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Monday News and Notes

I am heading out for a couple of days off today, DC Trojan will be running the shop. I am sure I will get a few minor things up over the next few days but I plan to just watch the waves crash on the beach and enjoy Emma's first trip to the beach.

Lots to get to today.

A possible home coming

With all the hype surrounding the Trojans this season it was inevitable that that the questions about John David Booty returning to to his home state of Louisiana to play in the BCS title game.

From The LAT:

In much the same way he would read a blitz at the line of scrimmage, USC quar terback John David Booty recognized the situation.

He knew the query was coming.

"I don't want to even talk about it," a chuckling Booty said of the prospect of playing in the Bowl Championship Series title game in New Orleans.

It has been more than four years since the Louisiana-bred Booty graduated from high school a year early and ventured west to USC. He endured a long wait behind Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, overcame back surgery and broke out during a 2006 season that ended with a superb performance in a Rose Bowl victory over Michigan.

Now, with USC atop most preseason polls, Booty is regarded as a Heisman front-runner, a player who could lead the Trojans to their third BCS title-game appearance in four years.

A championship game that will be played in the Louisiana Superdome.

"You couldn't draw it up any better -- it's like a Hollywood script," Booty said, grudgingly. "But it's not something that I think about.

Not surprising. The MSM always looks for these sorts of storylines to try and make things interesting. I think if it does happen the Joe McKnight angle will be far more interesting as will the whole Les Miles brew-ha-ha. If we are lucky to get there I hope we smack LSU in the mouth and put all this crap behind us.

5 Questions

Gary Klein at the LA Times has five questions about USC for the upcoming season:

1. Which tailbacks will emerge from the logjam?
  1. Can the receivers fill the void left by the departures of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith?
  2. Is the offensive line a strength or a liability?
  3. Will this be the best defense of the Pete Carroll era?
  4. Who will be the kicker?

Interesting questions, I think Washington and Moody will battle it out for the starting job while Havili and Bradford fight it out for the fullback position. What about Green? Looks like he is a true power back that could bring a lot to this offense. Gable will also be in the mix and of course there is Joe McKnight. He will definitely see some playing time. What about Stafon Johnson? Will we finally see what he has to offer?

As for the receivers, Turner and Hazelton have some big shoes to fill but I will be interested to see how Ausberry, Patterson and Holland challenge them for playing time. Whether or not that live up to those lofty expectations we won't know until the season begins.

I think the O line will be fine. Just like the receivers they need to get their sea legs under them. I think the game against Idaho will work out some bugs but this question will be answered against Nebraska

Hard to say about the defense, that 2004 defense was one of the best I ever saw. The speed is there and so is the talent but will that convert into dominance?

The loss of Mario Danelo will really be felt as practice starts. Its wide open and there are two needs to fill, 1)long booming Kick-offs and 2) FG/PAT accuracy. It is always the little things that bite you.

Dan Weber of the Press-Enterprise has some of the same questions also and a few more to boot .

Weakest position: Punter. Greg Woidneck has no one behind him. Place-kicker David Buehler at least has walk-on Joe Houston backing him.

Player they can least afford to lose: FB Stanley Havili, the only returning player with the package of receiving, blocking and running skills. After breaking his leg, he was missed last season.

Three biggest camp battles: 1. Safety: Taylor Mays, the 6-4, 240-pounder with 4.3 speed, Josh Pinkard, the 220-pound hitter, and Kevin Ellison, the mistake-free veteran, will fight for starting spots.

McKnight is the one to watch

Mark Saxon in the OC Register thinks McKnight is the missing ingredient.

With no fanfare, Joe McKnight started putting his imprint on the USC football program this summer. Because it came in player-only, unofficial workouts, Carroll's only glimpse was via the World Wide Web.

Booty, the Trojans' Heisman Trophy-hopeful quarterback, liked what he saw from McKnight. He dropped some serious names while trying to describe him.

"It's almost like he has the speed of Reggie (Bush), but the hands of Steve Smith, if you believe that," Booty said. "It is kind of like that in a way. It's really special."

For a team that otherwise has it all -- an experienced, fast defense; a returning quarterback; a deep pool of tailbacks -- McKnight might be the missing ingredient. He looks like a playmaker, someone who can turn a short gain into a 70-yard touchdown.

USC, which lost its two most explosive offensive players, might have an opening for a home-run hitter. The Trojans start practicing Monday, and taking a closer look at McKnight will be part of the coaches' agenda.

As was mentioned above there are some questions coming into this season and while I won't call McKnight a savior he will definitely add some impact and options to this roster. He is another weapon that Booty can use and hope fully he will give opposing defenses fits. It all has to come together in the other areas but we are all excited about what McKnight brings to the team and we look forward to watching those results.

Clearinghouse issues

From Wolfs Blog:

As of right now, freshmen tailbacks Broderick Green and Marc Tyler along with wide receiver Brandon Carswell will not practice tomorrow because they have not been certified by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

This means their might be something missing on their transcripts or an outside class they took did not get sent to the NCAA yet. Until the NCAA receives all the necessary paperwork and approves it, they will be held out of practice.

If true, I'm not really worried about Carswell or Tyler. I would love to have them available but as incoming freshman and with the depth at both WR and RB I'm not sure I will lose a lot of sleep over it. Broderick Green on the other hand is special, he is a true power back and it would be nice to get him some reps to see what he can do. It would be nice to have everyone in camp with any outstanding academic issues so lets hope they all get through the process unscathed.

On the Hoops side Davon Jeffeson WAS cleared by the NCAA. HT: TrojanNYC

Speaking of Hoops

Mathew Kredell has a couple of notes from his blog at the DN.

On Gabe Pruitt:

For a second round NBA pick, nothing is guaranteed. But Gabe Pruitt looks like a cinch to get a roster spot on the Boston Celtics after the team traded away point guard Sebastian Telfair in the deal to acquire Kevin Garnett.

"It definitely opens up a chance for me to step in and get a lot of playing time,'' Pruitt said Sunday before the L.A. Stars All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game. "But there's nothing set in stone so I'm ready to go in and work to earn a spot.''

I'm not going to comment on the photo referenced in the other part of the post. Weird.

On Nick Young:

Gilbert Arenas is passing out more than advice to new Washington Wizards teammate Nick Young.

Young, the former USC and Cleveland High of Reseda standout, said Sunday before participating in the L.A. Stars All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game at Galen Center that Arenas sold him his six-bedroom home in Northern Virginia.

"Gil passed it down to me,'' Young said. "It's pretty big, more than I expected. I expected to rent at first, but Gil wouldn't have any of that. It's nice to own my first house.''

Good for Nick! It looks like he is fitting in Just fine.

One final Hoops note, there is an article, also by Kredell, in the DN on Lil' Romeo. Its an interesting read, I will have more on that later.

Enjoy your Monday!