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Comparing 2003 to 2006

It has been discussed relentlessly about this year was going to be just like 2003. The mantra of "USC doesn't rebuild they reload" has been stated on message boards, blogs and the like. Pete Carroll has done a magnificent job of recruiting and motivating those players to play. When a player goes down he just plugs another one in.

But is 2006 just like 2003? Well, it depends on what you want to compare. Wolf has an article today in the Daily News comparing the two seasons.

USC coach Pete Carroll prepared an answer for any critics of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on Monday. He researched the statistics of the 2003 season compared to 2006.

Carroll picked 2003 because the Trojans had a first-year quarterback (Matt Leinart) and eventually relied on freshman tailbacks (Reggie Bush, LenDale White).

"You should look at the comparisons," Carroll said. "We're murdering those stats."

It should be noted USC did not use Bush or White the first three games the way tailback Emmanuel Moody played the first three games this season. But Carroll preempted criticism of Kiffin at his Monday lunch with fans by producing the stats before taking questions.

USC averaged 346 yards in total offense in its first three games in 2003, while the current Trojans are averaging 417 yards in their three games.

While these stats are impressive I don't think it's lost on anyone that this years team is different than 2003's team, way different. Watching our own version of the greatest show on earth has spoiled us. I don't think college football will ever see an offense like that anytime in the near future. We will have those images burned into our heads for years to come. Gregg Patton of the Press-Enterprise follows the same theme with his article yesterday.

This is what we're reduced to while critiquing unbeaten, third-ranked USC these days: The Trojans just haven't been entertaining enough.

We want lots of points. They give us dominating defense.

We want bombastic scoring plays. They give us great third-down efficiency.

We want three-play scoring drives. They move the chains.

We're spoiled. Is it any wonder? They spoiled us.

Last year, USC never scored fewer than 34 points in any of its 13 games. Last week, the Trojans scored 20, and 28 the week before that.

This year's team may be more productive, in terms of stats, than the 2003 team but this year's team gives us a different feel. They are grinding out wins, they are finding their own identity and in the end all that should matter is that USC wins the game. Yes there are still a number of questions but we are fortunate to have a ton of depth at a number of positions that will help us find the answers.

There is no question that Coach Carroll has them motivated and that motivation shows when an injured player like Jarrett still wants to get on the field when he should probably sit and recover. Players that have that type of motivation are winners and that attitude can be infectious and help bring a team together.

Yes, a win is a win, we have just become accustomed to flashy wins instead of these "nail biters" that we have seen the past two weeks. Patton is right, we're used to cosmetics.