NO. 3 USC Football Opens Pac-10 Play At California
Trojans lead the series 56-29-5.
Keary Colbert had 5 catches for 86 yards against Hawaii.
Sept. 21, 2003
USC (3-0 overall, 0-0 Pac-10) vs. California (2-3, 0-0), Saturday, Sept. 27, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.
No. 3 USC begins Pac-10 play and its annual "Race for the Roses." The Trojans not only are riding an 11-game winning streak, but they've won their last 6 Pac-10 outings and their past 5 away from home. This is USC's 91st meeting with California, the team Troy has played more than any opponent. It's the start of a grueling stretch of games for the Trojans, as they play 4 of their next 5 on the road. USC is coming off a bye following 3 impressive non-conference victories to open the 2003 campaign. The Trojans' No. 3 ranking is their highest since 1988. Although Cal - coming off a win at Illinois - has lost 3 times already in 2003, it was in each of those contests. The Golden Bears employ coach Jeff Tedford's always-dangerous offense. The game will be shown live nationally on FOX Sports Net cable.
USC is ranked third by AP and USA Today/ESPN. California is not ranked.
USC leads the series, which dates back to 1915 (and is uninterrupted since 1926), 56-29-5. Although Cal has won 4 of the last 6 games, the Trojans won the past 2 and have won 18 of the last 25 meetings, 33 of the last 44 and 39 of the past 52. In games in Berkeley, USC is 29-12-1 and has won 6 of the past 8 there.
Last year in the Coliseum, No. 20 USC behind a powerful running performance by TB Sultan McCulloughscored 27 unanswered points to overcome a 21-3 deficit and then held on for a 30-28 win over California. It snapped a 3-game Coliseum winning streak by the Golden Bears. McCullough equaled a career-high with 176 rushing yards and had a touchdown on a career-best 39 carries (the most by a Trojan since Steven Webster had 40 against Washington in 1987). It was all Cal for most of the first half, as the Bears opened up that 21-3 lead by scoring on their first 2 possessions (runs of 3 yards by TB Joe Igber and 1 yard by TB Terrell Williams that sandwiched USC's 34-yard field goal by PK Ryan Killeen) and then adding a TD early in the second quarter on a 15-yard pass from QB Kyle Boller to WR Jonathan Makonnen. But USC came alive late in the half when, after LB Matt Grootegoed forced and recovered a Boller fumble, QB Carson Palmer hit WR Kareem Kelly for a 6-yard TD and then, on Troy's next possession, WR Mike Williams took a Palmer pass 21 yards for a score with 1:06 left to bring USC within 21-17 at intermission. The Trojans took the lead for good on the opening drive of the second half on McCullough's 2-yard TD run. A pair of fourth quarter Killeen field goals (32 and 18 yards, the final one coming with 1:41 to play) ended USC's scoring, but Cal responded with a 5-yard Boller scoring toss to TE Tom Swoboda with 35 seconds to go to tighten it up and force USC to recover an onside kick to seal the win. The Trojans dominated the statistics, getting more total yards (464-311), plays (90-55), first downs (28-17) and possession time (38:32-21:28). It was the longest USC held the ball since 1995 (38:34 versus California). Cal converted just 3-of-10 third downs. Palmer completed 25-of-39 passes for 289 yards with the 2 TDs (but threw 2 picks), Williams (103 yards) and WR Keary Colbert (75 yards) each had 6 catches and TE Alex Holmes caught a career-high 5 passes for 65 yards. For Cal, Boller was 20-of-30 for 221 yards with the 2 TDs (he also threw an interception), WR Lashaun Ward had 7 grabs for 96 yards and Swoboda had 6 for 53 yards, and Igber ran 14 times for 45 yards. Grootegoed had a team-high 11 tackles (2 were sacks) with the forced and recovered fumble, while S Jason Leach (filling in for injured S Troy Polamalu) had an interception.
In 2001 in the last meeting in Berkeley, USC starters and reserves scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams as the Trojans overwhelmed California, 55-14. It was the most points and biggest victory margin by Troy since a 62-7 win over Hawaii in 1999 and the greatest over the Golden Bears since a 61-0 blanking in 1994 (it was also USC's most points ever in Berkeley). It extended Cal's school-record losing streak to 12 games (it came just 6 days after head coach Tom Holmoe announced his resignation at season's end). It also snapped the Trojans' 3-game losing skid to the Bears. After Cal drove 75 yards on the game's opening series, ending in a 5-yard TD run by QB Kyle Boller, USC scored the next 35 points. First, backup TB Chris Howard raced 25 yards through the right side late in the first quarter on his first carry of the game for his first career TD. USC got the ball back on the next play on S DeShaun Hill's interception and turned it into another TD on a 5-yard pass from QB Carson Palmer to WR Kareem Kelly early in the second quarter. Midway through that period, S Troy Polamalu stepped in front of a Boller pass and returned it 58 yards for a score. Howard got his second touchdown run of the game on a 15-yarder around the left side late in the first half on his second carry of the day. The Trojans used a tricky fake field goal to score a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half as holder Mike MacGillivray flipped the ball to PK David Davis, who ran 3 yards around the left end. Cal broke Troy's scoring run on an 8-yard TD toss from backup QB Reggie Robertson to WR Charon Arnold late in the quarter, but USC answered with a pair of Davis field goals (33 and 26 yards) and a 15-yard scoring dash by reserve TB Eric Reese on its next 3 drives. The Bears got to the USC 5-yard line late in the game, but DE Kenechi Udeze sacked reserve QB Eric Holtfreter and forced a fumble, which LB John Cousins returned 89 yards for a TD. The Trojans had a productive day, notching season bests in plays (84), first downs (27), rushing yards (213), possession time (35:09) and sacks (7) and allowed season lows in first downs (12), rushing yards (68), plays (60) and total offense (223). USC's 448 yards of total offense were the second most of 2001. Cal suffered from 10 penalties, converted just 2-of-12 third downs and had to punt 9 times. Palmer was 18-of-35 for 230 yards (he also gained 45 yards on 8 rushes), Howard had a team-best 61 rushing yards on 8 tries, Kelly (88 yards) and WR Devin Pitts (32) yards each caught 4 balls, Hill and LB Mike Pollard both made 6 tackles and walk-on CB Justin Tolliver had USC's third interception at game's end. For Cal, TB Terrell Williams had a game-high 63 yards on 14 carries, Boller was 6-of-15 for 92 yards with the 2 picks and Arnold had 4 receptions for 36 yards.
USC is 78-41-4 in all regular season games it has played following byes. Since 1955, the Trojans are 39-12-1 following byes (6 of those losses and the tie were to UCLA).
USC is 61-15-5 (.784) in conference openers and has won 23 of its last 32 (and 36 of its last 46). In conference openers on the road, the Trojans are 24-8-2 (.735), having won 19 of their last 25.
USC has won 69.2% (360-152-29) of its games against Pac-10 opponents. Troy has captured or shared 32 conference titles. The start of the Pac-10 race also signals USC's annual quest for a berth in the Rose Bowl, where the Trojans have appeared an unprecedented 28 times (posting 20 wins).
USC has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for its past 9 games, its longest string since 13 in a row in 1988-89. Troy's No. 3 AP ranking this week is its highest since being No. 2 late in the 1988 campaign.
USC is riding an 11-game winning streak, its longest since capturing 11 in a row in over the 1979 and 1980 seasons. (next is a 13-game streak in 1978-79). That's the second longest current streak in the nation, behind only Ohio State (18). In that span, USC has defeated its opponents by an average score of 41-19. The Trojans also have captured their last 11 home games (with 2 shutouts). That's USC's longest Coliseum win streak since getting 11 in a row during the 1977 through 1979 campaigns (next is a 19-game-streak in 19313-33). And USC owns a 6-game Pac-10 winning streak, plus a 5-game road winning streak (including the neutral-site Orange Bowl).
NEARING 700 WINS
USC is 2 victories shy of becoming the 10th Division I team to collect 700 victories. USC's all-time record is 698-296-54 (69.2%).
USC has 8 players who previously attended a Bay Area school: DE Omar Nazel (Skyline HS in Oakland), CB Ronald Nunn (St. Francis HS in Mountain View and San Francisco CC), S Matt Lemos (St. Francis HS in Mountain View), WR Forrest Mozart (St. Francis HS in Mountain View), DE Alex Morrow (Rancho Cotate HS in Rohnert Park), CB Eric Wright (Riordan HS in San Francisco) and twin DBs Brandon and Ryan Ting (James Logan HS in Union City)...USC head coach Pete Carroll has Bay Area roots: he was born in San Francisco, played football at Redwood High in Larkspur, Marin Junior College and Pacific, then was an assistant coach at Pacific (1974-76, 1983) and with the San Francisco 49ers (1995-96)...USC linebackers coach Nick Holt played football at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose and USC offensive line coach Tim Davis played at Castro Valley High and Chabot Junior College...USC FB David Kirtman's father, Louis, ran track at Cal (his uncle, Louis, played football at Stanford in 1967)...The Golden Bear women's swim team is coached by Teri McKeever, who was an All-American swimmer at USC in 1980-81 and later an of Troy (her late father, Mike, was an All-American guard for the 1959 USC football team assistant coach with the Women, while her uncle, Marlin, was a Trojan All-American end in 1959 and 1960)...Cal men's swimming co-head coach Mike Bottom was an All-American swimmer at USC (1975-77)...USC pitching coach Dave Lawn was an assistant with Cal's baseball team from 1991 to 2000...Dino Dennis, USC's equipment manager, was an assistant at California from 1975 to 1978...Law professor Noel Ragsdale, USC's faculty athletic representative, received her law degree from California in 1976...Cal athletic travel coordinator Angie Abbatecola formerly worked in the USC athletic marketing department.
In terms of difficulty, it might be hard to match USC's 2002 schedule, which was ranked by the NCAA, USA Today/Sagarin and BCS as the nation's toughestit featured 11 bowl-bound team, including 9 ranked by AP (and only 1 with a losing record) at the time of the game. But Troy's 2003 slate might not be far behind. USCwhich has 3 byes in 2003faces 8 teams that played in bowls last season, including 3 ranked in the final AP Top 20. Two USC foes are ranked in this week's AP poll. The Trojans opened at SEC power Auburn, ranked No. 6 at the time. Then, after hosting BYU and Hawaii, USC ventured into the always-difficult Pac-10 campaign, with 4 of its next 5 games on the road (including its annual tilt with non-conference rival Notre Dame). The Trojans play at California, Arizona State, Washington and Arizona, and host Stanford, Washington State and crosstown foe UCLA. The Pac-10 finale is a home contest against Oregon State on "Championship Saturday" (Dec. 6, the latest USC regular season game since 1980).
QB Matt Leinart threw 2 touchdown passes, true freshmen TBs Reggie Bush and LenDale White each rushed for a pair of TDs and the Trojan defense scored 16 points as No. 4 USC trounced Hawaii, 61-32, before 73,654 fans in the Coliseum and a live FOX Sports Net national cable audience. It was USC's most points at home since also getting 61 against California in 1994 and it's most points in a game since getting 62 at Hawaii in 1999. It also was USC's 11th consecutive win (its longest streak since 1979-80) and its 11th in a row in the Coliseum (its longest string since 1977-79). The game was tight until midway through the second quarter, when USC led just 10-6 on a 24-yard field goal by PK Ryan Killeen and a 38-yard fumble return by CB Ronald Nunn (Warrior PK Justin Ayat hit field goals of 35 and 20 yards). Then USC scored the next 42 points, including 21 points in a span of 4:29 near the end of the first half on a 23-yard run by Bush and Leinart tosses to WRs Keary Colbert (32 yards) and Mike Williams (33 yards). USC scored 3 more TDs in the third quarter on a 27-yard Bush run, a 25-yard interception return by S Jason Leach and White's 5-yard run to go up 52-6. Hawaii then finally got into the end zone against USC's reserves on 4 TD passes, the first 2 from QB Timmy Chang (5 yards to WR Chad Owens late in the third quarter and 14 yards to WR Jeremiah Cockheran) and the last 2 from QB Jason Whieldon (14 yards to WR Jason Rivers and 22 yards to Owens at the final gun). USC split those Hawaii scores with a 20-yard White TD run and then a safety on the next play from scrimmage when DT Travis Tofi sacked Chang in the end zone (for a loss of 21 yards). Despite the lopsided score, Hawaii topped USC statistically, getting more first downs (26-21), plays (83-59), total yards (462-418) and time of possession (32:43-27:17). But 210 of Hawaii's yards and 11 of its first downs came in the final quarter against the Trojan reserves. Leinart completed 71.4% of his passes (15-of-21) for 220 yards in 3 quarters of action. White ran for a game-best 58 yards on 10 carries, while Bush added 54 on 9 tries and TB Hershel Dennis had 52 on 9 attempts to help Troy account for 164 rushing yards. Colbert had 5 catches for 86 yards and Williams added 3 for 70 yards. For Hawaii, Chang was 32-of-54 for 306 yards, but he was intercepted twice (the other pick was by DE Frostee Rucker on the UH 4-yard line to set up a TD). Hawaii's 40 completions was a USC opponent record. Cockheran (117 yards) and Owens (98 yards) each had 10 receptions, while TB West Keliikipi ran for 57 yards on 8 carries. CB Will Poole, making his first start for USC, had a game-high 10 tackles (he added 2 deflections and forced a fumble). P Tom Malone averaged 53.7 yards on his 3 punts, with a 69-yarder, and PK Ryan Killeen scored 11 points on 8 PATs and the field goal. It was Hawaii's first visit to the Coliseum since 1930.
25th ANNIVERSARY OF LAST NATIONAL TITLE
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.
USC is 14-9-1 in its last 24 games on artificial turf.
Pete Carroll Pete Carroll brought big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program when he was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). He is 20-8 as a college head coach (all at USC); his losses were by a total of 39 points (4.9 average) and only 1 was by more than a touchdown (it was by 11 points). After starting off his Trojan career 2-5, he has gone 18-3. He is 7-0 in November. His teams already have posted 3 shutouts. In 2002, just his second season at USC, his Trojans thrived despite playing what was ranked by the NCAA, Sagarin and the BCS as the nation's most difficult schedule (facing 9 AP-ranked teams and 11 bowl squads). USCwhich beat Iowa in the Orange Bowlposted an 11-2 overall record and a No. 4 ranking in the final polls, and won the Pac-10 championship while going 7-1. The Trojans also won their last 9 home games. It was USC's first 11-win season since 1979 and its highest ranking since 1988. Troy won its final 8 games (scoring at least 30 points in each), including blowouts of traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame (the first time USC beat both in the same season since 1981 and the first time in back-to-back games since 1978). USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (449.3) and total defense (284.9), as well as scoring offense (35.8) and scoring defense (18.5), and was in the NCAA's Top 25 in nearly every team statistical category on both sides of the ball. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer and safety Troy Polamalu were first team All-Americans. Carroll was 1 of 8 finalists for the 2002 Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award and was 1 of 4 runners-up for the 2002 American Football Monthly Schutt Sports Division I-A Coach of the Year Award. After USC started off his opening 2001 season slowly at 1-4, Carroll stayed the course and got his troops to rally by winning 5 of their last 7 games (including the final 4 regular season contests) to finish at 6-6 overall. USC, which won its last 5 Pac-10 games after beginning league play at 0-3, placed fifth in the conference at 5-3 and earned a berth into the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl. Putting an exclamation point on the regular season was a 27-0 blanking of No. 20 UCLA, USC's first shutout in the crosstown rivalry since 1947 and the series' biggest margin of victory since 1979. The 51-year-old Carroll has 28 years of NFL and college experience, including 12 on the college level. He was the head coach of the NFL's New England Patriots for 3 seasons (1997-99) and New York Jets for 1 year (1994). He guided the Patriots into the playoffs in his first 2 seasons, winning the AFC Eastern Division title at 10-6 in 1997 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, then posting a 9-7 regular season mark in 1998. His overall record in New England was 27-21 in the regular season (including 8-8 in 1999) and 1-2 in the playoffs. He owns the franchise's second-best winning percentage (54.9%). After serving as the Jets' defensive coordinator for 4 seasons (1990-93), he became the team's head coach the following season. His 1994 Jets went 6-10. Only 3 other Jets head coaches won more games in their rookie campaign. He spent the next 2 years (1995-96) as the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, who won the NFC Western Division title both seasons. The 49ers were 11-5 in the 1995 regular season when they had the NFL's top-ranked defense and then went 12-4 in 1996. Carroll began his coaching career at the college level, serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, for 3 years (1974-76), working with the wide receivers and secondary. He then spent a season as a graduate assistant working with the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, and then a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary at Iowa State (1978) under Earle Bruce (the Cyclones played in the 1978 Hall of Fame Bowl) and at Ohio State (1979) under Bruce. That Buckeye squad lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl. He next spent 3 seasons (1980-82) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at North Carolina State, then returned to Pacific in 1983 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He entered the NFL in 1984 as the defensive backs coach of the Buffalo Bills, then held a similar position with the Minnesota Vikings for 5 seasons (1985-89). The Vikings advanced to the playoffs his last 3 years there, getting to the NFC Championship game in 1987. The 1988 team was 11-5 in the regular season and the 1989 squad won the NFC Central Division crown with a 10-6 mark. His secondary averaged 25 interceptions a season and led the NFL in passing defense in 1989. Carroll spent the 2000 season as a consultant for pro and college teams, doing charitable work for the NFL and writing a column about pro football for CNNSI.com. Carroll was a 2-time (1971-72) All-Pacific Coast Conference free safety at Pacific and earned his bachelor's degree in 1973 in business administration. He received his secondary teaching credential and a master's degree in physical education from Pacific in 1976. He was a 3-sport (football, basketball and baseball) standout at Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., earning the school's Athlete of the Year award as a senior. He played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. He then played football at Marin Junior College in Kentfield, Calif., in 1970. He was born on Sept. 15, 1951 in San Francisco. He and his wife, Glena, who played volleyball at Pacific, have 3 children: sons Brennan, 22, who played tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware) and is now an assistant at USC, and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a junior at USC who played on the Women of Troy's highly-ranked volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
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 (51-of-85, 60.0%, 647 yds, 6 TD, 3 int in 2003) emerged with an ever-so-slight edgedespite never having thrown a pass at USC while seeing brief action in 3 games in 2002and he extended his hold on the job in this fall's practice (in Troy's 3 fall intrasquad scrimmages, he was 43-of-57, 75.4%, for 608 yards, 6 TDs and no interceptions). His completion percentage, touchdowns, pass efficiency rating and won-loss record through 3 games is better than Palmer's 3-game numbers from 2002 (60.0% to 57.8%, 6 to 3, 140.0 to 120.7 and 3-0 to 2-1). Backing him is junior Matt Cassel (2-of-3, 66.7%, 21 yds in 2003), Palmer's backup the past 2 seasons who has thrown just 6 passes in his career. Also available are junior Brandon Hance (1-of-2, 50.0%, 13 yds in 2003), who sat out last season after transferring from Purdue (he started 9 games there in 2001) and saw limited reps in 2002 practice after having surgery on his throwing shoulder, and sophomore Billy Hart, whose only action was briefly in 2002 but he didn't throw a pass (he also plays on the Trojan baseball team). And don't count out heralded freshman John David Booty, believed to be the first football player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll at a major Division I-A university. Also able to take snaps is walk-on freshman Michael McDonald, the son of ex-USC All-American Paul McDonald.
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 (but he had 3 interceptions).
Leinart completed 71.4% of his passes (15-of-21) for 220 yards and 2 TDs (with no picks) in 3 quarters of action against Hawaii, while Cassel was 2-of-3 for 21 yards and Hance hit 1-of-2 throws for 13 yards.
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 (46 tcb, 177 yds, 3.8 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 2 rec, 5 yds, 2.5 avg). He was USC's No. 3-leading rusher (198 yards) and its top kickoff returner (151 yards) in 2002. Joining him this fall as freshmen is a terrific trio of prep All-Americans in Reggie Bush (20 tcb, 82 yds, 4.1 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 2 rec, 22 yds, 11.0 yds and 2 KOR, 50 yds, 25.0 avg), Chauncey Washington (9 tcb, 40 yds, 4.4 avg in 2003, plus 1 rec, 6 yds, 6.0 avg and 3 tac) and LenDale White (15 tcb, 64 yds, 4.3 avg, 2 TD in 2003, plus 1 tac), plus frosh Jody Adewale. Dennis and Bush are speedy, darting runners, while Washington and White are known as the "The Bruise Brothers." Also available are 3 walk-ons: sophomore converted safety Andre Woodert and freshmen John Griffin and Sean Kelly.
In his first career start, Dennis ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries at Auburn, including a second-effort 14-yard TD, while Washington added 24 yards on 3 attempts, Bush 9 yards on 5 carries and White 6 yards on 5 tries.
Dennis ran for 40 yards on 16 carries, with an 11-yard TD, against BYU, while Bush had 19 yards on 6 tries (he also returned a kickoff 30 yards) and 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.
With Malaefou MacKenzie gone, a new fullback must emerge. Sophomore Brandon Hancock, who started twice last fall, was slated to be the starter, but an ankle sprain in fall camp has slowed him. So junior Lee Webb, who also has played linebacker at USC, assumed the starting job, backed by sophomore David Kirtman (1 rec, 3 yds, 3.0 avg in 2003). Prep All-American Whitney Lewis (1 rec, 2 yds, 2.0 avg in 2003) came to USC as a wide receiver, but so far in 2003 he has mainly played as a fullback (usually in motion). Walk-on redshirt freshmen Mike Brittingham, a converted safety, and Morgan Craig, a one-time quarterback, also are in the mix.
Lewis caught a 2-yard pass against BYU.
Kirtman had a 3-yard catch against Hawaii (on a key fourth down play).
COLBERT AND WILLIAMS
Even though USC career reception leader Kareem Kellyhe had 204 catches, including 46 last fall, and set an NCAA record by catching a pass in 47 consecutive gamesis gone, the Trojans are in good shape in the wide receivers corps as a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (a first at Troy) are back. Both are playmakers who could win 2003 post-season honors and they form the top receiving duo in the country. Underrated, yet consistent, senior Keary Colbert (10 rec, 167 yds, 16.7 avg, 2 TD in 2002) starts for his fourth season. He has caught a pass in 26 consecutive outings. He is sixth on USC's career receptions ladder with 148 grabs (tied for 32nd on the all-time Pac-10 chart) and a repeat of last season's 71-catch output (for 1,029 yards) will push him past Kelly as the school's all-time leading pass catcher. His 2,118 career receiving yards is 46th on the all-time Pac-10 list. Even if Colbert breaks Kelly's reception mark, Keyshawn-esque sophomore Mike Williams (21 rec, 298 yds, 14.2 avg, 4 TD in 2003) is poised to shatter the standard before his career concludes. He already is 13th on USC's career receptions list (102) and has 7 100-yard receiving games in his young career (twice in 2003). He has caught 18 touchdowns in his 16-game career (and he has had multiple TD games 5 times). He is averaging a touchdown every 5.8 times he touches the ball (18 TDs on 105 touches, including his 2 rushes and 1 pass attempt). He currently is 19th nationally in receptions (7.0, third in the Pac-10) and 13th in receiving yards (99.3, third in the Pac-10). The 2003 pre-season All-American won Freshman All-American first team status last fall and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year when he set NCAA frosh records for receiving yards (1,265) and receiving touchdowns (14) and the Pac-10 frosh mark for receptions (81). He was 16th nationally in receiving yards (97.3) and 20th in receptions (6.2) while starting twice in 2002. Last year, he caught a TD pass in 7 consecutive games (including 3 against Washington to tie a USC game record) and his 14 TD catches not only were the second most in the nation, but tied the USC season mark. He also had 5 100-yard receiving games, including 4 in a row, in 2002. He caught 13 passes at Oregon in 2002, a USC frosh record.
At Auburn, Williams had a game-best 8 catches for 104 yards (his sixth career 100-yard receiving game) with a 5-yard TD, while Colbert added 2 receptions for 13 yards.
Williams grabbed a game-high 10 passes for 124 yards, including a pair of touchdowns (a 1-yarder to open USC's scoring and then an 18-yarder in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach) against BYU, while Colbert had 3 catches for 68 yards, including a nifty 48-yard catch-and-run for a TD.
Colbert had 5 catches for 86 yards (with a 32-yard TD) against Hawaii and Williams added 3 grabs for 70 yards (with a 33-yard TD).
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS
Dependable backup receivers have emerged behind Keary Colbert and Mike Williams (even though no other wide receiver on the roster caught a ball last year). The cast includes such veterans as seniors Sandy Fletcher and D. Hale, a walk-on-turned-scholarship winner who has started once in his career (an ankle injury could sideline him this year), junior Jason Mitchell (1 KOR, 18 yds, 18.0 avg in 2003), sophomores Greig Carlson and converted cornerback Justin Wyatt (3 rec, 20 yds, 6.7 avg in 2003, plus 1 KOR, 31 yds, 31.0 avg), and sure-handed redshirt freshman Chris McFoy (1 rec, 15 yds, 15.0 avg in 2003). Carlson, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, was USC's top punt returner in 2002 (177 yards). Wyatt was the surprise of 2003 spring drills after his switch to offense. Two walk-ons also figure in junior Steve Levario Jr. and redshirt freshman John Zilka. Adding to all of this, one of the nation's most highly sought-after high school pass catchers enrolled at USC this fall as a freshman: prep All-American Steve Smith (1 rec, 7 yds, 7.0 avg in 2003, plus 1 tcb, 8 yds, 8.0 avg).
Smith (7 yards) and Wyatt (5 yards) each had a catch at Auburn, the first of their careers.
Wyatt had 2 catches for 15 yards versus BYU, while Smith had an 8-yard run on a backwards pass.
McFoy caught a 15-yard pass against Hawaii, Mitchell had an 18-yard kickoff return and Wyatt had a 31-yard kickoff return.
USC is well-stocked at tight end, with a returning starter and a pair of experienced backups. But that returning startersenior Alex Holmes, who has caught 58 passes in his career (including 29 in 2002, the most by a Trojan tight end since 1993)has been bothered in 2003 by a back injury and might redshirt. In his place, sophomore Dominique Byrd (8 rec, 110 yds, 13.8 avg in 2003) has taken over. Playing often behind (or with) Byrd is junior Gregg Guenther Jr. (2 rec, 13 yds, 6.5 avg in 2003), who started once last fall. USC's tallest player at 6-8, he also stars on the Trojans men's basketball squad. Then there are redshirt freshmen Kurt Katnik (1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 avg in 2003), a converted center (and the younger brother of starting center Norm Katnik) and walk-on Nick Vanderboom, a converted quarterback, plus walk-on junior Owen Hanson, who also is on the Trojan men's volleyball team.
Byrd caught 3 passes for 63 yards at Auburn, including a 42-yarder, while Guenther added a 6-yard grab.
Against BYU, Byrd caught 2 balls for 19 yards and Guenther added a 7-yard grab.
Byrd had 3 catches for 28 yards against Hawaii, while Katnik grabbed a 13-yard pass.
The 2003 version of USC's offensive line might be Troy's best in years. Players returned at 4 positionsonly 4-year starting right guard Zach Wilson is goneand there are some big-potential younger players angling for time. Both tackles returned and they're good ones: senior Jacob Rogers, a 2-year starter who earned All-Pac-10 first team laurels in 2002, and sophomore Winston Justice, a 2002 Freshman All-American first teamer. Both are in line for 2003 post-season honors. They make up the nation's best bookend tackles (Rogers on the left and Justice on the right). Senior Lenny Vandermade, a 3-year starter, returned at left guard (he also has started at center in his career), while reliable center Norm Katnik, another 2-year starter, also returned (he also has started at guard and tackle in his USC tenure). Redshirt freshman Fred Matua, a guard who was set to start the 2002 opener before a knee sprain sidelined him, has captured the starting job at Wilson's right guard spot. Versatile senior Eric Torres, who started 7 times in 2002 at every line spot except center (Torres started all of 2001 at right tackle), is not yet ready to contribute in 2003. He broke his left ankle in the Orange Bowl and missed spring drills (he was slowed in fall camp, too). Returning squadmen looking to work into the rotation are senior tackle Nate Steinbacher, who worked some at defensive tackle last fall, junior guard Travis Watkins, and redshirt freshman guard-tackle Kyle Williams, plus walk-on junior center Spencer Torgan, a converted defensive tackle, and walk-on redshirt freshman center-guard John Lanza. Coming aboard this fall were tackle John Drake, a junior college transfer who is a junior, 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.
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 veteranseach could win 2003 post-season honorsreturn 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 (7 tac, 4 for loss, 2 sack, 1 FR, 1 int for a TD in 2003) and junior Kenechi Udeze (9 tac, 3 for loss, 2.5 sack in 2003). Udeze, a 2-year starter, set a USC record with his Pac-10 leading 6 forced fumbles in 2002. Also back is junior Mike Patterson (17 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack in 2003), who started 10 times at nose tackle (where he is in 2003) and 3 at defensive tackle last fall. His 4 fumble recoveries topped the Pac-10 in 2002. Although tackle Bernard Rileyhe had 19 career starts, including the last 7 games of 2002, when he posted 25 tacklesis gone, a familiar face has re-assumed that defensive tackle spot. Junior Shaun Cody (3 tac, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl in 2003), a 2001 Freshman All-American first teamer, started the first 6 games of 2002 before tearing knee ligaments. He missed spring drills, but is fully recovered this fall. Among the returning squadmen pushing for time at end are junior Van Brown and sophomore converted linebacker Frostee Rucker (8 tac, 1.5 for loss, 0.5 sack, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2003), who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado State, and at tackle are soph LaJuan Ramsey (4 tac, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sack, 1 FF in 2003) and redshirt freshman Travis Tofi (3 tac, 1 for loss, 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, Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow, while the tackles are prep All-Americans Sedrick Ellis and Manuel Wright, 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.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THE "WILD BUNCH II"
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville: "(Quarterback Jason Campbell) didn't have a chance. He was running around for his life. We just couldn't get any rhythm going. You could just feel our offensive line didn't feel good about being able to block those guys."
Collegefootballnews.com: "If this isn't the best defensive line in America, "The Wild Bunch II" is No. 1A...... Omal 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."
USC is solid at the outside linebacker spots, as junior Matt Grootegoed (18 tac, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 1 dfl, 1 FR, 2 FF in 2003) returns on the strong side and senior Melvin Simmons (7 tac, 1 FR in 2003) is back on the weak side. Grootegoed, a 2-year starter and 2003 post-season honors candidate who has a knack for always being around the ball, is currently tied for eighth nationally in forced fumbles (0.7, tied for first in Pac-10). He won All-Pac-10 first team honors in 2002 when he led the Trojans in tackles (81), tackles for a loss (16.5) and sacks (8). Simmons was USC's No. 2 tackler last fall (71). But there's a new middle linebacker now that Mike Pollarda 2-year starter who had 49 stops last yearhas departed. The starter is sophomore Lofa Tatupu (team-high 27 tac, 6.5 for loss, 3 sack, 2 dfl in 2003), who sat out last season after transferring from Maine, where he started in 2001 (he is the son of ex-USC and NFL fullback Mosi Tatupu). He is currently ninth in tackles for loss (6.5, tied for fourth in Pac-10), tied for ninth in solo tackles (8.5, first in Pac-10) and tied for 15th in sacks (3.0, tied for ninth in Pac-10). He is backed by junior Daniel Urquhart (7 tac in 2003), a converted defensive end, and sophomore Oscar Lua, who tore knee ligaments prior to the Orange Bowl and missed spring practice (he had surgery on his other knee early this fall and is sidelined). Other linebackers from last year's roster looking to get in the mix are junior Bobby Otani (3 tac in 2003) and sophomore Dallas Sartz (3 tac in 2003), who can also play safety, plus walk-on sophomore Collin Ashton (4 tac in 2003). Prep All-American Thomas Williams, along with Salo Faraimo (2 tac in 2003), joined the linebacking corps this fall as freshmen. Walk-on junior Marco Chavez, who spent part of 2002 at Hawaii, will redshirt this year after transferring.
Tatupu had a game-best 12 tackles (3.5 for losses of 19 yards, including 2 sacks) at Auburn while making his first career start, while Grootegoed added 5 stops (with a sack) and forced a fumble, Simmons had 3 tackles, Urquhart had 2 and Faraimo and Ashton each had 1.
Tatupu had a game-high 11 tackles (with 2 for a loss, including a sack) and a deflection against BYU, while Grootegoed added 9 stops, a fumble recovery and a deflection, Simmons had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery, Urquhart had 2 tackles and both Ashton and Faraimo had 1.
Tatupu (1 for a loss, with a deflection) and Grootegoed (1 for a loss, with a forced fumble) each had 4 tackles against Hawaii, while Otani, Sartz (playing safety) and Urquhart added 3 stops apiece and Ashton had 2.
While the biggest holes to fill on USC's defense were in the secondary, the situation wasn't as dire as it might have appeared. Granted, the Trojans lost 3 quality starters in 2-time All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu (the 2002 Thorpe Award finalist was a 3-year starter who amassed 278 tackles and 6 interceptions in his career), free safety DeShaun Hill (he had 54 stops and a team-best 8 deflections last season) and cornerback Darrell Rideaux (he notched 46 tackles, 7 pass break-ups and 2 picks in 2002). Most critically, the void left from the loss of Polamalu's leadership cannot be discounted. Only senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (9 tac, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2003, plus 3 KOR, 84 yds, 28.0 avg) returned as a starter. The Trojans are 9-0 when he starts in the secondary. The one-time starting wide receiver also was a top-flight hurdler on USC's track squad. There were plenty of experienced options to fill the 3 open secondary spots. In fact, 3 players had starting experience at cornerback: senior Kevin Arbet (5 tac, 1 for loss, 1 dfl, FF in 2003, plus 4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg), who missed all of last season with a broken foot, junior Ronald Nunn (5 tac, 1 FR for a TD in 2003) and sophomore William Buchanon (1 tac in 2003). Arbetwho started 4 times in 2000 and was an All-Pac-10 first teamer as a special teams player in 2001won the job going into 2003 and started the first 2 games, but his foot injury flared up and has sidelined the rest of this year. So Will Poole (13 tac, 1 for loss, 1 F, 1 int, 4 dfl in 2003), a senior who started at Boston College in 2000 before earning J.C. All-American laurels last fall and then enrolling at USC this fall, has taken his place. He is backed by Nunn and Buchanon. Nunn started USC's first 3 contests in 2002 before tearing knee ligaments (he missed most of 2003 spring drills) and then Buchanon started the next 3 games (after converting from wide receiver) before giving way to Allmond. The new starting free safety is junior Jason Leach (14 tac, 0.5 for loss, 1 int 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 (11 tac, 1 FR, 1 int, 1 dfl in 2003), who originally signed with USC in 2002 after a prep All-American career at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High but did not qualify for admission then (he enrolled at Troy this past spring). Other cornerbacks back from last year's group are sophomore John Walker and walk-on sophomore Alex Gomez. Identical twin freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Ting (1 tac in 2003) and Ryan Ting, who were 2002 prep All-Americans, graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC this past spring (Brandon can also play safety). Battling for action at safety from last year's squad are sophomore Mike Ross (4 tac in 2003), plus 5 walk-ons in seniors Greg Farr and top special teams player Forrest Mozart and juniors Chris Bocage (1 tac in 2003), Matt Lemos and Kyle Matthews. This fall, joining the fray were 3 incoming freshmen who were prep All-Americans: safety-cornerback Desmond Reed, safety Terrell Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright (Thomas and Wright are out with injuries).
At Auburn, Leach had 8 tackle, Bing had 4 stops, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, Arbet had 4 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection and also returned 2 punts for 11 yards, Poole made 3 stops and had a deflection in the nickel package, and Allmond and Nunn each made a tackle.
Allmond had 4 tackles, an interception and a deflection against BYU and Poole also had 4 stops (1 for a loss), an interception and a deflection, while Bing had 3 tackles and a deflection, Leach also had 3 stops, and Arbet, Ross and Brandon Ting each had 1 tackle.
Poole had a game-high 9 tackles against Hawaii (with 2 deflections and a forced fumble) while making his first USC start, Nunn returned a fumble 38 yards for a TD to go along with his 4 tackles, Leach returned an interception 25 yards for a TD to go with his 3 tackles, Bing and Allmond each had 4 stops, Ross had 3 tackles, and Buchanon and Bocage added 1 tackle each.
Sophomore Tom Malone (49.3 avg in 2003) has proven to be one of the nation's top young punters. He currently is second nationally in punting (49.3, first in Pac-10). His 49.3 punting average is way above Jim Wren's USC season record of 45.6, set in 1996. So far in 2003, 10 of his 16 punts have gone at least 50 yards and 12 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 (4-of-5 FG, 15-of-15 PAT in 2003, plus 1 tac) is in his second year as the placekicker. He currently is tied for 22nd nationally in field goals (1.5, second in the Pac-10). So far in 2003, 5 of his 23 kickoffs have been touchbacks. He was only supposed to handle the kickoff duty last year, but took over the placekicking job during the third game of 2002 and was impressive. His 16 field goals were 3 shy of the USC season record, he hit his last 30 PATs (and missed just 2 out of 49 all year), he led Troy in scoring (95 points) and 27 of his 89 kickoffs were touchbacks. Walk-on freshman Mario Danelo pushed him throughout 2003 fall camp. Both of USC's snappersseniors Joe Boskovich (placekicks) and Matt Hayward (punts)are back. It's the fourth season in that role for Boskovich, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship this spring, and the third year for Hayward. Both have been near flawless in their careers. Walk-on freshman Will Collins can also snap. Sophomore punter Tom Malone returns as the holder on all placekicks, with junior quarterback Matt Cassel the backup. USC's top punt returnersophomore wide receiver Greig Carlsonand kickoff returnersoph tailback Hershel Dennisfrom last season are back (Carlson had 177 yards and Dennis had 151 in 2002). But in 2003, senior cornerback Kevin Arbet (4 PR, 19 yds, 4.8 avg in 2003)who led USC in punt returns in 2001 (225 yards)handled the chore before being sidelined with an injury, so Carlson and sophomore wide receiver Justin Wyatt have taken over. Arbet and senior cornerback Marcell Allmond (3 KOR, 84 yds, 28.0 avg in 2003) were the kickoff returners in 2003 before Arbet's injury. So joining Allmond now are Wyatt (1 KOR, 31 yds, 31.0 avg in 2003) and freshman tailback Reggie Bush (2 KOR, 50 yds, 25.0 avg in 2003).
At Auburn, Malone boomed 7 punts for a 45.1 average (including 5 within the 20-yard line and 3 that went 50-plus yards, with a 70-yarder and then nailing his last one out of bounds at the Auburn 2), while Killeen was perfect on his field goals (28, 42 and 35 yards) and both PATs, as well as having 2 touchbacks on 6 kickoffs.
Malone rocketed 5 of his 6 punts more than 50 yards (including a 59-yarder) against BYU for a 52.0 average and 5 of his boots pinned the Cougars within the 20-yard line (he was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week), while Killeen hit all 5 of his PATs.
Killeen hit his only field goal (a 24-yarder) and all 8 of his PATs against Hawaii, while Malone averaged 53.7 yards on 3 punts (with a 69-yarder).
USC's assistant coaching staff stayed relatively intact from 2002, with some slight positional changes. Tim Davis, who last year handled the offensive guards and centers, took over the entire line. Rocky Seto, a Trojan graduate assistant last fall, is now a full-time coach in charge of the safeties. Ed Orgeron, USC's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, this year added the title of assistant head coach. Dennis Slutak is the only newcomer on the staff; the one-time Florida State punter and North Carolina State graduate assistant is a graduate assistant working with the special teams.
STATS OF NOTE
Defensively in 2003, USC is tied for third nationally in turnover margin (+2.0, first in Pac-10) and is fourth in rushing defense (50.7, second in Pac-10).
USC's defense has forced 11 turnovers in 2003 (6 interceptions, 5 fumbles).
USC has intercepted a pass in the past 13 games.
USC has not allowed a rushing touchdown in the past 22 quarters.
USC has held 12 of its last 16 opposing teams to less than 100 rushing yards (all 3 games in 2003 and 9 times in 2002).
No opposing runner has rushed for 100 yards against USC for the past 16 games (including all 13 in 2002).
Opponents are averaging just 1.9 yards per carry against USC in 2003.
USC is allowing opponents to convert just 28.8% of third downs in 2003 (after allowing foes only 27.6% in 2002).
USC's defense has scored 3 touchdowns and a safety in 2003.
USC leads the nation in net punting (48.3).
Offensively in 2003, USC is 11th nationally in scoring offense (39.7, first in Pac-10).
USC has scored at least 20 points in its last 16 games (and 18 of its past 19).
USC has scored at least 30 points in 10 of its last 11 games.
USC has scored 59 points (8 TDs, 1 field goal) after getting a turnover in 2003.
In the red zone, USC is 10-of-11 (90.9%) in 2003 (Troy was at 82.9% in 2002).
USC has outscored opponents 62-11 in the first half in 2003 and hasn't allowed a first half touchdown.
USC's +23.0 scoring margin in 2003 is better than last year's +17.3.
USC has won each of its last 8 games by at least 17 points.
In its last 6 games, USC beat UCLA, Notre Dame, Iowa, Auburn, BYU and Hawaii by a combined 152 points.
USC has a knack for scoring unanswered points (23 at Auburn, 21 versus BYU and 42 against Hawaii), continuing a trend from last year when Troy scored 20 or more consecutive points on 11 occasions.
USC has played before at least 73,000 fans in each of its last 4 home games, averaging 78,581 in that span, as well as in each of its last 7 gameshome or awayto average 81,063.
With its 2003 season-opening win over No. 6 Auburn (following wins to close 2002 over No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 3 Iowa), USC defeated 3 consecutive AP Top 7 teams for the first time in its history.
The last time USC received first place votes in the AP poll prior to getting 6 tallies in this year's Week 3 poll was in the 1989 pre-season poll (USC received first place votes in the USA Today/ESPN poll in the early weeks of the 1995 season, but not in any AP polls that year).
USC has been effective in the takeaway department during head coach Pete Carroll's 3 seasons. In 2003, USC is +2.0 in turnover margin (tied for third in the U.S., first in the Pac-10) by getting 5 fumbles and 6 interceptions. USC's +1.33 turnover margin over Carroll's first 2 regular seasons (2001 and 2002) was the best in the nation and its +69 takeaways during that span were third most (slightly behind Virginia Tech's +71 and Tulane's +70). In 2002, the Trojans had 36 takeaways (19 fumbles and 17 interceptions) and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.4). In 2001 (including the bowl), Troy had 35 takeaways (20 picks, 15 fumbles) and ranked fifth in the nation in turnover margin at +1.3. USC's ball security was impressive, too, those first 2 seasons: only 19 turnovers in 2001 and just 18 in 2002.
WR Keary Colbert and LB Melvin Simmons have been selected by their teammates as season captains. Each game, they will join captains representing special teams and the service (scout) team.
OT Jacob Rogers and WR Keary Colbert already have been invited to play in 79th annual East-West Shrine Game at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco on Jan. 10, 2004.
QB John David Booty, who enrolled at USC this fall, is believed to be the first football player to graduate a full year early from high school and enroll at a major Division I-A university.
USC also has 5 players who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC in the spring. Starting OT Jacob Rogers did so in the spring of 1999, while starting P Tom Malone and likely starting FB Brandon Hancock came to USC in the spring of 2002. Identical twin reserve CBs Brandon and Ryan Ting did so this past spring.
USC has retired the jersey numbers of its 5 Heisman Trophy winners. However, S Darnell Bing received permission from USC athletic director Mike Garrett (Troy's 1965 Heisman-winning tailback) to wear Garrett's retired No. 20 jersey.
QB Matt Leinart's girlfriend is professional surfer and snowboarder Veronica Kay, who starred this past year in "Boarding House: North Shore" on the WB television network (it was a lifestyle/reality series based on the pro surfing tour in Hawaii). Also a model, she's the international face of the popular Roxy surfwear brand.
Former USC All-American safety Ronnie Lott was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this Aug. 7-9, while the late USC 2-time All-American tailback Ricky Bell will be inducted into the Hall at a Dec. 9 dinner in New York (he'll be enshrined in August of 2004). Lott, a 1980 All-American, had 250 tackles and 14 interceptions at USC before a 15-year NFL career that saw him land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bell, who earned All-American honors in 1975 and 1976 (he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1976), ran for 3,689 yards at Troy and then was the No. 1 pick of the 1977 NFL draft (he played 6 years in the NFL) before dying in 1984 of heart disease. USC has 25 former players, 2 ex-head coaches, 4 one-time assistant coaches and a former athletic director in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tailback Marcus Allen, USC's 1981 Heisman Trophy winner, was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, this Aug. 3. A 1981 All-American, he was the first collegian to rush for more than 2,000 yards (he had 2,427 yards in 1981) and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He played 16 years in the NFL with the Raiders (1982-92) and Chiefs (1993-97). USC has 10 former players and 3 ex-assistant coaches in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
QB Brandon Hance, who was hospitalized briefly this past summer with a viral form of spinal meningitis, recorded a public service announcement for the Meningitis Foundation of America. As part of the MFA's Meningitis Awareness and Prevention month in August, Hance's 30-second radio message is geared toward college students.
Strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle has beaten cancer. He learned he had Hodgkin's Disease in December of 2000, began radiation treatments in Tennessee (where he was still the Volunteers' associate strength and conditioning coach), was hired by USC in February of 2001, kept his illness a secret except to Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, continued treatments in Tennessee and at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, then doctors told him in the summer of 2001 that the cancer was in remission. He informed the USC players of his ordeal at the start of fall 2001 camp.
A new tradition at Troy's home games (started in 2001) sees the USC team buses unload the Trojan players amid the tailgaters in front of the Coliseum peristyle about 2 hours before kickoff. The players walk through the crowd into the Coliseum before going to dress in the locker room.
Traveler, USC's fabled white horse mascot, has a new trainer: Joanne Asman (she also will provide and house the horse for USC). She takes over for Patricia Saukko DeBernardi (the widow of original Traveler rider and owner Richard Saukko), who retired after last season. Chuck O'Donnell and USC junior Brent Dahlgren will continue as the horse's riders. Since 1961, Travelerwith a Trojan warrior astridehas galloped around the Coliseum field whenever USC scores.
USC's oldest living football letterman is 103-year-old James Pursell. He lettered in 1921-22-23 as a 156-pound guard and was a member of USC's first Rose Bowl team.
Two TrojansTE Gregg Guenther Jr. and WR Sandy Fletcherhave played on the USC basketball team. Guenther started 9 times at center in 2003, averaging 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 19 games (he had 4 double-doubles and his free throws with 3.9 seconds to play won the Arizona State game). He also saw action in 9 games (starting 3) in 2002. Fletcher played in 4 games as a point guard in 2000. And, as a youngster, LB Collin Ashton was a ballboy for several years for the USC men's basketball team.
Several other Trojans have participated in other sports at Troy. QB Billy Hart was on the USC baseball team in 2002 and 2003. He started 22 times in right field in 2003, hitting .238 in 42 games with 20 hits, 14 runs, 1 home run and 4 RBI (he redshirted in 2002). CB Marcell Allmond was a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team the past 4 springs (2000-2003). With a 13.54 lifetime best in the high hurdles, he was second in the high hurdles at the 2000 Pac-10 meet (he tied for seventh at the 2002 Pac-10s) and was seventh in the 2000 Pac-10 decathlon. OG Travis Watkins and OT Nate Steinbacher also were shot putters for the 2001 Trojan track squad (Steinbacher competed in 2 meets, while Watkins redshirted). Walk-on CB Justin Tolliver was a sprinter for the 2002 and 2003 Trojans, but did not compete in a meet. Walk-on TE Owen Hanson was a reserve on the USC men's volleyball team the past 3 seasons (2001-03), seeing action in 1 match in 2003.
Who's the fastest among the 2003 Trojans? It might be TB Reggie Bush, with bests of 10.42 in the 100 meters and 21.06 in the 200. He placed third in the 100 in the 2002 California state meet.
USC's only married player is SNP Matt Hayward. He and his wife, Kristin, were married on June 19, 2003.
On DT Shaun Cody's right biceps is a large tattoo of the interlock "SC" logo, which stands both for his initials and his university.
QB Matt Cassel played on the Northridge (Calif.) team that was a finalist at the 1994 Little League World Series, while LB Bobby Otani was a national champion in judo.
Two Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, CB John Walker was a television actor who appeared in such shows as "E.R." and "7th Heaven" (in fact, he didn't play football until his sophomore year of high school because a clause in his acting contract prevented him from doing anything that could affect his appearance). USC linebackers coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence "Buster" Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
Four Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: S Kyle Matthews (father, 1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team), QB Michael McDonald (father, 1979 All-American Paul, was on the 1978 team), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi, was on the 1974 team) and CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams, was on the 1978 team).
Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. FB-QB Morgan Craig is the grandson of ex-USC 1939 All-American QB Grenville "Grenny" Lansdell. CB Kevin Arbet is the stepson of ex-Trojan (1980-82) Jeff Simmons. One Trojan has a cousin who played at USCSNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)and four have uncles who were Trojan footballers: C Norm Katnik/TE-C Kurt Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87), OG Fred Matua (Titus Tuiasosopo, 1990-92) and S Kyle Matthews (Bruce Matthews, 1980-82, 1982 All-American).
Speaking of genes: CB Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, was a defensive lineman at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. OG Sam Baker's father, David, formerly played basketball at UC Irvine and then professionally in Europe, while his brother, Ben, was an offensive lineman at Duke. QB John David Booty's father, Johnny, played quarterback at Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State, while his brother, Josh, played quarterback at LSU for 2 seasons (1999-2000) following a 5-year (1994-98) baseball career as an infielder in the Florida Marlins organization (he then played with the NFL's Cleveland Browns) and another brother, Abram, was a wide receiver at LSU (1997-99) and Valdosta State (2001). DE Van Brown's brother, Chad, is an All-Pro linebacker who has played with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1993-96) and Seattle Seahawks (1997-2001) after starting 4 seasons at Colorado (1989-92). CB William Buchanon is the son of ex-NFL star Willie Buchanon, a 1971 All-American cornerback at San Diego State who was a 3-time Pro Bowler during his 11-year (1972-82) NFL career with the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers. QB Matt Cassel's older brother, Jack, is a pitcher in the San Diego Padres organization, while his younger brother, Justin, is a freshman on UC Irvine's baseball team. WR Keary Colbert's cousins are ex-Arizona State DT Tommie Townsend (1999-2001) and ex-Hawaii WR Justin Colbert (1999-2002). TB Hershel Dennis' father, Hershel Sr., played tailback at North Carolina A&T. LB Salo Faraimo's brother, Preston, was a linebacker at Hawaii in 2000 and 2001. LB Matt Grootegoed's brother, John, was an offensive guard at San Jose State in 1994 and 1995. WR D. Hale's brother, Damon Boddie, played tailback at Montana in the mid-1990s. TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975. DE Lawrence Jackson's brother, Keith, is a redshirt freshman offensive tackle at Arizona. C Ryan Kalil's father, Frank, was a center at Arizona (1980-82) and with the USFL's Arizona Wranglers (1983) and Houston Gamblers (1984). C Norm Katnik's and TE-C Kurt Katnik's father, Norman, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). FB David Kirtman's father, Louis, ran track at California and his uncle, Nate Kirtman, played football at Stanford in 1967. S Jason Leach's cousin is former Arizona State S Alfred Williams (1999-2002). OG Fred Matua's uncle, Navy Tuiasosopo, played offensive line at Utah State and later with the Los Angeles Rams and a distant cousin, Manu Tuiasasosopo, was a 3-time All-Conference defensive lineman at UCLA (1976-78) who then played with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. WR Jason Mitchell's cousin, Christian Radley, was a coxswain on the USC women's rowing team in 2002. CB Ronald Nunn's sister, Natalie, is a freshman defender on the USC women's soccer team. OT-OG Drew Radovich's father, Mark, was a linebacker at Arizona State (1974-76). LB-S Dallas Sartz's father, Jeff, played safety at Oregon State and his grandfather, also named Dallas, was a Golden Gloves boxer at Washington State and a professional hydroplane racer. Twin CBs Brandon and Ryan Ting's brother, Rich, was a quarterback at Yale (1998-2001). DT Travis Tofi's cousin, Suaese "Pooch" Taase, played football at Louisiana Tech. OG Travis Watkins' brother, Todd, was a wide receiver on the 2001 Norfolk State football team, while his father, Don, was a lineman at Pasadena City College and his uncle, Tom Watkins, played 8 seasons in the NFL in the 1960s with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. DT Ryan Watson's cousin is former Georgia Tech (1999-2002) wide receiver Kerry Watkins. TB LenDale White is the cousin of former Pitt (2000-01) wide receiver Darcey Levy (who plays in the NFL), ex-Wyoming (1998-2002) linebacker Herman White and former Colorado point guard Chauncey Billups, now in the NBA. OG-OT Kyle Williams' father, Scott, played college basketball, while an uncle, Eric Williams, was a defensive lineman with the Detroit Lions (1984-89) and Washington Redskins (1990-93, including on the 1991 Super Bowl champs) after earning 1983 All-Pac-10 first team honors in his 3 years (1981-83) at Washington State; his grandfather, Roy Williams, played for the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, another uncle played professional basketball in Europe, while his other grandfather played 3 sports at Lehigh in the 1960. DT Manuel Wright's cousin is Arizona State senior tailback Mike Williams. WR John Zilka's grandfather, Jake Nagode, played basketball at Northwestern (1936-38) and then professionally in the late-1940s, while his sister, Allison, lettered on the Arizona women's soccer team in 1994. DB coach Greg Burns' brother, Dexter, was a defensive back at San Jose State in the mid-1990s. Head coach Pete Carroll's wife, Glena, played volleyball at Pacific, while his son, Brennan, was a tight end at Delaware and Pitt (he currently is a graduate assistant football coach at USC) and his daughter, Jaime, played on the 2000 USC women's volleyball team. LB coach Nick Holt's wife, Julie, was the head women's basketball at Nevada Reno, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho (she currently is the head coach at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College). WR coach Lane Kiffin's father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he is a longtime NFL and collegiate assistant coach who also served as North Carolina State's head coach in the early 1980s), while his brother, Chris, is a junior defensive lineman at Colorado State. S coach Rocky Seto's wife, Sharla, played soccer at USC. OFF/TE coach Brennan Carroll is the son of USC head coach Pete Carroll.
1969 DÉJÀ VU?
There are some interesting similarities between the 1969 USC team (which went 10-0-1 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl) and the 2003 Trojans. Entering 1969, Troy lost a Heisman Trophy winner who was the first pick in the NFL draft (O.J. Simpson), had a new quarterback with no experience (Jimmy Jones), debuted a new tailback (Clarence Davis), featured a top incoming recruiting class (the 1972 seniors, who ended up helping USC to the national title), had a great defensive line (Wild Bunch I), had an offensive line featuring a returning all-conference tackle who was an All-American candidate and wore No. 77 (Sid Smith), faced a tough non-conference foe in its opener (Nebraska)...and the year prior saw Ohio State win the national title. The 2003 Trojans 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.
IN THE NFL
USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 39 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 29 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OL Tony Boselli, DL Willie McGinest, WRs Keyshawn Johnson, Johnnie Morton and Curtis Conway, QB Rob Johnson and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight, Rashard Cook and Daylon McCutcheon. Six NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Miami's Dave Wannstedt and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio. Twelve current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: QB John David Booty (brother, Josh Booty), DE Van Brown (brother, Chad Brown), CB William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), PK Mario Danelo (father, Joe Danelo), OG Fred Matua (cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr.; father, Clay Matthews; uncle, Bruce Matthews), QB Michael McDonald (father, Paul McDonald), LB Lofa Tatupu (father, Mosi Tatupu), CB Justin Tolliver (father, Kevin Williams), OG Travis Watkins (uncle, Tom Watkins), TB LenDale White (cousin, Darcey Levy) and OG-OT Kyle Williams (uncle, Eric Williams; grandfather, Roy Williams). OG Sam Baker's father, David, is the commissioner of the Arena Football League. And C Ryan Kalil's father, Frank, played in the USFL. Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistant Lane Kiffin was an NFL assistant. Three assistant coaches played professionally: Norm Chow, Steve Sarkisian and Tim Davis in the CFL (Davis also played in the USFL).
USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 311 times, including 177 of the past 179 games. In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997 (snapped against Oregon State) and another streak of 48 in a row from 1997 to 2001 (broken against California).
Incoming scholarship freshman linebacker Drean Rucker, a 2002 prep All-American from Canyon Springs High in Moreno Valley (Calif.), drowned in the ocean off of Huntington Beach (Calif.) on July 21, just 2 weeks before he was to report to USC for fall practice. He was 18. His body was found on July 26. "This is an extraordinary tragedy for Drean's family and for the Trojan Family," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. "Drean was a wonderful young man with a great spirit. He would light up a room with his smile. He was a highly-competitive and talented football player who was going to make an impact at USC on and off the field. It's just a terrible loss. The hearts and prayers of the Trojan Family go out to his family." In his memory, the 2003 Trojans will wear a football-shaped sticker on their helmets with "54" inside in gold lettering (that was the number he was assigned at USC); also, that jersey number will not be worn this season.
USC's highly-ranked men's water polo team will play at California on Saturday (Sept. 27) at 11 a.m., prior to the Trojans-Bears football game.