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COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 2 | USC NOTES

This Tank Wants His Shot

September 03, 2000|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's called "Tank," and yes, there is a play in USC's book for Faaesea Mailo to carry the ball.

Not that it will ever be called.

"I don't think he's graduated to that yet," Trojan Coach Paul Hackett said. "But I guess someday my arm is going to be twisted enough."

Mailo is a tackle, but on short-yardage situations around the goal line or when a step is needed for a first down, "Tank" is called and Mailo becomes a 330-pound fullback, blocking for Petros Papadakis, who runs left or right, following the mountain.

And Mailo is always blocking. There is no subterfuge here. Why should there be when the mountain moves mountains of defenders?

But, yes, the mountain would like to move the ball.

Just once.

"Whenever I tell [coaches], they laugh," Mailo said. "Maybe if some other people get it going, they'll listen."

*

Mailo particularly enjoyed the final moments of USC's 29-5 victory over Penn State last Sunday, when the Trojans moved the ball from their 35 to the Nittany Lions' four in the game's final 9:10.

"You could see it in their eyes," he said of the all-run drive that used so much time. "We would hit them, and their eyes would roll back like, 'Oh no, not again.' We dominated them, and they knew what was coming."

It was the sort of flourish that finished off a game of USC dominance and put a bit of swagger in the strides of the much-attacked offensive line.

"Ever since I've been at USC, there have always been questions about us," Mailo said. "We took it personally and got better."

And began the process of answering the questions.

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