Friday, September 14, 2007

[Griffin] Huskers expect to make Big Red statement versus Trojans - ESPN
...Now, Callahan aspires to reach Nebraska's first Big 12 title game since 1999.

Even with all the subplots involved, Nebraska's coaching staff has tried to make Saturday's game not seem so big. But with all the surrounding hype, it's been impossible for some of Nebraska players to keep from getting caught up in the Trojans' visit.

"You see it on the schedule and the caliber of team that they are," Nebraska cornerback Cortney Grixby said. "It's hard not to look ahead. You try to focus on not doing it really doesn't matter. We just have to play."
Quotes to Note

"If No. 14 Nebraska beats No. 1 USC: A return to normalcy is declared in Nebraska, and Bill Callahan's appointment as seen as sheer genius...If Nebraska loses a close game, it's brushed off as a missed opportunity for a big upset. If it's a blowout loss, Callahan faces questions."
- Jake Curtis in the SF Chron on Bill Callahan's situation
"In Los Angeles a year ago, USC dismantled Nebraska 28-10. And the truth is, the well-stocked Trojans will be a handful for any team that lines up against them this fall. So it's understandable that Callahan is trying to keep the implications of this game in perspective."
- Herb Gould in the Chicago Sun-Times on Nebraska's public attitude
"This might be one of the only games I play in where fans will be watching what takes place on the line and not the skill positions."
USC's Washington wants one last hurrah - Daily Breeze
...At 6-foot and 240 pounds, Washington carried an NFL stature for a running back. He also had injuries in his past, like the nagging hamstring pull he lugged around during the 2006 season, and he had yet to endure an entire school year without clearing all academic eligibility hurdles.

As he has throughout his life, he turned to Dad. Charles Washington had already scraped together a year of tuition money to keep Chauncey in school after his grade woes cost him his scholarship.

"We had a deep conversation," Charles Washington said. "I had to really sit down and talk one-on-one, two or three times over the course of the week after the bowl game, because he was upset he didn't play that much...

Also, USC Looks Ready - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Receivers ready for the big stage - LA Times
Minutes after USC's football practice ended Thursday, three of the Trojans' leading wide receivers walked off the field together, excited about the opportunity they face at Nebraska this weekend.

Junior Patrick Turner could not hide it. Neither could sophomore Vidal Hazelton, nor redshirt freshman David Ausberry. Finally, a chance to play together in a big road game on a national stage.

"We're really looking forward to just going out there on the field and cutting loose," said Ausberry..."We want to do it all where everything works. We're going to run. We're going to pass. We're going there to win."...

Also, Trojan LB Maualuga's motor is always running - Lincoln Journal-Star
It's time Nebraska made move to restore power - Denver Post
It's Year Four on the Bill Callahan watch, Nebraska fans. Do you know where your former superpower is?

No one really knows, but you will Saturday night. Top-ranked Southern California visits Nebraska in one of the biggest litmus tests in Cornhuskers history. It's time Nebraska finally passed one. For the past six years, Nebraska has become nothing more than a good team with more spunk than talent. It's more of a pest than a power. What Nebraska fan wants his team to be merely a spunky pest?

Keep in mind the timing of Saturday night's game. There's usually a level of progress expected when new coaches take over, particularly former powers...

Also, It's do or die for coach Callahan - Daily Trojan
Trojans will head to Lincoln - Daily Trojan
[Curtis] Four schools could be making some big noise - SF Chron
How NU Can Beat USC - Big Red Network
Big Red report - Lincoln Journal-Star
Mays recalls start without a safety net - Daily Breeze
A year ago, Taylor Mays was a confident if not wide-eyed freshman pressed into service as a starting free safety when USC played its second game of the season against Nebraska.

When Mays faces the Cornhuskers again Saturday, this time he figures he'll know what he's doing...

..."It's crazy," Mays said after Thursday's practice. "It's night and day. Now I feel like I know where I'm at on the field, like I'm able to understand the offense and I'm able to make more plays on the ball, be more around the ball, and have a lot more confidence when I'm out there."

The emergence of...Mays enabled Coach Pete Carroll to have Pinkard play more of a role at cornerback. That plan went awry...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

USC's Harris a willing fill-in - OC Register
When USC safety Josh Pinkard went down with a season-ending knee injury this week, he wasn't the only one experiencing a flashback. The entire Trojans' secondary was steeped in déjà vu.

None more than cornerback Cary Harris, though.

Last season, Harris, a junior, stepped in when Kevin Thomas sprained his right ankle and missed the next two games. Thomas returned but then broke his foot against Arizona State and missed the rest of the season, leaving Harris to step into the starting cornerback spot.

This season, Pinkard was expected to move to cornerback from safety and presumably start over Harris. But, like last season, Harris now finds himself in the starting spot and will be on the field Saturday...
[Whicker] USC's Byers making a difference on the field - OC Register
Jeff Byers already has graduated from USC and is working on his postgraduate business degree.

That's MBA, not MIA.

The difference this year that Byers is sprinkling a little football in between all the term papers and essays.

That's the weird part about this game. Everyone hears about what kind of epoch-changing football player you were in high school, and now Byers is known as one of the Trojans' braniacs...
Still waiting for a Lucky breakthrough - LA Times
The subject of Saturday's game between USC and Nebraska -- and the hyperbole sparked by two nationally ranked teams drenched in football tradition -- does not get very far with Marlon Lucky.

"It's just like another game," he said. "It's nothing special."...

...Nebraska probably will need his best effort; the underdog Cornhuskers lost to USC last season because of the unfortunate combination of a conservative offense and a failure to run the ball effectively.

"Coach is going to bring it all out for this game," Lucky said. "Throw it, run it. We've got to find their weakness."...
What big game? Nebraska plays it cool - USA Today
Even though the 2002 Rose Bowl, which Nebraska lost to Miami in the Bowl Championship Series title game, really wasn't that long ago, the wait for the Cornhuskers' return to national prominence has seemed like forever.

That wait could be over if the No. 14 Huskers upset No. 1 Southern California on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb. The Trojans are the first No. 1 team to visit Lincoln since 1978. It's USC's first trip to Memorial Stadium since 1969.

If the Huskers were college football's team of the 1990s, winning four national titles, the Trojans have been this decade's runaway success story. But Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, 24-15 in his fourth season, downplayed the significance of this being a measuring-stick game for the Huskers: "Every game is an opportunity to get better, improve and showcase your program."...

Also, Five Keys To USC - Nebraska State Paper
'Mature' Huskers Ready to Face USC - Nebraska State Paper
No muzzles - Lincoln Journal-Star
Nebraska stars have score to settle with USC - Kansas City Star
Casualties of the Trojan wars - CNNSI
The three air-horn blasts signaling the end of practice at Howard Jones Field came about a half-hour earlier than usual on Tuesday.

Make that "Competition Tuesday," as it's known at USC -- a reminder to starters that they must earn their jobs every day; a goad to backups to push the guys in front of them.

It is this ethos that fuels the extraordinarily high tempo at Trojan practices. These guys aren't kidding when they say that, come Saturday, the game slows down for them.

The downside of coach Pete Carroll's full-go philosophy is that it tends to generate an inordinate number of casualties...
Big game means top recruiting - Lincoln Journal-Star
...Consider this: Of the nine recruits making Nebraska official visits this weekend, none has an official USC scholarship offer.

In fact, nobody on Nebraska’s current roster received an official USC offer.

Marlon Lucky garnered some interest, after he’d committed to Nebraska. The Trojans wanted Carl Nicks to consider a grayshirt. Maurice Purify eagerly awaited a USC offer that never came.

Conversely, more than 50 players who committed to USC between 2004 and 2007 had offers from Nebraska...

...“It just shows you,”...“the level that USC is at at this point.”...

Also, Insider: USC - Lincoln Journal-Star
California dreamin' of knocking off USC - Ft Worth Star-Telegram
Week 3: USC at Nebraska - Athlon Sports
Trojans quarterback Sanchez gets to log trip to Lincoln - Daily Trojan
USC quarterback Mark Sanchez finally visits Lincoln, Neb., this weekend - a trip the Cornhuskers denied him as a high school recruit.

Sanchez was extremely interested in Nebraska and planned a trip prior to his senior year at Mission Viejo High School, but the Cornhuskers canceled the trip after getting a commitment from another quarterback.

"I was disappointed but there's nothing I could do," Sanchez said. "I was a little bummed."

The quarterback who committed, Harrison Beck, left Nebraska and transferred to North Carolina State, where he threw five interceptions last weekend in his first start. Sanchez said he doubted Nebraska regretted taking Beck over him...

Also, Keller gets one more shot to beat USC - Daily Trojan
[Dodd] Keller buries past pain, focuses on revenge - CBS Sportsline
[Thomas] No. 1 question: USC or LSU? - Daily Breeze
There are thousands of miles still to be traveled, dozens of quarters yet to be played and countless replays left to sit through before season is history. Nevertheless, a juicy 1-2 battle for national supremacy is already shaping up.

It's No. 1 USC versus No. 2 LSU...the debate could rage on for weeks, if not the whole season.

...this could be a dream come true for the media, as well as fans across the country...

Also, [Wilner] Pac-10 has been class of conferences - SJ Merc
[Withers] The numbers show Pac-10 at the head of the pack - Seattle Times
[Wodraska] Believe the hype: Pac-10 looks like nation's best - Salt Lake Tribune
[Shain] Don't look now but the Pac-10 keeps surging forward - Miami Herald
Which league is BCeSt? - Birmingham News
Washington expects to play - LA Times
USC tailback Chauncey Washington was supposed to start the season opener against Idaho, but he suffered a shoulder sprain in the Trojans' final training camp scrimmage.

On Wednesday, the fifth-year senior returned to full-contact drills for the first time in three weeks and proclaimed himself ready to play on Saturday against No. 14 Nebraska.

"I'm ready," Washington said. "I feel fast."...
USC Game Will Show How Far Nebraska Has Climbed - Hartford Courant
Ever since Bill Callahan took over as Nebraska's coach in 2004, he has wanted to know one thing from his football team each week: How hard can it compete?

But even if the Cornhuskers (2-0) compete as hard as they can Saturday night in Lincoln, can it be enough to beat top-ranked Southern Cal? No, because there's still the issue of talent, and the Trojans have an overabundance. And, like Callahan, USC coach Pete Carroll is from the same school - leave it all on the field...

...The Cornhuskers may have knocked off defending ACC champion Wake Forest...but after looking at the film Callahan said the players were disappointed that they didn't play better, especially on offense...

Also, USC: "Now it counts" - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
[Miller] USC needs quality win at Nebraska - Seattle P-I
Red Report: Third-down trials - Lincoln Journal Star
[Smith] Weekend Forecast: No end in sight for those upsets - USA Today
[Rittenberg] BCS-busting field narrowed after Week 2 - ESPN
[Maisel] Trojans' schedule provides time to regroup - ESPN
Trojans report: Inside slant - CBS Sportsline
Former Colt Havili plays an important role at USC - Salt Lake Tribune
Everybody in college football seems to be enraptured with the squadron of heralded tailbacks assembled at glamorous and top-ranked USC...

...Yet Stanley Havili stands in front of all of them.

In fact, the former two-time all-state star from Cottonwood High School might be even more important to the No. 1 Trojans' dream of winning their third national championship in five years than any of the flash-and-dazzle poster boys who line up behind him...
USC's trend in takeaways and turnovers still troubling - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
As it's been for all seven of Pete Carroll's seasons at USC, yesterday was "Turnover Wednesday."

The Trojans, bigger, faster and deeper on defense than ever, stripped and punched the ball loose in drills, grabbed it out of the air and pounced on it on the ground, cradling it safely in their arms before settling in to watch the "ballhawk" highlight videos after practice.

Those practices are great. It's the "no-turnover Saturdays" that are the problem...

Also, Missed opportunities - LA Times
Fast, Furious USC Defense Has Few Soft Spots - Nebraska State Paper
[Shaughnessy] An expatriate in paradise - Boston Globe
He is a star in a land of stars, a nice Hollywood mix of Knute Rockne and Bob Barker.

University of Southern California football coach Pete Carroll needs more than an hour after practice to accommodate the daily interviews, autographs, photo requests, and meet-and-greet sessions. And you never know when Will Ferrell or Al Cowlings is going to be around.

Carroll coaches the No. 1 college team in the land and he's not roasted on sports talk radio anymore. The weather is great, the living is easy, and he probably has the deepest roster in the history of NCAA football. He's still pumped and jacked, and ready to put a positive spin on everything. He knows his Trojans are supposed to win, 45-0, every week and cruise to another national championship, which would be his third in seven years at [USC]...

Also, Carroll Excited to Invade Lincoln - Nebraska State Paper
Garrett confident USC won’t be sanctioned - OC Register
As an NCAA investigation into the Reggie Bush matter drags toward its two-year anniversary, officials in the USC athletic department are increasingly confident little will come of it.

In his first public comments on the matter, Athletic Director Mike Garrett said he is not worried about forthcoming sanctions. Neither Garrett or Coach Pete Carroll has been in recent contact with the NCAA.

“It’s more a feeling. If it was going to break and all this stuff was going to come out, it would have come out a long time ago,” Garrett said. “It could happen in the next three years or whatever, but I don’t think there’s a lot to it.”

The NCAA launched its probe in January of 2006 after a report in Yahoo! Sports that Bush’s family had accepted improper benefits from sports agents...
NU and USC will field bands as well as athletes Saturday - Omaha World-Herald
The Trojans from Southern California have played all over the world and in two Olympics.

They have appeared in movies, music videos, presidential inaugurations and other national events. Their unofficial fight song, produced with Fleetwood Mac, was a Top 10 hit.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard, their football team is pretty good, too.

The Huskers won't just be contending with the nation's No. 1 college football team...
[Plaschke] An extraordinary extra point is a reminder of who's missing - LA Times
...Living the dream, sharing the dream and, finally, playing the dream.

That's what happened in the season opener, during which 90,000 fans gave the Danelo family a standing ovation, followed by 10 players honoring him with the phantom extra-point play.

Dave Buehler, the kicker, thought of the play. Collins, the snapper, sold it to Coach Pete Carroll.

"I was like, 'Wow,' " Carroll said. "What better way to remember someone who impacted us so much?"

During the phantom play, staring back between his legs at the empty space that was once filled by his close friend, Collins began crying...
S.I. Yanks manager reportedly looking for college return - Staten Island Advance
Mike Gillespie, the longtime University of Southern California baseball coach and the manager of the 2007 Staten Island Yankees, has informed the team that he has no interest in returning to the Yankees in any capacity next year, and has applied for a coaching job back in the college ranks...

...Gillespie has applied for the current coaching vacancy at UC Irvine.

Coach Dave Serrano left UCI on Friday to accept the head-coach position at Cal State Fullerton. UCI made its first-ever appearance in the College World Series this year after a 47-17-1 season...

Also, [Whicker] Gillespie would be a good fit for UCI baseball

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

[Griffin] Victory over Trojans could put 'Huskers back among elite - San Antonio News-Express
...It will be the first time a No.1 team has visited Lincoln since 1978. And Callahan, who received a two-year contract extension last week, desperately needs a victory to gain some validation after a 24-15 start to his coaching tenure at the school...

...Maurice Purify sees the Trojans' visit as a matter of survival — whether the program builds its national credibility or not.

"They have to come into our house and beat us at home," Purify said. "You don't want nobody busting down your door and beating you up."

The 2-0 Huskers have soared to 14th in both national polls after early victories over Nevada and Wake Forest....

Also, Trojans are large in Nebraska visit - OC Register
For USC, soft part of schedule is over - VC Star

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Southern Cal blue chips put on rush party - USA Today
Tempting as it is to say that...Southern California has a tailback-by-committee approach...that wouldn't be entirely accurate.

It's more like a tailback convention.

All one needs to attend is a personal invitation from USC coach Pete Carroll. And, of course, be a former high school All-American. This year, that has limited the field to nine.

That's right, the Trojans have nine former prep All-Americans lining up for a shot at the tailback spot...

...What it is, is astonishing...
"Take their legs," Slauson says - Lincoln Journal Star
One game tape you can be sure the Huskers are looking at this week is that of last year's Oregon State-USC game, won by the Beavers.

Husker offensive lineman Matt Slauson talked some about that game at Tuesday's press conference.

“Our biggest goal is to take their legs,” Slauson said. “Oregon State did well with that. USC came out and they were flying around when you’re watching in the first quarter. Then watching in the fourth quarter, it’s a completely different team.”

Slauson admitted that last year, some Huskers probably went "scared" into the game. He said that fear is gone. He says they learned they can play with USC from that game...

Also, Slauson: USC game 'huge' for Huskers' future - Lincoln Journal Star
[Sipple] Show them respect, but don't overdo it - Lincoln Journal-Star
Nebraska Corner Calls USC A Modern-Day Dynasty - KWTX-TV
USC intimidation factor is gone, Slauson says - Omaha World Herald
Huskers play it cool as they prepare for Southern California - KC Star
USC cornerback Pinkard is sidelined - LA Daily News
USC's secondary was dealt a potentially critical blow Monday when cornerback Josh Pinkard was believed to have torn ligaments in his knee, according to sources.

Officially, USC coach Pete Carroll said Pinkard was out for the Nebraska game and would need more examination by team doctors...

...But sources said Pinkard tore ligaments in his left knee, the opposite knee he tore ligaments in last season. Pinkard redshirted last year, so this injury would be costly because he would have just one year of eligibility remaining.

He was considered so impressive in training camp at cornerback that he switched from safety and was named the starter ahead of Cary Harris, who started 11 games last season...

Also, USC's Pinkard out for season -- again - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Pinkard to again miss the season - LA Times
USC's Pinkard is out for the season - OC Register
Keller gets second chance against USC - Lincoln Journal Star
...Sam Keller emerged from the locker room and into the southern heat with a middling stat line: 24-for-41, 258 yards, one touchdown, one fumble, two interceptions...

...There were media types already converging on him to ask about the next game, that one against Southern California...

...Keller said he’d like to enjoy the win for the night, but eventually he started answering questions about the No. 1 Trojans anyway.

The senior had played them, after all. And for one half at least, he had those Trojans scared.

This was back in 2005, before Keller transferred to Nebraska...

Also, Square peg Keller comes full circle - LA Times
[Haskin] Forget what Callahan says; this game is huge - Topeka Courier-Journal
...“This is a big game because it’s our next game,” Callahan deadpanned. “We’ve been real consistent in that regard. That’s our approach. That’s how we’ve always approached each week’s contest.”

A quick search on eBay by the Lincoln Journal Star reveals why this isn’t just another game. One package of four tickets, with parking pass, is going for almost $900. The asking price for a skybox with 26 tickets is $30,000. A two-bedroom downtown condo is fetching $1,600 for a two-night weekend stay.

Those aren’t numbers Callahan wants to share with his team. He wants to numb the Huskers into believing the Trojans put their pants on like anyone else, the length of Tom Osborne Field will never change, and fans will wear the usual shades of red...

Also, Callahan: NU will take typical approach this week - Loncoln Jounral Star
Cornhuskers have final shot at putting Big 12 over the top - The Oklahoman
Big 12 is hoping for fall of USC - Tulsa World
USC 'turned a switch' after swoon last year - Omaha World-Herald
How good is the Pac-10? Pretty darned good - Eugene Register-Guard
[Parsons] Nebraska, USC fans see red; or is it cardinal? - LA Times
Maualuga helps a 'Husker - OC Register
USC linebacker Rey Maualuga said he reached out to his former high-school teammate, Nebraska wide receiver Maurice Purify, when he heard of Purify’s arrest for assault last off-season.

“I just told him to keep his head up and accept what’s coming to him, just excel after that,” Maualuga said. “He’s been doing a very good job. I got to see him catch a ball or two (Saturday) and I was just excited.”...

...In two incidents earlier this year, Purify was found guilty of driving while intoxicated, assault, disturbing the peace and hindering arrest. A judge sentenced him to a year of probation and a $1,250 fine...

Monday, September 10, 2007

USC stable full of tailbacks - Lincoln Journal-Star
This goes beyond the typical by-committee description.

What Southern California’s top-ranked football team has with its stable of tailbacks is gravel-pit depth.

Looking at the Trojans’ depth chart, which includes six Parade All-Americans, it’s easy to see why their coaches would have a tough time choosing.

“You can give the ball to any one of us and we’re going to do something with it. That’s how stacked we are,” said C.J. Gable...“If one of us goes down, it’s not like ‘Oh, we’ve got them now.’ We’ve got another running back...

Also, Early-morning practice teaches some lessons - LA Times
Freshman center O'Dowd to work on making calls - LA Daily News
USC question answered - OC Register
What began as an upper-case, exclamation-point worry for the USC football team became a small-letters concern after three weeks of fall camp. After one game, it’s in fine print.

Replacing the most productive wide receiver combination in school history suddenly doesn’t look so impossible as the Trojans head into next Saturday’s game with No. 16 Nebraska.

Playing the...part of Dwayne Jarrett is redshirt freshman David Ausberry. Doing his best to imitate of Steve Smith is sophomore Vidal Hazelton. And allowing it all to happen is the team’s most versatile and tested wideout, Patrick Turner...

Also, USC receiver Turner makes a return - LA Daily News
Trojan receivers are waiting for chances to shine - Omaha World Herald
[Sipple] This won't cut it against USC - Lincoln Journal-Star
...Nebraska no doubt showed toughness in holding off Wake Forest.

It was a nice win...A good win. It’s difficult to complain too loudly...It’s easy to feel good about a ...program that has won 4 of its last 5 true road games.

So why were all of those Big Red fans gnashing their teeth...Saturday?

The that Nebraska probably doesn’t win...if injured Demon Deacons quarterback Riley Skinner is playing.

Another part of the answer sits next to my computer: It’s the 2007 Southern Cal football media guide. It shows a handful of the Trojans’ top players with their arms folded and sleeves rolled up...They already look like NFL players...

Also, Can NU move chains vs. USC? - Lincoln Journal-Star
Southern Cal Brings Show Time To Lincoln - WOWT-TV
Callahan Finds 'No Visible Signs of Weakness' on USC - Nebraska State Paper