YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Trojans Didn't Stumble Over These Two Feet

September 16, 2006|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Fourth-ranked USC will be looking for improvement in all areas today against 19th-ranked Nebraska, but the Trojans would be thrilled if Troy Van Blarcom and Greg Woidneck sustain their performances in the Coliseum.

Nine of Van Blarcom's 10 kickoffs in the opener against Arkansas on Sept. 2 resulted in touchbacks, several flying through or beyond the end zone at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"That place seemed so small, if I didn't kick it out I'm going to feel like a big wuss," said Van Blarcom, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound sophomore. "The Coliseum is so big, it seems like it goes on forever. But it's still only 65 yards to the end zone on kickoffs."

Woidneck impressed in his debut as punter. His first kick was downed at the six-yard line, his next two at the 17 and 13.

"At Arkansas the stands were right on top of you; it definitely felt like you could kick it farther there," he said. "The Coliseum is so wide open it feels like it's not really going that far."

Junior kicker Mario Danelo made all three of his field-goal attempts and five of six extra-point kicks against Arkansas.


USC did not announce a starter at tailback on Friday, but freshman Emmanuel Moody is ready if called upon.

Against Arkansas, C.J. Gable became the first freshman in USC history to start an opener at tailback.

Gable rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries. Moody gained 58 yards in seven carries and scored a touchdown.

"That would definitely be an accomplishment," Moody said of starting.

Moody has come on since the start of training camp, when he fell behind other players because of fumbling problems. Moody, however, appears to have learned from his mistakes.

"The more experience I get, the better I'll be," he said. "Ball security is the most important thing in this program."

Moody said he was looking forward to playing his first game at the Coliseum before a crowd of more than 90,000.

"I just zone everybody out and get in my own zone," he said, "and that takes care of itself."


Off-site parking for today's game is available on USC's campus, in new parking structures at Flower Street and Exposition Boulevard, and at the Shrine Auditorium, according to an athletic department spokesman. There is no parking or shuttle running from Staples Center, the spokesman said.... USC has no players from Nebraska on its roster. The Cornhuskers have 20Californians.




1Front and center. Defensive ends Adam Carriker and Jay Moore provide the charge for the Cornhuskers, who led the nation last season with 50 sacks and will try to pressure quarterback John David Booty with their four-man front. If Trojans center Ryan Kalil is still feeling the effects of a concussion, Booty and his surgically repaired back could be in trouble. Without injured nose tackle Sedrick Ellis, the Trojans' defense will be challenged to get to Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor. Cornhusker center Kurt Mann will not play because of what Nebraska coaches have termed a virus.

2Secondary thoughts. Without Josh Pinkard at free safety, the Trojans are relying on freshman Taylor Mays. It could be an all-freshman safety combination for USC if sophomore Kevin Ellison is sidelined or slowed because of a hyperextended knee suffered in practice. Antwine Perez would play in his place. Nebraska has its own issues in the secondary, with 5-foot-9 Cortney Grixby at one cornerback spot trying to match up against USC's top receivers, who range from 6-0 to 6-5. JC transfer Andre Jones will be on the spot to back up his bold predictions of Nebraska victory from the other corner, where injuries have sidelined starter Zackary Bowman and reserve Isaiah Fluellen.

3Efficiency experts. Taylor has improved substantially from last season and is completing 73% of his passes in Coach Bill Callahan's pro-style offense. Booty's confidence seemed to grow with each snap against Arkansas in a three-touchdown, turnover-free performance. If the defenses play well, the quarterback who avoids the costly mistake should lead his team to victory.



Los Angeles Times Articles