The Obvious – USC Coach Pete Carroll has seemingly modeled his third-ranked Trojan program after an NFL franchise, so it is appropriate that after going 3-0 playing pre-season (AKA – non-conference) foes, this week presents a welcome bye in preparation for their nationally televised Pac-10 opener at California on September 27th.
The Not So Obvious – While much has been said this week
about Pete Carroll's staff working with future Trojans stars such as Booty,
Smith, and Lewis, the bye has been more important for injured Trojans such as
Darnell Bing, Jacob Rogers, and even reserves like Van Brown, hoping to heal in
time for USC's Pac-10 opener in Berkeley.
The Obvious – The Trojans are
ranked No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No.4 by the Associated
The Not So Obvious – In the famed Sagarin football ratings, the
Trojans' computer ranking is No. 4. The top three in order are Miami, Florida
State, and Oklahoma.
The Obvious – There have been many opinions of the
strengths and weaknesses of Pete Carroll's squad, especially from opponents that
have tested the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious –Hawaii receiver Britton
Komine having played the Trojans said, "Athletically, I don't think we're
inferior, but they were fundamentally sound. Their corner, Marcell Allmond, told
me ‘I would love to play you close, but I gotta listen to my coaches.' They're a
disciplined team, fundamentally sound, and they get the job done."
Obvious – Hawaii coach June Jones recently compared their next opponent, UNLV,
to the Trojans and said, "Their (UNLV) offense , looks maybe, I'll tell you,
equivalent to USC's. Their quarterback (Kurt Natkes) looks a little better,
probably just as much skill at wide receiver. Their running back, I don't know,
somebody said he got hurt against Wisconsin, but looks better than the back at
SC. So they've got some players on offense."
The Not So Obvious – Let's
see, Hawaii did thrash the Trojans 61-32, right? They didn't? Well I'll be darn.
Must have been a misprint.
The Obvious – The Sporting News was once the
bible of baseball, but for the past several years, it has expanded to cover all
sports including college football.
The Not So Obvious – The Sporting News
view of the current Trojans comes in the form of their Scouts' View evaluation
which this week said, "Southern California has one of the best defenses in a
long time. Their front four plays hard, is well-coached, can run and is
physical. USC does a great job of keeping things simple for quarterback Matt
Leinart. They don't get him into trouble much. He takes three steps back and
gets rid of the ball quickly."
The Obvious – The Trojans metal will be
strongly tested in the next five weeks which will include road games at Cal,
Arizona State, Notre Dame, and Washington.
The Not So Obvious – It's
hard to believe that Trojan fans will see their heroes at home only once in the
month of October (11th) against Stanford. If the Trojans can wade through Cal
and the testy Sun Devils, that 7 p.m. evening affair with the Cardinal will have
a bit of a romantic, moonlight flavor.
The Obvious – The Trojans have
handled three teams defensively that were pretty much one dimensional. Auburn
ran, BYU passed, and Hawaii passed even more. Offensively, the Trojans faced
defenses that varied in schemes as Auburn had size and speed, BYU a myriad of
sets and blitzes, and Hawaii, which was more conventional and , quite frankly,
easier to block..
The Not So Obvious – What we don't know is what will
happen when the Trojans face a balanced, potent offense and a defense that tries
to take some of the BYU concepts. It says here that this Pac-10 is not as
balanced as years past, but once conference begins, teams all start with a clean
slate so emotion comes into play. In addition, with the Trojans in the national
eye, all remaining teams on the schedule will be "up" to play Troy, and they'll
certainly will try to make Sunday's papers with an upset.
The Obvious -
There may be a number of pro coaches that may follow Carroll's success into
college according to the Trojan coach in a recent article in the Marin
Independent Journal. Carroll said, "I am probably championing the cause of guys
coming in this direction from the NFL to college."
The Not So Obvious –
In the same article, Carroll discussed his peace of mind at being at USC and his
future. Carroll informed, "I think I am so well suited for it (college). I ve
been so comfortable in phases of it, I can't imagine that I didn't do it
earlier. I just didn't know. I just an NFL guy. I had been there so long, and I
was loving that. I thought that was all I needed. But this turned out to be even
The Obvious – Although Dominique Bryd has done a fine job
improving each week as the starting tight end, injured Alex Holmes is still
having an effect with his presence on the sidelines during games.
So Obvious – Holmes can still be seen wearing his familiar No. 81 on the
sidelines during games and is one of the first players to congratulate a
teammate on a good play.
The Obvious – With the week off, the spotlight
returned to the status of freshman quarterback John David Booty.
So Obvious – There question at this point isn't if Booty can be the starter. The
question is whether the kid can find any minutes as the No. 2 guy, if given that
opportunity. It says here you can always bring him out of his redshirt year in
an emergency, but all would be better served if the kid remained behind the
curtain until spring.
The Obvious – USC is recruiting
linebacker-fullback Sekeli Faaeteete (6-2, 210) from San Leandro High, and those
tantalizing rumors say the Trojans are No. 1 on his list.
The Not So
Obvious – When the kid was in Samoa last summer, he played some rugby and did so
well that he was asked to sign with a professional rugby team. In 2002,
Faaeteete rush for 946 yards and 16 touchdowns for the San Leandro
The Obvious – The Trojans are still looking mighty good in the
recruiting of linebacker Keith Rivers from St. Mary, Florida.
The Not So
Obvious – The Orlando Sentinel had a very extensive high school football preview
edition in a recent Sunday paper, and Rivers was the coverboy for the tabloid
The Obvious – The Trojans flexed their attendance muscles for
their first two home games drawing over 70,000 for each contest.
So Obvious – The Trojans have now played before over 70,000 fans the past seven
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart has truly
earned his starting spot considering the pressure he was under from competition,
media, and fans to hold on to his spot prior to the Auburn game.
So Obvious – There should be no doubt now that Leinart, who has connected on 51
of 85 passes for 647 yards and six touchdowns, has the right stuff to take the
Trojans where they want to go. It was felt here from the beginning that all the
kid lacked was a pat on the back and the assurance that he could do it. The
feeling here is that he will get even better as the season continues and will
become the quarterback that most knew when he was one of the best in the country
at Mater Dei.
The Obvious – With the USC taking a week off, you can bet
that selected Trojan coaches will be spanning the nation and taking in some
"Friday Night Lights" and, boy, don't those plane trips gets a little shorter
when your excited to promote your program.
The Not So Obvious – One high
school game this week that will probably NOT be a must on the Trojans'
recruiting schedule will be an Orange County tussle between Costa Mesa Estancia
(1-0) and Santa Ana Century (1-1) at Orange Coast College. It will be a match-up
of Trojan coaching blood as former Trojan assistant and media commentator Craig
Fertig facing first-year Century coach Kevin Pola, nephew of USC running back
coach Kennedy Pola.
The Obvious – The happiest unit on the Trojan team
welcoming the bye has to be the Trojans offensive line which, despite last
Saturday's running success, will be more than happy to heal from lingering
The Not So Obvious – The happiest of those players has to be
offensive tackle Jacob Rogers, who has been suffering from a foot injury almost
since camp started. The All-American candidate has unable to put in a true full
week of practice and has been going on true grit.
The Obvious – Trojan
fans may feel as though something is missing this weekend thanks to the bye and
may want to check out other Pac-10 teams on the tube.
The Not So Obvious
– As of now, the Cal/Illinois game is not being televised into Los Angeles, but
you might want to check out UCLA at No. 1 Oklahoma (12:30 p.m., ABC) or Arizona
State at Iowa (ESPN, TBA). The best game, however, is Michigan at Oregon and
probably needs to seen at sports bar or ESPN Game Plan at 12:30 p.m.
Obvious – There is no player on Troy's vaunted defense that is anymore valuable
up to this point than All-Pac-10 linebacker Matt Grootegoed.
The Not So
Obvious – There are very few players in Trojan history that hit the way
Grootegoed hits. On an early tackle against Hawaii, No. 6 hit the receiver so
hard, he was a human version of "shock and awe". Simply put, Grootegoed is
tackling penicillin shot.
The Obvious – It is always interesting to
listen to the style of television announcers from the various networks that do
The Not So Obvious – Whether it's Vern Lundquist on CBS or
Tom Ramsey on FSN, they just can stop referring to the Trojans as "Southern
Cal." Maybe it's okay as long as you do it on national television.
Obvious – This week will help a number of true freshmen in continuing their
learning process and a chance to make some lasting impressions on the Trojan
The Not So Obvious – While quarterback John David Booty
figures to get a lot of reps with the first unit, the freshmen players who
figures to gain the most from the extra time are receiver Steve Smith and
running back Whitney Lewis, who could make up a lot of ground after getting off
to a slow start.
The Obvious - Without fanfare, freshman defensive tackle
Manuel Wright saw his most extended action yet in the Trojans' lopsided victory
The Not So Obvious – Wright has really trimmed down since
camp and came very close last Saturday to sacking Rainbow Warrior quarterback
Timmy Chang. As Wright had just exploded by his offensive line opponent and was
honing in on Chang, the beaten UH offensive lineman reached out and grabbed
Wright by the numbers on the front of his jersey, thus taking the former Long
Beach Poly star out of the play. A penalty was called on the play, but it wasn't
for the obvious holding of Wright.
The Obvious – Buzzard's luck middle
linebacker Oscar Lua had surgery on his left knee and appears out for the
season. Reports say perhaps this will be a nine month recovery.
So Obvious – This brings into question the depth at middle linebacker should
starter Lofa Tatupu, who is enjoying a great start to his Trojan career by
leading the team in tackles, gets injured. All eyes may turn to junior Daniel
Urquihart (6-2, 250), who originally came to Troy as a defensive end, and may
prove to a very important piece in the season ending puzzle.
– This week's Sporting News also did a big article on the biggest and best
receivers in America which included some candid comments about the Trojans
super-soph Mike Williams
The Not So Obvious – Of Mike Williams, Arizona
State respected cornerback R.J. Oliver said, "Not only would I pick Mike
Williams over anyone else now, but I think he's the best wide receiver in
college football in a long time."
The Obvious – Fullback Brandon Hancock
has returned to pads following the recovery from a very "nasty" ankle
The Not So Obvious – The one big thing missing in the Trojans
offensive attack has been the pass to the fullback either circling out of the
backfield or floating to the flat, something that Hancock displayed with very
effective results during his brief summer practices.
The Obvious – The
Trojans will spend this weekend watching and scouting some of their future
competition, knowing that their lofty national ranking is safe and
The Not So Obvious – With next four of their five games on the
road, the Trojans will be challenged in pursuit of those dreams of Pasadena or
possibly New Orleans. Pass the popcorn and pour the firewater, Trojan fans
anxiously await 2003 - Part ll.
Obvious/Not-So-Obvious (bye week edition)
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