I first went to a USC practice in 1953. The ghost of Howard Jones was a powerful presence back in those days. It had only been 12 years since Jones had passed away on July 27, 1941 right before practice was to begin to start the '41 season.
There's a great picture of Howard Jones on one knee out on Bovard field where USC would practice when he was the coach. Jones looks like he was carved out of granite. He played at Yale from 1905 to 1907. Yale didn't lose a game.
Howard Jones didn't lose very much. In 1921 when Jones was head coach at Iowa he beat Knute Rockne and ND 10-7, I have no doubt that Howard Jones would have buried Rockne if they had ever went up against each other when they were playing football.
USC had been really good in '52. The Trojans won 9 straight to start the season, but they finished at Notre Dame in what was probably the coldest game USC every played in, and they lost 9-0 to a Irish team they should have beaten.
USC finished the '52 season beating Wisconsin in the '53 Rose Bowl with a touchdown pass from LHB Rudy Bukich. Bukich was from St. Louis and transferred to USC from a small college in Iowa. Bukich later played QB for the Chicago Bears and the Rams in the NFL.
In 1953 Jon Arnett was a freshman. Marv Goux was playing LB. I thought "goo" was a great name, but I was only 6 years old. The practice field was smaller then. In 1998 it was expanded on the south end, and the name Kennedy field was added. The defense practices there today.
The Trojans had a lot of good players on the field back in '53, but USC is a lot more talented and way deeper in talent than they were back then.
Notre Dame and Ohio State, the 2009 USC Trojans are a lot better than you think. USC is going to be a lot better in 2009 than most of the experts think. People who look at the 2009 Trojans from a distance only see what they lost to the NFL draft. What they don't see is what they have left. What the Trojans have left is the deepest, most talented, fastest and most athletic team since Pete Carroll came to USC in 2009.
Here's why USC is a lot better than ND and OSU think:
1. Quarterback Aaron Corp is way better than anyone knows. Since being placed as the starter it's easy to see how well it fits him, and how comfortable Corp is in the role. Aaron is cool, fast and accurate. USC is loaded on offense. They have a great set of TEs, RBs, FBs and the nation's best offensive line. A line that is deep, talented, experienced and athletic.
Aaron Corp is a dual-threat, and that's unfair with all the other great playmakers USC has on offense. Pete Carroll has praised Corp for his consistency.
Carroll said a couple of weeks ago, "we are going to expand the offense. It is going to be wide open and explosive. We are stout up front, deep and experienced. Our skill guys are fast, exciting and veteran playmakers. Corp's ability to make plays with his arm and legs will make us very hard to stop."
2. USC's defense is not going to miss a beat in 2009. People can write and say all they want, but I watched the 2009 USC defense perform all spring. Can you imagine a college defense with Taylor Mays, Will Harris and Josh Pinkard all playing safety? I don't know how anyone of them could ever be off the field. USC also has two lock down corners in Shareece Wright and Kevin Thomas.
How could you get Pinkard Harris and Mays on the field at the same time? You could move Taylor Mays to weak-side linebacker. Can you imagine the backside push Mays would create?
But USC doesn't need Mays at weak-side linebacker. Malcom Smith, the starting WLB, could have been USC's outstanding player of the spring and USC's two outside linebackers are faster than a lot of NFL corners. And their middle linebacker Chris Galippo is a great instinctive player.
The Trojan's pass defense was first in the nation last year and set an all-time NCAA record for fewest yards per pass completed. Their 3nd down conversion's allowed rate was 27%.
Put all this together with a defensive line that Pete Carroll said, "will be the best pass rushing unit we've had in years and have the most speed we've ever had up front."
Notre Dame and Ohio State, don't get too happy. The 2009 Trojans are a lot better than you think. They are primed to make another run at a National Championship.
Oldtimer's Take is a regular feature that will run every Monday on SCPlaybook.com
Kristofer O'Dowd and the Trojans' offensive line is arguably the top unit in the nation.