O/NSO - Washington State review

The unranked Washington State Cougars may have provided the snow, hail, and sleet, but the top-ranked USC Trojans (8-0, 5-0) provided the avalanche as coach Pete Carroll's boys weathered another week as the nation's premier team by sloshing to a 42-12 Pac-10 win in Pullman, Washington.

The Obvious – The unranked Washington State Cougars may have provided the snow, hail, and sleet, but the top-ranked USC Trojans (8-0, 5-0) provided the avalanche as coach Pete Carroll's boys weathered another week as the nation's premier team by sloshing to a 42-12 Pac-10 win in Pullman, Washington.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans increased their first-place votes in both national polls released on Sunday, and don't ask the 35,117 Cougar fans what they thought of the game. With a Trojan 35-0 halftime lead, many patrons headed for the exits to perhaps catch the nearby Drew Carey concert. Many of the Cougars' faithful were apparently convinced they and Washington State (3-5, 1-4) had seen the number one team in the country and further evidence was unwarranted.

The Obvious – Thanks to the Florida upsets and the Trojans' Northwest victory, the Cardinal and Gold accumulated three more first-place votes this week in the USA Today/ESPN poll and six additional first-place ballots in the AP poll.

The Not So Obvious – One of the more fascinating aspects of being No. 1 in the country is the how the opposition views the Trojans after they have played them. Cougar quarterback Alex Brink said, " They (USC) are everything people said they were. They were fast on defense, they were explosive on offense, and getting in that hole early was tough for us."

The Obvious – It figured that Washington State coach Bill Doba would pull out some high school trick plays to keep the Trojans honest, but an exploding cigar, opening on-side kickoff that went out of bounds left Cougar fans literally dumbfounded.

The Not So Obvious – It figured, indeed, that Doba, who played his prep ball at New Carlisle High in Indiana, would pull out the high school plays considering he was once the head coach at Indiana gridiron power Mishawaka High, where he compiled an impressive 46-15-1 record. However, was the investment worth the return with a true freshman kicker? The Trojans are sure glad Doba thought so.

The Obvious – The Trojans coaching staff must have known something was up to start the game when the Cougars' reserve, true freshman kicker Loren Langley was adjusting the ball on the tee instead of junior starter Graham Siderius.

The Not So Obvious – The irony to the whole Cougars' disaster is that the Trojans seem to usually dominate the coin toss and generally elect to kickoff to place their vaunted defense on the field immediately. As fate would have it, WSU won the toss and elected to put their defense on the field first against Matt Leinart and company.

The Obvious – It may have gone unnoticed by some, but the second play of the game by the Trojans in their opening series was a seven-yard pass to junior tight end Dominique Byrd, who has become a major threat since his recent return from injury.

The Not So Obvious – And you thought that offensive coordinator Norm Chow moves tailback Reggie Bush all over the field? On the play, Dom went in motion off the right wing, blocked down on the opposite Cougar defensive end, and then slipped out into the flat, wide open for the reception.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Reggie Bush went around the right side early in the first quarter for a 19-yard scoring run and finished with 151 all-purpose yards for the afternoon.

The Not So Obvious – Speed, speed, and more speed. If not for his incomparable happy feet, Bush would have been able to turn the corner. However, let's give credit to those that allowed Roadrunner Reggie to hit paydirt. Right tackle Taitusi Lutui completely attached himself to active Cougar defense end Adam Braidwood, wide receiver Chris McFoy occupied Cougar defensive back Karl Paymah, and tight end Alex Holmes sealed off linebacker Pat Bennett. A blocking job well done and accentuated by Bush's speed.

The Obvious – The Trojans practiced during the week on their FieldTurf, the latest rage in artificial playing surface.

The Not So Obvious – Martin Stadium FieldTurf played a key role on the Trojans' kickoff that followed Reggie Bush's first score, a Trojan kickoff recovery by Desmond Reed. Ryan Killeen's kickoff sailed over the second wave of the Cougars' wedge in front of WSU returners Tyron Brackenridge and Kevin McCall, and once the ball hit the FieldTurf, it landed like a golf ball" onmouseover="window.status='golf ball'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">golf ball'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;" href="http://mb10.theinsiders.com/golf ball">golf ball landing in a sand trap and simply died on the surface, allowing Reed to get to the ball.

The Obvious – The leading rusher for the Cougars was punter Kyle Basler, thanks to his 17-yard fake punt.

The Not So Obvious – With weak Cougar offensive guards, the Trojans' front four was men against boys. Trojan coach Pete Carroll continues to say that this is his best Trojan defense in his four years. Of his current front four, Carroll said, "We've been getting great play from the line all year. That's what they do; they bring it!"

The Obvious – The Trojans had eleven members of their famed Spirit of Troy band in attendance on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – There may have been only eleven brave cardinal and gold souls playing, but they sure got great air play and notice from the ABC crew and the Trojans' broadcasting team. Heck, Fight-On and Conquest always sound good when Troy is winning. Never has so few been noticed by so many.

The Obvious – ABC will televise the BCS championship game, which this season is in the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 4, 2005.

The Not So Obvious – The broadcast trio for that game will be Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, and Lynn Swann, the crew that worked Saturday's game in Pullman. Nessler explained that since they were calling the BCS title game, it was time to see the Trojans perform in person with the anticipation of a USC visit to Miami. Normally, of course, we would have Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts, and Todd Harris providing the commentary.

The Obvious – There was plenty of sleet coming down in Martin Stadium during the first quarter.

The Not So Obvious – No problem for the Trojans. With a first quarter Trojan touchdown score by tailback LenDale White and receptions by receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Dominique Byrd, Norm Chow used his Colorado, New Jersey, and Minnesota connections, all of whom have played their prep careers in snow, sleet, and rain to produce a Trojans' All-Weather team.

The Obvious – Tailback LenDale White scored on a 1-yard run by LenDale White in the first quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Norm Chow used a three tight end formation and sent White left over true freshman tight end Dale Thompson, who sealed off the Cougars' right defensive flank. Assisted by a great lead block by Lee Webb and a good block by left tackle Sam Baker, White was able to crack the Cougar defensive line.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll has plenty of experience coaching in difficult weather, having served NFL tours of duty in new york" onmouseover="window.status='New York'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">New York'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;" href="http://mb10.theinsiders.com/new york">New York and New England.

The Not So Obvious – Showing discretion the better part valor, Pete Carroll decided to invoke the hood on his Trojan parka a number of times early in the game.

The Obvious – The Trojans' front four of Frostee Rucker, Shaun Cody, Mike Patterson, and Lawarence Jackson were their usual dominating self and made life miserable for Cougar quarterback Alex Brink (17-40, 165 yds, 1 TD).

The Not So Obvious – Let's not forget Manual Wright, who could turn out to be the Trojans' version of that celebrated all-star Dodgers reliever.

The Obvious – If you can read lips, it was not a pretty sight when WSU coach Bill Doba confronted punter Kyle Basler, who was told not to kick it to Reggie Bush, and was burned on Reggie's 57-yard scoring return.

The Not So Obvious – Bush seems to be at this best when he is surrounded by the enemy and reverses his field. On the punt return, Reggie got a good block from freshman Keith Rivers initially, despite Rivers being held by Brian Hall, and later got the key block from Dallas Sartz, who allowed Bush to find the crack after he had reversed his field.

The Obvious – Had WSU punter Basler played for Ohio State legend Woody Hayes, he might have found Woody's fist somewhere near his mouth.

The Not So Obvious – You would have thought that Doba got his Ball State degree in educational psychology the way the coach put his arm around his punter later, but Doba got his bachelor's degree in physical education and a minor in math and later a master's degree in the same subject matter. Go figure.

The Obvious – This was the first time that ABC analyst Bob Griese, the former Purdue All-America quarterback and Miami Dolphin legend, had seen Reggie Bush in all his explosive splendor.

The Not So Obvious – Of Bush, Griese said, "He's got the speed of a sprinter, the hands of a receiver, but he's a running back by trade."

The Obvious – The Trojans played against one of the premier linebackers in the country in the Cougars' Will Derting.

The Not So Obvious – Although the Trojans rushed for 186 yards, Derting still finished with a career-high 14 tackles.

The Obvious – The Trojans are the least flagged team in the Pac-10, and Pete Carroll's coaching staff takes great pride in the disciplined area of a football team.

The Not So Obvious – You can imagine the eyes of Trojan defensive line coach Ed Orgeron when defensive tackle Manuel Wright was flagged for lining up offside.

The Obvious – Coach Pete Carroll's defense is the marvel of the college football world, especially with its various blitz packages and schemes.

The Not So Obvious – Normally, most fans are familiar with "looping" the defensive tackles. On one particular play, Carroll had linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed, who led the Trojans with six tackles, "loop" or "cross", which led to WSU running back Jerome Harrison running into a linebackers' brick wall.

The Obvious – Despite the Cougars' difficult time on offense, one had to be impressed with former Trojan recruit Michael Bumpus, who had a nice 24-yard scoring catch and 68 yards in six receptions.

The Not So Obvious – Bumpus, the former Culver City star, did, however, cough up the ball once when he was stripped by the Trojans' Dallas Sartz, who played a wonderful overall game and finished with five tackles.

The Obvious – Trojan tight end Alex Holmes was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty when Alex thought that that Cougars' free safety Hamza Abdullah had hit tight end Dominique Byrd with a little too much authority.

The Not So Obvious – The ABC broadcast crew thought it was a dumb play on the part of Holmes, but considering the Trojans had the game in hand, the feeling here was that Alex was protecting his own. Think of it as a pitcher who retaliates against the opposing team after one of his mates has been plucked. Of course later in the game, running back Jerome Harrison administered a late whack on Trojan's redshirt freshman corner Eric Wright to even the score.

The Obvious – An hour before the game, it was as though WSU was actually controlling the volatile weather, and the Martin Stadium fans smelled upset and even applauded Mother Nature.

The Not So Obvious – By the second quarter, the Pullman weather looked like it was being orchestrated by Tommy Trojan, as aside from the cold, it turned into a perfect setting. As they say in Pullman, weather is predicted by the hour.

The Obvious – The Trojans lost offensive guard John Drake early in the contest, and Big Bad John was replaced by freshman Jeff Byers, who used his Colorado knowledge of playing in a cold climate to his advantage.

The Not So Obvious – As in recent games, Byers was quite effective and on one play, he took Cougar senior linebacker Pat Bennett (6-0, 224) backwards, pancaked him, and for good measure, shoved him back on to the turf.

The Obvious – Quarterback Matt Leinart had another All-American day as he passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – Despite receiving some big hits by the Cougars, one of Leinart's best plays was using a hard count to draw the Cougars offside on a third-and two, thus giving the Trojans a first down. Changing his cadence call is one more example of Lefty being the complete quarterback.

The Obvious – Dwayne Jarrett had another fine outing with four catches for 64 yards and one pretty 42-yard scoring toss from Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – Although he is his own style, Dwayne looked a little like Mike Williams on the crossing pattern, especially when he extended to get the ball and put a man's man straight-arm on safety Jeremy Bohannon to get into the end zone. One big key to getting Jarrett open was a fine play-action fake to LenDale White that got the entire Cougars' defense going in the wrong direction.

The Obvious – The Cougars running back Jerome Harrison had a vicious block on a blitzing Matt Grootegoed, sending the former Mater Dei star into a cartwheel.

The Not So Obvious – Turnabout is fair play as on the next play, the Trojans returned the favor to Harrison when linebacker Lofa Tatupu spun Harrison around on a running play and safety Darnell Bing applied the big finish. An eye for an eye.

The Obvious – The Trojans' Shaun Cody had two straight deflected pass causing quarterback Alex Brink to shake his head, and later fellow defensive tackle Mike Patterson recovered a fumble caused by Cody.

The Not So Obvious – Cody and Patterson are part of a front four that The Times referred to this past week as "The Rushin' Front." There will be no argument from Cougar quarterback Brink, who was sacked five times.

The Obvious – Tailback Lendale White had a crushing 7-yard scoring run in the second quarter.

The Not So Obvious – White's blast off right tackle was aided by tackle Kyle Williams sealing off the inside, a quick block by guard Fred Matua, and basketball screen job by receiver Dwayne Jarrett. The big block was by fullback Lee Webb on linebacker Steve Dildine. Of course, it didn't hurt that White also broke the tackle attempt of linebacker Brian Hall.

The Obvious – One of the best runs of the day was by Reggie Bush, a 30-yard excursion, which showcased all the speed, moves, and guile that has captured a nation.

The Not So Obvious – Unfortunately, the dazzling run was nullified by a holding call on Trojan tackle Kyle Williams.

The Obvious – The Trojans have been burned at times during fake field goals and punts.

The Not So Obvious – The Cougars figured they had nothing to lose and executed a fake punt by Kyle Basler, which should make the Trojans' special teams film session a vocal hoot and a holler.

The Obvious – One of the hardest hitters on the Trojan defense is reserve linebacker Thomas Williams, the former Vacaville star.

The Not So Obvious – Williams got a sack of Cougar quarterback Brink after WSU had recovered a Trojan fumble.

The Obvious – Matt Cassel had a nightmare of an outing with two poor center exchanges and an interception by Cougar linebacker Pat Bennett that went 28 yards for a touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – For those that saw the Trojans' summer practice, there has been an issue with the center exchanges. Cassel had center exchange problems on Saturday with both starter Ryan Kalil and reserve Jeff Byers.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Hershel Dennis had 11 carries for 55 yards.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans tailback ran with real authority and anger. After the game, Norm Chow said he has had a couple of meetings with Dennis discussing Hershel's playing situation.

The Obvious – At the end of the first half, Pete Carroll told ABC's Lynn Swann it was his intention to play everybody in the second half, knowing the outcome was no longer in doubt.

The Not So Obvious – What is in doubt is the second part of the two-week road trip that next Saturday takes the Trojans to Corvallis and Mike Riley's Oregon State passing extravaganza. The Beavers figure to present the Trojans a much better challenge than the beleaguered Cougars. One thing is for sure, the Trojans proved that cold weather will not stop their drive to warm Miami, a drive that takes us into November, Pete Carroll's favorite month.

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