USC Preview

The two-time defending national champion Southern California Trojans make their way to Tempe for an early Pac-10 showdown with Arizona State on Saturday. The Trojans are comfortably on top of the college football world while the Sun Devils are looking to make a statement of their own and put the program back under the national microscope.


2005 Record: 3-0 (1-0 in Pac-10)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll (4th season)
Offensive Coordinator: Lane Kiffin (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Pete Carroll (4th season)


*Projected starters

QB Matt Leinart (Sr)
FB David Kirtman (Sr)
TB Reggie Bush (Jr)
WR Dwayne Jarrett (So)
LT Sam Baker (So)
LG Taitusi Lutui (Sr)
C Ryan Kalil (Jr)
RG Fred Matua (Jr)
RT Winston Justice (Jr)
TE Dominique Byrd (Sr)
WR Steve Smith (Jr)

USC brings an extremely high powered offense averaging just under 60 points a game. The Trojans typically bury their opponents in the third quarter, where they are outscoring teams 63-7, so the ASU defense cannot afford to come out of the lockeroom at the half sluggish.

Leading the offensive attack is senior quarterback Matt Lienhart. The accurate left-hander is 28-1 as a starter and has completed 59 of his 87 attempts this season. Lienhart is averaging 343 yards per game and has already thrown for 10 touchdowns in only 3 games. The Heisman winner would be the first to tell you he couldn't do it all without the excellent protection he has up front. Southern Call's offensive line is among the best in the nation. Protecting Lienhart blind side is 6'6" Winston Justice. Freshman All-American left tackle Sam Baker is back on the other side of the line, along with two very good guards on the inside, Mesa product senior Taitusi Lutui and junior Fred Matua.

The Trojan backfield is an embarrassment of riches with two explosive runners, juniors Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Bush is a slippery open field runner that can go the distance anytime he touches the ball. White is a superb runner between the tackles and is very effective at wearing down defenses. Both have 4 touchdowns on the ground thus far, with Bush averaging 111 yards per game while White has been averaging 80 yards. 2004 Heisman finalist Bush is especially dangerous catching out of the backfield and has gone to the end zone twice in 10 pass catches. Sophomore Desmond Reed is a third option and has seen some action in all 3 games. Blocking for the tailbacks are two fullbacks, senior David Kirtman and junior Brandon Hancock. Both of them are passing options out of the backfield. Kirtman has one touchdown.

Lienhart has an excellent 1-2 punch to throw to at receiver. Junior Steve Smith and sophomore Dwayne Jarrett are playmakers and can stretch the field. The 6'5" Jarrett is Leinart's favorite target in the end zone and has accounted for 7 of the 10 scores through the air. It's Smith who has the gaudy yardage, however. In 3 games, Smith has 407 yards and 1 touchdown, which makes for a 136 yard per game average. Tight end Dominique Byrd can make the clutch catch for first down yardage. The senior has 6 catches for 62 yards. Junior Chris McFoy and true freshman Patrick Turner have been relatively quiet thus far with only a pair of catches for each, although Turner has scored one touchdown.


*Projected Starters

DE Frostee Rucker (Sr)
DT La Juan Ramsey (Sr)
NT Sedrick Ellis (So)
DE Lawrence Jackson (So)
LB Thomas Williams (So)
LB Oscar Lua (Jr)
LB Keith Rivers (So)
CB John Walker (Sr)
FS Josh Pinkard (Sr)
SS Darnell Bing (Jr)
CB Justin Wyatt (Sr)

The high-powered offense of Arizona State will go up against a reshuffled Southern California defense. Personnel losses like All-American defensive linemen Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson up front and Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed at linebacker have made way to a few young faces this year. However, don't mistake the youth factor for a totally depleted defense. Pete Carroll's group has only given up 5 touchdowns. This defense may give up yards in the middle of the field but is especially stout in the red zone.

Defensive end Frostee Rucker is off to a great start this year. The senior has accrued 18 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The other bookend to Rucker is sophomore Lawrence Jackson, who is just as skilled at getting into the backfield. Jackson has 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks to his credit. Sophomore Alex Morrow and junior Rashaad Goodrum round out the depth on the ends. The interior of the line has sophomore Sedrick Ellis at nose tackle and senior LaJuan Ramsey at the other tackle spot. The two have combined for 17 tackles, of which 5.5 were for a loss. Backup Travis Tofi has 3 tackles while Fili Moala has just one stop in the backfield.

With linebacker being a question mark coming into '05 for the Trojans, the emergence of Oscar Lua in the middle is a pleasant surprise. The junior leads the team in tackles with 19. The lone starter from last year's squad, Dallas Sartz, is currently sidelined with an injury which has opened up a starting spot for sophomore Thomas Williams. On the other side of Lua, sophomore Keith Rivers has been solid. Rivers is second on the team in tackles with 18 stops. Senior Collin Ashton has provided a nice spark off the bench with 8 tackles and one forced fumble. Of the much celebrated recruiting haul at linebacker this spring, Rey Maualuga has looked promising. Two of the freshman's 4 tackles were for a loss.

Safety Darnell Bing is the anchor of the Trojan secondary but was dinged up in the opener at Hawaii. Bing has 4 stops and has returned an interception for 65 yards. The junior has looked good so far in pass coverage with 4 pass break-ups. Perhaps the biggest emerging performer on defense is safety Josh Pinkard. The sophomore leads the group with 13 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Senior Scott Ware, with 8 tackles, is another option at Free Safety. The cornerback group is relatively so short on numbers right now that wide receiver William Buchanon has begun practicing at corner to fill some depth. Senior Justin Wyatt is the most experienced of the group. On the other side, John Walker, also a senior, has recorded 14 tackles and 2 pass break-ups. The Ting twins, Ryan and Brandon, may also see some time in the secondary, as well as freshman Jim Abbott at corner.


K Mario Danelo (So)
P Tom Malone (Sr)
KR/PR Reggie Bush (Jr)

With such an efficient offense, Southern Cal hasn't had to turn to their specialists too often. Punter Tom Malone is among the nation's best but has only punted the ball a measly 3 times. The senior is averaging 38 yards and has nailed one of those inside the 20 yard line. Kicker Mario Danelo has only 2 attempts on field goals. His only make was from 36 yards out and his miss was from beyond 40 yards.

Everybody in college football knows how dangerous Reggie Bush is on returns. So far this season, he has yet to break off a huge return. His longest punt return was for 24 yards. He's averaging 17 yards on kick returns. Fellow running back Desmond Reed has returned 4 kicks and has had a little more success. The sophomore is averaging 41 yards on his attempts and has already broken off an electrifying 51 yard return.

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