Top 5-Ranked USC Football Goes To Notre Dame For 75th Game In Classic Rivalry
Oct. 12, 2003
USC (5-1 overall, 2-1 Pac-10) vs. Notre Dame (2-3), Saturday, Oct. 18, 1:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m. PDT, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
It's the 75th game in the most famous intersectional rivalry in college football. Top 5-ranked USC is back on the road for the third time in its last 4 games (and this is the first of 3 road games in Troy's next 4 contests). The Trojans haven't won at Notre Dame Stadium since 1997 (that was their only win there in the last 10 visits). USC is riding a modest 2-game winning streak (including over Stanford last Saturday), but the Trojans have won 20 of their last 24 under head coach Pete Carroll. Notre Dame snapped a 3-game losing skid with its win at Pittsburgh last week. If the past means anything, the fact that the Irish sport a losing record and are unranked won't give USC any advantage. The Trojans feature a high-scoring offense, led by all-star WRs Mike Williams and Keary Colbert, rapidly-maturing QB Matt Leinart and promising freshman TB LenDale White, and a staunch, opportunistic defense (featuring the 'Wild Bunch II' line) that is highly-ranked nationally against the run and in turnover margin. USC's specialists (P Tom Malone and PK Ryan Killeen) also can be found in the nation's Top 10. As for Notre Dame, the Irish seem to have found a potent running attack on offense (RB Julius Jones ran for a school-record 262 yards at Pitt) and they are among the collegiate leaders in total defense. The winner gets year-long possession of the Shillelagh. The game is sold out and will be shown live nationally on NBC-TV.
USC is ranked fourth by USA Today/ESPN and fifth by AP. Notre Dame is not ranked.
Notre Dame leads the series with USC which began in 1926, 42-27-5. USC won last year after the Irish won the 3 previous meetings, but Troy won the 3 before that. In the past 9 games, the series is knotted at 4-4-1. Since 1967, ND holds a slight edge, 17-16-3. In South Bend, USC is 9-23-1 (2 other losses came in Chicago), last winning in 1997 to snap a 7-game losing skid in Notre Dame Stadium.
Last year in the Coliseum, QB Carson Palmer threw 4 touchdown passes to help the USC offense collect 610 total yards, while the Trojan defense limited the Irish to just 109 total yards, as No. 6 USC overwhelmed No. 7 Notre Dame, 44-13. It was USC's most points and biggest victory margin over ND since 1974. USC's total yardage--a season high--was the most ever allowed by the Irish, as were Palmer's 425 passing yards and TD throws. It was also the most points surrendered by ND since 1998. USC snapped a 3-game losing streak to the Irish. After a pair of first quarter field goals by PK Nicholas Setta (34 and 32 yards), USC got on the board in the second quarter on a 6-yard Palmer scoring toss to WR Mike Williams followed by PK Ryan Killeen's 22-yard field goal. Late in the first half, ILB Carlos Pierre-Antoine blocked a punt and recovered it for a TD. But USC took just 1:02 to counter the score on Palmer's 19-yard TD pass to Williams with 5 seconds left to go up 17-13. That started a run of 34 unanswered points for Troy. It was all USC in the second half as Palmer hit TB Malaefou MacKenzie with a pair of TD passes (15 yards early in the third quarter and then 10 yards midway through the fourth quarter), sandwiching a pair of Killeen field goals (27 and 29 yards in the third quarter) and an 11-yard scoring run by TB Sultan McCullough early in the fourth quarter. Palmer, who was 32-of-46 passing (one completion shy of the USC game record), became the Pac-10's career total offense leader and set a Pac-10 season record for passing yards, as well as USC season marks for TD passes and total offense. He also set a USC record with 147 consecutive passes without an interception before being picked off twice. WR Kareem Kelly tied the USC career receptions record, while Williams caught 10 passes for 169 yards (both game highs) to go over the 1,000-yard season barrier and WR Keary Colbert had 5 grabs for 75 yards. TB Justin Fargas ran for a game-best 120 yards on 20 carries (he also caught 4 passes for 41 yards) and McCullough added 44 yards on 8 tries. USC, which had 31 first downs and averaged 7.3 yards per play, had its most yards of total offense since getting 621 against Oregon State in 1996. USC did this against an Irish defense that was ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense (85.9), third in scoring defense (13.2), fifth in total defense (170.6) and ninth in rushing defense (90.5). On the other side of the ball, USC's defense held ND to just 4 first downs, 0-of-13 on third down conversions, 2.1 yards on 51 plays and 21:55 possession time. The Irish, who rushed for only 39 yards in the game, had just 15 total yards (and no points) after halftime. ND QB Carlyle Holiday, who was just 10-of-29 for 70 yards with 3 interceptions, saw his school-record string of 126 passes without being picked off snapped. RB Ryan Grant, a 1,000-yard rusher, got only 16 yards on 10 tries. USC LB Melvin Simmons had 7 tackles, while LB Mike Pollard added 6 stops and an interception and S Troy Polamalu had 5 tackles. CB Darrell Rideaux and S DeShaun Hill also had picks. It was the first time USC beat UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season since 1981 (and the first time in back-to-back games since 1978); the combined 62-point margin of victory was the Trojans' highest ever against their 2 rivals. It gave Troy its first 10-win season since 1988. It was the highest-ranked opponent USC beat since No. 3 Northwestern in the 1996 Rose Bowl (and in the regular season since downing No. 5 Penn State in 1991).
In 2001 in USC's last visit to 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 Irish--who trailed 13-10 at halftime--had 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 was behind 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 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.
25th ANNIVERSARY OF 1978 USC-ND GAME
This is the 25th anniversary of the thrilling 1978 USC-Notre Dame game, when Trojan PK Frank Jordan kicked a 37-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining to beat the No. 8-ranked Irish, 29-27, in the Coliseum en route to No. 3 USC's eighth (and most recent) national championship. Interestingly, Jordan's kick came a year after his nearly-identical 38-yarder (also with 2 seconds to go) that knocked UCLA out of the Rose Bowl, 29-27.
USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 12 games, its longest string since 13 in a row in 1988-89. The Trojans have been in the AP Top 5 in 6 of the last 9 polls.
At 5-1, USC is off to its best start since the 1995 team began at 6-0.
HOME WIN STREAK
The Trojans have captured their last 12 home games (with 2 shutouts). That's USC's longest Coliseum win streak since getting 19 in a row during the 1931 through 1933 campaigns.
USC has no players from Indiana, but there are 7 Californians on the Notre Dame roster...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.
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 2003faces 8 teams that played in bowls last season, including 3 ranked in the final AP Top 20. USC currently has the 17th most difficult 2003 schedule, according to the current USA Today/Sagarin ranking, and 3 of USC's 2003 foes are ranked in this week's AP poll. The Trojans opened at SEC power Auburn, ranked No. 6 at the time. Then, after hosting BYU and Hawaii, USC ventured 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).
WR Mike Williams caught 3 touchdown passes from QB Matt Leinart, TB LenDale White ran for 2 more scores while getting 100 rushing yards for the second consecutive week and PK Ryan Killeen hit 3 field goals for the second week in a row to lead No. 9 USC to a 44-21 victory over Stanford before 68,341 fans in the Coliseum and a national FOX Sports Net cable audience. It was the Trojans' 700th victory. USC held a 41-14 halftime lead and scored the game's first 27 points. After Killeen nailed 20- and 26-yard field goals on USC's first 2 series, White scored on a 6-yard run late in the first quarter. Then Leinart found Williams for 40- and 18-yard scores early in the second quarter to give the Trojans a 27-0 edge. Stanford then scored twice in 10 seconds, first on a 15-yard run by RB David Marrero and then on the ensuing kickoff when S Oshiomogho Atogwe stole the ball from CB Marcell Allmond and raced 22 yards into the end zone. But USC responded on its next 2 possessions, getting TDs on a 3-yard White run and a 3-yard Leinart pass to Williams. By halftime, USC had piled up 413 yards of total offense to Stanford's 91 while getting 18 first downs on 49 plays (the Cardinal had just 7 on 29 plays) and holding the ball for 18:57. It was a much quieter second half, as Killeen nailed a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and then QB Chris Lewis threw a 1-yard scoring pass to TE Patrick Danahy with 22 second to play. Overall, USC had 493 total yards, including a season-high 220 on the ground, while averaging 6.8 yards per play against a Stanford defense that was third nationally in rushing defense (allowing only 56.3 yards)the Cardinal had allowed only 2 rushing TDsas well as 16th in pass efficiency defense and 25th in scoring defense (17.3). Leinart completed 18-of-27 passes for 260 yards, Williams caught 7 passes for 129 yards (both game highs)--his 3 TD catches equaled a USC game record--and White ran for a game-best 108 yards on 23 carries to become the first Trojan freshman (true or redshirt) to have consecutive 100-yard rushing games. USC WR Keary Colbert added 6 catches for 90 yards, TB Hershel Dennis ran for 80 yards on 10 tries and QB John David Booty--believed to be the first Division I player to graduate a full year early from high school--saw his first collegiate action (going 1-of-4 for 13 yards in the fourth quarter). LB Dallas Sartz led the Trojans with 7 tackles off the bench, while DE Kenechi Udeze had 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked field goal. The Trojans got 4 turnovers, with CBs Will Poole and William Buchanon getting interceptions and DT Mike Patterson and DE Omar Nazel recovering fumbles. Most of Stanford's 242 total yards (just 86 rushing) came in the second half against the Trojan reserves. Lewis was 11-of-21 for 89 yards in place of starting QB Trent Edwards (9-of-19 for 67 yards), RB Kenneth Tolon had 52 yards on 11 carries and RB Evan Moore had 5 receptions for 52 yards.
FUN FACT I
This is only the 11th time that USC has faced an Irish team with a losing record (USC is 4-6 in those games, with wins in 1933-56-81-97 and losses in 1959-60-63-85-86-2001). USC is 6-11-1 against unranked Irish teams (wins in 1950-56-62-81-82-97, the tie in 1994 and losses in 1940-51-59-60-63-83-84-85-86-99-2001).
FUN FACT II
USC and Notre Dame have beaten each other more than any other opponent (42 wins by the Irish and 27 by the Trojans).
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). He is 22-9 as a college head coach (all at USC); his losses were by a total of 42 points (4.7 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 20-4. He is 7-0 in November. His teams already have posted 3 shutouts. 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 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 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, 24, 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.
USC's No. 1 concern in 2003 was 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 and the competition remained nearly even throughout the spring, but left-handed sophomore Matt Leinart (103-of-174, 59.2%, 1,473 yds, 13 TD, 7 int in 2003) emerged with an ever-so-slight edgedespite never having thrown a pass at USC while seeing brief action in 3 games in 2002and he extended his hold on the job in this fall's practice (in Troy's 3 fall intrasquad scrimmages, he was 43-of-57, 75.4%, for 608 yards, 6 TDs and no interceptions). He currently is 18th nationally in passing efficiency (146.9, first in Pac-10). Backing him now is heralded freshman John David Booty (1-of-4, 25.0%, 13 yds in 2003), 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. Booty rose to the No. 2 role by mid-season. Also available are juniors Matt Cassel (6-of-13, 46.2%, 63 yds in 2003), Palmer's backup the past 2 seasons who had thrown just 6 passes in his career before this year, and Brandon Hance (1-of-2, 50.0%, 13 yds in 2003), 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 sophomore Billy Hart, whose only action was briefly in 2002 but he didn't throw a pass (he also plays on the Trojan baseball team). Also able to take snaps is walk-on freshman Michael McDonald, the son of ex-USC All-American Paul McDonald.
- --In his first career start, Leinart was an efficient 17-of-30 for 192 yards with a touchdown (on his first career pass) at Auburn.
--Leinart threw 3 touchdown passes against BYU while hitting 19-of-34 passes for 235 yards (but he had 3 interceptions).
--Leinart completed 71.4% of his passes (15-of-21) for 220 yards and 2 TDs (with no picks) in 3 quarters of action against Hawaii, while Cassel was 2-of-3 for 21 yards and Hance hit 1-of-2 throws for 13 yards.
--Leinart was 21-of-39 for 277 yards and 2 scores (but threw 3 interceptions) at California (in the second half, he hit 16-of-24 throws for 191 yards).
--Leinart completed 12-of-23 passes for 289 yards and 2 TDs (57 and 33 yards) with an interception despite missing most of the second quarter with a banged up knee and ankle at Arizona State (he played while hobbled during the second half), while Cassel came in as his replacement in the second quarter and was 4-of-10 for 42 yards (Hance came in for the game's final series, but did not throw a pass). --Leinart was 18-of-27 for 260 yards and 3 TDs (all to WR Mike Williams) in 3 quarters of action against Stanford (in the first half, he was 16-of-20 for 249 yards and all 3 scores), while Booty saw his first collegiate action as he was 1-of-4 for 13 yards while playing the entire fourth quarter.
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 entering the season was promising sophomore Hershel Dennis (74 tcb, 329 yds, 4.4 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 5 rec, 24 yds, 4.8 avg). He was USC's No. 3-leading rusher (198 yards) and its top kickoff returner (151 yards) in 2002. Joining him this fall as freshmen is a terrific trio of prep All-Americans in LenDale White (61 tcb, 318 yds, 5.2 avg, 7 TD in 2003, plus 1 rec, -2 yds, -2.0 avg and 2 tac), who emerged by midseason as USC's top runner, plus Reggie Bush (34 tcb, 150 yds, 4.4 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 2 rec, 22 yds, 11.0 yds and 5 KOR, 111 yds, 22.2 avg) and Chauncey Washington (9 tcb, 40 yds, 4.4 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, 6 yds, 6.0 avg and 3 tac) and, plus frosh Jody Adewale. In the last 2 games, White is averaging 124.0 rushing yards (5.6 avg) and 2 TDs. He has 7 TDs (tied for the team lead) in the past 4 games (with at least 1 score in each of those games). Dennis and Bush are speedy, darting runners, while Washington and White are known as the 'The Bruise Brothers.' Prep All-American Whitney Lewis (3 tcb, 11 yds, 3.7 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, 2 yds, 2.0 avg) came to USC as a wide receiver, but so far in 2003 he has mainly played as a running back, first at fullback (usually in motion) and then at tailback. Also available are 3 walk-ons: sophomore converted safety Andre Woodert and freshmen John Griffin and Sean Kelly.
- --In his first career start, Dennis ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries at Auburn, including a second-effort 14-yard TD, while Washington added 24 yards on 3 attempts, Bush 9 yards on 5 carries and White 6 yards on 5 tries.
--Dennis ran for 40 yards on 16 carries, with an 11-yard TD, against BYU, while Bush had 19 yards on 6 tries (he also returned a kickoff 30 yards), Washington gained 8 yards on 3 attempts (he also made 2 tackles on special teams) and Lewis caught a 2-yard pass.
--Against Hawaii, White had a game-best 58 rushing yards on 10 carries with 2 TDs (5 and 20 yards) and made a tackle on special teams, Bush added 54 yards on 9 carries with 2 scores (23 and 27 yards), plus he caught a 28-yard pass and returned a kickoff 20 yards, Dennis ran for 54 yards on 9 attempts and caught 2 passes for 5 yards, and Washington ran for 8 yards on 3 tries and caught a 6-yard pass before going out with an ankle sprain.
--Dennis rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries at California (he also caught 2 passes for 7 yards), while Bush ran for 7 yards on 4 tries (he also returned 2 kickoffs for 38 yards) and White had 6 yards on 2 carries (with a 6-yard TD).
--White came off the bench to run for 140 yards--the most rushing yards ever by a Trojan first-year freshman--and 2 TDs (25 and 6 yards) on 21 carries at Arizona State (he became just the seventh USC true freshman to rush for 100 yards), while Bush added 27 rushing yards on 4 tries (he also returned a kickoff 23 yards) and Dennis ran for 19 yards on 4 carries (he also caught a 12-yard pass).
--White became the first freshman (true or redshirt) in USC history to have consecutive 100-yard rushing games when he ran for 108 yards on 23 carries (both game highs) with 2 TDs (6 and 3 yards) against Stanford, while Dennis started and had 80 yards on 10 tries and Bush added 34 yards on 6 attempts.
With Malaefou MacKenzie gone, a new fullback must emerge. Sophomore Brandon Hancock (5 rec, 61 yds, 12.2 avg, 1 TD in 2003, plus 1 tac), who started twice last fall, was slated to be the starter, but an ankle sprain in fall camp slowed him in USC's first 3 games of 2003. So junior Lee Webb (1 tac in 2003), who also has played linebacker at USC, assumed the starting job until Hancock returned to the starting lineup in the fifth game. Sophomore David Kirtman (1 rec, 3 yds, 3.0 avg in 2003) sees action as a backup. Walk-on redshirt freshmen Mike Brittingham, a converted safety, and Morgan Craig, a one-time quarterback, also are in the mix.
- --Kirtman had a 3-yard catch against Hawaii (on a key fourth down play).
--Hancock returned to the starting lineup at Arizona State and caught 2 passes for 42 yards (including a 33-yard TD on fourth down), while Webb made a tackle.
--Hancock caught 3 passes for 19 yards versus Stanford.
COLBERT AND WILLIAMS
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 (29 rec, 438 yds, 15.1 avg, 4 TD in 2002, plus 2 tcb, 17 yds, 8.5 avg) starts for his fourth season. He has caught a pass in 29 consecutive outings. He is tied for fourth on USC's career receptions ladder with 167 grabs (tied for 15th on the all-time Pac-10 chart) and a repeat of last season's 71-catch output (for 1,029 yards) will push him past Kelly as the school's all-time leading pass catcher. His 2,389 career receiving yards is 26th on the all-time Pac-10 list. He has 4 100-yard receiving games in his career. Even if Colbert breaks Kelly's reception mark, Keyshawn-esque sophomore Mike Williams (39 rec, 631 yds, 16.2 avg, 7 TD in 2003, plus 1 tcb, 17 yds, 17.0 avg and 1 tac) is poised to shatter the standard before his career concludes. He already is ninth on USC's career receptions list (120) and has 9 100-yard receiving games in his young career (4 times in 2003). He has caught 21 touchdowns in his 19-game career (and he has had multiple TD games 6 times, including twice getting a USC game record-tying 3 TDs). Only Kevin Williams (25), Johnnie Morton and R. Jay Soward (23 each) have more career TD catches at USC. He is averaging a touchdown every 5.9 times he touches the ball (21 TDs on 124 touches, including his 3 rushes and 1 pass attempt). He currently is tied for sixth nationally in receiving yards (105.2, second in Pac-10 and is 17th nationally in receptions (6.5, third in the Pac-10). 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 (1,265) and receiving touchdowns (14) and the Pac-10 frosh mark for receptions (81). He was 16th nationally in receiving yards (97.3) and 20th in receptions (6.2) while starting twice in 2002. Last year, 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 also had 5 100-yard receiving games, including 4 in a row, in 2002. He caught 13 passes at Oregon in 2002, a USC frosh record.
- --At Auburn, Williams had a game-best 8 catches for 104 yards (his sixth career 100-yard receiving game) with a 5-yard TD, while Colbert added 2 receptions for 13 yards.
--Williams grabbed a game-high 10 passes for 124 yards, including a pair of touchdowns (a 1-yarder to open USC's scoring and then an 18-yarder in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach) against BYU, while Colbert had 3 catches for 68 yards, including a nifty 48-yard catch-and-run for a TD. --Colbert had 5 catches for 86 yards (with a 32-yard TD) against Hawaii and Williams added 3 grabs for 70 yards (with a 33-yard TD).
--Colbert had a game-best 8 catches for 81 yards (with a 10-yard TD) at California and Williams added 6 grabs for 96 yards (each were also credited with a run while catching a backwards pass, Williams for 17 yards and Colbert for 11).
--Williams (108 yards) and Colbert (100 yards) each had a 100-yard receiving day (the second they've combined to do that in their careers) at Arizona State, with Colbert grabbing a 57-yard TD (he also ran 6 yards on a reverse).
--Against Stanford, Williams tied a USC game record with 3 TD catches (40, 18 and 3 yards, all in the second quarter) while collecting 7 receptions for 129 yards, while Colbert added 6 catches for 90 yards.
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
Dependable backup receivers have emerged behind Keary Colbert and Mike Williams (even though no other wide receiver on the roster caught a ball last year). The cast includes such veterans as seniors Sandy Fletcher and D. Hale, a walk-on-turned-scholarship winner who has started once in his career (an ankle injury could sideline him this year), junior Jason Mitchell (1 KOR, 18 yds, 18.0 avg in 2003), sophomores Greig Carlson (8 PR, 100 yds, 12.5 avg in 2003) and converted cornerback Justin Wyatt (3 rec, 20 yds, 6.7 avg in 2003, plus 2 KOR, 38 yds, 19.0 avg and 3 tac), and sure-handed redshirt freshman Chris McFoy (1 rec, 15 yds, 15.0 avg in 2003). Carlson, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, was USC's top punt returner in 2002 (177 yards). Wyatt was the surprise of 2003 spring drills after his switch to offense. Two walk-ons also figure in junior Steve Levario Jr. and redshirt freshman John Zilka. Adding to all of this, one of the nation's most highly sought-after high school pass catchers enrolled at USC this fall as a freshman: prep All-American Steve Smith (2 rec, 16 yds, 8.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 tcb, 8 yds, 8.0 avg).
- --Smith (7 yards) and Wyatt (5 yards) each had a catch at Auburn, the first of their careers.
--Wyatt had 2 catches for 15 yards versus BYU, while Smith had an 8-yard run on a backwards pass.
--McFoy caught a 15-yard pass against Hawaii, Mitchell had an 18-yard kickoff return and Wyatt had a 31-yard kickoff return.
--Smith had a 9-yard reception at California, while Carlson had a 5-yard punt return.
--Carlson returned 4 punts for 66 yards (with a 20-yarder) at Arizona State.
--Carlson returned 3 punts for 29 yards versus Stanford, while Wyatt had a 7-yard kickoff return.
USC is well-stocked at tight end, with a returning starter and a pair of experienced backups. But that returning starter--senior Alex Holmes, who has caught 58 passes in his career (including 29 in 2002, the most by a Trojan tight end since 1993)--has been bothered in 2003 by a back injury and might redshirt. In his place, sophomore Dominique Byrd (14 rec, 268 yds, 19.1 avg in 2003) took over and was impressive, but he could be out for the season with a mid-season knee injury. Playing often behind (or with) Byrd has been junior Gregg Guenther Jr. (6 rec, 45 yds, 7.5 avg in 2003, plus 1 blk FG), who started once last fall. USC's tallest player at 6-8, he also stars on the Trojans men's basketball squad. Then there are redshirt freshmen Kurt Katnik (1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 tac), a converted center (and the younger brother of starting center Norm Katnik) and walk-on Nick Vanderboom, a converted quarterback, plus walk-on junior Owen Hanson, who also is on the Trojan men's volleyball team.
- --Byrd caught 3 passes for 63 yards at Auburn, including a 42-yarder, while Guenther added a 6-yard grab.
--Against BYU, Byrd caught 2 balls for 19 yards and Guenther added a 7-yard grab.
--Byrd had 3 catches for 28 yards against Hawaii, while Katnik grabbed a 13-yard pass. --Byrd had 2 catches for 60 yards (with a 27-yard TD) at California, while Guenther caught 2 passes for 24 yards and blocked a field goal in the first overtime period.
--Byrd caught 2 passes for 68 yards at Arizona State, while Guenther had a 3-yard catch and Katnik made a tackle.
--Byrd had 2 catches for 30 yards against Stanford before going out with a knee injury, while Guenther caught a 5-yard pass.
The 2003 version of USC's offensive line might be Troy's best in years. Players returned 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 returned 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 (Rogers on the left and Justice on the right). Senior Lenny Vandermade, a 3-year starter, returned at left guard (he also has started at center in his career), while reliable center Norm Katnik, another 2-year starter, also returned (he also has started at guard and tackle in his USC tenure). Redshirt freshman Fred Matua, a guard who was set to start the 2002 opener before a knee sprain sidelined him, has captured the starting job at Wilson's right guard spot. Versatile senior Eric Torres, who started 7 times in 2002 at every line spot except center (Torres started all of 2001 at right tackle), is finally contributing in 2003 after missing the first 4 games of the season. He broke his left ankle in the Orange Bowl and missed spring drills (he was slowed in fall camp, too). 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 freshman guard-tackle Kyle Williams, plus walk-on junior center Spencer Torgan, a converted defensive tackle, and walk-on redshirt freshman center-guard John Lanza. Coming aboard this fall were tackle John Drake, a junior college transfer who is a junior (he has seen considerable action in 2003), plus a trio of freshmen who were prep All-Americans: Sam Baker and Drew Radovich at guard (Radovich can also play tackle) and Ryan Kalil at center. There's also freshman Matt Spanos, a converted defensive end.
- --Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started at Auburn, with Drake and Watkins seeing significant action as backups.
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started versus BYU, with Drake getting some time.
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started against Hawaii, with many backups also seeing action.
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started at California (Drake also played some).
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik and Matua started at Arizona State, with Drake starting for an injured Justice (and Torres saw his first action of the year as Drake's backup).
--Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Drake started versus Stanford.
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 (Al Cowlings, Jimmy Gunn, Willard Scott, Tody Smith, Charlie Weaver and Tony Terry), 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 returned: senior Omar Nazel (16 tac, 5 for loss, 3 sack, 2 FR, 1 int for a TD in 2003) and junior Kenechi Udeze (3 tac, team-high 8 for loss, team-best 5.5 sack, 2 FF, 1 blk FG in 2003). Udeze, a 2-year starter, set a USC record with his Pac-10 leading 6 forced fumbles in 2002 (he has 11 forced fumbled fumbles in his career). Also back is junior Mike Patterson (31 tac, team-best 8 for loss, 3 sack, 2 FR in 2003), who started 10 times at nose tackle (where he is in 2003) and 3 at defensive tackle last fall. His 4 fumble recoveries topped the Pac-10 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 has re-assumed that defensive tackle spot. Junior Shaun Cody (10 tac, 5.5 for loss, 4 sack, 1 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2003), a 2001 Freshman All-American first teamer, started the first 6 games of 2002 before tearing knee ligaments. He missed spring drills, but is fully recovered this fall. Among the returning squadmen pushing for time at end are junior Van Brown (2 tac in 2003) and sophomore converted linebacker Frostee Rucker (10 tac, 1.5 for loss, 0.5 sack, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 FF in 2003), who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado State, and at tackle are soph LaJuan Ramsey (5 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF in 2003) and redshirt freshman Travis Tofi (3 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, 1 sack for a safety in 2003). Then there's junior walk-on Jay Bottom (2 tac in 2003) at end. Six new players enrolled at USC this fall as freshmen. The ends are prep All-Americans Chris Barrett (he's bothered by a shoulder injury), Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow, while the tackles are prep All-Americans Sedrick Ellis and Manuel Wright (2 tac, 1 for loss in 2003), plus Ryan Watson.
- --The 'Wild Bunch II' was dominant at Auburn, as Patterson had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) to earn Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors, Cody had 3 stops (1.5 for a loss, with a sack) and a deflection, Ramsey had 2 tackles for a loss (with a sack) and a forced fumble, Rucker had 2 tackles and a deflection, Udeze had 2 tackles (0.5 for a loss) and Nazel had a sack and fumble recovery.
--Against BYU, Patterson had 7 tackles (with 1.5 sacks), Rucker added 6 stops (including 1.5 for loss, with 0.5 sack), Nazel had 5 tackles (2 for a loss, with a sack) and returned a point-blank interception 16 yards for a TD, Udeze had 4 stops (1.5 sacks) and Ramsey had 2 stops (0.5 sacks).
--Udeze (with a sack), Tofi (with a sack for a safety) and Patterson had 3 tackles each against Hawaii, while Nazel (1 for a loss) and Bottom each added 2 stops, and Rucker grabbed an interception on a tipped pass at the Rainbow 4-yard line.
--At California, Patterson had 5 tackles, including 2 for losses (with a sack), and recovered a fumble, Nazel also had 5 stops, Udeze added 4 tackles (1 for a loss) and Cody made 3 stops (1.5 for losses, with 0.5 sack) and blocked a field goal.
--At Arizona State, Udeze had 6 tackles (1 for a loss), Patterson had 5 stops (2.5 for losses, with 0.5 sack), 2.5 of Cody's 4 tackles were sacks, Nazel had 2 tackles (with a sack) and Rucker and Ramsey each had a tackle (Rucker also forced a fumble).
--Udeze had 3 sacks for 22 yards (among his 4 tackles), plus forced 2 fumbles which USC recovered (to set up field goals) and blocked a field goal against Stanford, while Patterson had 4 tackles (1 for a loss) and recovered a fumble (he returned it 16 yards), Nazel, Brown and Wright each had 2 stops (1 of Wright's was for a loss), Rucker had a tackle and Tofi deflected a pass.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THE 'WILD BUNCH II'
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville: '(Quarterback Jason Campbell) didn't have a chance. He was running around for his life. We just couldn't get any rhythm going. You could just feel our offensive line didn't feel good about being able to block those guys.'
Tom Dienhart, The Sporting News: 'Southern California has the nation's best defense. No doubt, Oklahoma's defense is formidable, but the Trojans' unit is better. It starts with the best line in the nation, aptly named the 'Wild Bunch II.'
USC is solid at the outside linebacker spots, as junior Matt Grootegoed (team-high 39 tac, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FR, 2 FF in 2003) returns on the strong side and senior Melvin Simmons (21 tac, 4 for loss, 2 FR, 1 dfl in 2003) 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, is currently tied for 23rd nationally in forced fumbles (0.4, fourth in Pac-10). He won All-Pac-10 first team honors in 2002 when he led the Trojans in tackles (81), tackles for a loss (16.5) and sacks (8). Simmons was USC's No. 2 tackler last fall (71). But there's a new middle linebacker now that Mike Pollarda 2-year starter who had 49 stops last yearhas departed. The starter is sophomore Lofa Tatupu (37 tac, 6.5 for loss, 3 sack, 5 dfl, 1 int for a TD in 2003), 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). He is currently tied for 22nd nationally in tackles for loss (1.6, fourth in Pac-10). He is backed by junior Daniel Urquhart (20 tac in 2003), a converted defensive end. Then there's sophomore Oscar Lua, who tore knee ligaments prior to the Orange Bowl and missed spring practice (he had surgery on his other knee early this fall and is sidelined). Other linebackers from last year's roster looking to get in the mix are junior Bobby Otani (4 tac in 2003) and sophomore Dallas Sartz (10 tac, 1 for loss in 2003), who can also play safety, plus walk-on sophomore Collin Ashton (8 tac in 2003). Prep All-American Thomas Williams, along with Salo Faraimo (6 tac in 2003), 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.
- --Tatupu had a game-best 12 tackles (3.5 for losses of 19 yards, including 2 sacks) at Auburn while making his first career start, while Grootegoed added 5 stops (with a sack) and forced a fumble, Simmons had 3 tackles, Urquhart had 2 and Faraimo and Ashton each had 1.
--Tatupu had a game-high 11 tackles (with 2 for a loss, including a sack) and a deflection against BYU, while Grootegoed added 9 stops, a fumble recovery and a deflection, Simmons had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery, Urquhart had 2 tackles and both Ashton and Faraimo had 1.
--Tatupu (1 for a loss, with a deflection) and Grootegoed (1 for a loss, with a forced fumble) each had 4 tackles against Hawaii, while Otani, Sartz (playing safety) and Urquhart added 3 stops apiece and Ashton had 2.
--At California, Simmons had 9 tackles (3 for losses), recovered a fumble and broke up a pass, Tatupu had 8 stops, a deflection and returned an interception 26 yards for a TD, Grootegoed had 8 tackles (with 0.5 sack), Urquhart had 3 stops and Ashton had a tackle.
--Urquhart started for an injured Tatupu at Arizona State and posted a team-best 10 tackles, while Grootegoed added 9 stops (2 for losses), Simmons had 3 and Ashton had 1.
--Sartz came off the bench to post a team-high 7 tackles (1 for a loss) against Stanford (he also played briefly at safety for the second week in a row), while Grootegoed and Faraimo each had 4 stops, Simmons, Tatupu and Ashton each had 2 (Simmons had 1 for a loss), and Otani had 1.
While the biggest holes to fill on USC's defense were in the secondary, the situation wasn't as dire as it might have appeared. 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 (21 tac, 1 int, 3 dfl, 1 FF in 2003, plus 6 KOR, 136 yds, 22.7 avg) returned as a starter. The Trojans are 11-1 when he starts in the secondary. The one-time starting wide receiver also was a top-flight hurdler on USC's track squad. There were plenty of experienced options to fill the 3 open secondary spots. In fact, 3 players had starting experience at cornerback: senior Kevin Arbet (5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, FF in 2003, plus 4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg), who missed all of last season with a broken foot, junior Ronald Nunn (15 tac, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl, 2 FR with 1 for a TD in 2003) and sophomore William Buchanon (3 tac, 1 dfl, 1 int in 2003). Arbet--who started 4 times in 2000 and was an All-Pac-10 first teamer as a special teams player in 2001--won the job going into 2003 and started the first 2 games, but his foot injury flared up and has sidelined the rest of this year. So Will Poole (32 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FF, team-best 3 int, team-high 9 dfl in 2003), a senior who started at Boston College in 2000 before earning J.C. All-American laurels last fall and then enrolling at USC this fall, has taken his place. Poole currently is tied for 25th nationally in deflections (1.6, first in Pac-10). He is backed by Nunn and Buchanon. 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. The new starting free safety is junior Jason Leach (34 tac, 0.5 for loss, 2 dfl, 2 int with 1 for a TD in 2003), who started twice at strong safety last fall for an injured Polamalu, including in the Orange Bowl. He led Troy in interceptions in 2002 with 4. Taking over Polamalu's strong safety spot is freshman Darnell Bing (29 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FR, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2003), who originally signed with USC in 2002 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). Other cornerbacks back from last year's group are sophomore John Walker (3 tac, 1 dfl in 2003) and walk-on sophomore Alex Gomez. Identical twin freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Ting (1 tac in 2003) and Ryan Ting, who were 2002 prep All-Americans, graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC this past spring (Brandon can also play safety). Battling for action at safety from last year's squad are sophomore Mike Ross (8 tac in 2003), plus 5 walk-ons in seniors Greg Farr (1 tac in 2003) and top special teams player Forrest Mozart and juniors Chris Bocage (1 tac in 2003), who is out with a knee injury, Matt Lemos and Kyle Matthews. This fall, joining the fray were 3 incoming freshmen who were prep All-Americans: safety-cornerback Desmond Reed, safety Terrell Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright (Thomas and Wright are out with injuries).
- --At Auburn, Leach had 8 tackle, Bing had 4 stops, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, Arbet had 4 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection and also returned 2 punts for 11 yards, Poole made 3 stops and had a deflection in the nickel package, and Allmond and Nunn each made a tackle.
--Allmond had 4 tackles, an interception and a deflection against BYU and Poole also had 4 stops (1 for a loss), an interception and a deflection, while Bing had 3 tackles and a deflection, Leach also had 3 stops, and Arbet, Ross and Brandon Ting each had 1 tackle.
--Poole had a game-high 9 tackles against Hawaii (with 2 deflections and a forced fumble) while making his first USC start, Nunn returned a fumble 38 yards for a TD to go along with his 4 tackles, Leach returned an interception 25 yards for a TD to go with his 3 tackles, Bing and Allmond each had 4 stops, Ross had 3 tackles, and Buchanon and Bocage added 1 tackle each.
--Leach had a game-high 11 tackles (with a deflection) at California, while Bing added 9 stops (1 for a loss), Poole had 7 tackles (1 for a loss), a deflection and an interception (in the end zone), Allmond had 3 stops, a deflection and a forced fumble and Nunn had 2 tackles.
--At Arizona State, Leach and Poole each had 8 tackles and a deflection (Leach also had an interception), Allmond and Bing each had 6 stops (1 of Bing's was for a loss), Nunn had 3 tackles (1 for a loss), a deflection and a fumble recovery, and Ross had a tackle.
--Nunn had 5 tackles and a deflection against Stanford, Poole had 4 stops, 3 deflections and an interception, Allmond, Walker, Bing and Ross each had 3 tackles (Walker had a deflection), Leach had 2 stops and Farr had 1.
Sophomore Tom Malone (48.9 avg in 2003) has proven to be one of the nation's top punters. He currently leads the nation in punting (48.9, first in Pac-10)--for the third consecutive week--and is aiming to become only the second Trojan to lead the country in punting (Des Koch did so in 1952 with a 43.5 average). His 48.9 punting average is way above Jim Wren's USC season record of 45.6, set in 1996 (and close to the Pac-10 season record of 49.3 set by UCLA's Kirk Wilson in 1956). So far in 2003, 18 of his 28 punts have gone at least 50 yards and 17 have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line. He earned Freshman All-American second team notice last fall when 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 (11-of-13 FG, 28-of-28 PAT in 2003, plus 2 tac) is in his second year as the placekicker. He currently is tied for 10th nationally in field goals (1.8, second in Pac-10) and is eighth in scoring (10.2, second in Pac-10). So far in 2003, 15 of his 44 kickoffs have been touchbacks. He was only supposed to handle the kickoff duty last year, but 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 junior quarterback Matt Cassel the backup. USC's top punt returner--sophomore wide receiver Greig Carlson (8 PR, 100 yds, 12.5 avg in 2003)--and kickoff returner--soph tailback Hershel Dennis--from last season are back (Carlson had 177 yards and Dennis had 151 in 2002). But in 2003, senior cornerback Kevin Arbet (4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg in 2003)who led USC in punt returns in 2001 (225 yards)handled the chore before being sidelined with an injury, so Carlson and sophomore wide receiver Justin Wyatt (1 PR, 0 yds, 0.0 avg in 2003) have taken over. Arbet and senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (6 KOR, 136 yds, 22.7 avg in 2003) were the kickoff returners in 2003 before Arbet's injury. So joining Allmond now are Wyatt (2 KOR, 38 yds, 19.0 avg in 2003) and freshman tailback Reggie Bush (5 KOR, 111 yds, 22.2 avg in 2003).
- --At Auburn, Malone boomed 7 punts for a 45.1 average (including 5 within the 20-yard line and 3 that went 50-plus yards, with a 70-yarder and then nailing his last one out of bounds at the Auburn 2), while Killeen was perfect on his field goals (28, 42 and 35 yards) and both PATs, as well as having 2 touchbacks on 6 kickoffs.
--Malone rocketed 5 of his 6 punts more than 50 yards (including a 59-yarder) against BYU for a 52.0 average and 5 of his boots pinned the Cougars within the 20-yard line (he was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week), while Killeen hit all 5 of his PATs.
--Killeen hit his only field goal (a 24-yarder) and all 8 of his PATs against Hawaii, while Malone averaged 53.7 yards on 3 punts (with a 69-yarder).
--At California, Malone averaged 50.5 on his 4 punts (2 pinned the Bears within the 20) but had a punt blocked, while Killeen hit all 4 of is PATs and nailed a 33-yard field goal with 16 seconds to play in regulation to force the game into overtime (but he missed a 29-yarder in the third overtime period).
--Killeen hit all 3 of his field goals (45, 28 and 38 yards) and all 4 of his PATs, as well as having 5 touchbacks on 8 kickoffs at Arizona State (he was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his performance), while Malone averaged 45.2 yards on his 5 punts (1 pinned ASU within the 20).
--Against Stanford, Killeen nailed all 3 of his field goals (20, 26 and 37 yards) for the second consecutive week and hit all 5 of his PATs (plus 4 of his 9 kickoffs were touchbacks), while Malone averaged 50.7 yards on his 3 punts (2 pinned the Cardinal within the 20).
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, took 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 added 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 is a graduate assistant working with the special teams.
STATS OF NOTE
USC has been effective in the takeaway department during head coach Pete Carroll's 3 seasons. In 2003, USC is +1.3 in turnover margin (tied for sixth in the U.S., second in the Pac-10) by getting11 interceptions and 10 fumbles. USC's +1.33 turnover margin over Carroll's first 2 regular seasons (2001 and 2002) was the best in the nation and its +69 takeaways during that span were 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, those first 2 seasons: only 19 turnovers in 2001 and just 18 in 2002.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame, under second-year head coach Tyrone Willingham, ended a 3-game losing streak with a 20-14 win at No. 15 Pittsburgh last Saturday. True freshman QB Brady Quinn (44-of-103, 42.7%, 469 yds, 2 TD, 6 int in 2003, plus 13 tcb, 16 yds, 1.2 avg) has taken over the signalcalling duties from senior QB Carlyle Holiday (36-of-73, 49.3%, 303 yds, 1 TD, 4 int in 2003, plus 25 tcb, 15 yds, 0.6 avg). There is a pair of veterans running the ball in senior RB Julius Jones (67 tcb, 414 yds, 6.2 avg, 3 TD in 2003, plus 9 KOR, 128 yds, 14.2 avg), who ran for a school-record 262 yards and 2 TDs at Pitt, and junior RB Ryan Grant (73 tcb, 242 yds, 3.3 avg in 2003), who rushed for 1,085 yards in 2002. Sophomore WR Rhema McKnight (19 rec, 186 yds, 9.8 avg, 2 TD in 2003) has emerged as a top receiver, along with senior WR Omar Jenkins (16 rec, 137 yds, 8.6 avg in 2003) and soph WR Maurice Stovall (12 rec, 195 yds, 16.2 avg, 1 TD in 2003). On defense--ND is 14th nationally in total defense (293.2) and 25th in both rushing defense (105.6) and pass defense (187.6)--look for senior ILB Courtney Watson (team-best 42 tac, 3 for loss, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2003), junior ILB Brandon Hoyte (33 tac, 5.5 for loss, 1 sack, 2 dfl, 1 FR in 2003), junior LE Justin Tuck (28 tac, 6 sack, 2 dfl, 2 FF in 2003) and senior SS Glenn Earl (28 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 int, 2 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF in 2003), as well as senior LCB Vontez Duff (15 tac, 2 dfl, 1 FF in 2003), who is a dangerous returner (6 KOR, 139 yds, 23.2 avg and 12 PR, 156 yds, 13.0 avg in 2003).
The USC men's and women's tennis teams will compete in dual matches at Notre Dame on Friday (Oct. 17), with the men going at 1 p.m. and the women at 4 p.m.
OUT: TE Dominique Byrd (knee), DE Chris Barrett (shoulder), S Chris Bocage (knee), LB Oscar Lua (knee), CB Kevin Arbet (foot), TE Alex Holmes (back), WR D. Hale (ankle), S Terrell Thomas (shoulder), CB Eric Wright (hamstring).