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News and Notes 9/19

With another bye week this weekend SC needs to do two things - 1) Stay focused and 2) stay away from trouble.

Lets take the latter first. While we still don't know all of the details on the Shareece Wright situation it does prove to be a cautionary tale about laying low and and staying out of the spot light.

In the aftermath of cornerback Shareece Wright's legal situation, Coach Pete Carroll on Thursday implored players to avoid potentially troublesome situations as the top-ranked Trojans approached two days free of football.

"It's a tremendous challenge for everybody to stay in line, to keep track of what's going on and do the right thing," Carroll said.

Wright pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one count of felony resisting a police officer in connection with an incident that occurred at a party in Colton on Sept. 7, the weekend of an open date. Wright and three co-defendants are scheduled to appear in court for a settlement conference on Oct. 29.

Carroll described Wright's situation as a "teachable moment" for his players.

"Sometimes, when something happens like that, it helps a lot of people understand the reality," Carroll said.

In todays society people are always looking to play gotcha with people in high profile positions so its best to try and lay low when you have time off. I have no idea if Wright is guilty or not but based on what we have read it seems that he tried to do the responsible thing and get into a car after drinking it up ata party for a friend. I am not giving Wright a pass but too many times we have seen players allegedly get into trouble and then turn out to be nothing and everyone by then has pulled their hair out so like Pete Carroll I will take the wait and see approach. Whatever the the AD and the coaching staff deem suitable in dealing with this I will go along with.

Staying focused will be the key to SC not faltering this season SC has been burned before so the question is have they learned their lesson?

College football fans and analysts have short memories. It was less than 12 months ago that Stanford, a 41-point underdog, upset the Trojans at the Coliseum.

But two things are causing doubts anyone in the Pac-10 will pull of another upset soon. No. 1-ranked USC is flying high after a 2-0 start and rout of then-No. 5 Ohio State, and the Pac-10 experienced one of its worst weekends ever with a 3-7 record and 0-4 performance against the Mountain West Conference.

"I wouldn't expect to see this again from our conference, with this magnitude," California coach Jeff Tedford said. "It was just kind of a weird weekend."

That might be an understatement. Arizona State lost to Nevada-Las Vegas, a 23-point underdog.

"Unbelievable. Unbelievable," USC coach Pete Carroll said in his initial reaction to the Pac-10's lost weekend.

History says no matter how dominating the Trojans look, they will be challenged by somebody in the conference. Oregon State and UCLA upset USC two years ago; Stanford pulled off last year's shocker. Even the Matt Leinart-Reggie Bush era Trojans barely held off Stanford 31-28 in 2004.

That is why Carroll was asked many times this week about avoiding a letdown after the Ohio State victory. It's a fair question but not really germane to Carroll because his No. 1 strength is that he treats no game bigger than the rest, which avoids letdown losses.

"I never even talk about being complacent," Carroll said. "There is a standard about how we practice. If you practice this hard just can't help but perform at a high level.

I really want to see that proven and not just have it be lip service. SC has had 3 shocking losses for simply being complacent. That cannot happen this year...

It's early yet I know but one thing that will become front and center in the offseason will be our depth at linebacker. Rey, Cush, Kaluka, and Mathews will be off to greener pastures so its going to be a different look back there so the one thing we will be looking for is the health of linebacker Chris Gallipo.

Galippo, projected as the backup to Butkus Award candidate Rey Maualuga, said he still has some catching up to do with football-specific movements such as planting and cutting.

USC coach Pete Carroll is eager to have Galippo back. With junior Luthur Brown also on the mend from a back injury, Brian Cushing had to move over from his strong-side linebacker spot when Maualuga missed time during the season opener at Virginia because of cramping.

Galippo’s return “would be a great boost for us,” Carroll said. “He’s a really good football player. Our depth has been really light at that spot.”

The tragic loss of Maurice Simmons for his conviction of robbery also hurts our depth so Ken Norton has his work cut out for him next season. Luther Brown has get healed as well so that we have some experienced players on the first team. SC should get a boost if the commitments of Marquis Simmons and Vontaze Burfict hold and the hopeful commitment of Manti Te'o comes to fruition. We will have some work to do in the off season.

WIth all the excitment of SC's dominating performances against both UVA and OSU one player scarcely mentioned anymore is QB Mitch Mustain. His placement at 3rd on the depth chart has shocked many people including me and I'm sure that Mustain is shell shocked at these developments. The key is to make sure that Mustain keeps his head screwed on straight because you never know when it's your turn to step up. The coaches know that Mustain is probably feeling a little down and they have to make sure that he stays involved to keep him sharp.

"We're in constant communication," Sarkisian said. "Sometimes it's coach (Pete) Carroll. Sometimes it's me. It was the same with Mark (Sanchez) before he started and (John David) Booty before he got to play. They all want to play."

But Sarkisian admitted Mustain's case is different than Corp's because of the high expectations surrounding his transfer from Arkansas to USC.

"For Mitch, it's a little of a challenge not being the quarterback, more so than Aaron," Sarkisian said. "He started eight games in the SEC. He's trying to watch and learn and get more reps."

Mustain appeared to be unhappy after Corp was named the No. 2 quarterback before the season opener against Virginia. He said he is adjusting to life as the third quarterback after preseason expectations he might be able to overtake Sanchez for the starting job.

I can only imagine how Mustain feels. I really thought his experience as a starter would have given him the upper hand...shows you what I know. There is no question that Mustain has a tremendous upside wo he needs to keep pushing it to get the playbook down, Like I said you never know when its your time to step up and perform.

The accolades of SC's performance last weekend over Ohio State keep rolling in. EPSN's Chris Fowler has his take.

[But] I seriously doubt I will witness any team that stacks up to the Men of Troy. USC's systematic dismantling of talented Ohio State was startling. Here's why: The Trojans were wholly within themselves Saturday night. They just did their thing. "Nothing special," as USC coach Pete Carroll put it. Did he mean that to be insulting? I don't know. Maybe not.

But how would you like to be coach Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes and stagger home from a humbling 35-3 crushing, just to hear your opponents say that it was just a regular ole performance ... that they didn't really break a sweat ... that they were waiting for bigger tests in the Pac-10? Ouch.

This really is going to be a special team if things keep going the way they are and IF they don't stub their toe with a stupid loss against any of our Pac-10 foes. Pete Carroll seems to think th2at this team has different sort of energy level that the past two seasons. The question I have is simple, is that energy level the same as the 2004 or 2005 team. That 2004 team just rolled and the 2005 team had some slow starts before turning on the jets in some games this team has bit of that 2004 team about them. there are some similarities bbut there are some differences. Its still too early to tell just yet so its best to just take a wait and see approach.

Fowler also had some pretty nice things to say about Mark Sanchez...

By the way, Sanchez has to be the most polite and well-mannered guest we've ever had climb the stairs of our set. OK, so he kept us waiting an hour after finishing off Ohio State. But he made up for it with his classy and sincere answers and his insistence on shaking the hand and thanking each and every member of the stage crew, from the guys behind the cameras to the guy who put on his microphone to Donna, GameDay's makeup artist, whose services I don't think he even used.

It made me embarrassed that I don't thank them more often! I mentioned to his dad and mom that he was the first guest to ever go to such lengths. Their answer was, "He'd better have. Or he would answer to us." Great family.

Its the little things that people remember. Its also great to see a kid like Sanchez not forget the social graces that have been driven home by a loving family while maintaining such a high profile as the leader of this team. He still has a lot to show us and he still has a ways to go but he seem to be on the right track.

I was hard on Sanchez after his unfortuneate incident 2 years ago and I took a lot of heat over it but he has come through that difficult time with flying colors and he has proven to many detractors that he is the real deal and he's just getting started.

Lots and lots of promise on the horizon!