O/NSO - BYU diary review

The Obvious – With lightening strike precision on a partly cloudy Provo evening, the top-ranked USC Trojans (3-0) left a sellout crowd of 63,467 at Lavell Edwards Stadium and a nationally televised audience scratching their heads in amazement by unleashing a 42-10 learning curve victory over the beleaguered BYU Cougars (1-2).

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans appear to be both explosive in moments of shear Reggie Bush ecstasy and implosive with dropped passes and lulls in their offensive efficiency. For the nation's poll voters, just when they consider a switcheroo with those Sooners from Norman, quarterback Matt Leinart connects, Bush and LenDale White unleash, and cardinal and gold defenders like Shaun Cody, Lofa Tatupu, and Matt Grootegoed create national championship-style turnovers. It all makes for a complete Saturday of Trojan football, so how was your day and here was mine.

8:15 a.m. – Rise and shine. Hit the remote and up pops ESPN Classic, perhaps the best sports channel ever devised for the AARP generation. Ah, they're showing the 1966 Notre Dame/ Michigan St. tie fiasco, which makes me wonder if legendary Irish coach Ara Parsegian, who has never been forgiven by the college gods for playing for a tie in 1966, will be at the Coliseum on No. 27th when the Trojans host the Irish on Anthony Davis Day.

8:50 – Switch channels to ESPN GameDay just in time to see Lee Corso pick Notre Dame over Michigan State. The fans in East Lancing go nuts. Putting on an Irish hat, I suddenly realize that Corso looks like Mel Brooks, the famed producer, director, and actor from some of motion pictures funniest movies.

9:00 – Commence viewing of San Diego State at Michigan. The more I watch, the more the play- calling of San Diego St. coach Tom Craft and his whacko formations and designs look more like a disciple of Norm Chow than Don Coryell, former Trojan assistant and NFL Hall of Fame coach.

10:30 – Switch channels and finally see some Trojan stuff with Lindsay Soto hosting the USC Magazine on Fox. Watched the show on Thursday night and continue to be impressed with the versatility of Soto not only with the Trojans, but with the other sports she's assigned.

10:45 – Need to start getting our Trojan/BYU game prep underway. Check Weather.com and it looks like a kickoff under clear skies and in the mid-70's. The real "weather report" is whether BYU defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall's 3-3-5 defense will give the Trojans more problems that the Provo altitude.

11:38 – Check back to the San Diego State/Michigan game and the Wolverines have come back in the third quarter to lead 24-21. San Diego State is picked as high as third in some preseason MWC polls while tonight's Trojan opponent, BYU, is picked as high as second. The Trojans should figure the MWC Cougars will bring it all tonight in Provo.

12:15 p.m. – Accompanied by my heart, I go on my own version of the "Trojan Walk" and tune in 1540. Host Mark Willard is replaying an interview with USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who says that based on the 3-3-5 defense of BYU, sophomore center Ryan Kalil, who helps make the offensive line calls, may be as important a performer as any on offense. Chow says that pass protection isn't the issue against BYU as much as run-blocking assignments.

12:19 – In the same Chow interview on 1540, Chow says that freshman center Jeff Byers is getting work at left guard to give him more opportunity to get him on the field. Chow says, "You know, both our left guards are seniors." Can you read in between the lines?

1:15 – Return home, turn on the set, and it is announced that Virginia Tech (2-1) has trashed Duke 41-17 with a big game from quarterback Bryan Randall. West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is interviewed after explaining a tough overtime win against Maryland. In the background, the fans at Mountaineer Field are singing along with the John Denver hit "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and belt out, "West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads." You can be a Trojan fan but still appreciate the great traditions of college football.

2:57 – Finish some El Pollo Loco and check out Oregon at Oklahoma. Graphic comes up that says that Sooners' shifty wide receiver Mark Clayton's favorite PlayStation 2 team is USC. Meanwhile, former Trojan running back recruit Adrian Peterson is displaying the moves and speed that made him the top back in the country out of Texas. Okies score again and it's 17-0. The Duckies are moving the ball but are killing themselves with the little mistakes, yet they hit fullback Dante Rosario for score to make it 17-7 I the third quarter.

3:43 – Down goes LSU at Auburn, 10-9, thanks to a missed extra point. Ironic since Oregon State lost at LSU because of a place kicker. It's possible both kickers tonight, USC's Ryan Killeen and BYU's Matt Payne, may have seen the LSU PAT miss before they depart for Lavell Edwards Stadium. There is now only one undefeated defending national champion left from last season, and they are getting ready to play at BYU in about three hours.

4:30 – Must make a decision whether to go to the Irvine Fox Sports Grill 1540 Trojan party, or remain in the Katz Sports Grill.

4:45 – Still contemplating a viewing decision, decide to check in on the Bruins and Irish, those anti-Christ's of Trojan football. Former Trojan recruit Maurice Drew is running wild in Seattle as the Bruins are coming from behind, and Ty Willingham's team is stretching an Irish lead against Michigan State, which brings the return of the once-lost aloof and smug demeanor of the Notre Dame head coach.

6:07 – It must be getting viewing decision time. The Irvine Fox Sports Grill or the Katz Living Room Sports Grill? Yes, it's a bigger decision than Pete Carroll deciding to start Manuel Wright, but here comes my loveable friend, Mr. Migraine. Quicker than a Reggie Bush cut, I race to the bedroom to get an Advil.

6:20 – To hell with the migraine, let's go to the Fox Sports Grill in Irvine.

6:25 – The brief ride to the Spectrum allows both the Advil and the Trojans' 1540 pre-game show to ease the pain. Analyst Paul McDonald talks about the BYU 3-3-5 defense and center Ryan Kalil's ability for blocking identification. McDonald refers to BYU's linebackers as Mike, Will, Sam, and Mo. Witty play-by-play voice Pete Arbogast says the linebacker names sound like The Three Stooges.

6:40 – The Spectrum in Irvine is Orange County's version of Westwood. Finding a parking space is as tough as finding a running lane against Pete Carroll's defense.

6:45 – Parked on the other side of the Fox Sports Grill, it's a quick sprint through a crowd full of dates, families, and posers. There are numerous signs outside the FSG promoting the1540 USC radio party. The place is packed with Trojan fans wearing USC shirts, T-shirts, and hats of the number one team in the nation. The ladies that work the sports bar are dressed in USC home jerseys. There are television screens of all sizes showing action from across the country.

6:50 – I pick up the September magazine edition of WeAreSC near the radio booth and look for some familiar faces. Glancing up to the giant screen, I realize the UCLA and Irish games are running long, so the Trojans' kickoff will either be delayed or joined in progress. Nooooooooooooooooo!

6:55 – Maybe the delay is a blessing for I feel something is wrong. The O/NSO needs a working press box environment and while the atmosphere is great, there is this Trojan comfort zone that is missing. I decide to hurry back home and watch it on our 35-inch screen with the 5.1 surround soumd.

7:00 – With the power of LenDale White and quickness of Reggie Bush, I sprint back to the car in full panic that kickoff may be missed. Getting to the car, I turn on 1540 and hear foreign country music. What happened to that increased power, Mr. 1540? Trying to get an Orange County feed of the Trojans broadcast, but it sounds like Pete Arbogast is coming through a tin can with Latino music. Finally find the game…on the BYU station loud and clear.

7:10 – Racing into the "Katz Sports Grill," the Mrs Katz. asks me to help bring in some groceries from Ralphs and tersely say, " I can't because kickoff is near." She stands dumbfounded and "claims" to understand.

7:11 – On goes the ESPN telecast and hear the voices of Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried. Who goofed? I've got to know! The USC press release on the game said the ESPN game announcers were going to be Dave Barnett, Bill Curry, and David Norrie. Having written it in the O/NSO BYU edition about Barnett, Curry, and Norrie, if you can't believe the normally reliable USC press releases out of Heritage Hall, who can you believe?

7:22 – Due to the length of the Notre Dame.Michigan St. game, ESPN explains they will show just the beginning of the USC/BYU game and then return back to the conclusion of the ND/Michigan St. game. In the immortal words of the late Lawrence Welk, "Ah Vunderful, ah vunderful. Thank you, boyz.", ESPN takes us back to East Lancing to watch eight seconds of Irish QB Brady Quinn taking a knee. Bush, bush, bush, and we don't mean Reggie, Reggie, Reggie.

7:23 – FINALLY, ESPN returns to Provo in time to see Trojan quarterback hit tailback Reggie Bush in the flat for five yards. Now, let the fun begin!

7:24 – Leinart hits receiver Chris McFoy for 17 yards and a Trojan first down. All signs are looking good. Hey, what 3-3-5 defense, Mr. Mendenhall?

7:25 – Oy Veh! Leinart throws his first interception of the year into two-deep coverage and the Cougars' DB Jon Burbidge intercepts and suddenly it looks like BYU last year in the Coliseum. ESPN analyst Gottfried, the former Pitt coach, says this is actually a good thing to relieve the pressure from Leinart. Right Mike, and it's great to get the Asian flu today so you don't get it next week.

7:32 – Trojan tailback bulldozer LenDale White is stopped for a yard gain and Troy's offense is looking as confused as a blue-chip recruit on Signing Day. The nation is not watching the No. 1 team in the nation. This must be an ESPN Classic replay of the Trojan teams of the 90's.

7:35 – Sweeping the right side, Reggie Bush pulls up and hits receiver Steve Smith at the 2-yard line, but hold the phone, Grandma, we are told that tight end Alex Holmes is guilty of an infraction. Shades of Mike Williams to Matt Leinart in the Rose Bowl goes down the side of the Wasatch Mountains. A brilliant call by Norm Chow but what a difference a year can make in execution.

7:36 – Chris McFoy makes another catch, but now Reggie Bush is called for a questionable personal foul after the play. Will somebody please call in the Office of Homeland Security and find out if these are the real Trojans and not some wannabes?

7:42 – BYU runs the option for a gain of five yards followed by BYU running back Naufahu Tahi's blast for a Cougar first down. The back-to-back plays send a chilling possibility to Trojan fans. Can the weak BYU running game actually make a dent in the Trojans' front seven?

7:46 – We are late in the first quarter and the Trojans have been shooting themselves in the foot, and BYU QB John Beck is driving the Cougars down the field. Trojan fans start tapping their feet impatiently as they rationalize the altitude is having an effect.

7:47 – As what happened in the BCS Classic when Trojan freshman defensive end Jeff Schweiger made a sack of VT QB Randall, freshman linebacker Keith Rivers steps up into the hole and stones a Cougar ball carrier. The inspirational hit is followed by linebacker Matt Grootegoed's interception, his third in the past two games, and isn't Groots suddenly on a PI streak!

7:52 – The first quarter ends with no score and the BYU faithful now know it's now a three quarter game. Trojan fans are wondering about that 26-point favorite deal and Las Vegas rollers are starting to perspire. ESPN's Ron Franklin says the score is a bit of a surprise. Considering last year's USC 21-0 first quarter romp at the Coliseum,
"shock" may be a more appropriate description.

7:55 – The second quarter starts with a dropped pass by Trojan freshman Dwayne Jarrett. The kid should have had it. When you're young and inexperienced, that pigskin is like trying to catch a high-speed pea from 25 yards away.

7:56 – Trojan kicker Ryan Killeen misses a 43-yard field goal attempt, badly. Obviously, Killeen, who is a Lou Groza Award candidate, is not in mid-season form.

7:57 – After Killeen's missed field goal, Lavell Edwards Stadium goes whacko and so does the Cougar offense. Suddenly Cougar RB Tahi gets by a SC blitz for eight yards and the place is on fire.

8:01 – Showing that turnaround is fair play, Cougars' coach Gary Crowton pulls out the Norm Chow halfback pass and, naturally, the Trojans' strong safety Jason Leach is called for pass interference in the end zone on a ball that hung in the air longer than Michael Jordan. Mama Mia.

8:05 – Stellar BYU field goal kicker Matt Payne connects on a 46-yarder and the Cougars lead early in the second quarter 3-0 or should we say Matt Payne leads Ryan Killeen 1-0. ESPN goes to a SUV commercial and the Trojan probably wish they could go for a cruise and drop back in an hour to get their heads together.
BYU 3, USC 0

8:13 – After Jarrett drops another Leinart on-target pass, the kid makes a circus catch for a gain of 20 yards and a Trojan first down on the BYU 40-yard line. Jarrett is having more ups and downs than a ride on Tower of Terror at California Adventure.

8:16 – Lightening!!!!!! Reggie Bush take a middle screen and like a snake weaving through the desert sand, gives a "jelly leg" to a Cougar defender, cuts left, and glides into the BYU end Zone. Killeen's kick is good and the Trojans finally flex their offensive muscles.
USC 7, BYU 3.

8:21 – ESPN's Mike Gottfried is drooling over Reggie Bush's talent. He says that Bush gets his vote as America's most complete player.

8:22 – The Trojans' strong safety Darnell Bing, who didn't start the game, steps up and intercepts John Beck's pass. Beck's interception comes moments before Coach Ed Orgeron's wave of defensive linemen almost tears the BYU quarterback's head from his body.

8:24 - The ESPN camera locations are atrocious. It's like being at Huskies Stadium in Seattle without binoculars. The O/NSO 35-inch TV looks like a Watchman. Does the HDTV broadcast have better camera locations? Maybe binoculars for the TV will help.

8:25 – Matt Leinart is sacked by BYU's Spencer White and there appears to be order being restored to the BYU defense.

8:36 – Lightening! Lightening!! Taking a handoff off the right side, Reggie Bush, with key blocks by guard John Drake and tight end Alex Holmes, explodes for a 66-yard touchdown jaunt and not even turning on his jets most of the way. Killeen hits again on the PAT and suddenly the Trojans are up by eleven.
USC 14, BYU 3

8:39 – BYU QB John Beck fumbles and Trojan linebacker Lofa Tatupu recovers. Does it seem that every other recent big Trojan defensive play involves Tatupu? To think this kid was once playing at the University of Maine before transferring to Troy is amazing.

8:39 – Although a Leinart pass into the end zone for freshman tight end Fred Davis goes incomplete, Norm Chow and Pete Carroll are holding back nothing in getting freshmen into the action. Yes, Trojan fans, Fred Davis is still in the house.

8:41 – Kaboom! Mr. Elevator Ride, Dwayne Jarrett, makes a marvelous 15-yard touchdown grab from Leinart, and it appears that all the Trojans are now off the team bus. The 6-5 Jarrett goes high up to the penthouse over 5-11 BYU DB Brandon Hearny, the former Trabuco Hills star. Killeen's kick is good and most of the BYU crowd is ready to go on a mission.
USC 21, BYU 3

8:50 – It's halftime with the Trojans up 21-3. Number one teams in the country are supposed to be explosive and Pete Carroll's boys passed the test, even if they waited to the second quarter to provide evidence.

8:51 - Hmmmmm. The pangs of hunger have entered the Katz Sports Grill. Jump in the car for Carl's Jr. knowing that ESPN will use all 20-25 minutes for their halftime report.
There's nothing like a Famous Star and criss-cut fries when the Trojans are up by a bundle.

9:11 – The third quarter commences in usual Trojan fashion with the Cardinal and Gold receiving the kickoff and has anybody seen BYU tight end Daniel Coats, who burned the Trojans last year but has been virtually invisible on this evening?

9:18 – Leinart is called for throwing the ball away outside the "tackle box." A simply horrible call by the Mountain West officials. Somebody cue up Three Blind Mice music, please.

9:22 – Just when you think the Trojans are on their way to a rout, kicker Ryan Killeen misses his second field goal attempt (49 yards) of the evening. The goal post uprights must be looking like inches apart for the struggling kicker.

9:25 – Just when you think the Trojans have the game by the throat, BYU QB Beck finds a wide-open Todd Watkins for a 69-yard touchdown reception. Watkins, brother of USC guard Travis, hung Trojan DB Ronald Nunn out to dry with an old fashioned stop-and-go move that left Nunn with "none" playing time as Pete Carroll yanks the senior immediately replacing him with redshirt freshman Eric Wright from San Francisco. Payne's kick is good.
USC 21, BYU 10

9:27 – Almost. Almost. Reggie Bush takes the ensuing kickoff by Matt Payne and nearly returns the touchdown favor as only kicker Payne makes a score-saving tackle. ESPN's Gottfried starts the groundwork for future Reggie Bush Heisman consideration.

9:35 – BYU fans boo Crowder and his Cougars on a third down call and ESPN's Gottfried says that the BYU Athletic Department sent out letters asking fans not to boo during a game. Calls like this one won't help the cause.

9:48 – LenDale White goes for 11 yards shortly followed by a 15-yard pass reception by fullback David Kirtman, who is becoming a remarkable receiving replacement for the injured Brandon Hancock.

9:53 – Reggie Bush winds his way through the Cougar defense for a 20-yard gain and the kid is having a career night rushing.

9:54 – End of the third quarter and the Trojan are ahead 21-10. The third quarter brought lackluster USC moments, but the Trojans are on the march.

9:58 – Humph. Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart sneaks it in from the 1-yard line and the Trojans go 71 yards in 10 plays. Center Kalil and guard John Drake provide the push for Leinart to get his first rushing touchdown as a Trojan. Killeen converts the PAT.
USC 28, BYU 10

10:08 – Taking advantage of Reggie Bush BYU paranoia, Norm Chow lines The Roadrunner wide right and throws a slant left to Steve Smith for 25-yards. BYU defenders are caught leaning the wrong way.

10:08 – Ka-pow. Bringing back memories of thunderous USC All-America tailback Ricky Bell, LenDale White starts to sweep right, hesitates, cuts straight ahead, breaks left, and runs through two tacklers for a 43-yard score. With 10:42 left in the game, the only thing left is for the AP voters is to send in their ballots. Killeen's PAT is true.
USC 42, BYU 10

10:12 – Trojan defensive end Shaun Cody nearly takes BYU QB Beck into his own end zone for a safety. Cody gets props from ESPN's Gottfried on Shaun's All-America status and his move from defensive tackle to end. On the next series, Matt Cassel replaces Matt Leinart at quarterback and Desmond Reed comes in at tailback.

10:21 – Tailback Hershel Dennis comes in the game and flashes his former starting form with a series of impressive carries. ESPN's Gottfried discusses the Trojans' tailback depth and says that redshirt freshman Desmond Reed, who alternates with Dennis, could start for most teams in the country.

10:28 – Trojan fullback Lee Webb hits up the middle for a score, but its called back for illegal motion. Okay, Webb obliges on the next play with a 9-yard touchdown up the gut leaving Cougar tacklers strewn left and right. In Webb and David Kirtman, the Trojans have a pair of efficient fullbacks who know their roles. Killeen makes the PAT and lights go on in the Lavell Edwards Stadium parking lot.
USC 42, BYU 10

10:38 – Final score: USC 42, BYU 10

The Obvious – ESPN's Ron Franklin and Coach Gottfried did say it best when they repeatedly mentioned that this Trojan team would get better and better as the season unfolds and when the calendar reads crunch time hits in November, Pete Carroll's favorite month.

The Not So Obvious – If the Trojans are to be beaten, it will have to be done early and soon. This week opens Pac-10 play with the Trojans at undefeated Stanford (2-0) followed by possibly two more undefeated teams in California (2-0) and Arizona State (3-0), both in the Coliseum. It appears the early and soon challenge for the Trojans is day's away beginning in Palo Alto and you know Pete Carroll and staff live for such moments. As Pete Carroll will tell his troops, "Bring it on!"


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