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IMHO Sunday: Rams cardinal and gold Super Bowl LIII

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles

The challenge: Sunday afternoon is Super Bowl LIII (3:30 PT/CBS) in Atlanta, and the fact that the Los Angeles Rams are in it, the event becomes even more captivating for Southern Californians. However, that captivation is greatly enhanced when there are former USC Trojans in America’s biggest sporting event.

Super Trojans: The Rams feature former Trojans’ wide receiver Robert Woods, corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, and running back Justin Davis (photo above). Although New England does not have an active Trojan player in Sunday’s Super Bowl, they are represented in the Patriots Hall of Fame by LB/DL Willie McGinest and FB Sam “Bam” Cunningham.

The challenge: In case you have forgotten what CB Nickell Robey-Coleman accomplished in his three-year career at Troy before leaving early (signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills), the little 5-8 mighty mite completed his cardinal and gold business with 163 tackles, seven interceptions and two touchdowns. Nickell proved it’s not the size of the dog but the bite. Keep an eye on No. 23, the Patriots’ all-world QB Tom Brady will.

Woody: Reaching back into his USC career, WR Robert Woods started 38-of-38 games in his three-year career at USC, finishing his stay as the Trojans’ all-time leader in receptions (252), ranking eighth in program history with 2,930 receiving yards, and second in receiving touchdowns (32). The former Gardena (Calif.) Serra High legend also set the Trojans all-time record for most receptions (17) in a game against the University of Minnesota. Expect No. 17 to have a super Sunday.

Another Davis: Signed by the Rams as a free agent in May of 2017, RB/ST Justin Davis (6-1, 199), is a relentless, tireless worker that improved each season he was at USC. Justin amassed 2,465 yards on 461 carries (5.3 avg.) with 19 touchdowns, plus 46 receptions for 400 yards (8.7 avg.) with two touchdowns, and seven kickoff returns for 211 yards (19.2 avg.) in his career. His 2,465 career rushing yards is 12th on USC’s all-time list. Don’t be surprised to see a big special teams play by No. 33.

A good Joe: And let’s not forget former Trojans’ linebacker and coach Joe Barry, who is the Rams assistant head and linebacker coach.

The running tab: A Trojan has appeared in all but six of the 53 Super Bowls (including Super Bowl Llll).

Super number: Including Super Bowl Llll, 114 former Trojans that have been participants in the Super Bowl.

MVPs: Three former Trojans have been Super Bowl Most Valuable Players, or have you forgotten Lynn Swann (Steelers), Marcus Allen (Raiders), and Malcom Smith (Seahawks)?

Remembering 1977: In Super Bowl Xl between the Raiders and the Vikings, a total of nine former Trojans was represented. Can you old timers name them?

Immortals and legends: In 2016, WR Lynn Swann and DB Ronnie Lott were named to the Super Bowl 50 Golden Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors.

From the press box…

What he said: In hiring new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, Clay Helton said, “We look forward to the future of our offense under Graham’s leadership.”

What Gentleman Clay didn’t say: “We look forward to my future with our new offense under Graham’s leadership.”

What he said – Part 2: Knowing he was going to hire Graham Helton the day before the official announcement, Clay Helton said, “My job on game days will be managing game situations,” which will be real challenge for Helton who in the past has been more than just a situational game manager, so help me Tee Martin.

What Gentleman Clay didn’t say: “There will be open quarterback competition in the spring and not just a dog and pony show, and I will let Graham Harrell, also my quarterback coach, make that final determination.”

What he said – Part 3: In hiring new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, Clay Helton said, “We wanted someone who could take our offense to new heights and whose system fit our current personnel.”

What Gentleman Clay didn’t say: “Three years ago, we were recruiting for my specific offensive system, which was supposed to be a ‘balanced offense’ with a dominating running game. Somehow the players we recruited didn’t fit my system or the system didn’t fit my recruits, and that’s why we are where we are today as I turn to the Air Raid offense.”

Credibility check: You have to figure if new North Carolina coach, Mack Brown, one of the newest members of the College Football Hall of Fame, wanted Graham Harrell as his new OC, this bodes well for the Trojans.

Those crazy rumors: USC is rumored to have paid over a million bucks per season to Graham Harrell to vastly outbid North Texas, which reportedly was ready to up the ante to $300,000 to keep its coach.

Those crazy rumors – Part 2: After reportedly turning down the Trojans initial offensive coordinator’s position, USC appears to have done three enticements for Graham Harrell to leave his beloved Texas environment: Money, lots of it, Kliff Kingsbury type OC & QB authority, and the USC prestige factor.

Time to study: Besides the offensive players, O-line coach Tim Drevno, running backs coach Mike Jinks, receivers coach Keary Colbert, and tight ends coach John Baxter will also be doing some late-night homework learning all that is Graham Harrell’s Air Raid attack. Jinks, however, has a head start, having coached under Kliff Kingsbury, and knowing that Harrell is from the Kingsbury offensive system coaching tree.

Time to study – Part 2: Of all the offensive coaches needing to learn the new Air Raid system, no coach will be more challenged that offensive line coach Tim Drevno, who has cut his teeth as an O-line mentor of pro-style offenses.

The post-game show…

Beautiful gesture: Trojans football radio voice Pete Arbogast won the Southern California Sports Broadcasters radio play-by-play Broadcaster of the Year and dedicated his accomplishment in the memory of the late Garry Paskwietz and  broadcast partner John Jackson, who is recovering from a stroke.

Evidence based: According to a knowledgeable source, the USC Song Girls were not removed from performing at basketball games because they were contributing to a chant to fire Clay Helton. There has been no clear explanation regarding their removal from the Galen Center roundball games.

On the Tee: Registration for the 66th Annual Coach Helton Heritage Golf Classic scheduled for Monday, March 25th, 2019 at Pelican Hill Golf Course in Newport Beach is now available. The Heritage Golf Classic provides the unique opportunity to golf alongside Coach Clay Helton, members of the USC Trojan Football Staff and a plethora of past Trojan/NFL Alum with 100% of proceeds directly benefiting the USC Athletic Department and the student-athletes. For non-golfers, there’s also an opportunity to purchase a Tee Sign Dinner Package including a custom USC Tee Sign provided post-tournament along with dinner for two at the event.

On the Tee – Part 2: The tournament includes green fees as well as over $150 worth of premium apparel and SWAG items per golfer, Bloody Mary Driving Range Bar, Priestly Chiropractic stretching tent, multiple on-course catered lunch stations, tasting stations and bars, hydration stations every third hole, on-course giveaways/events, and a first class “South of Orange County” buffet served by Pelican Hill Resort following a post-golf cocktail reception. The cocktail reception and dinner will include a silent auction and ultra-premium live auction. Past items have included such items as USC vs. UCLA Sideline Game Passes, USC Coach for a Day Experience and Viking Cruises Tour packages.

On the Tee Part 3: Golfing fees and/or donations are tax-deductible thanks to USC’s 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status. For more information, contact Brent Watson at [email protected] or 213-821-0754.

The last word: The rain may put a little damper on the progress of the Coliseum renovation progress, but there was still headway this week. Here’s the latest real time camera view: 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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