O/NSO - BYU preview

Having captured the attention of the nation and the national pollsters across the collegiate landscape with its domination of the Auburn Tigers, the fourth-ranked USC Trojans (1-0) return to the Coliseum on Saturday for their home opener against Brigham Young University (1-0) in a 5 p.m. kickoff.

The Obvious – Having captured the attention of the nation and the national pollsters across the collegiate landscape with its domination of the Auburn Tigers, the fourth-ranked USC Trojans (1-0) return to the Coliseum on Saturday for their home opener against Brigham Young University (1-0) in a 5 p.m. kickoff.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojans' highest second-game ranking since 1985 and sporting a 9-game winning streak, the feeling here is that the home debut in the Coliseum in front of 70,000 carnivorous Trojan and Cougar fans should pack enough punch to fire up Carroll's surging Trojans and avoid a natural Auburn letdown.

The Obvious – With so much Trojan football and media momentum, it figures that Saturday's Coliseum attendance could be even higher than the anticipated 70,000, especially with BYU's large following in the Southern California area.

The Not So Obvious – Tickets are apparently a premium for BYU players, who get four each. Eleven Cougar players are from the L.A. area and that's a lot of tickets to get for friends and family. In the Salt Lake Tribune, Cougar James Allen sighed, "This is the hardest game to get tickets for."

The Obvious – Heading into Saturday's game, there is no letup in the national media analysis of the Trojans and their impact with defensive lovers everywhere.

The Not So Obvious – Former USC linebacker coach and Fox Sports analyst Artie Gigantino took a defensive view of the Trojans and commented, "After Saturday's games, the two best defensive teams in the country have to be USC and Ohio State."

The Obvious - In the Sept.1 USA Today computer poll by Jeff Sagarin, guess who's the No. 1 team in the country? With a computer rank of 92.05, it's " Southern Cal"!!!

The Not So Obvious – You can bet with the plethora of publicity heading the Trojans way, "Southern Cal" will be repeated endlessly. During the triumphant Auburn telecast, CBS announcer Vern Lundquist referred to the Trojans as "Southern Cal" , as do ESPN and most everybody outside of the West Coast.

The Obvious - There is a request in the Trojan media guide not to use "Southern Cal" because its like calling San Francisco "Frisco" or North Carolina "North Car." The guide also informs, "The usage of "Southern Cal" on licensed apparel and merchandise is limited in scope and necessary to protect federal trademark rights."

The Not So Obvious – We can accept the legal stuff, but if the rest of the country and blue-chip recruits know "Southern Cal" means USC when they look at the polls, it's better than being confused with Lou Holtz's USC, a.k.a. University of South Carolina. When the late Lindsay Nelson and Paul Hornung kept referring to the Trojans as "Southern Cal" in those 60s-70's late night Notre Dame replays, you knew it would eventually lead to this. Darn Irish!

The Obvious – This is the first-ever meeting between the BYU Cougars and the USC Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – BYU Coach Gary Crowton has a 21-13 (.618) record against opponents he has coached against for the first time.

The Obvious – Having been an underdog last week for Auburn, the Trojans find themselves a heavy 21 1/2-point favorite to dispense the visitors from Provo, Utah.

The Not So Obvious – While the odds for victory are heavy in favor of the Trojans, what are the odds that the highly-publicized Trojan defense, which has not allowed a rushing touchdown in 14 quarters, can shutout BYU's celebrated passing attack? The Cougars are quite proud of their record of not being shutout in 351 games.

The Obvious – In his third year, Pete Carroll and staff has brought the Trojan football program back to the elite national status, and the two major polls reflect it.

The Not So Obvious – The Utah market is doing its part to keep the Trojans ranked up there in the polls as Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter Michael C. Lewis voted USC No.1 in his Associated Press vote ahead of Ohio St., Georgia, Miami, and Oklahoma, and BYU Coach Gary Crowder voted the Trojans No. 2 in the latest USC Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.

The Obvious – BYU fans experienced unparalleled success under legendary Cougar Coach Lavell Edwards, who is to BYU fans what the late John McKay was to USC fans.

The Not So Obvious –Coming of last season's 5-7 record (the first losing season in Provo since 1973), third-year Coach Gary Crowton, a former Chicago Bears' assistant, is feeling some big Paul Hackett heat from Cougar fans and Utah media, despite the fact his 2001 club led the nation in total offense.

The Obvious - Considering the strength of the Auburn defense, it figures that the Trojans' offense will look much improved against a weaker but unpredictable BYU defense, which returns all 11 starters from last year's club.

The Not So Obvious – While BYU "held" Georgia Tech to 243 yards, it should be noted that G-Tech went with a true at freshman quarterback. Look for the Trojan running backs to look explosive against BYU's unusual 3-3-5 defense.

The Obvious – BYU comes to the Coliseum as a very mature team given the fact that 38 players are married.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans have only one player that has tied the knot in senior snapper Matt Hayward. Hayward, from Glendale, Arizona, made the 2002 Pac-10 All-Academic second team. A transfer from Glendale Community College in Arizona, Hayward was a 3-year starting linebacker at Mountain Ridge High in Glendale, Arizona.

The Obvious – In college basketball, one of the ways teams prepare for conference games is to play in some tournaments like the Maui Classic, where the winners go on to play the winners and the losers match up the next day.

The Not So Obvious – By a scheduling quirk, last week the were Trojans at Auburn while BYU was at home against Georgia Tech. Well, this week, we have the winners of those two games, BYU at USC, while the losers, Auburn and Georgia, will battle it out in Atlanta.

The Obvious – The USC Trojans have five Heisman Trophy winners, four of whom are tailbacks and one, Carson Palmer, the lone quarterback.

The Not So Obvious – Despite BYU's array of legendary quarterbacks like Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Gifford Nielsen, and Marc Wilson, only Ty Detmer has won the Heisman Trophy (1990).

The Obvious – BYU's current quarterback rage is sophomore "phenom" Matt Berry (6-6, 227), who was 31 of 46 for 276 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia Tech.

The Not So Obvious - Berry has an unusual delivery as his ball seems to be delivered in a shotput motion. Berry's father, Robert, played at Stanford.

The Obvious – One of BYU's all-time stars is ESPN analyst Todd Christenen, the former Oakland Raiders' tight end.

The Not So Obvious – Taking a chip off the old block, Todd Christensen's son, Toby, is a wide receiver for the Cougars and had 6 recetions for 51 yards and one touchdown against G-Tech. Speaking of Christensen's, there are two other Christensens on the roster, one being wide receiver David, whose brother McKay plays for the New York Mets.

The Obvious – The Trojans have tried to recruit players out of Utah recently, but have not been successful come signing time.

The Not So Obvious –One Cougar starter should familiar to Trojan fans. Starting freshman offensive guard Jake Kuresa (6-4, 315) was heavily recruited by the Trojans and was rumored at one time to be coming to Troy.

The Obvious – The Trojans recruited what many consider one of the premier freshmen offensive units in the country with the likes of tackle Drew Radovich, guard Sam Baker, and center Ryan Kalil.

The Not So Obvious -While the Trojans did sign a top-notch unit of freshmen, the Cougars' prize recruit last year was offensive guard Ofa Mohetau (6-3, 321, 4.75) from Euless Trinity High in Texas, who was considered by many to be the nation's premier prep offensive lineman . The kid played three series against Georgia Tech in BYU's last week's win.

The Obvious – The Trojans take pride in promoting Jacob Rogers and Winston Justice as the nation's premier tackle tandem.

The Not So Obvious – Either Justice and Rogers will be challenged this week by BYU's junior All-Mountain West defensive end Brady Poppinga (6-3, 257), who recorded 8 sacks in 2002. Poppinga's father also played for the Cougars. Let's also give credit to young Poppinga for attaining his Eagle Scout Award.

The Obvious – The Trojans figure to fare much better on the ground this week against a questionable Cougar rush defense, although Hershell Dennis fared pretty darn good against the stingy Tigers.

The Not So Obvious – Some have been critical of freshman Reggie Bush's performance against Auburn, but we suspect that the kid will look just fine on Saturday. He had limited room to run and one time did the old freshman mistake by not running to the point of attack, instead trying to reverse his field where he found successful in summer practices. Look for the entire stable of Trojan backs to find room that was understandably unavailable at Auburn.

The Obvious – BYU is a Mormon university and has 41 players on its roster that have been on missions.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans had aMormon player recently who took his mission during his Trojan career. Former Trojan offensive lineman Faaesea Mailo did a mission in the Far East.

The Obvious – One of the Cougar players really looking forward to playing the Trojans is senior center Steve Jackson, who is from Rancho Palos Verdes.

The Not So Obvious – Jackson will have double duty this weekend when the team plane arrives at LAX on Friday afternoon. After the plane lands at 2:30 p.m., he'll hope in a car and get to his sister's wedding which begin at 4:00 p.m. Did we mention that Jackson's father is a USC grad?

The Obvious – Pete Carroll and his defensive staff are considered as fine a defensive group as there is in America, and the current Trojan defense is certainly a reflection of the coaching staff.

The Not So Obvious – BYU has never been known for defense, but they do have a defensive coach whose name fits that mindset. "Bronco" Mendenhall, former New Mexico coach, is in his first season in charge of the Cougar defense that will try and expose the young Trojan backfield. Mendenhall is also known as the college mentor of NFL star linebacker Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears.

The Obvious – The Trojans seemed to get out of the Auburn game with minor bumps and ailments except for guard Lenny Vandermade, who is a day to day process but expected to play.

The Not So Obvious – The BYU offense, which was the unbelievably the worst last year in the Mountain West Conference, suffered an injury blow for this week's game when junior running back Marcus Whalen was lost last week with a hairline foot fracture suffered during warm-ups. Whalen ran for 918 yards last season. He will be replaced by a trio of alphabet soup backs in Fahu Tahi, Tafui Vakapuna, and Rey Brathwaite, who tied Marcus Allen's high school FIC single-game rushing record while playing at Spring Valley Monte Vista.

The Obvious – The Trojan were pleased with the first-game performance of sophomore tight end Dominique Byrd, who had three catches for 63 yards, but Norm Chow felt,if not for Byrd's weight (255), the kid would have scored on his big reception to start the second half against Auburn.

The Not So Obvious – BYU also brings to the Coliseum an very effective catching tight end in Daniel Coats, a former wide receiver who has put on 40 pounds since last season. Coats was very effective against the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech hauling in a 34-yard touchdown pass down the middle.

The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans will unveil five large Heisman jerseys of Garrett, Simpson, Allen, White, and Palmer with their numbers, which will hang from the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious –. There was controversy last week in Provo when the Cougars retired the uniform of legendary quarterback Steve Young. Yes, Young's uniform was retired, but not his No.8, which is being worn by current Cougar QB Matt Berry. The argument in Utah is that there was concern that by retiring numbers, there would be an eventual shortage of numbers.

The Obvious – Junior kicker Ryan Killeen showed big coconuts in overcoming the pressures of camp competition and coaching scrutiny by converting all three of his field goals at Auburn and showing, for the most part, a good leg on kickoffs.

The Not So Obvious –BYU brings in 2002 All-Mountain West selection and Lou Groza candidate kicker Matt Payne, who led the nation last year with a 47.6 punting average. Payne had a rough opener against Georgia Tech with a punt blocked and a missed 20-yard field goal.

The Obvious – Trojan fans might want to concentrate this Saturday on Trojan fullback Lee Webb and corner Kevin Arbet, two unsung Auburn heroes, who were major players against Auburn. Webb's blocking on pass protection was excellent and Arbet was all over Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Not So Obvious – In case you missed it this week, Coach Pete Carroll said, "Both these guys are real savvy players. They're both playmaker types. I think we're better at both of these spots."

The Obvious – Saturday night's game is a split-national telecast on ABC with Keith Jackson at the helm, Dan Fouts providing the color, and Todd Harris on the sidelines.. selected Trojan games will be televised nationally by TBS.

The Not So Obvious – Todd Harris is an alum of BYU.

The Obvious – When ABC or Fox is not doing the Trojan telecast, TBS will be the option.Whether you are at the Coliseum or watching on the tube, you figure to be bombarded by a commercials almost on every change of possession.

The Not So Obvious – TBS is using a unique marketing technique by piloting sensor activated commercials in men's restrooms in about a dozen bars in 11 markets around the country through September. In what soon could be a fixture in the Coliseum, the TBS audio spot says, "There are two prerequisites to manhood (sound of zipper). The first is the ability to go to the bathroom standing upright. You, my friend, don't need to worry about the first prerequisite. The second is to watch as much college football as humanly possible…(as marching band plays) so spend your Saturday nights watching college football on TBS –with periodic bathroom breaks, of course."

The Obvious – Pete "Pom Pom" Arbogast is the play-by-play voice of the Trojans on Sporting News 1540.

The Not So Obvious – Let's not rip TBS too strongly, men's rooms at the Coliseum do have Arbogast and the Trojans' broadcast action being piped in so fans don't miss too much of the action. Does Title1X apply to Trojan broadcasts being aired in the ladies' room?

The Obvious – The BYU passing attack figures to test the Trojan linebackers, especially new sophomore middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, the Maine transfer and son of former brute fullback Mosi, who also starred in the NFL.

The Not So Obvious – The transfer of Tatupu from Maine University to USC may have been a stroke of good fortune. Carroll informed, "We really lucked out. He wasn't recruited much. He was smaller and people didn't know where he would play. Sometimes a guy's special instincts get lost. Thankfully Mosi took a chance and called us."

The Obvious – Auburn attempted to use the shotgun to try an escape the furious Wild Bunch 11 rush.

The Not So Obvious – Against Georgia Tech, BYU used the shotgun to spread the field with receivers, so the Trojan secondary will be most certainly tested by a more sophisticated attack co-directed by former Cougar quarterback star Robbie Bosco.

The Obvious –. For the first game, one area the Trojan staff was happy with was lack of penalty yardage at Auburn.

The Not So Obvious - Long gone, thank goodness, are the days when the Trojans annually rolled up over 100 yards in flags, a sign of a dumb squad and a poorly coached team.While the Trojans were penalized four times for 43 yards, the BYU Cougars were flagged 16 times for 132 yards against Georgia Tech. BYU accounts claim some of it had to do with ACC refs assigned to the game.

The Obvious – The cost of a ticket for this Saturday's home debut with BYU is $35 and pictures Coach Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – Fans figure to get their moneys worth since BYU will pass, pass, pass, and the Trojan figure to pass, pass, run. This tilt could be in the four-hour club so bring a cushion.

The Obvious –Trojans' defensive tackle Shaun Cody reminded everyone last week at Auburn and the BYU coaching staff that he is the straw that stirs the Wild Bunch 11 drink.

The Not So Obvious – The BYU offensive line, which starts two freshmen, weighs in at 306 pounds per man, figures to be just what the doctor ordered for the mostly veteran Trojan front seven. You don't think that the WB2 will have a little vocal support from the Coliseum faithful on those third and long? Nah.

The Obvious – Trojan offensive coordinator Norm Chow was a BYU assistant for 27 years and quarterback coach Steve Sarkisian is a former Cougar quarterback .

The Not So Obvious – By the end of this week, this story will have been beaten to death. Did we mention that Chow's wife and some of his family still live near BYU?

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart went the entire four quarter against Auburn in the Trojans' 23-0 victory.

The Not So Obvious – While BYU will go mostly at quarterback with Matt Berry, Coach Crowder wants to continue to give experience to back-up freshman QB John Beck, who saw limited action against Georgia Tech in the second quarter. Beck had a tough beginning with a fumble and interception.

The Obvious – The Trojans would like to get oft-injured fullback Brandon Hancock back this week.

The Not So Obvious – While Hancock may or may not play Saturday, one has to feel some compassion for BYU starting senior corner Brandon Heaney whose career has apparently ended aft suffering his third shoulder injury in as many years. He previously had the right shoulder injured his sophomore and junior year, and this year it was his left shoulder.

The Obvious – The Trojans' strong safety Darnell Bing played about as well as you could expect at Auburn with an interception and a fumble recovery.

The Not So Obvious – The Cougars also have an active secondary member in their wild nickel configuration in "Cougarback" Aaron Francisco , who had three fumble recoveries against G-Tech.

The Obvious – Coach Gary Crowder tried to get out of his home and home series against the Trojans, but his athletic director said he couldn't get it done.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans will play at Provo Sept. 4 to open the 2004 season.

The Obvious – Mark Carrier was a Trojan two-time All-America (1988-89) and Jim Thorpe Award winner (1989) at safety.

The Not So Obvious – If you plan on listening to the entire Trojan broadcast on Sporting News 1540, USC fans would be well advised to listen to Mark Carrier on the Trojans' pre and post-game shows each game. Carrier, who played ten years in the NFL, is informative, objective, and comes across as a serious analyst of USC football.

The Obvious – If you are unable able to make Saturday's Trojan home-opener against BYU in person, you can catch it on the tube at 5:00 p.m. (PST) on ABC.

The Not So Obvious – This weekend will also show a number of Pac-10 teams in action. On Friday night, we've got Oregon St. at Fresno State (7 p.m., ESPN) and on Saturday it's Washington St. at Notre Dame (11:30 a.m., NBC), UCLA at Colorado (12:30 p.m., ABC), Indiana at Washington (1:00 p.m., FSN), and LSU at Arizona (7 p.m., TBS). All times listed are Pacific Standard Time.

The Obvious – The Trojans enter Saturday night's game with an imposing home opening record of 83-18-7 (80%), something that doesn't bode well for the visitors from Provo,Utah.

The Not So Obvious -The last time most USC fans saw their heroes in the Coliseum, they were on their feet as Troy was destroying Notre Dame 44-13 on that electric November 30th evening. So near ten months later and with BYU hoping to be this Sunday's paper upset headliner, Pete Carroll will be hoping that his USC team and Trojan fans can do a repeat of that glorious enthusiasm– an enthusiasm which is representative of a highly-ranked team.

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