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Friday Notes

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There were a couple of things that I didn't get to earlier this week. With two weeks to go things are heating up with roster moves and player evaluations still to be made.

The Booty Legacy

Dennis Dodd has a great article on the Booty family name.

Booty arrived here with hoopla over the top even for Troy. The Booty name in football is golden. Brother Josh was a star at LSU who played in the NFL. Abram Booty was a record-setting receiver. Little brother Jake is a senior quarterback at Calvary Academy in Shreveport.

The signing caused ripples across the country, not just because Booty arrived so early. USC lost out on Chris Leak (who event ually went to Florida and won a national championship) and Kyle Wright (Miami).

Signing Booty looks like it caused a problem just like when SC got Joe McKnight. It isn't the first and it probably won't be the last.

Linebacker U

Earlier this week Dan Weber of the Press-Enterprise had an article about SC being the next Linebacker U.

How hard can it be to pick the nation's top group of linebackers?

Try counting to three, as most of the preseason pundits have done, and you come up with USC's Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing.

Rivers already is one of the nation's best going into his senior season, while the 250-pound juniors, the hard-hitting Maualuga in the middle and ball-hawking Cushing on the outside, appear ready to join the elite.

"They're beasts," said Trojans assistant Rocky Seto, who has coached them the past three seasons. "So big, so fast."

There's not much debate about the nation's best linebackers -- except at USC, where they don't stop counting at three.

Seems like every time I read an article they press and the pundits are calling US Quarterback U, Tailback U or whatever U. I am not into all the hype but with the talent we have I have no problem putting this team at the top spot.

Embargo Lifted

Pete Carroll's normal tactic of keeping the press away from incoming freshman was lifted if only for a brief moment when he allowed the press to talk to Joe McKnight.

From The Press-Enterprise:

McKnight, the River Ridge, La., product considered the nation's No. 1 high school prospect a year ago, handled himself well.

A flash of the panache he demonstrated in high school came up when he was asked if his punt return touchdown in Sunday's scrimmage was a confidence builder.

"A big confidence builder," he said.

Then, after thanking his blockers on the play for opening the way, McKnight added that "I feel like I could do it to any team in the Pac-10."

His most difficult moment to this point?

"Trying to block (linebacker) Brian Cushing," he said, without giving up any details on the outcome of his attempt.

From The OC Register:

"Guys have really taken him under their wing, accepted him and tried to show him the way," Booty said.

Players have extended their welcome to the highly decorated recruit in another way, too: by pounding him all over the field.

The defense has been relentless in hitting McKnight. Cornerback Terrell Thomas tackled him into a wood fence that lines the practice field, producing a loud thump. Brian Cushing flattened him on a quarterback rush.

"I figure the defense is just doing what they do every day at practice," McKnight said. "From what I heard, C.J. (Gable) went through the same thing last year."

Thus far, McKnight has distinguished himself from a group of 10 tailbacks with his open-field moves, his elusiveness and his speed. He clearly has a role on the offense, but how big?

The 6-foot, 180-pound McKnight acknowledges he doesn't have the size to be an every-down back yet. The Trojans plan to work him in gradually, thinking he can provide a spark similar to the one Reggie Bush produced as a freshman in 2003.

McKnight is a polished humble young man and he will go a long way at SC.

The Quiet Leader

Sedrick Ellis is a behemoth in the middle but his play is only part of the story. Yes, he is the leader of the defense but he leads the team as a whole as well.

The Trojans can pack a meeting room with high-school track champions. They have monster dunkers and former soccer stars, even an ex-boxer. They have a parade of hulking behemoths jogging around the practice field.

But if they were asked to produce one character to slide into the next "X-Men" movie, they might send Sedrick Ellis into the audition room. Ellis moves things few men can.

[...]Think this Trojans team has some talent?

The bulk of it is on the defensive side. The bulk of the defense is Ellis, both literally and emotionally. He has become the man the coaches can count on to police the players. After a fight broke out between defensive ends Everson Griffen and Kyle Moore this week, coaches asked Ellis to pull Griffen aside and cool him down.

He is the enforcer on the field, too. Ellis knocks linemen around, clogging up holes and setting up linebackers for tackles. Without him, the USC linebackers wouldn't be gaining this much acclaim.

Holt loves the way Ellis actually shows enthusiasm for practice. He's no Allen Iverson.

I am glad that he made the decision to come back.

Twin Towers

I know that I wrote about the receivers earlier this week but Mark Saxon of the OC Register had a good article on Patrick Turner and David Ausberry.

Cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage are often said to be on an island.

When they play USC this year and they're backed into their own end zone, they might feel like they're on a tiny island with the tide rising fast.

The Trojans are planning to use receivers Patrick Turner and David Ausberry - called the Twin Towers by some of their teammates - on the field at the same time. Turner is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. Ausberry is 6-4 and a lean 225.

Both of them have basketball backgrounds and explosive leaping ability.

There has been a lot talk about how tough it is going to be to replace Jarrett and Smith but I really think that Turner and Ausberry will have an easier time getting into the groove than some of the guys in the running back group. I think we will be pleasantly surprised.