O/NSO - Arizona review

Don't tell the Arizona Wildcats that USC's 45-0 pre-UCLA demolition was just a mirage of a desert sandstorm that blew through Arizona Stadium on Saturday. By the time the second-ranked Trojans (9-1, 5-1 Pac-10) were done whipping up their offensive winds and flexing their defensive depth, you could hardly see the Santa Rita Mountains some 65 miles away.

The Obvious - Don't tell the Arizona Wildcats that USC's 45-0 pre-UCLA demolition was just a mirage of a desert sandstorm that blew through Arizona Stadium on Saturday. By the time the second-ranked Trojans (9-1, 5-1 Pac-10) were done whipping up their offensive winds and flexing their defensive depth, you could hardly see the Santa Rita Mountains some 65 miles away.

The Not So Obvious – Striking faster than a deadly Arizona diamondback, the Trojans' venomous offensive obscured a defense performance that was equally efficient, considering the ineptness of the Wildcats' (2-9, 1-6) offense and the injury hiatus of USC starters Matt Grootegoed, Melvin Simmons, and Omar Nazel.

The Obvious – The released Sunday media polls retained the Trojans' No. 2 national ranking, and also provided USC fans rest, poll security, and relaxation heading into Monday's latest BCS rankings release. Of course, anything could happen on Monday.

The Not So Obvious – Assuming that the Trojans sweep their final two games, Monday's BCS rankings will probably prognosticate that the season-ending match between Ohio State at Michigan will decide the Trojans' BCS bowl destination.

The Obvious – The BCS system demands that Trojan fans watch all past, present, and future opponents, as the name of the game is now strength of schedule, no thanks to Auburn, Notre Dame, and UCLA.

The Obvious – From ESPN to FOX to Sporting News Radio, everybody is coming out with enough BCS formulas to make the most tethered Trojan and Buckeye fan scream out in football neurosis.

The Not So Obvious - Yet so confusing can it all be that even Times' respected college columnist Chris Dufresne, can find the whole process confusing. On Sunday, Dufresne wrote, " And while Ohio State's victory was as ugly as a Buckeye boil, it will probably pick up BCS ground because it defeated a stronger opponent in Purdue." In Purdue? The Ohio State victory was AT Ohio State. Like we don't make unintentional snafus in this column.

The Obvious – While the game, if you wish to call it that, was never in doubt, the future of USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow might be as college football's premier offensive coordinator received a big boost from Arizona columnist Paola Bovin, whose column on Sunday was pro-Chow and recommended his hiring for the Wildcat job.

The Not So Obvious – Bovin said, "Arizona can fix this. It can make Trojan offensive coordinator Norm Chow its next head coach. Oklahoma assistant Mike Stoops is the sexier choice, and Ricky Hunley (former UA star linebacker) is the sentimental pick, but everything about Chow would be the smartest pick."

The Obvious – Our own peerless Trojan expert Garry P. put some Trojan fears on Chow leaving USC on hold when "P" mentioned this week that Chow and his wife were house hunting in the Los Angeles area.

The Not So Obvious – While Chow is always gracious in his comments about his future and his destruction of another opponent's defense, the Trojans' offensive mastermind told columnist Bovin after the game he still wishes to be a head coach. Chow said, "Do I aspire to be a head coach? Sure. But right now my focus is on the season ….I'll tell you this, though, I watched a lot of Arizona on tape. They're a good team." Huh?

The Obvious – Arizona Stadium has a seating capacity of 56,002, and Saturday's game against the USC seemed like a logical a sellout.

The Not So Obvious – It figured that with the No. 2 Trojans in town and an upset the previous week of Washington in front 48, 319, Saturday's Arizona crowd would show for the final home game hurrah. Apparently Wildcat fans were away placing Norm Chow ballots in athletic director Jim Livengood's office as a disappointing 39,201 gave their football team a final home send-off before turning their attention to Lute Olson's boys.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart had another "normal" day at the office as he threw for 296 yards (23 of 30) and four touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – But boy did Trojan fans hold their collective breaths when the sophomore took a big hit in the third quarter by free safety Clay Hardt, who came in on Leinart like a missile. It was enough t shake your "Booty."

The Obvious – Arizona free safety Clay Hardt also gave his opinion comparing the Trojans with earlier Wildcat opponent, No. 3 LSU, in which Hardt said, "I thought they (USC) were really good, but personally I think LSU was the best team we've faced since we've been a Wildcat."

The Not So Obvious – Hardt was recalling the LSU (59-13) win on Sept. 6 in Tucson. The question becomes which team, LSU or USC, has improved since September. It would also be hard to argue that if the Trojans had really put the pedal to the medal in the second half on Saturday, they could been in the Sixty Club and still maintained the shutout.

The Obvious – While the Trojans were rolling it up on offense, Arizona did have a defensive spark in linebacker Joe Siofele, who had a team-high 12 tackles.

The Not So Obvious – If fellow linebacker Hardt was not that impressed with the Trojans, Siofele gave a different opinion. Siofele said, "I give them credit. They showed why they are No. 2 in the country."

The Obvious – The Arizona loss to the Trojans was especially deep for a number of Wildcats, many of whom decided to lay the blame on their UA coaching staff.

The Not So Obvious – Arizona sophomore safety Darrell Brooks said, "They (USC) are talented, but we should have done some things out there to slow them up. They are a very good team, and they had a good offensive schemes, which made it difficult to stop them."

The Obvious – Trojan kicker Ryan Killeen had six extra points on Saturday giving him 49 for the season, tying the USC school record.

The Not So Obvious – Kickers are like streak shooters in basketball. Killeen's opening kickoff went into the end zone, and the kid was on fire the rest of the evening. The boys on TBS kept referring to Killeen as one of the best kickers in the country. Now that will boost Killeen's confidence, especially with "three" big games in the future.

The Obvious – Speaking of TBS, former Oklahoma All-America linebacker Brian Bosworth was in studio to give his analysis of the USC/Arizona game.

The Not So Obvious – Bosworth may have raised some eyebrows in Norman when he gave his opinion of the Trojans prior to the game. "The Boz" said, "They (USC) are the only team I ve seen that has the complete package both offensively and defensively."

The Obvious – Trojan freshman tailback LenDale White, who was called Glendale in the Associated Press game story, showed the nation why he is such a force on offense as he ran for 90 yards in 15 carries and two touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – On White's first quarter 1-yard score, he received line help from tight end Greg Guenther Jr., who handled Wildcat linebacker Copeland Bryan, and got a great double-team block by tackle Winston Justice and center Norm Katnik on Arizona linebacker Patrick Howard. Did we mention that at the end of the run that White broke a tackle by UA corner Michael Jolivette at the goal line.

The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 220 yards against the outgunned Wildcat defense.

The Not So Obvious – He goes with little fanfare, but senior center Norm Katnik had a whale of a game, including a key block inside on LenDale White's explosive 43-yard score up the middle. Let's also credit freshman receiver Steve Smith, who came from the left side to shield a Wildcat from reaching out to White as LenDale broke to the outside.

The Obvious – TBS took time during the second half of the blowout to show pictures and video of the original Wild Bunch in action.

The Not So Obvious – One of the video highlights of the original Wild Bunch was the tumultuous hit that Trojan linebacker Charlie Weaver put on UCLA quarterback Dennis Dummit in the 1969 USC/UCLA game. Dummit even today claims seeing "The Hit" sends shivers down his spine.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense was hardly challenged, if that is the correct word, by the anemic Arizona offense, which accounted for only 195 yards.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' defense was led by safety Jason Leach, who a Trojan-high 12 tackles.

The Obvious – One player who has gotten better in practice and is receiving more playing time is freshman defensive lineman Manual Wright, who saw extensive early action against the Wildcats.

The Not So Obvious – Looking in shape and apparently under the 300-pound marker, Wright appeared quick and aggressive and ended the evening with three tackles.

The Obvious – During the radio broadcast, Trojans' radio analyst and former All-America quarterback Paul McDonald had some television exposure as TBS showed some highlights of his career, one highlight being the quarterback on USC's 1978 national champions.

The Not So Obvious – The television exposure showed McDonald, the former Bishop Amat star, on the air wearing his traditional Hawaiian shirt and looking like he was getting ready to ride some "waves" in the desert.

The Obvious – Freshman receiver Whitney Lewis saw early playing time on Saturday accounting for 25 yards in two receptions.

The Not So Obvious – On the Trojans' first drive, Lewis had a 13-yard reception on a slant pattern, which gave SC a first down. Most Trojan fans are just waiting in anticipation for Lewis to receive the ball in space so he can showoff his talents, especially now that he "looks" in shape and ready to go.

The Obvious – The Trojans completed their final "regular" season road trip, but were limited by conference rules on the amount of players that could travel to Arizona.

The Not So Obvious – One of those players that got a chance to travel and play was reserve sophomore fullback David Kirtman, who had five carries for 54 yards. With the possible loss of Mike Hancock to injury, Kirtman again becomes a valuable tool.

The Obvious – There has been much speculation about the Arizona coaching job and much of that has centered around assistants Mike Stoops of Oklahoma, Norm Chow of Troy, former UA star Ricky Hunley, and current interim coach Mike Hankwitz.

The Not So Obvious – Late in the TBS telecast, Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood was interrogated by TBS sideline report Craig Sager. When asked about a contact with Chow, an obviously nervous Livengood stammered and said, "I can't, uh, comment, uh on that at all. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't go with what I read in the newspaper. It's about the best fit." Ah, the best fit. That's the current athletic buzzword in recruiting and position switches. It's almost as good when somebody is fired because of a "change of direction."

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Reggie Bush managed to put on a display of his talents ( 11 carries for 64 yards) despite the fact he didn't have one of his electrifying scores.

The Not So Obvious – The country was treated to a ground level shot of Bush putting a "jelly-leg" move on Arizona corner Gary Love, who was frozen in time by Bush's Gumbie-like move. We hold to our earlier statement that the kid is still the most explosive Trojan back since O.J.

The Obvious – Trojan fans finally got to see some extended playing time for frosh quarterback John David Booty, who had moments of success and moments of looking like a true freshman.

The Not So Obvious – Booty, who was 3-of-6 for 63 yards, showed enough poise and leadership to make things interesting in the second half. Of course, fans and Booty are still waiting for his first touchdown toss. He came close during a series at the UA goal line, but had a pass into the end zone nearly intercepted.

The Obvious – The officiating during the game was solid for the most part, but Trojan receiver Keary Colbert was robbed of a beautiful touchdown reception from Matt Leinart right in front of the official.

The Not So Obvious – During one stretch of time during the game, referee Gordon Reese was on camera so much that the TBS crew commented that he had been on TBS more than Lethal Weapon One.

The Obvious – Without much fanfare in his young Trojan career, coach Pete Carroll is now 9-0 in the month of November.

The Not So Obvious – More important to Carroll than his November streak is the fact that his Trojans have won their last 24 of 28 games.

The Obvious – Almost forgotten in the Trojans' rout was the performance of soph sensation Mike Williams, who had three "routine" touchdown receptions.

The Not So Obvious – The degree of difficulty in guarding Williams was illustrated on his 15-yard scoring reception beating Arizona corner Gary Love. Do you play bump on Williams or do you give him cushion? Love gave cushion and Williams beat him like a drum.

The Obvious – Arizona tailback Mike Bell, who had run for 222 yards the week before against Washington, was reduced to Barney Rubble gaining just 14 yards in 14 carries.

The Not So Obvious – There were moments in the game which illustrated why it is so tough to attack the Trojans' defense rushing or passing. On one particular play, nose tackle Mike Patterson actually faked a rush and dropped back into coverage like a middle linebacker. In basketball, you would call the Trojan defense a combination of a match-up zone and man-to-man.

The Obvious – With the loss of Trojan defensive end Omar Nazel, the Trojans played a number of players including talented junior Van Brown, who has patiently waited for a turn.

The Not So Obvious – Brown, who had a tackle against UA tailback Mike Bell, hails from Alhambra High, the school that brought us once-heralded supermodel Cheryl Tiegs.

The Obvious – Tight end Greg Guenther Jr. has quietly fit into the Trojans' offense after taking over for the injured Dominique Byrd.

The Not So Obvious – Guenther's one-handed 20-yard touchdown reception while triple-covered was an ESPN highlight type of play. In fact it was so good, it was on ESPN throughout the evening. One area that Guenther has really improved is in the blocking department. The kid finally seems to have the confidence and enthusiasm to play Trojan football after perhaps being lost in the shuffle and having a basketball player's mentality.

The Obvious – The Trojans avoided another bye week upset thanks to a change in Pete Carroll's practice schedule.

The Not So Obvious – Aside from more intense practices, Carroll only had to point out what happened the last bye week. Of course, it certainly doesn't hurt to be in the hunt for the national championship to keep your team focused.

The Obvious – The Trojans didn't leave Arizona on a complete high as fullback Brandon Hancock suffered what is believed to be a sprained left knee and will have an MRI on Monday to see what's happening.

The Not So Obvious – Although it isn't the panic button, Hancock greatly enhanced the Trojans' offensive weaponry when he became healthy from an earlier ankle injury. Before he got hurt, Hancock had made some nice "isolation" blocks during Saturday's game.

The Obvious – Perhaps the happiest player in Arizona on Saturday evening was Trojan walk-on linebacker Collin Ashton, who was filling in for the injured Champ Simmons, who actually drove to Tucson due to the 60-player conference traveling limit.

The Not So Obvious – Simmons gave Ashton advice during the game, and it was good enough for the Mission Viejo alum to record eight tackles, three of which were solo jobs.

The Obvious – The Trojan blowout of Arizona was especially tough on a number of Wildcats, many of whom thought they had a chance against the second-ranked Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to kickoff, Wildcat tailback Mike Bell said, "They (USC) are playing a team that won't give up. It's going to be hard. It's not going to be an easy victory. It's going to be a good game." This appears to be a case of too many "it's" and not enough "isn't."

The Obvious – In the second half, USC was inside the Arizona 10 three times without scoring.

The Not So Obvious – Give Pete Carroll credit for having third-string quarterback Brandon Hance take a knee to end the game as the Trojans were about ready to score again.

The Obvious – So now the Trojans come home for their final two games against rival UCLA and Oregon State, and the Coliseum atmosphere will be, no doubt, as BCS intense as at anytime in the past 25 years.

The Not So Obvious – Late Monday afternoon, the latest BCS ranking will be released, and the experts are predicting that Ohio State will breathing down the Trojans' helmet in pursuit of the Sugar Bowl. That breath figures to stay torrid right through Saturday morning's Ohio State at Michigan game, a game which may dictate USC's bowl destination evening before they have it out with the Bruins and Beavers. Let the waiting begin.

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