Just a couple of quick hits to start the day!
With all the attention given to Rey and Cush there hasn't been a whole lot of attention given to Keith Rivers' replacement Kaluka Maiava.
USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava filled the back-up role, never complaining that he should be playing ahead of the starter.
Not that he had much of a choice.
[...] Now, finally, it's Maiava's turn.
The senior from Hawaii is on track to start alongside middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and strong-side linebacker Brian Cushing, each of whom are regarded as a possible first-round draft pick in 2009.
"It's my last shot," said Maiava, who had thumb and wrist surgeries last spring. "I do want to play in the NFL, hopefully, one day and I know I need numbers.
"I'm really behind Rey and Cush, and I have to play catch-up.
Maiava has some big shoes to fill not only in replacing Rivers but also in defining his game in his senior season. With Luther Brown facing some injury issues this is Maiava's chance to really make a name for himself this season. I think its pretty good to finally see some of the other players on the team who aren't yet in prominent roles get some good press. Maiava will be key to SC's success on defense this season.
Staying with the defense Mark Wicker of the OCR has a nice read on Fili Moala.
He is the stabilizer at defensive tackle, one of several Trojans charged with replacing Sedrick Ellis, now with the New Orleans Saints after he disrupted supply lines throughout the Pac-10.
"It's going to take all of us," Moala said. "We've got Averell Spicer and Christian Tupou at nose tackle and they're doing fine, but the important thing is for all of us, for Kyle (Moore) and Everson (Griffen) and me to step it up and make up for what Sedrick gave us.
"I just want to keep being that consistent rock in the middle."
There are always going to be haters or complainers who don't get it or who feel that if SC just stuck with one or two featured backs that they could have done better than they have the past two seasons.
Its amazing how guys just step up and accept the roles that are thrust upon them. I have read the stories of how Fili could be the #1 Pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and I have paid it no mind. That is a long way to go and there are no guarantees so its best to just focus on the here and now. He sounds like he has the right mind set for the role he will play this season and that will be a great motivator for those on the defensive line with him.
Bruce Feldman [$] has Kevin Ellison and Rey Maualuga as the #3 and #9 biggest defensive impact players this season.
Kevin Ellison, USC, S: It's hard for any USC Trojan to be underrated these days, but when you play on a defense with Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, uberfreak Taylor Mays and DT Fili Moala, you can sneak under the radar. But the truth is, no one on the USC defense plays faster, makes fewer mistakes or gets more praise from the Trojan coaches. Ellison, a 225-pound heavy hitter, is the leader of what may be the best defense in the country.
Rey Maualuga, USC, LB: The biggest hitter in college football, Maualuga is a highlight waiting to happen. He delivers more violent hits than any player in the country. There are times when he dominates like no other linebacker as he did in last year's Rose Bowl.
You could have put just about anyone on the defense on this list!
Finally, this subject comes up all the time but this has to be the best explanation that Pete Carroll and the players have given to date.
Carroll sees no problem with wealth of RB talent
It wouldn't be accurate to say USC coach Pete Carroll is annoyed by the question. He's bored with it, sure. But it's more that he wishes he could get everyone else to think like him, to fix their faulty wiring and understand the "USC Way."
[...] "It's never been a problem for us," Carroll said. "It's a problem for everyone else that they can't figure out why we do it that way."
I don't have a problem with this piece by Ted Miller. It is actually the most complete picture of this situation that I have read in quite sometime. I could probably write a whole post on this but why beat a dead horse for those who just don't get it.
This question has been asked and for the most part answered in the past but Carroll's pointed answers here really do explain that for this program, with this staff and these players it is working. Yes, I get it that had things been run a little more "traditional" the argument could be made that SC could have played in at least one more BCS title game but there were so many other factors in play that it really is hard to tell what really could have been.
I have a hard time getting upset at winning 6 straight Pac-10 titles and playing in the Rose Bowl 3 straight years. It is time to stop worrying about what could have been and enjoy what we have now. Most of those who complain would give their their right arm to sniff just a little bit of the talent that Pete Carroll has brought in and the success that has come with it.
I liked this little passage the best...
McKnight and the other five backs, none of whom are seniors, each earned Parade or USA Today All-American honors in high school. Actually, McKnight is one of four who earned both.
Digest that for a second. It's mind-boggling if you follow recruiting.
Nothing else needs to be said!
I like how things are at this point and as I have said numerous times already the alternative is right across town...