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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : USC : This Quarterback Also Had a Good ’93

Brad Otton, the sophomore quarterback who will back up Rob Johnson this year, also had a pretty good 1993.

The 6-foot-6 Otton passed for 2,307 yards, 15 touchdowns and completed 58.3% of his passes last season--for Weber State in Ogden, Utah. Otton feared Weber State was on track to drop its football program after last season and transferred to USC.

He’s eligible because he transferred from a Division I-AA school to a Division I-A.

Otton began last season as a backup, but won the starting job in Weber State’s fifth game. He led his team to five consecutive victories and had a 536-yard passing game against Northern Arizona in a 67-28 win.

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But Weber State’s football program was sinking in red ink, with home games drawing an average of only 4,800. The school’s board debated dropping the sport, then decided to continue funding for at least another year.

Otton was a redshirt his first year at Weber State, in 1990, then spent two years in Italy on a Mormon mission.

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Sophomore defensive tackle Matt Keneley had the team’s highest grade-point average after the spring semester, a 3.93. Junior center Jeremy Hogue was second at 3.85.

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Also, 20 of USC’s 26 1993 seniors graduated last June, including first-round NFL picks Willie McGinest and Johnnie Morton. According to sports information director Tim Tessalone, only 11 of 29 NFL first-rounders graduated last year.

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Decades ago, you couldn’t find a college football practice field without a rope-climb setup. Knute Rockne was a 1920s advocate of the drill, and encouraged rope-climb competition among his Notre Dame players.

Now USC has brought the old-fashioned, low-tech drill back. At a cost of $5,000, a 22-foot-high rope climb apparatus was installed this summer at Howard Jones Field.

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“The defensive coaches felt we needed it, to increase grip and arm strength,” said strength coach Jim Strom.

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The most troublesome injuries still belong to tailback Leonard Green (hamstring), center Robert Loya (foot) and tight end Jeff Diltz (knee). All have missed multiple practices and all are uncertain participants in the Sept. 3 opener with Washington.


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