WR Mike Williams

2002 Statistics

Coach: Pete Carroll
17-8, 2 years
2002 Record: 11-2
at Colorado WON 40-3
at Kansas State LOST 20-27
at Washington State LOST 27-30 (OT)
at Oregon WON 44-33
at Stanford WON 49-17
at UCLA WON 52-21
Iowa WON 38-17

2002 Final Rankings
AP-4, Coaches-4, BCS-4

2003 Outlook

Even with tremendous recent recruiting, a team does not lose their entire offensive backfield and secondary, return one of the worst special teams units and improve overall. We noticed last year that despite success, coach Carroll was not giving significant playing time to his younger players. This should cause some early growing pains in 2003. Even with a minor drop-off, look for USC to compete for the Pac-10 title and a BCS bowl bid. Carroll has brought USC back to the top, but we suspect this season to be a short hiccup in their stay there.

The Trojan defense will need to carry the entire team (at times) this year. Are they good enough? Last season despite all their hype and impressive stats the Trojans did allow over 25 points to be scored on them four different times… not good enough to make the BCS in some years. But follow the secondary's progress to measure this teams success.

Looking at their schedule, the USC front seven on defense will be tested early and often. It all starts at Auburn, where the Tigers will have the best running back duo in the nation and are looking for revenge. Then come back-to-back tests at home against BYU and Hawaii. Record-setting QB Timmie Chang should provide a stern test for that inexperienced Trojan secondary. After California, the Trojans will go into Tempe to battle Arizona State. We expect a dogfight here because of both the environment and the pass defense going up against ASU QB Andrew Walter. The Trojans will then be headed into a difficult six-game stretch that includes road games at Notre Dame and Washington, and home games with Oregon State, Washington State and cross-town rival UCLA. At 7-1 in the conference USC will win the wild Pac-10 outright and head down the street to Pasadena. 6-2 will put them in a non-BCS bowl, but will still be measured as success one (supposed rebuilding) year after losing Palmer. Now that's the kind of off year Trojan fans can accept.

Projected 2003 record: 9-3
WR Mike Williams
LB Lofa Tatupu
WR Justin Wyatt
QB - 3.5 DL - 5
RB - 3 LB - 4.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 4
OL - 4.5 ..

Passing: Matt Cassel, 4-3-0, 27 yds., 0 TD's

Rushing: Hershel Dennis, 49 att., 198 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Mike Williams, 81 rec., 1265 yds., 14 TD's

Scoring: Ryan Killeen, 16-23 FG, 47-49 PAT, 95 pts.

Punting: Tom Malone, 62 punts, 42.1 avg.

Kicking: Ryan Killeen, 16-23 FG, 47-49 PAT, 95 pts.

Tackles: Matt Grootegoed, 81 tot., 62 solo

Sacks: Matt Grootegoed, 8 sacks

Interceptions: Jason Leach, 4 for 52 yds.

Kickoff returns: Hershel Dennis, 9 ret., 16.8 avg.

Punt returns: Greig Carlson, 27 ret., 6.6 avg.


LB Matt Grootegoed
OFFENSE: Carson Palmer-QB, Malaefou MacKenzie-FB, Justin Fargas-TB, Sultan McCullough-TB, Kareem Kelly-WR, Zach Wilson-OG
DEFENSE: Bernard Riley-NT, Mike Pollard-MLB, Darrell Rideaux-CB, Troy Polamalu-SS, DeShaun Hill-FS

written by Dave Bagchi

Sophomore WR Mike Williams and senior Keary Colbert form one of the best receiving duos in the nation, combining for 152 receptions, 2,294 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago. The 6'5 Williams has the NFL scouts drooling with his physical style and tremendous hands. He does not have blazing speed but is a long strider with deceptive quickness. His move into the starting lineup launched the Trojan offense into another gear. At times, Colbert benefited from the attention defenses paid to Williams and departed speedster Kareem Kelly. However, Colbert is faster than Williams and at 6'1, no physical slouch. Both guys will be relied upon heavily because no other returning receivers had receptions last season. Back also is senior TE Alex Holmes and his backup 6'8 junior Gregg Guenther. They will help shoulder the burden (combined for 36 catches), as well as any others who rise out of their talented coffers, to make the Trojan receiving corps tough to match up against.

Four of five starters return along the Trojan offensive line. Possibly the most versatile of the group is Torres, as he has/can play(ed) both guard and tackle. Torres was a key reserve last year, but an injury in the Orange Bowl will make it difficult for him to crack the depth chart in time for the opener. The coaches are extremely excited about Justice -- 6'6, 305 pounds and still growing. The unit struggled early in the year, but seemed to improve as the year progressed. Still, they will improve this year on the 25 sacks allowed (still best in the Pac Ten) and meager 3.6 yds/rush average. The run-blocking problems improved when the backs learned to be more patient. The front's domination in the Orange Bowl is proof of this units ability to achieve a higher level.

What will offensive coordinator Norm Chow do for an encore now that departed Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer has graduated? Well it starts with answering any and all QB questions. It is a wide open race -- Chow and head coach Pete Carroll say they want to narrow it down to one or two players by August. USC likes to run the I-formation but will move to one-back, three-receiver spreads often during the games. Right now the challenge of making this offense work is open to four guys. Junior Matt Cassel saw limited time as a backup, attempting only four passes. He seems to have the early edge on sophomores Billy Hart and Matt Leinart. All three are tall and big, in the mold of Palmer. Do not rule out Purdue transfer Brandon Hance. Only 6'1, Hance is smaller than his competition but he has more game experience (started for Purdue and threw for 1,529 yds in 2001.) Hance is also a better athlete (4.65 40-speed) and is a smart kid who has picked up on the offense fast.

How depleted is the USC backfield? Try five out of seven lost to graduation. The returning players do not turn heads, nor do they have much experience. Sophomore Hershel Dennis (5-11, 175) is expected to take over at TB. He is light and very fast but lacks the strength to be an every down back. Junior Darryl Poston would have challenged, but it appears Poston's USC days are over after a career ending injury. Look for incoming recruit Reggie Bush to make noise. Bush's lofty potential already has USC fans thinking back to the days of running back U. Sophomore Brandon Hancock should get the nod at fullback. A Norm Chow-offense loves to throw to its fullbacks, so expect Hancock to have a fast learning curve.


WR Keary Colbert


Returning Starters in bold
QB Matt Leinart-So (6-5, 215) Matt Cassel-Jr (6-5, 225) / Brandon Hance-Jr
FB Brandon Hancock-So (6-1, 235) Lee Webb-Jr (5-11, 240)
TB Hershel Dennis-So (5-11, 175) Reggie Bush-Fr (6-0, 190) / Andre Woodert-So
WR Mike Williams-So (6-5, 210) D Hale-Sr (6-1, 185)
WR Keary Colbert-Sr (6-1, 205) Justin Wyatt-Fr (5-10, 175)
TE Alex Holmes-Sr (6-3, 265) Dominique Byrd-So (6-3, 250)
OT Jacob Rogers-Sr (6-6, 305) Nate Steinbacher-Jr (6-5, 300)
OG Lenny Vandermade-Sr (6-3, 275) Travis Watkins-Jr (6-3, 300)
C Norm Katnik-Sr (6-4, 280) Kurt Katnik-Fr (6-4, 255)
OG Fred Matua-Fr (6-3, 305) Kyle Williams-Fr (6-6, 280)
OT Winston Justice-So (6-6, 305) Eric Torres-Jr (6-5, 300)
K Ryan Killeen-Jr (5-11, 210) ..



written by Dave Bagchi

While the USC offense received all the accolades, it was the defense whose late season play turned the Trojans from a good to dominant team. USC allowed only 83 yds/game rushing (2.79 yds/rush), a national best 27% third-down conversions, created 36 turnovers (T-7th I-A) and limited opponents to only 25:49 time of possession per game. It all starts with one of the best front sevens in the nation, and five of them are back. Lined up mainly in the 4-3, the Trojans use speed and aggressiveness to stretch opponents east to west for easy finishes. At defensive end is pure speed and power in junior Kenechi Udeze and senior Omar Nazel. The duo combined for 14 sacks and 30 TFL. Udeze is a bull rusher, while Nazel is truly an OLB stepping up to the line (to make it a 3-4). The tackles will be junior Mike Patterson and probably junior Shaun Cody, who has been sidelined due to knee surgery. Patterson is quick and moves well to the ball. If Shaun Cody can rebound from injury, he could develop into one of the conference's top tackles. This line should come together well.

Junior All-American candidate Matt Grootegoed will lead the LB trio. He led the team in tackles, solo tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. Grootegoed will be the team's leader. Senior OLB Melvin Simmons will flank him. The duo is very under-sized but both have exceptional speed and tackling ability. The LBs rely on the line to push the action to the sidelines so they can then run you down. Stud sophomore replacement Oscar Lua (245 lbs) is coming off of knee surgery. Look for Lofa Tatupu (son of Mosi) to fill the hole should Lua not be available for the opener. This trio compliments one another and should be special by season's end.

The missing ingredients on the USC defense will be leadership and experience, especially in the secondary. Then again, in defense of the Trojans, you could hear that same argument heading into last fall. Nonetheless, gone are three of four starters including one of the best defensive players in the nation, SS Troy Polamulu. Polamalu's size allowed SC's under-sized linebackers to take risks and his leadership cannot be replaced. Junior Jason Leach will do his best. The early jury is that Leach is a special player. In primarily a backup role he had 30 tackles and a team-leading four INTs. The other safety spot is open. Rumor is that sophomore William Buchanon will earn this spot if he can bulk up on his 6'4 frame. Buchanon played corner last year. Stay tuned here for more on this one…

Until proven, much will have to take place to change USC's 42nd pass defense ranking. The talent is there to make the secondary work; it is just a matter of game experience. Senior DB Marcell Allmond does return at one corner. Allmond is a very physical corner, as the Trojans love to play bump coverage. Several players could jockey for the other corner spot. Keep an eye on the return of CB Kevin Arbet as he returns from an MIA 2001 disappointment. Another name you may want to toss into the mix is transfer Willie Poole, a top player from Boston College, who earned a few Freshman of The Year honors before heading into the JUCO ranks.


DE Kenechi Udeze


Returning Starters in bold
DE Kenechi Udeze-Jr (6-4, 280) Van Brown-Jr (6-5, 255)
NT Mike Patterson-Jr (6-0, 285) Travis Tofi-Fr (6-4, 235)
DT Shaun Cody-Jr (6-4, 275) LaJuan Ramsey-So (6-3, 265)
DE Omar Nazel-Sr (6-5, 240) Frostee Rucker-So (6-4, 240)
SLB Matt Grootegoed-Jr (5-11, 205) Dallas Sartz-So (6-5, 210)
MLB Lofa Tatupu-So (5-11, 215) Oscar Lua-So (6-1, 245)
WLB Melvin Simmons-Sr (6-1, 215) Bobby Otani-Jr (6-0, 210)
CB Marcell Allmond-Sr (6-0, 200) William Buchanon-So (6-4, 175)
CB Kevin Arbet-Sr (5-11, 190) Will Poole-Sr (6-0, 190)
SS Darnell Bing-Fr (6-2, 220) Mike Ross-So (6-0, 185)
FS Jason Leach-Jr (5-11, 210) Greg Farr-Jr (6-0, 195)
P Tom Malone-So (6-0, 185) Tommy Huff-Jr (6-1, 220)




It is surprising that USC has so much speed, yet was only ranked 101st and 109th in the punt and kick return games, respectively. This area has to improve. Look to one of the young running back recruits to displace PR Greig Carlson (6.6 yds/ret). Look for some changes at KR as well. USC's 17.5 kick return average has to improve, and it will. Sophomore punter Tom Malone averaged a healthy 42.1 yards per punt but the Trojans had three punts blocked. Junior kicker Ryan Killeen made 16-23 FGAs (4-6 from 40-49 yd range) and will bail the Trojans out in a few close ones.


The focus this spring was the running game and Pete Carroll didn't find enough of what he was looking for. In fact, he said that he is depending on his class of incoming freshmen to step up and carry part of the load. It's not that he doubts the talent of Hershel Dennis, but he is not sure that Dennis will be able to carry the ball 20-25 times per game and be healthy throughout the course of the season. Our bet is that Reggie Bush and LenDale White will both get equal action behind Dennis, setting up for one spectacular backfield in 2004… The QB race has been very competitive. Although Carroll named Matt Leinhart the starter (for now), that could very well change come fall...Redshirt frosh WR Justin Wyatt has been the biggest surprise of the spring. He may be USC's version of a two-way player, who can also play DB in emergency/necessary situations and is a dynamic return man. Freshman WR Steve Smith could make an impact. He is the state of California's all-time H.S. leader in receptions… Backup OG/OT Travis Watkins had an impressive spring at a couple spots on the line and Carroll says he "won't hesitate" to play him.

Not to any surprise, the Trojan defense dominated this spring. Lofa Tatupu has stepped in nicely at the MLB spot. There is a lot of hype surrounding freshman Darnell Bing, who will take Polamalu's spot at SS. He is an all-around athlete who loves to hit...Also coming in to help is JUCO transfer and former freshman All-America at Boston College, Will Poole. The open corner spot will go to Kevin Arbet. Arbet was the team's nickel back two years ago and was slated to start at corner last season before he suffered a broken foot in fall practice...Also keep an eye on backup CBs Ryan and Brandon Ting. The identical twin freshmen have enrolled early and have gotten a leg up on the competition. Both are small, but very quick and agile.

Justin Wyatt showed promise as a punt returner (85-yard TD in the spring game), and should also see time as KR along with Almond and Arbet…The special teams had a good showing with 2 blocked kicks in the spring game.