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IMHO Sunday: Cardinal and gold fireworks spectacular

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

Light’em up: I don’t know where you go for July 4th, but I’ve been to San Marino (Calif.) Lacy Park, the pier at Huntington Beach (Calif), Dodgers Stadium, but I have, however, rejected the thought of watching fireworks at the Rose Bowl because it’s such a zoo and you know who plays their home games there. However, when I think of Trojans football fireworks, a lot of pigskin pyrotechnics come to mind. Enjoy the IMHO Sunday fireworks spectacular and no gratuity accepted.

2006: And no cardinal and gold fireworks show can commence without a big explosion opener, and nobody does it any better than former All-America linebacker Rey Maualuga against UCLA. Light the punk, baby.


1969: All firework shows need some narration or music, so let’s continue this cardinal and gold tribute with the help legendary USC radio voice Tom Kelly and his call of the spectacular winning catch by wide receiver Sam Dickerson from quarterback Jimmy Jones to beat UCLA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stSdT_hWiYg

Was there anything in USC football history that was more explosive than the “Comeback” against Notre Dame? Scoring 49 points in the second half to shock the Irish 55-24 works for me. Those of us “old-timers” that witnessed it in person will never forget the Coliseum crowd that day. Now here some fireworks the Irish will never forget:


2017: Ah, the comeback over Penn State in the Rose Bowl certainly had a “fountain” of excitement and glitter, as the Trojans came back for a dramatic 52-49 victory with Sam Darnold lighting up the Nittany Lions: Light up the punk, please: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opep47LARn8

2006: Like fireworks on the Fourth of July, you never get tired of the Matt Leinart comeback again Notre Dame in South Bend when everything was on the line. How about these canister shells to win the game with the “Bush Push.” Forget about a full box of sparklers, just enjoy this 34-31 USC box full of drama and the colorful ending.


2009: Okay, getting into it? Good. Then let’s have a real festive Piccolo Pete moment when a freshman quarterback named Matt Barkley turned Ohio Stadium on its deafening ear with a drive that would be more than anything the fireworks in the Rose Bowl could produce. Stand clear, this drive is a showstopper of epic proportions, which resulted in a Trojan 18-15 victory in fabled “Horseshoe.”


2016: Now, when we talk explosive and lighting the sky, have you already forgotten the name of Adoree’ Jackson? Didn’t think so. Here is a little reminder of the talent of No. 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIIIH_lqbSc

1990: Say what you want about him, but former Trojan quarterback Todd Marinovich could light up any college secondary, and UCLA can attest to that. Put away those snakes, sparklers, and ground blasters for a moment and remember this Trojan 45-41 triumph over the Bruins in the Rose Bowl. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZIbX38Bd2c

1996: You want something to illuminate the Coliseum evening sky accompanied by some dramatic music (all good firework shows have the music and maybe some Tom Kelly descriptions). Well, one former Trojan outside linebacker named Mark Cusano had that firework moment, which is burned into the brain of former Irish legendary coach Lou Holtz. We’ll let the video do all the “Mad Dog” about this 27-20 overtime USC victory over ND. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX7EIexA_-s

1967: Another like him or not, there’s one gridiron Trojan firework that will forever be remember and please don’t’ throw rotten tomatoes. This firework is simply known as “23-blast.” It turned into a future national champion for legendary coach John McKay and was a run into Pasadena. The final score was 21-20, but that run will show along with USC football fireworks. Take it FWIW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qMzVNKp2tw

2005: What USC football fireworks presentational memory would be complete with a little objectivity as it pertains to excitement and ability. Therefore, let’s make the grand finale compliments of former Trojans’ Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I2oGNHYSic

From the press box…

The Opening: In the past, Nike hosted The Opening, which brings together the best of the best underclass football recruits. This summer, The Opening, which was previously held in Beaverton, Oregon, is taking place at The Star in Frisco, Texas, home headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Opening – Part 2: Some of the Trojan recruits you might be familiar with at The Opening include athlete Bru McCoy (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), RB Sean Dollars (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), OL Jonah Tauanu’u (Harbor City, Calif/Narbonne), TE Jude Wolfe (Bellflower, Calif./St John Bosco), QBs Ryan Hilinski (Orange, Calif./Orange Lutheran) and Jayden Daniels (San Bernardino Calif./Cajon), DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Westlake, Calif./Oaks Christian), and DB Chris Steele (Bellflower, Calif./St John Bosco), and an all-purpose player to watch very carefully, explosive but mighty-mite Giles Jackson (5-8, 170) from Oakley (Calif.) Freedom.

The strongman: As mentioned, one of the Trojans premiere recruits for the Class of 2019 at The Opening is defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux, a true man-child (6-5, 230). In a story in Bleacher Report, by the time he was 13-year-old, Kayvon was already 6-feet-2 and a real destroyer on a football field.

The strongman – Part 2: In the Bleacher Report story, Kayvon Thibodeaux’s mother, Shawnta Loice, said of her son, “He didn’t mean to hurt anyone. He was just strong. They couldn’t stop him. Until referees did. They were so concerned for the other team’s safety that they pulled Thibodeaux out and didn’t allow him to re-enter the game.”

A fact: If you don’t think a true quarterback freshman can lead his team to a national title appearance, you’ve already forgotten last season’s Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm.

This visit: Last week I spend six days in New York City, and I can’t tell you how excited Jets fan are in anticipation of Sam Darnold sooner-rather-than-later becoming their starting quarterback.

Mr. Underrated: According to ESPN, the Most Underrated player on the 2018 Trojans is probable starting center Toa Lobendahn.

Mr. Underrated – Part 2: According to ESPN, “There’s no question that USC’s offensive line was a major weak spot in 2017. Now, Toa Lobendahn returns as arguably the most important player up front. He’s the most experienced member of the line and has played guard, tackle and center, where he’ll return this fall after playing left tackle last year. Injuries have plagued him, and the Trojans absolutely need him to be healthy this fall.”

The post-game show…

Time marches on: A good trivia question to ask your Trojan friends is what is Clay Helton’s record through his first three seasons as head coach? The answer is 27-10. And, BTW, you probably already knew that Helton is the first Trojans head coach to have 10-win seasons in each of his first 2 full seasons. Clay has more wins (21) in his first 2 full seasons than any USC coach. Who knew?

The underappreciated: It says here that one of the most underappreciated players on the 2018 Trojans will be senior defensive tackle Malik Dorton.

The measuring stick: Last season, the Trojans averaged 4.4 yards rushing the football. However, against Notre Dame and Ohio State the Trojans rushed for 76 and 57 yards, respectively.  

Catching on: Okay, who was the Trojans’ leading receiver last season? Yes, it was Tyler Vaughns with 809 yards, 14.2 avg., and five touchdowns.

The last word: The weekly Sunday Coliseum renovation photo update: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation 

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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