ABC If the USC football team wants inspiration heading into 2013, it needs only to look back to 2002. That was the last time Troy entered a season coming off a 6-loss campaign. That Trojan squad rebounded by going 10-2, capturing the league title and winning a BCS bowl. The 2013 USC team certainly has the ingredients to put together a similarly successful run. The Trojans return 16 starters (8 on offense), including the kicker, from 2012 (they also welcome back a 2-year starter who was sidelined last fall with an injury). In all, 79 squadmen are back from last year, including 61 who saw action in 2012, 57 who lettered, 34 who were on USC’s season ending 2-deep and 30 who have started at least once in their career. Add to that a small (13 players), but highly-ranked, class of recruits… continue USC Spring Media Release | USC Spring Media Guide (pdf) | USC Spring Football Practice Policy (pdf)
ABC ENROLLLED MID-YEAR QB Max Browne 6-5 210 Sammamish, WA Skyline RB Justin Davis 6-1 195 Stockton, CA Lincoln WR Darreus Rogers 6-2 195 Carson, CA (originally from 2012) DT Kenny Bigelow 6-3 280 Elkton, MD Eastern Christian Academy S Su’a Cravens 6-1 205 Vista, CA Vista Murrieta S Leon McQuay III 6-2 185 Seffner, FL Armwood CB Chris Hawkins 5-11 170 Rancho Cucamonga, CA SIGNED LETTER-OF-INTENT RB Ty Isaac 6-3 215 Joliet, IL Joliet Catholic WR Steven Mitchell 5-10 175 Mission Hills, CA Bishop Alemany OL Khaliel Rodgers 6-3 300 Elkton, MD Eastern Christian Academy OL Nico Falah 6-5 275 Bellflower, CA St. John Bosco LB Michael Hutchings 6-1 215 Concord, CA De La Salle LB Quinton Powell 6-0 190 Daytona Beach, FL Mainland USC Media Release with Newcomer Bios
ABC Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 21-7 victory on Monday in front of a crowd of 47,922 at Sun Bowl Stadium. Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third made it 14-7, and he found Orwin Smith for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth. Barkley, the first three-time captain in team history, injured his right shoulder in a loss to UCLA and was not cleared to play. He clapped as the Trojans (7-6) took the field to face the Yellow Jackets. Max Wittek tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Silas Redd in the second quarter, but also threw three interceptions. Redd also had 88 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Trojans struggled to contain Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets (7-7) rushed for 294 yards on 63 carries while stopping a seven-bowl losing streak. David Sims had 99 yards on 17 carries, but he got plenty of help. Zach Laskey added 60 yards on six carries, Lee had 52 on 10 carries and Washington had 16 attempts for 46 yards for the No. 4 rushing team in the nation. Sims also caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Vad Lee in the first quarter. Lee and Washington combined to go just 5-for-10 passing, but two completions went for TDs passes and two more covered 26 and 49 yards and keyed two of the team’s scoring drives. High-powered USC finished with 10 first downs and eight punts as Georgia Tech shut down the Trojans’ big-play threats all afternoon. Wittek had four passes deflected at the line. His second interception came in the Tech end zone with 6:22 to go and the last came inside the Tech 10-yard line in the game’s final minute. He was 14 for 37 for 107 yards.
ABC After a 2-year NCAA imposed bowl ban, USC will be back in the post-season with its New Year’s Eve midday appearance in the 79th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl to take on ACC foe Georgia Tech. Both programs have impressive bowl traditions, as this is the 49th bowl trip for the Trojans and 41st for the Yellow Jackets. It is also the third Sun Bowl berth for both squads, although Georgia Tech played in El Paso last year and USC hasn’t been there since 1998 (that also was the last time Troy played a game in the state of Texas). It is the first meeting between the teams since 1973, and just the fourth ever. It is also USC’s fourth game on Jan. 31 (all have been bowls in Texas). USC has won its last 4 bowls (and 7 of the past 8), while Tech has dropped its past 7 bowls. The Trojans are seeking their 11th straight 8-win season. USC historically has had success in Monday games and against ACC squads. USC A.D. Pat Haden, who used to broadcast Sun Bowl games on CBS, once threw a pair of TD passes against Georgia Tech, including one to current Trojan athletic administrator J.K. McKay. Both USC and Georgia Tech saw their 2012 seasons turn south, as the AP pre-season No. 1 Trojans started off 6-1 but then lost 4 of their last 5 games and the Yellow Jackets needed an NCAA waiver to qualify for the post-season because of a 6-7 record. USC, still smarting from end-of-season losses to traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, feature some of the nation’s top offensive performers. Unanimous All-American WR Marqise Lee, the Biletnikoff Award winner and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year who was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, leads the nation in receptions (he is second in receiving yards and third in all-purpose yards) after setting league records for season receptions (112) and receiving yardage (1,680). Joining him as a pass catching threat is 2011 All-American WR Robert Woods, USC’s career receptions leader. Whether they’ll be catching aerials from QB Matt Barkley, the 2012 Wuerffel Award winner and National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete who owns 20 USC records (including Pac-12 marks for career total offense, passing yards, completions and TD passes), or promising redshirt freshman QB Max Wittek remains to be seen depending on Barkley’s recovery from a shoulder injury. TBs Curtis McNeal and Penn State transfer Silas Redd man USC’s ground attack, with Rimington Award finalist and Academic All-All American second team C Khaled Holmes and Freshman All-American OT Max Tuerk helping to open the holes. USC’s defense (with coordinator Monte Kiffin calling his final Trojan game), in the national Top 10 in sacks and tackles for loss, features Hendricks Award finalist DE Morgan Breslin (he has the most sacks and TFLs by a Trojan since 2003), 2011 All-American S T.J. McDonald (the team’s top tackler) and Freshman All-American DT Leonard Williams. ACC Coastal Division champ Georgia Tech, led by head coach Paul Johnson, needed an NCAA waiver (because of a sub-.500 record) to qualify for a bowl, is a post-season participant for the 16th consecutive year. The Yellow Jackets’ spread option attack is fourth nationally in rushing offense (312.5 yards per game) and averages 34.5 points a game. QB Tevin Washington, who has thrown for 1,173 yards and run for another 638 yards this year, holds ACC records for quarterback rushing TDs in a career (37) and season (19 in 2012). RBs Orwin Smith (673 yards) and Zach Laskey (637 yards) also have rushed for 600-plus yards in 2012. OG Omoregie Uzzi is a 2-time All-ACC first teamer. Ss Isaiah Johnson and Jemea Thomas lead the team in tackles, although Tech’s defense ranks no higher than 47th in any NCAA stat category, allowing 387.0 total yards and 29.9 points. The game will air live nationally on CBS.
ABC USC sophomore Marqise Lee was named the winner of the 2012 Biletnikoff Award, presented to the nation’s top receiver. He also was named to the Walter Camp All-American first team. He previously made the first teams by American Football Coaches Association, CBSSports.com and FOXSportsNext.com. Lee is USC’s first recipient of the Biletnikoff Award, presented annually since 1994 by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, and just the third winner from the Pac-12. He is also only the fifth sophomore winner. He will receive the Biletnikoff trophy at the 19th annual Biletnikoff Award Banquet at the University Center at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., on Feb. 9, 2013. Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka will deliver the keynote address. The award is named after Fred Biletnikoff, the former Florida State All-American who was an All-Pro and Super Bowl MVP with the Oakland Raiders. A member of the College Football and NFL Halls of Fame, he set Raiders team career records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Lee, an All-American first teamer and the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year who is also a finalist for the Hornung and Walter Camp Awards, set Pac-12 season records in 2012 for receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,680). He currently leads the nation in receptions and the Pac-12 in receiving yards, all-purpose yards and kickoff returns. He has scored 15 touchdowns in 2012, including 14 on receptions. He set or tied 12 USC individual records in 2012. He is averaging 17.0 yards every time he touches the ball in 2012. The average length of his 15 TDs in 2012 is 40.8 yards. He has had 16 plays of 40-plus yards in 2012 (including 11 of 50-plus yards and 7 of 70-plus yards). More than half of his 2012 receptions (61 of 112, 54.5%) have been for first downs. He had a 3-game stretch in 2012 (Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State) with 663 receiving yards that is the most prolific in USC history (he had other 3-game stretches with 608 and 605 receiving yards). He is seventh on USC’s career pass catching list (185 receptions) and eighth on USC’s career kickoff return list (1,087 yards). His 2,823 career receiving yards are USC records for most in freshman and sophomore seasons and over 2 consecutive seasons, and are seventh most in USC history. His 25 career TD catches is fourth most at USC. He has 12 career 100-yard receiving games (with a school-record tying twice with 200 yards), including 8 in 2012. He has a school-record 8 career games with double digit receptions (including a school-record 7 in 2012) and 6 career contests with multiple TDs. He has had at least 8 receptions in 14 games in his career, including 9 in a row at one point (last 4 of 2011, first 5 of 2012).
ABC The USC football team will play in the 79th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl against Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Georgia Tech at noon MT on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Tex. The game will be broadcast live nationally on CBS-TV and Sports USA Radio Network. Tickets are available at GetTrojanTix.com. “After not being in a bowl the past two years, we look forward to playing in a bowl with the tradition of the Sun Bowl,” said USC head coach Lane Kiffin. “Georgia Tech is a very well-coached team and will present a challenge on both sides of the ball, especially with their great ability to run the ball. “Although our season didn’t go as well as we hoped, we appreciate the opportunity we now have to play another game and attempt to go out on a winning note.” Not only will this be USC’s first bowl game after a 2-year NCAA post-season ban, it will be Troy’s first meeting with the Yellow Jackets since 1973 (and fourth overall). The Trojans are 2-1 in the series with Georgia Tech. USC has played in the Sun Bowl twice previously. The Trojans lost to Michigan State, 17-16, in the 1990 John Hancock Bowl and to TCU, 28-19, in the 1998 Sun Bowl. It will be USC’s first trip to Texas since that 1998 Sun Bowl. The Trojans are 9-3 in the state. The game will be USC’s fourth on New Year’s Eve and all have been in Texas. Besides the 2 previous Sun Bowls, USC beat Texas A&M, 47-28, in the 1977 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston on Dec. 31. USC has a 32-16 all-time bowl record (1 win and 1 loss were later vacated by NCAA penalty). The Trojans have the nation’s third highest bowl winning percentage (.667) among the 79 schools that have made at least 10 bowl appearances. USC’s 32 bowl victories are second most in the nation and its 48 bowl appearances are fourth most. Troy has appeared in 13 different bowls, including 33 Rose Bowls. The 2012 Trojans, with a 7-5 record, are led on offense by All-American wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, Pac-12 career passing leader Matt Barkley at quarterback, 1,000-yard career rushers Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd at tailback and All-Pac-12 first team center Khaled Holmes. Key players on defense are All-American safety T.J. McDonald, Hendricks Award finalist end Morgan Breslin, Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Leonard Williams at tackle, cornerback Nickell Robey and linebackers Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey. Georgia Tech, led by head coach Paul Johnson, is 6-7 overall and won the ACC Coastal Division. Because the Yellow Jackets lost to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game to fall below .500, they were granted an NCAA waiver to qualify for a bowl, their 16th consecutive year in the post-season (and 41st bowl overall). After starting 2012 with just 3 wins in its first 8 games (with a pair of overtime losses), Tech won its next 3 contests before dropping its past 2 games. The Yellow Jackets’ spread option attack is fourth nationally in rushing offense (312.5 yards per game) while averaging 34.5 points a game. QB Tevin Washington, who has thrown for 1,173 yards and run for another 638 yards with 19 rushing TDs this season, holds ACC records for quarterback rushing TDs in a career (37) and season (19). RBs Orwin Smith (673 yards) and Zach Laskey (637 yards) also have rushed for 600-plus yards in 2012. OG Omoregie Uzzi is a 2-time All-ACC first teamer. Ss Isaiah Johnson and Jemea Thomas lead the 2012 team in tackles with 87 and 82, respectively. Tech’s defense ranks no higher than 47th in any NCAA stat category, allowing 387.0 total yards and 29.9 points. Georgia Tech lost to Utah, 30-27 in overtime, in last year’s Sun Bowl.
ABC USC assistant football coach Monte Kiffin announced today that he will resign from the Trojan staff after USC’s upcoming bowl game in order to pursue opportunities in the NFL. “I wanted to make this announcement now so that our players who are preparing for the bowl game and our recruits who will be visiting campus are aware,” said Kiffin. “I really enjoyed my time at USC and the opportunity I had to work with our players and coaches. The chance to work for my son, Lane, was unique and memorable, but we always treated each other professionally on a coach-to-coach basis. “Although things didn’t always go as well as we would have liked this year from a defensive and win-loss standpoint, I will leave USC with the utmost respect for the University, the Trojan Family and, most importantly, the players I had the good fortune to coach. I see great things ahead for the USC football program.” Kiffin has 47 years of coaching experience, including 26 years (1983-2008) in the NFL, where he was a member of 13 playoff teams and was the defensive coordinator of Tampa Bay’s 2002 Super Bowl champs. He returned to the college coaching ranks in 2009 at Tennessee and then spent the past 3 seasons at USC. Said USC head coach Lane Kiffin: “I respect my father’s decision and his desire to return to the NFL. We are very appreciative of the hard work and effort that he put in at USC these past three years. He has a tremendous passion for coaching young men and he is a phenomenal recruiter. “The timing of this allows us to move forward now in the hiring of a new coach.”
ABC Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a 22-13 victory over Southern California on Saturday night. Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to south Florida on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program’s first national title in 24 years. Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost four of five. Notre Dame’s hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the Irish 1 with 2:33 to play. After spending more than a decade looking up at the Trojans, the Irish are back on top of this rivalry with two straight wins in Los Angeles. The school of Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen and Paul Hornung has new heroes now, from inspirational linebacker Manti Te’o to coach Brian Kelly, who took the Irish from unranked to start the season to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 19 years. Te’o, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, had a key interception against USC and became the second Irish defender with three 100-tackle seasons. The grind-it-out win highlighted an unforgettable season for the Irish, who began the year with questions about their relevancy and survived some uninspiring performances and nail-biting finishes with their unbeaten record intact. Notre Dame is likely to face an SEC opponent in Miami, but won’t know for another week. With the Irish offense repeatedly stalling in the red zone against the Trojans, Brindza went five for six on field goals, even hitting a 52-yarder at the halftime gun. After Brindza’s school record-tying fifth field goal put the Irish up by nine points with 5:58 left, Marqise Lee caught a 53-yard pass from USC freshman Max Wittek at the Notre Dame 2. But after USC failed on three straight runs at a defense that has allowed just 11 rushing TDs in 30 games, Wittek threw incomplete to fullback Soma Vainuku, setting off a leaping, chest-bumping celebration on the Notre Dame sideline and in the Irish sections of the sold-out Coliseum. Lee caught just five passes for 75 yards, yet still broke the Pac-12 single-season receptions record established last year by teammate Robert Woods, who had seven catches for 92 yards. Wittek passed for 186 yards with two interceptions in his first career start for the Trojans, who completed their tumble from the preseason No. 1 ranking with four losses in five games in an enormously disappointing season. Wittek filled in capably for injured Matt Barkley, but USC is headed to a lower-tier bowl in the first year after its NCAA-mandated two-year postseason ban ended. Barkley watched from the sideline in a grey hoodie with a sling on his right arm after spraining his shoulder in last week’s loss at UCLA. The senior and Pac-12 career passing leader won twice in South Bend during his career, but never got to face the Irish at the Coliseum, sidelined by injuries for both visits. Barkley still ran down the Coliseum tunnel with the rest of the USC seniors for their final home game. He participated in the coin toss, but could only watch while the Irish opened the game with three clock-consuming drives resulting in 13 points. USC’s much-criticized defensive caution under assistant head coach Monte Kiffin was exploited by the Irish, with Golson patiently finding the sags in the Trojans’ pass coverage for 181 yards passing in the first half. Riddick went 9 yards for a TD in the first quarter, but USC also stiffened to hold Notre Dame to field goals twice in the red zone. Notre Dame held its 12th straight opponent without a first-quarter touchdown, but Wittek found Woods for a 9-yard score on the first play of the second quarter – just the ninth touchdown allowed by Notre Dame all season long. The Irish took a 16-10 lead to halftime when Brindza hit the second-longest field goal in Notre Dame history. Te’o made the seventh interception of his phenomenal season when Wittek threw directly to him on USC’s second play of the second half. Both teams struggled to move the ball in the third quarter, and USC settled for a field goal with 9:20 to play just a few moments after USC coach Lane Kiffin called a timeout right before a play that ended with Lee catching a pass on the goal line.
ABC USC welcomes Notre Dame to the sold-out Coliseum on Thanksgiving weekend Saturday for the 84th rendition of the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football…and the undefeated Irish are ranked No. 1 in the country. It’s the sixth time the Irish have brought a top ranking to the Coliseum (Troy beat them twice) and the eighth time overall that the Trojans have met a No. 1 ND squad (most recently in 1989). It’s also the 19th time that USC has battled any No. 1 team (with 7 victories). The last time USC faced an undefeated Irish squad was 1993 (the Trojans have won only 4 times in 14 such occurrences, most recently 41 years ago). ND enters the game with a higher AP ranking than USC for the first time since 2000 (it’s the 18th time an unranked Trojan team has played a ranked Irish squad). USC fell the last time it played the Irish in the Coliseum (with a backup quarterback in head coach Lane Kiffin’s debut 2010 season), but the Trojans have beaten Notre Dame in 6 of the last 8 Los Angeles clashes, as well as in 9 of the past 10 overall meetings. USC could face the Irish again with a backup signcaller (QB Max Wittek), as QB Matt Barkley–who leads the nation in TD passes and owns Pac-12 career records for passing yardage, completions, pass TDs and total offense–is likely out with a shoulder injury. The game is a battle between schools with perhaps the country’s most glorious gridiron heritages. The USC-ND winner gets year-long possession of the jeweled Shillelagh. USC is seeking its 11th straight 8-win season. Although a common occurrence in the past, this is the first time since 2002 that USC has played UCLA and Notre Dame back-to-back in that order. It is the final Coliseum game for USC’s 21 seniors. It is only USC’s second night game of 2012 (its fewest since 2001). USC A.D. Pat Haden, a Trojan hero in the 1974 game, spent 12 years handling color on Irish telecasts. The Trojans are looking to recover from last week’s defeat at UCLA that deprived them of the Pac-12 South Division title and a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Soph WR Marqise Lee, a leading Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award candidate who is in the Top 3 nationally in all-purpose yards, receptions and receiving yards, has more catches and reception yardage than anyone in the country after setting the Pac-12 season record for receiving yards. Another pass catching threat is WR Robert Woods, USC’s career receptions leader. TBs Curtis McNeal, coming off a pair of 100-yard rushing performances, and Penn State transfer Silas Redd lead USC’s ground attack, with Rimington Award nominee and Academic All-District C Khaled Holmes the lead blocker. USC’s defense, in the national Top 5 in sacks and tackles for loss, features DE Morgan Breslin (he has the most sacks and TFLs by a Trojan since 2003), All-American S T.J. McDonald (the team’s top tackler), CB Nickell Robey and LBs Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard. Notre Dame, celebrating its 125th year of football, is off to its best start (11-0) since 1993. Head coach Brian Kelly’s squad posted a big home win last weekend over Wake Forest. The Irish defense is one of the nation’s top defenses, as it ranks in the Top 13 nationally in scoring defense (first), rushing defense, total defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks. ND has held 5 opponents in 2012 to single scoring digits and 10 to less than 20 points behind star ILB Manti Te’o, DE Stephon Tuitt and CB Bennett Jackson, among others. Notre Dame’s offense features versatile QB Everett Golson, RBs Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III, 2011 All-American TE Tyler Eifert and WR TJ Jones. A “Kiff’s Kids” toy drive will be held around the Coliseum and fans are encouraged to donate a toy to benefit local children. The game will air live nationally on ABC and ESPN’s College GameDay pre-game show will be here. USC’s top-ranked and 4-time defending NCAA champion men’s water polo team will be hosting the conference championship all weekend. USC Media Release (pdf)