10 days to USC football: John Houston has big shoes to fill

RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy) /

Reign of Troy is counting down the days until USC football’s 2019 season arrives with John Houston and No. 10 marking Day 10.

Top 10 Trojan QBs. BEST OF USC

USC football will be back in just 10 days.

That means only 10 more days of looking ahead in anticipation (and maybe some dread).

CHECK OUT: JT Daniels named starting quarterback for 2019

Join Reign of Troy as we await the coming campaign with a look at each Trojan jersey number. Today, that number is ten:

Who wore it best?

The No. 10 has been a successful jersey for the Trojans in multiple areas.

All-Americans include old-school tackle Jesse Hibbs and stalwart linebacker Brian Cushing.

TRENDING: Projecting USC’s 2019 depth chart

“Jesse looked like a collar ad, even in a football suit,” Frank Finch wrote in the Los Angeles Times well after Hibbs career was over. “But woe betide the opposing lineman who figured that he was up against a namby-pamby in the compactly built 190-pounder…Hibbs was a dynamic player—the kind of a gridder who can fire up the whole team with his spirit.”

Cushing, on the other hand, was prototypical at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds.

“He feels he is the toughest S-O-B out there,” former teammate Terrell Thomas was quoted in the New Jersey Herald News in 2008. “He feels nobody can block him. Once he gets one hit, he gets stronger and stronger. That is the mentality I loved about him.”

Bob Chandler, who gives his name to USC’s annual award for the underclassman who best displays athletic ability, academic scholarship and character, wore the No. 10 as a flanker back in 1969 and 1970. He is most famous for catching the winning touchdown pass in the 1970 Rose Bowl.

Pat Haden won a national championship in 1974, tossing the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion in the 1975 Rose Bowl.

Kicker Don Shafer twice led USC in scoring in 1985 and 1986. His 32-yard kick against Baylor in the latter year put the Trojans ahead 17-14 as the clock ticked to zeros and his 60 yard field goal against Notre Dame remains a USC record.

Quarterback Brad Otton led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory in 1996, then he overcame bruised ribs in the following season and ended USC’s 13-game winless streak over Notre Dame with a five-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Sermons in overtime. He still ranks 10th on USC’s all-time passing chart and owns the record for most consecutive passes without an interception to start a career.

Fellow quarterback John David Booty is arguably the most underrated player in USC history. A two-time captain, he led the Trojans to two Rose Bowl victories, earning a place in the game’s Hall of Fame. He ranks eighth all-time in passing.

Linebacker Hayes Pullard was a four-year starter in the jersey. He led USC in tackles for three straight years, a feat which had only been accomplished once before by Dennis Johnson from 1977 to 1979 and has only been replicated by Cameron Smith from 2016 to 2018.

Who wears it now?

Two players wear the No. 10 going into 2019, one likely to have a much bigger role than the other.

John Houston is USC’s starting middle linebacker, having held down the weakside linebacker job in 2017 and 2018. In 23 starts, he has racked up 167 tackles, six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, nine deflections and one interception.

Houston doesn’t seem suited to the traditional MIKE linebacker role at a slim 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, but he has improved his strength over the years and will be tasked primarily with being a field general in that role. As the most veteran linebacker left on the roster, his job is to make the transition to life without longtime starter Cameron Smith as seamless as possible.

On offense, quarterback Jack Sears spent the offseason battling in the open quarterback competition, but now he finds himself buried at fourth on the depth chart. With JT Daniels at the top, Kedon Slovis at No. 2 and Matt Fink at No. 3, it would take quite the string of events for Sears to see the field in 2019.

The obvious route is to speculate about a transfer, but Sears is slated to graduate in December, to that may not be in the cards this semester at least.

Stats to know: 10

  • Back Orv Mohler was USC’s 10th ever All-American in 1930.
  • The 1941 Trojans hold the unfortunate distinction of scoring the fewest touchdowns in a season, with just 10.
  • The stifling defense of the 1962 national champions allowed more than 10 points just twice during the regular season.
  • USC won the 1970 Rose Bowl over Michigan by a score of 10 to 3.
  • Mark Carrier won the 1989 Thorpe Award with 10 pass deflections on the year.
  • In the 1993 Freedom Bowl, Johnnie Morton was named MVP with a Freedom Bowl-record 10 catches for 147 yards.
  • Ten different players on USC’s 1993 squad led the team with one fumble forced.
  • In 2004, USC national title-winning defense ranked Top 10 nationally in every defensive statistical category.
  • Robert Woods had 10 career 100-yard receiving games from 2010 to 2012.
  • Marqise Lee owns the USC career record for most games with at least 10 receptions, doing it eight times from 2011 to 2013. Of course, seven of those were in 2012 alone, which is also a single-season record.
  • Eight players share the 18th spot on USC’s career interceptions list with 10 apiece, including Tyrone Hudson, Daylon McCutcheon, Cleveland Colter, Nate Shaw, Marvin Cobb, John HErpin, Jason Sehorn, Ricky Odom and Jerry Shaw.
  • Mario Danelo holds the record for most extra points kicked in a game, with 10 against Arkansas in 2005.

11 Days to Kickoff. Next