USC Trojans: Matt Kalil

LOS ANGELES -- For departing USC Trojans football players making that final walk up the storied Coliseum tunnel, it can foreshadow a transition into the NFL, a sports-related career, or an entirely different vocation.

For former Trojans uch as Troy Polamalu, Carson Palmer, Sam Baker, and brothers Ryan and Matt Kalil, making a living in the National Football League makes life a whole lot simpler. The dream continues, complete with hefty paychecks.

WeAreSC roundtable: Draft edition 

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
8:00
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Percy Harvin and Robert WoodsUSA Today SportsWith Percy Harvin having left for Seattle, the Minnesota Vikings could be in the market to draft Robert Woods, who would be their second Trojans first-round pick in as many drafts.
"USC has more first-round NFL draft choices (77) than any other school in the country. Will Matt Barkley and Robert Woods join that group? Give your thoughts on where they will be picked and by which team."

Garry Paskwietz


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As we turn the corner at the midway point of the season, your Pac-12 bloggers recount what has surprised them the most in the first half of the season. One is a pleasant surprise. The other, not so much.

Kevin Gemmell: I think we're all a bit taken aback by the remarkable success Oregon State has had so far this season. Let's be honest -- even the most devout of Beavers believers didn't think their team was going to have the school's best start since 1939. If you did, you are a real-McCoy psychic and you should immediately send all relevant stock tips here.

What's so impressive -- aside from the 5-0 start and top-10 spot in the BCS standings -- is the way Oregon State has gone about doing it. Great offense. Great defense. And above all, a no-nonsense, physical approach to football. There is an attitude -- a focused swagger, if you will -- that is really fun to watch.

[+] EnlargeMichael Doctor
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireLinebacker Michael Doctor has helped point the way for Oregon State's top-five rush defense.
The Beavers have been solid in the trenches on offense and relentless on defense. The offensive line has come together faster than most anticipated -- which obviously has contributed to a rushing attack that averages 119.6 yards per game (up from a league-worst 86.9 in 2011).

Defensively, you can’t say enough about the play of Scott Crichton, Jordan Poyer and a player I think is flying under the radar: Michael Doctor.

Naturally, the growth of quarterback Sean Mannion has been helpful. He’s done a much better job taking care of the ball (OSU ranks 12th nationally in turnover margin), and we’ve been talking about Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks as a potential breakout duo since we started doing weekly Take 2s in the spring.

Heading into this week’s games, the Beavers owned the second-best pass attack in the Pac-12. Again, with teams such as Washington State, USC and UCLA expected to air it out, did anyone really see that one coming?

And the fact that they can plug in Cody Vaz and not miss a beat is impressive.

But as much credit as Mike Riley deserves for the offense, defensive coordinator Mark Banker deserves equal praise -- if not more. The Beavers have the top rush defense in the conference and the No. 4 rush defense in the country, allowing just 70 yards per game on the ground. That’s elite status, and it takes more than just talented players to attain it. It takes an attitude. It takes an unwavering mentality that our defense is going to dictate to you, not the other way around.

Talking with Poyer and Crichton throughout the season, they said the simplest answer is that they are motivated by being 3-9 in 2011. It was a crummy season, and they didn’t want to feel like that again. That’s pretty good motivation.

The fact that Oregon State is better than last season isn’t a surprise. It’s the fact that the Beavers are so much better that is both surprising and pleasant.

Ted Miller: The mediocrity of USC's offense is shocking. No one saw that coming.

This is where someone claims he or she saw it coming. No you didn't. Stop it. No you didn't. Hush.

USC welcomed back nine starters from an offense that in 2011 averaged 35.8 points, 456.8 yards and 294.2 passing yards per game. Among those starters were quarterback Matt Barkley, the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidate; 2011 All-American wide receiver Robert Woods; second-team All-Pac-12 wideout Marqise Lee, the co-freshman offensive player of the year; second-team All-Pac-12 center Khaled Holmes; and 1,000-yard rusher Curtis McNeal.

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USC's special teams successes

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
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LOS ANGELES -- During each of Cal's field-goal attempts last Saturday at the Coliseum, USC's video board took on a bold proclamation and displayed it to the 83,000-plus fans in attendance.

"Welcome to the kick block capital of the world," the video board read.

USC sort of was that last season, as the Matt Kalil-led Trojans blocked four field-goal attempts and two point-after attempts. The NCAA record is six blocked field-goal tries in a single season.

But the Trojans have only blocked one attempt this year -- a 51-yarder from Stanford's Jordan Williamson in a losing effort. And they didn't come close to blocking any of Cal's on Saturday.

All that, though, is mostly irrelevant to USC coach Lane Kiffin, who loves the work his Trojans are doing on special teams under assistant John Baxter regardless of how many kick-blocks they record.

“To do what we’re doing on special teams, from a head-coaching perspective, you just love every minute of it,” Kiffin said Wednesday.

USC is having a lot of success. Through four games, the Trojans are first in the Pac-12 in kickoff returning and net punting. They have converted all three of their field-goal attempts and all 15 PAT's.

So there's only two things left to be desired on special-teams units, then: kickoff coverage, which has been an ongoing issue for USC since Kiffin arrived, and living up to the video-board proclamation.

It's hard to guess which one will be easier to fulfill.

USC spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
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2011 overall record: 10-2
2011 conference record: 7-2 (1st, South)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
QB Matt Barkley, S T.J. McDonald, OL Khaled Holmes, WR Robert Woods, WR Marqise Lee, RB Curtis McNeal, DL Devon Kennard, DL Wes Horton, CB Nickell Robey, LB Dion Bailey, LB Hayes Pullard, K Andre Heidari

Key losses
OL Matt Kalil, DL Nick Perry, FB Rhett Ellison, DL DaJohn Harris, DL Christian Tupou, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, WR Brandon Carswell, LS Chris Pousson

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Curtis McNeal* (1,005 yards)
Passing: Matt Barkley* (3,528 yards)
Receiving: Robert Woods* (1,292 yards)
Tackles: Dion Bailey*, Hayes Pullard* (81)
Sacks: Nick Perry (9.5)
Interceptions: T.J. McDonald* (3)

Spring answers

1. Marqise Lee is ready for prime time: It’s no secret that Lee is a talented player who put together a terrific freshman season, but he took that performance to an even higher level this spring when he was the best player on the field for the Trojans. We’re seeing a rare athlete in Lee, one whose acrobatic style is being compared to Lynn Swann.

2. The USC defense is worthy of mention: There is so much attention paid to Matt Barkley and his offensive weapons -- and deservedly so -- but this spring was a reminder that the Trojans defense is going to be pretty good too. The back seven will be a strength, as the starters return intact plus there is a nice supply of talented depth.

3. The future of the USC quarterback spot is in good hands: Spring was an extended audition for Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, as Barkley was limited in his reps. Both players had their moments as they look to settle into the No. 2 role and the inside track to be Barkley’s heir apparent. The Trojans also got a verbal commitment from Max Browne (No. 2 rated pocket passer in ESPN 150), who will enroll next spring.

Fall questions

1. Interior of the D-line: One of the keys of spring was replacing two senior starters from the middle of the line. George Uko stepped in at defensive tackle and had flashes of real solid play. After Uko, however, things are not so clear. There is no established backup for him and no set starter at nose tackle, as J.R. Tavai and Antwaun Woods continue to battle for the job.

2. Lack of depth at tailback: The Trojans have a returning 1,000-yard rusher in Curtis McNeal but not a lot of experience behind him. D.J. Morgan had 42 carries in 2011, Buck Allen redshirted last season and Nelson Agholor has yet to join the team. That’s the extent of the playing time for the 2012 USC reserve tailbacks.

3. Protecting the blind side: There wasn’t a ton of worry last year about left tackle with Matt Kalil but replacing him has not been easy. Kevin Graf got the first look, but then the coaches moved Aundrey Walker into the spot. Lane Kiffin said Walker was not consistent but he showed enough with the potential of the size benefits he brings that he will stay as the starter heading into fall camp.

We Are SC roundtable 

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
9:21
AM PT
Bruce MatthewsDiane Johnson/Icon SMIBruce Matthews was an All-American at USC before his Pro Football Hall of Fame career in Houston/Tennessee.
Matt Kalil became the 22nd USC offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round since 1968. Give your choices for the all-time USC offensive line, one player for each position.

Note: The player did not have to be a first-round pick to qualify for this list.

Garry Paskwietz

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Recap of Trojans in NFL draft

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
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After seeing Matt Kalil and Nick Perry go off the board quickly in the first round of the NFL draft, USC fans waited until fullback Rhett Ellison was chosen by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round (No. 128 overall) to see another former Trojans player selected.

That was it for former USC players in this draft and, although several players have and will be signing free agent contracts, the total of three overall picks reflects the fewest number of USC players selected in a draft since 2002.

Whether that reality is a comment on recruiting, a coaching transition or a program under sanctions, the fact is that there were nine players who were eligible to be drafted this year that came to USC ranked as one of the top five players at their position. Only one, Kalil, was selected in the draft.

That mark should certainly change next year when Trojans are likely to dominate the draft boards, particularly with seniors such as Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Khaled Holmes.

The good news is that USC continues to lead the nation when it comes to total number of draftees (476) and first round selections (77).

Kalil became the 22nd offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round from USC since 1968, an average of one every other year. He is the third member of his family to be selected in the draft -- father Frank by the Bills and brother Ryan by the Panthers -- while he is also the third USC offensive tackle to be a first-round choice of the Vikings (Ron Yary, 1968 and Steve Riley, 1974).

Ellison certainly has some NFL connections of his own as his father, Riki, was a fifth-round pick of the San Francisco 49’ers and won two Super Bowls during his playing career.

Kalil and Ellison were one of three sets of college teammates who were chosen by the Vikings in the draft (Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton from Notre Dame and Jarius Wright and Greg Childs from Arkansas).

Perry will have some USC familiarity when he heads to Green Bay as he will be lined up opposite Clay Matthews, who was a senior in 2008 when Perry redshirted for the Trojans.

Perry was known as a defensive end in high school and college, but the Packers are planning to use him as an outside linebacker to apply some much needed pass rush help for the defense.

There were also several early free agent signings for USC players on Saturday:

RB Marc Tyler -- Green Bay Packers

WR Brandon Carswell -- Oakland Raiders

LB Chris Galippo -- Indianapolis Colts

ESPN radio: Kalil and Perry

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
9:11
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Listen to Matt Kalil and Nick Perry discuss being picked in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday by the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, respectively.

Kalil's interview can be heard here while Perry's interview can be heard here.

Trojans put two in first round

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
9:08
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The USC Trojans had a pair of players drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft on Thursday with OT Matt Kalil (Minnesota Vikings, No. 4) and LB Nick Perry (Green Bay Packers, No. 28).

The selection of Kalil was not a surprise, as the Vikings had long been rumored to be interested in the All-American left tackle. Kalil was the consensus choice as the top offensive tackle available in the draft -- with particularly strong pass protection skills -- while the Vikings gave up 49 sacks last year, a number they will certainly hope to reduce for 2011 first-round choice QB Christian Ponder.

“The Vikings called tonight and asked if I was ready for the draft to be over with,” Kalil told ESPN radio. “I said hell yeah. It seemed like forever that I was waiting in the green room but I know it wasn’t that long. There’s no place I’d rather be than with Minnesota and I’m really excited right now.

“There are certain aspects of the game I’ll look to work on, such as bull-rushing. I’ve been working hard on that this offseason. I think they will find I’m very coachable and I’ll work my butt off.”

(Read full post)

Kalil to Vikings at No. 4

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
6:03
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USC left tackle Matt Kalil was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft.

It was long rumored that Kalil was the favored pick of the Vikings at pick No. 3, but Minnesota traded that pick on Thursday to the Cleveland Browns and dropped down one spot. Kalil is expected to step in immediately and provide protection for quarterback Christian Ponder, Minnesota's first-round pick in 2011.

Kalil becomes USC's 76th first-round draft selection in NFL history, the most of any college team.

WeAreSC Roundtable 

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
8:30
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Rhett EllisonAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillIt doesn't matter where an NFL team decides to put him -- the WeAreSC panel sees good things at the next level for fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison.

“This year’s draft class for USC has Matt Kalil and Nick Perry going early but a lot of uncertainty after that. Give your thoughts on three draft eligible players -- outside of Kalil and Perry -- who will have the best chance of sticking with a team, either through the draft or free agency.”

Garry Paskwietz

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WeAreSC roundtable 

April, 12, 2012
4/12/12
8:20
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Buck AllenGarry Paskwietz/WeAreSC.comWeAreSC's panel is looking forward to seeing how redshirt freshman running back Buck Allen will perform with a full week of practice under his belt.

“What three things will you be watching for in the USC spring game on Saturday?”

Garry Paskwietz

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Tuesday practice notes 

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
8:15
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LOS ANGELES -- With two clear-cut options at offensive tackle, where Kevin Graf and Aundrey Walker start is a far more intriguing question than if they will start. After beginning the spring with Graf at left tackle and Walker on the right side, last week saw the two switch. On Tuesday, the tackles remained at their switched positions, with Graf on the right and Walker on the left.

Offensive line coach James Cregg was quick to shut down the thought that this alignment would have any bearing on the depth chart going forward, and nothing about Tuesday’s setup seems permanent.

“By all means, we’ve not done any depth chart decisions,” Cregg said. “I think they can be flopped around. They’re both right and left-brained, as far as that goes. Right now we’re not even close to making a decision.”

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Former USC tackle Matt Kalil stops by to chat with WeAreSC after his pro day.

USC pro day updates 

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
12:44
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We will be providing updates from Pro Day today.

These are unofficial 40 times:

Marc Tyler 4.83

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