11 days to USC football: Matt Leinart was a winner and a warrior

RoT Countdown / Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
RoT Countdown / Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images /

The Reign of Troy countdown to USC football kickoff ticks down to 11 days with a look at the greatest No. 11 in Trojan history: Matt Leinart.

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USC football’s 2019 season is fast approaching, as Tuesday marked Day 11 until the Trojans return to the Coliseum.

Reign of Troy is aiming to give fans something to occupy their minds during the long wait by examining the great Trojan jersey numbers of past and present.

Matt Leinart Days until kickoff means it’s time for No. 11 to enter the spotlight:

Who wore it best?

All-American end Francis Tappaan and all-conference captain Leo Calland were vital figures for USC in their day, back in the 1920s, but the No. 11 belongs to Matt Leinart.

Leinart was one of the most successful players in college football history, let alone USC lore.

With a record of 37-2 as a starter, Leinart was a winner.

He was also, despite his pretty boy reputation, something else.

“He’s a warrior,” defensive tackle Shaun Cody said of Leinart in the Los Angeles Times during his first season as a starter, shortly after the quarterback led USC to a comeback victory against Arizona State.

Leinart was knocked out of the game with knee and ankle injuries, requiring X-rays at halftime with the Trojans trailing 17-10. He toughed it out in the second half, returning to throw for 158 yards and a touchdown as USC put up 27 unanswered points.

It was only the fourth victory of Leinart’s career, and not even the most impressive as he had already beaten No. 6 Auburn in his first start, but it set the tone for the rest of his career, when he would become as much a leader of men as a Heisman-winning quarterback.

“I want to fight for the guy. I just want to go to war with him,” Cody said after the ASU win.

Fight for and with Leinart, USC did. During three All-American seasons, he guided USC to two national titles and an additional championship game appearance. He set 16 USC passing records, including 11 Pac-12 and two NCAA records.

Who wears it now?

The No. 11 is one of USC’s retired jerseys as part of the Heisman tradition.

Stats to know: 11

  • Back Erny Pinckert was USC’s 11th ever All-America in 1930.
  • USC claims 11 national titles: 1928, 1931, 1932, 1939, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003 and 2004.
  • Anthony Davis scored a total of 11 touchdowns against Notre Dame in his career.
  • In 1962, end Hal Bedsole set a USC record with 11 touchdown catches.
  • Lynn Swann had 11 career touchdown receptions from 1971 to 1973.
  • In 1976, USC set a Pac-12 record by allowing just five yards on 11 punt returns.
  • The 2003 national championship squad scored 30 or more points in 11 consecutive contests.
  • Reggie Bush had 11 career 100-yard rushing games from 2003 to 2005.
  • Marqise Lee debuted in 2011 with 11 receiving touchdowns as a freshman.
  • Adoree’ Jackson led USC with 11 deflections in 2016 when he won the Thorpe Award.
  • Lindon Crow, Tim McDonald, Ron Ayala, Jacon Oliver and Dion Bailey share the 13th spot on USC’s career pass interception leader list with 11 each.
  • When the Coliseum was renovated before the 1993 football season, the floor was lowered 11 feet.
  • USC has won the Crosstown Cup competition with UCLA 11 out of 18 years.

Next. 12 Days to Kickoff