O/NSO - ASU review

Upset-a-holics Anonymous held its first Saturday afternoon meeting at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, as 56,527 interns watched the No. 10 USC Trojans vent on the Arizona State Sun Devils, 37-17, as Dr. Pete Carroll and his resident staff guided the Trojans through their first step of football therapy and Pac-10 recovery.

The Obvious – Upset-a-holics Anonymous held its first Saturday afternoon meeting at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, as 56,527 interns watched the No. 10 USC Trojans vent on the Arizona State Sun Devils, 37-17, as Dr. Pete Carroll and his resident staff guided the Trojans through their first step of football therapy and Pac-10 recovery.

The Not So Obvious – For the USC Trojans (4-1 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) and their new consensus No.9 national ranking, this game may have been the season's defining moment when true champions get off the canvas and false champions remain on the mat counting Pac-10 sheep. Not only did the Trojans get off the canvas, they re-established their football self-esteem in heated, hostile territory.

The Obvious – Quarterback Matt Leinart established himself once and for all that he is the undisputed quarterback of the 2003 Trojans by throwing (13-of-23) for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – How badly Leinart was really hurt, only he will know. However, when Matt Cassel came in and completed a big 39-yard pass to Mike Williams, it certainly got the attention of Leinart, who had come too far in the quarterback competition to let it slip away in the heat of Sun Devil Stadium.

The Obvious - Last week against Cal, Leinart threw three crucial interceptions and the rumors of future change began to fill the air.

The Not So Obvious – Against the Sun Devils (2-3, 0-2), the sophomore lefty trimmed that interception total down to one, went 7-for-14 and 158 second half yards, and more importantly, seemed to thrive on the Tempe adversity, something that was not lost by his teammates. The kid was also dynamite on those play-action passes.

The Obvious – Freshman tailback LenDale White rushed for 140 yards breaking Charles White's single-game record of 136 yards against Stanford in 1976.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans seem to have a thing with tailbacks whose last names end with White. LenDale's stud performance was perhaps foreshadowed by left tackle Jacob Rogers earlier this week in his Trojan diary when he said, "If you watch LenDale White, he reminds me a little bit of Justin Fargas the way he can run right through arm tackles. He is a classic power back with great vision."

The Obvious – All great tailbacks seem to have that vision, and it appears that LenDale White has that same "classic" trait and also showed his willingness to learn this week by watching tape of the relentless style of Justin Fargas.

The Not So Obvious – White's performance may also be used for future teaching instruction as the freshman said he also used the Jumbotron scoreboard on his 25-yard scoring jaunt to see what Sun Devil defenders were in pursuit.

The Obvious – LenDale White's 25-yard score and style reminded some of a rare combination of Trojan legends Sam Cunningham and Ricky Bell.

The Not So Obvious – Unnoticed on the impressive scoring run by White was a huge block by tight end Dominique Byrd, who sealed off the left side allowing White to get outside the pile.

The Obvious –Trojan tailbacks ran the ball a combined 36 times against a worn down Arizona State defense.

The Not So Obvious – Before the game, coach Pete Carroll indicated that he wanted his team to run the ball 35 times a game.

The Obvious –LenDale White appears headed for the lead tailback position with his impressive display of power, speed, and desire.

The Not So Obvious – White's most stunning statistic against ASU was his whopping 6.7 average per carry on 21 rushes.

The Obvious – Each of the Trojan running backs bring their own style to the USC offense.

The Not So Obvious – What is unique about White is the way he leans forward as he runs and constantly keeps his feet moving. Don't be surprised to see Chauncey Washington also move up the chart as well when he gets healthy. Carroll and Chow love those guys that move the chains and don't do dancin' in the moonlight.

The Obvious – Hershel Dennis continues to be the starting tailback for the Trojans…for now.

The Not So Obvious - It will be very difficult not to reward LenDale White with the starting position, despite the fact that Hershel Dennis managed 4.8 yards per carry in four tries, and Reggie Bush, despite his self-destructive penchant for fumbling, had some bright moments and averaged 6.8 per carry.

The Obvious – The Trojans defense seemed to stiffen after the initial opening second half 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive by ASU.

The Not So Obvious – One of the keys to the changing defense philosophy during the game was a request by gregarious defensive end Omar Nazel, who said, " I told the coaches to let us play more base and straight up, and we can beat our guys man-to-man."

The Obvious – Sun Devil quarterback Andrew Walter, despite the Pac-10 crushing loss, still threw for a career 305 yards and one touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' defense still showed weakness against a balanced attack, and it appears the strategy of future opponents will be to physically attack USC's front seven straight-on and take advantage of Troy's inconsistent safety play.

The Obvious – The Trojans have had a hard time stopping the run the past two games.

The Not So Obvious – ASU took special care to attack around the right side of their offense line or to be specific, the Trojans' left defensive line. A number of cutback plays found the Trojans out of position and going in the opposite direction. On one particular play, Kenechi Udeze was fooled badly.

The Obvious – Coming into this game, the Trojans ranked 109th in pass defense and last in the Pac-10, a stat that better be corrected if the cardinal and gold wish to have a successful conclusion to their season.

The Not So Obvious – One of the ways to improve your pass defense is by sacking the quarterback, and the Trojans did it five times (four in the second half) to Sun Devil quarterback Walter. Stopping the run will also help in that area, and the Trojans finally managed to limit ASU back Hakim Hill to 13 yards in eight carries in the second half.

The Obvious – For those watching on ABC, they were treated once again the tradition of Keith Jackson calling the play-by-play.

The Not So Obvious – Much like many of the great announcers in the autumn of their careers, Jackson had a goof when he referred early to the Wild Bunch as the "Wild Ones."

The Obvious – The Trojans gave up 17 points to the Sun Devils.

The Not So Obvious – That was four points under the Trojans' average of 21.0.

The Obvious – The Trojans scored 37 points against the Sun Devils

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans were right on the mark as they averaging 37.5 points per outing.

The Obvious – Kicker Ryan Killeen knew this was a pivotal game for him, and he came through with field goals of 45, 28, and 38 yards.

The Not So Obvious – When Killeen is on with his field goals, the Trojans can be a tough team to beat as illustrated on Saturday. Much like last year, Killeen may have turned the corner after last week's Cal overtime miss.

The Obvious – The Trojan coaching staff seemed to go with the percentage moves on Saturday, which set up some surprising calls in the crucial second half.

The Not So Obvious – The most surprising call, however, was Norm Chow's decision to pass on fourth and one to fullback Brandon Hancock out of the backfield, which resulted in a great catch and 33-yard touchdown sprint down the right sideline. For those who have watched practice in the summer, Hancock had been "nails" coming out of the backfield.

The Obvious – Offensive coordinator Norm Chow seemed to take the brunt of the offensive criticism last week against Cal and must have been especially gratified over the Trojans' overall offensive performance against ASU.

The Not So Obvious – The Arizona State win seemed to be the pure Chow play-calling that so many admired during the second half of last season's explosive offense. Norm was definitely in a "zone" on Saturday, something, for whatever reason, he was not at the end of regulation at Cal.

The Obvious – The Trojans started a new middle linebacker in Daniel Urquhart in place of the injured Lofa Tatupu, who was rumored to have driven the five hour trip to Tempe to root on his mates.

The Not So Obvious – Urquhart, the former Washington High star, who admitted he was quite nervous before his Trojan debut, started off quite rocky and definitely showed his inexperience, but the kid settled down and had a team-high eight solo tackles, two assists, for a total of 10 stops. The kid really brings "the wood."

The Obvious – ASU coach Dirk Koetter had suggested earlier this week that although receiver Mike Williams was the high-profile Trojan receiver, it was Keary Colbert that he feared the most.

The Not So Obvious – Colbert certainly validated Koetter's fears as Keary had three receptions for 93 yards in the Trojans' first scoring drive of 95 yards culminated by his beautiful play-action touchdown reception of 57 yards from Leinart.

The Obvious - At this point, there is little question that Mike Williams and Keary Colbert are the most dangerous pair of receivers in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious - What makes this dynamic duo so hard to defend was illustrated on Colbert's touchdown grab when Mike Williams came across the field as Leinart was faking the ball to LenDale White, thus freezing the linebackers and clearing the deep middle for Colbert. It was a combo route run to perfection.

The Obvious – There were no bigger hits in the game than the ones administered by Trojan linebacker Matt Grootegoed (nine tackles) on Sun Devil receiver Derek Hagen and safety Mike Ross on Sun Devil Daryl Lightfoot ending the first half.

The Not So Obvious – Both ‘kill shots" can be best described as kissing a train going 90 miles per hour.

The Obvious – Receivers Mike Williams and Keary Colbert managed to combine for 208 yards in ten catches.

The Not So Obvious – However, the main stealth weapon for the Trojans was and is tight end Dom Byrd, who had two monster catches and runs for 68 yards. On his 55-yard reception, Byrd showed the power, speed, and hands of a future Sunday player.

The Obvious – The Trojans had 529 yards in total offense against ASU.

The Not So Obvious – For the season, the USC offense averages 353.7 yards.

The Obvious – It went with very little fanfare, but the Trojans welcomed back offensive lineman Eric Torres to the field on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Of all the linemen the past two years, Torres may have made as much improvement as anybody and may be the Trojans' most versatile lineman. His performances the rest of the way may have as much to do with the Trojans' continued offensive line success as anything.

The Obvious – Saturday's game was a battle of two teams trying to stay in the Rose Bowl race, so attitude played a big part of the game.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, ASU linebacker Jamar Williams of Houston, Texas, said, "USC was hungry and showed it. I give them credit."

The Obvious – The Trojans now head back to Los Angeles feeling good about themselves, but there are some big coaching decisions ahead, especially at running back.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps Carroll gave some of the mystery away when he commented about LenDale White's performance after the ASU game. Carroll said, " Obviously, LenDale's going to play a lot of football for us next week (against Stanford). It was really significant to hammer the football."

The Obvious – Before the game, freshman LenDale White was "dissing" senior Omar Nazel about being "the truth" and being "unstoppable."

The Not So Obvious – Trying to cool the pregame, confident attitude of the young freshman, Nazel replied, "You don't know anything little kid!" One thing all the Trojans now do know is that they are now thick in the Rose Bowl race thanks to a wacky Pac-10 race that from week to week rewrites itself. USC hopes in the coming weeks they can maintain their presence in the book and not be a chapter left out.

USCFootball.com Top Stories