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Football: Weis praises Southern Cal

Ken Fowler | Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Irish coach Charlie Weis will have his usual Tuesday press conference today, but his normal 10-minute opening assessment of Notre Dame’s upcoming opponent will be gone. He did that Sunday.

With the Irish leaving for Los Angeles Thursday afternoon, Weis combined his post-game wrap with a pre-game analysis of Southern California – including its explosive offense. USC’s 31.1 points per game are 19th in Division I-A.

“This team is probably as complete a team as we go against on offense and defense,” Weis said.

The Trojans started the season with a 50-14 victory over No. 5 Arkansas in Fayetteville before earning easy wins over Nebraska and Arizona. USC then struggled for three weeks with close wins over Washington, Washington State and Arizona State. The Trojans’ close calls finally caught up to them Oct. 28 in Corvallis, Ore. USC fell behind 33-10 with 4:51 left in the third quarter. Trojans quarterback John David Booty threw three touchdowns in the final 16 minutes, but when his two-point conversion attempt with seven seconds left failed the Beavers completed the upset.

Since that loss, Southern California has outscored its opponents 100-19, including a 23-9 win over California Saturday to earn a spot in the Rose Bowl – that is, if the Trojans don’t make the BCS National Championship.

“I think that sometimes they don’t get enough kudos, and I think that Coach [Pete] Carroll and his staff have done a great job,” Weis said. “They blow out Stanford, they go beat Oregon, they beat Cal last night, and they’re in the same position they always are – PAC 10 champs with a chance of winning a national championship like they always do.”

And Weis said he is well aware of Carroll’s 19-0 record in November since joining USC in 2001.

As a first-year starter replacing Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, Booty has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,417 yards, 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

Southern California’s tailbacks also have had the responsibility of following a Heisman Trophy winner in Reggie Bush and an NFL draftee in LenDale White. Red-shirt junior Chauncey Washington leads the Trojans with 703 yards on 144 carries. True freshman Emmanuel Moody was USC’s most efficient running back with a 5.8 yards-per-carry average before tearing ligaments in his ankle against Oregon Nov. 11. Fellow freshman C.J. Gable started for USC against California and gained 91 yards on 19 carries.

“It’s obvious what they’ve been able to do with their running backs is they lost Reggie and they lost LenDale, and these other guys have stepped right in and performed really well,” Weis said. “It seems like every time you turn around they’ve got a new front-line running back that runs real well.”