Move Those Chains

You know what? Put ‘em away. Delete them, erase them, or just scribble them out. Do whatever you have to do to get "sloppy," "slow-start," "unpolished" and any other ridiculous adjective used to describe this Trojan team away from them, because that's exactly what they did to BYU. They put ‘em away.

As Lee Corso might say, after he's finished off his fourth straight sentence replacing all nouns and verbs with onomatopoetic nonsense, "football is like a chess match." And, while I never thought I'd say this, he's right. It's not so much the fact that you have to read and react to what the other player is doing. It's because in both games, you can't win on the first move, and it always takes a little while for the stronger side to assert their dominance.

Sure, Reggie Bush may be the closest thing to a human incarnation of Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl and the only line you'll find made up of bigger men than the Trojan offensive line is at your local Hometown Buffet, but expecting this USC offense to come out of the gate scoring on every possession is just ludicrous.

In Spike Lee's "He Got Game," the climactic game of one-on-one between Jesus and Jake Shuttlesworth called for Jesus (Ray Allen) to beat Jake (Denzel Washington) by a score of 11-0. Lee told the two men to play a real game, assuming that score would be the logical outcome of this pairing. You know what the score was before Ray Allen decided he'd had enough and took over the game? It was 7-5, Ray Allen. And if anything, Allen had home court advantage.

The favored team on the road must always withstand the initial emotional outburst by the opposing team and their fans. The truly elite teams will find a way to weather the storm and then begin imposing their will.

The fact that the Trojans didn't score or move the ball with much regularity in the first quarter against the Cougars wasn't because the Trojan offense started slowly or played sloppily. It was because Nick Saban and those crazy guys on the rules committee decided a while ago that both teams would be represented on the field by 11 men during each play. No matter how good you think you are at those Madden games, I'm willing to bet that you've had your share of three-and-outs even playing on rookie mode with the penalties turned off.

The Trojans showed the ability to adjust and keep their focus in a hostile environment (unlike Florida and LSU this past weekend, as well as the British army, circa 1776). They played that game exactly like they should have. The Trojan offense threw a few jabs at the Cougars while the defense fiercely held its ground, and when the time was right, USC threw a few haymakers, knocked BYU to the mat and kept them there.

We already knew this Trojan team had the talent to win another championship. Now we know they've got the heart.

Fight On: The Cougars opened the scoring with a field goal, but the Trojans were able to counter with three straight touchdowns to open an insurmountable 21-3 lead.

Eight Clap: Apparently Cougar fans thought that both 3-0 and 21-10 scores were good enough scores to celebrate for ESPN cameras as if their team had just won the national championship. (What is the deal with fans always proclaiming their team to be #1 when the camera is on them? Nowhere was this more ridiculous than a few weeks ago in Manhattan, Kansas where K. State fans are still screaming "We're number one!" while Fresno State was putting in another touchdown to go up by 200 or so.

Fight On: Matt Leinart threw multiple touchdown passes for the 15th straight game. He let Reggie Bush do most of the work on his first one, while completing the second to Dwayne Jarrett's apparent favorite spot: seemingly out of reach in between defenders.

Eight Clap: Matt Leinart was intercepted on the Trojan's first drive of the game, breaking his streak of 101 consecutive passes without a pick. He did manage to go turnover free for the rest of the game though, which is a vast improvement from his three-interception game against the Cougars last year.

Fight On: The Trojans piled up 291 rushing yards, with both LenDale White and Reggie Bush going over 100 yards on the ground.

Eight Clap: Since the USC defense did so well against the Cougar ground game, I'll have to go (appropriately) to the UCLA game to get this eight clap. Apparently Rick Neuheisel was the head coach as well as tackling coach at Washington. Not that it matters in the long run, but it's always tough when UCLA fans have anything to cheer about, especially a record setting performance, like Maurice Drew's school record 322 rushing yards against the toothless Huskies.

Fight On: Trojan alumni had a good weekend in the NFL. Carson Palmer led his Bengals on a drive that culminated with a game-winning field goal to beat the Dolphins. Keary Colbert caught a touchdown pass in his debut for the Panthers. Kenechi Udeze sacked Donovan McNabb on Monday Night Football. Troy Polamalu led the Steeler defense with 11 tackles, and Keyshawn Johnson proved he's infinitely more valuable than Deion Sanders as a two-way threat by knocking down an attempted hail mary at the end of the Cowboy's game.

Eight Clap: Thanks to the guys at Comcast cable, I couldn't watch any of them.

Fight On: Norm Chow, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the rest of the Trojans responsible for moving the ball put up 42 points against the Cougar defense. After that string of games last year where they were constantly in the 40's, is it too early to start calling this offense "the forty-somethings"?

Eight Clap: Not that we can blame them, but the Trojan defense was only a missed recovered fumble and a second helping at dinner for Todd Watkins away from shutting out a relatively high powered Cougar offense.

Fight On: Hershel Dennis got into the game to the tune of three carries for 18 yards. Who else is waiting for the Trojans to line up with Lee Webb in the backfield and Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Desmond Reed and Hershel Dennis as wide receivers, unleashing the possibility for the vaunted quadruple reverse?

Eight Clap: After Reggie Bush went for three scores against Virginia Tech and LenDale White pulled off the hat trick against Colorado State, the Trojans couldn't get anyone to complete the trifecta against BYU. Ok, fine, we're nitpicking now.

Fight On: The Trojans have started out this season perfectly. They are 3-0 and haven't suffered any injuries. Now with Dennis back, they've got the team together that will make a run for back-to-back titles.

Eight Clap: With Andrew Walter playing like Andrew Walter again (and talking like Muhammed Ali), Oregon State deciding to not throw in the towel on its season, a feisty group of Wildcats led by Mike Stoops, a rededicated Notre Dame team and those Northern Cal Bears, the Pac-10 slate for the Trojans looks a little more difficult than previously thought.

Fight On: Pete Carroll is such a great coach for this Trojan team. It's so much fun watching him on the sideline congratulating his players after a good play. No coach throws a forearm bash celebration better than Carroll. As a side note: Did you see his brother sitting in the stands? How eerily similar do they look? I hope that when the movie "The Pete Carroll Story" comes out, they get Pete to play both himself and his brother, like Nicholas Cage in "Adaptation."

Eight Clap: Pretty soon, one of Carroll's celebrations is going to turn into a forearm shiver that sends on of his players to the ground. It won't be a bad thing, just a little embarrassing for the player.

Fight On: The Trojans should be favored in all of their remaining games. Maybe to speed things up and limit the down time between games for fans, the Trojans could send half their team to Palo Alto to face the Cardinal and half their team to Washington to battle the Huskies. It'll be like a spring training split squad game and I don't doubt for a second that the Trojans have the talent to pull out double digit wins against both opponents.

Eight Clap: That won't happen and we've got to keep waiting the intolerable seven days in between all Trojan football games.

Fight on Trojans. This young team is so exciting to watch. Let them get into a rhythm at the beginning of each game because it takes some time to adjust to each opponent and this Trojan team can adjust better than anyone. So every time you start thinking about how "sloppy" they're playing at the beginning of the game, I want you to tell yourself something. At one time, even Denzel Washington put up a lucky five against Ray Allen.

Erik McKinney is a junior majoring in creative writing.


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