- Two BCS Championship Game appearances (win over Oklahoma, and a loss to Texas)
- Two national championships, including the Associated Press 2003 national championship and 2004 national championship.
- Seven consecutive Associated Press Top-4 finishes
- A record six BCS bowl victories
- A record seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances
- A record seven consecutive years as Pac-10 Champions or Co-Champions
- A national-record 33 consecutive weeks as the Associated Press's No. 1-ranked team
- A winning record of 97–19 (85.6%)
- A winning record of 16–2 against traditional rivals Notre Dame and UCLA
- A NCAA record of 63 straight 20-point games
- Twenty-five 1st team All-American
- 53 players selected in the NFL Draft, including 14 in the first round.
- Three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer, 2002; Matt Leinart, 2004; Reggie Bush, 2005)
- Four Top-5 recruiting classes
- Win streaks for home games (34) and Pac-10 home games (22).
- In 2007, USC became the first NCAA FBS team to achieve six consecutive 11-win seasons
- In 2008, USC added an unprecedented seventh consecutive 11-win season
- A 28–1 record in the month of November
- Only team in history to win three consecutive Rose Bowl Games
We have him in the NFL now, so we'll be watching closely to see how he translates to the pro game up here in the northwest, but it just won't be quite the same.
That said, well, let's face it - it's STILL SC we're talking about. The LA Coliseum, Tommy Trojan, Heisman winners, Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell, George Lucas, Song Girls, etc, etc, etc.
Even with some super-scary rumors of probation, perhaps as early as next week, if history is any indication they will dust themselves off and recover from the damage.
2009: 9-4, including an awfully surprising 5-4 record in the PAC-10, tied for fifth with Cal. After a 6-1 start, including an impressive victory at Columbus over the Buckeyes, it all fell apart with a 47-20 loss at Oregon. They would finish 3-3 over their last six games, as injuries and youth played a big part in their late-season struggles. They would at least go on to win the Emerald Bowl over BC. But, the clear lowlight of not just the season, but the entire Pete Carroll era? It has to be the loss to Stanford.
After Gerhart's third touchdown, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh even attempted a 2-point conversion, but USC stopped the try at the goal line.
Harbaugh's explanation for trying to pile on a couple more points: "I just honestly thought there was an opportunity coming off the ball, the way our backs were running and the way we were playing."
Said Carroll: "I don't know what they were thinking with that, but in that situation, they get to do whatever they want."While the run of PAC-10 titles was basically coming to an end with the loss to Oregon a few weeks prior, this game was the final indicator that it was the end of an era.
LAST TIME VS. WSU: SC was coming off a 16-13 loss to UW, and not in a very good mood. WSU came to the Coliseum, and SC pretty much handled the Cougs, winning 27-6. The Trojans would race to a 20-0 first quarter lead, then kind of sputtered from there. The Trojans would outgain WSU 403-229, but overall were pretty sloppy, with 13 penalties and a couple of turnovers. From the WSU perspective, it was the most feel-good 27-6 loss in some time, as that game would be the debut of frosh QB Jeff Tuel. With that, a new era began in Pullman. Tuel would complete 14-of-22 passes for 130 yards, in one of the most anticipated QB debut's in recent WSU history. We ripped some of that game to Youtube, so check it out:
USC FANS ARE: Ready for a new era to start with Lane Kiffin, but a little uneasy at the change. Let's face it, Kiffin is NOT Pete Carroll. I mean nobody is exactly Pete Carroll, but he certainly isn't the same kind of guy. But Kiffin isn't exactly a newbie to all things SC either. He was an assistant under Carroll from 2001-2006, during some of their best seasons ever, so he knows the ropes.
And they have assembled a strong coaching staff around Lane, including the nation's best recruiter in Ed Orgeron, as well as longtime defensive mastermind, Monte Kiffin. And while the fans are also a little nervous when it comes to the NCAA sanctions, they are pretty much ready for whatever comes next. The probation thing has been looming for years, with the Reggie Bush investigation taking forever to wind down. Combined with the OJ Mayo case thrown into the mix, it doesn't sound great as to what the NCAA is going to do to USC athletics. But the fans, they are finally at the cusp of finding out their fate, and it's like OK, let's just do the time and be done with it.
PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: It looks like 12 total starters are back, six on both sides of the ball.
OFFENSIVE SYSTEM: It should be pretty familiar to those of you who have watched them over the years, as Lane Kiffin will continue the pro-style SC offense with John Morton as his passing game coordinator. Expect a lot of pro sets, with the fullback and tight end on the field quite a bit.
'09 OFFENSIVE RATINGS: 55th in the nation in total offense, averaging 389.1 yards per game. They were 44th in rushing offense, at 166.8 yards per game, and were 54th in passing with 222.3 yards per game. Kind of a "meh" offensive attack all the way around in '09 if you want to know the truth.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Some pretty good ones have moved on from 2009, including WR Damien Williams, TE Anthony McCoy, and top running backs like Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson. But while he struggled a bit down the stretch last year, the top remaining offensive player has to be QB Matt Barkley.
And anyone who's watched him play can see that he has all the tools. Check out some of his throws against Notre Dame for the video evidence:
Good size, strength and poise in the pocket, with enough zip on the ball for your standard deep sideline routes and slant patterns into traffic, but also a really nice ability to throw the deep ball with outstanding touch and accuracy. His strong play continued into this spring under Kiffin, where he was virtually flawless throughout practices and scrimmages throughout the session. A huge sophomore year out of Barkley? Wouldn't be a shocker!
'09 DEFENSIVE STATS: A surprising 40th in the country in total defense, allowing 340.5 yards per game. 39th in the country in rushing defense, at 128.2 yards per game, while finishing 48th in the country in passing yards allowed at 212.3 yards per game.
DEFENSIVE SYSTEM: With Monte Kiffin coming in, the system should be what he's best at - the Tampa Cover 2 defense in that classic 4-3 look. Heck, Kiffin invented the Tampa Cover 2 in his 26 years of NFL coordinating, what else would you expect them to do?
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: This one was a little difficult, but not for the reasons you might think. Really, there are a good quantity of high-quality defensive players returning, but there may not be a Taylor Mays or Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing in the mix, you know what I mean? But if we have to choose just one guy, let's go with middle linebacker Chris Galippo.
TOP THREE POST-SPRING QUESTIONS:
1) WHO'S THE BIG-TIME RECEIVING THREAT? One thing that seemed lacking last year, at least from a distance anyway, was that SC seemed to lack that explosive OH MY GOD deep threat. Damian Williams had a great season, catching 70 balls for 1,010 yards and a team-best six receiving TD's. But Williams is now gone, as is the seriously talented tight end, Anthony McCoy, who led the team with a fantastic 20.8 yards per catch average (really, that's amazing from a tight end!). With that, Ronald Johnson is back, second on the team last year with 34 catches and three TD's. But is he the guy to take over as, you know, THE GUY you have to worry about every time Barkley takes a seven-stop drop and looks deep down the field? He was banged up a little towards the end of spring ball, but he was reportedly dominant when he was on the field. And the guy is capable of big things - Johnson averaged 17.3 yards per catch in '08, with eight TD catches. But in '09, the average fell to just 11.1 and the three TD's. Stanley Havili returns as the second leading receiver, but he's a fullback, hardly a guy who can stretch the field, although he did have three TD catches in the spring game. The talented Brice Butler comes back after an impressive 20 catches as a true frosh, and David Ausberry will be back for his final season, but at 6-4, 235, he's more of your underneath guy vs. stretching it vertically. The senior-to-be Johnson will need to step up big-time this fall.
2) INEXPERIENCED SECONDARY A PRIMARY CONCERN? It looks that way, at least right now anyway. The headline loss is of course, Taylor Mays, the NFL draft pick who is still pissed off that Pete Carroll passed on him in the draft, and now calls San Francisco home. Mays is a big loss from the secondary, not just because he was the four-year starter and the team leader with 96 tackles. But Mays could flat-out lay the wood at safety, with highlight reel after highlight reel of his ridiculous hits on receivers who dared to come over the middle. Losing that monster presence in the middle of the field could be a lot tougher than people imagine.
But overall, four total starters from last year are gone, and that isn't a good thing when you are facing some prolific PAC-10 passing offenses in the upcoming year. But maybe it's not that bad? Per Ted Miller, Shareece Wright is back after missing '09 due to academics, but he did return for the Emerald Bowl. He could be regarded as one of the top corners in the PAC-10 coming into 2010. TJ Bryant and Brian Baucham both got experience at corner last year, and will contend for starting opposite Wright. Safety looks a little dicey in trying to replace Mays, as Drew McAllister looks like the top candidate after recording 15 tackles last year as a backup. Anyway, overall it's going to be a lot of new starters back there. HOWEVER, it must be said that SC's defensive line is loaded. They should really bring the heat up front this year, and as many of you already know, a great pass rush can help mask some deficiencies in the secondary, especially early in the new season when everyone is getting comfortable in their new roles. Maybe it's not that big of a deal after all?
3) OF COURSE, HOW'S THAT SCHEDULE? Not bad. They do open with three of their first four games on the road, including at Hawai'i, at Minnesota and at WSU in the first month of the season. They only get the four PAC-10 home games, but three of them are against some of the better projected PAC-10 teams this year, vs. Oregon, Cal and UW. The end of the season looks a little tough, with road games at Arizona, at Oregon State, home vs. Notre Dame and then at UCLA to end the season. But overall it doesn't look too bad, especially the out-of-conference slate. The Minnesota game could be interesting, but let's face it, there isn't a trip to Ohio State, Auburn, Nebraska or Arkansas like there has been in recent years.
WSU FOOTBALL BLOG SEZ DOT-DOT-DOT STYLE......I think the entire PAC-10 is still surprised by what happened to SC last year, this here blog included. The offense was down, but that was expected when you see an NFL QB like Mark Sanchez move on to NYC and the reins are handed to a true frosh. And the defense saw a lot of quality NFL talent move on, including Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga, etc. But still, the defense, wow! If you were wondering, yes, it was a big drop in '09 compared to where they were in '08, where SC led pretty much everyone with just 222 total yards per game, 87 per game on the ground and just 134 yards in the air. They still led the PAC-10 in scoring defense, allowing 19.8 points per game, but that was still a drop from a league-best 9.0 allowed in '08!.....The Stanford and Oregon losses were especially troubling. The defense allowed an unfathomable 613 yards to the Quacks, which is amazing in itself. But did you know that they had not lost a game by more than a touchdown since a 27-16 loss to Notre Dame in 2001, Carroll's first season with USC? And the 47-20 final score in Autzen was their worst loss since 1997, when they were crushed 35-7 by ASU.....As great as the defensive line looked all spring, and as strong as it should be next year, they did suffer a key loss. Starting nose tackle Christian Tupou will miss 2010 with a knee injury, so things aren't exactly ideal up front.....Maybe the biggest "BUZZ" player of SC's spring was frosh running back Dillon Baxter. Considered the most dynamic tailback on the roster, and most "Reggie Bush-like" in his skillset, Baxter oohed and ahhed them in the spring game, where he ripped off a PLAYSTATION style run with a couple of 360-degree spins on a long TD run. Look for SC to get him the ball in a variety of ways next year, including in the slot and on special teams.....Of the six offensive starters coming back, three of them are on the offensive line in center Kristopher O'Dowd, right guard Butch Lewis and right tackle Tyron Smith. But that crucial left side, the "blind side", has to be replaced, as left tackle Charles Brown and left guard Jeff Byers have both moved on to the next level......Speaking of the next level, USC continues to lead the PAC-10 in NFL draft picks. USC had seven players picked in this year's draft, and that now makes 67 players selected in the last 11 seasons. In the Pete Carroll era, there were 60 players selected in nine NFL drafts......Some of the best SC sites, blogs and such are ConquestChronicles.com, part of the SBNation network; TrojanWire.com, a strong SC blog; The OC Register SC blog; Scott Wolf's InsideSoCal.com blog; and finally, Scout.com's SCPlaybook.com site.
For previous 2010 Spring Fish Wraps, go here:
Spring Fish Wrap - Oklahoma State Edition
Spring Fish Wrap - Montana State Edition
Spring Fish Wrap - SMU Mustangs Edition
That's it for now. Enjoy your Thursday, and as always, GO COUGS!