Friday, October 20, 2006

Byrd is waiting to fly - St Louis Post-Dispatch
...Byrd, taken 93rd overall near the end of the third round, didn't dress for the first four games. He finally saw action against Green Bay on the Rams' kickoff return team. And then Sunday against Seattle, he played on special teams as well as a handful of plays on offense.

"It was just exciting to be on the field for the first time on the offense," Byrd said. "Hopefully, things are looking up from here."

Despite his lack of playing time, Byrd said he hasn't gotten frustrated.

"Patience is a virtue. I just stick to that," he said...
If called upon, Justice says he's ready - Delaware News-Journal
When the Eagles selected Winston Justice with a second-round draft pick last spring, the intent was to develop the former USC offensive tackle for the future.

With left tackle William Thomas and right tackle Jon Runyan still in their prime, it was assumed Justice would not play regularly for at least one season, and maybe beyond.

Until now, the Eagles have stayed with that plan. Justice has yet to be placed on the active game-day roster. That could change Sunday...

...Justice had been taking many of the snaps at left tackle with the starting unit in anticipation that he might play.

If called upon, Justice said he is ready to go...
Titans punt problems for a day - Nashville City Paper
It was the best of times and the worst of times for practice squad guard Fred Matua on Thursday...

...It was Matua who helped win the contest for the offense, as a punt hit him in the chest and bounced away, but not before he was able to leap and making an amazing catch.

So how did Matua the hero get treated? He wound up receiving a code red from strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson, apparently at the request of his fellow offensive linemen over Matua’s likely failure to accomplish his daily “tasks” as a rookie.

Matua wound up with his feet taped together and his hands taped as well to a long pole. To make matters worse, he was tossed out into the rain...
[Pompei]Leinart is going to be special in the NFL - Sporting News
...It appears that Leinart has been so good so quickly that he's been able to overcome some of the incompetence around him...

...None of us really should be terribly surprised by this. Leinart was the most NFL-ready quarterback to come out of college since Peyton Manning. In fact, he probably was more NFL-ready than Manning.

How he dropped to the Cardinals, who were picking 10th, still baffles me. I thought the Texans should have taken him with the first pick. He was that good in college, and that solid of a prospect in my opinion. The Titans should have taken him at No. 3. The Jets should have taken him at No. 4. The Raiders should have taken him at No. 7. The Lions should have taken him at No. 9. Teams should have traded up for him...

Also, [Pizarro] Leinart looks legitimate - Shreveport Times
[Doom] Left-handed compliment - CNNSI
[Layden] NFL time machine - CNNSI
Polamalu earns a Lott of high praise - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Atlanta coach Jim Mora didn't split hairs yesterday when he talked about Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. He did not compare him to Sampson; he went one better.

Mora compared Polamalu to another Southern California standout, Ronnie Lott, perhaps the greatest safety in NFL history. Lott not only went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot, but he also was one of three safeties chosen to the NFL's 75th anniversary team.

"My favorite player in the history of football is Ronnie Lott," Mora said yesterday on the telephone. "He is the only player up on my wall that I have a picture of. I was watching film the last two days and kept thinking about Ronnie as I watched Troy."...

Also, Scheming for Polamalu - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Polamalu has the occasional bad hair day - AP via Foxsports
Hawks enjoying Tatupu's ascension to every-down LB - Seattle P-I
A significant anniversary in the development of the Seahawks defense went all but unnoticed Sunday in the aftermath of a wild win against the Rams in St. Louis.

The game -- not to mention the opponent and the site -- marked one full year of Lofa Tatupu being an every-down linebacker in the NFL.

Tatupu had been the starting middle linebacker almost from the first day he walked out on the practice field after being drafted in the second round last year. But, like most middle linebackers, he would leave the field in passing situations when the defense went with extra cornerbacks.

That all changed in the Seahawks' Week 5 game at St. Louis...
Davis seeks a more active offensive role - OC Register
There might be no better indication of John David Booty's struggles finding secondary receivers than the fact Booty threw the ball to tight end Fred Davis once Saturday. It was incomplete.

With Booty's go-to receivers Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett hampered by injuries, Davis probably should be one of Booty's most important targets. Aside from Patrick Turner, his other options are mostly freshmen.

Coach Pete Carroll said he met with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin to discuss game plans earlier this week. One of the topics was getting Davis the ball more.

"In no way have we tried to minimize his catches or his throws. We're still counting on Freddy," Carroll said...

Also, Tight end wants to be an option - LA Daily News
Trojans Earn Long Weekend - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Forget that 6:30 practice Friday morning, Pete Carroll told his happy Trojans on Thursday. Take a long weekend. Fly home if you can.

Recuperate and recharge.

The idea of doing it was in the back of his mind all week, Carroll said -- "if we had good days all the way through."

The early start to the weekend makes life easier for Carroll, who said he would hit a high school game Thursday night, visit schools all day today, hit two more games tonight and "at least one more" Saturday.

"We'll have guys all over the place," he said.

Except for his players. He wants them to rest and get ready to come back Monday for the second half of the season...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Moore Is Looking for More - LA Times
USC's switch this season from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 hybrid scheme left defensive end Kyle Moore as the odd man out.

But Moore, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound sophomore from Georgia, played in passing situations against Arizona State and is making a push for more.

"The 3-4 cuts down some opportunities, but I just have to fight back in practice and make them play me," Moore said Wednesday. "This week is a great opportunity for everybody to get back, hopefully, into a 4-3."

In the Trojans' 3-4, sophomore linebacker Brian Cushing has played a rush-end "elephant" position opposite junior end Lawrence Jackson...
Rivers is making impact - LA Daily News
Keith Rivers finally is living up to the expectations that come with wearing No. 55 as a USC linebacker...

..."Keith is way more confident," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "He's playing faster, tackling better and can do more things for us now. We can blitz him, drop him in special coverage, cover tight ends, cover backs. He just gets it more, which comes with experience."

Rivers entered USC with the chiseled body of a senior, which only raised expectations for him. On the outside, he was ready, and he contributed right away. Carroll used him in key situations to speed rush the quarterback during the Trojans' national championship season.

Asked to do more as a sophomore, Rivers seemed lost at times...
Focus on Bradford - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Allen Bradford becomes almost Exhibit A in what Pete Carroll wants to do this bye week for his unbeaten Trojans after a trio of close calls in conference games.

"What we're going to get done hopefully is stay with the theme of competition and opportunity and being creative with our personnel," Carroll said with a nod to Bradford, a Colton High product who is living proof of that creativity with his five position switches that included two stints each on offense and defense.

"Allen will continue to expand his role," Carroll said. "This is an important two weeks for him. He's a talented kid."...

Also, Bradford Becomes Man of Many Moves - LA Times
Ground plan may change for USC - Daily Breeze
...USC goes into its bye week, it appears to have a power game, like the Trojans had with LenDale White. It also has the shifty Emmanuel Moody making tacklers miss in the same vein as Bush.

Moody fumbled on his first carry Saturday and had only five more touches after that. Maybe USC just became a power running team.

Or maybe not.

"If that's what shows up,'' Kiffin said, shrugging his shoulders. "Guys can have great games and the next game's different.

The power game Washington spearheaded might be a breakthrough. But it was just another day at the office for the offensive line, not a breakthrough...

Also, Final Drive Was a Rush for Linemen - LA Times
Booty Remains Confident - LA Times
Quarterback John David Booty struggled in the second half in each of USC's last two games, but the first-year starter is confident that he will get back on track.

"I want to win and that's what we're doing, but obviously I feel there is a lot of room to get better," he said after practice Tuesday. "I've only gotten half as good as I can be for this season."

Booty has helped lead USC to a 6-0 record. The Trojans have an open date this week before playing at Oregon State. Booty is ranked third in the Pacific 10 Conference is passing efficiency...

...Booty said his surgically repaired back is sound, but he will take fewer repetitions this week. "It's a good time for me to rest my arm...

Also, Building up Booty is vital - OC Register
Sanchez lets promotion talk pass - OC Register
More Trouble for Middle Linebacker - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Pete Carroll was willing to expand at length after practice Wednesday on the state of the USC defense, his players' health, the reason for not many turnovers forced and whether quarterback sacks are overrated.

But he was not going to comment in any detail on disciplinary moves he's taken with regard to starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who waited around to share a word with Carroll before heading off.

Maualuga wasn't saying much either, almost a year after he was charged with misdemeanor battery...That incident resulted in his agreement to complete both alcohol and anger management programs as well as do public service...

Also, Maualuga punished - Daily Trojan
Maualuga in trouble again - LA Daily News
Maualuga was disciplined - OC Register
[This is post number 1,000 since FOF's re-start in February. Since the beginning of April, there have been about 35,000 visits and 68,000 "pageviews". Thanks for your continued support. - Æ.]

Facts are facts: USC No. 2 in BCS and rightfully so - CBS Sportsline
...They aren't winning a football game by 30 anymore, that's for sure. That ended way back in the second game of the season. Yep, the Trojans just aren't themselves having beaten the SEC West leader (Arkansas), the first-place team in the Big 12 North (Nebraska) and every other schlub lined up in front of it.

You'd thought it was time to shutter Heritage Hall...

...So, yes, USC is the nation's No. 2 team in the only standings that count this time of year...

...So, if you sit down and look at it...USC at No. 2 makes sense. We'll know if it is deserving next month with a brutal three-game stretch against No. 11 Cal, No. 16 Oregon and No. 10 Notre Dame...

Also, Ground plan may change for USC - Daily Breeze
Trojans trying to find way on offense - OC Register
[Moore] Bottom line on Southern Cal: 6-0 —But will Trojans withstand all comers? - USA Today
[Mackovic] Imperfect BCS will be decided on field - Desert Sun

Monday, October 16, 2006

[Weber] Trojans Winning Games but Few Admirers - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
They've won 40 of 41, 51 of 53. They're No. 1 in the computer rankings, No. 2 in one of the human polls and No. 3 in the other two.

And no one has a good word to say about them, it seems.

"Overrated" was the word you heard on ESPN's "College GameDay" show...

...Funny to hear that from the fans of a team that USC whacked by a combined score of 2002 and 2003 or...lost this year to Arkansas...

...But that was a different Arkansas team, we're told.

So is this USC team. It's younger, less experienced and not getting any better. Nor will it until it learns to trust itself, its coaches and its fans.

Let's start with the fans...

Also, Room for improvement - LA Daily news
Their Work Is Only Half Done - LA Times
Fred opens the floodgates - a look at the anti-virus market -
...In 1983, Fred Cohen, a US student, created the first computer virus whilst studying for his PhD at the University of Southern California. He described a virus as 'a program that can 'infect' other programs by modifying them to include a 'version of itself'. The virus hid inside a graphics program called VD and used the permissions users had to look at other parts of the computer to spread around the system. In all of the tests Cohen carried out, the virus managed to gain the right to reach any part of the system in anything between five minutes and an hour. They were then able to transfer to other computers via floppy disks...
USC pulls out win despite lapses - State Press
...just when it seemed that nothing could go right for the Trojans, they found the strength to pull out a win.

USC found that strength in its backfield in the form of junior tailback Chauncey Washington...

...Instead of maintaining the running back by committee system that has made up the USC ground attack this season, Carroll stuck with Washington...

..."They saw me getting in that groove, so they just kept feeding me," Washington said...

Also, Defense keeps Sun Devils close - State Press
Late comeback not enough for Devils - State Press
Devils hang with mighty Trojans - State Press
Coach questions own play calling - East Valley Tribune
ASU season far from over - Arizona Republic
ASU needs more than moral victories - Arizona Republic

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Maualuga Too Fast - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
He's a ferocious hitter. He can run. He loves to play the game.

But on any given play Saturday in a 28-21 victory over Arizona State, Rey Maualuga...was too fast, too eager to make a hit, too far in front of a play and just as likely not to make contact with the ball carrier as to make it.

No need for Arizona State to block Maualuga as he flew from side to side at times. His speed had already taken him out of a number of plays and left the middle of the USC defense wide open...
Thomases ailing in the secondary - LA Daily News
USC's secondary is ailing after cornerback Kevin Thomas suffered a broken left foot and will require surgery. He will be out six to eight weeks.

If that wasn't enough, cornerback Terrell Thomas is dealing with a shoulder subluxation that might require surgery after the season.

"It slips out when I hit someone," Terrell Thomas said. "It constricts me but it doesn't affect me."

Terrell Thomas underwent a MRI recently and took X-rays immediately after the game.

Thomas said it did not prevent him from grabbing a sure interception that he dropped during the game.

"I need to buy some new hands," Thomas said. "It was thrown right at me."...
Trojans keep their poise at crucial times - Daily Breeze
..."As a young team, that's great that we're that poised and we get in these types of games early in the season. That's three close games back-to-back-to-back and it's going to help us in the long run."

So the Trojans must be getting better at them, right?

"I don't know,'' Ellison said, laughing. "We keep getting the 'W.' We've got a lot of things to improve on, but we keep getting the 'W,' so it's OK."

So is it the coaches or the players?

"It's a little bit of both," senior flanker Steve Smith said. "We recruit guys that are poised guys that know what they're doing in crunch situations, that are big-time playmakers."...
[Plaschke] Trojans' New Mantra Sets Grim Tone - LA Times
...Less than a year after being compared to the legendary teams in Oklahoma and Nebraska, the Trojans now seem to be something less than even Bears and Ducks.

"Close only counts in horseshoes," protested Lawrence Jackson. "I mean, look at the scoreboard."

Indeed, the Trojans reach the halfway point of their season unbeaten and probably ranked second in the nation.

But if you want to talk horseshoes, well, they are languishing in the middle of the dust pit with no stake in sight...

Also, Trojans grind and bump - Daily Breeze
[Lassen] Unimpressive effort doesn't silence a lot of doubters - VC Star
Booty needs some work - OC Register
Matt Leinart couldn't make it for the official announcement of his induction into USC's Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

But the real problem was his replacement didn't show up either.

John David Booty looked less like the quarterback who appeared smooth and efficient for much of the first half of the season and more like a shaky, unsure junior struggling to follow in a legend's cleat marks.

Booty played the worst 30 minutes of his young football life, was unclear whether he had lost confidence in himself.

Or Pete Carroll had lost confidence in him.

Maybe it was a little of both...

Also, Trojans' Booty has an off day - Daily Breeze
Trojans mess around - LA Daily News
[Curley] USC has Devil of a time - VC Star
No moral victory for spiraling Arizona State - East Valley Tribune
There is nothing to celebrate this morning. Arizona State has lost three straight games. It’s 0-3 in the Pac-10, and all those ugly numbers that define Dirk Koetter’s tenure — 2-19 against top-25 clubs and 0-12 against Pac-10 teams in the state of California — will live on in infamy.

That can’t be sugarcoated or rationalized, and if the measuring stick for the Sun Devils these days is how they lose, it doesn’t say much about the state of the program in Koetter’s sixth year as coach.

And yet, there was a sense of hopefulness in the ASU locker room after its 28-21 loss to USC Saturday...

Also, Devils hang tough, still lose - East Valley Tribune
[Boivin] Devils show signs of salvaging the season - Arizona Republic

Almost an upset - Arizona Republic
When in Doubt, Punt? Koetter's Ploy Backfires - LA Times
Ride to victory provided by a Trojan horse - Daily Breeze
USC's committee of running backs has become a committee of one.

Chauncey Washington came in out of the cold, so to speak. Heretofore the invisible Trojan, trapped in a gridiron purgatory on the sidelines, he exploded on the USC football scene at the most opportune moment.

"He's a horse," said Mike Garrett...

..."People do not know about him," Trojans left tackle Sam Baker said. "I knew exactly what he could do. He's a great running back who's just getting started."

"I'm going to go home and watch the tape of the game," John David Booty said. "I'll fast forward through the pass plays and watch [his] runs."...

Also, Answering the call - LA Daily News
They're Finally Driven to Success - LA Times
USC Keys to the Game - LA Times
[Patton] Tailback Saves Day - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
USC still a step ahead - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Washington rises to the challenge - OC Register