Tuesday, November 08, 2005

San Bernardino County Sun: USC notes: Some are not en-chant-ed by Trojans' shouting

By Scott Wolf, Staff Writer 

USC went up the Coliseum tunnel first against Stanford, but that wasn't the only change in their halftime routine Saturday. The Trojans refrained from using the chant, "war time" as they walked toward the field for the second half. The "war time" chant is also part of USC's pregame ritual.

But some fans are irritated by the chant, which they believe is insensitive to soldiers actually fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And USC coach Pete Carroll is also not a fan of the chant. Former USC assistant coach Kennedy Pola started the chant but it became popularized this season because the team's been filmed performing the chant on TV shows.

Maualuga leaves: Linebacker Rey Maualuga flew home to Northern California on Monday night to be with his ill father. With starting linebacker Oscar Lua not 100 percent, there is a chance Maualuga, who was arrested last week for misdemeanor assault, could start against California.

The other option is moving Thomas Williams, who sat out Monday's practice with a sore groin, to middle linebacker and starting Cushing at outside linebacker.

Special season: As expected, USC remained atop the Bowl Championship Series, slightly increasing its lead over No. 2 Texas. With only three undefeated teams, Carroll said he appreciated what USC (9-0, 6-0) accomplished.  "I know it's fleeting," Carroll said. "I know it's special and I love it. I take great pride in it. It's hard to do this. Sometimes people think it's easy."  

Flying helmets: A recurring problem this season is players' helmets flying off during games. Wide receivers Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett have each lost their helmets several times this year.  According to football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez, the helmets come off because USC switched from metal buckles on the helmet straps to plastic, which become stretched out and loose. The metal buckles were eliminated because former players Troy Polamalu and Alex Holmes cut their hands on them during practices.  USC is now trying a metal buckle with a plastic covering to solve the problem.  "The (plastic buckles) take a couple hits and become oblong," Dominguez said. "We've gone back to a hybrid metal buckle."

Some players, like Smith and Jarrett, were not always snapping every buckle in place, which also made the helmet looser. "It's really been the flash-and-dash guys that we've had problems with the buckles," Dominguez said. The other issue for USC is face masks. Maualuga broke three face masks and chin straps against Washington and linebacker Brian Cushing also broke his face mask in a game this season.

Injury report: Lua was originally feared to have torn knee ligaments on Saturday but it turned out to be a bruised bone. "Oscar's got an opportunity to play if we can get him motoring Wednesday or Thursday, because structurally, he's sound," Carroll said. "He had a clear MRI."

Tailback Michael Coleman, whose hip continues to hurt following offseason surgery, said he will not play the remainder of the season. Cornerback Will Harris suffered an injury to his ACL, although it's not yet determined if he needs surgery. Carroll said Harris will not play the remainder of the season. Tailback Reggie Bush skipped most of Monday's practice because he was sore.