A bit of a break here today to check out the most interesting names, notes and numbers in the USC preseason fact package. There's a lot here to look at.
*** NO. 18.8: That's the average ranking for the Trojans among 12 national preseason predictors, down a bit from where the "way-too-early" predictors had USC before and during the spring. Not sure why the drop except for the fact of prognosticators checking out USC's schedule or maybe USC not selecting a quarterback out of spring. ESPN's No. 11 selection the tops, USA Today and Phil Steele had USC the lowest at No. 25. None of the pickers had USC out of the Top 25, however.
*** 9 of 12: USC is however, the choice to win the Pac-12 South by nine of the 12. Athlon joins USA Today and Phil Steele in naming the Trojans second in the South, joining the Pac-12 media voters.
*** 10 TO WATCH: A total of 10 Trojans have made 15 preseason watch lists for postseason awards led by the three of Adoree' Jackson, who hasn't really worked at his football since early in the winter before the start of the track season, named for the Bednarik and Thorpe Awards and Nagurski Trophy. Others on multiple lists: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Maxwell and Biletnikoff), Cameron Smith (Butkus and Nagurski) and John Plattenburg (Allstate Good Works and Wuerrfel). Clay Helton is one of 24 named to the Bobby Dodd Trophy list for head coaches.
*** WHEN 18 IS 14: Or is it the other way around? Clay said at Pac-12 Media Days that USC would have 18 practices before a break when he would name the quarterback and put out the two-deep two weeks before the Alabama game. But a check of the USC Preseason Notes has only 14 listed practices before the big decision day. And not a single two-a-day there. Turns out USC isn't listing any of those two-a-days since the morning practice will be essentially a walk-through with no media or public viewing availability. And for the two weekends (Aug. 20-22 and Aug. 26-29) when USC is listed as practicing just once in seven days and taking the entire Aug. 20-22 weekend off and practicing just once in the four days Aug. 26-29, well, that isn't exactly correct. There will be one walk-through practice Aug. 20-22 and two walk-throughs Aug. 26-29 so no long breaks as it might appear. And finally, no official morning practices. Start times for all practices are 3, 3:15, 3:30, 4 and 5 p.m.
*** SALUTING TROY (UH OH): Moving it up a day from the usual Saturday to Friday, it's still pretty much the first anniversary of Steve Sarkisian's microphone meltdown and the second anniversary of Josh Shaw's apartment window dive when Salute to Troy hopes for a better outcome Friday, Aug. 19.
*** NOT QUITE A FULL HOUSE BUT . . . : USC expects "the deepest team in a decade" with 80 scholarship players (out of 85 allowed) expected to report for Fall Camp Thursday, Aug. 4. In that number will be 26 Trojans who played as true freshmen the last two seasons, including 15 who have started and six named Freshman All-American. Among the 78 squadmen from last season, including 59 who saw game action with 33 from the season-ending two-deep, are 34 Trojans who have started a game.
*** 3 OF 4 NEW GRAD ASSISTANTS: The lone holdover from last year is former NFL lineman Mike Goff, who took over the O-line for the Holiday Bowl. Joining Mike on offense is Prentice Gill, a San Jose State GA last year while on defense are former Stony Brook assistant Brett Arce and onetime Cal D-lineman Austin Clark.
*** JUJU JUMPING UP?: Should he catch another 89 passes this season, JuJu Smith-Schuster (with 143 career catches) would pass some big names on the USC all-time career receiving list with what would be a total of 232 catches bettering R. Jay Soward (161), John Jackson (163), Keyshawn Johnson (168), Mike Williams (176), Nelson Agholor (179), Steve Smith (190), Johnnie Morton (201), Kareem Kelly (204), Keary Colbert (207) and Dwayne Jarrett (216). He would not pass, at least not with 89 catches, No. 1 Robert Woods' 252 or No. 2 Marqise Lee's 248. To do that, JuJu would have to catch 110, something Woods did with 111 in 2011 and Lee did with 118 in 2012. Not impossible but in a run-first, balanced offense with a deep wide receiving corps and a spread-it-around philosophy, the Trojans would have to run way more plays than in recent seasons for that to happen.
*** REALLY? 2015 USC DEFENSE DID THAT?: While it may not have seemed that way in USC's pretty much blitz-free defensive scheme, the Trojans were third nationally with five defensive TDs, 11th in turnover margin (plus 0.8 a game), 18th in fourth-down conversion defense (.381) and 21st in sacks (2.6 a game). And that was pretty much without trying. Who knew?
*** USC D ALSO DID THIS: 2015 Trojans allowed a staggering 400.8 total yards of offense a game (second only in history to 2014). Hmmmm, seeing a pattern here. The 149.3 rushing yards allowed a game were the second-most since 2002 and the 25.7 points allowed second most since 2001.
*** 235 STRAIGHT: Screw the NCAA-mandated vacated records, USC has scored in a school-record 235 games.
*** 6 FROSH FOR THE END ZONE: In 2015, six true freshmen found the end zone but the really impressive part of that was that three of them -- Cameron Smith, Osa Masina and Rasheem Green -- did so on defense joining Ronald Jones, Aca'cedric Ware and Tyler Petite.
*** FUMBLE-ITIS? . . . NOT: USC lost just five fumbles, good for ninth in the nation and tops in the Pac-12 last fall and not one was coughed up by a running back.
*** CONTRADICTORY: USC finished 11th in the nation in passes the Trojans had intercepted with seven (worst in the Pac-12) and yet were 11th in the nation in completion percentage (.667) good for third in the Pac-12.
*** 3 for 100: For the first time in history, a USC team had three players who averaged more than 100 total yards a game led by JuJu's 107.8 yards, then Adoree's 102.6 and Justin Davis' 100.2.
*** LOVING THEM SOME OLYMPICS: USC has won four national titles (1928, 1932, 1972 and 2004) in Summer Olympics years and seven of 10 bowl games in those years. And in a further note, two USC football lettermen won Olympic gold medals -- the great Fred Kelly (1914-15-16) in the 1912 high hurdles and Ken Carpenter (1934,'37) in the 1936 discus.
*** 3 NEUTRAL, 4 NFL: The season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. will mark USC's third straight game in a neutral setting after the Pac-12 Championship game at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara and the Holiday Bowl in Qualcomm in San Diego to end last season and when the Trojans return home for the Utah State game at the Coliseum, it will mark four straight games in NFL stadiums now that the Rams are back.
*** 7 POST-GRADS HERE: When Utah graduate transfer Stevie Tu'ikolovatu arrives officially, he'll join Max Browne and Taylor McNamara in grad school and four more Trojan graduates who are pursuing second bachelor's degrees in Zach Banner, Chad Wheeler, Leon McQuay III and Steven Mitchell Jr.
*** 12-LETTERED TROJANS: Daniel and Josh Imatorbhebhe become only the third and fourth USC players ever with a 12-letter, non-hyphenated surname. No Trojan has ever had a longer name. The first two were Dean Lingenfelter in 1973 and Michael MacGillivray (1998-2001)
*** TRI-COLORED TROJAN: Not sure if this has ever happened before. USC placekicker Matt Boermeester "greyshirted" in 2012 when he didn't enroll full-time in college, then earned a USC scholarship in 2014 as a :blueshirt" starting with the second day of practice and counting on the initial 2015 scholarship award list before "redshirting" that 2014 season. How patriotic is that -- red, white AND blue? Nice.
*** MOST INTERESTING TROJAN CONNECTION: Lots of candidates here but we have to think it's quarterback Sam Darnold's late grandfather Dick Hammer, who lettered in basketball at USC in 1952 and on the Trojans' Final Four team in 1954 before going on to become a member of the USA 1964 Olympic volleyball team and then went on to films and television work as well as in commercials with a stint as the Marlboro Man while also a Captain in the LA County Fire Department.
Not a USCFootball.com member? Sign up now and you'll get a seven day FREE trial! Join the Peristyle Family and get all the great information from USC football practices, Trojan football games, access to the Peristyle and all of the premium recruiting updates on USCFootball.com! Become a member today!