O/NSO - Stanford review

The sounds of "Here come the Irish" and "Boo-ty" grew louder with each Coliseum quarter on Saturday evening, but it was USC sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart that unleashed an initial ear-splitting performance as the Trojans (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10) pummeled the Stanford Cardinal 44-21 in a Pac-10 blowout before an enthusiastic 68,341 fans.

The Obvious – The sounds of "Here come the Irish" and "Boo-ty" grew louder with each Coliseum quarter on Saturday evening, but it was USC sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart that unleashed an initial ear-splitting performance as the Trojans (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10) pummeled the Stanford Cardinal 44-21 in a Pac-10 blowout before an enthusiastic 68,341 fans.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the best healing medicine that Leinart(18 of 27 passes for 260 yard and three touchdowns) could have taken to revive his General Hospital body was a John David Booty inoculation that seemed to inspire and encourage Leinart as much as anything that the Stanford defense could offer.

The Obvious – As expected with all the upsets on Saturday, the Trojans were rewarded in the national rankings as USC has climbed back into the top 5 at No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and No. 5 in the Associated Press, flip-flopping with the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Not So Obvious – It would appear for the time being that the highest the Trojans can climb will be to No. 4 in the country until November. However Trojan fans, circle Nov. 1 for that's when No. 1 Oklahoma plays at home against nemesis Oklahoma State and No.2 Miami is at No. 3 Virginia Tech.

The Obvious – The Pac-10 race is now in full gear, and it appears that Washington State, the newest member to the nation's top 10, is the Trojan's main Pac-10 challenger.

The Not So Obvious -Remember the aforementioned Nov. 1 date that figures to shake or bake the national poll's top three? On that same Saturday, Washington State comes calling for USC's afternoon homecoming at the Coliseum. Whoa, Nellie.

The Obvious – USC receiving sensation Mike Williams exploded for three second-quarter touchdown receptions of 40, 18, and 3 yards, thus making a mid-season statement for Heisman Trophy consideration.

The Not So Obvious – The drums for another Trojan Heisman Trophy may once again be manifesting itself in Heritage Hall, but trying for a two-straight from the same institution will be a difficult, but not impossible task as Ohio State running back Archie Griffin once proved many moons ago.

The Obvious - The Trojan offense was in high-gear as Norm Chow's system was relentless in the first half with 413 total yards before shutting down and running the clock in the second half.

The Not So Obvious –For the game, the Trojans had 220 yards rushing and 273 yards passing, but one area of distress was the needless penalties the Trojans accumulated. SC had nine flags for 95 yards, a trait reminiscent of a bygone era.

The Obvious – The importance of such an impressive Trojan performance against a woeful Stanford club (2-2, 0-2) should not be minimized, especially when being displayed before a large group of recruits including official-visit lineman Jeff Byers from Loveland, Colorado, considered perhaps the nation's No.1 recruit.

The Not So Obvious – Upon seeing the highly-publicized Byers in person and gazing at his physical girth (truly 6-4, 280), the reaction here was, "Oh my." Having seen most of USC's recruits for many decades, it is rare that one makes that big of an impression. The kid appears to have very little body fat and a huge upper chest. Byers makes former Trojan freshman phenom Travis Claridge look like child's play and reminds us of a young Brad Budde in physical development.

The Obvious – Jeff Byers, an obvious five-star recruit, was sporting short blond hair, shorts, and was carrying a Trojan jacket.

The Not So Obvious – Built like a budding NFL player and certainly looking like a seasoned college performer, the Trojans pulled out all the stops for his official visit. He was accompanied by no less than four beautiful recruiting guides as he was led down the steps of the peristyle end of the Coliseum and onto the field with his father. Following warm-ups, he proceeded to follow the Trojan team back into the dressing room before kickoff.

The Obvious – The Trojans were intent on establishing a running game early against Stanford, and it wasn't long in USC's first series that Hershel Dennis broke free around the left side for an aggressive 20 yards.

The Not So Obvious –Hershel Dennis, who led the Trojan ball carriers with an 8.0 average in ten carries, may have been the biggest benefactor in the LenDale White's success story. With the running back competition obviously on, this was a much more aggressive Hershel Dennis hitting the point of attack and was not the hesitator we have seen in recent games.

The Obvious - Even Reggie Bush ran with some authority and not so much jitter as he, too, averaged an impressive 5.7 in six carries, mostly on sweep-type runs.

The Not So Obvious – Missing, however, was running back Chauncey Washington, who did not see any action on Saturday evening.

The Obvious – There was offensive progress in almost all area of the Trojan offense as 493 yards would indicate.

The Not So Obvious – One outstanding offense statistic that should be mentioned was the Trojans' red zone efficiency converting on 7 of 8 opportunities.

The Obvious – The Trojans' rushing game is now seeing signs of pulling guards and tackles. Yes, they were actually pulling, and there was physical inside play, something that has been lacking.

The Not So Obvious – For them oldie Trojan fans of the "28-pitch" era, it was a football enema seeing those guards actually pull and lead the backs. Especially effective were guards Fred Matua, Lenny Vandermade, and tackle John Drake.

The Obvious – There is little question that the Trojan offense line seems more productive and aggressive when LenDale White is running the ball, and on his first carry he went for 13 of his game-high 108 yards (4.7 ave).

The Not So Obvious – While not quite running with the total violence of the legendary Ricky Bell, White, nevertheless, is a ruthless, attacking wild colt who is willing to twist, churn, and drag defenders until a swarm takes him down. When a tackler tries to stop him one-on-one, he seems to bring his knees up to his chinstrap, uses his balance, and is almost impossible to bring down with one player.

The Obvious – Also recruited by Michigan, LenDale White is referred to by many as a Big Ten runner.

The Not So Obvious – A generation ago, a Michigan runner would have been referred to as a Trojan taiback.

The Obvious – As mentioned previously, there may come a time when LenDale White becomes the Trojan starter, especially as the need for power becomes greater with physical opponents on the horizon.

The Not So Obvious – However, the young titan isn't flawless as he dropped a wide-open pass in the flat that would have been an Easy Street score. The miscue resulted in kicker Ryan Killeen's second successful field goal of the first quarter.

The Obvious – Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu returned to the lineup after an opening kickoff injury to backup Daniel Urquhart.

The Not So Obvious – Urquhart was carted off the field at the 9:00 minute mark of the first quarter, and he now adds to a suddenly unstable middle linebacking situation. Tatupu showed his warrior style and moved fluently, but depth is now an issue at the position.

The Obvious – Receiver Mike Williams was the wood for Matt Leinart's passing fire and some Trojan fans on Saturday night could not figure out why Stanford coach Buddy Teevans would allow Williams to be single covered.

The Not So Obvious - The answer came after the game when outstanding Cardinal junior linebacker David Bergeron, who had 10 tackles, said, "We bring a lot of pressure, but they did a great job of picking up the blitzes. That put our cover guys in one-on-one situations too long."

The Obvious – While the Trojan offense scored "only" 41 points in the first half, it could have in the 50 Club had SC converted on early first quarter drives wit touchdowns instead of Killeen field goals.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans as it was averaged 8.4 yards on every first half play.

The Obvious – Stanford coach Buddy Teevans seemed to be philosophical after the game and gave the Trojans all the standard props for the evening.

The Not So Obvious – Teevans said, "The reality is, they are a good football team. That's where we want to be."

The Obvious – The Trojans' Justin Wyatt is a very talented player that seems to be trying to find his nitch as the season progresses.

The Not So Obvious – Wyatt made a great special teams statement when No.24 raced down field after another Tom Malone 50-plus boomer punt and downed the ball on the Stanford 2-yard line.

The Obvious – Stanford showcased a future star in freshman tight end Evan Moore from Brea.

The Not So Obvious – Considered a tight end, Moore, who will also play on Mike Montgomery's stellar Stanford basketball club, had five receptions for 52 yards and a nifty 10.4 average. Moore was very aggressively pursued by Pete Carroll during the recruiting process, but word out of Brea was that basketball played a big part in Moore's selecting the Cardinal over the Trojans.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense was inspired by a very vocal crowd from both sides of the field.

The Not So Obvious – Two of the biggest hits in the game that drove the crowd crazy were administered by linebacker/safety Dallas Startz, who really put the wood to a couple of Cardinals with beautiful form tackles. Startz also finished as the Trojans' leading tackler with 7 stops.

The Obvious – One of the lone bright moments for Stanford was when true freshman running back David Marrero broke free for a 15-yard score to make it 27-7 Trojans in the second quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Stanford's David Marrero is from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Florida, where he was considered one of the nation's top running back recruits. A member of the National Honor Society at St. Thomas Aquinas, Marrero originally committed to Notre Dame in the early recruiting process, then stunned the Irish with his switch to Stanford.

The Obvious – Stanford went with two quarterbacks on Saturday evening. Buddy Teevans started with redshirt freshman Trent Edwards and then went with senior Chris Lewis, the former Long Beach Poly star.

The Not So Obvious – Both Stanford throwers delivered one interception, one of which was a trampoline theft by Trojan corner Will Poole, a former prep traveling team basketball player.

The Obvious – Trojan tight end Dominique Bryd appears done for the season with an ACL injury suffered apparently when blocking for Trojan running backs.

The Not So Obvious – Make no mistake about it, this is a serious blow to the Trojan offense. Byrd, who had two receptions for 30 yards, was becoming an accomplished blocker in replacing Alex Holmes to go along with his dangerous receiving skills. A major Norm Chow weapon, Byrd will now be replaced by Greg Guenther Jr., and he apparently will be backed by walk-on redshirt freshman Nick Vanderboom, who did some action against the Cardinal.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Cassel did not take a snap on Saturday evening, and it figures that he may not take another snap unless there is a key injury to those throwers ahead of him.

The Not So Obvious – If Cassel is smart and history tells us the kid has smarts, he will suck it up and move to tight end, a position he has some experience from earlier in his Trojan career. Given some seasoning to go along with his normal competitive nature, Cassel probably could make his way to the field in a big hurry if he agreed to make the move ASAP. Considering the timing, Matt could be as important a position move as any Pete Carroll has made.

The Obvious – Kicker Ryan Killeen, whose confidence was bolstered by being named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week, continued his torrid field goal and extra point pace since the Cal disaster, as he connected on three more field goals of 20, 26, and 37 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Killeen also made his presence felt on kickoffs as he had a touchdown-saving tackle of Stanford's Nick Sebes, who was headed all alone down the Trojan sideline for an apparent score.

The Obvious – Marcell Allmind has replaced Reggie Bush on kickoffs in hopes of avoiding fumbles and indecision.

The Not So Obvious – Talk about your exploding cigar, Allmond had a Trojan kickoff return ripped out of his arms by Stanford's Atogwe Oshiomongho and returned for a 22-yard touchdown. Was it ruled a fumble? The answer is yes.

The Obvious – The Coliseum sells roasted corn on a cob for $3.00, which is actually roasted on a spit.

The Not So Obvious – Had a chance to sample this Coliseum delicacy for the first time and came away reasonably impressed. A rather large shuck of corn with the leaves still attached for handling, one has the option of spraying butter from a mustard bottle and/or an assortment seasonings. The line for purchase at halftime wasn't too bad.

The Obvious – Long Beach CC transfer offensive lineman John Drake filled in again for tackle Winston Justice, who was held out for a second straight week.

The Not So Obvious – Big John looked even more comfortable as he was pulling and blocking with authority. On one Reggie Bush 6-yard run, Drake showed no mercy for the aforementioned Cardinal free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and showed the Cardinal secondary performer the true meaning of the lineman's motto "decleater."

The Obvious – The Trojans defensive line held Stanford to 86 yards on the ground.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan nose tackle Mike Patterson had a fine game as he was unstoppable inside. On one play impressive play in the first half, the junior knifed in and dropped Stanford back David Marrero for a 5-yard loss.

The Obvious - Fullback Mike Hancock's role increased as he had three receptions for 19 yards.

The Not So Obvious – On a number of plays, the fullback was used as a wide receiver and was a lead blocker in the flat for his receiver brothers. Hancock has not been used yet as a runner, somewhat of a surprise.

The Obvious – With the game out of hand by the second half, it gave a number of new Trojans to gain some valuable experience.

The Not So Obvious – One Trojan who took advantage of the opportunity was true freshman Salo Faraimo from San Diego Vista, who finished the night with four tackles.

The Obvious – The Trojans saw former wide receiver recruit Mark Bradford from L.A. Fremont catch two passes for 15 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Wearing lettermen's jackets and school logo shirts, a number of Fremont supporters were sitting in the Stanford section and giving large vocal support for Bradford.

The Obvious – For the most part, Leinart, thanks to his offensive line which allowed no sacks and Norm Chow's planning, avoided any real harm's-way contact from the Cardinal defenders.

The Not So Obvious – However, on one play in the first half, Leinart got a little overconfident and held the ball too long and got hit as he threw a desperation pass to Brandon Hancock in the flat. It was one of the few times that Leinart put his health on the line.

The Obvious – At 14:52 of the fourth quarter, freshman John David Booty made his Trojan debut.

The Not So Obvious – Booty's arrival awakened what was left of a departing crowd, and John David was greeted with calls of "Booooooo-ty."

The Obvious – Booty's first three plays were handoffs to Hershel Dennis and LenDale White, much to the dismay of the remaining audience.

The Not So Obvious – While John David's passing was an uneventful 1 of 4 for 13 yards, on one particular pass play you could tell by his head movements that he was machine-like in reading his receiver progressions. The play ended up as a 13-yard completion to Brandon Hancock.

The Obvious – Much like the difference in the styles of Trojan running backs, there is also a style difference in Matt Leinart and John David Booty.

The Not So Obvious – While Leinart's style is sometimes slow and methodical, Booty's style is almost frenetic. Everything the kid does is fast, fast, fast. From setting up with moving feet to releasing the ball, the kid is on the move and he also does it while rolling out, too. There is little question Booty's style changes the pace of a game, which is no knock on Leinart, who has done a wonderful job up to this point.

The Obvious – The Trojans honored Marcus Allen throughout the evening and gave him a lettermen's jacket as part of a USC ceremony.

The Not So Obvious – Kudos to the video department for the inspiring highlights on the Coliseum video board which included some very sincere comments of appreciation by Allen in regards to former Trojan backfield coach John Jackson, teammate Ronnie Lott, and USC in general.

The Obvious –. The Trojans win over Stanford gave USC entrance into the magic 700 win club joining only nine other schools that have achieved that mark.

The Not So Obvious – What took so long, legendary program?

The Obvious – With the Trojans' second Pac-10 win and their 12th consecutive home victory, USC has successfully completed the first half of their season at 5-1, are in the thick of the Rose Bowl race, and have an outside chance for the national championship game in New Orleans.

The Not So Obvious – The end of the first half of anything generally means it's time for rest, relaxation, and refreshments. To the delight and trepidation of Trojan fans everywhere, your "halftime" entertainment begins next Saturday in that little hamlet known as South Bend, Indiana. As each hour passes, those feint whispers are growing louder. Here come the Irish. Here come the Irish. Here come the Irish.

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