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Football News and Notes 7/30

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A monster day in the O. R. for me today so there are a few things catch up with...

Secret Weapon?

The OC Register has a nice write-up on FB Stanley Havili.

Several hours into Pac-10 Media Day, and no one had mentioned Stanley Havili. Finally, when someone asked a question about the USC fullback, Pete Carroll’s eyes lit up.

“Stanley’s an integral part of what we do,” Carroll said. “There aren’t that many fullbacks in football anymore.”

Fullback is, as Carroll put it, a “dying breed” position.

Four Pac-10 teams — Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State — don’t list any fullbacks on their rosters. Oregon lists one — the aptly named Adam Block — but the Ducks were spread-offense forerunners in the conference. UCLA and Cal list fullbacks on their depth charts but started with double tight ends about half the time last year. Best I can tell, only Stanford’s Owen Marecic and Washington’s Paul Homer joined Havili as Pac-10 fullbacks with double-digit starts in 2007.

With all the focus on the Spread offense or the WCO or whatever else is out there it is nice to see the traditional aspects of the game still in play at some programs. Stanley really does bring a lot to the table and losing him in his freshman year really hurt us as the season wore on. He has had his great moments like breaking that big run against Nebraska and he has had some terrible moments as well like the fumble against Oregon last season. Regardless he is a VERY important cog in the machine


An interview with Stafon Johnson.

Heismanpundit has a nice interview with Stafon Johnson.

Here is sample...

USC is loaded with tailbacks. What are the benefits–and drawbacks–of playing in such a crowded backfield?

Every day you have to work hard to keep your spot. The next person is just as good as you are. You have to work hard and push yourself to be as good as you can be and compete at a high level on a daily basis.

Why did you choose USC?

I came because it’s Tailback U. I wanted to be a part of the history and to uphold the legacy of Tailback U.

You were reportedly down to Georgia and USC when it came to recruiting. What did you like about Georgia and what was it that caused you to pick USC?

At one time I wanted to go to school out of town. There were a lot of things going on in my mind and I considered Georgia. But there is no place like home or like USC or like the Trojan family. I couldn’t go away.

Its a good read. More important I like that a Blogger got the chance to get an interview and not just the press. Nice work HP


"¡VIVA SANCHEZ!"

ESPN the Magazine interviews Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez chose USC not just because of the program's star power, but also because it kept him close to his family in Southern California. He didn't care that it meant he'd likely sit on the bench for two seasons, maybe three. He didn't care that, for awhile, he'd be as faceless to fans of the program as the Trojans water boy.

Or so he thought.

As he click-clacks through the gate and onto the practice field this summer day, Sanchez sees them before they see him: men in Mexican wrestling masks and serapes, flanked by other fans carrying signs of support. For him. When the crowd finally recognizes him, a cry goes out: "¡VIVA SANCHEZ!"

It is at this moment that Sanchez realizes he is playing for not just himself, his family and his team. Whether he likes it or not, he's playing for people whose names sound like his; for those from south of the border who work thankless jobs for little pay; for those who are reminded daily that they live in a country that does not know what to do with them. These are the fans who once cheered for Valenzuela and Plunkett and now cheer for Garciaparra and De La Hoya. They are his fans too. On this day, Sanchez has arrived in Los Angeles.

There is some nice insight into Sanchez's heritage in the article. He seems grounded and it looks like the past is in the past and he is ready to assume the mantle of leadership on this team.

Lets hope it all comes together


Take a number and get in line...

Ted Miller seems to be doing a decent job running ESPN's Pac-10 blog. He has a daily round-up of news and links he has done a complete and thorough ranking of the top position players in the Pac-10 and then there is this...

The most-hated program in the Pac-10?

This could go the predictable way or the more nuanced way.

USC is the obvious answer. Why? Because everybody hates a winner.

Everybody hates a six-time champion. Everybody hates a pro football factory that celebrates seven players taken in the first two rounds of the 2008 NFL draft and may nearly duplicate that number in 2009.

Everybody hates a strutting bully. Everybody assumes the worst about one, including that he may be cheating (see Bush, Reggie).

What about that band? Stop for a second, will 'ya? It's almost enough to make a guy pine for "Rocky Top." (Operative word being, almost).

Only one horse in the world makes college football fans dream -- oh, he's so ... white -- about a case of graffiti paint.

Come on Teddy! I s that the best you have to offer? Have you been hanging around Westwood again? You sound like a typical Mets fan here in NYC who are constantly whining about the Yankees and the all the great press they get.

The fact is everyone like a winner...except those who get left in the dust or forgotten about. Your current employer has a lot to do with that with all the crap in 2005 about SC being the team ever...

blah blah blah

As for Bush the jury is still out regardless of how it all looks and most rational SC fans
will not give Bush a pass if it is proved that there were improprieties. It's not SC's fault that SC has been this good they earned it and if other teams want to get to that level they get to work


O'Dowd takes charge

Finally the OCR also has a nice write-up on Kris O'Dowd and his incredible level of maturity as he goes into his sophomore season.

USC returns only one full-time starter up front in left guard Jeff Byers. But O’Dowd (6-5, 300) started three of the Trojans’ first four games as a freshman. Then he asserted himself as the line’s leader during spring practice, much to Carroll’s liking.

“He just took over making the calls,” Carroll said. “We were really thrilled about that.”

[...]That’s why Kristofer O’Dowd, he’s the bell cow for us right now. He’s precocious. He’s shown he’s way ahead of what you think he should be in terms of his maturity and his ability to verbalize and analyze and all the stuff that position is called (upon) to do.”

Its great to see Kris really come into his own. His leadership will be key when the 2008 season gets underway!

Fight On! Kris!!!