Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Morning Report

Scott Wolf in the LA Daily News:
  • First team All-American selections that will be officially announced next week: Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett and Taitusi "Deuce" Lutui
  • Fred Davis to start at tight end for the second straight week.
  • Carroll: Oscar Lua will start Saturday. "It looks like we'll start him. He looks good but I don't want to wear him out."
  • Walker Lee Ashley no longer in contact with University of Minnesota coaching staff, another sign that he is likely to end up at USC.
  • Freshman Kaluka Maiava saw his first hockey game on Thursday night, with teammate Collin Ashton. "I just want to see fights," Maiava said. "I don't care who wins. I don't understand the rules either." Ashton: "Hockey is boring. There needs to be more fighting and more scoring."
  • Bush: doctor says his voice frequently hoarse due to irritated vocal cords.
Gary Klein in LA Times:
  • USC sports information office e-mailed video clip of Dwayne Jarrett to the national media to promote him for the Biletnikoff Award. He and teammate Steve Smith are semi-finalists for the award.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Trojan Profile: Frostee Rucker

Name: Frostee Rucker

Number: 90
Class: redshirt senior
Position: defensive end
Hometown: Tustin, CA

Siblings: two sisters
Roommate: Ryan Powdrell

Girlfriend: No
Dream girl: Just someone good-looking; I don't care about celebrities
Most attractive characteristic in a girl: great listener
Least attractive characteristic in a girl: being into me because I play football

Formerly slept with a stuffed animal: Yes, a panda

Specialty in the kitchen: spaghetti or lasagna

Surprising fact: Outside of football, I'm not aggressive and I'm a fun guy

Scares you: Being lonely at the age of 35 [Rucker is currently 22]

Non-football highlight: Getting my USC acceptance letter
Best sport other than football: Madden Football...along with every other football player!
Career other than football: sports broadcaster

Proud of: The fact that I'm a hard worker and tough

Favorite professional football team: None
Favorite professional athlete: Shaquille O'Neal

Opponent you dislike the most: I hate Cal

Funniest teammate: Chilo Rachal
Prettiest: Reggie Bush
Most athletic: Dwayne Jarrett
Most humble: Matt Leinart

Funniest team moment: Watching Matt going into the shower and slipping and falling right in front of me. And it was a huge fall.

Pete Carroll in one word: Leader

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Offensive Line Photo Gallery

Winston Justice, Ryan Kalil, Sam Baker and Deuce Latui on the sidelines during the Cal game last Saturday.

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In The Inbox

An email from Pete Carroll:
Trojan Fans,

With the Holiday Season fast approaching, the Trojans, in conjunction with Chance for Children, will be hosting a toy drive for the homeless children living in shelters in the Los Angeles community.

Toys will be accepted three hours prior to kick-off, through the first quarter. Collection bins will be located at the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

We sincerely appreciate your kindness in this charitable endeavor!
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Kalil Happy To Be a Trojan

Coach Pete Carroll, right, hugs Ryan Kalil following USC's win over Notre Dame. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

When Fresno State coach Pat Hill discussed USC's prolific offense during his weekly press conference Tuesday, he didn't single out usual suspects Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart.

"I am a big Ryan Kalil fan," said Hill, turning more than a few heads. "I think it starts with him. He is the leader of that [offensive line]. He is an outstanding, outstanding offensive center."

In fact, Hill tried to get Kalil to come play for the Bulldogs.

"I really liked him out of high school. We recruited him out of Servite. I thought we had a chance."

But in an exclusive interview, Kalil said Hill's staff was less than frank during his recruitment. "Fresno State told me that my good friend Sam Baker had committed to them, and they told Sam the same about me," said Kalil, "just because they wanted the two of us to play for them."

Instead, Kalil chose the Trojans.

"The first love I got was from 'SC," he said. "In high school I was in this phase where I didn't know what I wanted to do and it really stressed me out. Recruiting seemed like a forever process."

But a good showing at a USC football camp cleared things up. Kalil was attracted to "the energy, the love, the guys. And Coach Carroll was the icing on the cake."

"When Pete took me upstairs and offered me a scholarship, he was probably waiting for me to talk about my other options and ask for time to think about it," said Kalil, "but I was ready and said, 'I want to be a Trojan.'"

Now a USC veteran, Kalil is clearly happy with that decision.

"Coach Carroll knows how to do a good balance between fun and work. Attention all the time is tiring, mentally and physically," he said, "but Coach Carroll uses jokes, team outings and competition drills to get guys excited and in high spirits."

Kalil says that is especially helpful toward the end of a season, when the effects of big-time college football start to take their toll.

"Coach Carroll helps with the team's endurance for the long season by mentally refreshing us," he said, "making it fun. Otherwise people start to think of it as a job."

But that's not to say football isn't taken seriously at USC.

"We prepare every week as though it's our last," said Kalil. "It's so hard mentally and physically in practice each week, so for games all we have to do is bring our heart and the rest will follow."

Even so, Kalil admits that USC has underestimated teams in the past.

"Two years ago we did with Cal, and even last year with Stanford it happened."

"It's hard to do what we do, to win college football games," said Kalil, "and it's harder the higher up the totem pole you are. It's our opponent's championship game every week because everyone wants to beat us, so it has to be a championship game for us, too."

"But it's fun to see where we have come from since Cal two years ago and even the Stanford game," he said. "We are learning from our mistakes."

As the USC winning streak grows, the pressure on the program increases as well, but Kalil said it doesn't get to the players.

"Coach Carroll does a great job of keeping the pressure away from us," he said, "setting us up to do what we need to do to win."

"Every team has talented players. It's just how you utilize them. And Coach Carroll does a great job of doing that."

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Trojan Profile: Ryan Kalil

Name: Ryan Kalil

Number: 67
Class: junior
Position: center
Hometown: Corona, CA

Siblings: one brother, one sister
Roommates: Sam Baker and Kyle Williams

Girlfriend: No
Dream girl: Jessica Alba
Most attractive characteristic in a girl: humble, possess a spark
Least attractive characteristic in a girl: needing attention

Non-football role model: Frank Kalil (father)
Non-football highlight: Coming to USC
Best sport other than football: Golf
Career other than football: movie director
Favorite movie: Swingers

Scares you: not knowing where I'm going in life
Formerly slept with a stuffed animal: Yes, Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Surprising fact: I'm a Frank Sinatra fan and although I'm not as talented as my little sister [who just signed with Sony and we can report is an amazing singer], I love to sing

Specialty in the kitchen: lamb

Pet peeve: People who exaggerate stories

Proud of: The relationship with my mom because she's my best friend and I love her to death

Favorite professional football team: San Diego Chargers
Favorite professional football player: Frank Kalil (who played center for Arizona after transferring from Arkansas and then professionally with the Buffalo Bills)

Opponent you dislike the most: Oregon State

Funniest teammate: Taitusi "Deuce" Lutui
Prettiest: Thomas Williams
Most athletic: Reggie Bush
Most humble: Sam Baker

Pete Carroll in one word: Real

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Thursday Morning Report

Gary Klein in the LA Times:
  • LA City Attorney has police report on Rey Maualuga incident. "We are looking over the report and weighing the merits of the case," city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan said. "No decision has been made."
  • Oscar Lua confident he'll be ready to play Saturday. "Everything is on track," Lua said. "My knee feels great." Carroll, however, said he'd wait awhile longer before deciding whether Lua would start. "We have to make sure he's confident in all the moves he has to do."
  • John Walker has resumed full-speed drills in practice. In the meantime, he's been replaced by Josh Pinkard at cornerback. "It's definitely hard to see someone else in the place where you feel you should be," he said. "But, then again, with the types of athletes that we have, it's understandable that when a guy gets an opportunity and does well you have to be able to support that."
Scott Wolf in the LA Daily News:
  • Highly touted recruit Walker Lee Ashley, a defensive lineman who was declared academically ineligible to enroll in August, has contacted USC about enrolling for the spring semester. He was rumored to be heading to Minnesota (he's from Eden Prairie, MN), but that did not happen and he has since been cleared to play by the NCAA. He still has four years of eligibility.
  • Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin: Cal game offense's second-worst of the season. "For all 11 guys, play after play, it was our worst besides Notre Dame," he said. "Thirty-five points is bad when your defense gets that many turnovers. Guys were screwing up on little things. A bad (pass) route or a wrong read by a (running) back or a wrong step by a lineman." He did add: "But it was a great game because we won."
  • Wolf: Middle linebacker Oscar Lua (strained knee) practiced but doesn't appear well enough to last a whole game.
  • Brian Cushing still bothered by soreness from dislocated shoulder but will start at outside linebacker.
  • Reggie Bush ignores recent Heisman Trophy polls showing him trailing Texas quarterback Vince Young. "I'd lie if I said I didn't want to win it, but I don't even look at the polls."
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wednesday Morning Report

Gary Klein in the LA Times:
  • Carroll to conduct seminar for draft-eligible players in December. Possible early-entrants: Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Winston Justice, Steve Smith, Darnell Bing and Lawrence Jackson. "I've talked to all of the guys to let them know it's OK to talk about it," Carroll said.
  • White: "There are some guys that are going to have in their heads what they're going to do. Some people have already made up their minds."
  • Mike Williams: "I have all the money, I'm a pro athlete and I'm where I want to be on the big stage," Williams said in a telephone interview. "Still, I was talking to [Lion quarterback] Joey Harrington and I was saying, 'Man, we're young, we're rich and this and that and the other, but I still remember the days when I went to practice and went back home to the apartment with [defensive lineman] Frostee Rucker … getting ready for UCLA. I miss that."
  • More from Williams: "I regret leaving school and I really didn't understand that Coach Carroll and Coach [Lane Kiffin] and those guys had my best interest in mind. I was thinking, 'They want me to stay because it helped them.' "
  • Thomas Willams had arthoscopic surgery on his knee Tuesday.
  • Klein: Oscar Lua "took part in limited team drills but said he felt good and would work with the first-team defense today."
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Highlights From This Week's Press Conferences

Pete Carroll:
Linebacker coaches Rocky (Seto) and Kenny (Norton) have really taken [the freshman linebackers] under their wings and have done a marvelous job preparing them, mentally and tactically and technically on how to get this done. It is a lot to ask of these guys.

Early on you would ask me if it was possible for one of these linebackers to start, and I really doubted the fact that they could do that, just because there is so much stuff going on. The outside backs spot is a little easier, in [the Mike] spot, possibly.

But now that we can see these guys play, and it has taken some time, they are ready to play. They can play (on a) full time basis. That is a great asset to us. We didn't realize it would be this necessary. They have turned out all right and now we are ready to go.


We have grown to this point where we need these match-ups (with teams like Fresno State), we need these kinds of challenges. It keeps us strong and directed. We don't need to have a varying degree of opponents. We need everybody to be tough, every step of the way.

How much more difficult can it be to finish off this season? Two 9-1 teams coming at us. We have earned everything that we get this year. We are going to have to earn it this week and [in two] weeks as well.


[Fresno State has] really good players. They do a really good job; Pat [Hill] is a really good evaluator of talent. He is able to find guys that other teams don't take and make them really good players.

Their football is at the highest level, as far as offense and defense and scheme-wise. Their coaching staff has been really solid, with good continuity.

Look at the end result of their players over there. They have a lot of NFL players. You don't just make those kinds of players. You recruit those guys and then you help them become that. You find the right kinds of guys that can play up to that talent level.

I don't know what their numbers are but I am sure there are just as many NFL guys [from there] as [from] anywhere else on the West Coast, maybe more. What difference does it make where they are from if they have the right stuff to play at this level?"
Pat Hill:
I have made it really clear that I am a really big USC fan. I am from southern California; I grew up going to games at the Coliseum. In this country when you have lived in Baltimore, you have lived in Cleveland -- a lot like Pete has when he was with the Jets -- there is always something about the West. That we don't play as good of football out here.

USC has picked up the flag for the west United States, especially California, in bringing us national championships and greatness with USC football. I think that is important.

I like their attitude of playing all comers. Their schedule is not like the other schools in the country. They will play everybody. I admire their attitude and they will back it up every week.

I have a lot of respect for them as a team and their philosophy. I have a lot of respect for the way they coach them.

I talk to pro scouts all the time; I am always interested in how other teams practice. I am not interested in what they do -- just how they practice. I know how USC practices: they practice very hard, they are very aggressive in their 9 on 7 drills, they go one-on-ones. There is a reason they are as tough as they are and they play as hard as they do.

I have respect for them; I like to see tough hard nose football teams, and they are definitely a tough team.

I don't need to go through and rehash their personnel. Everybody already understands offensively their personnel. I could go through them all if you want me to; I have studied them pretty hard.

It all starts with their offensive line. I am a big Ryan Kalil fan. I really liked him out of high school. We recruited him out of Servite; I thought we had a chance. He isn't as big as people are looking for in this day and age. I think it starts with him. He is the leader of that unit. He is an outstanding, outstanding offensive center.
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Tuesday Morning Report

Gary Klein in the LA Times:
  • Linebacker Thomas Williams to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee today; says he'll be back for UCLA game.
  • Pete Carroll: Oscar Lua will start against Fresno State if his left knee is sound; Lua said it still felt "shaky."
  • Carroll: "[Linebacker] Collin [Ashton] is our ace in the hole." Ashton might also be snapper on punts and place-kicks if Will Collins fails to recover from a lower leg injury suffered against Cal, though Collins said X-rays were negative and that he would play Saturday.
  • Carroll: Receiver Steve Smith did not practice Monday because he was attending to an academic matter.
  • Trojans lost to Fresno State 24-7 in the 1992 Freedom Bowl.
  • USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin played for and coached at Fresno State.
Scott Wolf in the LA Daily News:
California coach Jeff Tedford apologized to USC coach Pete Carroll on Monday for a head butt delivered to Trojans tailback LenDale White after White's helmet came off in a pile of players last weekend.

Golden Bears linebacker Zack Follett head-butted White and drew a personal-foul penalty for the play.

"Jeff called and apologized and said he called (Follett) in and made him apologize for the play," Carroll said.

White said the personal foul didn't bother him because he experienced rough plays all season.

"That's what happens, life goes on," White said. "I told the refs they were grabbing my face mask. I feel like every team we play does it. They're twisting ankles, spitting, punching your head.

"But that's football. It really only happens when you're winning and it's a last resort for the other team."

Ironically, Cal offensive lineman Aaron Merz said USC was the "cheapest" defense he faced and said the Trojans spit, poked eyes and grabbed face masks.

"I didn't see anything like that on the film," Carroll said. "Our guys said they were the ones doing stuff like that."

USC defensive end Frostee Rucker denied spitting and defensive end Lawrence Jackson said the game was no rougher than usual.

"There was one play and (Cal offensive lineman) Ryan O'Callaghan pushed me in the back and I said, 'What's going on?' and he said, 'It's all fun. I'm not trying to hurt you.' So obviously, he didn't feel like we were doing anything dirty."

Carroll's more concerned about the continuing trend of helmets flying off in games and spoke to equipment personnel on Monday about it. The reason is USC switched to plastic helmet buckles this season, which become stretched out and loose after repeated use.

Carroll said he wanted to switch back to the metal buckles because they are more reliable. USC switched to plastic this season because former players Troy Polamalu and Alex Holmes cut their hands in practice on the metal buckles.
  • No rush for Williams to return from injury now that Brian Cushing has emerged at outside linebacker.
  • Tom Malone still bothered by a hip flexor. Carroll: "He's still not 100 percent. This is not him at his best. He used to be very active in practice. He can't do that anymore and only kicks one or two days."
  • Toy drive will be held at the Coliseum on Saturday for local children and those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Carroll and the USC Athletic Department behind the drive.
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Number 58

Sports Illustrated's Peter King:
Lofa Tatupu rocks. Learn about him. There aren't five middle linebackers playing any better right now.
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Monday Morning Report

Gary Klein in the LA Times:
  • X-rays of linebacker Thomas Williams' knee show damage, but extent yet to be determined.
  • Pete Carroll: "[Freshmen linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing] probably maybe a little bit ahead of schedule of where we hoped."
  • Carroll will wait for Williams and Oscar Lua injury reports before deciding whether Maualuga will start Saturday.
  • Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis: ends Frostee Rucker and Lawrence Jackson helped throw Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob off his game by penetrating into the backfield and hitting his arm.
Scott Wolf in the LA Daily News:
  • Fresno State coach Pat Hill previously "furious" with USC over past scheduling incidents.
  • Carroll noticed the Trojans were low key before the Cal game and even during the week
  • Carroll: "The penalties didn't impact the [USC vs. Cal] game," Williams injury "wasn't a typical knee injury," Maualuga and Cushing "both will play regardless of who we start."
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