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It's a Return to Student Body Right : USC's Offensive Line Puts Knight's Name in Headlines

November 16, 1986|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

Here's to the guys on the assembly lines in Ypsilanti. Here's to the steelworkers in Bethlehem. Here's to the longshoremen in Brooklyn.

Here's to the guys who work on your carburetor, collect your garbage, sweep your streets.

Here's to offensive linemen.

After USC's 28-3 victory over Cal Saturday night at the Coliseum, the name in most of the headlines today is going to be Ryan Knight. There is no question it was Ryan's night.

Knight, USC's junior tailback, carried 36 times for 204 yards and 4 touchdowns, the best game for a Trojan runner since Marcus Allen's 219-yard, 2-touchdown performance in 1981 against UCLA.

But who was it that gave Knight daylight?

USC's offensive linemen can take a bow, something they haven't had many opportunities to do in a season in which the Trojans have abandoned their Student Body Left, Student Body Right power-I running attack.

But Saturday night, they looked like the Trojans of old. Knight left and Knight right didn't look much different from Ricky Bell left and Charles White right.

That is because the Trojans, for at least one night, had a vintage line.

That isn't to say that anyone could have run for 204 yards behind the offensive line. Tip O'Neill probably couldn't have. Tatum O'Neal probably could have.

Certainly any of the three tailbacks on the Trojans' depth chart could have. Knight had the honor because Aaron Emanuel (jammed toe) and Steve Webster (ankle injury) are hurt.

USC coaches keep one statistic for offensive linemen, who are given one "decleater" for every defender they knock on his backside. Some schools call that a "pancake." But since USC's coaches have to look at the films to determine "decleaters," we will have to use one of Knight's statistics to show how the Trojans controlled the line of scrimmage.

When backs gain more than 200 yards, they usually do it with the benefit of at least one long run. But Knight's longest run Saturday was 11 yards. However, he had 16 runs of 7 or more yards. In 36 carries, he was stopped for a loss only once. That is a tribute to the offensive linemen, who did an excavation job on Cal's defense.

So let's meet these guys: strong tackle Dave Cadigan, strong guard Jeff Bregel, center John Katnik, weak guard Brent Parkinson and weak tackle Bruce Parks. Or is it Bruce Parkinson and Brent Parks?

When asked if USC dominated the line of scrimmage because it is so good or because Cal (1-9) is so bad, Brent Parkinson was the most diplomatic.

"A little of both," he said.

Cal's defensive players, particularly All-American linebacker Hardy Nickerson, have a reputation for attempting to rattle their opponents, not with jarring tackles but with words. Next season, they should try jarring tackles.

"It was a little frustrating," Katnik said. "We knew we were blocking them off the line, but they kept yelling crap at us. Nickerson was talking stuff the whole time."

Other Trojan offensive linemen, however, said they heard no evil.

"They were talking a little stuff in the first half," tackle Cadigan said. "But we were popping them pretty good. I think we made them a little delirious by halftime."

Of USC's offensive linemen, Bregel easily is the most publicized. The Granada Hills senior was an All-American last year and often is mentioned in newspaper articles around the nation as a candidate for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy.

But when Bregel was late returning to his locker from his postgame shower, a reporter began looking for another offensive lineman. Any offensive lineman.

"I'm one," said a guy.

"Which one?" the reporter asked.

He identified himself as Katnik, the junior center from Santa Ana. He transferred to USC last spring from Fullerton College.

"This is the kind of game I came to USC for," Katnik said. "USC's always been a team that runs the ball a lot with very litle passing. But it seems that since the beginning of the year, we haven't put the running game together.

"But I had a feeling we'd be prepared for this game. It wasn't a big game for us. Cal was 1-8. But after what happened last year, a lot of the guys were saying they weren't going to let it happen again."

Cal won last year's game, 14-6, virtually ending the Trojans' Rose Bowl aspirations.

But it was apparent from the beginning Saturday night that the Trojans weren't going to fool around with the Bears, pitting the Power I against Cal's powerless D.

"It was our game plan to run," Katnik said. "I was disappointed that we didn't run more."

The Trojans ran on only 53 of their 70 offensive plays.

Any more would have been cruel and unusual punishment. USC's offensive linemen called it fun.

"There's no way an offensive lineman can't be having a good time when a running back gains 200 yards," Katnik said. "But I thought one of the best plays of the night was when Leroy had that big run near the end."

Carrying a couple of Cal linebackers on his back, reserve fullback Leroy Holt went up the middle for 23 yards in the fourth quarter.

"We'd been going right and left all night," Katnik said. "It was good to go up the middle for a change. I love running up the middle."

Spoken like a true center.

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