Two days later and some thoughts keep recurring. This was a fantastic group of seniors. It is also the first solid recruiting class that completed the Pete Carroll process. The only classmate (junior) to have left this class for the NFL was Dwayne Jarrett. A bucket load of them could have declared early last year but decided to return for their senior season. This class had 5 BCS appearances, 5 Pac-10 Championships, and two National Championships.
John David Booty will make a mark in the NFL, he will be a player at the next level, history will have to decide what that mark is. Speaking of history, Booty is the record holder for touchdowns in consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. He holds a seven-touchdown record. The previous record was five.
Eligible Early Declarations
Both Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga have stated they will return for their senior seasons. Cushing loves school and should return. Maualuga reiterated in the locker room that he would return for next season, that he would never be able to experience college life again. He also stated he wants to win a national championship. Balance this with the fact that he is requesting an evaluation from the NFL.
Chilo Rachal also said he is considering the NFL. Pete Carroll responded by saying Rachal is taking his time on the decision and should return. Carroll further stated he expects all eligible juniors to return.
It's All About the Ball
At midseason, Pete Carroll was at a loss as to why the turnover ratio was lacking this year. He had said the team practiced turnovers/ball protection the same as it has in years gone past. As the season wore on, turnover margin improved. The forced turnovers by the Trojans in the Rose Bowl were poetry in motion. By chance, the Trojans had the opportunities in this game to create turnovers. We will see more of that in the future.
Post Game Fun
Energy levels on the field, in the locker room and at the victory party were at fever pitches. Hershel Dennis and his family were ecstatic on the field. Rose Teofilo, Hershel's mom cried with joy, as she said, "I was so happy for my boy, when he got his touchdown!" Hershel Dennis Sr. stated that he was excited and admired his son for all that he's been through and that he stuck it out at USC.
Meeting up with Jody Adewale was fun. He was thrilled about his last carry, for 17 yards, he joyously proclaimed, "Did you see me? Did you see me? Coach Carroll gave me the ball and I thought I was going to get the touchdown!" Adewale was overjoyed and thankful the coaches got him into the game.
Tiny Malu had a grin from ear to ear and was wearing flower leis that were given to him on the field. A contented Matt Leinart stated, "This is a great win for the program."
All the Talk About Next Year
Hopefully there is a lesson learned from last year, when the Trojans disposed of Michigan and were immediately claimed the preseason consensus number one team in the country. Next year's Trojans should know preseason hype means nothing.
Getting a Faster Start
For whatever reason, Pete Carroll teams become unstoppable at the end of the season. Look for next year to be different. Given the group of guys coming back next year, the Trojans will get a quicker start.
Going Out on a Limb (Sort of)
Last season the preseason hype was that the Trojans were the best in the country, along with LSU. Given that, many pundits predicted two losses for both teams. And many pundits were correct. Next season will be different, look for USC to go undefeated or suffer, at the most, one loss. Bank on it.
An Enjoyable Season
The blip and the burp against Stanford and Oregon notwithstanding, this was a fun season for Trojan Football. How the team responded at the end of the season, coupled with a great victory at the Rose Bowl was a wonder to behold. There was no better way to end the season than dominating performances over ASU, UCLA and Illinois.