Trojan Hit Parade
It’s not a thud, not a sonic boom, not a body slam, but the sound made by two heavily padded elite college football players hitting each other is unique. That plastic of the shoulder pads, the polycarbonate in the helmet, and when Trojan meets opponent, when our USC football players hit the enemy, there is no better sound in the world. A normal fan leaps to his feet on the crush of a Trojan football player hitting a Bruin or Domer football player. The Herd is already standing, so that sound triggers an immediate rush of adrenaline; your hearts pumping harder, your arms involuntarily shoot into the air, and the scream that comes from down low, that primal scream of “AHHHHHHHH….” which leaves your throat fills the Coliseum with a momentary shock of rapture, followed by an instant of silence as the thought crosses 92000 brains, “that dude got laid out!” And then the yells of applause, claps, cheers, shower down onto the field as Kevin Ellison rises up over the half-comatose Desean Jackson and he lifts his arms to welcome his teammates as they jump on him, crowd, high-five, chest bump the warrior who has just ripped the momentum from the other team; in an instant, that one hit, that one play, and the score doesn’t matter, the quarter, the down, it’s just that “I beat” and you’re out on your ass and the crowd is going absolutely wild.
That hit, that collision, that explosion of force of you wanna come this way, well I wanna stop you. Those are the moments of a football game that are magic. That nano of a second where the receiver thinks he’s going to catch a ball, and then his head is nearly severed from his body. Where a QB is about to place a foot out of bounds, thinking he has safely ended a play and his body relaxes a half a second too soon, and suddenly his ribs are practically shattered into fine dust. Or a running back taking the ball from his QB and heading upfield when a fast charging linebacker hits him like a cruise missile and though the mind says upfield, the body is moving quickly back downfield.
The hit on Desean Jackson by Kevin Ellison in the Cal game last November set the tone for the day. Ellison’s actions spoke louder than Desean’s words. This is our home, our crowd, our field, and your weak act is gonna get hit hard and hit often if you wanna bring that crap to our carpet. And as Desean was helped off the field, he had to be thinking to himself, “Ain’t like I imagined it in my head. Ain’t like the day was supposed to be.” One hit set the tone.
I remember that Troy Polamalu hit on the KSU punt returner. Troy destroyed him. Troy did get flagged on the play, but the flag was debatable. The destruction was not. Of course, Desean Jackson getting taking to the toolshed by KE is now one of my favorites also. Brooks agrees on that one, “the hit on Desean, it took the fight out of loudmouth Jackson.” Manny also voted for that punishing hit, “as for the most satisfying,the Jackson hit is #1 only because I know him and his dad from youth baseball and both of them are punks.” Not to bring up another point, but do we like hits more if the person getting slammed is cocky and generally disliked? That’s a topic for another day.
I asked other Herders what their favorite Trojan hits were. Those tackles, those blocks where cardinal and gold just dominate the moment, end the play and reinforce the philosophy, “this is Trojan football.”
Big Yucca wrote, “Scott Ware's hit on Fasano of Notre Dame. That's #1.” And USCLarry concurred, “My favorite hit has to be the one Scott Ware put on the ND tight end in South Bend in 2004.” P.Presley also agreed, “Ellison taking out Jackson, and of course Lofa on the sack of White from Oklahoma then striking the famous pose.” So you see, you don’t have to have one favorite hit as Yucca also commented, “Leinart’s block against Hawaii. That was a good hit too.” Yes it was, and that was one of the starting points of Matt’s legend.
TroBob went old school, “My favorite all time hit was the David Lewis hit on the Notre Dame kick returner just after AD's TD runback in the 55-24 win over ND to start the second half. My next is Charlie Weaver knocking Dennis Dummitt into next Wednesday during the 1969 USC-UCLA game.” Dr. Z corroborated that Dummitt hit, “during the 1969 UCLA game, Dennis Dummitt, the Bruins QB was sacked by three guys from the Wild Bunch, but not at the same time. He was bounced around like a pinball from the sides before being finished off by a chest-high hit from the front, a “Down goes Frasier!” moment. I could’ve felt sorry for him if he weren’t a Bruin.” Ahh yes, the “Down goes Frasier” moment. Again, another topic for another day.
And some Herders got a little off the beaten path. The Doctor remembered, “Mattos' crackback on Rasuli Webster (SS) of Oregon...Webster was down so long, they had to go to commercial.”
Finally, GAB closed the argument with what really matters to most Trojans. Seeing one of the USC finest knock the living snot out of a Bruin, “Rey Reys hit on QB from Ugly this year.” Even SDTroy got in the spirit of bashing Bruins, “Mike Pollard had a monster hit on kickoff in the UCLA game in 2000.”
What could have been. Instead we have what was. Ellison giving Desean Jackson a case of 24-hour brain damage. That’s good enough for now.
But what about the hits we wanted to see? Gugs sums it up best for all Trojans when he wrote, “My favorite hit was on Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl Game. It was 4th and 5 from the SC 9 with about 26 seconds left and Vince Young took off running for the end zone and Lofa Tatupu crushed Vince Young in the backfield and they had to cart Young off…Well that is what I keep thinking would have happened if Lofa had stayed in school!”