Trojans Trounce Spartans, 21-10
Sept 1, 2001
By KEN PETERS
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Pete Carroll gave himself a so-so grade for his first game as a college head coach.
"It was a blast being back on the sidelines. I had been out for a while and I was a little rusty," Carroll said Saturday after Southern California beat San Jose State 21-10. "There were some things - my headphones didn't work, I screwed up a couple of calls.
"I give myself a C-plus. So I've got a lot of work to do, too."
Although the Trojans won, they looked relatively average, too, with the exception of Sultan McCullough.
McCullough, the 1999 Pac-10 champion in the 100 meters, ran for 167 yards and all three USC scores.
"The kids played hard. They did what they were told to do," said Carroll, a longtime NFL coach who earlier was a college assistant. "We have a lot of room for improvement. We've got to get back to work.
"We've got a big-time team, Kansas State, coming in here next weekend."
McCullough carried 25 times and scored on runs of 15 and 35 yards as USC took a 14-3 lead in the first half. He added a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter for an 18-point pad.
Afterward, he already was looking ahead to the next game.
"We have to get ready to play next week. Next week, they may kill me," he said.
The Spartans' scoring came on Nick Gilliam's 37-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, and a 3-yard touchdown run by Deonce Whitaker with six minutes left in the game.
Whitaker, who led the nation with an average of 7 yards per carry last season, was held to 65 yards on 22 carries.
The loss in the season opener spoiled Fitz Hill's first game as the Spartans' head coach.
"USC is a very fine team, but we self-destructed," Hill said. "We went into the game wanting to run, but we probably should have opened it up more.
"Once we opened it up, we had more success."
The Spartans' Marcus Arroyo was 20-of-37 for 213 yards, with two interceptions.
Carson Palmer was 21-of-28 for 213 yards for the Trojans, with one interception.
Carroll, who got the USC job after Paul Hackett was fired last winter, formerly was the head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Hill was an assistant at Arkansas before taking the San Jose State post.
USC had a 5-7 record last year under Hackett, and the Spartans went 7-5 under Dave Baldwin, who also was dismissed.
McCullough had piled up 120 yards by halftime. He put the Trojans ahead to stay when he sprinted 14 yards around right end with 2:59 remaining in the first quarter. A draw play that fooled the Spartans' defense enabled McCullough to race untouched into the end zone.
The 6-foot, 195-pound McCullough, clocked in 10.18 seconds when he won the conference 100-meter championship two years ago, turned on the speed on his 35-yard TD run, with 1:36 left in the first half.
He broke free on the left side, outran most of the San Jose State defenders, then cut back to the inside near the goal line and hurdled a would-be tackler. On his 7-yard TD run, McCullough showed his power by bulling through a couple of defenders.
San Jose State was without Luke Herran, a senior starter at middle linebacker and was declared ineligible because of academic reasons. He wasn't ruled out of the game until just hours before kickoff.
"Finding out in the last 12 hours that we were losing Luke was pretty devastating to the team," Hill said. "It's not an excuse, we could have lost him to an injury on the first play. But I think it had a major effect on the chemistry of the team."
Herran will be allowed to redshirt and thus have one more season of eligibility, San Jose State sports information director Lawrence Fan said.