L.A. Is Ramping Up To A USC 12 And 0 Glow - UPDATED 1-01-2008
A Crowded House - USC tailbacks Stafon Johnson (13), Joe McKnight (4), Hershel Dennis (34), Chauncey Washington (23), Allen Bradford (21) and fullback Stanley Havili (31) take a break during a recent practice. Coach Pete Carroll says he doesn't know right now who'll play at tailback when the season begins on Sept. 1. Image Credit: Wally Skalij / LAT
L.A. Is Ramping Up To A USC 12 And 0 Glow
This morning, we at MAXINE, went out to get the Sunday paper. At the corner station/convenience store, there, next to a pump, was parked a black Nissan 350Z convertible with a USC inscribed vanity plate surrounded with a USC Alumni license plate frame.
We decided to strike up a conversation with the owner about the prospects of USC’s football team this season and for our money, the Trojan prospects at a 12-0 season couldn’t look any better.
On the offense, nine high school All-American running backs are lined up to vie for the vaunted SC Tailback position. Seniors Chauncey Washington, Desmond Reed, and Hershel Dennis – Sophomores C.J. Gable, Stanton Johnson, and Allen Bradford - Freshmen Joe McKnight, Brodrick Green, and Marc Taylor – all could start for any other college but choose to be here at Southern California. Combine that with the fact that returning at quarterback, John David Booty has the inside track at earning the Heisman Trophy and becomming the third USC passer in six seasons to do so.
The gentleman in the “Z” though said it best … “As good as the Offense appears to be, the Defense is even better!”
This from College Football News via Scout.com –
2007 USC Preview - Defense
By Richard Cirminiello - CollegeFootballNews.com - Posted Jul 24, 2007
What you need to know:
The Trojan offense is good. The Trojan defense is scary good.
Backed by a Who’s Who of future first-day NFL Draft choices, USC is ready to unleash the nastiest and stingiest unit of the Pete Carroll era.
Led by Sedrick Ellis at the nose, Keith Rivers at middle linebacker, and Terrell Thomas at cornerback, the Trojans boast seven players capable of making a run at All-America honors in 2007.
Yeah, a few more sacks and takeaways would be nice, but this is as close to a flawless unit that there is in the country. From front to back, they’re aggressive, experienced and fast enough to create a swarming effect on the ball carrier.
Although the Trojans will give up yards to teams playing from behind, scoring meaningful points on them in the first three quarters is going to be a year-long nightmare.
Trust us on this … afternoon drivetime radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt will have a lot to trash once the season gets started. His jocular brand of Ohio loyalty and Big Ten Conference pride will have no boundaries once college football’s current "winningest" team takes the field rated AP pre-season Number One for an incredible third time in four years.
USC Head Coach, Pete Carroll’s program built its reputation on a flashy offense. Image Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press
And this from Associated Press Via ESPN -
USC No. 1 in preseason AP poll
By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer - August 18, 2007
NEW YORK - After a season of chasing, Southern California is again the team being chased. And that's just the way coach Pete Carroll and the Trojans like it. For the third time in the past four years, USC begins the college football season No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25.
"It's exactly where we hope and expect to be," Carroll said. "It's a symbol of what we're all about."
Southern California received 62 of 65 first-place votes and 1,622 points from a panel of media members. USC easily outdistanced No. 2 LSU in the poll released Saturday. The Tigers received two first-place votes and 1,511 points. They haven't started a season ranked this high since 1959, when they were preseason No. 1.
No. 3 West Virginia received the other first-place vote. The Mountaineers have never been ranked higher in the preseason. No. 4 Texas and Michigan round out the top five, and defending champion Florida is sixth.
USC has been the country's top program since 2002, going 59-6 with two national championships and a near-miss. This season, the Trojans expect to walk away from the BCS national championship game in New Orleans with the crystal football.
"That's what we're here for. We're here to do it better than anybody has ever done it before," Carroll said. "That's the single thought. That's what drives us. If that's the case, you want to be No. 1 forever."
For the Trojans, this is the 82nd time they've been No. 1 in the poll. Only Notre Dame (95), Oklahoma (95) and Ohio State (88) have more.
Ohio State, last year's preseason No. 1 and the loser of the national title game to Florida, is No. 11 to start the 2007 season.
The Trojans are preseason No. 1 for the sixth time overall, tying Nebraska for third most. Only Oklahoma (nine) and Ohio State (seven) have been top-ranked in the preseason by AP more often.
These Trojans have another star quarterback in John David Booty [following in the Heisman Trophy footsteps of predecessors Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart].
"He's a natural-born quarterback," Carroll said. "He's got five years of experience. He's been through everything you need to be good."
Booty should have plenty of options, with about a half-dozen high school all-American running backs on the roster and a slew fast and talented receivers. But it's the defense that makes this USC team special.
The Trojans have potential All-Americans all over the field, and perhaps the nation's best linebackers in Brian Cushing, Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga.
"They're big and fast and smart and they know what they're doing and they love to play the game," Carroll said.
Up front, defensive end Lawrence Jackson and tackle Sedrick Ellis are the stars. In the secondary, Terrell Thomas is a lock-down cornerback and sophomore Taylor Mays has drawn comparisons to such great USC safeties of the past as Dennis Smith and Troy Polamalu.
How good can this defense be? Just ask Michigan, which had its vaunted offense smothered in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1.
"We have a lot of experience and tremendous speed," Carroll said. "We'll find out how good they are when we start playing."
If USC is as good as most believe, chasing down the Trojans could be too much to ask.
UPDATE 10-06-2007, a live blogging effort at MAXINE:
First Half - USC vs Stanford -
USC - 9 to Stanford - 0
I am going to join in with the fans at the Colisueum ...
I don’t feel so bad just now ... Florida had scored first with a field goal and intercepted LSU.
Until now - SC starts the third quarter with two quick turnovers and allows Stanford a touchdown.
End of the third quarter USC - 16 to Stanford - 7 --- Stanford at USC’s goal getting ready to score.
Start of the fourth quarter - Stanford scores 16 to 14.
LSU scores and makes it Florida - 10 to Lsu - 7.
Florida driving and on the LSU 10 yard line.
USC scores on a 46 yard play --- USC - 23 to Stanford - 14
Florida on a third and goal play --- Florida - 17 to LSU - 7
LSU drives the ball smartly with a series of successful pass plays. After a false start on the 21, LSU stalls and this brings up a field goal attempt - MISSED.
End of the half --- Florida - 17 to LSU - 7.
Stanford finds a passing game and drives the ball to the USC 9 yard line - field goal attempt - made --- USC - 23 to Stanford - 17.
5:43 left in the game at the Coliseum --- USC starts on their own 35.
USC faces a third and 16 - Interception and Stanford sets up with a first and ten at the Trojan 45 with about 2:45 left.
Interference USC - Stanford first and ten - ball on the USC 30 with 2:18 remaining.
2:07 - first down at the Troy 19. HOLD brings up a second down and 20. Third and 20 Stanford passes to an end that had stepped OTB before the catch at the two. Fourth and twenty, Stanford completes pass down the middle for a first and goal - 1:39 to go on the nine yard line.
Spot Challange by USC - Still first down for Stanford
LSU receives from Florida kick-off and begins with a good run and is about the Florida 44 yard line.
Stanford has a fourth down and goal at the five and a half with 0:54 seconds remaining. Stanford gets an illegal substitution FLAG - five yards - at the ten and a half yard line. Stanford passes - Complete - add six points. PAT GOOD!
USC - 23 to Stanford - 24
:49 seconds left - USC’s home win streak, and more, in jeopardy.
John David Booty faces a fourth and sixteen at their own forty yard line - Stanford intercepts JDB!
Turn out the lights ... the party’s OVER!
Stanford - 24 / USC - 23
What LSU does or doesn’t do, at this point, doesn’t much matter. Currently, LSU scores on their opening drive --- Florida - 17 to LSU - 14
There will NOT be a 12 & 0ooooh Glow in LA this year!
End Of Year Update January 1, 2008
USC beats the Big 10 runner-up, Illinois, 49 to 17 and it was pretty impressive. Troy beat the only team to win against the current BCS #1 team, Ohio State!
That makes six consecutive eleven win seasons for the Pete Carroll USC Trojans with two Rose Bowl wins in a row for John David Booty and the third in five years for SC – FIGHT ON!
What comes after Dynasty? You won’t see the Trojans ever score forty-eight points and still lose to a 4 and 4 team as LSU did this 2007 season. Defense? Does LSU actually have a defense?
Here’s to seeing Ohio State takin’ it to LSU on Monday January 7, 2008 so that the Trojans can meet up with (and beat) a true champion to begin our 2008 season.
Oh, yes … I will eat my words again if I have too, but I am betting that I won’t have too. See you all next Monday night/Tuesday morning!
Happy New Year!
USC already has one win for the year … that is more than LSU or Ohio State can say for about six more days.
Quarterback John David Booty #10 of the USC Trojans "strikes-up" the band after defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini in the "Rose Bowl presented by Citi" at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2008 in Pasadena, California. USC defeated Illinois 49-17. Image Credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images
This excerpted from AP via YAHOO! Sports –
(6) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17
By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer - January 1, 2008 - 10:00 pm EST
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- This would have been a perfect Rose Bowl for the USC Trojans, except for the one part they couldn't control.
They couldn't pick their opponent.
The sixth-ranked Trojans routed Illinois 49-17 on Tuesday and showed the rest of the country that, yes, maybe they are the best team in college football right now.
Certainly, a better test could have come against Georgia or Virginia Tech, or maybe next week against Ohio State in the national title game.
But the Rose Bowl wanted a Pac-10-Big Ten matchup, and the national title game didn't want Southern California. So, it wound up being USC-Illinois in the Granddaddy of 'Em All, and the Trojans made the Illini pay.
"I would love to play one more," defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis said. "I don't think any team in the NCAA could beat us right now. Not Ohio, not LSU."
Freshman tailback Joe McKnight finished with 170 of USC's Rose Bowl-record 633 yards. The 49 points tied a record, too, and the blowout gave the Trojans 11 wins for an unprecedented sixth straight season.
They have arguably been the country's best team over that span, and might have been the best this season, too. Lacking the playoff that coach Pete Carroll favors or the trip to the title game he lobbied for, the Trojans (11-2) will have to take this overwhelming display in Pasadena.
"Everything that was out there for us, we took," Carroll said. "The rest of it is up for discussion. But would I love to still be playing right now? Sure would. We'd go out there any time, any place, any venue and throw our football out there and see what we could do."
Booty threw for 255 yards and three scores to set a Rose Bowl record with seven career TDs.
USC linebacker Rey Maualuga had three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble for a defense that allowed only 79 yards in the first half.
McKnight, hyped as USC's next Reggie Bush, finished with 125 yards rushing and 45 yards receiving, and his broken play in the third quarter wasn't the only time the Trojans made something crazy and unexpected happen.
Running back Desmond Reed #23 of the USC Trojans was so open on a cross-the-field pass play that scores SC's second TD, Desmond plants his feet just before the goal line, then flips into the end zone in celebration of his touchdown against the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first quarter during the Rose Bowl. That move set the tone of the game, and netted the Trojans a fifteen yard penalty on the ensuing kick-off. Image Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
It started in the first quarter, when Booty lateraled to Garrett Green, who is listed as a receiver-quarterback, and Green threw crossfield to Desmond Reed for a 34-yard touchdown strike and a 14-0 lead. Reed was so open, he could've walked into the end zone, but instead did a leaping front tuck. Stuck the landing, too, but got six points instead of a perfect 10.0, and also was docked a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
The USC Trojans Song Girls perform after the game with the Illinois Fighting Illini during the Rose Bowl presented by Citi at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2008 in Pasadena, California. Image Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Meanwhile, USC was said to be playing the best football of anyone when the regular season ended, and didn't do anything to debunk that theory.
Carroll, a proponent of a playoff, lobbied for the Trojans to have LSU's spot in next week's national title game, the first to include a team with two losses. But a 24-23 loss to 41-point underdog Stanford in October was USC's undoing.
The Trojans did, and earned a chance to celebrate -- or maybe wonder about what might have been.
"Let the argument go out there for the people battling with the BCS process to figure this thing out," Carroll said. "I have no answer for them. I just wish we could keep going."