2008 USC Trojans football team
Gable, who started five games as a freshman in 2006 and the first two of 2007 before a season ending injury, junior Allen Bradford, as well as previously injured redshirt freshman Broderick Green and Marc Tyler. All six running backs earned Parade or USA Today All American honors in high school, four earned both. Questions remained around the wide receivers, who had struggled with consistency the previous season; all starters returned, with special attention focused on Arkansas transfer Damian Williams, who caught 19 for the Razorbacks in 2006 but sat out 2007 along with fellow Arkansas teammate Mustain. The offensive line was hit hard by graduation, returning only one The defense lost several important players to graduation, but the linebacker corp returned key players such as Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga.
By the end of spring practice, the USC red bottom shoes coaching staff announced that Sanchez would be the designated starting quarterback going into fall camp. A crowd of 22,000 watched the Trojan Huddle, USC's spring game that ends spring practices, where Sanchez, Mustain and redshirt freshman Aaron Corp all performed well against Trojan defenses; the White team defeated Cardinal, 39 36, in double overtime. With a number of talented linebackers, the Carroll and defensive coordinator Nick Holt began experimenting with using a 3 4 defense variation implementing the "Elephant ", which features a hybrid end/linebacker position. The had used Cushing in the Elephant position during the 2006 before returning to their traditional 4 3 during the 2007 In the 2008 the position was filled by senior Clay Matthews, a former walk on. After spring practices finished across the nation, Sports Illustrated revised its rankings and placed USC as the 3 behind Georgia and Ohio State; while ESPN ranked the 4, behind Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma. The running back tandem of Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight was compared to the "Thunder and Lightning" combination of LenDale White and Reggie Bush, with McKnight mentioned as a top Heisman Trophy contender going into the fall.
At the Pacific 10 Conference media day, the were the near unanimous pre season pick to win the conference. USC took 38 of 39 votes; California, which were picked to finish fourth in the overall standings, received the other vote. This was USC's sixth in a row as the favorite to win the conference title, the longest streak since the 18 year run from 1965 1982.
On the release of the preseason Coaches' Poll, USC was ranked 2 in the nation, behind the 2008 Georgia team: Georgia received 1438 points with 22 first place votes while USC received 1430 points with 14 first place votes. Meanwhile, the 2008 Ohio State team was ranked third with 1392 points but an equal number of first place votes with 14. The preseason Associated Press (AP) Poll ranked USC 3 in the nation, behind Georgia and Ohio State. USC received 12 first place votes and 1490 points, compared to Georgia's 22 first place votes and 1528 points and Ohio State's 21 first place votes and 1506 points. Both polls added to the interest in the OSU USC game on September 13.
A major concern arose in the first week of fall camp, when Sanchez suffered a dislocated left kneecap while cheap red bottom shoes warming up for practice. Trainers were able to immediately put the kneecap back into place, but the injury sidelined Sanchez and threw his availability for the season opener christian louboutin shoes replica at Virginia (and beyond) into question.
Junior transfer Steve Gatena, former United States Air Force Academy Class of 2008 Cadet, transferred in from UC Davis as an louboutin shoes replica offensive left tackle. Gatena was required to sit out one season by NCAA rules. However, due to his academic standing as a graduate student, Gatena was granted a one time transfer exception for pursuing his academic career and played as the second string left tackle in the season opener against Virginia.
Jordan Cameron, the uncle of Matt Leinart's son with USC basketball player Brynn Cameron, transferred in from Ventura College. A former freshman basketball player from Brigham Young University, Cameron attempted to transfer before the 2007 season to also play football as a wide receiver. However, when some of Cameron's units from Brigham Young did not transfer to USC, he needed to withdraw and attend Ventura College, missing the season but with the option to try to rejoin the team in 2008 (regardless, he would have been ineligible to play in 2007 due to NCAA transfer rules).In addition to graduating starting senior 2007 All Americans Sam Baker (offensive tackle), John Mackey Award winner Fred Davis (tight end), Sedrick Ellis (nose tackle), and Keith Rivers (linebacker), as well as first team all conference defensive end Lawrence Jackson, 2006 first team all conference quarterback John David Booty and second team all conference defensive back Terrell Thomas, the also lost junior All Conference offensive guard Chilo Rachal to the 2008 NFL Draft. Pac 10 conference honorable mention offensive linemen Drew Radovich and Matt Spanos, tailback Chauncey , and linebacker Thomas Williams also departed.On the Monday after the 2007 UCLA USC rivalry game, a 24 7 victory, embattled Bruins head coach Karl Dorrell was fired. His replacement was former UCLA quarterback Rick Neuheisel, who held previous head coach positions at both Colorado and where he led teams to overall successful records but his departures coincided with NCAA investigations at both universities. Within a month on the job, Neuheisel attracted attention by hiring former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator.