O/NSO - BYU review

Showing the skills of the great escape artist Harry Houdini, the fourth-ranked Southern California Trojans turned a potential nightmare into a sweaty, national championship wake-up call as they "escaped" the BYU Cougars.

The Obvious – Showing the skills of the great escape artist Harry Houdini, the fourth-ranked Southern California Trojans turned a potential nightmare into a sweaty, national championship wake-up call as they "escaped" the BYU Cougars 35-18 before 75, 513 drained fans.

The Not So Obvious – Considering the Trojans' (2-0) woeful rushing performance and the intense circumstances, sophomore offensive tackle Winston Justice perhaps said it best by sighing, "This game was a big eye opener."

The Obvious – Despite the close call with the Cougars (1-1), the Trojans actually went up a spot in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and are now the nation's consensus No. 4 team.

The Not So Obvious – While BYU was probably vastly underrated, the unanswered question is, "Are the Trojans really the No.4 team in the country?"

The Obvious – Oklahoma, Miami, and Ohio State are the order of teams above the Trojans in the two major polls.

The Not So Obvious – It's probably heresy, but if the Trojans can learn and improve from a win that some USC fans are treating like a loss, it is conceivable based on all the schedules, the Trojans could be sitting on top of the heap at some point this season.

The Obvious – When USC jumped out to such a quick 21-0 first quarter lead against BYU, the only question left for Trojans fans seemed to be the post-game dinner celebration destination.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's game demonstrated that USC is a good, but not yet a great team, and BYU is good team and probably one of the better teams on the Trojans' schedule.

The Obvious – The Trojans were 22-point favorites to manhandle Coach Gary Crowton's BYU squad, and the Trojans had them smiling in Las Vegas with their first quarter dominance.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the bookmakers in Sin City should have first contacted the parking lot sharks in the Coliseum area before they made the odds. Across the street parking on Saturday was going for as much $50 per vehicle, a sure sign of respect for the BYU Cougars.

The Obvious –BYU was within three points with less than five minute remaining when the Trojans exploded for 14 late fourth quarter points.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday night's game may have gone a long way in answering the all important Trojan character issue that most championship contenders demonstrate, least we forget last year's Perils of Pauline, the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Obvious – Trojan sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart got a season's worth of experience against BYU by going 19 of 34 in the air for 235 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions.

The Not So Obvious – Despite virtually getting no help from the rushing game and having two of this three interceptions deflected at the line of scrimmage, Leinart showed great poise in directing the Trojans on their late linchpin drive. With second-and17 with less than five minutes remaining, Leinart located Mike Williams for a 20-yard gain and then followed it up with his killer 18-yard touchdown strike to a crossing Williams to cement the victory,

The Obvious – With the game getting tense for Trojan fans both in the Coliseum and those watching on ABC, everybody in the stadium knew that Trojan offensive coordinator Norm Chow would have Leinart looking for Mike Williams, including BYU defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall.

The Not So Obvious – Mendenhall's fears came to a reality when Leinart indeed found Williams. Put quite simply, the defensive coordinator sighed, " The guys (Williams) a great player. They put the ball in his hands to win the game."

The Obvious – The Thundering Herd, a Trojan grassroots spirit group that surrounds the players' entrance to the field, should be given kudos for making enough noise to not just get some enthusiasm started in the Coliseum, but it seems to have a positive effect on the SC players.

The Not So Obvious – After his 1-yard TD pass from Leinart in the opening quarter, Williams proceeded to do a little "Green Bay Packer" salute to the adoring Thundering Herd.

The Obvious – After the game, Trojan offensive coordinator commented on the pressure on Leinart to be perfect by saying, "People don't understand. Leinart can't be Carson Palmer. This was just his second game."

The Not So Obvious – During the game and especially on the final touchdown pass to Mike Williams in the fourth quarter, Chow showcased Leinart's ability to roll deep out of the pocket and display his underrated mobility, thus opening up more of the Trojan playbook.

The Obvious – The opening day crowd of 75,315 was the largest home opener since a visit by the Sooners of Oklahoma in 1988.

The Not So Obvious – Coming into the game with a stratosphere ranking, Trojan fans were dressed in USC attire worthy of being in the nation's top four. It has been a long time since a Coliseum crowd, outside of UCLA or Notre Dame, was so intent in providing the Trojans with a ear-splitting welcome and support that helped carry the Trojans to their early 21-0 first quarter advantage.

The Obvious -. The Trojan rushing attack was held to 71 yards and for much of the game the USC offensive line looked like Alice trying to navigate BYU's 3-3-5 Wonderland defensive maze.

The Not So Obvious - To say that Cougars' Coach Bronco Mendenhall's defensive scheme was confusing to Trojan offensive line would the equivalent of a New Yorker trying to navigate LA's. famed downtown triple overpass.

The Obvious – The Trojans' 71 yards rushing was the worst since gaining a yard against Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl two years ago.

The Not So Obvious – While is it extremely difficult to practice in one week for an unorthodox defense like the Cougars, you can bet that Trojan line coach Tim Davis will be anything but pleased over his unit's poor rushing performance. Many years ago when legendary offensive line coach Hudson Houch was in charge of the Trojans, he became so frustrated with his famed linemen to move the pile that he screamed, "F*** the technique, just go out and kick the S*** out of the guy in front of ya."

The Obvious – The leading Trojan rusher on Saturday was Hershel Dennis, who carried 16 times for a meager 40 yards and a 2.5 average.

The Not So Obvious – Watching the Trojans' rushing drought on the field was Washington Redskin running back Sultan McCullough, who was one of the wheels in last year's successful Trojans' rushing attack.

The Obvious – Every good team has a great player, and Trojan receiver Mike Williams, who had 10 receptions or 124 yards and two scores, was the dagger in the Cougars' heart.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, BYU Crowton commented, " I hope he (Williams) goes out (NFL draft) at the end of the year so we don't have to play him next year." Crowton was referring to the Trojans visit to Provo next year in early September.

The Obvious – Before the game and speaking about the heralded Trojan defense, BYU's stellar tight end Daniel Coats, a former Trojan recruit, said, "Their defense is killer. They're a bunch of great players. They're not going to be happy until they have a shutout."

The Not So Obvious – The real "killer" on Saturday was tight end Coats. With eight receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown, Coats was a major problem that the Trojans were aware but had not answers. Carroll said, "We thought we could do a better job on Coasts, but he ended up making a lot of plays."

The Obvious – Many of the Trojan players and Coach Pete Carroll commented how hard and tough BYU played . Pete Carroll informed, "They (BYU) would cheapshot us in a good way."

The Not So Obvious – Commenting on the physical nature of Saturday's game, BYU Coach Crowton added, "We're going to be sore, because they (USC) are real physical, but they are going to be sore, too."

The Obvious - Trojan tailgaters were out early and in numbers and many of them had their television sets tuned to the UCLA and Notre Dame games, with a number of the cardinal and gold " eateries" listening at high volume to the CD sounds of Art Bartner's Trojan marching band.

The Not So Obvious – Speaking of UCLA and Notre Dame, when the two final scores appeared on the Coliseum message board, it was hard to tell if the fans were more excited over the Bruins' loss at Colorado or the Irish come-from-behind overtime victory over Washington State.

The Obvious – The Trojan defense had its hands full as the game got past the first quarter when BYU signal-caller Matt Berry proceeded to get microwave hot, and BYU Coach Gary Crowton, the former Chicago Bear offensive guru, started solving Pete Carroll's defense.

The Not So Obvious – Berry showed great poise in the traditional of great Cougar quarterbacks by not only throwing 27 of 39 for 297 yards, but showing relentless attitude despite three Trojan picks and some punishing sacks. After the intense game and still the fighter, Berry said, "We squandered away opportunities. I think we beat ourselves."

The Obvious – The Coliseum provided those in attendance with what appeared to be new scoreboards.

The Not So Obvious –The boards are more a distraction than informative. The boards don't list any additional statistical information other than the basics. To view the new, small game clock under the torch, one needs a Mt. Palomar telescope and a sun deflector to view the numbers.

The Obvious – The Cougars first downed the Trojans 19 to 17, out-passed the Trojans 313 to 235, and out-gained the Trojans in total offense 359 to 306.

The Not So Obvious – Of course unless you were watching on ABC or reading Sunday's paper, you wouldn't know it since the Coliseum "scorebored" (sic) no longer lists those fan-friendly statistics on a play-by-play basis.

The Obvious – Keary Colbertt displayed speed, wiggle, and balance in his 48-yard touchdown reception from Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – While Colbert had 68 yards in receptions, he only was on the receiving end three times. While teams will try and take Mike Williams out of the game, Colbert's low reception numbers are a bit of a concern.

The Obvious – Late in the game, the Trojans gave freshman running back Chauncey Washington three carries.

The Not So Obvious – While the kid only gained eight yards, his style fit beautifully running between the tackles. The kid showed no dancing, prancing, or fear in attacking the teeth of the Cougar defense. Given some space, this kid also has some wiggle when given the opportunity.

The Obvious – Earlier in the week, the Times' Gary Klein had a fine article on the evolution of sophomore middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu's transfer from Maine to USC.

The Not So Obvious – There was no "coverboy" jinx for Mr. Tatupu as Lofa again led the Trojans in tackles with 11 tackles (9 solo jobs, 2 assists, 1 sack). Backing Tatupu was Daniel Urquhart, who recorded two solo stops.

The Obvious – Talk about increasing productivity with game experience, defensive end Frostee Rucker was fourth in tackles on Saturday, collecting two solo stops and assisting with another two. Fellow supersub defensive lineman LeJuan Ramsey also got in on the "two party" and, like Rucker, got credit for a half a sack.

The Obvious – The Trojan secondary was explored for 313 yards in the air despite intense pressure by the Wild Bunch on BYU quarterback Matt Berry.

The Not So Obvious – The bottom line is the Trojan defense only allowed 18 points, only one of which came as a result of Berry's arm, a 14-yard thread-the-needle strike to tight end Daniel Coats . The biggest BYU scoring threat on offense was All-Mountain West kicker Matt Payne. He of the cannon leg connected on three field goals (53, 26, 52).

The Obvious – Both teams combined for a total of six interceptions.

The Not So Obvious – BYU went two steps further in the deadly turnover department with a pair of fumbles lost. The Trojans, however, have now gone eight quarters without a fumble.

The Obvious – The game figured to be a long one considering that both teams like to pass and the clock stops with every incomplete.

The Not So Obvious – The game clock was stopped 32 times for incomplete passes by both the Trojans and the Cougars.

The Obvious – Reggie Bush was placed back on kickoffs, not a surprise since Pete Carroll said that was his plans.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans tried to make sure that Bush would get the kickoff by lining Marcell Allmond a number of yards directly in front of Bush. Reggie returned one kickoff for 30 yards while Allmond returned two kickoffs for 51 yards, one a return of 30 yards.

The Obvious – Art Bartners' Spirit of Troy was in mid-season form and was accompanied in the pre-game show by a fly-over provided by pilots from both USC and BYU.

The Not So Obvious – BYU provided an alternative to bringing the Cougar band by providing their fans who sat behind the closed end of the Coliseum with a three-piece band.

The Obvious – A number of "new" Trojans made their way to the field and played on Saturday evening including Tustin's Chris Barrett, Chino's Sedrick Ellis, and Vista's Salo Faraimo.

The Not So Obvious – Faraimo was credited with his first tackle as a Trojan, a tackle that will last a lifetime.

The Obvious – Following Matt Leinart's first touchdown strike to Mike Williams, all Trojan fans were relieved to see the "next" Traveler made the traditional "Conquest" appearance.

The Not So Obvious – Hopefully those in the marketing department are timing the minutes and seconds that television spends on promoting the horse's appearance. The more exposure on television, the more of those stuffed horses will be sold at the Trojans' portable souvenir stands outside the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

The Obvious – The newest Trojans' Wild Bunch is fast becoming a nationwide college football icon, and Trojan fans are almost eager to see an opposing quarterback drop back to pass.

The Not So Obvious – It didn't take long for the first Trojan sack of Cougar quarterback Matt Berry when nose guard Mike Patterson shot through and sacked Berry at the 13:48 mark of the first quarter. Patterson finished with 1 1/2 sacks to go along with six tackles.

The Obvious – The five new Heisman jerseys were not hung but placed on the top steps of the peristyle end in order of their dates of playing. From left to right were displayed Mike Garrett's No. 20, O.J. Simpson's No. 32, Charles White's No. 12, Marcus Allen's No. 33, and Carson Palmer's No. 3.

The Not So Obvious – Give some credit to the designers as White's and Allen's uniforms had the "old" gold stripe inserts below the shoulders.

The Obvious – One of the most colorful and talkative Trojans is senior defensive end Omar Nazel from Oakland Skyline, who scored on an 16-yard "thank you very much" interception from BYU quarterback Matt Berry.

The Not So Obvious – For probably one of the few times in his life, Nazel didn't know what to say or do in the end zone. Nazel said, "I didn't know how to act. That was a dream. I didn't know what I was supposed to do." Don't think that won't get past his teammates during practice this week nor will the fact that when he went to the locker room early before halftime, he went by the BYU Cougar mascot and gave the cougar a loveable Deacon Jones headslap.

The Obvious – Offensive coordinator Norm Chow prides himself on a ball-control, and the Trojans' ability to control the time of possession.

The Not So Obvious – BYU became one of the few teams recently to turn those numbers around. In Saturday's game, The Cougars won the time of possession battle 31:15 to 28:45 and dominated the third quarter 10:24 to 4:34.

The Obvious – Both teams showed the killer instinct in the Red Zone as the Trojans were 3 for 3 and BYU was 2 for 2.

The Not So Obvious – The difference was that Troy converted touchdowns while the Cougars converted field goals.

The Obvious – Prior to the game, running back Reyanldo Brathwaite predicted, "We just need to execute. If we can put up points, I don't think USC will score too much with our ‘'D'."

The Not So Obvious – Running back Brathwaite, who had the longest run from scrimmage with a 28-yard jaunt, must have been also attending some of Bronco Mendenhall's defensive meetings in Provo, because the Trojans had their hands full all evening with the Cougars' puzzling defense.

The Obvious – The Trojans early 21-0 led seemed to give both the Trojans and their fans a false read on the mentality of the Cougars.

The Not So Obvious – BYU Coach Crowton was very prophetic when he prior to the game said, "I don't think the Coliseum or playing SC or playing the fourth-ranked team is going to overwhelm us. If you don't play the big guys, you don't have a chance to win a big game.

The Obvious – Coliseum fans were reminded that the game was on ABC television as the Goodyear blimp hovered overhead.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojans in command early in the second quarter 21-0, a skywriter drew a huge happy face overlooking the Coliseum. It should be noted that the skywriter did not return to "draw" when things got dicey.

The Obvious – With Eric Torres still on the shelf, the offensive line needed the work of transfer John Drake, who filled in at both guard and tackle throughout the evening.

The Not So Obvious – Don't discount the loss of Torres at this point, for the senior lineman brings valuable experience to the "pit".

The Obvious – One of the stars of spring, perhaps the offensive star, was wide receiver Justin Wyatt, who lost his No.3 receiver spot to freshman Steve Smith.

The Not So Obvious – Wyatt, who had shown inconsistent hands in the fall, made a nice presence in the game with two straight catches in the second quarter.

The Obvious – Without much fanfare, frosh fullback, Whitney Lewis saw increased playing time beginning in the second quarter and even had a modest 2-yard reception in the fourth quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Lewis, who seems to have already had a career within a career, with his highly publicized experiences in his brief USC season, seems to be learning how the college game is played both on and off the field – good and bad. From a very reliable source, the kid is starting to mature and understand the responsibilities that come with playing at a major power like USC.

The Obvious – Before the game, the Trojans gave a very touching tribute to the late linebacker Drean Rucker.

The Not So Obvious – The ceremony, moment of silence, and the encased Trojan jersey with No.54 presented to Rucker's family was the ultimate in Trojan class.

The Obvious – In the beginning of the third quarter and the Trojans leading 21-5, the momentum began to swing and so did the emotions of the Trojan and Cougar fans.

The Not So Obvious – As BYU was making their third quarter run, a Cougar fan stood up and a Trojan fan told him to sit down. The Cougar fans turned and said to the Trojan fan, "Common, we (BYU) only get so many chances to stand up against the Trojans."

The Obvious – The Trojans' third quarter performance showcased a balanced attack – little pass and no run.

The Not So Obvious – While BYU dominated the third quarter, the Cougars only scored seven points.

The Obvious – For the second straight week, Trojan running back Hershel Dennis provided the final touchdown to secure the USC victory.

The Not So Obvious – Thanks to a Matt Grootegoed fumble recovery, Dennis was able to go left on his11-yard score with a key block courtesy of guard Lenny Vandermade.

The Obvious – One of the really fine Trojan football sports programing shows is FOX's "Trojans All Access", which is a behind the scenes look of Trojan football with selected highlights of the previous week's game.

The Not So Obvious – Last week's premiere showed the intensity of the Auburn game from the tailgates to the intensity of Pete Carroll's staff during the game. Considering the tough win on Saturday evening against BYU, it will be very interesting to watch how the coaches and players dealt with the adversity and pressure of their BYU struggle.

The Obvious – So the Trojans are 2-0 and remain No. 4 in the country thanks to Matt Leinart's poise and determination late in the game against a very underrated BYU team..

The Not So Obvious – During the glory years of Trojan football in the 60's, 70's, and early 80's, games were not always blowouts. The mark of those nationally elite teams was the ability to come-from-behind and win the close one. While Trojan fans might not have liked the methods, they certainly loved the results.

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