O/NSO - Cal review

The dream of a Southern California Trojans' national championship left its heart in San Francisco - Berkeley to be precise - as the California Bears shocked the third-ranked Trojans in a gut wrenching 34-31 triple overtime loss in Strawberry Canyon.

The Obvious – The dream of a Southern California Trojans' national championship left its heart in San Francisco - Berkeley to be precise - as the California Bears shocked the third-ranked Trojans in a gut wrenching 34-31 triple overtime loss in Strawberry Canyon provided by former walk-on Tyler Fredrickson's 38-yard field goal before 51,208 drained fans at Memorial Stadium.

The Not So Obvious – It was the Trojans'"annual" overtime conference field goal loss, and, yes sir, it was an ESPN Classic Sports upset compliments of a USC team that provided the Bears with a lethal brew of interceptions, penalties, early uninspired play, a blocked punt, a fumble, and some head-scratching play-calling late in the fourth quarter.

The Obvious – The Bears dedicated Saturday's game to the memory of late quarterback Joe Roth, who engineered a big 1975 28-14 upset of a Trojan team that would be legendary coach John McKay's last.

The Not So Obvious – In memory of Roth, Cal players wore No.12 decals on their helmets, and just like Saturday's upset, the Trojans of 1975 were also victims of another tough Cal running attack led by All-America tailback Chuck Muncie, who later starred with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Obvious – The Trojans came into Saturday's Cal game a 13-point favorite and ranked the nation's consensus third-ranked team.

The Not So Obvious – If you're looking for a little Trojan love in this hour of need, the Trojans are still a consensus Top 10 team as both the AP and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll have the Trojans exactly that at No.10.

The Obvious - Lost in the emotion of the defeat was the fact the Trojans (3-1, 0-1) made such a valiant second half comeback outscoring the Bears (3-3, 1-0) in the final two quarters of regulation 17-3 after trailing 21-7 at halftime.

The Not So Obvious – In overtime,Trojan fans will lament the missed field goal by kicker Ryan Killeen, but it says here the biggest blunders in the extra periods were Hershel Dennis' fumble near the goal line after a hard hit by junior linebacker Brian Tremblay of Palm Desert, and more importantly, a killer holding call on senior guard Lenny Vandermade on Bears' defensive tackle Lorenzo Alenander that stalled a Trojan drive forcing Killeen into his ill-fated field goal attempt.

The Obvious – Hershel Dennis and Lenny Vandermade are two of the most inspired Trojans on the team and both have been proven winners since their prep days at Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei, respectively.

The Not So Obvious – The two mistakes by Dennis and Vandermade were truly unfortunate considering that Dennis had opened the first overtime with a determined 20-yard run, and Vandermade opened the hole by helping provide a key double-team block on Bears' defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander.

The Obvious – The contest was a typical hard-hitting NorCal affair, but who would have surmised that the Cal Bears would physically dominate the Trojans in the pit most of the game, as the Trojans pride themselves on their strength and conditioning program under coach Chris Carlisle.

The Not So Obvious - Needless to say, it was shocking to see the first half physical domination of the Trojans on both sides of the line of scrimmage and later admitted by defensive tackle Shaun Cody who said, " They came out and punched us in the mouth."

The Obvious - The Trojans came into the Saturday's conference game coming off a bye week riding high, and that led many experts to wonder if this was a good or bad football omen.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan radio host and former coach Harvey Hyde said before the game that USC might be hurt by the week off. Hyde was correct as the Trojans looked uninspired in the first half, and then felt the desperation pressure of trying to win in overtime to preserve their national and conference standings.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll said after the game that the Trojans didn't look like the Trojans, and he would have to evaluate his program on how they did things during the bye week.

The Not So obvious – Afterward the game, Bear wide receiver Jonathon Makonnen, who had a second overtime scoring reception, commented, "They (USC) looked lackadaisical out there."

The Obvious – The vaunted Trojan defense gave up a whopping and shocking 469 yards to coach Jeff Tedford's dynamic and well-balanced offense.

The Not So Obvious – The illusion that this year's Trojan defense was an immovable object was perhaps more of an indictment of the Trojans' first three non-conference games in which the USC faced mainly one-dimensional offensive units. In the Cal Bears, the Trojans were exposed by an exceptional coach whose team had an answer for almost every Pete Carroll blitz and even won playing two quarterbacks in the process.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll and his staff were gracious after the game in defeat, while Cal players chided the Trojan players with comments about USC being overrated and "Mike Williams only" on offense.

The Not So Obvious - It was a tough pill to swallow for Williams (9 receptions for 90 yards), who said, "Anybody who watched this game and says we weren't better than Cal is crazy." If that is true, somebody better call an electrical therapist, for the Memorial Stadium scoreboard needs psychological assistance.

The Obvious – While Williams made some NFL grabs and key yardage after this catches, it was Keary Colbert who brought the Trojans to life with an 11-yard catch in the second overtime.

The Not So Obvious – There were more than a few chills of excitement in Colbert's performance (8 receptions for 81 yards) on Saturday, and his overtime stretch into the end zone was a highlight effort worthy of NFL films.

The Obvious – For Trojan fans, the game was a painful reminder of last year's heartbreaker in Pullman when Troy was stung by an overtime loss to Washington State, 30-27, thanks to a Drew Dunning 35-yard field goal.

The Not So Obvious – The difference in the two overtime losses was last year the Trojans defeat in Pullman was their second conference game, and this year's loss at Cal was SC's first conference game. Losing early in conference is not the ideal way to go, especially when one considers that two of the next three conference games find the Trojans on the road. Yikes!

The Obvious – The Trojans, who have lost five overtimes games since its inceptions, have now dropped two Pac-10 overtimes in a row in as many years.

The Not So Obvious – If anything, the Trojans showed they are remarkably consistent in their overtime losses the past two years. In both losses to Cal and Washington State, kicker Ryan Killeen missed a field goal only to be followed almost immediately by the opponent's winning kick.

The Obvious – Cal running back Adimchinobe Echemandu rushed for 147 yards against the Trojans and seemed to knock Trojan defenders backwards all afternoon reminding some of former Trojan Justin Fargas without the burning speed.

The Not So Obvious – To know Echemandu's performance is know that he outrushed the entire Trojan stable of running backs, and, no, Whitney Lewis did not get a carry on Saturday for those that keep count of such things. The Trojan defense came in giving up 1.9 per rush and the Cal attack led by Echemandu doubled it to 2.9 for the game.

The Obvious – The Wild Bunch had one of their worst days on the defensive line as the Cal offensive line went right at them man-to-man and abandoned the "stretch play", a play designed to stretch the defense against slower defenders.

The Not So Obvious – With Cal avoiding the Trojans ouside speed pursuit, The Wild Bunch became the Tired Bunch against the rushing onslaught of Cal's physical offensive line aided by the hard running of back Echemandu. Cal coach Tedford put even more pressure on the Trojans' line by having an answer for most of Pete Carroll's multitude of blitzes, burning the Trojans repeatedly.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart threw for 277 yards (21-of-39 passes), two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

The Not So Obvious – While Leinart did throw a beautiful 27-yard scoring strike threading the needle down the middle to tight end Dominique Byrd, who had two receptions on the day for 60 yards, Leinart's three costly interceptions were the equivalent of three running back fumbles.

The Obvious – For weeks, the feeling around town was that the heralded Trojan offensive line would click once they had healed from their preseason injuries, thus providing Trojan fans with a running attack that would rival last year's success.

The Not So Obvious – Part of Saturday's Trojans rushing problem was the attacking defensive line style of Bears' defensive coordinator Bob Gregory. At the snap of the ball, Gregory's defensive line attacked the Trojan offensive line neutralizing any Trojan push off the line of scrimmage and clogging lanes.

The Obvious – This may have been a defining game for a Trojan offensive line that perhaps misses graduated guard Zack Wilson and recovering senior Eric Torres more than expected as USC managed only 99 rushing yards compared to Cal's 143 yards.

The Not So Obvious – So just when you think this Trojan offensive line couldn't punch their way out of a wet paper bag, you watch the blocking on LenDale White's 6-yard run that saw right tackle Winston Justice cave in the middle of the Bears' defensive line, guard Fred Matua wipe out a crucial linebacker, and watch junior Greg Guenther Jr. kick out on the right side, and you wonder why these guys can't do it consistently.

The Obvious – Trojan freshman strong safety Darnell Bing has been given the star treatment since he first came to Troy and faced his first potent and balanced offense on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – There is no substitute for experience and Bing may eventually be a great player, but he was burned at least twice and possibly a third time by the Cal passing game. In fact, on two of his touchdown snafus, he only saw the back of the jersey of Bears going into the end zone. Learning can be painful.

The Obvious – Senior Will Poole started in place of injured Kevin Arbet at corner and came up with a big interception in the Bear's end zone to stall what would have been a Bears' decapitation strike.

The Not So Obvious - Will Poole's play was a rare bright spot for a Trojan secondary that must have felt it was playing a game of Blind Man's Bluff with Cal receivers. In fact, for the most part, the Bears' receivers and scheme made the Trojan pass defense look like they were defending a football field the size of California.

The Obvious – Right from the beginning, DB Marcell Allmond did not have one of his finer outings.

The Not So Obvious - Allmond drew the wrath of Pete Carroll and was yanked from the lineup briefly so Carroll could make his point.

The Obvious – On the Trojans' final drive in regulation, the Trojans came knocking at victory's door and Norm Chow and Pete Carroll decided to run Hershel Dennis three straight times setting up a Ryan Killeen field goal to send the game into overtime.

The Not So Obvious – Playing for overtime on the road? How'bout a quick strike to tight end Dom Byrd, an ally-oop fade to Mike Williams (yes, he got double-teamed), remember route-master extrodinare Keary Colbert? This was not one of Chow's better play-calling efforts in the crunch and reminded some of his outing against Kansas State last year when he went conservative with the run. As for Saturday's entire game, Jeff Tedford won the guru competition.

The Obvious – Cal led in almost every positive statistical category including total offense (469 to 376), rushing (143-99), passing (326 to 277), first downs (24 to18) , return yards (108 to 56), and time of possession (38:26 to 21:34).

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans did lead in penalty yards (73 to 60), and in low man wins, SC came out the victor connecting on only three of 12 third-down conversions while Cal was 11 of 18, a football mortality statistic.

The Obvious – UCLA defeated San Diego State Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruin crowd's most expressive moment during a lackluster evening was when the public address announcer informed the "throng" of 48,690 of the Trojans' upset loss to the Bears. Sources said it was louder than any Bruins' score, which of course, was few and far between.

The Obvious – Big Greg Guenther Jr. blocked an important field goal attempt by Tyler Fredrickson in overtime.

The Not So Obvious – Give big credit to the Trojans' coaching staff for inserting Guenther, who at 6-8 and a Trojan basketball players, was probably the only person on the field for the Trojans who could have disrupted Tyler Fredrickson's winning attempt.

The Obvious – Linebacker Lofa Tatupu intercepted an Aaron Rogers' pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – Tatupu's score to tie should have been all the Trojans needed to go on to victory. Lofa got a great peal block from Matt Grootegoed that sealed the end zone dash down the sidelines. While Cal was doing a remarkable job of picking up Pete Carroll's defensive puzzle, on this occasion, they didn't pick up a safety blitz by Jason Leach that forced Rogers into the childsplay play interception to Tatupu.

The Obvious – The Trojans are now seriously wounded in both the national picture and the race for the Roses, an injury that Pete Carroll will have only one week to heal.

The Not So Obvious – Suddenly, Pasadena looks a lot more appealing than New Orleans for Trojan fans and players. If this team is truly of elite status, they will follow Michigan's lead and make a big comeback starting at Arizona State next Saturday. If not, San Diego will look a lot better than El Paso and down the bowl football food chain we go.


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