O/NSO - Stanford review

Surviving a near cataclysmic series of mistakes and Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards' white-hot, first-half offensive efficiency, the top-ranked USC Trojans (4-0, 1-0) desperately silenced the sirens of upset with a late saving second half performance edging the Cardinal (2-1, 0-1), 31-28, before 55,750 at Stanford Stadium

The Obvious – Surviving a near cataclysmic series of mistakes and Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards' white-hot, first-half offensive efficiency, the top-ranked USC Trojans (4-0, 1-0) desperately silenced the sirens of upset with a late saving second half performance edging the Cardinal (2-1, 0-1), 31-28, before 55,750 at Stanford Stadium

The Not So Obvious – Oh, baby, did the 2004 Trojans on Saturday bring back memories of the1970 Cardiac Kids led by a sophomore quarterback named Jimmy Jones, whose late comeback heroics almost flat-lined Trojan fans from game to game. Perhaps the biggest achievement for this year's Trojans is that they escaped the month of September without a loss, a significant achievement in the Pete Carroll era, whose record in September is now 10-6.

The Obvious – Despite the narrow gut-check win, the Trojans remained No. 1 in the country in both major polls with Oklahoma remaining at No. 2.

The Not So Obvious –Saturday's win at Stanford may yet be the defining moment for Pete Carroll's 2004 club. No, they didn't look like the nation's best, but when the chips were down, and the operative word IS down, they played like number one is suppose to play.

The Obvious – The Trojans overcame a nerve-racking 11-point halftime deficit at The Farm to win their Pac-10 opener in the final six minutes.

The Not So Obvious - Trojan fans shouldn't forget the recent history of past national champions like Ohio State, who survived a last minute win a couple of years ago at Cincinnati, and Nebraska, who did it at Missouri in overtime. It's living proof that each national champion has a crucible at some point in the season.

The Obvious – Call the Trojans lucky, fortunate, or blessed, but if you look at the pattern of Trojan teams under Carroll, the early games have a familiar struggle to them.

The Not So Obvious - The fact that the Trojan had not won an opening Pac-10 road game since 1995 under the past three USC head coaches makes this win a something to cherish. The feeling here is that the opening win at Virginia Tech is playing huge dividends early in the Trojans' season. They probably will not see or hear a crowd like the one at FedEx Field the rest of the way.

The Obvious – Much has been made of the Trojans halftime adjustments over the Pete Carroll era.

The Not So Obvious – However on Saturday, it appears the biggest adjustment was made by the players, who were unusually intense and animated during the resting session. All-America defensive tackle Shaun Cody, who has been with the Trojan since the return to cardinal and gold glory, said he had never been in such an intense bonding and locker room moment. Quite a statement considering his success with Troy and his days at powerhouse Los Altos High, where Cody won two consecutive CIF Division Vll titles.

The Obvious – At one point in the game on Saturday, Stanford had 21 straight unanswered points in the first half.

The Not So Obvious – Last year at the Coliseum, USC began the game with 27 unanswered points in the first half before Stanford scored in the second quarter of a 44-21 Trojan waxing.

The Obvious – Trojans' sophomore tailback Reggie Bush accounted for 240 yards in all-purpose yardage against the Cardinal on late Saturday afternoon.

The Not So Obvious – "He's a phenomenal player, " said Oshiomogho Atogwe, Stanford's outstanding defensive back. "We did a pretty good job of containing him, but he slipped out a few times." A pretty good job will no longer do it against perhaps college football's most dangerous offensive predator.

The Obvious – It would be an injustice to Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart, who threw for 308 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, to say he shouldn't remain a prime candidate for Heisman Trophy after Bush's performance.

The Not So Obvious - However, Reggie Bush again made Heisman believers of fans and media across the country by living up to the words of Stanford Associate Head Coach Tom Williams. Before the game, Williams said, " He (Bush) is the most versatile player in the country, and in my opinion, he's the best player in the country."

The Obvious – In the first half, Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards, who had one time in the game completed 14-of-15 passes, was magnificent leading the Cardinal to 291 yards by halftime against the vaunted Trojans defense.

The Not So Obvious – However, as brilliant as Edwards' performance, it was the lasting view of the Cardinal ace lying on his back on his final fourth quarter incomplete pass after a crushing blow by junior defensive end Frostee Rucker, who symbolized the maniacal second half charge by Coach Ed Orgeron's front four.

The Obvious – The worst kept secret at Howard Jones Field was the fact that Carroll was willing to put two of his prized freshmen defenders, linebacker Keith Rivers and defensive end Jeff Schweiger, on the same side to rush Trent Edwards.

The Not So Obvious – With most believing the new alignment was gearing for the upcoming Cal game, Carroll choose not to wait and was rewarded handsomely with a Rivers sack of Edwards causing a fumble, one of two sacks on the day for the Florida native.

The Obvious – Last year against Stanford, Trojans senior linebacker Matt Grootegoed was rolled from behind nearly suffering a season ending injury.

The Not So Obvious – Groots didn't go looking for revenge on Saturday unless you watch some of the vicious hits he was laying on Cardinal ball carriers. The former Mater Dei All-American finished with seven tackles, second to junior middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who had 10 stops.

The Obvious – Before the game, standout Stanford defensive back Oshiomogho Atogwe said, " They (USC) give you opportunities to make big plays, just not as many as most other team."

The Not So Obvious - A fake field goal for a touchdown, a 82-yard touchdown to end the first half, a pop-out Steve Smith reception fumble, and a missed field goal were a season full of breaks for Stanford to upset the Trojans. And don't forget the three fumbles by Stanford that were also recovered by the Cardinal.

The Obvious – Trojan QB Matt Leinart threw to seven different receivers during the game.

The Not So Obvious – Considering the stakes and the intensity of the situation, the Stanford game was the best offensive game for the Trojans' youthful receivers. Sophomore Chris McFoy was outstanding at times in both his receiving and blocking and Dwayne Jarrett looked more fluid in his receptions. The Big Three of McFoy, Jarrett, and Steve Smith averaged 14.6 per grab, a very good sign of growth.

The Obvious – Place kicker Ryan Killeen was 1-of-2 on field goal attempts on Saturday,

The Not So Obvious – On a day when other kicker across the country were missing on potentially game-winning kicks, Killeen still kicked an important 23-yarder to get the Trojans on the board in the first quarter. So much of a kicker's reputation is made during crunch time and Killeen's miss in the fourth quarterback could have sent the senior into prolonged slump had the Trojans not rallied for the win.

The Obvious – The Trojans got a mixed bag of results with the return of defensive back Kevin Arbet, who had a nice 66-yard interception of Trent Edwards, the first interception of the season. Later Arbet delivered a crushing hit on 6-4 Cardinal receiver Justin McCullum at the Trojans goal line along with strong safety Scott Ware to force an incomplete Cardinal pass for a touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – However, Arbet was faked out by the Cardinal field goal attempt when he turned his back to the play allowing Stanford's Kyle Matter, the former Newhall Hart quarterback, to circle the right side for the unforgiving score to make it a 21-10 Stanford lead. He also gave up a 3-yard touchdown reception to 6-6 receiver Evan Moore. On covering the 6-6 Moore, afterwards Arbet said, " You have to play physical and not go for the ball."

The Obvious – Trojans' wide receiver Steve Smith had eight receptions for 153 yards and one 2-yard TD reception, and his 51-yard Keary Colbert-style reception the third quarter helped set up a Matt Leinart 1-yard sneak to trim the Stanford lead to 28-24..

The Not So Obvious – Smith was a savior in the second half for the Trojans . After the game, the former Taft High star said, " We had to face up to adversity. We seemed to come out lax." On his big receiving performance against the Stanford defense, Smith said, " We (Trojan receivers) face the best defense (USC) in the country every day."

The Obvious – Rookie receiver Dwayne Jarrett had a number of nice catches with five receptions for 54 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Despite some drops, Jarrett appears to be more relaxed and Trojan fans are awaiting his running ability after he makes the catch. It is only a matter of time. Somewhat surprisingly, Jarrett has been one of the most challenged of the Trojans freshmen in adjusting to the big stadium college atmosphere.

The Obvious – At the end of the first half of each game, Trojan coach Pete Carroll usually has some words with 1540 sideline reporter John Jackson to tell the fans of the coach's perceptions and potential adjustments.

The Not So Obvious – Apparently so angry at his team's play fueled by J.R. Lemmon's 82-yards scoring sprint up the middle as time expired in the first half, Carroll uncharacteristically raced past Jackson and headed to the locker room. However, returning to the field, Carroll did impart his opinions to Jackson, who passed them on to the Trojan network listeners.

The Obvious – The Trojans flagship station, 1540, promised to increase their signal and to make sure that other outlets would be available to carry the Trojans' games.

The Not So Obvious – There are listeners throughout SoCal who are saying they can't get 1540 after dusk or the affiliate stations by moon. Folks in Trojan Country, Orange County, are going Notre Dame crazy because all they get is international music or foreign language commentary. Number one teams should have number one signals.

The Obvious – The Trojans scored 31 points on Saturday despite missing on scoring opportunities in the Red Zone.

The Not So Obvious – Despite the offensive miscues, Norm Chow's offense still came close to their 38.3 seasonal average.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense gave up 28 point to the Cardinal.

The Not So Obvious – While the Trojans' defense far exceeded their defensive scoring allowance average of 6.5 points per game, Pete Carroll's boys held the Stanford offense to 28 points, 12 points under their seasonal average of 40.0.

The Obvious – The Trojans had 407 yards in total offense while the Trojans' defense gave up 327 total yards.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans had 73 less total offensive yards on Saturday than their seasonal average of 480, and the Trojans' defense gave up 24 more yards than their 222.5 seasonal average.

The Obvious – The key to the game, of course, was Reggie Bush's breathtaking 33-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to set up the winning two-yard touchdown run by LenDale White with 6:15 remaining.

The Not So Obvious – Some of the moves by Bush were reminiscent of 1972 Nebraska Cornhusker Heisman winner Johnny Rogers, whose son, Terry, like Reggie, is a product of the San Diego area.

The Obvious – In the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, the Trojans defense was playing at national championship intensity holding the Cardinal to 36 total yards.

The Not So Obvious – No hit on a Stanford Cardinal was more demonstrative of the second half intensity than that of Trojans' reserve linebacker Thomas Williams, who put the wood to the Cardinal's T.J. Rushing on the ensuing kickoff following LenDale White's 2-yard game-winning touchdown.

The Obvious – Before the game, Trojan pre-game radio host Harvey Hyde thought the Trojans should throw more screen passes to Reggie Bush to slow up the rush on Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – It appeared the Trojans tried three screen passes to Bush on Saturday, with one nicely set up until the ball was deflected by a Stanford lineman.

The Obvious – The game was telecast on TBS.

The Not So Obvious – One of the more clever spots during timeouts was the one promoting USC, the university. The clever advertisement showed USC building with famous alumni on the walls like John Wayne, George Lucas, and Cheryl Miller. It was very well done.

The Obvious – Freshman tight end Fred Davis, who got in on the action and had a nice 15-yard pass reception, provided a glimpse of the future.

The Not So Obvious – Unfortunately, Davis also fumbled on the play, but the Trojan coaches talked to him on the sidelines and appeared they were using kid gloves to ease the pain to get their point across that "it's all about the ball."

The Obvious – It figured that Stanford senior tight end Alex Smith, whose father Edwin played for the Denver Broncos, would have a big day (5 receptions for 45 yards) against the Trojans, and he helped block for Kyle Matter on the fake field goal touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans unleashed their full compliment of tight ends, even using freshman tight end Dale Thompson, the pride of Corona, to go in motion on LenDale White's winning score. Did we mention that Alex Holmes played a fine game including that lumbering 25-yard reception that still showed that Big Alex is perhaps still feeling the effects of that calf injury.

The Obvious – One of the bit players for the Cardinal on Saturday was fullback David Marrero from Parkland, Florida.

The Not So Obvious – Marrero (5-10, 190) had three catches for 23 yards and a 12-yard punt return. Marrero originally committed out of high school to Notre Dame, but turned down Coach Ty Willingham, who left Stanford coach for South Bend.

The Obvious – Prior to Saturday's game, Stanford was averaging 36,625 for its first two home games.

The Not So Obvious – With a turnout of 55,750,the Trojans helped increase the Stanford athletic budget with an increase of 20,125 fans. Hmmmm, now how much a head multiplied by how much a ticket???????????

The Obvious – So, the Trojans complete the month of September with a 4-0 mark having played their first three of four games on the road, an especially fine mark considering the pressure that comes with the No.1-ranking.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan coach Pete Carroll's October record as USC coach is 9-3, and history tells Trojan opponents that time is running out if they want to get the Trojans before Carroll's dominating month of November arrives. With a November record of 10-0, the sands of the Pac-10 hourglass are dwindling for USC opponents.

The Obvious – The Trojans draw a welcomed bye this week before returning to the Coliseum for a three-game home stand beginning October 9th against No. 9 California, most likely at 12:30 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – Pete Carroll loves to go into a bye week with a win and did he ever have to earn his love. However, for Trojan fans, it gives them another two weeks to enjoy being No. 1 before the calm of the bye turns into a Pac-10 storm. Appreciate it, Trojans fans, for it doesn't get easier when you're numero uno and your presence will be needed in the Coliseum with arriving hurricanes named Bears, Sun Devils, and Huskies.

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