Saturday, October 06, 2007

USC's Johnson is looking for a break - LA Times
USC receiver Ronald Johnson returned kickoffs last week as a fill-in for injured C.J. Gable.

Now, with Gable out for the season after abdominal surgery, the freshman from Michigan intends to make the position his own when the second-ranked Trojans play Stanford today...

...Johnson returned three kicks in USC's 27-24 victory over Washington, one for 31 yards. Johnson thought it could have gone farther.

"It was a poor decision I made," Johnson said. "I should have kept it outside, so that's something I've been working on."...

..."I think I'll be able to break one this game," he said...

Also, USC heavily favored over Stanford - LA Times
Keys to the game - LA Times

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fix-it time - OC Register
...The Cardinal may as well be a backdrop, like one of those seaside cliffs in a sports-car commercial. The way USC is approaching this game, it's not about matching up with an athletically inferior team. It's about fixing the leaking engine, its offense, that sputtered away from Seattle last week.

After watching John David Booty sail ball after ball over receivers' heads, USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian called for a sit-down with his senior quarterback. Sarkisian and Booty watched film of that Washington game. Both swear they never once had to cover their eyes...
Trojans report: Notes, quotes - CBS Sportsline
--Could senior DT Sedrick Ellis be the top pick in the NFL Draft? Could be, said USC coach Pete Carroll.

"Sedrick is playing great football. He's really playing big-time ball," Carroll said. "He's dominating his area, he's making teams double him a bunch. We're moving him around some to try to keep him from that. He's just at the top of his game, and I've heard from a number of scouts that have visited us that he's one of the top players at his position in the country, and that makes you a No. 1 pick if you're a D-lineman.

"That's a lot to live up to, but that's what they're talking about."...

Also, Trojans report: Inside slant - CBS Sportsline
Trojans report: Strategy and personnel - CBS Sportsline
Towering Troy looms - Stanford Daily
...Pritchard will have to overcome his inexperience if the Cardinal is to pull off what would be a major upset. The third year sophomore is 1 for 3 for 10 yards in three appearances for his career...

...External factors are also at work against Stanford. Carroll’s teams rarely play two bad games in a row; USC followed up last year’s loss at Oregon State with a 42-0 blasting of Stanford...

...Then there are Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh’s offseason comments...

...with the trouble Stanford’s defense has had stopping the run, USC’s offense may have no trouble grinding down the Cardinal. And with a new quarterback leading a hodgepodge unit on offense for Stanford, the talented Trojan defense should be drooling...

Also, [Ratto] LAY THE 40 1/2 ... - SF Chron
USC expects to bounce back - Daily Trojan
3 things to watch for other than the score - Daily Trojan
Week 6: Stanford at USC - Athlon Sports
Washington ready for heavy work day - LA Times
Chauncey Washington finds it a little hard to believe.

USC's tailback corps is significantly thinned by injuries, but the senior is not among the hobbled.

Asked Thursday if he considered himself lucky, Washington chuckled and said, "I don't even want to think about it because it might happen to me."

Washington, who was plagued by injuries throughout last season and the start of this one, will make his third consecutive start...
Guard Heberer ready to move up to first team - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
There he was, standing in a five-man group with USC's Sam Baker, Jeff Byers, Matt Spanos and Drew Radovich as the Trojans' second-team offensive line went through its practice paces Thursday.

A week ago, redshirt freshman guard Zack Heberer was one of those second-teamers.

No longer.

With Chilo Rachal spraining his knee at Washington, Heberer has been running with the first team all week and likely will get the call with against Stanford on Saturday at the Coliseum...
[Goe] USC at head of the class - Portland Oregonian's time to issue the Pacific-10 Conference's early-season progress reports...

...Strengths: Defensively as good as there is in college football, with big-timers Taylor Mays at safety, Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker, Sedrick Ellis at nose tackle and Lawrence Jackson at defensive end. The offense is capable, with veteran quarterback John David Booty, lots of big receivers and fast running backs. Uh-oh: There are injury problems on an offensive line that will be patched together with bailing wire and chewing gum for this week's game against Stanford. No vertical stretch to the passing game. Grade: A...
Trojans' Carswell considered at cornerback - LA Daily News
USC coach Pete Carroll said Thursday he considered moving wide receiver Brandon Carswell to cornerback because of injuries in the secondary.

"If in an emergency we needed someone the last couple weeks, we looked at it, but it's not permanently," Carroll said.

Three of the Trojans' top cornerbacks are injured. Josh Pinkard tore knee ligaments last month, Cary Harris dislocated his shoulder two weeks ago and Shareece Wright pulled a hamstring last week.

Carswell played cornerback in high school and also tried the position in summer workouts at USC. He is expected to redshirt this season but his name surfaced in coaching meetings if the cornerback crisis becomes desperate...
McKnight's day is coming fast at USC - Daily Breeze
Is it showtime yet?

USC can't wait for the unveiling. The Trojans have talked and talked, but so far, it's only been baby steps for Joe McKnight.

Soon, perhaps Saturday, we'll see McKnight walk the walk. And what a dazzling stroll it promises to be.

It seems that all anyone knows to this point is that almost every time McKnight's name pops up, it's accompanied by two words: Reggie Bush.

A soft-spoken kid from River Ridge, La., the 6-foot, 180-pound McKnight possesses flat-out speed plus moves that might break an opponent's ankle. Hmm, we've seen that act before...
USC RB Reed's perseverance might pay off - OC Register
If all of USC's tailbacks had Desmond Reed's attitude, finding the right backfield mix would be a lot less stressful on the coaches.

Then again, not all of them are fifth-year seniors trying to fight their way back onto the field after potentially career-ending injuries.

"I've always been the type who feels you can't be selfish. That prepares me for anything to happen," Reed said. "When I came back from my knee surgery, I knew it was going to be tough to get playing time and get the coaches' attention and get the plays I deserve, but you have to stick with it.

"I guess that's my personality. I always stay strong."...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Stanford's Harbaugh keeps talking - OC Register
The last words Pete Carroll heard from Bill Walsh were asking him to cut Jim Harbaugh some slack.

Walsh left two long messages on Carroll's cell phone over the summer. He preached forbearance despite some oddly provocative comments Harbaugh made about USC.

Carroll was on vacation at the time and never got a chance to return the calls. The legendary former San Francisco 49ers and Stanford coach died July 30 of leukemia.

"He got the point across," Carroll said...
Smooth transition for Morton - Daily Trojan
When Pete Carroll comes calling, it's hard to say no.

John Morton found this out during the NFL playoffs,
working for the New Orleans Saints as an offensive assistant.

USC needed to replace Lane Kiffin, who had accepted the head coaching position of the Oakland Raiders.

Steve Sarkisian, newly promoted to offensive coordinator, began pushing for Morton to become wide receivers coach.

"We were looking for a guy that could be more than just a position coach, [who] could have a real hand in what we were trying to do offensively and could help us get better," Sarkisian said...
Defense follows leader - LA Times
USC cornerback Terrell Thomas is not planning a speech this week.

None is required...

...Thomas...has come back from three surgeries to help lead a unit that ranks 15th nationally in total defense heading into Saturday's Pacific 10 Conference game against Stanford at the Coliseum.

Thomas has made several big plays this season, including two that figured prominently in the Trojans' three-point victory over Washington last week in Seattle.

The player nicknamed "T2" terminated one Huskies threat in the third quarter by stripping the ball from a punt returner and recovering the fumble...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Gable to have surgery, miss rest of season - LA Daily News
USC sophomore tailback C.J. Gable does not like surgery, but he is scheduled to undergo an operation as soon as this week on his chronically strained groin and will be sidelined for the rest of the season...

...Gable will meet with USC coach Pete Carroll today. He was told he could play the rest of the season in pain, but he could redshirt this season if he undergoes surgery.

Meanwhile, sophomore Stafon Johnson remains day-to-day with a deeply bruised foot...

Also, Gable might need surgery - Daily Trojan
[Gasendo] Will C.J. Gable's absence adversly affect USC's offense going forward? - Daily Trojan
[Saver] Will C.J. Gable's absence adversly affect USC's offense going forward? - Daily Trojan
Gable to have season-ending surgery - LA Times
Surgery to end Gable's season - LA Times
Tough decision for USC's Gable - OC Register
Gable's Season Over - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
O'Dowd, USC's Salpointe alum, dislocates kneecap - Arizona Daily Star
Harbaugh, Carroll pull punches - SF Chron
...Stanford wide receiver Evan Moore said USC doesn't need the Harbaugh-Carroll spat as motivation.

"They don't need bulletin- board material," Moore said. "I mean, let's be honest: They're a very good team...I doubt it's the centerpiece of their conversation down there."

Carroll, in fact, had complimentary words for Harbaugh on Tuesday, saying he is "an incredible competitor."...

...the USC coach couldn't resist a little jab, joking to the Los Angeles media: "He has not checked in with me about any of my career moves. I think I'll hear from him later in the week."

Also, Harbaugh, Carroll downplay verbal jousts - SJ Merc
Carroll disregards Harbaugh's early jabs - Oakland Tribune
Carroll takes a few shots at Harbaugh - LA Times
Seizure KOs Ostrander - SF Chron
Stanford might have thought regrouping after Saturday's 41-3 loss to Arizona State and opening the week as an overwhelming underdog to USC were its biggest problems.

Then came the news that starting quarterback T.C. Ostrander will miss Saturday's game against the No. 2-ranked Trojans in Los Angeles after having a seizure in a Palo Alto restaurant Sunday afternoon...

...Ostrander, who is in his first (and final) season as the Cardinal's starting quarterback, is disappointed to miss the opportunity to play against USC.

"I was looking forward to this game for a while," Ostrander said. "It's always a great challenge to play a team that someone calls the best and it's a fun atmosphere down there and to a certain extent, I feel like I'm letting my team down."...

Also, Ostrander sidelined for week after seizure - SJ Merc
Ostrander out vs. USC - Stanford Daily
Seizure Sidelines Stanford QB - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Inexperienced Stanford quarterback to get start against USC - LA Times

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

[Feldman] Death Valley tops list of scary venues for opposing teams - ESPN
After surveying coaches from around the country, the scariest places to play is this week's list topic...

...4. USC, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The L.A. Coliseum isn't one of those raucous places, but the Trojans seem so much sharper at home, even more so than the home-field difference you see from other teams. You rarely see Pete Carroll's guys come out sluggish as they often do when they head on the road to Pac-10 sites. USC hasn't lost at home since 2001, an impressive feat given they don't have any tough rivalry games at neutral sites...
Trojans report: Strategy and personnel - CBS Sportsline
With big Sedrick Ellis in the middle and a deep corps of athletic linebackers, USC is tough to run against. Washington, even with running quarterback Jake Locker, managed just 100 total yards on the ground. USC is ninth nationally against the run...

...RB Chauncey Washington -- He and Stafon Johnson seem to have emerged as the lead backs in USC's rotation...

...LB Rey Maualuga -- Arguably the hardest hitter on the defense...

Also, Trojans report: Notes, quotes - CBS Sportsline
Trojans report: Inside slant - CBS Sportsline
USC loses deep threat - OC Register
The plan going into this fall was to wear opponents out with short and medium passes to big, powerful receivers like David Ausberry and Patrick Turner, then take occasional deep shots to speed guys like Travon Patterson and Jamere Holland.

So much for that plan.

Holland was dismissed from the team...Patterson elected Monday to have season-ending surgery...

...Suddenly, USC's receiving corps is far from the fastest in the Pac-10. It might not even be in the top five...

Also, Injuries to O'Dowd and Rachal will sideline duo for at least three weeks - Daily Trojan
Injuries continue to pile up - LA Times
Carroll laughing off Harbaugh's comments - LA Daily News
With little reason to get excited about Stanford, there will probably be a focus on new coach Jim Harbaugh, who famously said last spring that USC coach Pete Carroll would leave after this season.

But nothing Harbaugh said could compare to former USC coach John McKay's comments about Stanford following a 30-21 victory in 1972.

"I'd like to have beaten them by 2,000 points," McKay said. "They have no class. They're the worst winners we've ever come up against."

Carroll laughed Monday when told of McKay's comments...

...But what about his own controversy regarding Harbaugh?

"Everyone would like me to be upset but I'm laughing," he said...
Cassel throws praise at Palmer - Boston Herald
Matt Cassel never doubted that Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer would become an elite NFL quarterback.

Cassel was Palmer’s backup at Southern California...

...“I think his transition from USC to the NFL was due to his great physical ability and seeing the field well,” said Cassel, who backed up Tom Brady when the Patriots and Bengals met last night in Cincinnati. “That’s why he’s one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. We had a great relationship in college...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Carroll still a believer in his team - OC Register
For the first time since January, an Associated Press poll came out that did not have USC at the top...

...USC coach Pete Carroll figures voters just paid attention to the details.

"The reason it would happen is because of the way we played, I would guess," Carroll said...

...He said he remains confident in his team.

"It doesn't really matter until the end, but I'll tell you, in my mind, I have no ideas about playing for No. 2," Carroll said...
Trojans win on flag day - LA Times
...USC's defense committed several of the penalties, but linebacker Rey Maualuga led a unit that mostly kept Washington quarterback Locker in check.

With tailbacks Stafon Johnson and Chauncey Washington both rushing for more than 100 yards, the Trojans outgained the Huskies, 460 yards to 190. But that did not appease Carroll.

"We were so horrid, it's hard to watch,"
he said...

...Carroll has taken extra time during the week to warn his team about the crowd at Husky Stadium, but the Trojans' linemen still had trouble with the noise...

Also, Sleepless in Seattle - Daily Trojan
USC tries its best to give this one away - Daily Trojan
Trojans able to win despite themselves - LA Times
USC rewind and fast forward - LA Times
'We were so horrible' - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
They lost three starters to injuries. They lost their poise. They lost the football.

They lost everything but the game.

The Trojans' trip to Washington was a flawed performance that included 16 penalties for 161 yards, two interceptions, a fumble, a blocked punt and a missed field goal...

..."It was weird," Booty said after struggling to get a grip on a ball he felt "was dry and slick at the same time," and hitting on just 20 of 37 passes...

..."Weird" doesn't begin to describe it. In a first half that could only qualify as "30 minutes in the Hades that was Husky Stadium,"...

Also, USC escapes Washington with 27-24 win - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Trojans offer no explanation for struggles at Washington - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Sloppy win takes USC down a notch in AP poll - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
USC survives mistakes to top Washington - LA Daily News
USC escapes with victory over Washington - LA Daily News
Trojans just glad for win - LA Daily News
Trojans' Wright jolts Locker - Everett Herald
...On the opening possession...Locker was guiding the Huskies down the field on a promising march. On a third-and-12 play, he broke out of the pocket and scrambled along the right sideline, darting out of bounds just after passing the first-down marker.

Where he ran squarely into Trojans cornerback Shareece Wright.

It was probably the most jarring hit of Locker's football life. Locker stands 6 feet, 3 inches and is listed at 225 pounds, while Wright is 6-0 and 180, but it was the Husky QB who was dazed by the collision.

"But I think that hit out of bounds rocked him pretty good," UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said. "I don't know if he recovered from that."...
[Goe] 'Terrible night,' but USC still wins - Portland Oregonian
...The Trojans showed no excitement as they came off the field. There was no exuberance, no adrenaline-fueled celebration. It was a tough day on the job, one they were glad to see behind them.

There was nothing to be excited about. The Trojans looked calm, weary and more than ready to leave...

...When the season is over, if the Trojans stay in the national championship picture, this could be one of their most significant victories. To go far, to win a national title, the best teams win when not at their best.

"A lot of teams lost today," Carroll said.

And, USC found a way to win.

Also, [Withers] Trojans didn't look like No. 1 - Seattle Times
‘Horrid’ USC still somehow prevails - Tacoma News-Tribune
Trojans No. 1, but hardly perfect - The Columbian
USC's offensive line showing cracks - LA Daily News
As any old-school coach will tell you, the offensive line is the foundation of a football team.

Suddenly, top-ranked USC is showing some cracks.

The Trojans lost two offensive linemen to injuries on a single play late in the first quarter, as right guard Chilo Rachel hobbled to the sideline with a sprained knee while center Kristofer O'Dowd was sprawled on the turf with a dislocated kneecap...

Also, Injuries continue to plague Trojans - LA Daily News
O-line shuffled because of injuries - Daily Trojan
Spanos's return is timely - Inland Empire Press-Enterprise
Several players sustain injuries - LA Times
[Jayne] Even in defeat, UW proves something - The Columbian
...One misstep can alter the national championship landscape, and Washington was waiting with its picks and shovels.

"I believe my words at the beginning of this week were, 'We do not have to play a perfect game. But, when we make our mistakes, we can't let our chins drop,' " Willingham said.

College football is a world is which moral victories are eschewed by coaches and downplayed by players. Yet there are real lessons to be learned from taking the nation's No. 1 team down to the wire...

...the score tells us that the Huskies played with panache.

"I think we understand that we are a good team," quarterback Jake Locker said. "We don't let little mistakes here and there get us down."...

Also, Upset of USC eludes Huskies again - The Columbian
Huskies were their own worst enemy - Everett Herald
Dawgs drop upset - Everett Herald
Close, but no solace for UW - Tacoma News-Tribune
‘Little mistakes’ loom large against vaunted Trojans - Tacoma News-Tribune
Huskies flirt with upset, eventually fall to top-ranked Trojans - Washington Daily
[Kelley] Faced with USC's messy play, UW couldn't clean up - Seattle Times
...For much of Saturday night, USC looked DOA.

The Trojans committed penalties as if Al Davis was both the offensive and defensive coordinator. They played Oakland Raiders football...

...They jumped offside. They hit Huskies out of bounds. They held. They grabbed face masks. They false-started.

Washington gained 190 total yards on its own. USC gave it another 161 in penalties...

...Booty threw a pick that Mesphin Forrester returned 54 yards...

...Some games don't make much sense. This was one of them...

Also, Big plays help keep Huskies close to USC - Seattle Times
[Condotta] Huskies stay close to No. 1 USC, but mistakes hurt - Seattle Times
[Condotta] Battered Locker gets a week off - Seattle Times
Locker's education proving painful - Seattle P-I
Several theories for Locker's wildness - Seattle P-I
[Liesse] USC stars getting schooled in NFL - Peoria Journal-Star
...What struck me was the braggadocio. Because Mr. White is struggling to beat out a horse of a different color who was cut and brought back by the Titans, Chris Brown.

And because he's from USC, which might again be No. 1 in the country but isn't exactly flooding success stories into the NFL during the dynasty of Pete Carroll.

Before the national titles started, Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu left SC to great NFL success, granted. But have you checked the seasons of all those household names since?...

...Where have you gone, Anthony Munoz, Marcus Allen and Lynn Swann?...