Friday, August 31, 2007

John David Booty living a dream in Los Angeles - Shreveport Times
To be the leading man of college football's most well-oiled machine, the dream has to start somewhere in the vivid imagination of a boy. And John David Booty had — and still has — bigger dreams than most kids.

Years ago and more than 1,600 miles away, Booty envisioned himself as the golden-armed protagonist in a great Hollywood show. The celluloid images from Southern California were particularly alluring to the impressionable boy watching television in the den of his Shreveport home.

"As far back as I can remember, when I was a little kid, I always wanted to live out here," Booty said on a recent summer day. "Watching TV and seeing LA and Hollywood, I just felt like this is where everything was happening."...

Also, USC's Booty still Shreveport's favorite son - OC Register
[Sharp] USC's Booty Call - Detroit Free Press
USC looking at many returns - OC Register
Shortly after Thursday’s practice ended, USC running-backs coach Todd McNair pulled aside freshman receiver Ronald Johnson. He wanted to know if Johnson was ready to return punts.

Not in a practice or scrimmage this time, but in a real game.

“They were making sure I would go out there and want to do it, not just because they want me to,” Johnson said.

And Johnson’s response?

“I told him, ‘I’m ready to do it, coach....."

Also, Former Muskegon H.S. star Ronald Johnson trying to make name as returner for USC - Detroint Free Press
USC revved and ready to go - Daily Trojan
Comparing the two teams for this Saturday's game between USC and Idaho might look like college football's version of "The Odd Couple."

USC is ranked by more than a dozen polls, magazines and websites as the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Idaho was picked by one magazine to finish 113th out of 120 Division 1-A football programs.

The Trojans have a Heisman Trophy candidate returning at quarterback in senior team captain John David Booty. On Saturday, the Vandals will start redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle, whose last start was as a high school senior in Nebraska.

"It's going to look a little bit different for him playing in the Coliseum with 92,000 people," said Idaho coach Robb Akey...
USC's Green, Howell injured - LA Daily News
USC lost two players to possible season-ending injuries Thursday as tailback Broderick Green suffered a stress fracture in his foot and offensive lineman Nick Howell will undergo surgery next week for a hernia.

Green's injury dealt a blow to USC's depth at running back and means sophomore Stafon Johnson is the only tailback on the roster who did not experience an injury in training camp.

Green said he did not know when he hurt his foot but felt pain for the past 10 days.

"I don't have a clue (how I got hurt)," Green said. "It is frustrating."...
O'Dowd In? - inland Empire Press-Enterprise
USC has never had a true freshman start at center, not in the modern era anyway. Not until Saturday, that is.

After Thursday's practice, Pete Carroll said he'd rethought not allowing true freshman Kris O'Dowd to step in to start for Matt Spanos after a torn triceps knocked the senior out of the start against Idaho.

"I'm leaning that way," Carroll said of elevating the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder from Tucson from his second-team spot while allowing Jeff Byers to remain at left guard...

Also, Freshman will get start at center - LA Times
[Plaschke] USC's Johnson makes a run with extra purpose - LA Times
Big Dad showed up at nearly every practice, stood on the sidelines near that sun-splashed part of the field where running backs work. While everyone else was tearing down Stafon Johnson, Big Dad came to hold him up...

..."He always told me he was proud of me for hanging in there," Johnson said. "I'll never forget that."

For seemingly every minute of Johnson's failed first season as a USC running back, Big Dad was everywhere.

Then, suddenly, he was nowhere, Larry Mallory dying last spring of a heart attack at age 66...
Infatuation with USC open to exposure - Manchester Union-Leader
...despite being laden with all that talent, it's probably apropos for some words of wisdom from an 80-year-old Joe Paterno who's built a pretty decent reputation coaching football...

..."The best man, the best team, isn't automatically entitled to win," Paterno once said. "The winds of fate can turn you around, run you aground, sink you, and sometimes you can't do a thing about it." Southern Cal will face no fewer than a half-dozen teams...that, on a given day, are capable of running the Trojans aground and sinking them.

Given that USC has such a challenging mountain to climb just to get to the BCS title's surprising Lee Corso hasn't sounded off with his patented, "Not so fast." Especially considering the ESPN College GameDay analyst picked 12th ranked California to win it all...

Also, [Kriegel] It would be a long fall for USC - Foxsports
[Ryan] Cassel plays his part - Boston Globe
...There was another category of player happy for last night's game. Matt Cassel doesn't have to worry about making the team. No issue there. He is Tom Brady's official backup. Last night was a very special occasion because Cassel actually got to take snaps in an NFL stadium before real live paying customers and a probing press...

...Matt Cassel fits the modern QB mold at 6 feet 4 inches and 230 pounds. In his first two years backing up Mr. Brady, he is 18 for 32 for 215 yards, two TDs, and one interception. His QB rating is a respectable 84.8. He may have a unique background, but when's the last time anyone accused Coach Bill of being stupid? Coach Bill doesn't stand on ceremony. If he thought he could find himself a better candidate to backup Brady, don't you think he'd be here by now? Clearly, Coach Bill & Co. are satisfied with Matt Cassel's progress. He's the backup for a reason...

Also, Cassels: Brothers in arms: QB, pitcher on same path - Boston Herald

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Browns' McGinest still true to Poly - Cleveland Plain Dealer
Browns linebacker Willie McGinest is one of the many Long Beach Poly, Calif., graduates who went on to play for the University of Southern California, then moved on to the NFL.

"I had a good time at [Long Beach Poly]," said McGinest...

...Long Beach Poly players, has taken to heart what Jackrabbits coaches constantly preached: give back to the school and the community.

He's established the Willie McGinest Freedom School, a program that aims to provide social and cultural enrichment for neighborhood youth.

In 2005, Long Beach's city council declared May 3 to be recognized as "Willie McGinest Day" every year in recognition of his charitable efforts and civic involvement...
For Lua, a chance to turn some heads - Nashua Telegraph
The final preseason game is here, and by now most New England Patriots fans are educated enough to know that many of the team’s front-line players will see little or any action tonight...

...What does that leave you with? Well, on the defensive side, perhaps a lot of Patriots a la Oscar.

Rookie linebacker Oscar Lua, a product of former Patriots coach Pete Carroll’s USC program, could turn out to be something the team has needed for a while – a young, productive linebacker.

“It’s been fair,” the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Lua said when asked earlier this week to rate his performance, which includes the team’s only interception of the preseason. “Everything can definitely be improved upon...

Also, Expect some bubbles to burst in this one - Boston Globe
Rookie Lua injured as cutdown date looms - Attleboro Sun
Backup players on spot for Pats tonight against the Giants - Providence Journal
Under the Helmet: Oscar Lua - Official Patriots Website
[Hayes] LSU vs. USC: The battle for No. 1 - Sporting News
...Like it hadn't gotten a little sideways already. In June, LSU coach Les Miles rekindled the madness with some shots at USC. Specifically, he suggested that USC has a much easier road to the national title game than LSU and that he'd love it if his team could prance through the Pac-10 like the Trojans do every fall.

Miles conveniently left out one teeny-weeny fact: USC's typical waltz has more to do with the Trojans' talent than the league it plays in. This is a team with high school All-Americans battling college All-Americans for playing time. This is a team with a group of elite seniors...who returned to school instead of leaving for NFL millions...

..."You would think," says one SEC coach, "Les would win a big one before he opens his mouth."...

Also, [Dufresne] The Pac-10 needs to make a BCS stand - LA Times
[Schlabach] Miles managing expectations to stay close to home come bowl season - ESPN
Celebrities love to practice with Pete - Marin Independent-Journal
The guest list to USC football practices and games sometimes is a "Who's Who" for Entertainment Tonight, yet only three have left Trojans coach Pete Carroll star struck: Four-time USC national championship coach John McKay, three-time World Series winning manager Sparky Anderson and Will Ferrell...

...But, the only one who has actually participated in full football gear in an actual Trojans practice. In 2003, when USC was preparing to play Michigan in the Rose Bowl, Carroll and Ferrell conspired to have the movie star suit up in...uniform. The USC coach informed his team before practice that a member of a USC fraternity had expressed a desire to compete with the team because, Carroll said, "he thinks he can help us."

Ferrell finally arrived...wearing a full USC uniform...
USC's Stafon Johnson: Not running away - Daily Breeze
He came to USC to run. But the one time Stafon Johnson chose not to has turned out to be his biggest play.

Part of the 3-headed monster...class at tailback last year, Johnson immediately found himself in one doghouse or another. While classmates...prospered, Johnson was banished to the scout team...

...It was hardly the stuff of dreams for the former Dorsey High star, who grew up in the shadow of the Coliseum.

"A lot of people would have run from that. They would have been embarrassed in his hometown," USC running backs coach Todd McNair said. "It says a lot about the kid's character. He sees the bullet, looked at it in its eye, and attacked it.

"And it's paid off for him."...

Also, Breaking away from his struggles - Daily Trojan
The Rich Get Richer at USC - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
...The Trojans, who open Saturday against Idaho at the Coliseum, have more freshmen and redshirt first-year players penciled in to play than any team Carroll has trotted out for an opener.

Nine true freshmen and five redshirt freshmen could find a regular place in the rotation -- almost twice as many as usual. Strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Carlisle, who sees the freshmen first in July, said it could well be the result of having so many veterans...

...A pair of highly touted freshmen, tailback Joe McKnight and wide receiver Ronald Johnson, already have been written into the playbook...
At USC, it's the stars - Daily Breeze
...So deep is USC's talent that even the man called perhaps the team's best all-around player has trouble holding down a front-line job.

A year ago, Emmanuel Moody emerged from an impressive group of freshmen to become USC's second-leading rusher...Now he's set to transfer to Florida...

...John David Booty is the third quarterback in the Pete Carroll era and he just might be the third to also win a Heisman Trophy, so abundant are the gems from USC's recruiting mine.

Yep, that's all it is at USC. Just roll out one blue-chip athlete after another and let them dominate season after season.

Does USC win with a star system? Or does having all that talent overshadow the fact that the Trojans' coaches have a winning system?...
A defense second to none for No. 1 - Portland Oregonian
...even if the offense develops slowly, it probably won't matter -- not with linebackers Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers knocking people around and pass rusher Lawrence Jackson coming hard off the edge.

Then there is Mays, a difference-maker in the secondary, especially now that he has a firmer grasp of coach Pete Carroll's sophisticated defense.

Mays said he was still puzzling it out when he was thrown into action last season against Nebraska. The result: five tackles in the Trojans' 28-10 victory.

"Physically, I knew I could play," Mays said. "It was more the mental part, knowing where I needed to be on the field. I don't think I really understood everything until after the season, when we got into spring ball. That's when I really started understanding what was going on."...

Also, USC's best defense? - OC Register
[Oberjuerge] USC is ridiculously good, but not bulletproof - LA Daily News
..."We never get tired of expectations," defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis said. "That's why we came to this school, to be in the national spotlight."

Twice before in the previous six seasons, USC was the preseason No. 1, and the Trojans didn't exactly wilt under the glare...

...USC's confidence and swagger certainly is in place. The blue-chippers are stacked high.

But this is not a bulletproof team...

...But USC being USC, no one is particularly worried about any of this. An attitude to which the Trojans are perhaps entitled...

Also, As season kicks off, Trojans reign - Orlando Sentinel
USC's Booty shows consistency - OC Register
Most of his receivers are untested.

Three days before the opener, his starting center -- with whom he had taken the vast majority of snaps -- tore a muscle in his arm and has been ruled out of Saturday’s game.

Through all the early disruptions on USC’s offense, John David Booty has been among the most consistent players on the practice field, according to coaches. A year as the starter and a summer of lifting weights appear to have buoyed the quarterback’s confidence and abilities.

“You’re not constantly thinking, thinking, thinking. Even though you are, you’re not thinking about your thinking,” Booty said. “You’re just playing and reacting like you would have in high school.”...

Also, Pac-10 is well-stocked at quarterback - Contra Costa Times
Quarterbacks? You bet, but key is stopping ’em - Tacoma News-Tribune
Who reigns in college football? - Bergen Record
Heisman Watch 2007 - Lakeland Ledger
McNair says he's no Michael Vick - LA Times
USC assistant football coach Todd McNair said Wednesday that reports detailing his two 1990s convictions for mistreating dogs did not "accurately portray" what actually happened.

"I understand the interest about the thing in light of all that's gone on in Virginia with the [Michael] Vick case and everything," he said in an interview outside USC's Heritage Hall. "But my case was totally different from that. . . . I was cited for neglect. I wasn't convicted for abuse."

McNair, who is about to begin his fourth season as the Trojans' running backs coach, was charged with cruelty to animals, failure to obtain licenses and keeping animals for the purpose of fighting in March 1996...

Also, Dogfighting rebuttle - OC Register
USC's O-Line hit by injuries - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Normally it's called "Turnover Wednesday," but the only turnover on this day was in the offensive line, where the top-ranked Trojans were down two starters, center Matt Spanos and right guard Chilo Rachal, as they practiced with only eight bodies on the line.

"Everybody has to play everywhere," Coach Pete Carroll told his team now that senior Spanos could be out "for at least a few weeks," with an unusual triceps muscle tear suffered Tuesday while double-teaming nose tackle Sedrick Ellis.

Jeff Byers his original center position...

Also, [Feldman] Trojans center Spanos has torn triceps, out 2-4 weeks - ESPN
Ex-USC player Todd Marinovich pleads not guilty in drug arrest - LA Times
Former USC and Los Angeles Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich, who has long battled drug problems, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from an arrest Sunday in Newport Beach.

Police said they saw Marinovich, 38, skateboarding and carrying a guitar case about 1:15 a.m. Sunday near the Newport Pier boardwalk. Skateboarding is not allowed on the boardwalk, and Marinovich fled to the carport of a nearby home.

Police found Marinovich, searched him and discovered a small amount of methamphetamine, a metal spoon and a hypodermic needle...

Also, Hey Todd, grow up - Philly Daily News

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pete's practices are always lively, always productive - Marin Independent Journal
..."Nothing ever drags in our practice. I won't let it. The coaches won't let it," said Carroll..."I don't want to lose (the players') focus on the field, their intensity level that would cause their focus to wander. That's the whole idea. We're trying to capture their attention. It's just teaching."

For example, Carroll spent the first 10 minutes of a recent practice teaching USC freshman Rhett Ellison, son of former NFL linebacker Riki Ellison, how to long snap on punts. The USC coach...hiked the ball between his legs while the teenager watched. Carroll also participated in drills and may be the only major head coach in America who, in the same practice, can boast about completing passes (perfectly spiraled) and intercepting another...
[Farrell] 10 freshman who will toughen up defenses - Sporting News
...For some programs, it's possible a defensive player could make the biggest impact. Rather than lump defenders into the same group with their glamorous offensive brethren, they deserve their own list.

Here are 10 true freshmen who could have an impact on defense in 2007:

1. DE Everson Griffen, USC: Griffen is a tremendous athlete, make no mistake about it. There are already defensive packages that have been created for Griffen at USC, and he could be a starter after a few games. His combination of size (6-4, 270) and athleticism will make him a terror for opponents in the Pac-10...
[Condotta] Pac-10 to offer a great race ... for second place - Lindy's Sports
...Last year, they were considered to be at their most vulnerable in a half decade...

...Yes, that was the year they were primed to be caught...

...And having been through that campaign, completing a one-year rebuilding project by going 10-2 and blasting Michigan in the Rose Bowl, Pete Carroll's club enters 2007 decidedly invulnerable.

There's simply no reason to think Troy's dynasty will end anytime soon.

USC has won or tied for five Pac-10 titles in a row, the longest streak in conference history, and its path to a sixth straight looks to be clearer than the route it takes up the Pasadena Freeway for its usual trip to the Rose Bowl...
[Fittipaldo] Trojans back in the fast lane again - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
...In what can only be called a fantastic testament to the type of program coach Pete Carroll has built, the Trojans were 11-2 last season in what was called a "down year."

After its first multiple-loss season since 2002 -- think about that for a second -- USC is ready for another run at the national title with talent galore.

USC's championship teams in 2004 and '05 were known for its offensive exploits...This team will have plenty of firepower, but the defense could be the most important element...

...The Trojans held seven of their 13 opponents to 14 points or fewer.

If USC can win a third national championship in the past five years, it would put its recent achievements in a different historical light...
The Crystal Ball - CNNSI
...National champ - Mandel: USC...McCartney: USC...Murphy: USC...

...Heisman Trophy winner - McCartney: John David Booty, USC...Murphy: Booty...

...Next household name...
Mandel: Joe McKnight, USC.
I'm pretty sure he already is a household name, but for the wrong reasons. That'll change when he emerges as the Trojans' feature back by Week 3...

...Murphy: David Ausberry, USC. The redshirt freshman was a monster on the scout team last season. Trojans coaches have been quietly raving about 'SC's most physical wideout since Mike Williams...

Vote: Which college football team will win it all? - ESPN
[Maisel] I-Formation breaks the huddle on the 2007 season - ESPN
As if the USC Trojans don't have enough advantages: When Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning traveled to Los Angeles this summer...he carved time out of one afternoon to work out with...John David Booty, wide receiver Patrick Turner and others.

Booty might be a redshirt junior in your playbook...but the course work he got from Manning was strictly graduate level. Booty learned the difference between going out to throw and going out to work. The former, Booty said, is "really just wasting your time."...

...The lesson Booty learned is to make every practice look like a game in your head, even when it's a midweek afternoon in June...

...Turner compared the workout to a birthday present. Manning, he said, threw an "easy ball to catch. He put in on you every time...
Trojans Have Horses at Linebacker - Washington Post
Southern California's starting linebackers Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers harbor dreams of becoming the country's most dominant and feared unit this season. But their stiffest competition might not be too far away.

"They have got to be the best players in our linebacker room first," said Ken Norton Jr., USC's linebackers coach, who believes the country's second-best unit could also reside on campus.

USC has such a linebacker surplus, the Trojans might be two deep in all-American-caliber talent...

...In need of a nickname, Norton suggested the Fantastic Four, then quickly corrected himself -- the Fantastic Six...

Also, Pacific-10 - Washington Post
[Oberjuerge] Creature a feature at USC - San Bernardino Sun
To appreciate nose tackle Sedrick Ellis' mind-set, consider this: He not only doesn't get upset when USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt calls him "a creature," he likes it.

"That's kind of cool when somebody thinks that much of you to say you're not even human," Ellis said. "You're a creature. And you're out there with a bunch of humans ... and you have the advantage."...

...If you're going to have a sasquatch-type figure on your football team, nose tackle is the position for him.

Nose tackles aren't made as much as spawned. Hatched out of pods.

They're really not normal human beings who recoil from pain and run from punishment...
Booty's arm turning out to be a thing of beauty - Chicago Tribune
The talk entering the Rose Bowl was clear-cut to the point of being cruel.

Have a monster game, and USC quarterback John David Booty could expect to be a prominent Heisman Trophy candidate in 2007. Lose, and his starting job would be in jeopardy to Mark Sanchez...

...Booty has adapted to Los Angeles and playing major-college football. He doesn't try to fire fastballs all over the field. His key is accuracy.

"Have you ever watched Greg Maddux pitch? He does not miss," Sarkisian said. "[Maddux] could probably throw it harder if he wanted to, but when you throw it in the spot where it's a catchable ball, guys will make plays for you...
Gable named starting tailback for USC's opener - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Pete Carroll made news Tuesday at his weekly luncheon by designating C. J. Gable as the starter at tailback for Saturday's opener against Idaho, if the sophomore stays healthy the rest of the week.

That was news to Gable.

"They don't need to know," Carroll said. "These guys are all working hard."

With Chauncey Washington out with a shoulder sprain, Gable's experience seemed to carry the day over Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford, who have had better camps.

"I guess I'd better be ready," Gable said, then added, "It doesn't change anything. Things can always change again."...

Also, Former USC WR Holland will appeal transfer ban - LA Daily News
USC's starter at RB still a mystery - Arizona Daily Star
How good is USC? It's news to tailback - Chicago Tribune
Fullback position in good hands with Havili - LA Times
USC fullback Stanley Havili poured through his playbook during training camp, breaking only for meals, meetings, practices and. . . dominoes?

"You have to think at both games," Havili said of the activity favored by many Trojans players. "At dominoes, you're going to get hit with points. In football, you're going to get hit by a linebacker if you mess up."...

...Havili's health and fitness is of paramount importance for the top-ranked Trojans, who went through fullbacks last season...
USC coach was convicted of cruelty to dogs - LA Times
USC running backs coach Todd McNair, a former NFL player who is in his fourth season with the Trojans, was twice convicted on charges related to mistreatment of dogs in the 1990s, according to reports.

"I really don't want to comment on something 14 years ago..." McNair said Tuesday night. McNair was never convicted of dogfighting.

Coach Pete Carroll said he became aware of the incidents about a week ago and addressed them with McNair...

..."We looked into it to make sure we knew what happened," Carroll said. "That was a long time ago."...

Have we seen the last of Michael Vick? - Sporting News [08/14/2007]
[Hayes] Dog fighting comes back to bite USC's McNair - Sporting news
[Patton] Mercy Not in USC's Game Plan - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Pete Carroll insists his players are firmly programmed to not look ahead, and to focus only on the immediate task at hand.

That would make this the ultimate "No Peeking" week.

The last time we looked, No. 1-ranked USC was listed as a 45-point favorite over Idaho in Saturday night's opener at the Coliseum.

The Vandals aren't just an underdog to USC, they're everyone's pussycat. Picked to finish last in the [WAC], they have a new guy in charge -- Robb Akey, making his head coaching debut -- and a true freshman [QB]...

Also, [Youngman] No way the Vandals will steal this one - OC Register
Tyler cleared - OC Register
It's easy to forget that Marc Tyler was one of USC's most prized recruits last spring. The Trojans went into camp with so many tailbacks, it became clear they wouldn't need Tyler this season.

Then X-rays showed the bone in the leg he fractured last season hadn't fully healed once the screws were removed. Tyler missed all but one day of fall camp.

Now, Tyler will finally get a chance to prove he belongs. Coach Pete Carroll announced today that Tyler has been cleared to begin practicing on Monday.

Tyler admitted it probably would be best for him to redshirt this season, but said he is anxious to get on the practice field nonetheless...
USC's Turner takes a hit - OC Register
On Monday afternoon, Patrick Turner said it was about time for a real game. “We’re ready for some different competition, another jersey, someone you really want to hit in the mouth,” Turner said.

Less than 24 hours later, Turner took a vicious hit from one of his teammates, one that might jeopardize his availability for Saturday’s opener.

Linebacker Rey Maualuga knocked Turner to the turf with a helmet-to-helmet hit heard around the practice field Tuesday. Turner spent the final 45 minutes of practice in his T-shirt being treated for a stinger - a nerve injury - on the left side of his neck...

Also, Two starters injured at practice - LA Times
USC partakes in first 'competition Tuesday' - Daily Trojan
Perpetual position battles - Daily Trojan

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

[Farrell] 10 newcomers who will shape offenses this year - Sporting News
...As always, newcomers are expected to make a major impact. Here's a quick look at 10 incoming true freshmen on offense who I expect will help shape the college football landscape this season...

...4. RB Joe McKnight: McKnight has been banged up a bit during practice, but once he's healthy he'll get the football for the Trojans. The coaching staff raves about his ability, and he's being compared to...Reggie Bush. The running back situation at USC once looked very crowded, but now it's thinning out...

...5. WR Ronald Johnson: Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith are gone, and much of the attention is going to Patrick Turner, Vidal Hazelton and David Ausberry. Those players certainly deserve attention, but Johnson is going to play this season. There are offensive packages in place with him in mind. Johnson is yet another big-time playmaker who can score from anywhere on the field...
The best defense ever assembled? - Washington Times
...After spending most of last season in a 3-4 alignment, USC returns to a conventional 4-3 base this season. Seniors Sedrick Ellis and Lawrence Jackson both delayed first-round NFL paychecks to give the Trojans arguably the strongest tackle/end combination in the nation. Junior run-stuffer Fili Moala returns at the other tackle spot, while ultra-touted junior speed rusher Kyle Moore puts his hand down at the other end slot after struggling in last season's 3-4.

But blue-chip depth is what makes this unit special...

...Though the Trojans' defense has no weakness, the starting linebacking corps of senior Keith Rivers and juniors Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing is clearly the unit's strength...

Also, [Davidson] The cup runneth over in the Land of Troy - Sac Bee
[Miller] Can't spell BCS without USC, LSU - OC Register
...At other schools, the football coach works with a noose rather than a whistle hanging around his neck. Not at USC, where the fans are more likely to start a Web site called

The Trojans' coach pretty much has satisfied every requirement for sainthood, except the part about being dead. It's outrageous, really, the success USC has enjoyed the last five years.

Along with returning talent by the ton, another reason the Trojans are expected to be among the nation's finest is their desire to bounce back. Bounce back? USC won 11 games, including the Rose Bowl, a year ago. And such finishes – that is, playing in January for anything other than No. 1 – have become disappointing...
Holt familiar with Idaho - OC Register
Considering USC hasn't played Idaho since the start of the Great Depression – and the Vandals will be led by a first-year head coach – it might appear the Trojans lack information on this Saturday's opponent.

That would not be accurate.

USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt was the head coach at Idaho as recently as 2005. He signed off on scheduling this game not long before he left to rejoin the Trojans' staff. He will be coaching against players he recruited.

"I think that will be the neatest thing, to see these guys compete against us now that they're grown up," Holt said...
Trojans' Pinkard could start at CB - LA Daily News
Is their a changing of the guard at USC's cornerback position?

It looks like junior Josh Pinkard will start at cornerback against Idaho on Saturday after earning rave reviews from USC coach Pete Carroll.

"He's making dominant plays in practice," Carroll said.

Last year's starter, Cary Harris, is less than 100 percent following a hamstring injury suffered during training camp and has been forced to heavily tape his leg for practices. That helped open the door for Pinkard, a natural safety...
McKnight practices, but playing is up in the air - LA Times
Freshman tailback Joe McKnight on Monday took small steps toward possibly playing in USC's opener Saturday against Idaho.

McKnight practiced for the first time in two weeks and is scheduled to be fitted today with a new brace to protect a stretched ligament in his right knee.

"I don't feel rusty," McKnight said after the Trojans' no-pads workout.

McKnight, however, has not been cleared for contact.

"He's cleared to run and make his moves and do all that kind of stuff," Coach Pete Carroll said. "They just want to take it one day at time and see how strong he is and see how he handles it."...

Also, Washington, Sanchez out for opener - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
[Hayes] Inside Dish: USC tailback soup - Sporting News
Quotes to note

"...he hasn't been out there with the bullets flying. And the first time that's going to happen, it's going to be against the No. 1 team in the nation."
- Robb Akey on Idaho QB Nathan Enderle making his first Division I start against USC

"Southern Cal is deeper than the Pacific Ocean."

"Southern Cal seems to have no qualms about releasing a guy who was the team’s second-leading rusher. To me, that’s a giant red flag."

"...some Idaho fans secretly wish Holt was still with the Vandals for just this game so he could take the beatdown."

Monday, August 27, 2007

USC sophomore gives extra effort - OC Register
USC tailback Stafon Johnson knows there still a week to go before the Trojans open their football season against Idaho.

Seven days for projected starter Chauncey Washington's sprained shoulder to heal. Seven days for the coaches to arrange, and re-arrange, the tailback rotation.

But on Saturday, the final day of preseason camp, with Washington's shoulder better but still tender, and C.J. Gable (groin) and Allen Bradford (hip) coming off injuries, Johnson emerged as the tailback of the moment.

"Day in and day out, I've been putting in 110 percent on every play and if I get the chance (to play a significant number of minutes), I'm just going to do my job and be prepared to start," the sophomore back said. "You can't be prepared if you haven't practiced being prepared."...

Also, Sound Bytes from Camp - LA Times
USC has the talent, depth, experience to become one of college's all-time great teams - VC Star
It took nearly the entire summer to imagine, but somebody succeeded in constructing a scenario in which the USC football team does not play for the Bowl Championship Series title Jan. 7 in New Orleans.

A cataclysmic event.

"I think SC has to beat themselves, to be quite honest," said Washington State coach Bill Doba.

"I think (USC coach Pete Carroll) has to guard against overconfidence or having really, really, really bad luck."

Such is the current conventional confidence in the Trojans as the 2007 season kicks off this week...

Also, [Kawakami] No use fighting it, USC will win it all - SJ Merc
Maybe it's in our nation's DNA. Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, we've been pushing west. If it wasn't land, it was gold. If it wasn't gold, it was opportunity.

Yes, opportunity. That's what this must be a story about - opportunity.

Consider this: USC's first football All-American wasn't a tall, beach-blond quarterback from Hollywood, rather a stout, black man with no left hand from Seattle. Little did Brice Union Taylor know when he went to USC in 1924 that he was starting a tradition that remains very much alive today...

..."We're America's Team," linebacker Brian Cushing of Park Ridge, N.J., and Bergen Catholic H.S. told The Post. "The best players want to come here. The tradition is amazing. Everyone wants to play us. People love to be around the program...
[Lopresti] A few legends might enjoy success of Carroll's Trojans - USA Today
...if there's a candidate right now for the next face on college football's Mount Rushmore, Pete's the guy. Unless, of course, he gets bored and goes back to the NFL. Any number of Pacific-10 colleagues would be glad to call a taxi to take him to the airport.

You should see Carroll recruit, Knute. He attracts high school phenoms like cotton candy in the grass attracts ants. One of his running backs recently transferred. Poor Pete. He's down to only nine bluechippers at the position. He has so many good linebackers, the NFL drafted one of his reserves last spring.

We bring this up, Knute, because the season is getting ready to start, and it looks like another episode of Everybody's Chasing USC...
McKnight becoming USC's 'WOW' factor - New Orleans Times-Picayune
...Here's what happened:

Freshman Joe McKnight, Louisiana's gift to the Trojans from Curtis, caught a simple flare pass.

And, just like that, he was on his way to the end zone, leaving a 6-foot-3, 235-pound USC defender in the dust.

Suddenly, in Trojanland, it was WOW time...

...what made it a WOW moment out west was the player McKnight had bid goodbye.

It happened to be Keith Rivers,
the fastest linebacker on what is being billed as the fastest, most talented set of linebackers in USC history...
Trojans face difficult prospect of going wire to wire - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
...How do they handle that kind of talk -- and all those expectations?

"It's really not hard," fifth-year senior tailback Chauncey Washington said after practice the day the AP poll came out.

"This team hasn't done anything -- except practice," Washington said. "I'd take the two runs I had in practice any day over the polls."

Somewhere, Carroll must have been smiling...

...It's the theme that never changes for Carroll. Today is the only day that matters...
Sources: USC won't let Holland transfer to Florida - LA Daily News
USC will not grant a release to former wide receiver Jamere Holland if he wants to transfer to Florida, according to sources.

Holland...listed Florida as one of five schools on his release form. But USC will not grant the release because Holland's former coach at Taft High of Woodland Hills, Troy Starr, works at Florida as director of football operations.

Their close relationship apparently disturbs some within USC's athletic department who believe Starr and Holland probably communicated before Holland transferred...

...Holland's first choice is Oregon, but USC does not want him to transfer to another Pacific-10 Conference school. Holland could appeal to a university committee of non-athletic department employees...

Also, USC's Booty won't be shaken - LA Daily News
USC freshmen football players not hot on dorms - LA Daily News
Trojans' Johnson sticks to receiver - LA Daily News
[Streeter] Carroll goes by the book to teach football at USC - LA Times
...If he keeps this up much longer, we might be stacking his name next to John Wooden's.

But what you might not know, and what Carroll downplays publicly, even with his players, is this: Part of his approach comes from a Zen-laced primer on a sport far removed from the violent chaos of a Trojans football game.


Right, tennis.

The book is "The Inner Game of Tennis." It is full of teaching, Carroll told me, that inspires his life...

Also, Opener against Idaho is Holt's legacy - LA Times
Gable is protective of running back spot - LA Times
Trojans get Green back - LA Times