Defending champs
bring the names
with their game

Hawaii’s first opponent of the
season carries quite a pedigree
to Aloha Stadium on Sept. 3

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of 12 articles on Hawaii's opponents for the 2005 football season. Tomorrow: Michigan State.

Two-time national champion USC is so awesome, even the names seem better than everyone else's.

Winston Justice. Reggie "The President" Bush. Nick Vanderboom. Tommy Trojan.

And there is no cooler moniker anywhere than Frostee Rucker.

"Sarkiffian" has a ring to it, too. That's the two-headed monster of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach tasked with replacing Norm Chow, the heralded passing-game strategist who left for the Tennessee Titans.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart has hinted around that he might have stiff-armed his senior year and left for the NFL if he'd known the OC cast change was in the offing. It seems Leinart has since shrugged off that bit of negativity -- as well as a slight scare that the old injury to his left (throwing) elbow was acting up over the summer.

Even if Leinart weren't able to throw to receivers like sophomore Dwayne Jarrett and freshman Patrick Turner (who are both 6-feet-5), the two-time defending national champions look unstoppable on offense.

The biggest reason is Bush, the only player between Hawaii's Chad Owens and first-team All-American all-purpose player honors last season. The 6-foot, 200-pound Bush has produced touchdowns rushing, receiving, kickoff returning, punt returning and passing in the first two years of his college career.

Leinart and Bush accounted for four touchdowns in USC's 61-32 win against Hawaii in 2003.

Center Ryan Kalil played as a backup in that game, and now anchors one of the best offensive lines in the nation.

"They have been the highlight group this camp," coach Peter Carroll said.

Left tackle Sam Baker and right guard Fred Matua are also honors candidates, but the most promising player is Justice, who sat out last year because of a student -conduct violation. He spent his time improving his footwork with Freddie Roach, boxer Brian Viloria's trainer.

Vanderboom was among five candidates to start at tight end going into fall camp.

The defense loses four stars in linemen Mike Patterson and Shaun Cody, and linebackers Matt Grootegoed and Lofa Tatupu.

Rucker returns at end. Hawaii fans will remember him intercepting a pass to set up a TD against the Warriors in the 2003 debacle. Sedrick Ellis, LaJuan Ramsey, Fili Moala, Travis Tofi and Jeff Schweiger went into fall camp battling for spots up front.

Dallas Sartz returns as a starter at strongside linebacker. Eight players -- including true freshman Kaluka Maiava from Baldwin -- were still competing last week to replace Tatupu in the middle. Keith Rivers will get Grootegoed's spot on the outside.

Strong safety Darnell Bing heads up the secondary, with Justin Wyatt and Terrell Thomas at the corners and Scott Ware leading the pack at free safety.

The Trojans don't need him often, but punter Tom Malone might be the nation's best. He averages 44.5 yards per kick. Sophomore Mario Danelo will handle field goals and extra points, and strong-legged freshman Troy Van Blarcom will kick off.

USC Trojans

Basic Offense: Multiple
Basic Defense: 4-3
2004 Record: 13-0 (8-0 Pac-10)
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 49/19
Starters Returning: 14
Head coach: Pete Carroll (42-9)

2004 Results

Date Opponent Result
Aug. 28 Virginia Tech W, 24-13
Sept. 11 Colorado State W, 49-0
Sept. 18 BYU W, 42-10
Sept. 25 Stanford W, 31-28
Oct. 9 California W, 23-17
Oct. 16 Arizona State W, 45-7
Oct. 23 Washington W, 38-0
Oct. 30 Washington State W, 42-12
Nov. 6 Oregon State W, 28-20
Nov. 13 Arizona W, 49-9
Nov. 27 Notre Dame W, 41-10
Dec. 4 UCLA W, 29-24
Jan. 4 Oklahoma W, 55-19

2005 Schedule

Date Opponent
Sept. 17 Arkansas
Sept. 24 at Oregon
Oct. 1 at Arizona State
Oct. 8 Arizona
Oct. 15 at Notre Dame
Oct. 22 at Washington
Oct. 29 Washington State
Nov. 5 Stanford
Nov. 12 at California
Nov. 19 Fresno State
Dec. 3 UCLA

| | |
E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com