2008 USC Trojans football team


2008 USC Trojans football team

NCAATeamFootballSeason
Year=2008
Team=USC Trojans


Conference=Pac-10 Conference
Division=
ShortConference=Pac-10
Record=4–1
ConfRecord=2–1
BCSRank=
CoachRank=9
APRank=8
HeadCoach=Pete Carroll
OffCoach=Steve Sarkisian
DefCoach=Nick Holt
OScheme=Multiple
DScheme=4-3
Stadium=Los Angeles Coliseum (c. 92,000, grass)
Champion=
BowlTourney=
BowlTourneyResult=
The 2008 University of Southern California Trojans football team (variously "Trojans" or "USC") will represent the University of Southern California during the college football season of 2008–2009. The team will be coached by Pete Carroll and play their home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

__TOC__

Before the season

Pre-season outlook

The Trojans finished the 2007 season with a decisive Rose Bowl victory, #2 ranking in the Coaches Poll and #3 ranking (with one first-place vote) in the AP Poll. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Final (Dec. 16)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 24, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Final (Dec. 16] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 24, 2008.] In January 2008, immediately after the bowl season, USC was ranked at #4 by "Sports Illustrated" online and #5 by ESPN.com; the general opinion was that while the Trojans were facing key player departures, the losses were mitigated by the overall talent level of the program. Georgia was ranked as the early pre-season #1 team.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/01/08/early.top10/index.html Georgia Rule] , SI.com, January 8, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3186264 Georgia takes top spot in early look at 2008's Top 25] , ESPN.com, January 8, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] "Sports Illustrated" and ESPN.com soon revised their rankings to #3 and #4, respectively, after nearly all draft-eligible juniors decided to remain with the program instead of entering the NFL Draft.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/01/16/power.rankings/index.html Early look at '08] , SI.com, January 17, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Going into the spring, USC ranked as the premiere team in the Pac-10 Conference, taking advantage of a deep talent pool, including a number of talented running backs holding over from the previous season.Tim Griffin, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3266729 Trojans loaded but searching for QB replacement] , ESPN.com, February 27, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.]

The Trojans' biggest question entering spring practices was who would take over the starting quarterback position from John David Booty.Tim Griffin, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3266832 Quarterback battles, defensive replacements key to Pac-10 spring practices] , ESPN.com, February 27, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/03/05/spring.questions/index.html?eref=T1 Spring primer] , SI.com, March 6, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Junior Mark Sanchez entered spring practice as the acknowledged leader, having started three games the previous season due to an injury to Booty, winning two; however, Arkansas-transfer and former Razorback starter Mitch Mustain had the most college game experience, having started and won eight games for the 2006 Razorbacks team his freshman year while putting on an impressive performance on the scout team in the 2007 season during the NCAA-mandated waiting period.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-spw-uscfoot26mar26,1,1035130.story USC plans to have starting quarterback in place by summer] , "Los Angeles Times", March 26, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Both Sanchez (2005) and Mustain (2006) were considered the top quarterback in the nation coming out of their respective high school classes.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/04/18/usc.sanchez/index.html?eref=T1 Sanchez expected to continue USC's long line of excellence at QB] , SI.com, April 18, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] The Trojans entered spring with a number of qualified running backs, but not quite as many as in 2007. Battling for the starting position were top returners Junior Stafon Johnson (673 yards) and sophomore Joe McKnight (540 yards); but challenging them would be redshirt sophomore C.J. Gable, who started five games as a freshman in 2006 and the first two of 2007 before a season-ending injury, junior Allen Bradford, as well as previously injured redshirt freshman Broderick Green and Marc Tyler.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-uscspring25mar25,1,3210484.story USC spring football practice primer] , "Los Angeles Times", March 25, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] All six running backs earned "Parade" or "USA Today" All-American honors in high school, four earned both.Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview08/news/story?id=3540613 Carroll sees no problem with wealth of RB talent] , ESPN.com, August 18, 2008, Accessed August 18, 2008.] Questions remained around the wide receivers, who had struggled with consistency the previous season; all starters returned, with special attention focused on Arkansas transfer Damian Williams, who caught 19 passes for the Razorbacks in 2006 but sat out 2007 along with fellow Arkansas teammate Mustain.Ted Miller, [http://myespn.go.com/blogs/pac10/0-1-65/Q-amp-A-with-USC-s-Steve-Sarkisian.html Q&A with USC's Steve Sarkisian] , ESPN.com, July 23, 2008, Accessed July 28, 2008] The offensive line was hit hard by graduation, returning only one starter. The defense lost several important players to graduation, but the linebacker corp returned key players such as Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-uscspring25mar25,1,3210484.story USC spring football practice primer] , "Los Angeles Times", March 25, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.]

By the end of spring practice, the USC coaching staff announced that Sanchez would be the designated starting quarterback going into fall camp.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-usc16apr16,1,5445089.story Sanchez gets the nod at USC] , "Los Angeles Times", April 16, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Cory McCartney, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/cory_mccartney/05/01/winners.losers/index.html Spring's biggest winners and losers] , SI.com, May 1, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Ted Miller, [http://myespn.go.com/blogs/pac10/0-1-82/Once-anointed-as-USC-QB--Sanchez-asserted-himself.html Once anointed as USC QB, Sanchez asserted himself] , ESPN.com, July 24, 2008, Accessed July 28, 2008.] A crowd of 22,000 watched the Trojan Huddle, USC's spring game that ends spring practices, where Sanchez, Mustain and redshirt freshman Aaron Corp all performed well against Trojan defenses; the White team defeated Cardinal, 39–36, in double overtime.Bruce Feldman, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/notebook?page=Springgamenotebook080420 Grade A(-) Performance] , ESPN The Magazine, April 21, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] With a number of talented linebackers, the Carroll and defensive coordinator Nick Holt began experimenting with using a 3-4 defense variation implementing the "Elephant Position", which features a hybrid end/linebacker position.Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3378373 Griffen ready to leave his mark on Pac-10 QBs] , ESPN.com, May 2, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] The Trojans had used Cushing in the Elephant position during the 2006 season before returning to their traditional 4-3 during the 2007 season. In the 2008 variation, the position was filled by senior Clay Matthews, a former walk-on.Richard Cirminiello, [http://cfn.scout.com/2/751855.html Pac 10 Spring Football - What's Happening?] , Scout.com, May 2, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] After spring practices finished across the nation, "Sports Illustrated" revised its rankings and placed USC as the #3 team, behind Georgia and Ohio State; while ESPN ranked the Trojans #4, behind Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/05/01/spring.rankings/index.html Georgia exits spring as No. 1] , SI.com, May 1] , 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3388100 Buckeyes rise to No. 1 in updated Top 25] , ESPN, May 9, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] The running back tandem of Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight was compared to the "Thunder and Lightening" combination of LenDale White and Reggie Bush, with McKnight mentioned as a top ten Heisman Trophy contender going into the fall.Gene Menez, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/gene_menez/04/30/springwrap.watch/index.html Ohio State's Wells is the man to beat in the 2008 campaign] , SI.com, May 1, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.]

At the Pacific-10 Conference media day, the Trojans were the near-unanimous pre-season pick to win the conference. USC took 38 of 39 first-place votes; California, which were picked to finish fourth in the overall standings, received the other vote.Gary Klein and David Wharton, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-usc25-2008jul25,0,3046928.story USC near-unanimous choice to win Pac-10 football title] , "Los Angeles Times", July 24, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.] This was USC's sixth year in a row as the favorite to win the conference title, the longest streak since the Trojans 18-year run from 1965–1982.Adam Rose, [http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/allthingstrojan/2008/07/blogging-from-p.html Blogging from Pac-10 Media Day] , "Los Angeles Times", July 24, 2008, Accessed July 24, 2008.]

On the release of the preseason Coaches' Poll, USC was ranked #2 in the nation, behind the 2008 Georgia team: Georgia received 1438 points with 22 first-place votes while USC received 1430 points with 14 first-place votes. Meanwhile, the 2008 Ohio State team was ranked third with 1392 points but an equal number of first-place votes with 14. [http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?pollId=2&seasonYear=2008 2008 NCAA Football Rankings - Preseason (Aug. 17)] , ESPN.com, Accessed August 1, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3514501 Georgia is preseason No. 1 ahead of USC in coaches' poll] , ESPN.com, August 1, 2008, Accessed August 1, 2008.] The preseason Associated Press (AP) Poll ranked USC #3 in the nation, behind Georgia and Ohio State. USC received 12 first-place votes and 1490 points, compared to Georgia's 22 first-place votes and 1528 points and Ohio State's 21 first-place votes and 1506 points. [http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?pollId=1&seasonYear=2008 2008 NCAA Football Rankings - Preseason (Aug. 17)] , ESPN.com, Accessed August 18, 2008.] Both polls added to the interest in the OSU-USC game on September 13.

A major concern arose in the first week of fall camp, when Sanchez suffered a dislocated left kneecap while warming up for practice. Trainers were able to immediately put the kneecap back into place, but the injury sidelined Sanchez and threw his availability for the season opener at Virginia (and beyond) into question. As a result, Mustain and redshirt freshman Aaron Corp began alternating repetitions with the first team offense and competing for the possible starting spot.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-sanchez9-2008aug09,0,2472162.story Mark Sanchez's knee injury muddies waters at USC] , "Los Angeles Times", August 9, 2008, Accessed August 11, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-usc10-2008aug10,0,2265071.story Mitch Mustain, Aaron Corp battle for starting spot] , "Los Angeles Times", August 10, 2008, Accessed August 11, 2008.] Ted Miller, [http://myespn.go.com/blogs/pac10/0-1-191/QB-intrigue-continues-at-USC.html QB intrigue continues at USC] , ESPN.com, August 18, 2008, Accessed August 18, 2008.] After missing nearly three weeks, Sanchez was cleared to play in the opener on the final day of fall camp; Corp was selected as his back-up.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-usc27-2008aug27,0,5692225.story USC quarterback Mark Sanchez has uneven practice, is cleared to play] , "Los Angeles Times", August 27, 2008, Accessed August 27, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-usc28-2008aug28,0,1474056.story Aaron Corp set to back up quarterback Mark Sanchez at USC] , "Los Angeles Times", August 28, 2008, Accessed August 29, 2008.]

The biggest issue facing the team entering the season was how the rebuilt offensive line would perform, though it had improved over the course of fall camp.Ted Miller, [http://myespn.go.com/blogs/pac10/0-1-223/One-big-issue-for-each-Pac-10-team.html One big issue for each Pac-10 team] , ESPN.com, August 22, 2008, Accessed August 23, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-uscseason23-2008aug23,0,1938613.story USC football season at a glance] , "Los Angeles Times", August 23, 2008, Accessed August 23, 2008.] Sanchez, Cushing, offensive lineman Jeff Byers, and senior safety Kevin Ellison were elected team captains by their teammates.Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-uscfyi23-2008aug23,0,6226069.story Mark Sanchez is elected captain] , "Los Angeles Times", August 23, 2008, Accessed August 23, 2008.]

In the week preceding the regular season, all twelve experts polled by ESPN picked USC to win the Pac-10 conference, and three expected them to make it to the BCS National Championship Game with two expecting them to prevail. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview08/news/story?page=ncfpredictions08 Sooners, Buckeyes favored to reach '08 title game] , ESPN.com, August 25, 2008, Accessed August 25, 2008.] All seven experts polled by "Sports Illustrated" picked USC to win their conference, with three forecasting them in the Championship Game with one selecting them to prevail. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/ncaa/specials/preview/2008/08/27/crystal.ball/index.html SI.com's team of experts make their picks for the 2008 campaign] , SI.com, August 28, 2008, Accessed August 29, 2008.] Rivals.com's panel of four experts unanimously picked USC to play in the title game. [http://collegefootball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=841213 Roundtable: Time to pick a BCS title game matchup] , Rivals.com, August 23, 2008, Accessed August 25, 2008.]

Recruiting class

USC brought in a top-10 recruiting class in 2008.

Transfers

Shane Horton, the brother of 2008 recruit Wes Horton, transferred from UNLV and would be required to sit out one season by NCAA rules.

Steve Gatena, former United States Air Force Academy Class of 2008 Cadet, transferred from UC Davis where he started as an offensive left tackle. Gatena was required to sit out one season by NCAA rules. However, due to his academic standing as a graduate student, Gatena was granted a one time transfer exception for pursuing his academic career.

Jordan Cameron, the uncle of Matt Leinart's son with USC basketball player Brynn Cameron, transferred in from Ventura College. [http://www.byucougars.com/Profile.jsp?ID=2746 Men's Basketball Athlete Profile - Jordan Cameron] , BYUCougars.com, "Accessed March 26, 2008."] Gary Klein, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-spw-usc19apr19,1,7408937.story USC's Tupou has a nose in front] , "Los Angeles Times", April 19, 2008.] A former freshman basketball player from Brigham Young University, Cameron attempted to transfer before the 2007 season to also play football as a wide receiver. [http://www.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/usc/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/07-newcomers 2007 USC Trojan Football Media Guide (Section 3)] , USC Athletic Department, July 2007.] However, when some of Cameron's units from Brigham Young did not transfer to USC, he needed to withdraw and attend Ventura College, missing the season but with the option to try and rejoin the team in 2008 (regardless, he would have been ineligible to play in 2007 due to NCAA transfer rules).Scott Wolf, [http://www.sbsun.com/sports/ci_6474499 Trojans busy counting scholarships] , "San Bernardino Sun", July 26, 2007.]

Departures

In addition to graduating starting senior 2007 All-Americans Sam Baker (offensive tackle), John Mackey Award-winner Fred Davis (tight end), Sedrick Ellis (nose tackle), and Keith Rivers (linebacker), as well as first team all-conference defensive end Lawrence Jackson, 2006 first team all-conference quarterback John David Booty and second team all-conference defensive back Terrell Thomas, the Trojans also lost junior All-Conference offensive guard Chilo Rachal to the 2008 NFL Draft. Pac-10 conference honorable mention offensive linemen Drew Radovich and Matt Spanos, tailback Chauncey Washington, and linebacker Thomas Williams also departed.Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, [http://media.www.dailytrojan.com/media/storage/paper679/news/2008/01/18/Sports/Dont-Rush.Judgment.On.Rachals.Decision-3158174.shtml Don't rush judgment on Rachal's decision] , "Daily Trojan", January 18, 2008, Accessed July 26, 2008.]

Offseason news

On the Monday after the 2007 UCLA-USC rivalry game, a 24–7 Trojans victory, embattled Bruins head coach Karl Dorrell was fired.Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/04/sports/sp-dorrell4 Bruins ready for next step] , "Los Angeles Times", December 4, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] His replacement was former UCLA quarterback Rick Neuheisel, who held previous head coach positions at both Colorado and Washington where he led teams to overall successful records but his departures coincided with NCAA investigations at both universities.Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/30/sports/sp-neuheisel30 Neuheisel goes back to school] , "Los Angeles Times", December 30, 2008, Accessed July 26, 2008.] Within a month on the job, Neuheisel attracted attention by hiring former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator. While with Trojans from 2001–2004, Chow led the offense to the 2003 and 2004 national championships and saw quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart win the Heisman Trophy.Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/21/sports/sp-chow21 UCLA hires Norm Chow as offensive coordinator] , "Los Angeles Times", January 21, 2008, Accessed July 26, 2008.] The hire of Chow injected a new level of drama to the rivalry that had somewhat stagnated under Dorrell.Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/23/sports/sp-plaschke23 UCLA gives USC reasons to worry] , "Los Angeles Times", January 23, 2008, Accessed July 26, 2008.] Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/25/sports/sp-plaschke25 Some summer sizzle for USC-UCLA football rivalry] , "Los Angeles Times", July 25, 2008, Accessed July 26, 2008.]

chedule

The "Sporting News" ranked the schedule as the toughest in the Pac-10; ESPN.com ranked it as the fourth toughest in the conference.Matt Hayes, [http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=425919 Ranking the nonconference schedules: Pac-10] , Sporting News, June 20, 2008, Accessed June 25, 2008.] Ted Miller, [http://myespn.go.com/blogs/pac10/0-1-232/Pac-10-s-toughest-schedules.html Pac-10's toughest schedules] , ESPN.com, August 25, 2008, Accessed August 25, 2008.] ESPN.com ranked the nonconference schedule as the fifth most difficult in the nation, noting that if Virginia had a good year it would be the toughest.Bruce Feldman, [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3467518&name=feldman_bruce Return of the weekly Top 10 list] , ESPN.com, June 30, 2008, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = August 30
nonconf = yes
time = 12:30 p.m.
rank = 2
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Virginia
site_stadium = Scott Stadium
site_cityst = Charlottesville, VA
tv = ABC
score = 52–7
attend = 64,947
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = September 13
nonconf = yes
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 1
away =
opprank = 5
opponent = Ohio State
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = ABC
score = 35–3
attend = 93,607
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = l
date = September 25
nonconf =
time = 6:00 p.m.
rank = 1
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Oregon State
site_stadium = Reser Stadium
site_cityst = Corvallis, OR
tv = ESPN
score = 27–21
attend = 42,839
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = October 4
nonconf =
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 9
away =
opprank = 20
opponent = Oregon
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = ABC
score = 44–10
attend = 82,765
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = October 11
nonconf =
time = 12:30 p.m.
rank = 9
away = no
opprank =
opponent = Arizona State
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = ABC
score = 28–0
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = October 18
nonconf =
time = 12:30 p.m.
rank =
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Washington State
site_stadium = Martin Stadium
site_cityst = Pullman, WA
tv = FSN
score =
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = October 25
nonconf =
time = 7:15 p.m.
rank =
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Arizona
site_stadium = Arizona Stadium
site_cityst = Tucson, AZ
tv = FSN
score =
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = November 1
homecoming = yes
nonconf =
time =
rank =
away =
opprank =
opponent = Washington
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv =
score =
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = November 8
nonconf =
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank =
away =
opprank =
opponent = California
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = ABC
score =
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = November 15
nonconf =
time = 4:00 p.m.
rank =
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Stanford
site_stadium = Stanford Stadium
site_cityst = Palo Alto, CA
tv = Versus
score =
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = November 29
nonconf = yes
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank =
away =
opprank =
opponent = Notre Dame
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
score =
attend =
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l =
date = December 6
nonconf =
time = 1:30 p.m.
rank =
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = UCLA
site_stadium = Rose Bowl
site_cityst = Pasadena, CA
tv = ABC
score =
attend =

Roster

tatistics

Team

cores by quarter

Receiving

References

External links

* [http://usctrojans.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/usc-m-footbl-body.html USC Athletic Department's official site]
* [http://www.uscripsit.com/ USCRipsIt.com] : Official website of USC Trojan football.


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