivers need to emerge behind Keary Colbert and Mike Williams. But no other wide receiver on the roster caught a ball last year. The cast includes seniors D. Hale, a walk-on-turned-scholarship winner who has started once in his career (he caught 7 passes in 2001), and Sandy Fletcher (2 tac in 2002), junior Jason Mitchell (3 KOR, 35 yds, 11.7 avg in 2002), sophomores Greig Carlson (27 PR, 177 yds, 6.6 avg in 2002) and converted cornerback Justin Wyatt (10 tac, 1 dfl, 2 FR in 2002, plus 1 PR, 16 yds, 16.0 avg), and sure-handed redshirt freshman Chris McFoy. Hale missed the first half of 2002 with a fractured ankle, Fletcher was bothered midseason by an ankle sprain and Mitchell had an early-season back injury that allowed him to redshirt. Carlson, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, was USC's top punt returner in 2002. Wyatt was the surprise of 2003 spring drills after his switch to offense and also could be a factor returning punts and kicks. Two walk-ons also figure in: junior Steve Levario Jr. and redshirt freshman John Zilka. To that end, a pair of the nation's most highly sought-after high school pass catchers enrolled at USC this fall as freshmen: prep All-Americans Whitney Lewis (St. Bonaventure High in Ventura, Calif.) and Steve Smith (Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif.). Lewis might also play tailback.


USC is well-stocked at tight end, with a returning starter and a pair of experienced backups. Senior Alex Holmes (29 rec, 320 yds, 11.0 avg, 2 TD in 2002, plus 5 tac, 1 FF), who has caught 58 passes in his career, is back as the starter (although he has been bothered in 2003 by a back injury). His 29 clutches last year were the most by a Trojan tight end since 1993. He is equally adept blocking and receiving. Behind him are junior Gregg Guenther Jr. (7 rec, 39 yds, 5.6 avg, 1 TD in 2002), who started once last fall, sophomore Dominique Byrd (1 rec, 10 yds, 10.0 avg in 2002, plus 2 tac), and redshirt freshman Kurt Katnik, a converted center (and the younger brother of starting center Norm Katnik). Guenther, USC's tallest player at 6-8, also stars on the Trojan men's basketball squad. Walk-ons Owen Hanson, a junior who also is on the Trojan men's volleyball team, and redshirt freshman Nick Vanderboom, a converted quarterback, add depth.


The 2003 version of USC's offensive line might be Troy's best in years. Players return at 4 positions-only 4-year starting right guard Zach Wilson is gone-and there are some big-potential younger players angling for time. Both tackles return and they're good ones: senior Jacob Rogers, a 2-year starter who earned All-Pac-10 first team laurels in 2002, and sophomore Winston Justice, a 2002 Freshman All-American first teamer. Both are in line for 2003 post-season honors. They make up the nation's best bookend tackles. Senior Lenny Vandermade, a 3-year starter, returns at left guard (he also has started at center in his career) and is recovered from a torn biceps which sidelined him for the last 4 outings of 2002. His fill-in is also back, senior Eric Torres, who started 7 times in 2002 at every line spot except center (Torres started all of 2001 at right tackle). He broke his left ankle in the Orange Bowl and missed spring drills (he was slowed in fall camp, too). And reliable center Norm Katnik, another 2-year starter, returns. He also has started at guard and tackle in his USC tenure. Returning squadmen looking to work into the rotation are senior tackle Nate Steinbacher, who worked some at defensive tackle last fall, junior guard Travis Watkins and redshirt freshmen Fred Matua, a guard who was set to start the 2002 opener before a knee sprain sidelined him (he has the inside track for Wilson's right guard spot in 2003), and guard Kyle Williams, plus walk-on junior center Spencer Torgan (2 tac, 1 sack in 2002), a converted defensive tackle, and walk-on redshirt freshman center-guard John Lanza. Coming aboard this fall are tackle John Drake (Long Beach City College in Long Beach, Calif.), a junior college transfer who is a junior, plus a trio of freshmen who were prep All-Americans: Sam Baker (Tustin High in Tustin, Calif.) and Drew Radovich (Mission Viejo High in Mission Viejo, Calif.) at guard (Radovich can also play tackle) and Ryan Kalil (Servite High in Anaheim, Calif.) at center. There's also freshmen Fili Moala (Western High in Anaheim, Calif.), a converted defensive tackle, and Matt Spanos (Corona High in Corona, Calif.), a converted defensive end.


Six defensive starters return from 2002: linebackers Matt Grootegoed and Melvin Simmons, ends Kenechi Udeze and Omar Nazel, tackle Mike Patterson and cornerback Marcell Allmond. Others back with starting experience are tackle Shaun Cody, who started for his second year in 2002 before tearing a knee ligament midseason, as well as three cornerbacks-Kevin Arbet, Ronald Nunn and William Buchanon-and safety Jason Leach. The top 2 tacklers, plus the leaders in interceptions, tackles for loss, sacks, fumble recoveries and forced fumbles, return from 2002's dominant defense that was sixth nationally in rushing defense (83.2, first in Pac-10), sixth in total defense (284.9, first in Pac-10), fifth in turnover margin (+1.4, second in Pac-10), 17th in scoring defense (18.5, first in Pac-10) and 19th in pass efficiency defense (102.5, second in Pac-10). Last year, USC held 9 teams under 100 yards rushing (including 7 times in a row) and no runner eclipsed the 100-yard rushing barrier. The Trojans allowed foes to convert just 27.6% of third downs. USC's +1.33 turnover margin the past 2 regular seasons is the best in the nation during that span (Troy has 71 takeaways while giving the ball away only 37 times the past 2 years).


Simply put, USC's defensive line is the best in the nation. Nicknamed the 'Wild Bunch II' in honor of USC's famous 1969 defensive front, 4 key veterans-each could win 2003 post-season honors-return from a unit that was sixth in the country last fall versus the rush (allowing just 83.2 yards per game) and let only 4 of 13 offenses run for more than 100 yards (no individual ever rushed for 100 yards). More than half of USC's 43 sacks last season were by defensive linemen. Both ends return: senior Omar Nazel (38 tac, 10.5 for loss, 6.5 sac, 7 dfl, 1 int, 1 FF in 2002) and junior Kenechi Udeze (44 tac, 16 for loss, 7.5 sack, 6 FF, 1 FR, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 BLK in 2002). Udeze, a 2-year starter, set a USC record with his Pac-10 leading 6 forced fumbles. Also back is junior Mike Patterson (37 tac, 11.5 for loss, 5.5 sack, 4 FR, 1 dfl in 2002), who started 10 times at nose tackle and 3 at defensive tackle last fall. His 4 fumble recoveries topped the Pac-10. Look for him at nose tackle in 2002. Although tackle Bernard Riley-he had 19 career starts, including the last 7 games of 2002, when he posted 25 tackles-is gone, a familiar face will re-assume that defensive tackle spot. Junior Shaun Cody (20 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 FR, 1 BLK in 2002), a 2001 Freshman All-American first teamer, started the first 6 games of 2002 before tearing knee ligaments. He missed spring drills, but is ready to go this fall. Among the returning squadmen pushing for time at end are junior Van Brown (4 tac, 1.5 sack in 2002) and sophomore converted linebacker Frostee Rucker (he sat out last year after transferring from Colorado State) and, at tackle, soph LaJuan Ramsey (1 tac, 1 FR in 2002) and redshirt freshman Travis Tofi. Then there's junior walk-on Jay Bottom at end. Eight new players enrolled at USC this fall as freshmen. The ends are prep All-Americans Chris Barrett (Tustin High in Tustin, Calif.), Lawrence Jackson (Inglewood High in Inglewood, Calif.) and Alex Morrow (Rancho Cotate High in Rohnert Park, Calif.). The tackles are prep All-Americans Sedrick Ellis (Chino High in Chino, Calif.) and Manuel Wright (Poly High in Long Beach, Calif.), plus Ryan Watson (John Curtis High in River Ridge, La.).


USC is solid at the outside linebacker spots, as junior Matt Grootegoed (81 tac, 16.5 for loss, 8 sack, 1 int, 4 dfl, 1 FR, 3 FF in 2002) returns on the strong side and senior Melvin Simmons (71 tac, 6.5 for loss, 2.5 sack, 2 int, 5 dfl, 1 FR in 2002) is back on the weak side. Grootegoed, a 2-year starter and 2003 post-season honors candidate who has a knack for always being around the ball, won All-Pac-10 first team honors in 2002 when he led the Trojans in tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks. Simmons was USC's No. 2 tackler last fall. But a new middle linebacker must be found now that Mike Pollard-a 2-year starter who had 49 stops last year-has departed. Among the possibilities are sophomores Oscar Lua (13 tac, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002), who tore knee ligaments prior to the Orange Bowl and missed spring practice, and Lofa Tatupu, who sat out last season after transferring from Maine, where he started in 2001 (he is the son of ex-USC and NFL fullback Mosi Tatupu). Other linebackers from last year's roster looking to get in the mix are juniors Bobby Otani (10 tac in 2002) and converted defensive end Daniel Urquhart and sophomore Dallas Sartz (8 tac, 1 for loss, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2002), plus walk-on sophomore Collin Ashton (3 tac in 2002). Prep All-American Thomas Williams (Vacaville High in Vacaville, Calif.), along with Salo Faraimo (Vista High in Vista, Calif.), joined the linebacking corps this fall as freshmen. Walk-on junior Marco Chavez, who spent part of 2002 at Hawaii, will redshirt this year after transferring.


While the biggest holes to fill on USC's defense are in the secondary, the situation isn't as dire as it might appear. Granted, the Trojans lost 3 quality starters in 2-time All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu (the 2002 Thorpe Award finalist was a 3-year starter who amassed 278 tackles and 6 interceptions in his career), free safety DeShaun Hill (he had 54 stops and a team-best 8 deflections last season) and cornerback Darrell Rideaux (he notched 46 tackles, 7 pass break-ups and 2 picks in 2002). Most critically, the void left from the loss of Polamalu's leadership cannot be discounted. Only senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (34 tac, 1 int, 6 dfl in 2002, plus 5 KOR, 99 yds, 19.8 avg) returns as a starter...and the Trojans went 7-0 once he entered the lineup the second half of 2002. The one-time starting wide receiver also is a top-flight hurdler on USC's track squad. There are plenty of experienced options to fill the 3 open spots. In fact, 3 players have starting experience at cornerback: senior Kevin Arbet, who missed all of last season with a broken foot, junior Ronald Nunn (3 tac in 2002) and sophomore William Buchanon (19 tac, 1 for loss, 6 dfl in 2002). Arbet-who appears to have won the starting job for 2003-started 4 times in 2000 and was an All-Pac-10 first teamer as a special teams player in 2001. Nunn started USC's first 3 contests in 2002 before tearing knee ligaments (he missed most of 2003 spring drills) and then Buchanon started the next 3 games (after converting from wide receiver) before giving way to Allmond. And junior Jason Leach (30 tac, 1 for loss, 4 int, 3 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2002) started twice at strong safety last fall for an injured Polamalu, including in the Orange Bowl. He led Troy in interceptions in 2002. He has moved to free safety and starts there. Other cornerbacks back from last year's group are sophomore John Walker (2 tac in 2002, plus 1 PR, 4 yds, 4.0 avg) and walk-on sophomore Alex Gomez. Identical twin freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Ting and Ryan Ting, who were 2002 prep All-Americans, graduated a semester early from James Logan High in Union City, Calif., and enrolled at USC this past spring (Brandon can also play safety). Keep an eye on freshman safety Darnell Bing, who originally signed with USC last year after a prep All-American career at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High but did not qualify for admission then. He enrolled at Troy this past spring and has locked down the strong safety job. Battling for action at safety from last year's squad are sophomore Mike Ross (8 tac in 2002, plus 1 TD on a blocked punt recovery), plus 5 walk-ons in seniors Greg Farr and top special teams player Forrest Mozart (2 tac, 1 BLK in 2002, plus 1 PR, 23 yds, 23.0 avg) and juniors Chris Bocage, Matt Lemos and Kyle Matthews (1 tac in 2002). This fall, joining the fray are junior college transfer Will Poole (Ventura Junior College in Ventura, Calif.), a senior safety who started at Boston College in 2000 before earning J.C. All-American laurels last fall, and 3 incoming freshmen who were prep All-Americans: safety-cornerback Desmond Reed (Temple City High in Temple City, Calif.), safety Terrell Thomas (Rancho Cucamonga High in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and cornerback Eric Wright (Riordan High in San Francisco, Calif.).


All of USC's specialists from 2002 return: the punter (Tom Malone), placekicker (Ryan Killeen), short snapper (Joe Boskovich), long snapper (Matt Hayward) and holder (Tom Malone), plus the top punt returner (Greig Carlson) and kickoff returner (Hershel Dennis). But there is still cause for concern in the performance of the special teams, which were an adventure at times in 2002. While Malone and Killeen were effective, USC was last in the Pac-10 in punt returns (7.2) and kickoff returns (17.5), and ninth in kickoff return coverage (24.1). Plus, the Trojans had 8 kicks blocked (3 punts, 3 PATs and 2 field goals), with one returned for a TD and another for a defensive PAT. And Troy gave up a 100-yard scoring kickoff return.


Sophomore Tom Malone (42.1 avg in 2002) has proven to be one of the nation's top young punters. He earned Freshman All-American second team notice last fall. Nearly half of his 62 punts pinned opponents within the 20-yard line and 12 traveled at least 50 yards (including a 72-yarder). He is backed by a pair of walk-ons, senior Tommy Huff and sophomore Zach Sherwood. Junior Ryan Killeen (16-of-23 FG, 47-of-49 PAT in 2002, plus 2 tac), who was only supposed to handle the kickoff duty last year, took over the placekicking job during the third game of 2002 and was impressive. His 16 field goals were 3 shy of the USC season record, he hit his last 30 PATs (and missed just 2 out of 49 all year), he led Troy in scoring (95 points) and 27 of his 89 kickoffs were touchbacks. Walk-on freshman Mario Danelo pushed him throughout 2003 fall camp. Both of USC's snappers-seniors Joe Boskovich (placekicks) and Matt Hayward (punts)-are back. It's the fourth season in that role for Boskovich, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, and the third year for Hayward. Both have been near flawless in their careers. Walk-on freshman Will Collins can also snap. Sophomore punter Tom Malone returns as the holder on all placekicks, with soph quarterback Matt Leinart and junior quarterback Matt Cassel possible backups. USC's top punt returner-sophomore wide receiver Greig Carlson (27 PR, 177 yds, 6.6 avg in 2002)-and kickoff returner-soph tailback Hershel Dennis (9 KOR, 151 yds, 16.8 avg in 2002)-from last season are back. Other potential returners include senior cornerbacks Kevin Arbet, who led USC in punt returns in 2001 (25 PR, 225 yds, 9.0 avg, plus 3 KOR, 53 yds, 17.7 avg), and Marcell Allmond (5 KOR, 99 yds, 19.8 avg in 2002), sophomore cornerback Justin Wyatt (1 PR, 16 yds, 16.0 avg in 2002), or any of several freshman, including safety Darnell Bing, wide receivers Whitney Lewis and Steve Smith, tailback Reggie Bush, and defensive backs Desmond Reed and Eric Wright.


USC's assistant coaching staff stayed relatively intact from 2002, with some slight positional changes. Tim Davis, who last year handled the offensive guards and centers, now takes over the entire line. Rocky Seto, a Trojan graduate assistant last fall, is now a full-time coach in charge of the safeties. Ed Orgeron, USC's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, this year adds the title of assistant head coach. Dennis Slutak is the only newcomer on the staff; the one-time Florida State punter and North Carolina State graduate assistant will be a graduate assistant working with the special teams.


***Defensively in 2002, USC was sixth nationally in rushing defense (83.2, first in Pac-10), sixth in total defense (284.9, first in Pac-10), fifth in turnover margin (+1.4, second in Pac-10), 17th in scoring defense (18.5, first in Pac-10) and 19th in pass efficiency defense (102.5, second in Pac-10).

***On offense in 2002, USC was sixth nationally in passing efficiency (149.2, first in Pac-10), eighth in passing offense (306.8, second in Pac-10), eighth in total offense (449.2, first in Pac-10) and ninth in scoring offense (35.8, first in Pac-10).

***USC-in the Top 10 nationally in both total offense and total defense in 2002-finished first in the Pac-10 in both categories for the seventh time in its history (the others were 1962-63-72-76-77-89).

***USC also in 2002 finished first in the Pac-10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense for the sixth time in its history (the others were 1962-65-67-72-74).

***USC had a balanced attack, with 515 rushing attempts and 494 passing attempts in 2002.

***USC had 400-plus yards of total offense in each of its last 9 games in 2002 (and 10 times overall this season), the most consecutive in a season since 9 in a row in 1989.

***USC's 33 TD passes were the fourth most in the nation in 2002.

***USC allowed opponents to convert just 27.6% of third downs (second in the Pac-10) in 2002.

***USC averaged 34:11 time of possession (tops in the Pac-10) in 2002 and won the possession battle in 11 games (all but Kansas State and Stanford).

***USC completed 63.4% of its passes in 2002 (tops in the Pac-10).

***In the red zone, USC scored 58-of-70 times (82.9%) in 2002.

***USC was last in the Pac-10 in punt returns (7.2) and kickoff returns (17.5) in 2002-the Trojans returned 10 less kickoffs than any other team-and ninth in kickoff return coverage (24.1).

***In first halves in 2002, USC allowed 54 total yards to Colorado, 118 to Kansas State, 98 to Oregon State and 94 to Notre Dame.

***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, 107 to Arizona State and 15 to Notre Dame.

***USC held 9 opponents under 100 yards rushing in 2002, including 7 in a row.

***No opposing runner rushed for 100 yards against USC in 2002 (there have been only 3 other seasons-1963-72-82-when the Trojans went an entire season without allowing a runner to hit 100 yards).

***USC had at least 20 first downs in all but 2 games (Kansas State and Washington) in 2002, including 31 versus both Oregon and Notre Dame, 30 against Iowa and 28 against both Washington State and California (the Trojans had at least 20 first downs only once in 2001).

***USC had 8 kicks blocked (punts, field goals, PATs) in 2002.

***USC came out of halftime strong in 2002, with a 115-20 scoring margin in the third quarter.

***USC finished its halves well in 2002, outscoring opponents 100-56 in the second quarter and 146-84 in the fourth quarter.

***USC also had dominant second halves in 2002, outscoring foes 261-107.

***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 had 40-plus games 6 times, the most since getting 7 in 1972.

***USC scored at least 30 points in its last 8 games in 2002 (all victories), the first time in USC history that happened. On the year, the Trojans scored 30 points 9 times, the most since getting 10 in 1972. USC's 465 total points and 60 TDs in 2002 were the most since the 1972 club had 467 and 65.

***USC had a +17.3 scoring margin in 2002 (35.8 to 18.5) in 2002, but in its last 8 games (all victories) Troy averaged 41.5 points to the opponents' 20.4 (+21.1).

***USC had a knack for scoring a string of unanswered points in 2002. The Trojans scored 34 unanswered points versus Notre Dame, 31 and 21 at UCLA, 31 against Iowa, 30 at Oregon, 28 at Stanford, 27 against California and Washington, 22 versus Oregon State and 20 (twice) at Colorado.

***In 2002, USC beat UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season for the first time since 1981 (and for the first time in consecutive games since 1978).

***USC captured a share of the Pac-10 title in 2002 (the Trojans now have won or split 32 conference championships).

***USC's 11-2 record was its first 11-win season and its best overall season since the 1979 squad finished 11-0-1.

***USC's No. 4 AP ranking in 2002 was its highest since the 1988 team reached No. 2 late in that season. That also was USC's best final ranking since the 1979 team finished at No. 2. It also was the first season since 1995 that USC was ranked in the AP poll each week (incidentally, Troy was never ranked in 2001).

***USC's home attendance average of 66,853 (in 6 games) in 2002 was its highest since 1990.


USC has been effective in the takeaway department during head coach Pete Carroll's first 2 seasons. USC's +1.33 turnover margin over the past 2 regular seasons was the best in the nation and its +69 takeaways during that span was third most (slightly behind Virginia Tech's 71 and Tulane's 70). In 2002, the Trojans had 36 takeaways (19 fumbles and 17 interceptions) and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.4). In 2001 (including the bowl), Troy had 35 takeaways (20 picks, 15 fumbles) and ranked fifth in the nation in turnover margin at +1.3. USC's ball security was impressive, too, the past 2 seasons: only 19 turnovers in 2001 and just 18 in 2002.


***WR Keary Colbert and LB Melvin Simmons have been selected by their teammates as season captains. Each game, they will join captains representing special teams and the service (scout) team.

***OT Jacob Rogers and WR Keary Colbert already have been invited to play in 79th annual East-West Shrine Game at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco on Jan. 10, 2004.

***QB John David Booty, who enrolled at USC this fall, is believed to be the first football player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll at a major Division I-A university.

***USC has 5 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 likely starting FB Brandon Hancock came to USC in the spring of 2002. Identical twin reserve CBs Brandon and Ryan Ting did so this past spring.

***USC has retired the jersey numbers of its 5 Heisman Trophy winners. However, S Darnell Bing received permission from USC athletic director Mike Garrett (Troy's 1965 Heisman-winning tailback) to wear Garrett's retired No. 20 jersey.

***QB Matt Leinart's girlfriend is professional surfer and snowboarder Veronica Kay, who starred this past year in 'Boarding House: North Shore' on the WB television network (it was a lifestyle/reality series based on the pro surfing tour in Hawaii). Also a model, she's the international face of the popular Roxy surfwear brand.

***Former USC All-American safety Ronnie Lott was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this Aug. 7-9, while the late USC 2-time All-American tailback Ricky Bell will be inducted into the Hall at a Dec. 9 dinner in New York (he'll be enshrined in August of 2004). 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. Bell, who earned All-American honors in 1975 and 1976 (he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1976), ran for 3,689 yards at Troy and then was the No. 1 pick of the 1977 NFL draft (he played 6 years in the NFL) before dying in 1984 of heart disease. USC has 25 former players, 2 ex-head coaches, 4 one-time assistant coaches and a former athletic director in the College Football Hall of Fame.

***Tailback Marcus Allen, USC's 1981 Heisman Trophy winner, was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, this Aug. 3. A 1981 All-American, he was the first collegian to rush for more than 2,000 yards (he had 2,427 yards in 1981) and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He played 16 years in the NFL with the Raiders (1982-92) and Chiefs (1993-97). USC has 10 former players and 3 ex-assistant coaches in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

***QB Brandon Hance, who was hospitalized briefly this past summer with a viral form of spinal meningitis, recorded a public service announcement for the Meningitis Foundation of America. As part of the MFA's Meningitis Awareness and Prevention month in August, Hance's 30-second radio message is geared toward college students.

***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.

***Traveler, USC's fabled white horse mascot, has a new trainer: Joanne Asman (she also will provide and house the horse for USC). She takes over for Patricia Saukko DeBernardi (the widow of original Traveler rider and owner Richard Saukko), who retired after last season. Chuck O'Donnell and USC junior Brent Dahlgren will continue as the horse's riders. Since 1961, Traveler-with a Trojan warrior astride-has galloped around the Coliseum field whenever USC scores.

***USC's oldest living football letterman is 103-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.

***Two Trojans-TE Gregg Guenther Jr. and WR Sandy Fletcher-have played on the USC basketball team. Guenther started 9 times at center in 2003, averaging 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 19 games (he had 4 double-doubles and his free throws with 3.9 seconds to play won the Arizona State game). He also saw action in 9 games (starting 3) in 2002. 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.

***Several other Trojans have participated in other sports at Troy. QB Billy Hart was on the USC baseball team in 2002 and 2003. He started 22 times in right field in 2003, hitting .238 in 42 games with 20 hits, 14 runs, 1 home run and 4 RBI (he redshirted in 2002). CB Marcell Allmond was a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team the past 4 springs (2000-2003). With a 13.54 lifetime best in the high hurdles, he was second in the high hurdles at the 2000 Pac-10 meet (he tied for seventh at the 2002 Pac-10s) and was seventh in the 2000 Pac-10 decathlon. OG Travis Watkins and OT Nate Steinbacher also were shot putters for the 2001 Trojan track squad (Steinbacher competed in 2 meets, while Watkins redshirted). Walk-on CB Justin Tolliver was a sprinter for the 2002 and 2003 Trojans, but did not compete in a meet. Walk-on TE Owen Hanson was a reserve on the USC men's volleyball team the past 3 seasons (2001-03), seeing action in 1 match in 2003.

***Who's the fastest among the 2003 Trojans? It might be TB Reggie Bush, with bests of 10.42 in the 100 meters and 21.06 in the 200. He placed third in the 100 in the 2002 California state meet.

***USC's only married player is SNP Matt Hayward. He and his wife, Kristin, were married on June 19, 2003.

***On DT Shaun Cody's right biceps is a large tattoo of the interlock 'SC' logo, which stands both for his initials and his university.

***QB Matt Cassel played on the Northridge (Calif.) team that was a finalist at the 1994 Little League World Series, while LB Bobby Otani was a national champion in judo.

***Two Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, 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). USC linebackers coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence 'Buster' Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

***Four Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: S Kyle Matthews (father, 1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team), QB Michael McDonald (father, 1979 All-American Paul, was on the 1978 team), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi, was on the 1974 team) and CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams, was on the 1978 team).

***Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. FB-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. One Trojan has a cousin who played at USC-SNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)-and four have uncles who were Trojan footballers: C Norm Katnik/TE Kurt Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87), OG 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, was a 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. OG Sam Baker's father, David, formerly played basketball at UC Irvine and then professionally in Europe, while his brother, Ben, was an offensive lineman at Duke. QB John David Booty's father, Johnny, played quarterback at Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State, while his brother, Josh, played quarterback at LSU for 2 seasons (1999-2000) following a 5-year (1994-98) baseball career as an infielder in the Florida Marlins organization (he currently is playing with the NFL's Cleveland Browns) and another brother, Abram, was a wide receiver at LSU (1997-99) and Valdosta State (2001). 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 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, while his younger brother, Justin, is a freshman on UC Irvine's baseball team. 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 Salo Faraimo's brother, Preston, was a linebacker at Hawaii in 2000 and 2001...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. DE Lawrence Jackson's brother, Keith, is a redshirt freshman offensive tackle at Arizona. C Ryan Kalil's father, Frank, was a center at Arizona (1980-82) and with the USFL's Arizona Wranglers (1983) and Houston Gamblers (1984). C Norm Katnik's and TE 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 former Arizona State S Alfred Williams (1999-2002). OG 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. WR Jason Mitchell's cousin, Christian Radley, was a coxswain on the USC women's rowing team in 2002. OT-DT Fili Moala's cousin is Oregon sophomore defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. OT-OG Drew Radovich's father, Mark, was a linebacker at Arizona State (1974-76). 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. DT Travis Tofi's cousin, Suaese 'Pooch' Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech. Twin CBs Brandon and Ryan Ting's brother, Rich, was a quarterback at Yale (1998-2001). OG Travis Watkins' brother, Todd, was a wide receiver on the 2001 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. DT Ryan Watson's cousin is former Georgia Tech (1999-2002) wide receiver Kerry Watkins. TB LenDale White is the cousin of former Pitt (2000-01) wide receiver Darcey Levy (who plays in the NFL), ex-Wyoming (1998-2002) linebacker Herman White and former Colorado point guard Chauncey Billups, now in the NBA. 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 1960. DT Manuel Wright's cousin is Arizona State senior tailback Mike Williams. WR John Zilka's grandfather, Jake Nagode, played basketball at Northwestern (1936-38) and then professionally in the late-1940s, while his sister, Allison, lettered on the Arizona women's soccer team in 1994. DB coach Greg Burns' brother, Dexter, was a defensive back at San Jose State in the mid-1990s. Head coach Pete Carroll's wife, Glena, played volleyball at Pacific, while his son, Brennan, was a tight end at Delaware and Pitt (he currently is a graduate assistant football coach at USC) and his daughter, Jaime, played on the 2000 USC women's volleyball team. 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), while his brother, Chris, is a junior defensive lineman at Colorado State. Safeties coach Rocky Seto's wife, Sharla, played soccer at USC. OFF/TE coach Brennan Carroll is the son of USC head coach Pete Carroll.

***How about these names: DE Frostee Rucker. Walk-on S 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. OT-DT Fili Moala. LB Salo Faraimo. WR D. Hale (it's for Donald, but he goes by D.; he says only his mother calls him Donald). LB Melvin Simmons goes by the nickname 'Champ.' Then, there's S Darnell Bing and the Ting twins (CBs Brandon and Ryan).


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 29 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. Six NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Miami's Dave Wannstedt and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio. Twelve current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: QB John David Booty (brother, Josh Booty), DE Van Brown (brother, Chad Brown), CB William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), PK Mario Danelo (father, Joe Danelo), OG Fred Matua (cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), QB Michael McDonald (father, Paul McDonald), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi Tatupu), CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams), OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins), TB LenDale White (cousin, Darcey Levy) and OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). OG Sam Baker's father, David, is the commissioner of the Arena Football League. And C Ryan Kalil's father, Frank, played in the USFL. Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistant Lane Kiffin was an NFL assistant. Three assistant coaches played professionally: 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 308 times, including 174 of the past 176 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).


Incoming scholarship freshman linebacker Drean Rucker, a 2002 prep All-American from Canyon Springs High in Moreno Valley (Calif.), drowned in the ocean off of Huntington Beach (Calif.) on July 21, just 2 weeks before he was to report to USC for fall practice. He was 18. His body was found on July 26. 'This is an extraordinary tragedy for Drean's family and for the Trojan Family,' said USC head coach Pete Carroll. 'Drean was a wonderful young man with a great spirit. He would light up a room with his smile. He was a highly-competitive and talented football player who was going to make an impact at USC on and off the field. It's just a terrible loss. The hearts and prayers of the Trojan Family go out to his family.' In his memory, the 2003 Trojans will wear a sticker on their helmets bearing his name and his No. 54 jersey will not be worn this season.


There are a number of updates from the roster in the 2003 USC football media guide.

***There are 3 new scholarship players (their complete bios are below): #41 Jody Adewale (TB, 6-0, 210, Fr./Fr., Los Angeles, Roosevelt HS), #37 Salo Faraimo (LB, 6-0, 210, Fr./Fr., Vista, Vista HS) and #92 Manuel Wright (DT, 6-6, 285, Fr./Fr., Compton, Poly HS).

***Seven other players have joined the team as walk-ons: #85 Marco Chavez (LB, 6-3, 245, Jr.*/Sr., Pico Rivera, St. Paul HS/Palomar JC/Hawaii), #70 Will Collins (SNP, 6-2, 225, Fr./Fr., Laguna Beach, Mater Dei HS), #46 Mario Danelo (PK, 5-10, 200, Fr./Fr., San Pedro, San Pedro HS), #29 John Griffin (TB, 6-0, 195, Fr./Fr., Saratoga, Saratoga HS), #47 Sean Kelly (TB, 6-0, 200, Fr./Fr., Gig Harbor, WA, Bellarmine Prep HS), #16 Michael McDonald (QB, 6-1, 180, Fr./Fr., Newport Beach, Newport Harbor HS) and #21 Justin Tolliver (CB, 5-8, 160, So.*/Jr., New Orleans, LA, Del La Salle HS). Tolliver, who was on the 2001 Trojan football team (he had a tackle and an interception), did not play football last season at USC while competing on Troy's track team.

***Four players have changed numbers: PK Ryan Killeen is now #16, P Tommy Huff is now #48, TE Kurt Katnik is now #85 and OT-DT Fili Moala is now #68.

***Nine players have switched positions: Kurt Katnik is now a TE-C, Spencer Torgan is now a C, Morgan Craig is now just a FB, Desmond Reed is now a S-CB, Whitney Lewis is now a WR-TB, Brandon Ting is now a CB-S, Drew Radovich is now an OT-OG, John Lanza is now a C-OG and Fili Moala is now an OT-DT.

***Also, delete PK Jon-Luke Del Fante, LB Matt Newhouse and CB Kirk Shepherd, who all quit the team, LB Drean Rucker, who drowned tragically this summer, and OT Travis Draper and LB Johnathan Turner, who both did not qualify for admission.


JODY ADEWALE-He was named a 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West honorable mention, Tom Lemming All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best of the Rest, All-L.A. City second team and Los Angeles Times All-Central City first team (as a defensive back) selection as a senior at Roosevelt High in Los Angeles (Calif.)...He ran for 1,400-plus yards and 26 TDs as a running back and made 27 tackles with an interception as a defensive back...As a junior in 2001, he made All-L.A. City, Los Angeles Times All-Central City first team and All-League first team while running for 1,660 yards and 25 TDs and posting 144 tackles and an interception at linebacker...He also competed in basketball and track at Roosevelt...His last name is pronounced 'add-uh-WALL-lee.'

SALO FARAIMO-He was a 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best of the Rest, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, All-CIF San Diego Section Defensive MVP, San Diego Union-Tribune All-San Diego first team and All-Palomar League (as a running back and linebacker) pick as a senior at Vista (Calif.) High...He ran for 1,039 yards on 179 carries (5.8 avg.) with 21 TDs and had 128 tackles (69 solo) with 3 sacks in 2002...His brother, Preston, was a linebacker at Hawaii in 2000 and 2001...His name is pronounced 'SAL-low fuh-RAY-moe.'

MANUEL WRIGHT-He actually signed with USC in 2002, but did not qualify for admission, so he attended Long Beach (Calif.) City College that season as a part-time student (he didn't play football there)...He earned 2001 Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Tom Lemming All-American, Max Emfinger All-American, Student Sports All-American second team, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Dream Team, Super Prep All-Far West, Prep Star All-Western Region, Student Sports All-West first team, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Las Vegas Sun Super 11 first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division I Defensive MVP, Los Angeles Times All-Southeast/South Coast first team and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team Defensive MVP honors as a senior defensive lineman at Poly High in Long Beach (Calif.)...He had 142 tackles (60 solo), including 16 sacks, plus 4 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles, 20 deflections and an interception...As a junior in 2000, he made Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass first team, All-CIF Division I first team and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team while recording 95 tackles (57 solo), with 25 sacks...He was a 3-year starter as Poly went 39-1-1 and won 3 CIF Division I titles...Current Trojans Darnell Bing, Hershel Dennis and Winston Justice also prepped at Poly...His cousin is Arizona State senior tailback Mike Williams...Wright's first name is pronounced 'MAN-you-ull.'


Based on several national accolades it has received in recent years, 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 2003 Trojan squad are: CB-S Brandon Ting (4.00 GPA), CB Ryan Ting (4.00), FB Brandon Hancock (3.82, business major), WR John Zilka (3.48), TB-S Andre Woodert (3.37, kinesiology), TE Nick Vanderboom (3.32, business), QB Matt Cassel (3.28, communication), QB Billy Hart (3.22, business), QB Brandon Hance (3.09, music industry), FB Mike Brittingham (3.01), SNP Matt Hayward (2.93, business), C Spencer Torgan (2.89, business), OT Winston Justice (2.78) and WR Chris McFoy (2.75). Hayward and LB Melvin Simmons were 2002 Pac-10 All-Academic second team picks. 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.


Fifth-year head coach Tommy Tuberville welcomes back 16 starters (8 on each side of the ball) from an Auburn squad that went 9-4 last season (5-3 for a share of the SEC Western Division title), beat Penn State in the Capital One Bowl and finished with a No. 14 ranking. The Tiger offense, led by junior QB Jason Campbell (94-of-149, 63.1%, 1,215 yds, 11 TD, 5 int in 2002), features a strong running attack (2,648 rushing yards in 2002) that includes junior tailbacks Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams (141 tcb, 745 yds, 5.3 avg, 10 TD in 2002) and Ronnie Brown (175 tcb, 1,008 yds, 5.8 avg, 13 TD in 2002). Auburn's solid defense is spearheaded by senior LBs Karlos Dansby (76 tac, 14 for loss, 4 sack, 3 int, 2 FR in 2002), a 2002 All-SEC first team pick, and LB Dontarrious Thomas (92 tac, 11 for loss, 3 sack, 2 FR in 2002).


OUT: TE Alex Holmes (back), FB Brandon Hancock (ankle), S Terrell Thomas (shoulder), CB Eric Wright (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE: DE Van Brown, WR D. Hale, OT Eric Torres (ankle)

PROBABLE: OT Jacob Rogers (foot), C Norm Katnik (knee), WR-TB Whitney Lewis (knee), LB Oscar Lua (knee)

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