The Obvious - With the successful conclusion of the Rising Seniors Camp, the posting of the 2005 Trojan football media guide on line, and a surprise in Trojan merchandise relocation, Coach Pete Carroll¹s coaching staff has departed to all points everywhere in a richly deserved vacation respite, but news that co-starting sophomore offensive left guard Jeff Byers may be lost for the season to a second hip surgery tempered what had been an upbeat final week in June.
The Not So Obvious - Aside from the Byers July 4th bummer came news that tight end Dominique Byrd and fullback Brandon Hancock would need additional arthroscopic knee surgery, although both are expected back in time for camp in August. So Pete Carroll¹s Trojans will go into the 2005 season with some of the same challenges that were presented during the 2004 season with health issues and personnel decisions coming forefront. Most Trojan followers would agree that the only time the Cardinal and Gold was truly healthy and intact last season was in the Orange Bowl, and you know how that baby ended up.
The Obvious - Sophomores Jeff Byers and Drew Radovich were listed as co-starters heading into August and their competition for the left guard spot figured to be as intense as any position.
The Not So Obvious - With Byers, the 2003 Gatorade National Player of the Year, now expected to redshirt, opportunity is knocking for left guard Drew Radovich (6-5, 290), who earned a spring co-starting spot with Byers, when Big Jeff was unable to participate. Showing a renewed enthusiasm back in March and April and getting a sniff at a starting opportunity, Radovich, another former Parade All-American, worked with the first unit and gave a strong account of himself. So after showing glimpses of the talent he brought to Troy after a brilliant prep career at Mission Viejo, Radovich is positioned to finally crack the opening lineup in Honolulu come September.
The Obvious - It appears that former starting right tackle Taitusi Lutui, who relinquished his starting position not surprisingly with the impressive return of junior Winston Justice, may again be an option for reconsideration for the left guard position along with Radovich.
The Not So Obvious - It¹s ironic that before spring ball, there was much speculation that senior Lutui would be moved to left guard to likely start next to talented sophomore left tackle Sam Baker. A name to still keep an eye on with the recent developments is redshirt freshman guard Chilo Rachal (6-6, 310), who oozes with potential.
The Obvious - As ballyhooed by the Trojans¹ official athletic website,"The 2005 USC football media guide, with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and All-American tailback Reggie Bush displaying hardware from Troy¹s 2004 national championship season on the cover, is now posted online."
The Not So Obvious - This year¹s football media guide may have less pages (208) due to a NCAA mandate, but it¹s being presented in a hard cover package, a first, along with "special metallic paper" on the cover. While most non-fiction books come out in hard cover, sports media guides generally do not. However, the Duke basketball program has used a hard cover book and it has been well received. The hard cover presentation takes some of the sting out of the reduction of pages.
The Obvious - Inside the 2005 media guide, there is even a disclaimer and explanation of why this year¹s publication has been reduced from last year¹s 408 pages.
The Not So Obvious - Among the omits to help reduce the size of the guide, the edit scalpel deleted the popular 2005 opponents information page as well as the names of the Trojan beat writers and electronic media personalities. Also lying on the cutting floor is the always popular distinguished alumni page, which included the likes of actor John Wayne and astronaut Neil Armstrong. Something about not seeing that yearly photo of "The Duke" in his three-point stance kind of tugs at the sentimental strings.
The Obvious - While the 2005 media is available for online viewing, the actual purchase for fans won¹t be available until early August and will be priced at $15 at Tim Tessalone¹s SID office or $20 by mail.
The Not So Obvious - We are also informed that phone and credit card purchases of the Trojan football media guide are not available. And, no , we don¹t want to hear from Notre Dame fans that their media guide can be ordered through their catalogue department with credit cards accepted. Or do we?
The Obvious - Kudos to SID Tim Tessalone and staff for an outstanding 2005 media guide cover design that brings together the Triple Crown of Trojan football, quarterback Matt Leinart with Heisman Trophy in hand, tailback Reggie Bush coveting the glitter of the BCS National Championship football, and an overhead look at a packed Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious - And,yes, Tessalone managed to get in that little "Back-To-Back" phrase on the front cover as well. Not to worry.
The Obvious - The Trojan football media guide includes future schedules from 2006-09.
The Not So Obvious - One interesting aspect of the future schedules is that it includes the new nine-game Pac-10 Conference schedule.
The Obvious - As has been past practice, the Trojan media guide does not include mug shots of another heralded incoming freshmen class.
The Not So Obvious - However, for early enrolled freshmen like running back Michael Coleman, safety Kevin Ellison, and "returning" freshman tackle Thomas Herring, they did get their friendly faces in the media guide since they participated in spring ball.
The Obvious - The Trojans Rising Seniors Camp brought together a number of prep football celebrities as Pete Carroll¹s staff got to evaluate quality players from their recruiting list.
The Not So Obvious - Two players that stuck out to the O/NSO were Las Vegas Bishop Gorman running back Demarco Murray and Oakland McClymond¹s linebacker Josh Tatum. Murray (6-0, 180), who reminds us of a slimmer version of former UCLA back DeShaun Foster, had an explosive burst on one sweep around left end, showing a marvelous stride and displaying near flawless hands coming out of the backfield. Inside LB Tatum (6-0, 220) can really move and we¹re talkin¹ powerfully, powerfully built. And, yes, we agree with Garry P. that this kid does remind of former gutsy Trojan linebacker Michael Pollard before the injuries.
The Obvious - During the Monday morning camp session, coach Pete Carroll continued to display his throwing prowess by tossing some deep routes to some of the excited campers.
The Not So Obvious - In a certainly "unplanned" pitch and catch, Carroll managed to connect with high profile Trojan recruit David Ausberry (6-5, 215) from Lemoore. Right, unplanned like the later in the day pitch and catch with linebacker Josh Tatum. Perhaps the most entertaining of the throwing sessions was when Carroll, Trojan offensive coordinator and former Fresno QB Lane Kiffin, and assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian rotated tosses to the camp receivers. For our money, we liked Sarkisian, a former BYU quarterback and Norm Chow protege, who threw a professional looking deep ball.
The Obvious - Coach Pete Carroll always tells his returning players that the incoming freshmen are coming in to challenge for their jobs and positions on the depth charts.
The Not So Obvious - So it was no surprise that returning Trojan offensive linemen Matt Spanos and Chilo Rachal dropped by to check out offensive line coach Pat Ruel¹s potential Trojans. One player that observers kept an eye on was Trojan verbal Zack Heberer of San Pedro High. Showing that he is now considered one of the Trojan family and upon jumping the snap count a second time during competition, Ruel screamed, " If you jump the count one more time Heberer, I am going to %^*&$@*." For the record, Big Zack did not jump the snap count again.
The Obvious - One always sees and learns something at these camps, and sometimes things that don¹t always seem like a big deal aren¹tŠ unless you¹re one of the campers.
The Not So Obvious - South Hills punter and talented athlete Kyle Petersen was part of his team¹s contingent, which included UCLA linebacker verbal Tobi Umodu, and a discussion was debated among patrons over the proper spelling of Petersen¹s last name. Some thought Kyle¹s last name ended in "s-o-n." However, the job of a scribe is never done as our Garry P. did some deep investigative reporting and got the correct last name spelling directly from Kyle. Move over Woodward and Bernstein.
The Obvious - Needless to say, a vast majority of the campers will never wear a Trojan uniform, but the experience of a highly organized camp will be memories of for a lifetime.
The Not So Obvious - For talented and All-CIF quarterback Kevin Mort (5-10, 160) of South Hills, it was a chance to show the Trojan coaching staff that he should be somebody to consider as a walk-on. Although currently being recruited by former Trojan linebacker coach Nick Holt at Idaho, Mort, whose South Hills club lost last season in the CIF Division 7 championship to Covina, is highly intrigued about coming to USC with or without a "ride."
The Obvious - As it was reported by WeAreSC earlier, the campers ended their Monday activities by doing a game-day routine by bussing to the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious - You talk about the icing on the cake for the first day, imagine being a kid and boarding one of those fancy Main Street Tour busses with air conditioning and comfy seats. The array of busses pulled up to the peristyle, and Pete Carroll gathered the group and gave a brief history of the Coliseum. They entered through the peristyle gates as the public address system blared "Fanfare" by the Trojan Marching Band. Carroll then stopped the campers under the peristyle arches to take it all in. After a brief meeting at the 50, everybody ran up the tunnel like a normal game after pregame warmups.
The Obvious - There is nothing more exciting before a regular season Trojan game than when the team emerges from the Coliseum tunnel to take the field before the roar of the crowd.
The Not So Obvious - After receiving some private moments in the Trojan locker room with Pete Carroll and staff, the campers returned down the tunnel for "kickoff," slowly chanting "War time, War time" like the defending national champions.
The Obvious - You can always tell when an event is taking place in the Coliseum by the lighting of the torch.
The Not So Obvious - Upon the campers returning to the field, the Coliseum torch and lights were turned on. Half the campers then played "Trojan Ball" (call it Pete Carroll rugby) in three separate games across the fabled turf while the rest of the campers went up into the press box and watched various USC highlight videos on the Coliseum video board. Talk about adding a real life Coliseum experience, no matter how cold it got through the evening, the temperature indicator, like in the fall, remained at 70 degrees as the evening grew cooler. Now that is realism at its best.
The Obvious - During these types of camps, you can always call on a few surprise visitors along the sidelines during the two-day affair.
The Not So Obvious - One visitor that was overlooked was former Trojan coach Dick Coury, who viewed some of the action from the sidelines at Howard Jones Field. Rumor was that Coury was in attendance to watch a relative perform. The former Trojan coach (1966-68) is best known for his days in the NFL and the Rams, but few remember that he also was once the head coach of powerful Santa Ana Mater Dei.
The Obvious - Bishop Gorman tailback Demarco Murray attended only the Monday session of the camp.
The Not So Obvious - Well, sometimes it¹s better to have a quality player for one day than none at all. It was good to see Venice safety Jonas Mouton appear on Tuesday along with the presence of future prep star quarterback Jimmy Clausen, a junior at Oaks Christian. Just having Clausen on campus and viewing the proceeding is laying the groundwork.
The Obvious - As a matter of routine and to kill some time during a practice or camp session, the Trojan bookstore always present a nice break.
The Not So Obvious - Well, the big surprise is that the Trojan gift and wearing apparel section has now been moved to the entire second floor while the original "basement" or lower level is now being converted into a computer area.
The Obvious - One of the hot items being sold in the new second level Trojan gift and apparel section is those popular No. 11 jerseys, which is quarterback Matt Leinart¹s number.
The Not So Obvious - Cost of a child¹s version of the jersey is a smooth $50. As one buyer commented, " A child¹s size, but an adult¹s price."
The Obvious - There is nothing like a Trojan home game and the huge number of RV¹s that help provide such a wonderful tailgate experience.
The Not So Obvious - While most fans can¹t afford one of those big "hotel on wheels," the Trojan bookstore has an alternative. For $19.95 you can purchase a toy Winnebago, complete with cardinal and gold colors along with the Trojan logo.
The Obvious - According to Thursday¹s Las Vegas Review-Journal, quarterback Rocky Hinds has been released by the Trojans to transfer to UNLV.
The Not So Obvious - Since UNLV coach Mike Sanford is a former USC coach and player, the concept of "Trojan family" has apparently been validated. Meanwhile, Eric Wright, whose next destination has not been announced, was spotted in Heritage Hall early in the week wearing a headset and singing aloud to some rap music.
The Obvious - During an afternoon break, campers were invited to watch the "real" Trojans during the 7-on-7 drills without any Trojan coaching supervision.
The Not So Obvious - It was a large contingent of Trojan quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, linebackers, and defensive backs that put on quite a display for the wide-eyed campers. Just seeing quarterbacks Matt Leinart, John David Booty, and freshman Mark Sanchez throw was a reminder just how talented and deep the Trojan quarterback shelf is these days.
The Obvious - Certainly one of the most eyed receivers of the "voluntary" workout was freshman stud Patrick Turner (6-5, 220) from Nashville, Tennessee.
The Not So Obvious - So how good is Turner? Aside from his size, it¹s Turner¹s "soft" hands that seemed glued to every ball in sight. When he finally dropped a pass, one Trojan veteran player screamed " He¹s human!" It was also a reminder how bright the Trojans¹ future is just watching Turner receive passes from fellow frosh QB Mark Sanchez, who looked as polished as any freshman could possibly be.
The Obvious - A number of Trojan veterans spent time during the afternoon session helping the incoming frosh learn their new playbook.
The Not So Obvious - The DB Ting brothers and Terrell Thomas were helping with secondary instruction to former Charter Oak safety Will Harris, who was sporting a "Dennis Rodman" color summer hair style after playing in last weekend¹s Shrine Game. Hard-hitting sophomore linebacker Thomas Williams was directing the young linebacker pups with their assignments, and senior linebacker Collin Ashton affectionately teased fellow Mission Viejo alum and freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez by screaming, " You don¹t know when the safety is coming, Sanchez!"
The Obvious - The more you watched senior All-America quarterback Matt Leinart throw and direct the afternoon workouts, the more confident you get that this Trojan team is going to be very hard to beat come fall.
The Not So Obvious - Leinart¹s passes were a Rembrandt to watch and one got the impression they were watching some old Raider film with Kenny Stabler at quarterback. No matter what the skeleton defense tried to do, Leinart had the answer for every look. In fact, one gets the feeling watching Lefty that he is never going to miss the mark. Oh, by the way, Booty and Sanchez don¹t look like chopped liver either.
The Obvious - The Trojans are excited by their three highly-touted freshmen linebackers Rey Maualuga, Luther Brown, and Brian Cushing.
The Not So Obvious - It was hard to recognize Maualuga this week since he had dropped so much weight from the U.S. Army game way back when. With a buzz cut, Rey-Rey looked unrecognizable until you got closer to him and realized just what a specimen he is at 238 pounds and a true 6-feet-2. With the biceps of a college senior, the former Eureka High star is quite a sight in the middle.
The Obvious - Pete Carroll is on record as saying he has high expectations for Maui linebacker Kaluka Maiava (6-0, 220).
The Not So Obvious - Some see this kid as another Troy Polamalu. Well, one thing about Kaluka, with those Tinseltown looks, attracting Trojan coeds won¹t be as big a problem as tackling LenDale White. The kid, who looks as though he could be as comfortable with a surfboard as a whacking a ball carrier, showed good agility.
The Obvious - New Jersey linebacker Brian Cushing displayed a "California" smile and a "New Jersey" work ethic during the 7-on-7 drills, looking very much at ease in his new SoCal environment.
The Not So Obvious - Cushing looked very comfortable as well receiving footballs from the trio of Trojan All-Universe quarterbacks. Although he is slated for outside linebacker, he certainly displayed the skills to be an accomplished tight end.
The Obvious - So now Heritage Hall goes "dark" while a number of players stay in town for afternoon workouts and the coaching staff turns to the family nest egg.
The Not So Obvious - For Trojan fans, it¹s now time to finish reading those college football magazines and search for alternative USC football activities. One such "activity" occurs next week as the 46th Orange County All-Star Football Classic is played on Friday night, July 8, at Orange Coast College ( 7:10 p.m). It¹ll give Trojan fans a chance to eyeball potential starting kicker Troy Van Blarcom of Orange Lutheran, who will showcase his leg as part of the North squad. At this time of year, viewing a future cardinal and gold kicker is a lot better than sitting home and watching Dancing with the Stars.