O/NSO - CSU review

The late John Denver couldn't be there to sing it, but the top-ranked University of Southern California Trojans (2-0) crooned their own version of Colorado Rocky Mountain High as Troy rocked the mistake-prone Colorado State Rams (0-2) to the tune of 49-0 before 85,521 in the sports concert hall known as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Obvious – The late John Denver couldn't be there to sing it, but the top-ranked University of Southern California Trojans (2-0) crooned their own version of Colorado Rocky Mountain High as Troy rocked the mistake-prone Colorado State Rams (0-2) to the tune of 49-0 before 85,521 in the sports concert hall known as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Though Trojan receivers continued to make untimely drops, they also demonstrated marked improvement as the game progressed and the Trojans' offensive line, as well, advanced their productivity with a punishing ground assault of 322 yards. It was quite a Saturday at Exposition Park and here is one scribe's account from dawn to dusk.

6:30 a.m. – No alarm reminder this Saturday. The brain is already humming Fight On, and for most Trojan fans that couldn't travel to Washington, DC , the real USC season begins at 5:00 p.m.

7:30 – Okay, the snooze button got the better of me, but now the countdown begins. I think I need a snooze button that shouts S-O-U-T……H-E-R-N…..C-A-L-I……F-O-R-N-I-A…SOUTHERN CALIF-ORNNNNNNNNNNNNNIA.

8:00 – Turn on ESPN GameDay with the three semi-wise men. Okay, two wise men in Fowler and Herbie and one jester in Corso. My goodness, GameDay started at 7:30. There's a touching piece on Oregon State redshirt freshman kicker Alexis Serna, who blew three PAT's at LSU. They show the kid after the LSU game down on the floor next to his locker crying like a baby. As the Trojans' kicker Ryan Killeen can tell you, like an umpire in baseball, you don't get recognized unless you blow a call or a PAT.

8:20 - Kansas State Heisman tailback candidate Darren Sproles is shown breaking tackles against the Trojan defense. Lee Corso reminds the viewers that Sproles is "not doing this against the Sisters of the Poor, but U-S-C." Right you are, Mr. Whoopee. It's also file film shot a couple of years ago. Nothing like staying up to date.

8:35 - Getting ready to eat my microwave oat bran from Trader Joe's and hear the audio on the tube chanting "U-S-C…U-S-C." GameDay is telecasting from the University of South Carolina and the Gamecock fans are obviously a bit confused. Thanks to Coach Pete Carroll and staff, the country again knows the only rea; "U-S-C" is located in Los Angeles and not Columbia, S.C.

8:50 – Now for the dreaded moment of this glorious morning, a check of Trojan Internet news and what has the Daily News Scott "Sherlock" Wolf uncovered in the Trojan program. The best at what he does, the Wolfster generally is the preeminent messenger of Trojan doom. In fairness, he also is the first to "tell it like it is" and routinely breaks Trojan recruiting commits. Ah, today, he has no indigestive news. A good sign for today's home opener.

9:00 – ABC is showing UCLA at Illinois. Time to take a walk.

10:50 – Check Weather.com and it says 87 degrees at the Coliseum, but it "feels" like 88-degrees. Scroll down and it says the high will be 91 degrees. Ah, heat and a Trojan tailgater, I can smell the BBQ already.

11:05 – ABC does a halftime piece on Mike Williams. Big Mike admits to breaking a lot of rules, doesn't regret hiring an agent, and says he would have done the endorsements with or without an agent. The bottom line: He appears to be happy, at piece with the final outcome, and comes off as extremely honest with no anger at the NCAA.

11:40 – ABC shows Fresno St. scoring ANOTHER touchdown against Kansas St in Manhattan. It's a rout and suddenly the Darren Sproles for Heisman voice grows soft. Matty Leinart has a perfect "campaign" stump situation tonight if the Trojan wide receivers will give him a inspiring "reception" speech.

12:30 p.m. – Go to Panda Express for lunch and order the two-items for which I select the orange and Mandarin chicken. On the way to Panda, KFWB says Virginia Tech is creaming Western Michigan 29-0. Hmmmm.

1:15 – Having seen enough of Notre Dame and Michigan struggle on the National Irish (Broadcasting) Company, depart for the Coliseum.

2:12 – The ride to the Coliseum on the 405 to 605 to 105 to 110 isn't bad. The freeways are relatively clear, so it makes the Trojan pregame show the perfect warm-up. Host Mark Willard has Trojan voice Pete Arbogast on the air and Golden Throat says that after the first quarter he expects a cardinal and gold blowout.

2:43 – Arrive at the Coliseum and head for my favorite huge parking structure that features a nice shuttle ride to Exposition Park. Parking is now $20 but that beats the $40 next to the KFC on Figueroa. Shuttle driver says hello to everybody boarding. When you're No. 1, everybody is happy.

3:01 – Shuttle drops us off by the KFC and notice there is a beautiful grass area that now guides fans to the peristyle end of the Coliseum. Crossing Figueroa a fan cracks, "Took'em all last season, but they finally got it done!"

3:07 – Ask a young security guard of the Trojan team has arrived. He says they have. Walk further towards the "Torch" and find fans lining up for the Trojan Walk. Young security guard is as inexperienced as the Trojan receivers. Huge turnout for The Walk and notice that Dave Baker, father of Trojan offensive tackle Sam Baker, is proudly walking to the spirit tunnel wearing a home replica No. 79 jersey, his son's playing number.

3:15 – Where are the Trojans? Who turned out the lights? Was the young security guard correct? It's starting to feel like two weeks ago in Landover, Md., when the Trojan didn't come out to the very end of halftime. Maybe Coaches Orgeron and Davis are already giving them a halftime tirade.

3:19 – It's less than two hours before kickoff and here comes three Gold Coast buses transporting the nation's number one team.

3:26 – On cue a recorded version of Trojan Fanfare heralds the team's procession and here they come. The yellow barrier ropes go up, the fans start to cheer, and out pops the flashes of cameras as a confident mass of Trojan football players file by. Wearing earphones and listening to his Walkman, quarterback Matt Leinart appears as relaxed as kick-back day at Huntington Beach.

3:40 – Purchase the game program for $5 and love the cover of the Trojan team uniting with a backdrop of the 2004 Rose Bowl. Even better full inside view of the Rose Bowl with action on the field. Only negative would be that the player mugs are not in color.

3:50 – Time to check out the tailgating. Head over to the WeAreSc.com "booth" and I am greeted by the incomparable Trojan Warrior. It was a humbling first-time experience to meet the "real" stars of the Internet, and TW introduces me to a number of web celebs. Great Trojan fans who care about their team and it shows.

3:58 – Stop by an unknown group of tailgaters who are watching the end of the Notre Dame/Michigan game. Holy Touchdown Jesus, the Irish are leading! Michigan coach Lloyd Carr looks like he is about to pop every hemorrhoid known to a proctologist. Irish win and suddenly BYU next week looks bigger and bigger. In fact, Nov. 27th against the Irish just got a whole lot juicier thanks to ND freshman running back Darius Walker, a one-time Trojan recruit from Georgia, who sparks the Shillelagh Boys 28-20 comeback victory.

4:30 – Time to go inside and head for Tunnel 17, a home away from home. The Trojans come out for stretching to a stirring ovation. On the Trojans' midfield sideline are USC quarterback verbal Mark Sanchez, the Mission Viejo stud and wide receiver Patrick Turner, the pride of Tennessee, who is on his official visit. The 6-5 Turner and 6-3 Sanchez are greeted by offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who welcomes them both and must have visions of a future deadly passing combination.

4:45 – Dennis Packer, the public address voice of the Trojans, welcomes fans and announces the starting offensive and defensive lineups and gets a mild reaction when he announces that sophomore tailback LenDale White will start and that junior strong safety Scott Ware gets the call over injured Darnell Bing. White getting the starting nod is especially meaningful since, of course, LenDale is from Colorado. Nice touch by the Trojan coaching staff - strategic or not.

4:48 – National Anthem but no fly-over by the jets as advertised. Fans seem to be a bit disappointed, but a touching moment by Dr. Sample on remembering those that gave their lives on 9/11. Also a reminder here that my wife's cousin, Lorraine Lee, was among those that were lost when the second plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center.

5:02 – The Trojans come out of the tunnel for kickoff and the roar is FedEx Field deafening. Noise is so loud that you can barely hear the announcement for the unveiling of the 2003 national championship banner.

5:05 – A rare moment, the Trojans' opponent actually wins the coin toss and elects to receive.

5:06 – KICKOFF. The temperature on the clock says 82 degrees, but then it always seems to be stuck on the same number the entire season. Believe me, it's hotter than 82 degrees and we're in the shade. Of course, all heat and humidity is compared to that night two weeks ago at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., so I would say conditions now are very pleasant.

5:07 – CSU quarterback Justin Holland's first pass is incomplete to stellar wide receiver David Anderson, the junior from Thousand Oaks whose father ran track at Troy. The Trojan secondary looks for vindication from the shaky start against Virginia Tech. So far, so good as two plays later Anderson can't field a low throw from Holland.

5:09 - A 48-yard punt return by the Trojans' Reggie Bush is called back by penalty. A few plays later, receiver Greig Carlson gets a bad exchange on a misdirection play and CSU recovers it. Last year, the Trojans didn't have many critical flags or killer fumbles recovered by the enemy. What a difference a year can make.

5:18 - You can't keep a good receiver down as CSU's David Anderson makes a 9-yard reception to increase his streak to 15 straight games. Could the Trojans use this guy?

5:21 – The Trojans look like the dominant team on the field, yet there is no score. Freshman defensive end Jeff Schweiger is putting tremendous pressure on CSU QB Holland. On the next play, Schweiger almost recovers a fumble. Of the talented Trojans' freshmen class, this kid is sitting on top with his brief game performances.

5:34 – Trojan Tailback LenDale White goes off the left side, hurdles CSU free safety Ben Stratton, and scores on a 11-yard power burst. Ryan Killeen's PAT is good. The Trojans go 92 yards in 12 plays. The Trojan offensive line, especially guards Fred Matua and John Drake, is flexing its muscles. Trojans 7, CSU 0.

5:39 – Sonny Lubick's CSU clubs play with heart. Running back Uldis Jaunarajs, a PA announcer's worst nightmare, rips off a 38-yard run up Main Street sending first-time starting junior safety Scott Ware to the sidelines after badly missing a tackle on Jaunarajs.

5:41 – CSU on the march with fourth and one and Trojan defensive leader Shaun Cody raises his arms in the air to get the 85,000-plus to give some Virginia Tech-style volume. QB Holland sneaks for the first down to keep the drive going.

5:44 – Trojan linebacker Matt Grootegoed puts a vicious hit on a Ram, but CSU still recovers. Last year the Trojans recover. End of the first quarter and Trojans up 7-0. Carroll's boys are able to move the ball, but can't generate the breaks to bust it open early.

5:48 – After the ABC redcap, the fella who goes on the field and signals for the TV timeouts, says let's play, linebacker Matt Grootegoed says let's intercept. The former Mater Dei tailback waits in hiding and steps up to pick off Holland's pass and the race is on. Suddenly it's 1999 and Matt is recreating his 8.1 Monarch rushing average as he returns the interception 57 yards.

5:51 – Showing progress in the receiving corps, Chris McFoy breaks a pattern and gets a 31-yard pass reception to the 1-yard line as Leinart is relieved to see his receivers are learning to scramble compared to the Virginia Tech disappearance.

5:52 – What does first and goal at the one mean to LenDale White? Thanks to another big Fred Matua block off the right side, LenDale sends another touchdown greeting back to Chatfield High. As for Matua, after turning his man over, he gets ups with hands up in the air like a Chick Hearn "no harm, no foul." Showing a national champion's killer instinct, the Trojans move 32 yards on two plays. Killen is on mark again and the Trojans lead 14-0 early in the second quarter.

5:55 – The Trojans' kickoff unit raises their arms and wants some Black Coaches Association Classic noise. Unfortunately for those West Coast Trojan fans, the 2004 Trojan team now know what "real" East Coast Trojan noise should sound like and they are trying their best to educate their faithful. The smell of romp is in the air and so is smell of that roasted corn on the cob that the guy two rows down is devouring.

6:07 – Moving a relentless 74 yards on 7 plays, Trojan tailback LenDale White leaves'em crying in Fort Collins with a 3-yard score with a key block from right tackle Kyle Williams. Trojans 21, CSU 0. Game over? Don' t forget that CSU was down 19-0 at half at Colorado and came storming back. We're at a point early where we find out if the Trojans have the killer instinct.

6:08 – Reserve tailback Desmond Reed waves his hands in the air to get fans ready for the Trojans' kickoff. The famed Thundering Herd rooting section above the players' tunnel responds with authority.

6:11 – Trojan linebacker Lofa Tatupu makes a crushing hit and a fan yells, "What time is it? It's Tatupu time!" Lofa, obviously inspired by the fan, makes the next tackle, as well.

6:14 – Dwayne Jarrett drops another pass as the kid looks to run before he catches the Leinart pass. While Trojan fans grown, those that saw Dwayne in summer practice know that it is a matter of gaining experience in front of a big audience. Carroll and Chow will, no doubt, continue to look for him the rest of the game. Panic is not in the air.

6:21 – Trojan history is made as Greig Carlson actually fumbles a punt turning it over to CSU. Two Rams were in his face and under the old rule, it would have drawn a flag.

6:22 – A nightmare evening for Rams' H-back Joel Dreessen who fumbles on the play and the Trojans recover. Slowly the Trojans' defense is starting to resemble the opportunistic team from 2003.

6:25 – Dr. Chow pulls one out for future opponents (Are you watching Jeff Tedford?) as he orders up a flea-flicker that doesn't work, but QB Leinart takes off for 23 yards. Trojan fans hold their breath like a kid going underwater for the first time.

6:28 – Dwayne Jarrett, celebrating his 18th birthday and with his mother in the stands from New Jersey, is called for offensive pass interference. The kid is going through Mike Williams-style growing pains. The kid is also lucky, for you can hardly understand the referee's announcement of Jarrett's uniform number.

6:31 – The Trojans cap a 96-yard march with 7-yard run by Reggie Bush off the right side as receiver Steve Smith throws a key block and further demonstrates that the receiver group is improving almost on a play-by-play basis. Killeen is on a streak and converts. USC 28, CSU 0. This thing is turning as ugly as an Oregon Duck home uniform.

6:42 – Following a kickoff tackle by kicker Killeen, the half appropriately ends with Justin Holland scrambling for his life and into the Coliseum tunnel as the Trojans enter halftime up 28-0. The temperature clock still reads 82 degrees, but the Trojans' offense and defense is on microwave high.

6:45 – The Trojan Marching Band gets into some Off Spring numbers and now a critical decision must be made. Should an attempt be made to eat dinner from the Coliseum menu? No, sir, a Carl's Jr. Famous Star at 10:30 sounds better than two Coliseum dogs at much less the cost and predictable indigestion. Kettle Korn sounds good right about now, but that, too, will have to wait as the scoreboard flashes the Indiana upset of Oregon. Some much for the "Air Jordans" of Eugene.

7:03 – Reggie Bush returns the second half kickoff 39 yards as fans scramble back to their seats to see if Roadrunner Reggie is about to break one.

7:17 – Dr. Phil must have made a Coliseum locker room visit as Dwayne Jarrett makes a 21-yard juggling catch to give the kid some much needed confidence. Ah, looks like redshirt freshman Drew Radovich is getting an opportunity at right guard for Fred Matua

7:19 – Just when you think the receiving unit is about over the hump, Jarrett and McFoy have back-to-back drops. Learning can be painful.

7:20 – While the receivers still work out the kinks, LenDale White puts the kinks into the CSU defense as he explodes for 17 yards up the gut behind the block of Drew Radovich. This is the moment that the former Mission Viejo star has been waiting. Listed as a tackle, Radovich is getting his reps at guard and he wins this fourth and one battle. Fans show appreciation of Carroll's willingness to go for it early in the third quarter.

7:23 – Carroll's gamble leads to a 5-yard scoring pass from Leinart to Steve Smith and with Killeen's PAT, you can start searching for the car keys. USC 35, CSU 0.

7:24 - The Colorado State bench LOOKS like they have met the number one team in the nation. Traveler comes storming out of the tunnel, the road is cleared, and the CSU players stare as the white horse does the victory trot.

7:27 – It's a Trojan Colorado celebration as freshman center Jeff Byers gets a chance to join the party. It doesn't take long for the former Gatorade National Player of the Year to help open up the hole as LenDale White explodes for 42 yards. Now you just know that former Colorado Trojans Tony Boselli, Brian Kelly, and Scott Lockwood are just beaming from ear to ear. Hey, did we forget 1978 national championship center Chris Foote from Boulder?

7:34 – Back judge Bernard Samuels appears to rob Dwayne Jarrett of a deep pass interference call and Pete Carroll goes crazy on the sidelines. When you're a rookie, even a call that can be seen 80 yards away doesn't go your way.

7:42 – Happy Birthday, Dwayne Jarrett! The kid leaps high in the end zone and comes down with his first Trojan touchdown as three Rams defenders try to take away the party present. Matt Leinart immediately runs up to Jarrett for the ceremonial hug. Imagine, all the highs and lows and freshman frustrations are washed away in a modest 4-yard scoring catch. Good job, kid. That's why Trojan fans say, "Fight On!" USC 42, CSU 0.

7:44 – With 1:28 left in the third quarter, some Tunnel 17 Trojan fans with trips back to San Diego and Chino Hills wave and head for the exits. The third quarter comes to an end with the Trojans cruising 42-0. This looks good on SportsCenter.

7:52 – Defensive linemen Mike Patterson and Manuel Wright combine to administer maximum punishment to quarterback Justin Holland. Smashing, crushing, bruising. Even at 42-0, that duo sack brings a sense that the Trojan defense is about to create some sort of CSU catastrophic turnover.

7:53 – CSU total catastrophe has arrived. Defensive end Jeff Schweiger creates a fumble and Manuel Wright picks it up and rumbles 20 yards into the closed end of the Coliseum end zone for the score. Wright wants to do something , but seems to think better of it. Good choice, Manuel. Killeen gets in some more batting practice and the Trojans make it 49-0.

8:01 – In somewhat of a surprise, Matt Cassel comes in to replace Leinart at quarterback. This awakens some of the fans that had mentally left the game to discuss issues of families, jobs, and presidential politics. The question now becomes what of Brandon Hance, the anticipated Leinart sub?

8:05 – LenDale White is deservingly named the Pacific Care Player of the Game for his three scores and 123 rushing yards.

8:15 – The Trojan bench has some fun as the time winds down as injured tight end Dominique Byrd, who hopes to be back by the Cal game, does a mocking limp impression of limping freshman tackle Chilo Rachal, who is recovering from surgery. All in all, smiles all around.

8:16 – Cassel gives way to Brandon Hance at quarterback. Hance's duty is to run out the clock but not before the game ends with reserve tailback Desmond Reed almost scoring.
Final Score – USC 49, CSU 0.

8:30 – Head for the shuttle to return to the parking structure, but need to celebrate this Trojan's win with a large bag of Kettle Korn. The vendor says, "They sell this stuff at Cosco and other places, but it's different and better here." And so was the Trojans' performance from FedEx Field to the Coliseum. If you must know, a large bag of Kettle Korn lists as $7.

9:00 – Turn on the Trojan talk show on 1540 and Pete Arbogast is doing a rundown and some interviews. It was only hours earlier that the Trojans' voice had predicted the game in the manner that it occurred. We may have to change his name to Nostradamus Arbogast.

10:00 - Home at last and, yes, a Famous Star and cut fries in hand. Hey, time to check the game highlights on the Southern California Sports Report.

The Obvious – After the game, CSU safety Ben Stratton said, " Obviously we got our a%@ kicked. We didn't play the type of game we needed to play to have a chance to compete with these guys."

The Not So Obvious – Stratton's comments are like Coliseum-buttered roasted corn on a Trojan's salivating taste buds. The Trojans, however, hope there's still 12 unopened cans of Whoop You-Know-What beginning next weekend in Provo, Utah.

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