The Obvious – The intensity of the Rose Bowl race becomes secondary when the defensive backfields of the No. 5 USC Trojans (6-1, 2-1 Pac-10) and the unranked Washington Huskies (4-3, 2-1) will probably decide Saturday afternoon's Seattle Pac-10 eliminator.
The Not So Obvious – ABC regional television will
focus on USC sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart and Washington's senior thrower
Cody Pickett, but the outcome will probably depend on which team's secondary can
contain the match-up of the best collection of wide receivers on the West
The Obvious – The Trojans' pass defense is seventh in the Pac-10
and 96th among 117 Division 1-A teams, an obvious concern by the Trojans'
defensive guru Pete Carroll.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans fate will
be tied to their questionable secondary and to the Husky offense that ranks 22nd
nationally in passing offense. The Trojans have faced passing machines, but more
than the attack designs, it has been the blown coverages and errant assignments
that have burned the Trojan secondary. It is the mental part of the Husky
passing game that will be the most challenging for SC's maligned defensive
The Obvious – Despite the leaky secondary, the one thing this
group of athletes can do is scramble your molecules if they have a shot,
something that UW receivers Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick are fully
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' secondary challenge may not be
at the corners as much as the safety positions. It figures that Cody Pickett
will be searching out Darnell Bing and Jason Leach, as did the Cal
The Obvious – The Trojans come into Seattle with a high-powered
offense that is fueled by the hot passing of sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart,
who will test the respected secondary of the Huskies.
The Not So Obvious
– In contrast to the Trojans seventh-ranked Pac-10 pass defense, the Huskies are
ranked second in Pac-10 pass defense giving up 221 yards per game. The Huskies
have also intercepted nine passes this season, three of which game last week
against Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson.
The Obvious – The Trojan
offensive line will again play a key role in protecting the body of Matt
Leinart, who is tenth in the nation in pass efficiency.
The Not So
Obvious – Besides now having a three-game rushing streak of over 200 yards, the
improving Trojan offensive line has allowed the fewest sacks in the Pac-10 (11
in seven games). Give credit to gregarious line coach Tim Davis, who certainly
will be possessed on Saturday afternoon trying to make sure the Trojan offensive
line knows its assignments.
The Obvious – The Trojans' youthful
three-headed tailback monster of Hershel Dennis, LenDale White, and Reggie Bush
may have as much an impact in the game as Matt Leinart, seeing that Washington
is ranked 6th in the Pac-10 in rush defense.
The Not So Obvious – The
young trio will be put to the test Saturday by a confident Husky defense that
held Oregon State's vaunted All-Pac-10 tailback Steven Jackson to 49 yards
rushing, the first time Jackson had been held under 100 yards this season.
The Obvious – The Trojans average 39.4 points on offense and allow 19.4
points on defense.
The Not So Obvious – Washington averages 27.3 points
on offense and allows 23.3 points on defense.
The Obvious –West Virginia
upset third-ranked Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in Morgantown, so the
Trojans' BCS fate may really ride on what kind of performance they dispense in
The Not So Obvious - One of the more interesting aspects of
Saturday's game will be the mental frame of mind for the fifth-ranked Trojans.
Will there be a letdown in Seattle after playing almost a perfect final three
quarters in South Bend? Virginia Tech may have been looking past West Virginia
to Miami on Nov.1. Might the Trojans be caught looking past the Huskies to
Washington State in the Coliseum? Don't think so.
The Obvious – There is
no question that this year's Trojan secondary is suspect and vulnerable,
especially against balanced attacking teams.
The Not So Obvious – Much
will depend on which Cody Pickett shows up to face the Trojans. If it's the one
that self-destructed by throwing deadly second half interceptions at UCLA, the
Trojans will be sitting pretty. Let's not forget that Pickett did throw for 350
yards against the Trojans last year.
The Obvious – While both Mike
Williams and Reggie Williams are the headline wide receivers for their
respective teams, it's the "supporting" receivers, Keary Colbert of USC and
Charles Frederick of UW, that may have equal impact on Saturday.
So Obvious – While Colbert's exploits are becoming All-Pac-10 obvious, the
Trojans must be very careful of UW's Frederick, who exploded last week in the
Husky win over ranked Oregon State. Prince Charles broke UW legend Hugh
McElhenny's record of 362 total yards in the Beaver game with a stunning 371
all-purpose yards, including 216 yards receiving for two scores and an 86-yard
punt return to the house.
The Obvious – WR Charles Frederick has been an
off-field challenge for Husky coaches as the youngster had some real freshman
issues that almost lead his return to his home in Lake Worth,
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps forgotten is the fact that Charles
Frederick (6-0, 180) was once considered one of the nation's premier basketball
point guards coming out of the prep ranks.
The Obvious – The Trojans
unveiled to the country at Notre Dame a talented stable of backs, all whom
proved to be both running and receiving threats.
The Not So Obvious – The
Huskies' rushing attack will have to be better than last year's –5 yards rushing
against the Trojans if they are to stay with the USC scoring machine. With UW
tailback Rick Alexis, the senior from Coral Springs, Florida, questionable due
to a bruised thigh, the Trojans may get to see heralded redshirt freshman Kenny
James (5-10, 215) from Dos Palos, California.
The Obvious – The Trojans
completely destroyed Notre Dame last weekend 45-14, an impressive outing to be
The Not So Obvious – Impressive unless you are UW offensive tackle
Khalif Barnes who watched some of the game on NBC before the Huskies' game
against Oregon State. Barnes informed, " USC's defense is nowhere near Oregon
State's defense, to be honest with you."
The Obvious – If the Trojans are
going to take control on Saturday, the SC defensive front four and impressive
reserves will be needed, especially if Pickett throws over 35 times.
Not So Obvious – The Trojans will get their shots in on Pickett just as UCLA did
successfully in the second half at the Rose Bowl. Key players for the Trojans on
Saturday could turn out to be reserves LeJuan Ramsey and Frosty Rucker, and
let's not forget emerging defensive tackle Manuel Wright, who saw surprising
first quarter action in South Bend.
The Obvious – The Trojans have been
installed as 10-point favorites to finish the Huskies' dream of playing on New
Years in Pasadena.
The Not So Obvious – Having just shattered the Notre
Dame Stadium "jinx", Husky Stadium as been no bowl of cherries for the Trojans
as USC has not won in Seattle since 1993 and has lost nine of their last 13
The Obvious – In the past number of years, the team with the
talented senior quarterback has won the Pac-10 title, and the Huskies have Cody
Pickett (6-4, 225), who can light it up with the best of them when he is
The Not So Obvious – Pickett's father, Dee, was a championship roper
on the Professional Rodeo Circuit and was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame
The Obvious – USC has scored 30 points in the last 14 of 15
The Not So Obvious – According to Washington coach Keith
Gilbertson, the Trojans have the players to do it. Gilbertson said, "Everybody
in the skill positions contributes; all the backs get positive yards and the
front plays well and the quarterback is playing well. So you just hope that you
can slow them down."
The Obvious – The Trojans' offense cranks 426.9
yards per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Huskies' offense cranks for
404.1 yards per game.
The Obvious – With 6-1 record, USC is off to its
best start since1995, the season that took Keyshawn and Troy to a Rose Bowl win
over Cinderella Northwestern.
The Not So Obvious – During that
championship season, the Trojans had one helleva comeback at Washington to
finish the game tied at 21-21, which proved to be an important moment in the
Rose Bowl's final breakdown. Down 21-0 going into the fourth quarter, Troy
scored three touchdowns, the last a 2-yard score from Brad Otton to Johnny
McWilliams with 33 seconds remaining. Adam Rendon's PAT tied the
The Obvious – The last time the Trojans played in Seattle in 2001,
Husky placekicker John Anderson kicked a 32-yard field goal at the gun for a
27-24 UW win.
The Not So Obvious – Husky Stadium has not been kind to
Pete Carroll. In Carroll's senior season at Pacific, the Trojans' head coach
lost to then No. 9 Washington 13-6, but safety Carroll had eight
The Obvious – Last year on the Coliseum grass, the Trojans waxed
the Huskies 41-21 as Carson Palmer threw four touchdowns, three of which went to
WR Mike Willliams.
The Not So Obvious – Husky Stadium will try to slow
the Trojans down with its artificial turf. The fleet Trojans figures to be
faster on the turf, and USC's record on the fake grass is 14-10-1.in the their
last 25 games.
The Obvious – The weather outlook looks good as the
prediction for Saturday in Seattle calls for a high of 63 degrees and cloudy, a
perfect Northwest day.
The Not So Obvious – Should Seattle "surprise"
and turn on the Husky rain machine, the Trojans have a 19-21-2 record when the
The Obvious – Husky Stadium is one of the loudest venues in
the country, and ABC television loves to show those boats coming in off the
The Not So Obvious – The truth be told, Husky Stadium (72,500) is
one of the worst places to watch a game. There is a track around the field so
you are far away from the action, and if you sit in the upper levels, vertigo is
the order of the day. Take away the overdone lake shots, and this place is an
The Obvious – Sam Cunningham is one of many Trojan running back
legends, and Sam has returned like many former SC superstars as a regular at
The Not So Obvious – Sam Cunningham will also play on
Saturday for the Huskies. Say what? Yep, Husky defensive back Sam Cunningham
will face the Trojans. This Sam played his high school ball at local Westchester
High near LAX.
The Obvious – Saturday's game may get down to which team's
Williams has a better wide receiver day.
The Not So Obvious – In the
Trojans' sophomore Mike Williams and the Huskies' junior Reggie Williams, two
future Sunday players will again compete. Last year in the Coliseum, SC's Mike
Williams had nine receptions for 159 yards and three scores, while UW's Reggie
Williams had seven catches for 134 and one fourth quarter scoring reception.
Both are friends off the field as they have spoken to each other earlier this
week in friendly jab.
The Obvious – Many feel that his will be Reggie
Williams' last season with UW as he takes up an NFL calling.
The Not So
Obvious – Born in Laadstuhl, Germany, Williams should have little trouble
adjusting to life in the NFL, the kid is a psychology pre-major. Those receivers
love to play those mind games.
The Obvious – "Former" Trojan quarterback
Matt Cassel worked out this week at tight end, something that may be a blessing
in disguise for both Matt and his team.
The Not So Obvious – Matt Cassel
did not make the move to tight end because he felt he couldn't compete at
quarterback. That's not the kid's nature. Cassel probably made the switch when
he became aware the Trojans might be only taking three quarterbacks and the
thought of coming this far and not making the traveling squad at this point of
his Trojan career was probably more than he could take. Let's just say that
Cassel was given an offer he couldn't refuse.
The Obvious – The Trojans
pulled a double-switch with the return of sophomores William Buchanon from DB to
WR and Justin Wyatt from WR to DB.
The Not So Obvious – This was an
interesting switch before the Washington game. Both players appeared to have
welcomed the move. The move is especially notable in Wyatt's case since he was
one of the big stars on offense during spring ball. In fact, he had a
spectacular punt return at the spring game in the Coliseum.
– USC kicker Ryan Killeen had a rather quiet but effective outing in South Bend,
but his services may be in great request come Saturday.
The Not So
Obvious – The Huskies lost both kickers from a year ago, and kicker Garth
Erickson has a slight hamstring pull and is questionable.
The Obvious –
Trojan nose tackle Mike Patterson leads Pac-10 linemen in tackles (34), sacks
(5), and tackles for losses (10).
The Not So Obvious – Is it too early to
consider Mike Patterson, the former Los Alamitos High star, the top candidate
for Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year? Not bad for a guy who is six-feet at
The Obvious – It seems like it is always difficult to get tickets
for the UW game in Seattle, especially when it is a big game like this
The Not So Obvious – According to the UW ticket department, the
Trojans returned some of their allotment and there are still some ducats
available. For those interested in tickets for Saturday's game, call
The Obvious – One of the great coaching legends at UW is
Jim Owens, who led UW to three Rose Bowls, two of which were
The Not So Obvious – Like last week at Notre Dame, the Trojans
again must face a school that is honoring one of its own. Jim Owens will be
honored with a permanent spot in front of Husky Stadium with a statue that will
reside on the west side of the Stadium.
The Obvious – Out of need, the
Huskies' defense under Phil Snow, the former UCLA scapegoat, has shuffled their
defensive line by starting redshirt freshman Donny Mateaki (6-5, 265) at tackle
and moving standout Terry Johnson (6-4, 285) from tackle to defensive
The Not So Obvious – Mateaki was a highly-recruited talent from
Iolani School in Honolulu, and the move proved to be very profitable for the
Husky line in their upset of Oregon State last weekend.
The Obvious – The
Trojans' running back coach is Kennedy Pola, who played at USC after a standout
career at Mater Dei High in Orange County.
The Not So Obvious –The
Huskies' running back coach is Chuck Heater, who was a running back for Big Bad
Bo at Michigan in the mid-seventies.
The Obvious – Former Trojan
All-American quarterback Paul McDonald is the color commentator for the USC
radio broadcasts on 1540.
The Not So Obvious –Former Husky legendary
quarterback Sonny Sixkiller handles the color for the UW radio
The Obvious – Cory Paus was an oft-injured and controversial
quarterback for the UCLA Bruins during his career.
The Not So Obvious –
UW back-up quarterback is Casey Paus, the brother of UCLA Cory.
Obvious – A big question mark for the Trojans on Saturday is the availability of
linebacker Matt Grootogoed, who is still battling the injury bug.
So Obvious – The kid will probably play, but who knows for how long. In the big
picture, should the Trojans not need him, it figures he will be saved for the
Washington State biggie the following Saturday.
The Obvious – As usual,
ABC will provide the visuals at 12:30 p.m. with Mr. Keith, the Foutsmeister.,
and that BYU Todd fellow on the sidelines.
The Not So Obvious – Other
tube toppers for those with a lust of Pac-10 interest will find shaken Oregon
State at foreboding Washington State, and resuscitating Arizona State at QB
controversy UCLA (7:00 p.m., FSN).
The Obvious – So the Trojans end their
traveling road show in Seattle this weekend and a victory would mean Pete
Carroll's favorite month, November, upon us. And we all know what Mr. November's
record is. Pretty good.
The Not So Obvious – Winning in November has been
a Carroll trademark in his brief three years at the Trojan helm. However, a loss
in late October to Washington will turn Carroll's favorite calender month into a
thirteenth month……. Sleepless in Seattle.
O/NSO - Washington preview
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