USC Football News and Notes 12/22 - Who is in; who is out, no word yet on McKnight, A BIG night for some former Trojans!

So we all patiently await the final status of Joe McKnight being eligible for Saturday's Emerald Bowl Game.

Regardless,if McKnight can't go that will give Allen Bradford the bulk of the carries and I would expect to see a heavy dose of CJ Gable as well.

SC has a chance to finish off the season on a positive note with a win on Saturday. It can be used as a catalyst for a new beginning in 2010. And with some players being deemed ineligible it will give SC a chance to see how some of the youngsters on this team could look in the future.

I am certainly not thrilled with all the negative publicity that SC has been getting over the past week but maybe this is what the program needs to find its way back on track. Be it better coaching, better schemes or simply changing the attitude to take nothing for granted. I have never thought that there was any good to be found in losing but I do think that looking at the reasons as to why a team loses is the road map to rededicate that team to winning. Teams get comfortable and that means complacency...we no what that means.

As I posted yesterday, McKnight did not make the trip with the team but there is still a possibility that he will make it to the bay area for the game...

USC is investigating McKnight's use of a sport utility vehicle that is owned by a Santa Monica businessman. It may constitute a violation of NCAA rules that prohibit student-athletes from accepting benefits from marketing representatives or agents, or "extra benefits" from anyone based on athletic ability.

The Times published a story last week about McKnight's use of the 2006 Land Rover. McKnight said he never drove the vehicle, which a Department of Motor Vehicles official said carried a purchase price of about $27,000. But McKnight has been observed driving the SUV.

[...]

McKnight participated in the workout but was not made available to reporters.

Coach Pete Carroll said afterward that the Trojans were preparing as if their 1,000-yard rusher would be available for the game at AT&T Park.

"We'll just go one day at a time and see where it stands," Carroll said.

Upon arrival in San Francisco, however, Carroll said in statement posted on the school's website that McKnight remained at home to complete "compliance-related" business.

"He has some paperwork he needs to do and it's best for him to stay in L.A. so he can be available to finish it," Carroll said.

Carroll did not provide a timetable for when McKnight might join the Trojans.

It is hard to know just what the "paperwork" really is but SC is doing the right thing by holding him back until this is all cleared up.

I realize that is not a popular opinion in some circles but because the NCAA is already looking at us, SC needs to make the politically correct moves in order to not piss off the draconian NCAA. Currently the NCAA is not involved with this...USC is one doing the investigating and if they don't do it right and the NCAA has to step in then really gets out of hand. Like it or not McKnight does not get the benefit of innocent until proven guilty.

We have read the claims that McKnight submitted the proper paperwork, yet the school didn't seem to have a hard and fast explanation for this and then the statement form the school is that McKnight needs to fill out more paperwork? SC can't close the loop on this until Schenter returns from South Africa as they will ask him some pointed questions and ask Schetner to provide documentation. They will probably do the same with McKnight's girlfriend too.

Don't think the NCAA hasn't already placed a call to review the progress of USC's investigation.

My guess is that the "paperwork" will probably take too long to complete for McKnight to play in the bowl game. This is probably SC's way of sitting him out...

- - -

With three players being ruled academically ineligible that means other players get a chance to step up and show us what they have got.

Replacing McCoy at TE will Rhett Ellison. This is his chance to make a name for himself for next season. With Blake Ayles out due to injury Ellison move to #1 on the depth chart. Ellison came to USC with some high expectations but because of SC's depth ti is not surprising that he would have some difficulty cracking into the starting line up with McCoy  and then Ayles there. Ayles has shown us he has hands of stone and with some of his off the field antics it has made many question his dedication to getting better. This is a big deal as the TE spot is pretty important in the USC offensive scheme.

Replacing Tyron Smith will be freshman Matt Kalil. Kalil is a beast.

In a surprise, though, sophomore offensive tackle Tyron Smith was also ruled ineligible. Redshirt freshman Matt Kalil will start the week as Smith's replacement. USC could have chosen to move starting guard Butch Lewis to tackle and insert senior Alex Parsons back into the lineup, but chose to promote Kalil.

"I'm excited," Kalil said. "It's a chance for me to show what I can do and step up. I think I'm ready to play."

Kalil said he was told during a team meeting Monday morning that he would be a starter.

"I've mostly worked with the (second team) during bowl practices," he said. "I can handle it."

We will find out just how well he handles it.

As I noted above, if McKnight is out then that gives Bradford and Gable a chance to shine.

- - -

I found this last night...

There have been rumblings and rumors about USC linebacker Uona Kaveinga transferring to BYU.

Kaveinga, who has been in Las Vegas this weekend, committed to the Cougars before deciding to sign with the Trojans as part of the 2008 recruiting class.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall can't talk publicly about Kaveinga until a transfer is official, but he did have this to say during this morning's Las Vegas Bowl press conference while addressing questions about mid-year transfers and high school early enrollees: "We have young man who is considering transferring from another Division I school. He wouldn't be placed on scholarship right away. When we get back in January, and I can't tell you if he's coming for sure or not, but that would be noteworthy if he chooses to come at that point."

Obviously, if Kaveinga were to transfer to BYU, it would be a coup for the Cougar defense.

I have been reading these rumblings of Kaveinga transferring for a few weeks now. I am not sure as to what the issues are, on or off the field, but it is obvious that there is some frustration with Kaveinga that he can't get on the field. I really don't know what he is capable of but if he isn't seeing a lot of playing time even with our thin depth at LB than that is saying something.

I found the that last sentence intriguing...that is the power of the USC brand. How is it a coup for BYU if they pull a transfer from USC? The kid has not proven that he is the real deal otherwise he would be seeing the field. I have not read, not that I have looked very hard, anything that says how great this player is. I don't recall even reading one of PC's famous "he is doing all the right things in practice, etc. etc." quotes so I am not sure how that translates into a coup for BYU.

I want every player at USC to succeed but if they are not happy, for whatever the reason, then they should seek out a situation that makes them happy.

- - -

On a lighter note, looking at some former Trojans in the NFL I found this...

Observers around the nation continue to question the capacity of this team to deliver when it matters most.  Saturday night’s mauling at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, 24-17, has been officially submitted as Exhibit A.  The Cowboys drilled the Saints for 145 rushing yards on the ground, nullified the pass rush, and held on to win a game where the final score did not reflect Dallas’ dominance.

I still like the Saints and I believe that those observers would be wise to view that game in its full context.  Sure, the Saints played without Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush sustained an injury during the game.  That’s hardly the point.  Dallas won that game between the trenches.  They rode a powerful running game that included a defining knock out blow on Jonathan Vilma delivered by Marion Barber (Lights Out!!).  And, the trenches are where the fortunes of the Saints have been determined all season.

Consider this:

  1. In games in which Sedrick Ellis (the 2nd year defensive tackle out of USC)  has played, the Saints have allowed an average of 94.7 yards rushing per game.  That would be good enough for 5th in the league overall.  Only Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and Minnesota rank higher.
  2. In games that Ellis has missed, including Saturday night’s game vs. the Dallas Cowboys, the Saints have allowed a whopping 149.6 yards per game.  Over the course of the year, that would tie them at 29th with the Cleveland Browns.  Only Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Buffalo have been worse.

Who here doesn't miss Big Sed mauling the middle of opposing offensive lines?!

We have seen it all year...how many former Trojans are performing at the highest level in the NFL? Last night there were three Trojans who scored in the Giants/Redskins game. Steve Smith got a TD pass, Big Fred Davis got a TD pass and Terrell Thomas (T2) had a pick six. Not a bad showing, as it shows once again that if a player puts in a lot of hard work at USC and goes the distance there is a pretty good chance that he will find success in the NFL.

Steve Smith has to be headed to the Pro Bowl! If he isn't I will be stunned.

Anyway, great times for many former Trojans!

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