WR Vidal Hazelton

2007 Statistics

Coach: Pete Carroll
76-14, 7 years
2007 Record: 11-2
at Nebraska WON 49-31
at Washington WON 27-24
at Notre Dame WON 38-0
at Oregon LOST 17-24
at California WON 24-17
at Arizona State WON 44-24
Illinois WON 49-17

2007 Final Rankings
AP-3, Coaches-2, BCS-7

2008 Outlook

The superlatives that describe the six years under coaching guru and program savior Pete Carroll are too many to hit them all. USC has had a top 10 recruiting class, an 11-win effort concluded by a BCS appearance, and a top four (AP) finish each year he has been at the helm. No year has seen the Trojans lose more than two games, and none of the losses has been by more than seven points. A 70-8 record (89.7% wins) looks great, as do the combined 30 points in those seven losses that has kept Carroll from being undefeated this entire time. Three Heisman winners and record crowds bear witness to what the country can see from all football hotbeds - his version of USC football is arguably the best we've seen since the program's starting run of 1922-33 (never lost more than two games per year during that 109-16-3 [85.2%] stretch). All fear the west coast's deadliest warriors come post season (5-1 in those BCS bowls), yet the conference wanna-be's have seen chinks in the armor lately that give hope of catching the Trojans...but for six years, that's all it has been, hopes, and this year looks alot like those past six.

The best chance to exploit the changes Southern Cal is making will be early on. The new starter under center will probably be Mark Sanchez, but hedging the offense with another top QB recruit, Arkansas-transfer Mitch Mustain, guarantees results (Mustain was 8-0 as a freshman starter in Fayetteville). Sanchez threw a quarter of USC's passes last year, so neither is that green. Factor in Aaron Corp to see the position's running capabilities when he's in. The players who are stacked up, awaiting their chances to covet the ball, make up just about the best talent bed in college football...but that's been true for the last three years, and the two two-loss campaigns as of late reflect an offensive drop-off that shouldn't be with so much talent everywhere. We think it was the result of now-departed John David Booty's decent-but-not-spectacular results, so the change is good. But how long will it take for the new QB to get USC back to their superior selves? That answer will dictate just how well the team will do more than any other variable. Don't even think the new-look line will be a liability...it won't.

The scariest part will be how good the defense continues to get. Seven guys back in starting roles means another ferocious group. The LBs are both big and fast, and the safeties play in the box as well as they do when in coverage(s) - the range of the back seven makes it tough to fool them laterally. The line uses seemingly interchangeable hats to confuse OLmen when they match up in their many variations up front. The DL, like the secondary, can hold its own, making it an open pallet for the linebackers to creatively wreak havoc. Rey Maualuga leads the run stopping from his MLB command post, and when you have an All-American overseeing so many capable defenders, it should be a special year.

It will be sized up real quick when Ohio State brings its No.1 squad into Los Angeles. There are two ways this likely plays out... 1. USC wins a close one and sits atop their perch, over-confidently awaiting challengers...or 2. Ohio State wins, forcing Carroll and his troops to rebolster their approach, which in turn brings a repeat of last year when the early loss made the Trojans hungrier and unbeatable by November. If that game's a loss, USC climbs back to become one of the top two in the BCS, guaranteed. A win always works...though, an early defeat often does more than a early win, a win that sends a false sense of security into a group of kids who need to keep their edge. Playing not to lose isn't a good approach. A hungry group of 18-22 year olds is better than a complacent group, but hey, this is all conjecture to buffer what we see as a possible early loss. Two of the past four Trojan losses occurred in the state of Oregon, so the trip to Corvallis for a Thursday night game looms. Otherwise, Arizona State and Oregon look like the toughest matchups, and both visit Memorial Coliseum.

The consistency seen under Carroll won't end this year. We like the way he approaches his guys, allowing everyone to have fun while reaching their potential. Kinda like the way some of his musical heroes approach their craft - Carroll likes Jerry Garcia's uniqueness and how James Brown's passions have driven his ambitions. Both are evident in Carroll's profile. Such an "artistic" attitude in this violent endeavor gives his kids a "flip side", so to speak, a compliment for them to see how being a complete person can help fulfill one's goals. Not many in college football's highest echelons share this way of being. Carroll has a special place, and his kids are lucky to have him as a mentor. He will create another top four finish, and his legacy will grow as Los Angeles celebrates the most impressive football the city has ever produced...professional or otherwise.

Projected 2008 record: 12-0
QB - 4 DL - 4
RB - 4.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 4 DB - 4.5
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Mark Sanchez, 69-114-5, 695 yds., 7 TD

Rushing: Stafon Johnson, 98 att., 673 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Vidal Hazelton, 50 rec., 540 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: David Buehler, 16-19 FG, 52-54 PAT, 100 pts.

Punting: Greg Woidneck, 60 punts, 37.9 avg.

Kicking: David Buehler, 16-19 FG, 52-54 PAT, 100 pts.

Tackles: Rey Maualuga, 79 tot., 41 solo

Sacks: Rey Maualuga, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Kyle Moore, 2 for 38 yds.; Kevin Ellison, 2 for 9 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Ronald Johnson, 25 ret., 24.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Joe McKnight, 19 ret., 8.4 avg.


LB Rey Maualuga
OFFENSE: John David Booty-QB, Chauncey Washington-TB, Fred Davis-TE, Sam Baker-OT, Matt Spanos-C, Drew Radovich-OT, Chilo Rachal-OG (NFL)
DEFENSE: Lawrence Jackson-DE, Sedrick Ellis-NT, Thomas Williams-SLB, Keith Rivers-WLB, Terrell Thomas-CB

The Trojan war machine wasn't itself again in 2007; now-departed John David Booty never transpired into the top quarterback his recruiting rankings promised, so USC had two years of not reaching its offensive potential. The two losses last year reflect this fact, meaning new blood under center will allow Pete Carroll to get his team back atop the rankings.

The time is now for Mark Sanchez, the RS junior who has been procured to run the offense as a drop-back type. Still, the sizable hurler is not easy to bring down due to his 4.7 (second in the 40) speed. Sanchez was the No.1 prospect in the nation and both the Parade and EA Sports Player of the Year in 2004...he proved his abilities in a few games while Booty was hurt in '07, so he looks like he is coming along as scheduled. That makes the job his to lose, unless Arkansas-transfer Mitch Mustain plays well enough in practice to displace him, which he hasn't so far. Mustain started at Arkansas as a true frosh, hitting 52% of his tries on the run-obsessed Razorbacks as he went 8-0 as a starter. Mustain is a bit smaller than Sanchez, but he is a step faster and stronger in upper body strength. Also a Parade POTY (as well as USA Today and Gatorade) one year after Sanchez ('05), Mustain affords Carroll two consecutive years of top high school QBs battling for the position. Under them is Aaron Corp, whose only tag - Mr. Football (in-state) - means his arm will unfortunately be third in line here this season. But Corp's all about adding a running dimension to the QB position, much more than the other two do. Corp's amazing senior prep numbers make him seem like the best way to give offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian his biggest range of possibilities from under canter (also punts well) and therefore his best guy to get the playbook wide open. Oh, the possibilities. Sanchez will be under center come fall (save injury), but the position is officially wide open as of now.

The backfield is still a wealth of riches at tailback. C.J. Gable looked like the next Reggie Bush as he averaged 11 yards per carry starting the first two games, but an abdomen injury (and subsequent surgery) meant he missed the rest of the year and was a redshirt for '07. Stafon Johnson is listed next, giving Sarkisian more bang for his buck between the tackles and more open-field speed with his lightning quick feet. Then there is Joe McKnight - his potential to open the playbook is exponential, too. With the stack of five-star backs crowding the depth chart, McKnight, who is reported to be one of Carroll's favorites, is being branched out into more of a receiver role. He may be the guy who is most like the last Trojan Heisman winner out of all the current backs, and Carroll thinks that McKnight might even a be more adept as a receiver than Bush. "This is the farthest we have taken a running back at running routes and feeling confident. He can play like a receiver, but he is going to do it from the running back position." Besides Gable, the other guy last year not to lose any yards while carrying the rock for the Trojans was fullback Stanley Havili. If Havili is going to be part of the production with touches, then get this 1,000-yard receiver (as a prep senior) the ball via some designed passes (true H-Back, fellas). And do the same with tireless bigman Allen Bradford, an ex-LB who can do it all (blitz pickup) from his backfield spot. RS frosh Marc Tyler has his mind set on seeing some carries, but he may have to wait 'til next year for the amount he deserves. Phew...now onto the receivers.

Vidal Hazelton will probably stay in the slot (FL) this year, living underneath most of the time. Hazelton and Sanchez hooked up for the second longest pass play of 2007, a mere 48 yards, which shows the trouble USC had stretching the field with Booty. Like Turner, Ausberry is 6'5 and makes a great downfield blocker as well as a huge target for the new QB, but neither is a burner. Damien Williams has been tearing up the practice field. Ronald Johnson was excellent in open space as a deep threat, and last year's No.1 WR recruit topped all Trojans with his 15.7 yards per catch average in just his true freshman years. Johnson was found behind the Trojan DBs all spring. All of these talent positions are officially up for grabs, and the juggling job the coaching staff will have to do to employ the full array of weapons in their arsenal will make depth charts and who 'starts' somewhat irrelevant since all will get their chances... somehow.

The tight end position is a coveted slot in the Pete Carroll scheme. Blake Ayles, the No.2 tight end recruit according to Rivals, is going to push McCoy and Miller for reps. A true 'west coast' tight end is needed, so whoever can step into the role - or if it is a few of them, they - will likely become a major component of the production here.

The line, for having four starters departed and two out this spring, has come along well during its facelift. Jeff Byers has overcome hip troubles early in his collegiate career to recapture the guard slot he covets after his illustrious prep career (Gatorade and EA Sports National Player of the Year as a lineman). He is the lone returning starter, but there is plenty in the cupboard from which to pick. Byers and Kris O'Dowd both started games as true freshmen. O’Dowd had surgery this off-season, but the freshman All-American is primed to return by fall at full strength. Heberer started at guard last year twice, so the inside is full of guys who know the system and can formulate a strong leadership nucleus. The same kind of depth is found on the outside, where Brown and Lewis have starting experience, albeit limited, and can be counted on early. Ex-DT Alex Parsons is just itching to prove how far he has come this past off-season, and with three other major junior contributors along the line, things will work fine for hole opening and pass protecting.

The offense has been catching up to the defense in scrimmages, struggling yet progressing. The amount of guys who need touches is huge, and they just have to find the right QB so the highlight reels they make can be reflected upon after a BCS title try, not after a two-loss disappointment that again sees this offense fail to reach its potential.


OG Jeff Byers


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Mark Sanchez-Jr (6-3, 225) Mitch Mustain-So (6-3, 205)
FB Stanley Havili-So (6-1, 225) Adam Goodman-Jr (6-2, 235)
TB C.J. Gable-So (6-1, 195) Stafon Johnson-Jr (6-0, 210)
Joe McKnight-So (6-0, 180)
WR Patrick Turner-Sr (6-5, 220) David Ausberry-So (6-4, 225)
WR Vidal Hazelton-Jr (6-3, 210) Ronald Johnson-So (6-1, 190)
Damian Williams-So (6-1, 190)
TE Anthony McCoy-Jr (6-5, 255) Rhett Ellison-Fr (6-5, 235)
OT Charles Brown-Jr (6-6, 290) Tyron Smith-Fr (6-6, 270)
OG Jeff Byers-Sr (6-4, 285) Matt Meyer-Fr (6-8, 290)
C Kristofer O'Dowd-So (6-5, 300) Michael Reardon-Fr (6-5, 265)
OG Zack Heberer-So (6-5, 300) Thomas Herring-Jr (6-6, 300)
OT Butch Lewis-So (6-5, 280) Alex Parsons-Jr (6-4, 285)
K David Buehler-Sr (6-2, 225) Joe Houston-So (5-8, 160)




Stability on defense has really picked up the past few years. There have been two consecutive campaigns of improvements in nearly every statistical category. The seven starters who have been leading the 2008 charge look like they have the troops ready for anything.

It always starts up front here...the right bodies are there to keep foes under 100 yards per game in rushing, a bar easily surpassed in '07 (84 ypg). But the top two DLmen left, making room for the next wave of Trojan trench warriors. The newest No.1 guy for his position here is Everson Griffen - don't miss his 4.56-second 40 time and his 400+ bench max. Griffen is a serious pass rusher, earning the team's fourth-most sacks (5.5) mainly as a reserve (started versus Arizona State and Idaho). He will bookend proven leader Kyle Moore (two INTs). JUCO-product Washington has adapted well from tight end, and Henderson is the first Canadian to get a football scholarship here (for good reason, though he is a rare three-star prospect here). Newbies Horton and Perry are both top three prospects nationally, so the outside youth will soon give way to valuable real game reps and a killer end rotation, once again. There is just as much quickness inside when you consider Averell Spicer's DE-quality speed (11.2 seconds in the 100m). Fili Moala is a more traditional "spark plug" type of stopper, occupying two guys to free up someone else. Da'John Harris is a hybrid end-tackle who can line up anywhere between the tackles. This is a deep line, like you would expect from Carroll's superior recruiting efforts.

The linebackers will again be able to free themselves up instead of doting on whether the line can hold its own. Rey Maualuga is an All-American First Teamer for us this preseason - the former-No.1 ILB prospect is too big to be effectively blocked by TEs or RBs and he easily gets around linemen with his quickness/strength combination. NJ prep defensive Player of the Year (2005) Brian Cushing has battled injuries off and on, but he has really helped to shape the way Carroll runs his schemes. Cushing plays the main role in the "elephant" defense; he is a SLB who comes up to the line and plays on either side as a fourth lineman in a two-point stance. Many say this was just in '06, but he was seen doing this last year and it only makes sense with so much talent that he keep confusing OLmen this way. The ends often drop back while Cushing heads forward, as evidenced by Kyle Moore's two INTs and five pass breakups. Kaluka Maiava has worked his way up the Trojan ladder - Laurinaitis at Ohio State isn't the only collegiate LB with pro wrestling ties (Maiava's uncle is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his grandfather is ex-brawler Neff Maiava). Legacy Clay Matthews (brother was a safety on the 2003 championship team here and his father was a linebacker for the '74 champs) forced two fumbles and had both of USC's blocked kicks, so any letdowns amongst the starters will not last long. Last year's top OLB prospect, Chris Galippo, isn't even on the two-deep, nor is Mike Morgan. Size and speed make this one of the country's top LB corps.

The secondary had its best showing in a few years in '07 as every game saw the same four starters; steady improvements will continue since only one full-timer leaves. We see two safeties who both may be All-Americans, though, only senior Kevin Ellison gets our nod this preseason. Ellison is great in run support, but he isn't subject to being burnt on play fakes. Taylor Mays was the No.2 Athlete from 2006's national class who happened to get the start his first year when Josh Pinkard was injured. Mays earned consensus Freshman All-American nods and was that year's Freshman Pac Ten Player of the Year. Still learning, Mays plays in the box like a linebacker. Will Harris has a 42" vertical leap to accentuate his prowess, and Marshall Jones has yet to be given enough time to prove his all-around approach. Cary "Turbo Time" Harris (no relation to Will) started as a soph and has been part of the improvements the past two years to the secondary. The technique of Shareece Wright made him the No.2 corner in the '06 national class, and he is solid enough to be left on an island in coverage. Josh Pinkard seems to be the odd man out. Once considered the best player on the team by coach Carroll, Pinkard is back after two missed years (knee), and he and Kevin Thomas (shoulder kept him out all of '07) will push the starters so that new heights are reached by the entire secondary. The DBs will continue (to fake) two-deep coverages and will masterfully mix up the way they look until just before the snap.

This 4-3 one-gap defense has its subtleties, and coordinator Nick Holt has gotten his guys acquainted well with how to pull it off as a team. His two squads have each seen only five foes go over 20 points, so consistency will be seen once again. Any improvements on last year's great defensive results will mean a BCS title run is a realistic ending for 2008.


DB Kevin Ellison


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Everson Griffen-So (6-3, 265) Clay Matthews-Sr (6-4, 240)
NT Averell Spicer-Jr (6-2, 290) Christian Tupou-So (6-2, 275)
DT Fili Moala-Sr (6-5, 295) Derek Simmons-So (6-4, 275)
DE Kyle Moore-Sr (6-6, 275) Gerald Washington-Sr (6-6, 260)
SLB Brian Cushing-Sr (6-4, 240) Michael Morgan-So (6-3, 220)
MLB Rey Maualuga-Sr (6-3, 250) Chris Galippo-Fr (6-2, 235)
WLB Kaluka Maiava-Sr (6-0, 225) Luthur Brown-Jr (6-3, 230)
CB Cary Harris-Sr (6-0, 180) Josh Pinkard-Sr (6-1, 215)
CB Shareece Wright-Jr (6-0, 180) Kevin Thomas-Jr (6-1, 185)
SS Kevin Ellison-Sr (6-1, 225) Will Harris-Jr (6-1, 205)
FS Taylor Mays-Jr (6-4, 225) Marshall Jones-So (6-0, 185)
P Greg Woidneck-Sr (6-0, 200) Billy O'Malley-So (6-1, 190)




David Buehler has done the job needed, but he remains an enigma from 50+. One thing is for sure; his fullback/safety background makes him a true 11th man for tackling on KOs. The returns of McKnight and Ronald Johnson give Southern Cal another advantage. One thing they didn't do well last year was punt - Woidneck had three of his tries blocked, though, his controlled approach is worthy of better coverage (104th-ranked net results). The other thing that Carroll was not pleased with has been the long snapping. "Still working on these snappers, it is an open competition let's say. We are not even a C- right now." It will be a shame if this detail costs the team a win and therefore a shot at bigger things, which it surely would.