No. 1 Trojans Play For National Crown Vs. Michigan In 2004 Rose Bowl

Dec. 19, 2003

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RADIO-TV - Live national TV: 1:30 p.m. (PST), ABC-TV, Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts, Todd Harris.
Live national radio: 2 p.m. (PST), ESPN Radio, Mike Tirico, Chris Spielman.
Live local radio: 10 a.m. (PST), KMPC-AM (1540 The Ticket), Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, Petros Papadakis, Mark Carrier and Mark Willard (includes 5-hour pre-game and 2-hour post-game shows). Seven other stations are included on the USC radio network: KPLS-AM 830 in Orange, XEMM-AM 800 in San Diego, KXPS-AM 1010 in Palm Springs, KGEO-AM 1230 in Bakersfield, KVEN-AM 1540 in Ventura, KSZL-AM 1230 in Barstow and KSHP-AM 1400 in Las Vegas.

Live local Spanish-language radio: 2 p.m. (PST), KWKW-AM (1330), Adrian Garcia-Marquez, Victor Duarte.

USC Insider Show: 7 p.m. (PST), Tuesdays during football season, KMPC-AM (1540) and KPLS-AM (830), Pete Arbogast, Petros Papadakis.

USC Trojan Talk: 7 p.m. (PST), Sundays during football season, KDWN-AM (720), Harvey Hyde, Chuck Hayes. Fans also can hear the live KDWN broadcast on

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USC (11-1 overall, 7-1 Pac-10 first place) vs. Michigan (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten first place), 90th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi, Jan. 1, 2 p.m. PST, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

USC is 62-27-2 against Big Ten competition, including 14-9 in bowl meetings.

Top-ranked USC, which has won 8 national championships and appeared in an unprecedented 28 Rose Bowls, will go after its ninth national crown when it meets Big Ten champion Michigan in the 90th version of the 'Granddaddy of All Bowl Games.' It will be a battle of the winningest Rose Bowl team (USC) against the winningest college football team (Michigan). It has been 14 years since the teams have played and they most often face off in Pasadena. It's the 25th anniversary of USC's last national championship. USC has never lost a bowl game when it was ranked No. 1. Troy is looking for its first 12-win season since 1978. USC is riding an 8-game winning streak and has won 19 of its past 20 contests. Its last 16 wins have been by at least 17 points. National Coach of the Year Pete Carroll's well-rounded Trojan team is nationally ranked in just about every key team statistical category. With coordinator Norm Chow making the calls, Troy's offense has scored a Pac-10 record 506 points, including 40-plus points in the last 7 games (also a league mark). QB Matt Leinart and WR Mike Williamsa pair of record-setting All-American sophomores (they both finished in the Top 8 of the Heisman voting)key the offense. They get help from a veteran line that has allowed just 14 sacks (led by All-American OT Jacob Rogers), a stable of exciting young runners (TBs Hershel Dennis, LenDale White and Reggie Bush) that has made USC's rushing attack its most productive in a decade and the underrated play of steady WR Keary Colbert (he's on the verge of becoming USC's career pass catcher). The Trojan defense is stingy (second nationally against the rush) and thrives on takeaways (first in the country in turnover margin while forcing 41 turnovers and scoring 8 times). The defense features All-American DE Kenechi Udeze and his 'Wild Bunch II' line mates, along with lock-down CB Will Poole and Freshman All-American S Darnell Bing. P Tom Malone is USC's first-ever All-American punter (he averages almost 50 yards per boot), while PK Ryan Killeen set Trojan field goal and PAT season standards. Coach Lloyd Carr's Michigan squad, winner of its last 6 games, will be a more-than-challenging opponent. Carr's Wolverines usually fare well against Top 10 teams. Michigan is somewhat of a mirror image of USC, as it too is nationally ranked statistically on both sides of the ball. All-American RB Chris Perry, a Heisman finalist and the Doak Walker Award winner, joins UM record-holding QB John Navarre and dangerous WR Braylon Edwards to form a potent offensive trio. On the other side of the ball, the Wolverines are in the nation's Top 10 in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and total defense. The 91,159-seat Rose Bowl is sold out, but the game can be seen live nationally on ABC-TV.

USC is ranked first by AP and USA Today/ESPN. Michigan is ranked fourth in both polls.

The USC-Michigan series is knotted at 4-4. Six of those meetings were in the Rose Bowl, where USC holds a 4-2 edge (winning in the 1970, 1977, 1979 and 1990 Rose Bowls and losing in the 1948 and 1989 Rose Bowls). The other meetings occurred during the regular seasons of 1957 and 1958, with Michigan winning both. Most recently, the No.12 Trojans beat the No. 3 Wolverines in the 1990 Rose Bowl, 17-10, as USC TB Ricky Ervins scored the game-winning TD on a 12-yard run with 1:10 to play in Bo Schembechler's final game as Michigan coach.

USC is 62-27-2 against Big Ten competition, including 14-9 in bowl meetings. Troy has won 25 of its last 33 games (and 32 of its last 41) against Big Ten opponents. USC last faced a Big Ten foe in the 2003 Orange Bowl, when the No. 5 Trojans defeated No. 3 Iowa, 38-17. Michigan, on the other hand, is 44-19-1 against the Pac-10 (most recently losing at Oregon, 31-27, this season).

USC has a remarkable record in bowl games. The Trojans have the nation's sixth highest bowl winning percentage (.634) among the 62 schools that have made at least 10 bowl appearances (behind only Oklahoma State's .714, Oklahoma's .653, Penn State's .649, Georgia Tech's .645 and Purdue's .636). USC is just 3 wins behind Alabama for most bowl victories, 29 to 26. Troy's 41 bowl appearances rank fourth behind only Alabama (51), Tennessee (43) and Texas (42), and are tied with Nebraska. USC once won 9 consecutive bowl games (the 1923-30-32-33-39-40-44-45 Rose Bowls and 1924 Christmas Festival); only Florida State has won more in a row (11). The Trojans were a bowl participant each year they were eligible from 1972 to 1990. USC's overall post-season record is 26-15. Troy has appeared in an unprecedented 28 Rose Bowls, where it has a 20-8 mark. That's not only the most Rose Bowl wins of any team, but also the most wins by a school in a single bowl. USC has won 7 of its last 9 Rose Bowls. USC has also appeared in 11 other bowls--the Christmas Festival, Liberty Bowl, Bluebonnet Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Aloha Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, Sun (John Hancock) Bowl (twice), Freedom Bowl (twice), Cotton Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl and Orange Bowl.

Michigan has appeared in 34 post-season bowls, sporting an 18-16 record (.529). The Wolverines are 8-9 in the Rose Bowl, last appearing in the 1998 game (a 21-16 win over Washington State). Michigan's Rose Bowl wins came in the 1902-48-51-65-81-89-93-98 games and the losses were in 1970-72-77-78-79-83-87-90-92.

The last time USC was ranked No. 1 by AP was the middle of the 1981 season. The last time USC ended the regular season with a No. 1 AP ranking was in 1978, which happens to be the last time the Trojans won the national championship. This is the 48th time that USC has been ranked first in a weekly AP poll (seventh most of any school).

USC has a 35-4-2 (.878) record in games when ranked No. 1 by AP. The Trojans are 3-0 in bowls when ranked No. 1 (victories in the 1963, 1968 and 1973 Rose Bowls over Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio State, respectively.) The only time a No. 1-ranked USC squad played a No. 4 team was in the 1968 Rose Bowl, when Troy beat Indiana, 14-3. On the other hand, Michigan is 3-14-1 against No. 1 teams (the wins and tie were all in Ann Arbor) and has lost its last 6 such games (most recently to Florida State in 1991). The Wolverines have faced only 1 top-ranked team in a bowl, falling to BYU in the 1984 Holiday Bowl.

USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 18 games, its longest string since 34 in a row in 1978-80. The Trojans have been in the AP Top 5 in 12 of the last 16 polls.

USC is recognized for having won 8 national championships in football: 1928-31-32-62-67-72-74-78. In 6 other years (1929-33-39-76-79-2002), the Trojans were picked by some as No. 1, but not by enough selectors to claim a legitimate national crown. USC's last 7 recognized national titles came following a victory in the Rose Bowl. Michigan, by the way, claims 11 football national championships (1901-02-03-04-18-23-32-33-47-48-97).

The Trojans have captured their last 15 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. Besides that Pac-10 leading 15-game home winning streak, USC also has the longest current Pac-10 win streaks for overall games (8), Pac-10 games (7) and road games (4).

USC has back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time since 1978 and 1979. This is USC's first 11-win regular season since 1978. At 11-1, USC has its best record since 1979 (when it was 11-0-1). A win over Michigan would give USC its first 12-win season since its 1978 national championship team went 12-1.

After sharing the Pac-10 championship in 2002, USC won the 2003 Pac-10 title outright (its first outright crown since 1989). This is the first time that USC won back-to-back Pac-10 titles since 1988 and 1989 (the Trojans also won it in 1987). USC has now won the league title 33 times.

USC is 26-16 in regular and post-season games it has played in the Rose Bowl, including 20-8 in the Rose Bowl game, 4-7 versus UCLA and 2-1 in the 1922 regular season.

USC sports a 20-9 record in games it has played on New Year's Day, including an 18-6 mark in Jan. 1 Rose Bowls.

USC is 59-40-11 (.586) in all season finales.

USC and Michigan both faced Notre Dame in 2003, with USC winning 45-14 in South Bend and Michigan posting a 38-0 victory in Ann Arbor.

Both USC and Michigan rank among the winningest teams in Division I history. Michigan's .746 winning percentage and 833 victories are No. 1, while USC's .693 winning mark is ninth best and its 706 wins are 10th.

QB Brandon Hance is the only current Trojan player who been on a Rose Bowl team, but he did so as a member of Purdue's 2000 squad (he didn't play in the game). USC head coach Pete Carroll was Ohio State's secondary coach when the Buckeyes lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl. USC offensive line coach Tim Davis was an assistant at Wisconsin when the Badgers played in the 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowls. USC running backs coach Kennedy Pola played in USC's 1985 Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State and was a graduate assistant coach at UCLA when the Bruins were in the 1994 Rose Bowl. Numerous Trojan players have relatives who played in the Rose Bowl for USC: S Kyle Matthews (father Clay Matthews), QB Michael McDonald (father Paul McDonald), LB Lofa Tatupu (father Mosi Tatupu), CB Justin Tolliver (father Kevin Williams), FB Morgan Craig (grandfather Grenny Lansdell), and C Norm Katnik and TE-C Kurt Katnik (uncle John Katnik). And TB Sean Kelly's great grandfather, Arnold Horween, kicked the winning PAT in Harvard's 7-6 victory over Oregon in the 1920 Rose Bowl to help the Crimson to the last of its 7 national championships (also a fullback, Arnold played alongside his brother, RB Ralph Horween).

USC does not have any players from Michigan, but the Wolverines have 9 California natives...USC walk-on P Tommy Huff was on Michigan's team in 1999 before transferring to Troy...USC TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975...USC QB Brandon Hance hit 16-of-33 passes for 198 yards and a TD versus Michigan in 2001 while playing at Purdue...USC WR Keary Colbert's girlfriend is Sierra Hauser-Price, who is on Michigan's women's basketball and track teams...USC DE Van Brown attended Lansing (Mich.) Community College in 1991, but he did not play football there...Longtime Trojan Marching Band director Dr. Art Bartner is a graduate of Michigan, earning bachelor's (1962), master's (1963) and doctoral (1971) degrees; he also played the trumpet for the Michigan marching, symphonic, varsity and jazz bands...Michigan associate athletic director Megan McCallister lettered in women's volleyball at USC from 1987 to 1990...Michigan assistant women's water polo coach Jennifer Durley is a former USC player (1998-2001) and assistant (2002-03)...Michigan assistant men's track coach Fred LaPlante was the head coach of the USC women's team from 1984 to 1988.

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.

There are some amazing similarities between USC's national championship 1978 team (which went 12-1 and defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl) and the 2003 Trojans. The 1978 squad also had a left-handed quarterback who led the Pac-10 in passing (Paul McDonald), a receiver named Williams who set a USC record for touchdowns in a season (Kevin Williams), a tailback named White who led the team in rushing (Charles White), a No. 77 at left tackle who made All-Pac-10 first team (Anthony Munoz) and a third-year head coach (John Robinson). In 1978, USC swept UCLA and Notre Dame, played Hawaii, stumbled early to a Pac-10 foe (Arizona State) only to close out the season with 8 straight wins and went to the Rose Bowl to play Michigan (where it won, to earn a share of the national title) while the other national crown went to an SEC team (Alabama) that won its share after winning the Sugar Bowl...and an Oklahoma player (Billy Sims) won the Heisman.

USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 18 games, its longest string since 34 in a row in 1978-80. The Trojans have been in the AP Top 5 in 12 of the last 16 polls.

1969 D?J? VU?
There are also 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 entered this season having lost a Heisman winner who was the NFL's first draft pick (Carson Palmer), had a new quarterback with no experience (Matt Leinart), debuted a new tailback (Hershel Dennis), had 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), met a challenging non-conference opponent in its opener (Auburn)...and saw Ohio State win last year's national title.

Five Trojans were named All-American first teamers in 2003: DE Kenechi Udeze (AP, Football Writers, The Sporting News,,,,, WR Mike Williams (AP, Football Writers, Walter Camp,,,,, OT Jacob Rogers (AP, Football Writers, Football Coaches, Walter Camp,,, P Tom Malone (,, and QB Matt Leinart ( That is USC's most All-American first teamers since 1988 (when it also had 5) and brings Troy's total to 129. Udeze, Williams and Rogers were consensus picks (USC now has 44 consensus All-Americans in its history). Additionally, S Darnell Bing was a Freshman All-American first team selection (The Sporting News,,

Nine Trojan football players, the most from any school since 1989, were selected to the 2003 All-Pac-10 first team. QB Matt Leinart was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year (only the second sophomore to win that honor, along with Stanford's John Elway in 1980) and Pete Carroll was named Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year along with Washington State's Bill Doba (USC's first coaching honoree since Larry Smith in 1988). Besides Leinart, USC's first teamers were WR Mike Williams, OT Jacob Rogers, C Norm Katnik, DE Kenechi Udeze, DTs Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, CB Will Poole and P Tom Malone. In 1989, USC had 12 first team picks. Rogers, one of only four players to be a unanimous selection this year, made the first team for the second consecutive year. Rogers also won the league's Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman (as selected by the Pac-10's starting defensive linemen). USC's three defensive line picks were the most from any school since Washington State also had three in 1994. WR Keary Colbert and LB Matt Grootegoed made the All-Pac-10 second team. USC had eight honorable mention selectees: Ss Darnell Bing and Jason Leach, TBs Reggie Bush and LenDale White, OT Winston Justice, PK Ryan Killeen, and LBs Melvin Simmons and Lofa Tatupu.

Ten starters (or projected starters) have missed at least a game in 2003 because of injury: TE Alex Holmes (all 12), LB Oscar Lua (12), CB Kevin Arbet (10), TE Dominique Byrd (6), FB Brandon Hancock (5), LB Matt Grootegoed (3), DE Omar Nazel (3), LB Lofa Tatupu (1), LB Melvin Simmons (1) and OG John Drake (1). And 2002 starting OT-OG Eric Torres was slowed returning from an Orange Bowl injury and has only played as a reserve this season. Holmes, Lua, Arbet, Byrd, Nazel and Drake are out for the year.

Former USC head football coach John Robinson (1976-82, 1993-97), who led USC to a 4-0 Rose Bowl record and coached Troy to its last national championship (1978), will be inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in a noon luncheon at the stadium on Dec. 31.

On USC's current 48-man 2-deep (including the punter and kicker), 36 players (16 offense, 17 defense, 3 specialists) are non-seniors, including 17 starters (7 offense, 8 defense, 2 kickers). And that does not include 5 usual underclass starters who are injured.

QB Matt Leinart threw a school record-tying 5 touchdowns--including 2 each to WR Mike Williams and TB Reggie Bush--and CB Will Poole returned 1 of his 2 interceptions for a TD as No. 2 USC staked its claim for a possible berth into the BCS' national championship game in the Sugar Bowl with an overwhelming 52-28 win over Oregon State before 73,864 fans in the Coliseum and an ABC-TV national audience. The victory gave USC the outright Pac-10 title. After Oregon State scored on the game's opening series (a 1-yard run by TB Steven Jackson which followed a 90-yard pass from QB Derek Anderson to FL Mike Hass), USC scored 28 unanswered points. First, Troy responded to the Beavers' score as Leinart hit Williams on a 14-yard TD pass. Then, 1 play after LB Melvin Simmons recovered a fumble on OSU's next play from scrimmage, Leinart hit TB Reggie Bush for a 30-yard TD. Late in the second quarter, Poole intercepted his second pass, this time racing 67 yards for a score. After LB Dallas Sartz blocked a Beaver punt, Leinart and Williams hooked up again, this time with Williams making a spectacular one-handed grab for a 9-yard TD late in the half. But OSU responded quickly as Anderson hit TE Tim Euhus with a 22-yard scoring pass with 6 seconds left in the half to cut USC's lead to 28-14. The Trojans scored on their first possession of the second half, as Bush took Leinart's swing pass 3 yards into the end zone. On USC's next possession, Beaver CB Brandon Browner intercepted a Leinart toss and returned it 31 yards for a TD. But 3 plays later, WR Steve Smith took a Leinart slant pass 73 yards for a score (USC's longest offensive play of 2003). LB Lofa Tatupu then intercepted Anderson twice to set up Trojan scores, first on OSU's next series to lead to to a 1-yard TD run by LenDale White late in the third quarter and then midway through the final quarter to position PK Ryan Killeen for a 29-yard field goal to put USC up, 52-21. Anderson found SE James Newson for a 3-yard touchdown with 1:31 to play. Leinart, who was 22-of-38 for 278 yards, set Pac-10 season records for touchdown passes (35) and consecutive passes without an interception (212 before being picked off late in the first quarter). Williams, who caught 7 passes for 59 yards, established the USC season TD reception mark (16). He also blocked a field goal and had a crushing blindsided block to help spring Bush on a 32-yard run. Smith had 5 catches for 136 yards. Bush had 173 all-purpose yards: he ran for 71 yards on 6 carries, caught 3 passes for 48 yards and returned 2 kickoff for 54 yards. Killeen set a Pac-10 season record for PATs (61) and tied USC's season field goal mark (19). P Tom Malone averaged 54.0 yards on 3 punts. Tatupu had a game-high 14 tackles with his 2 interceptions, Poole had 11 tackles (2.5 for losses)--including 9 stops in the first half--to go with his 2 thefts and Sartz had 10 tackles (with a sack). USC blocked 3 kicks (DT Shaun Cody blocked a field goal in addition to Sartz's blocked punt and Williams' blocked field goal). Oregon State had the statistical edge, getting more first downs (26-17), total yards (543-388), plays (93-64) and possession time (35:25-24:35). OSU's 485 passing yards was the second most ever against USC (behind only Notre Dame's 526 in 1970). It also was the most total yards allowed by USC since Arizona had 550 in 1999 and the most plays against USC since Stanford had 96 in 2000. Anderson hit on 34-of-60 passes for 485 yards (the second most passing yards against USC behind the 526 of Notre Dame's Joe Theismann in 1970), but he threw 4 picks. Newson caught a game-best 10 passes for 104 yards, Hass had 8 grabs for 208 yards and Euhus had 7 for 97. USC limited Jackson, who was 10th nationally in rushing (a Pac-10 leading 121.3), to just 62 yards on 22 carries. USC set a Pac-10 season average home attendance record of 77,804. It was USC's latest regular season game (Dec. 6) since 1980.

Pete Carroll
It has taken energetic and charismatic USC head football coach Pete Carroll only 3 years to restore the glory of the Trojan football program and return Troy to national prominence. He is 28-9 (75.7%) 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 26-4 (86.7%). He is 10-0 in November. His teams already have posted 4 shutouts. He also serves as USC's defensive coordinator. The 2003 season--his third at Troy--has been one of the best in USC history. The Trojans enter the Rose Bowl ranked No. 1 in both polls (USC's first No. 1 ranking since the middle of 1981 and its first going into a bowl since 1972). USC is 11-1 overall (the only loss was by 3 points at California in triple overtime) and, at 7-1 in the Pac-10, Troy won its second consecutive league title for the first time since 1988-89 (and its first outright crown since 1989). His Trojans have won their last 8 games (and 19 of the last 20) and posted back-to-back seasons of double digit wins for the first time since 1978 and 1979. For just the second time in history (the other time also was 1978 and 1979), USC swept traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame in consecutive years. His 2003 squad features a potent offense, a stingy defense and productive special teams. USC, which has scored at least 20 points in its last 25 games and 30 in its last 11 contests (both school records), have tallied at least 40 points in the past 7 games (the first time any Pac-10 school has done that). USC's 506 points is a Pac-10 record. The defense leads the nation in turnover margin, has forced 41 turnovers and has scored 8 touchdowns. USC is allowing just 61.1 yards rushing per game, second best in the country. And the Trojans top the nation in net punting. Five Trojans--wide receiver Mike Williams, offensive tackle Jacob Rogers, defensive end Kenechi Udeze, punter Tom Malone and quarterback Matt Leinart--were first team All-Americans (Williams and Leinart finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in the Heisman Trophy voting). For all this, Carroll was named the 2003 Home Depot National Coach of the Year, Maxwell Club College Coach of the Year, National Coach of the Year and Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. Coach of the Year. He also was the Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year (USC's first honoree since Larry Smith in 1988), a finalist for Paul 'Bear' Bryant Coach of the Year, 1 of 6 semifinalists for Eddie Robinson/Football Writers Association of America Coach of the Year and American Football Coaches Association Division I-A Region 5 Coach of the Year. 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. Carroll brought big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program when he was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). After 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 52-year-old Carroll has 29 years of NFL and college experience, including 13 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 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, 16, and daughter Jaime, 21, a senior 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 (232-of-368, 63.0%, 3,229 yds, 35 TD, 9 int in 2003) emerged with an ever-so-slight edge--despite never having thrown a pass at USC while seeing brief action in 3 games in 2002--and 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). His performance this season has been outstanding. In fact, there appears to be little--if any--dropoff from last season's passing production.

  • He was a 2003 All-American first team, All-American second team and All-American honorable mention selection.
  • He was named the 2003 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year (only the second sophomore to win that honor, along with Stanford's John Elway in 1980) and made the All-Pac-10 first team.
  • He was 1 of 10 semifinalists for the 2003 Davey O'Brien Award (nation's top quarterback) and even was sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
  • He was the 2003 USC team MVP.
  • In his last 8 games, Leinart has thrown for 2,305 yards and 27 TDs with just 3 interceptions on 65.2% passing (159-of-244).
  • He has thrown at least 2 TDs in his last 11 games (included was a string of at least 3 TDs in the first 5 of those contests).
  • His 35 TD passes is a Pac-10 season record.
  • He set a Pac-10 season record with 212 consecutive passes without an interception--stretching over 8 games--and fell just 4 passes short of the Pac-10 career record.
  • He currently is seventh nationally in passing efficiency (163.2, first in Pac-10) and 21st in total offense (265.3, second in Pac-10).
  • His 163.2 passing efficiency rating is the best season in USC history.
  • His 232 completions is third on the USC season list and 11th on the Trojan career ladder.
  • His 3,183 yards of total offense is third on the USC season chart and 16th on Troy's career list.
  • He has passed for more season yards than any sophomore in USC history, he is the first USC soph to have back-to-back 300-yard passing games and he is the first USC soph to have thrown for 3,000 yards in a season.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Leinart completed 76.6% of his passes (26-of-34) for 351 yards and 4 TDs (career bests for completions, yards and TDs, as well as tying an Irish opponent record for TD passes) at Notre Dame (he hit his first 7 throws).
  • For the second week in a row, Leinart threw for 351 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions, this time on 19-of-29 passing (65.5%) at Washington (he was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week).
  • Leinart was 17-of-31 for 191 yards and 3 TDs and no interceptions against a Washington State defense that was fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense (he was 6-of-7 for 93 yards and the 3 scores in the second half).
  • At Arizona, Leinart was 22-of-30 for 296 yards and 4 TDs (he was taken out midway through the third quarter) while setting a USC season record for consecutive passes without an interception.
  • Leinart was 23-of-32 for 289 yards and 2 TDs in 3 quarters of action against UCLA (he was 12-of-14 for 171 yards and a TD in the first quarter).
  • Against Oregon State, Leinart tied the USC game TD pass record (shared with Carson Palmer and Rodney Peete) when he threw 5 scores (giving him a Pac-10 record 35 on the season) while hitting 22-of-38 passes for 278 yards with 2 interceptions (ending his Pac-10 season record streak of 212 consecutive passes without an interception, just 4 short of the Pac-10 career mark).


    Tony Mejia, CBS 'USC has positioned itself for a run at a national championship, and that is in no small part due to the job Leinart has done replacing Carson Palmer.' 'Five touchdown passes against Oregon State proved once and for all that Leinart deserves to be recognized as the top quarterback in college football this year. He was supposed to be the question mark coming into the season, and he came through with more than flying colors even playing better in some ways than Carson Palmer did last season.'

    Stewart Mandel, 'Has anyone else noticed how USC quarterback Matt Leinart has caught fire at about the same point in the season that Carson Palmer did last year?...If Leinart continues this level of play, the Trojans could be on their way back to the BCS. The scary thing is, unlike Palmer, who by the time he fully grasped Norm Chow's offense was off to the NFL, Leinart has two years left after this one.'

    Backing him was heralded freshman John David Booty (7-of-14, 50.0%, 90 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, but he's now sidelined with a broken wrist. So, moving up to the backup role now is junior Brandon Hance (4-of-9, 44.4%, 44 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. Also available is 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). Then there's walk-on freshman Michael McDonald, the son of ex-USC All-American Paul McDonald.

  • Against Hawaii, Matt Cassel was 2-of-3 for 21 yards and Hance hit 1-of-2 throws for 13 yards.
  • At Arizona State, Cassel came in for an injured Leinart 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).
  • Booty saw his first collegiate action as he was 1-of-4 for 13 yards while playing the entire fourth quarter against Stanford.
  • Booty completed a 5-yard pass at Notre Dame.
  • Booty got in for the final series at Washington (he did not throw a pass).
  • At Arizona, Booty was 3-of-6 for 63 yards and Hance hit his only attempt (an 8-yarder).
  • Against UCLA, Booty was 2-of-3 for 9 yards before breaking his wrist and Hance was 2-of-6 for 23 yards.
  • Hance saw brief action against Oregon State, but did not throw a pass.

    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 (130 tcb, 644 yds, 5.0 avg, 4 TD in 2003, plus 10 rec, 62 yds, 6.2 avg, 1 TD). 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 was a terrific trio of prep All-Americans in LenDale White (133 tcb, team-high 728 yds, 5.5 avg, 13 TD in 2003, plus 4 rec, 11 yds, 2.8 avg and 2 tac), who emerged by midseason as USC's top runner, plus Reggie Bush (82 tcb, 480 yds, 5.9 avg, 3 TD in 2003, plus 13 rec, 272 yds, 20.9 yds, 4 TD and team-best 16 KOR, 447 yds, 27.9 avg, 1 TD and 1 FR) and Chauncey Washington (19 tcb, 65 yds, 3.4 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, 6 yds, 6.0 avg and 3 tac) and, plus frosh Jody Adewale. White has a trio of 100-yard games in 2003, 1 shy of tying Charles White's 4 in 1976, his 728 rushing yards are the second most ever by a USC freshman (behind Charles White's school frosh record of 858 in 1976), his 13 rushing TDs is a USC freshman record (breaking Charles White's mark of 10) and he is just 1 TD shy of the USC freshman TD mark (14 by Mike Williams in 2002). Bush--nicknamed 'The President'--has had 22 plays of 20-plus yards in 2003 out of 101 touches (rushes of 23, 27, 58, 20, 32 and 24 yards, receptions of 28, 37, 38, 27 and 30 yards, and kickoff returns of 23, 25, 30, 34, 35, 35, 20, 58, 96, 30 and 24 yards). He currently is 11th nationally in kickoff returns (27.9, second in Pac-10). Dennis and Bush--who both made the 2003 All-Pac-10 honorable mention squad--are speedy, darting runners, while White and Washington are known as the 'The Bruise Brothers.' Combined in 2003, USC's 4 young tailbacks who have seen action--Dennis, White, Bush and Washington--have 1,887 rushing yards (157.3 per game) and 20 rushing TDs (plus 4 receiving TDs and 1 kickoff return TD). Dennis, White and Bush each are averaging at least 5.0 yards per carry. The last time USC had 3 runners with more than 400 rushing yards in a season was 1991. White was named to the 2003 Freshman All-American second team, while White made Freshman All-American honorable mention. Both were named to the 2003 Freshman All-American honorable mention squad. Also available are 3 walk-ons: sophomore converted safety Andre Woodert (3 tcb, 19 yds, 6.3 avg in 2003) 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).
  • 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.
  • At Notre Dame, Bush rushed for a game-best 89 yards on 6 carries (14.8 average), including a 58-yard cutback TD run (he was untouched), and he caught a 38-yard pass, while White added 75 yards on 16 carries, Dennis had 38 yards on 10 tries (with a 2-yard TD) and caught 2 passes for 23 yards (with a 3-yard score), Washington ran for 8 yards on 6 attempts and Woodert had a rush for minus 3 yards.
  • Bush had 270 all-purpose yards at Washington (132 on 5 receptions-the most receiving yards ever by a Trojan running back--with TDs of 60 and 37 yards, plus 81 on 12 rushes and 57 on 2 kickoff returns), while Dennis had a game-high 98 rushing yards on 14 carries (he also had a 10-yard catch), White had 29 yards on 9 carries with a 21-yard TD (plus he had a 10-yard reception) and Washington had 18 yards on 4 carries.
  • Against a Washington State defense ranked third nationally in rushing defense (68.1), White ran for a game-best 149 yards--the most by a USC freshman (true or redshirt) and breaking his true freshman record of 140 set a month earlier at Arizona Stateo--n 12 carries (a 12.4 average) with a TD, including non-scoring runs of 66 and 44 runs, while Dennis added 53 yards on 7 tries (with a 24-yard TD) and Bush had 15 yards on 7 attempts (he also had 62 yards on 3 kickoff returns and recovered a fumble on a bad punt snap).
  • At Arizona, White had a game-best 90 yards on 15 carries and scored TDs on runs of 1 and 43 yards to set the USC freshman season rushing TD record, while Bush added 64 yards on 11 tries and also had a 58-yard kickoff return and Dennis had 52 yards on 10 rushes.
  • Dennis had a game-best 69 yards on 12 carries against UCLA, White added 33 yards on 10 ties (with a 1-yard TD) and he caught 2 passes for 3 yards, and Bush had 10 yards on 6 rushes, 32 yards on 2 catches and 105 yards on 3 kickoff returns (including a 96-yard TD, USC's first scoring kickoff return since 1998) and he was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week.
  • Against Oregon State, Bush had 173 all-purpose yards (71 on 6 rushes, 48 on 3 receptions with TDs of 30 and 3 yards and 54 on 2 kickoff returns), while White ran for 34 yards on 10 carries (with a 1-yard TD) and Dennis added 5 yards on 3 carries and 5 yards on 2 receptions.


    Steve Kelley, Seattle Times: 'Bush is one-of-a-kind. A freshman so good, so versatile, USC's coaching staff is just beginning to see all the ways he can be used. When he touches the ball, defensive coordinators hold their breath. Every play called for him can be a game-breaker. Every touch can be something you'll never forget...Bush zig-zags through defenses as if he has a sixth sense for the location of the next sliver of daylight. He cuts as sharply as a Ferrari in a chicane. He shimmies like a dancer in a music video. A football field is 53 yards wide, and there are plays where Reggie Bush seems to use every inch from sideline to sideline...'The President' is carving exquisite, artful-dodger runs through desperately grasping and gasping defenses. Re-awakening the echoes of all the great Trojans tailbacks who preceded him. Hail to the Chief.'

    Dennis Dodd, CBS 'They call him 'The President.' They might soon be calling him The King...He is that rare back with the speed and strength to run through the line and the ability to make defenders miss in space when he goes out for a pass...The only reasons he won't get Heisman consideration is he is too young for voters and still has to share time with a deep stable of backs. He is a symbol for what USC was, is and will be.'

    Randy Youngman, Orange County Register: 'Even if he got to carry or catch the ball on every down, I would never get tired of watching Reggie Bush, USC's electrifying freshman running back. Bush has so many open-field moves, he's more elusive than 'The Fugitive.' Now you see him, now you don't...touchdown, Trojans!'

    Arash Markazi, Daily Trojan: 'Reggie Bush looks like a creation from a video game--an almost unreal character created by a kid who finds all the secret codes to make his player faster, quicker and better than everyone else on the field...He always makes the impossible seem possible. The scary thing for USC's opponents is that this creation isn't imaginary. He's not from a video game. He's a living, breathing human joystick who terrorizes defenses with his blinding speed and ankle-breaking shimmies...His speed borders on blinding and his knack for eluding defenders borders on ridiculous.'


    Todd Harmonson, Orange County Register: 'It's too early to anoint White as the next great tailback at USC...but his quiet confidence and thunderous running style are enough to inspire Trojan imaginations. Fans with decent memories compare him to Ricky Bell. Offensive linemen who must make their blocks or risk having him run into their backs point to Justin Fargas.'


    Luke Winn, 'This duo--along with Hershel Dennis--is liable to become for the Trojans what Carnell Williams et al couldn't be at Auburn: the best backfield in the nation. Bush has unlimited potential and a better shot of emerging as a Heisman back. White is the more physical runner and is putting up big numbers. 'Tailback U' will once again be apropos in L.A.'

    With Malaefou MacKenzie gone, a new fullback had to emerge. Sophomore Brandon Hancock (1 tcb, -2 yds, -2.0 avg in 2003, plus 11 rec, 152 yds, 13.8 avg, 2 TD and 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 and again late in the year. So junior Lee Webb (4 tcb, 0 yd, 0.0 avg in 2003, plus 9 tac, 1 FF), 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 (5 tcb, 23 yds, 11.5 avg in 2003, plus 4 rec, 20 yds, 5.0 avg) 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.
  • Hancock had 3 catches for 28 yards at Notre Dame, while Kirtman added a 5-yard catch.
  • Hancock caught a 52-yard TD pass at Washington.
  • Hancock caught a 5-yard pass against Washington State and had 1 carry for minus 2 yards.
  • Kirtman ran for 23 yards on 5 tries at Arizona, while Webb had 1 yard on 3 carries and Hancock caught a 6-yard pass.
  • Kirtman caught 2 passes for 12 yards against Oregon State, while Webb had 1 carry for 1 yard.

    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--was gone, the Trojans were in good shape in the wide receivers corps as a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (a first at Troy) returned. Both are playmakers who form the top receiving duo in the country. Underrated, yet consistent, senior Keary Colbert (63 rec, 864 yds, 13.7 avg, 7 TD in 2002, plus 3 tcb, 29 yds, 9.7 avg and 1 tac) starts for his fourth season after getting 71 catches for 1,029 yards in 2002.

  • He made the 2003 All-Pac-10 second team (for the second consecutive year).
  • He won USC's Most Inspirational Player award in 2003.
  • He has caught a pass in 35 consecutive outings.
  • He is tied for second on USC's career receptions ladder with 201 grabs (tied for seventh on the all-time Pac-10 chart) and he needs just 4 grabs to push him past Kelly as the school's all-time leading pass catcher.
  • His 2,815 career receiving yards is ninth on the all-time Pac-10 list.
  • He has 5 100-yard receiving games in his career (2 in 2003).
  • His 63 catches in 2003 is ninth on the USC season list.Even if Colbert breaks Kelly's reception mark, Keyshawn-esque sophomore Mike Williams (87 rec, 1,226 yds, 14.1 avg, 16 TD in 2003, plus 1-of-1 passing for 23 yds and 3 tcb, 26 yds, 8.7 avg and 1 tac, 1 blk FG) is poised to shatter the standard before his career concludes.
  • A finalist for the 2003 Biletnikoff Award, he was eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting and was the National Player of the Year.
  • He was named to the 2003 Football Writers, Walter Camp,,, and All-American first teams (the first All-American first team Trojan wide receiver since Keyshawn Johnson in 1995 and the first USC sophomore honoree since Tony Boselli in 1992) as well as The Sporting News All-American second team.
  • He made the 2003 All-Pac-10 first team.
  • He already is tied for fourth on USC's career receptions list (168) and has 12 100-yard receiving games in his young career (7 times in 2003).
  • He has 30 touchdown catches in his 25-game career, having eclipsed the USC career TD reception record 3 games before the end of his sophomore season (the Pac-10 career TD reception mark is 32 by Stanford's Ken Margerum in 1977-80).
  • He has had multiple TD games 9 times, including 3 times getting a USC game record-tying 3 TDs.
  • His 16 TD catches in 2003 is a USC season record.
  • He is averaging a touchdown every 5.8 times he touches the ball (30 TDs on 175 touches, including his 5 rushes and 2 pass attempts).
  • His 30 career TDs is the most of any Trojan sophomore ever at any position.
  • He is the only Trojan with 2 seasons of 80-plus catches.
  • He is just the second Trojan (joining Keyshawn Johnson) to have a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
  • He currently is tied for sixth nationally in receptions (7.3, second in the Pac-10) and eighth in receiving yards (102.2, third in Pac-10).
  • His 16 TD catches are the most in the Pac-10 in 2003.
  • His 16 touchdowns are the most by a Trojan in a season since Marcus Allen scored 23 in 1981.
  • His 87 catches in 2003 is third on the USC season ladder (tied for seventh on the Pac-10 list) and his 1,226 receiving yards in 2003 is fifth on the USC season chart (15th on the Pac-10 ladder).
  • His 168 career catches is tied for 14th on the Pac-10 list and his 2,491 career receiving yards is 19th on the Pac-10 chart (fifth on the USC ladder).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 time they've combined to do that in their careers) on 5 catches 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.
  • For the third time in their careers (and second time in 2003), Williams (9 catches, 112 yards) and Colbert (8 for 120) had a 100-yard receiving day, this time at Notre Dame (both also had a TD catch, with Williams getting a 7-yarder and Colbert an 18-yarder).
  • At Washington, Williams led USC with 6 catches (for 43 yards), while Colbert caught 3 passes for 91 yards, including a 20-yard TD.
  • Colbert had a team-high 9 catches for 80 yards (with a 13-yard TD) against Washington State, while Williams added 4 grabs for 43 yards (including a 13-yard TD), plus he completed a scrambling 23-yard pass and had 2 runs for 9 yards (on backwards passes).
  • At Arizona, Williams had 11 catches for 157 yards and 3 TDs (15, 22 and 26 yards)all game bestswhile setting the USC career record for touchdown receptions, while Colbert added 7 grabs for 76 yards.
  • Williams had 11 catches for 181 yards with 2 TDs (21 and 4 yards)--all in the first half--against UCLA, while Colbert added 4 grabs for 41 yards. -Against Oregon State, Williams had 7 catches for 59 yards and 2 TDs (a 14-yarder and then a spectacular one-handed 9-yard catch) and he also blocked a field goal, while Colbert added 3 grabs for 18 yards and ran 12 yards on a reverse.


    Steve Bisheff, Orange County Register: 'In less than a season and a half, Williams has established himself as the finest all-around receiver USC has put on a football field. He is faster than Keyshawn Johnson, bigger and stronger than Lynn Swann and a more complete package than Hal Bedsole...It was Willliams' presence as a go-to receiver that had much to do with teammate Carson Palmer running away with the Heisman last year...Williams was Palmer's 6-5 security blanket. And if you don't believe it, ask Carson. He'll tell you. This season, Williams is serving in the same role for Matt Leinart...Nobody since Bedsole, who was a jumbo-sized, All-American receiver on John McKay's first national championship team in 1962, has broken more tackles after catching the ball than Williams. This is the best football player on a team with justified BCS aspirations. And no, you can't call him just another one of those Williams guys anymore. As of now, he is the only one left who is a serious Heisman candidate.'

    Mike Ventre, 'Williams' numbers are sick, twisted and perverse--if you're looking at it from the opponents' perspective. From a USC standpoint, they are wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary...And these days there are more defenders around him than there are bodyguards around Kobe Bryant...Some longtime USC observers think Williams may be the best wide receiver ever at the school, because of his unique amalgam of gifts. He is big, fast, smart, sure-handed, runs exact routes and is intensely competitive. Perhaps his value can best be up with one play that the Trojans run regularly, in which the quarterback drops back, fires a line drive laterally to Williams at his wide receiver spot, and Williams proceeds to deke, dodge, fake, fool, squeeze by and knock over anyone in his path. Unlike others at his position, Williams can turn nothing into something with the consistency of a power running back.'

    Jim Rhode, Los Angeles Times: 'Mike Williams is college football's best receiver...Williams does it all. He catches balls long, short and in between, working the sideline and over the middle as well. He hauls in seemingly unreachable passes like Go-Go Gadget, drags defenders around like Ben-Hur, serves as a defender magnet so others such as Keary Colbert can steal away against single coverage and provides a security blanket for Leinart.'

    R.J. Oliver, Arizona State cornerback: 'Not only would I pick Mike Williams over anyone else now, but I think he's the best wide receiver in college football in a long time.'

    California defensive coordinator Bob Gregory: 'He causes huge, major problems...It's not like you can just tell a corner to go and cover him. Because of how big he is, you can't do much on him one-on-one. And if you put another guy on him, your run defense suffers because you take a guy out of the box.'

    Notre Dame defensive coordinator Kent Baer: 'He's got deceptive speed. He's a long-strider and you don't realize he's faster than most receivers...The only thing that jumps out how to defend him is to try to keep two guys on him. But is there anything physically we can do? Not really.'

    Kyle Veltrop, The Sporting News: 'Someone his size shouldn't have that burst, which is why he is like Terrell Owens.'

    Keary Colbert, USC wide receiver: 'He's so big, a lot of people don't realize how much quickness he has. He is big, but he also has the ability to separate from the defense on his routes...People just think that because he's big, he's going to muscle. But he does things a little guy does.'


    Richard Cirminiello, 'Mike Williams gets so much well-earned pub that it's made fellow wideout Keary Colbert the most underrated receiver in college football...Think Detroit Lions circa 1996. He's a lot like former Trojan Johnnie Morton was to Herman Moore.'

    Mike Williams, USC wide receiver: 'He's really fast and he catches the ball better than anybody I've ever seen at this level. When you have a fast guy who can catch the ball and run really good routes and he works hard, that's pretty much the recipe for a good receiver...He doesn't get the credit or recognition he deserves. But he doesn't care. He just goes out and plays ball. He's such a good example and such an impact guy with the things he does off the field. He's not a big rah-rah guy. He's not a big talker. But he carries himself well.'


    Bill Doba, Washington State head coach: 'Williams is as good as they come in the country, but you can't forget Colbert. If you do, you'll be in trouble.'

    Ken Goe, Portland Oregonian: 'Mike Williams casts such a long shadow, it's easy to forget about Keary Colbert, who unobtrusively works the other side of the field. Easy, but deadly, because Colbert can destroy a defense, too. In a conference full of superlative receiving tandems, the Williams and Colbert duo is the best. Williams already is a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare, imposingly tall, with hands the NFL covets. Double-cover the flashy Williams and the secondary opens wide for Colbert. Double-cover both, and the Trojans' running game springs free...Pick the poison.'

    Todd Harmonson, Orange County Register: 'USC's dynamic duo simply makes the most of its opportunities in one of the most balanced offenses in the nation, exploiting the weaknesses of opposing defenses with size and strength to be sure, but also with impressive skill. Williams is the one who has captured the college football world's imagination, because 6-foot-5 players aren't supposed to be able to do the things he does, and sophomores certainly shouldn't dominate the way he has...As much as Colbert often is relegated to the role of the trusty sidekick, he actually is every bit the co-star. No one seems to notice him until he is in the end zone, again.'

    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 (2 tac in 2003) and D. Hale, a walk-on-turned-scholarship winner who has started once in his career (an ankle injury has sidelined him most of this year), junior Jason Mitchell (2 rec, 27 yds, 13.5 avg in 2003, plus 2 KOR, 24 yds, 12.0 avg), sophomores Greig Carlson (team-best 21 PR, 188 yds, 9.0 avg in 2003) and William Buchanon (3 tac, 1 dfl, 1 int in 2003), who came to USC as a receiver before moving to cornerback in 2002 (he switched back to receiver by this mid-season, but is bothered currently by a back injury), and sure-handed redshirt freshman Chris McFoy (2 rec, 23 yds, 12.5 avg in 2003). Carlson, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, was USC's top punt returner in 2002 (177 yards). Buchanon was out late this season with a back injury. 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 and has made an impact: prep All-American Steve Smith (16 rec, 310 yds, 19.4 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 1 tcb, 8 yds, 8.0 avg). Prep All-American Whitney Lewis (3 tcb, 11 yds, 3.7 avg in 2003, plus 3 rec, 27 yds, 9.0 avg) came to USC as a wide receiver, but he has also played as a running back in 2003, first at fullback (usually in motion) and then at tailback (he's back to receiver now). Also enrolling this fall was prep All-American Desmond Reed, who was a safety-cornerback until moving to offense in mid-season.

  • Smith (7 yards) and Wyatt (5 yards) each had a catch at Auburn, the first of their careers.
  • Justin Wyatt had 2 catches for 15 yards versus BYU, while Smith had an 8-yard run on a backwards pass and Lewis caught a 2-yard 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, while Lewis had 11 yards on 3 carries.
  • Carlson returned 3 punts for 29 yards versus Stanford, while Wyatt had a 7-yard kickoff return.
  • Smith caught a 17-yard pass at Notre Dame, while Carlson returned 3 punts for 11 yards.
  • Mitchell caught a 6-yard pass and returned a kickoff 6 yards at Washington, while Carlson had 17 yards on 2 punt returns.
  • Smith had 2 catches for 60 yards against Washington State, including a 55-yard catch-and-run for a TD, while Carlson returned 2 punts for 13 yards.
  • Smith (54 yards) and Lewis (25 yards) each had 2 catches at Arizona, while Mitchell (21 yards) and McFoy (8 yards) each had 1 catch and Carlson had 2 punt returns for 20 yards.
  • Smith grabbed 4 passes for 27 yards versus UCLA and Carlson returned 2 punts for 18 yards.
  • Smith had his first 100-yard receiving game when he caught 5 passes for 136 yards with a 73-yard TD (USC's longest play from scrimmage in 2003) against Oregon State, while Carlson returned 2 punts for 9 yards.

    USC began 2003 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 is redshirting. In his place, sophomore Dominique Byrd (14 rec, 268 yds, 19.1 avg, 1 TD in 2003) took over and was impressive, but he is out for the season with a mid-season knee injury. Playing often behind (or with) Byrd was junior Gregg Guenther Jr. (16 rec, 148 yds, 9.2 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 1 blk FG), who started once last fall and now has assumed the starting role this season. 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. Junior Matt Cassel (6-of-13, 46.2%, 63 yds in 2003), Carson Palmer's backup at quarterback the past 2 seasons who had thrown just 6 passes in his career before this year, moved over to tight end this mid-season (he made a similar mid-season move to wide receiver in 2001).

  • 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.
  • Guenther had 2 receptions for 13 yards (with a 7-yard TD) at Notre Dame.
  • Guenther had a 7-yard catch at Washington.
  • Guenther had 2 catches for 26 yards against Washington State.
  • Guenther's only catch at Arizona was a spectacular one-handed 20-yard TD.
  • Guenther had 4 receptions for 37 yards against UCLA.

    The 2003 version of USC's offensive line is 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 3-year starter who earned All-Pac-10 first team laurels in 2002, and sophomore Winston Justice, a 2002 Freshman All-American first teamer. They make up the nation's best bookend tackles (Rogers on the left and Justice on the right). Rogers was named to the 2003 Football Writers, Football Coaches, Walter Camp, and All-American first teams (the first All-American first team Trojan offensive lineman since Tony Boselli in 1994), as well as The Sporting News All-American second team and All-American honorable mention. Rogers also made the 2003 All-Pac-10 first team (for the second year in a row), while Justice was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention choice. Senior Lenny Vandermade, a 4-year starter, returned at left guard (he also has started at center in his career), while reliable center Norm Katnik, another 3-year starter, also returned (he also has started at guard and tackle in his USC tenure). Katnik was 1 of 6 finalists for the 2003 Rimington Trophy, plus he made the 2003 third team and the All-Pac-10 first team. Redshirt freshman Fred Matua, a guard who was set to start the 2002 opener before a knee sprain sidelined him, captured the starting job at Wilson's right guard spot for the first half of 2003 (he's now back in the lineup). He made the 2003 Freshman All-American second team. 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 as a backup and on special teams 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 who 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 at tackle and guard, even emerging as a starter the second half of this season before breaking his ankle late in the year), 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.
  • Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Drake and Justice started at Notre Dame (Matua got lots of action off the bench).
  • Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Drake and Justice started at Washington (Matua saw time off the bench).
  • Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Drake and Justice started versus Washington State (Matua came in off the bench).
  • Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Drake and Justice started at Arizona (Matua saw time off the bench).
  • Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Drake and Justice started against UCLA (Matua saw time off the bench).
  • Rogers, Vandermade, Katnik, Matua and Justice started against Oregon State (Rogers also caught a lateral, but it resulted in no gain).

    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 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 (25 tac, 6.5 for loss, 4 sack, 2 FR, 1 int for a TD, 1 dfl in 2003) and junior Kenechi Udeze (51 tac, team-high 22 for loss, team-best 13.5 sack, 4 FF, 1 FR for a TD, 3 dfl, 1 blk FG in 2003). However, Nazel is sidelined with a thumb injury he suffered midseason. Udeze, a 3-year starter, set a USC record with his Pac-10 leading 6 forced fumbles in 2002 (he has 13 forced fumbles in his career). He was 1 of 6 finalists for the 2003 Hendricks Award (given to the nation's top defensive end) and was selected as the Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. National Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the 2003 Football Writers, The Sporting News,,, and All-American first teams (the first All-American first team Trojan defensive lineman since Tim Ryan in 1989). He currently is tied for fifth nationally in sacks (1.1, tied for second in Pac-10), fifth in tackles for a loss (1.8, first in Pac-10) and tied for 13th in forced fumbles (0.3, tied for third in Pac-10)...1 of only 2 players ranked in the Top 13 in all 3 categories. His 22 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks in 2003 are the most by a Trojan defensive lineman since Tim Ryan's 28 and 20, respectively, in 1989. He is the first Trojan with double digits in sacks since Willie McGinest in 1992 (16). In the past 7 games, Udeze has 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Also back is junior Mike Patterson (53 tac, 13.5 for loss, 7 sack, 3 FR with 1 returned for a TD in 2003), who started 10 times at nose tackle (where he is in 2003) and 3 at defensive tackle last fall. His 13.5 tackles for a loss in 2003 are the most by a Trojan defensive tackle since Darrell Russell had 19 in 1996. His 4 fumble recoveries topped the Pac-10 in 2002. Although tackle Bernard Rileyhe had 19 career starts, including the last 7 games of 2002, when he posted 25 tackleswas gone, a familiar face re-assumed that defensive tackle spot. Junior Shaun Cody (23 tac, 10.5 for loss, 6 sack, 1FF, 1 dfl, 2 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. Udeze, Patterson and Cody all made the 2003 All-Pac-10 first team (the most defensive line first teamers from any school since Washington State also had 3 in 1994). Among the returning squadmen pushing for time at end are junior Van Brown (7 tac, 1 for loss in 2003) and sophomore converted linebacker Frostee Rucker (25 tac, 4 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 int, 1 dfl, 1 FF, 2 FR in 2003), who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado State (he's taken over for the injured Nazel), and at tackle are soph LaJuan Ramsey (6 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF in 2003) and redshirt freshman Travis Tofi (3 tac, 1 for loss, 2 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 out with a shoulder injury), Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow, while the tackles are prep All-Americans Sedrick Ellis (he's sidelined with a foot injury) and Manuel Wright (7 tac, 1 for loss, 2 dfl 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 that USC recovered (to set up field goals) and blocked a field goal against Stanford to help him win Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors, 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.
  • At Notre Dame, Udeze had 6 tackles (2.5 were for losses, with 2 sacks), forced a fumble and deflected a pass, while Patterson (with 2 sacks) and Nazel (with 0.5 for a loss) each had 3 tackles, and Rucker and Cody each had 2 stops (Rucker also recovered a fumble).
  • Rucker started at Washington for Nazel and had 8 tackles (1 for a loss), while Udeze had 5 tackles (2.5 for losses, with a sack), plus had a forced fumble and deflection, and Cody and Patterson each had 2 tackles (Cody had 1 for a loss).
  • Against Washington State, each of the starters had a sack--Nazel had 5 tackles (with a sack) and a deflection, Patterson had 4 stops (with a sack), Udeze had 3 tackles (including 3 for losses, with 2 sacks) and Cody had 3 tackles (including 2 for losses, with a sack) and a forced fumble--while Brown added a tackle, Rucker had a fumble recovery and Wright had a deflection.
  • At Arizona, Udeze had 5 tackles (with 2.5 for losses, including a sack), Brown, Patterson and Wright each had 3 stops (Brown had 1 for a loss), Rucker started for an injured Nazel and made 2 tackles (0.5 for a loss) and Cody had 1 stop.
  • Two members of the 'Wild Bunch II' scored touchdowns against UCLA--Udeze recovered a fumble in the end zone and Patterson rumbled 52 yards with a fumble--and another almost scored a 2-point defensive extra point (Cody ran 84 yards with an interception, but was tackled just short of the end zone); overall, Patterson had 6 tackles and a sack, Udeze had 4 stops (with 1.5 for a loss, including a sack), Rucker added 2 stops (with a sack), Cody had 2 tackles (1.5 for a loss), Brown had a tackle and Wright had a deflection.
  • Against Oregon State, Udeze had 5 tackles (2 for a loss, including a sack) and a deflection, Patterson had 4 stops (1.5 for a loss), Cody had 3 tackles (0.5 for a loss) with a blocked field goal, Wright had 2 tackles, Rucker and Ramsey each had 1 tackle and Tofi had a deflection.


    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.' 'If this isn't the best defensive line in America, 'The Wild Bunch II' is No. 1A...Omar Nazel, Kenechi Udeze, Mike Patterson and Shaun Cody should be a brick wall.'

    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.'

    Pat Haden, NBC-TV: 'Mike Patterson is like hair in the sink. He just kind of clogs things up.'

    USC is solid at the outside linebacker spots, as junior Matt Grootegoed (40 tac, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FR, 2 FF in 2003) returned on the strong side and senior Melvin Simmons (52 tac, 8 for loss, 3 FR, 3 dfl in 2003) is back on the weak side. Grootegoed, a 3-year starter who has a knack for always being around the ball, was 1 of 11 semifinalists for the 2003 Butkus Award (the only Pac-10 selection) and 1 of 12 semifinalists for the 2003 Lombardi Award. He also made the 2003 All-Pac-10 second team. He's been bothered recently by an ankle sprain. 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). Simmons, who made 2003 All-Pac-10 honorable mention, has been slowed recently by a bruised leg. There's a new middle linebacker now that Mike Pollard-a 2-year starter who had 49 stops last year--has departed. The starter is sophomore Lofa Tatupu (team-high 86 tac, 10.5 for loss, 3 sack, 10 dfl, 3 int with 1 for a TD, 1 FF 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 made the 2003 All-Pac-10 honorable mention squad. He was backed by junior Daniel Urquhart (20 tac in 2003), a converted defensive end (he's been sidelined with a shoulder injury). 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 in the mix are junior Bobby Otani (6 tac in 2003) and sophomore Dallas Sartz (53 tac, 4 for loss, 1 sack, 3 dfl, 1 blk P in 2003, plus 1 PR, 0 yds), who has subbed lately for an injured Grootegoed (he can also play safety), plus walk-on sophomore Collin Ashton (28 tac, 0.5 for loss, 1 FF, 1 dfl in 2003, plus 1 KOR, 0 yds), who has started 2 late-season games. Prep All-American Thomas Williams, along with Salo Faraimo (10 tac in 2003), joined the linebacking corps this fall as freshmen. Walk-on junior Marco Chavez, who spent part of 2002 at Hawaii, is redshirting 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 (he was named's National Player of the Week), 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.
  • Simmons had a team-best 13 tackles (2 for losses) at Notre Dame, while Tatupu added 10 stops (2.5 for losses), Sartz had 7 (0.5 for a loss), and Grootegoed (slowed by an ankle sprain), Faraimo and Ashton each had 1.
  • Simmons had 8 tackles (2 for losses) at Washington, while Tatupu added 6 stops (0.5 for a loss) and a deflection, Sartz started for an injured Grootegoed and also had 3 tackles, and Ashton, Faraimo and Otani each had 1.
  • Against Washington State, Tatupu had a game-best 11 tackles (with a deflection), Sartz started again for Grootegoed (who didn't play) and had 9 stops and a deflection, Simmons had 3 tackles and 2 deflections, Ashton had 2 stops and Faraimo had 1.
  • With Grootegoed and Simmons not available for the Arizona game because of injuries, Ashton started for Simmons and had 8 tackles (0.5 for a loss) and forced a fumble (he was just the second walk-on to start at Troy in at least the past 20 years, joining D. Hale), while Tatupu had 3 stops and a deflection, Sartz had 2 tackles (1.5 for loss) with a deflection and Faraimo and Otani each had 1 stop.
  • Sartz had a game-best 9 tackles against UCLA, Ashton started again and added 5 stops and a deflection, Tatupu had 5 stops (0.5 for a loss) and a deflection, and Simmons had 3 tackles.
  • Tatupu had a game-best 14 tackles (0.5 for a loss), with 2 interceptions (returned for 74 yards) and a forced fumble, against Oregon State, while Sartz added 10 stops (with a sack), a blocked punt and a deflection, Simmons had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery and Ashton had 3 stops.

    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). Only senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (43 tac, 2 for loss, 2 sack, 3 int, 4 dfl, 3 FF, 1 FR in 2003, plus 9 KOR, 208 yds, 23.1 avg) returned as a starter. The Trojans are 17-1 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, 1 FF in 2003, plus 4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg), who missed all of last season with a broken foot, junior Ronald Nunn (38 tac, 3 for loss, 2 sack, 1 int for a TD, 4 dfl, 1 FF, 3 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 him the rest of this year. So Will Poole (70 tac, 6 for loss, 1 sack, 3 FF, 2 FR, team-best 7 int, team-high 14 dfl in 2003, plus 5 PR, 26 yds, 5.2 avg), 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, took his place. Poole made the 2003 second team and All-American honorable mention squad, plus the All-Pac-10 first team. He currently is tied for seventh nationally in interceptions (0.6, tied for first in Pac-10) and tied for seventh in deflections (1.8, first in Pac-10). His 7 interceptions in 2003 are the most in a season by a Trojan since John Herpin had 7 in 1994. He is backed by Nunn, while Buchanon moved back over to wide receiver by this mid-season. 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 (80 tac, 4.5 for loss, 1 sack, 5 dfl, 1 FR, 1 FF, 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 (60 tac, 2 for loss, 1 FR, 2 int, 5 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). Leach and Bing were 2003 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selections. Bing was named to the 2003 The Sporting News, and Freshman All-American first teams. Other cornerbacks back from last year's group are sophomores John Walker (3 tac, 1 dfl in 2003) and Justin Wyatt (9 tac in 2003, plus 3 rec, 20 yds, 6.7 avg and 3 KOR, 41 yds, 13.7 avg), who began his career as a corner but moved to wide receiver in 2003 spring drills (he switched back to cornerback this mid-season), and walk-on sophomore Alex Gomez. Identical twin freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Ting (2 tac in 2003) and Ryan Ting (1 tac in 2003), 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 (10 tac in 2003), plus 5 walk-ons in seniors Greg Farr (6 tac in 2003) and Forrest Mozart and juniors Chris Bocage (1 tac in 2003), who is out with a knee injury, Matt Lemos (1 tac in 2003) and Kyle Matthews (1 tac in 2003). This fall, joining the fray were 2 incoming freshmen who were prep All-Americans: safety Terrell Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright, but both 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 (he also returned 2 kickoffs for 51 yards) 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 (Allmond also had a 33-yard kickoff return), Ross had 3 tackles, and William 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 (Allmond had 2 kickoff returns for 39 yards and Walker had a deflection), Leach had 2 stops and Farr had 1.
  • Bing posted 11 tackles and a deflection at Notre Dame, while Poole had 7 (0.5 for a loss), Leach added 6 (0.5 for a loss), Allmond had 2, and Nunn (with a deflection), Ross and Farr each had 1.
  • At Washington, Poole had a team-best 9 tackles (and a deflection), Leach added 8 stops and a deflection, Allmond had 6 tackles and forced a fumble, Nunn had 4 stops, returned an interception 57 yards for a TD and recovered a fumble, Bing had 3 tackles and a deflection, Wyatt had 2 stops and Ryan Ting had 1.
  • Against Washington State, Allmond had 8 tackles (and a 24-yard kickoff return), Nunn had 7 (1 for a loss), Leach had 6 stops and recovered a fumble, Bing had 5 tackles, an interception (in the end zone) and a deflection, Wyatt and Poole had 3 stops (Poole also had a deflection) and Farr had 1 tackle.
  • Leach had a game-best 12 tackles (2 for loss) at Arizona, plus forced a fumble and had a deflection, while Poole had 2 stops, 2 interceptions, a deflection and 4 punt returns for 29 yards to earn Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors, Bing had 2 stops and a deflection, Farr had a tackle, Allmond had an interception, a fumble recovery and a deflection and Nunn had a deflection.
  • Against UCLA, Leach, Bing and Nunn each had 4 tackles (Bing had 0.5 for a loss and Nunn had a sack and forced fumble), Poole had 3 stops (including a sack), 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and a deflection, Allmond had a sack, a forced fumble, an interception and a kickoff return of 17 yards, and Lemos, Ross, Matthews and Farr each added a tackle.
  • Poole had 11 tackles (2.5 for losses) with 2 interceptions (including a 67-yard TD return) and a deflection (with all but 2 of the tackles coming in the first half) against Oregon State, while Leach added 9 tackles (with a sack) and a deflection, Nunn had 7 stops, Bing had 6, Allmond had 5 tackles (with a sack) and returned a kickoff 31 yards, and Wyatt, Brandon Ting and Farr each had a tackle.

    Sophomore Tom Malone (49.2 avg in 2003) has proven to be the nation's top punter. He was 1 of 10 semifinalists for the 2003 Ray Guy Award and made the 2003, and All-American first teams (USC's first-ever All-American first team punter). He made the 2003 All-Pac-10 first team. He led the nation in punting for 5 consecutive weeks this midseason and would still be the leader, but because of the efficiency of USC's offense he is 5 punts shy of having the NCAA-required minimum 3.6 punts per game to be listed. In fact, his 49.2 average is 1.2 yards above the current national leader! He 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 49.2 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, 23 of his 39 punts have gone at least 50 yards and 25 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 (19-of-23 FG, 61-of-63 PAT in 2003, plus 2 tac) is in his second year as the placekicker. He is 1 of 20 semifinalists for the 2003 Lou Groza Award. He was a 2003 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick. He currently is ninth nationally in scoring (9.8, first in Pac-10) and tied for 13th in field goals (1.6, second in Pac-10). So far in 2003, 32 of his 94 kickoffs have been touchbacks. His 61 PATs in 2003 is a Pac-10 season record and his 19 field goals ties the USC season mark. 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 in 2002 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, in for the placekicks, and Matt Hayward (2 tac in 2003), in for the 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 tight end-quarterback Matt Cassel the backup. USC's top punt returner--sophomore wide receiver Greig Carlson (team-best 21 PR, 188 yds, 9.0 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 punt returning chore before being sidelined with an injury, so Carlson, backed by freshman tailback Reggie Bush, senior cornerback Will Poole (5 PR, 26 yds, 5.2 avg in 2003) and sophomore cornerback-wide receiver Justin Wyatt (1 PR, 0 yds, 0.0 avg in 2003), have taken over. Arbet and senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (9 KOR, 208 yds, 23.1 avg in 2003) were the kickoff returners in 2003 before Arbet's injury. So joining Allmond now are Bush (team-best 16 KOR, 447 yds, 27.9 avg, 1 TD in 2003) and Wyatt (3 KOR, 41 yds, 13.7 avg in 2003). Bush currently is 11th nationally in kickoff returns (27.9, second in Pac-10).

  • 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 his 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).
  • Killeen hit all 6 of his PATs and a 29-yard field goal (plus 4 of his 8 kickoffs were touchbacks) at Notre Dame, while Malone's only punt was partially blocked.
  • At Washington, Malone's only punt traveled 54 yards, while Killeen hit 1-of-3 field goals (a 20-yarder) and 4-of-5 PATs (1 was blocked).
  • Against Washington State, Killeen hit both of his field goals (30 and 21 yards) and all 5 of his PATs while 5 of his 8 kickoffs pinned the Cougars within the 20 (with 2 touchbacks), and Malone averaged 51.0 yards on his 3 punts.
  • At Arizona, Killeen set USC's season PAT record when he connected on all 6 of his PATs (he also nailed his only field goal, a 36-yarder) and 6 of his 8 kickoffs were touchbacks, while Malone's only punt went 47 yards.
  • Against UCLA, Killeen made both of his field goals (38 and 32 yards) and 6-of-7 PATs (1 was blocked and returned for a 2-point defensive extra point) and 5 of his 9 kickoffs kept the Bruins within the 20, while Malone averaged 45.0 yards on 3 punts (with a 64-yarder), with 2 pinning the Bruins within the 20.
  • Against Oregon State, Killeen hit a 29-yard field goal (giving him a share of the USC season field goal record), was 7-of-7 on PATs to set the Pac-10 season PAT mark and had 5 of his 9 kickoffs pin the Beavers within the 20 (with 3 touchbacks), while Malone averaged 54.0 yards on 3 punts (all pinned OSU 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. However, at the end of the regular season, linebackers coach Nick Holt accepted the head coaching job at Idaho (he will continue with USC through the Rose Bowl).

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