10 USC Though their Heisman winner is gone, the Trojans have plenty of weapons left to make a run at the Pac-10 crown

August 10, 2003

Let everyone else around USC fret over which of five candidates
will replace Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer.
To the rest of the Trojans, "it's just not a big deal," says
senior wideout Keary Colbert. "In this offense the focus isn't
on who's throwing the ball--it's on the rest of us making his
job easier. The line has to block, and we have to get open and
catch the ball."

Colbert did a good job of getting open and catching the ball last
year: His 71 catches and 1,029 yards ranked second on the team to
freshman phenom Mike Williams (81 catches, 1,265 yards) and left
him 66 receptions shy of Kareem Kelly's school record of 204.
"Whoever is quarterback is going to be real fortunate," says QBs
coach Steve Sarkisian. "His supporting cast includes two
All-Pac-10 receivers, five offensive linemen who started
[including All-America candidate Jacob Rogers at left tackle] and
all three tight ends from last year. He doesn't have to be the
guy who puts this offense on his shoulders and goes off to win us
the national championship."

Palmer's successor--entering preseason camp, redshirt sophomore
Matt Leinart, a 6'5" lefty, had the edge over junior Matt
Cassell, sophomore Billy Hart, junior Brandon Hance and true
freshman John David Booty--will have the added benefit of
coach-defensive coordinator Pete Carroll's quick and aggressive
D, which is essentially a college version of the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers' Super Bowl-winning defense. All eyes will be on
freshman strong safety Darnell Bing, whose potential is so great
that Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett, the 1965 Heisman
winner, agreed to let Bing wear his retired number 20. The
defensive line, perhaps the best in the nation, will be anchored
by 6'5" tackle Shaun Cody, who was honorable mention All-Pac-10
despite missing the second half of last season with a knee
injury.

"They mauled us in spring ball," Sarkisian says of the defense,
which held nine opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing last
year. "I don't look forward to playing them in the 20-something
practices before our first game, but I am excited they are on our
side."

If the Trojans can win that first game, at SEC powerhouse Auburn,
they'll be on their way to restoring the glory USC fans once took
for granted. "We want to recapture that winning atmosphere," says
Sarkisian, "because when we win, this is a fun place to
be." --Kelli Anderson

COLOR PHOTO: STEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES LEAP OF FAITH Whoever's throwing them the ball, Williams and the rest of the wideouts are confident the passing game will click.

FAST FACTS

2002 RECORD 11-2 (7-1, T1 in Pac-10)
FINAL AP RANK 4
RETURNING STARTERS 14

KEY RETURNEES (2002 stats)

LB Matt Grootegoed (Jr.)
Team-high 81 tackles (16 1/2 for loss)

DE Kenechi Udeze (Jr.)
Two-year starter had 7 1/2 sacks

WR Mike Williams (Soph.)
Nation's best freshman wideout last year

LB Melvin Simmons (Sr.)
Two INTs, five deflections, one fumble recovery

LT Jacob Rogers (Sr.)
Two-year starter and All-Pac-10

TELLING NUMBER

+34
Trojans' turnover differential (71 interceptions and fumble
recoveries, 37 turnovers) for the last two years, best in the
nation.

SMART MOVE

To help make up for the loss of fleet-footed receiver Kareem
Kelly, who was drafted by the New Orleans Saints, coach Pete
Carroll moved speedy 5'10" sophomore corner Justin Wyatt to
wideout, one of the many offensive positions he played as a
standout at Dominguez High in Compton, Calif.

SCHEDULE

AUG. 30 AT AUBURN
SEPT. 6 BYU
13 HAWAII
27 AT CAL
OCT. 4 AT ARIZONA STATE
11 STANFORD
18 AT NOTRE DAME
25 AT WASHINGTON
NOV. 1 WASHINGTON STATE
15 AT ARIZONA
22 UCLA
DEC. 6 OREGON STATE

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)