Starters returning: 5
Starters returning: 6
September 10, 1978
The Trojans are noted for fine tailbacks—they have two outstanding ones this year in Charles White and Dwight Ford—and their quarterback situation hasn't been all that bad, either. Nine USC quarterbacks have been named the outstanding player in the Rose Bowl. Now comes Paul McDonald, a lefty who could carry on the proud tradition. He played just 22 minutes last year behind Rob Hertel, but he has the pedigree, having come from the same high school powerhouse that produced UCLA's John Sciarra and USC's Pat Haden.
"He has an extremely accurate arm," says Johnny Robinson, winner of two bowl games in his two years as a head coach. "But that's just one phase of the quarterback position. I think he also has the ability to deliver the ball to a variety of targets."
Even if McDonald never puts the ball in the air, USC's offense will be formidable. White and Ford are dazzling runners, and Fullback Lynn Cain had a 5.4-yard average as backup to Mosi Tatupu. But the 6'1", 205-pound Cain is not yet the blocker Tatupu was. It may hardly matter, with battering rams up front like 6'7", 280-pound Tackle Anthony Munoz and Guards Brad Budde and Pat Howell. "The offensive line is probably the strength of our team right now," says Robinson.
The defense has talent, too, but not as much playing time as Robinson would like. Potential standouts are Nose Guard Rich Dimler from Bayonne, N.J., who is as tough as his hometown's reputation, and Tackle Myron Lapka. And, as an inkling of the kind of all-round athletes USC has landed in recent recruiting years, sophomore Safety Dennis Smith high-jumped 7'0" in both of the track meets he participated in last spring.
The Trojans will be legitimate contenders for No. 1 a year from now, but the schedule this season is too tough for the young squad. With non-league foes such as Alabama and Notre Dame, plus Pac-10 rivals Washington and UCLA coming back to back, followed next by the Irish, it's not a schedule, it's a death wish.