O/NSO - Bye week edition

While most of the Pac-10 and the college football universe readies for its grand opening weekend, the No. 1 USC Trojans receive a bye, but their come-from-behind win over Virginia Tech last Saturday evening has set off a burning asteroid of opinions on the validity of their strength and ranking

The Obvious - While most of the Pac-10 and the college football universe readies for its grand opening weekend, the No. 1 USC Trojans receive a bye, but their come-from-behind win over Virginia Tech last Saturday evening has set off a burning asteroid of opinions on the validity of their strength and ranking.

The Not So Obvious – Especially blunt was Matt Hayes of The Sporting News who wrote, " USC's offensive line is out of shape and has serious issues in pass protection. The Trojans' linebackers overran plays and missed tackles. Their secondary blew coverages and left (Virginia) Tech receivers running free. Tendonitis in quarterback Matt Leinart's left throwing elbow was so bad he didn't throw two days before the game and had no zip on his passes. This is a team not on a path the Orange Bowl national title game; this is a team that will have trouble winning the Pac-10."

The Obvious – Highly respected columnist Steve Bisheff of the Orange County Register wrote, "The Trojans don't deserve to be rated No. 1 in the nation. Not yet, anyway. They still have a shot to earn the ranking later when it really counts."

The Not So Obvious – Bisheff, a Trojan alum, is again a voice of reason. Both writers made their points in different manners. The truth is we don't know how good Virginia Tech is going to be and we don't know how good the Trojans will be until Pete Carroll's inexperienced players understand and execute the system. You can bet the team film sessions that were shown this week presented a slew of mental mistakes that are all correctable. It has always been the feeling here that if the Trojans were to take a dump this season, Virginia Tech was one of those few potential flushers.

The Obvious – Both national media polls still have the Trojans as the No. 1 team in the country.

The Not So Obvious – The USC win over Virginia Tech did impress the Sagarin college football computer ratings poll as the Trojan were elevated to No.1 ahead of Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Florida State, and Georgia.

The Obvious – Nervous Trojan fans have also have placed their fingers on the panic button.

The Not So Obvious - Lost in the cardinal and gold fire drill by many is the fact that Virginia Tech, with a good number of veteran players like quarterback Bryan Randall, was a team that whacked Miami, 31-7, last year to end the Canes' long regular season win streak and also a team that lost three of their last four games by seven points or less. Yes, the Trojans didn't look like a juggernaut and even looked unsure at various moments, but let's give VT and Coach Frank Beamer some credit. Beamer isn't fourth in the win column of active coach for nothing.

The Obvious - In last year's away opener against Auburn, the Trojans scored 23 points and shut out the Tigers in a 23-0 win.

The Not So Obvious – In this year's away opener against Virginia Tech, the Trojans' offense scored one point more (24) than at Auburn but also gave up just 13 points more in a 24-13 win at FedEx Field. All things considered, last Saturday's win should not be viewed as a chopped liver victory. If receiver Chris McFoy is not out of bounds in the back of the VT end zone and kicker Ryan Killeen hits on his first field goal attempt, the game might have taken on a much different look.

The Obvious - Much of the criticism of the Trojans has centered on their inexperienced offensive line, which in hindsight, had to perform in one of Troy's toughest-ever away opener environments.

The Not So Obvious – Of the offensive line woes, Pete Carroll told XTRA sports, "They (offensive line) were ok assignment wise. Virginia Tech brought a lot of blitzes. The line played pretty steady. Virginia Tech was very, very fast, probably the fastest team we'll play all season." It should also be noted that quarterback Matt Leinart did survive the whole affair with his inexperienced receivers, and the offensive line of Coach Tim Davis didn't get called for holding or false starts.

The Obvious – The Trojan receiving trio of Chris McFoy, Dwayne Jarrett, and Steve Smith had a challenging outing against VT. McFoy and Jarrett combined averaged 5.0 yards per reception.

The Not So Obvious – Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer isn't considered an elite coach because he's an idiot. He devised a good plan with excellent team speed that had the highly inexperienced Trojan catchers unsure of their routes and many times not ending up where they should have been. Most coaches agree there is a big improvement between game one and game two. Trojan fans hope so and should expect so.

The Obvious – Alex Holmes should be given special recognition for performing with the obvious effects of a still-evident calf muscle injury.

The Not So Obvious – Before totally crucifying the passing game, remember this is a Trojan team whose tight end situation went from gold to fools' gold due to injury. Let's wait till Holmes and Dominique Bryd are both healthy. Keep an eye on freshman Fred Davis from Ohio, who may make the field against Colorado State.

The Obvious – There has been much speculation about the Trojans' running game that accounted for 101 yards against Virginia Tech.

The Not So Obvious – Granted the Trojans' offensive line was inexperienced and VT had an active group of veteran defenders, but LenDale White still would have, no doubt, increased his team's rushing yardage had his number been called more often. White, who was like a Brahma bull when given the opportunity against VT, would have cracked 100 yards (he had 78 yards for the game on 15 carries) easy. This is a situation that Pete Carroll addressed early this week, and you can bet he and Norm Chow will devise a more open approach to the running game.

The Obvious – In the big picture, the BCA Classic will far benefit the Trojan, both on and off the field.

The Not So Obvious – USC was eligible to receive $600,000 or 30 percent of the game's revenue. Because of the FedEx sellout, VT says they will get a $1 million dollar payday. You know the Trojans aren't going to be hurting when that check comes through the mail.

The Obvious – Over 91,000 fans saw last Saturday night's game at FedEx Field.

The Not So Obvious – The big winners of the Trojan victory are the ticket managers of USC opponents. If the Trojans can stay No. 1, those universities that host the Trojans this year are in for a big payday.

The Obvious – The Trojans' ticket department has not yet announced how many season tickets have been sold.

The Not So Obvious – Let's give the Trojan marketing department some credit. In this week's Sports Illustrated, there is a nice ad promoting the sales of Trojan season tickets. Sell'em while the team is hot. Hopefully, we will hear a number and see if the current success of the Trojans tops the all-time season ticket record.

The Obvious – The Trojans are now promoting the Internet ticket market, StubHub.com, as a means for Trojan fans to sell their extra tickets.

The Not So Obvious – Looking to buy tickets to the Trojans home opener against Colorado St.? At last check, stubhub.com ticket prices for the Colorado State home opener at the Coliseum are ranging from $48.75 in Section 3, Row 33, to $383.00 in Section 7, Row 36.

The Obvious – The Trojans next opponent will be the Colorado St. Rams, a club that gets started this weekend against rival Colorado.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans will want to pay special attention to new Colorado St. junior quarterback Justin Holland's debut at Colorado. Holland is called by some the best recruit that has come to Fort Collins in some three decades.

The Obvious – Word out of Trojan camp is freshman DE Jeff Schweiger could start in front of Frostee Rucker against Colorado St.

The Not So Obvious – Don't count out Frostee the Toe-man, whose repaired toe is still giving him some problems. Colorado St. is the school that Rucker transferred from to USC and the kid won't miss this one. Pete Carroll will probably start Frostee on that account alone, but expect Schweiger to come in quickly if the former Tustin Tiller's injury goes goofy.

The Obvious – There are a few scribes that are suggesting the Trojans might want to consider moving Reggie Bush to receiver, allowing both he and LenDale White to be in the game at the same time.

The Not So Obvious – Chow already did that against VT by moving Bush all round the formation bush. With Roadrunner Reggie in the game, the kid really needs no official title of tailback or flanker. This is the point of the Marshall Faulk comparisons.

The Obvious – The Trojans are awaiting the return of junior tailback Hershel Dennis, who is on indefinite suspension over an alleged "party" issue.

The Not So Obvious -The return of Dennis would be a big help in depth allowing White and Dennis to alternate behind Leinart exclusively and Bush to remain in the game in various formations. With Bush lining up everywhere, it would give even more time to all three standouts being on the field, and it sure would give opposing defenses the chills.

The Obvious – Some Trojan fans continue to be annoyed with the power of 1540 The Ticket.

The Not So Obvious – While Trojan fans at FedEx Field obviously could not get the Trojans' Pete Arbogast and company, FedEx concession stands did pipe in the national radio broadcast of the game with former Trojan play-by-play Larry Kahn assisted by Heisman Trophy winner Gino Toretta.

The Obvious – It's never too early to do some Christmas shopping.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans might want to visit the USC bookstore and purchase the new USC football action figure. Dressed in a real Trojan uniform, the doll sure looks like Carson Palmer. One box has a picture of "No. 3 on the photo and the other box has a figure with No. 12, an obvious Charles White.

The Obvious – Trojan senior linebacker Matt Grootegoed had six tackles against Virginia Tech and provided important leadership to the wide-eyed freshmen and even some for the nervous redshirt starters.

The Not So Obvious – Grootegoed said, "It was tense. Some of the younger guys were in shock." One media type said that the noise at FedEx was far more intense than last year's game at Auburn. It was like standing inside the engine of a 747.

The Obvious – Many Trojan fans are having sleepless nights after watching the tight victory over the Hokies.

The Not So Obvious – Well, if you need a good book to get you to sleep, you might want to read the new Trojans' children's book, Hello Tommy Trojan, another new item on sale at the Trojan bookstore. Written by Aimee Aryal and illustrated by Gerry Perez, the book is the game-day story of Tommy Trojan riding on Traveler throughout the campus and the Coliseum. Everybody along the way says hello to Tommy, even Pete Carroll, who makes an appearance to greet Tommy Trojan after a SC victory. The imaginative book can be purchased for $19.95.

The Obvious – With the bye, expect some national poll ground to be lost this week by the Trojans if Oklahoma torches Bowling Green and Georgia blasts Georgia Southern.

The Not So Obvious – Of course, nobody is going to confuse Bowling Green or Georgia Southern for Virginia Tech. One last note on VT, much like the meaning of last year's Trojan win at Auburn, nobody really knows at this time just how good the Hokies are. One thing is for sure, Beamer Ball figures to get its first win in two weeks when they host Western Michigan.

The Obvious – This weekend's bye provides Trojan fans a chance to do some television scouting of future opponents as Washington St., Cal, UCLA, and Oregon St open their seasons on the tube.

The Not So Obvious – For your viewing pleasure, Friday night unveils Washington St. at New Mexico  (ESPN/ 5:00 p.m.). Saturday starts your day with Cal at Air Force (ESPN2/ 9:00 a.m.), proceeds to Oklahoma St. at UCLA (ABC/ 12:30 p.m.), continues with Oregon State at LSU (ESPN/ 4:00 p.m.), and concludes a nightcap with Notre Dame at BYU (ESPN/ 6:00 p.m.). There is also Colorado St. playing at Colorado on Saturday on Fox Sports Net at 5:00 p.m.  Those able to get Fox Sport Net Arizona Thursday night were able to watch Arizona State dismantle Mike Price's UTEP club 41-9 in Tempe.

The Obvious – Speaking of BYU, the Cougars gave the Trojans all they could handle last year at the Coliseum and will be eagerly awaiting USC's arrival in Provo on Sept. 18th.

The Not So Obvious – In case you missed it, the Trojans have requested a police escort, which is actually a routine for Pete Carroll's boys. The extra cost for the BYU game is $35 for officer overtime plus mileage. No word on the arrangements for quarterback Matt Leinart, who is getting rock star protection these days, but the National Guard remains a possibility.

The Obvious – The Trojans will continue to get some needed rest this weekend and also a chance to watch some of their future opponents on the airwaves.

The Not So Obvious – As for this old geezer, we'll do the same and relax with a good book. Hmmm, sounds just like a good night to read Hello Tommy Trojan.

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