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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 11 | NOTES

A Patient McCullough Busts Loose

November 05, 2000|DAVID WHARTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Earlier in the season, Sultan McCullough was getting antsy. Though he ran for more than 100 yards in two of USC's first three games, the sophomore tailback wasn't breaking any long runs.

He has solved that problem in recent weeks.

His 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Arizona State on Saturday marked the fourth consecutive game that he has had a scoring run of 29 yards or longer.

McCullough said it was a matter of remaining patient, knowing the big plays would come along. But he also believes his instincts have improved as the season has progressed.

"Just knowing my blocking," he said. "Knowing which is the most dominant player on defense and where he is at all times."

McCullough wound up rushing 23 times for a career-high 176 yards, hitting the 1,000-yard mark for the season exactly after nine games.

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The Trojans entered this game worried about Arizona State's Todd Heap. The junior tight end led his team in receiving in 1999 and was doing so again this season.

"We know he's one of the best tight ends in the nation," USC safety DeShaun Hill said.

The 6-foot-5 Heap is especially effective on play-action passes, when the linebackers hesitate and he has the quickness to get open behind them. It is an ability that sets him apart.

"I consider him a receiver," Hill said. "Just a big receiver."

Heap caught seven passes for 51 yards, but his longest was only 11 yards.

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Saturday marked the first time Coach Paul Hackett brought a USC team into Sun Devil Stadium, but he had been there before.

In October 1995, when the Kansas City Chiefs visited Tempe to play the Arizona Cardinals, Hackett was the Chiefs' offensive coordinator.

"It's a great place to play because the weather is usually nice and the field is beautiful," he said.

Hackett's fond memories go beyond aesthetics. His Chiefs won, 24-3. His usually slow-footed quarterback, Steve Bono, ran 76 yards untouched down the sideline, setting a league record for the longest touchdown run by a quarterback.

"And we did it against Buddy Ryan," Hackett said.

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