The Not So Obvious – If ever there was a unique combination of high level enthusiasm and coronation for the upcoming Trojan football season, these two activities should stir the juices of even the most stoic of Trojan fans. If you aren't going to make it to Hawaii for the Sept. 3 kick-off against the Rainbow Warriors, here's your chance to lessen the suffering if your patience won't allow you to maintain until the Sept. 17 season home opener against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Obvious – The Trojans got ready for this weekend's Mardi Gras of "fight on" excitement by rehearsing last night in a very closed practice under the lights in the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – While we'll let our Garry P. give the intricate details on last night's practice, which was really a pads and shorts "scrimmage," we can say that sitting in a very empty Coliseum with simulated crowd noise was both entertaining, exciting, and relaxing. Props to the football staff member in charge of the simulated crowd noise. When the Trojan came up to the line of scrimmage or a big play was unfolding, the volume went way up. It should also be noted that before and during warm-ups, the Trojans listened to the latest rap music while a smiling Pete Carroll went around to different members of his team with a sense of excitement in the air. The O/NSO found it hard sitting in the stands to believe that Penn State's Joe Paterno, Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, or South Carolina's Steve Spurrier would allow such a "Hollywood" setting for stretching and pre-practice drills.
The Obvious – A closed practice like the one last night in the Coliseum is always interesting, especially when Pete Carroll is getting his team ready for an opponent.
The Not So Obvious -Watching the Trojans work against the you-know-who offensive and defensive formations and plays, it did little to stop the offensive effectiveness of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett, and Dominique Byrd. While we aren't about to give away any offensive secrets, let's just say Trojan fans can expect some additions to an already very exciting offense. Sorry, can't give a hint. One thing we can say, however, it certainly appears the Trojans' helmet color sure looks a lot darker than last year's metallic red. The color of the helmet looks like the ones used in the 60s, which would certainly complete the entire retro uniform look of the Trojans. Perhaps it was the Coliseum lighting, but veteran Trojan observers also seemed to have the same observation as the O/NSO.
The Obvious - By having his team practice last night at the Coliseum, Pete Carroll brought his team another "new" look to avoid the daily toil of practice.
The Not So Obvious – While walking back through the Coliseum tunnel after Thursday night's practice, Trojan senior defensive back John Walker was asked by the O/NSO how he enjoyed his return to the Coliseum. Walker, who is having a fine camp, said, " It's a buzz, it's a buzz!" Asked about the team's expected reaction to the upcoming Trojan Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage on Sunday, Walker replied, " We will definitely be up. I can't wait to hear ‘We Are……SC.'"
The Obvious – There are some who believe that Matt Leinart's perceived weakness is his mobility.
The Not So Obvious – Earlier during the drive to the Coliseum for last night's practice, 1540 drive-time sports host Dave Smith was talking to a Phoenix sports station personality with a pro football background about Arizona State and how the Sun Devils defense could stop the explosive Trojan offense. The Phoenix host responded by saying that Matt Leinart is not a very mobile quarterback, and this could work to the Sun Devils' advantage. Well, if they saw what the O/NSO saw on Thursday night, Leinart's mobility is probably the most misguided evaluation of Lefty. Let's just say you haven't seen the former Mater Dei star dragged down from behind too many times in his career.
The Obvious –Retro uniforms, the Trojan Walk, and the crowd inspiring third down "gong" have all been highly successful game-day innovations by USC football coach Pete Carroll, but he may have outdone himself with this Sunday's original Trojan Fan Appreciation Day free public scrimmage.
The Not So Obvious – Forget for a moment about getting to watch Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Lendale White, and the No.1-ranked Trojans for free, the big question on Sunday is how many fans will come watch Carroll's first-time creation? Talk with those close to the program and the soothsayer's guess-timate a high of 50,000 fans. The O/NSO says 25-30,000 Angelinos, which would still be impressive for a first-time experiment.
The Obvious – The successful Trojan Huddle, the annual spring game scrimmage, drew around 15,000, give or take, and that event had an admission price.
The Not So Obvious – With the tremendous amount of star power and seasonal buildup, Sunday's Coliseum outing could be a knock-your-cardinal and gold-socks off type of original, especially with all the added events that are surrounding the free scrimmage such as music, food, a fun zone, and a USC apparel and novelty area.
The Obvious – Heritage Hall is hoping for not only an exceptional turnout of fans but good weather as well.
The Not So Obvious – The weather forecast for Sunday's Fan Appreciation Day calls for sunny and a high of 80 degrees.
The Obvious – Coliseum parking will be $8 per car for the Fan Appreciation Day.
The Not So Obvious – Well, it could be worse. It could have been the normal $20, so consider Sunday a savings of $12 that your local gas station will appreciate.
The Obvious – Coliseum concessions will be available for purchase.
The Not So Obvious – With the beer ban at Trojan games effective this season, Sunday will also be a test run for all you depressed alcohol lovers. Of course, if the temperature is the warm day predicted, there are always those tasty, refreshing chocolate malts, although we miss the Carnation brand. You can be sure with the stated beer ban that Coca Cola will be taking notice on how sales are going, and let's see if the prices for a Coke have gone up with no beer to chug.
The Obvious – Part of the Fan Appreciation Day will include a chance for Trojan fans to win a pair of season tickets and Trojan apparel.
The Not So Obvious – If you win the free season tickets, will your lucky seats be relocated if you don't join the Cardinal and Gold Club?
The Obvious – Both Sunday's Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage and tonight's (Friday) Salute to Troy will also feature the Trojan Marching Band.
The Not So Obvious – If you really want to get a real picker-upper, try purchasing the TMB CD, "A Silver Celebration." There is nothing like driving to work or a game and having your multi car-speakers cranking Fanfare and Tribute to Troy. With the Trojans No. 1, don't be surprised to see some nodding heads and a No. 1 salute from passing motorists. For those of you going to South Bend, a rental car speaker blaring Fight On off the Indiana Toll Road just drives the local Irish fans into a feeding frenzy.
The Obvious – It figures to be a "cool" evening tonight in many ways for the Salute to Troy, a wonderful evening of celebration for the upcoming Trojan football season and some recognition of the past, as well.
The Not So Obvious – Besides the celebratory introduction of this year's top-ranked Trojans, the 1955 and 1980 Trojan clubs will also be honored. Trojans old enough to remember the 1955 with All-American "Jaguar" Jon Arnett, who won the Voit Trophy as the top back on the Pacific Coast, will also recall the 1955 team (6-4-0) finished the season ranked 13th in the country.
The Obvious – Salute to Troy will also honor the 1980 Trojan team (8-2-1) coached by John Robinson, a team loaded with All-Americans and future All-Americans.
The Not So Obvious - Perhaps the names Ronnie Lott, Keith Van Horne, Roy Foster, Marcus Allen, Chip Banks, Don Mosebar, Bruce Mathews, and George Achica ring a bell. Nine seniors from that year were drafted that into the NFL.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll has announced this week that sophomore Mario Danelo will handle extra points and field goals, and freshman Troy Van Blarcom will be responsible for kickoffs.
The Not So Obvious – Danelo, fresh off of being award a scholarship after being a walk-on, is one mighty happy placekicker these days. After Wednesday's practice, the O/NSO talked with him about his recent promotion. When asked if this changed his outlook on preparing for Hawaii, a smiling Danelo said, " I still got to kick the ball between the two polls." When asked how this changes his game, No. 19 informed, " I just got to take it one kick at a time, but, yes, it has me fired up to get on the field."
The Obvious – One linebacker walk-on who is taking advantage of this week's linebacker injuries is Clay Mathews, Jr., son of former 1977 Trojan All-America linebacker Clay Mathews, who went on to the NFL with the Browns and the Falcons.
The Not So Obvious – On one outstanding play during mid-week, Mathews beat his block and dropped running back LenDale White for a loss. Not an easy thing to do these days with a svelt White.
The Obvious – Tailback Reggie Bush ripped off a scintillating 97-yard scoring run on Wednesday, giving Pete Carroll one more reason to be happy with his offensive line, and one more reason to be "concerned" with his inexperienced run defense.
The Not So Obvious – Due to the unfortunate injury to sophomore left guard Drew Radovich and the outstanding play of his replacement, senior Deuce Lutui, the Trojan line is looking stronger than last year. After a recent practice this week, we caught up with starting left tackle Sam Baker (6-5, 305) and asked him about the offensive line and the addition and adjustment of having the mammoth Lutui (6-6, 358) next to him. Sam said. " Remember, I used to line up next to John Drake and he was pretty big. Deuce is one of the hardest working guys on the field. As for our offensive line, we're so much farther ahead of last year and we've learned so much. The addition of Winston (Justice) at right tackle makes us a better run and pass team, and he's the best athlete we've got on the line."
The Obvious – When Bush finally got to the house after his 97-yard jaunt, he did the "Reggie Summersault" into the end zone, the old Sports Illustrated cover shot against UCLA.
The Not So Obvious – When the sideline official, who would have thrown a unsportsmanlike conduct flag if it was a regular game, was asked why he didn't penalize No. 5, the official smiled and said, " I wasn't down there."
The Obvious - With the Trojans atop the college football world, there are times on Howard Jones Field when you'd swear the late legendary John McKay is going to ride by on his cardinal motor cart smiling at Pete Carroll.
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps it just seemed that way when McKay's son, Richie, an executive with the Atlanta Falcons, walked the sidelines on Wednesday. Richie, who played his prep ball like his famous Trojan brother, J. K., at Bishop Amat, has many of his father's physical features, including the "silver" hair. Upon seeing Richie McKay, Pete Carroll immediately raced over and gave McKay a big hug. There was just something "right" watching a McKay walk the Trojan sidelines on Wednesday. FYI, there are a number of people that think Richie could be the next NFL commissioner.
The Obvious – 1540TheTicket is the Trojans home radio station for football.
The Not So Obvious – Trojan radio voice Pete Arbogast came by after a practice and informed the O/NSO that his popular Trojans Insider talk show with Petros Papadakis begins anew this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.. Mr. How-do-you-do reminds us that listeners can expect visits by Pete Carroll and staff, in addition to coaches from various other Trojan sports.
The Obvious – In preparation for the season, Pete Carroll will house his Trojans the night before Sunday's Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage at the local team hotel.
The Not So Obvious – Staying with the home game tradition, the Trojan Walk will be utilized and the Trojans team busses will arrive Sunday at approximately 11:00 a.m. off of Figueroa. Fans unfamiliar with this dramatic scene may see a spirit tunnel formed with Carroll's team walking through the middle of it.
The Obvious – The rumor of the week has Oklahoma quarterback Tommy Grady, the former Edison flash, transferring to the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – This not the first time we have heard these rumors. They were alive last week and some in the know say Grady is leaving OU regardless of his destination. Grady had one more scheduled meeting with the OU coaching staff. We don't believe that Grady will be wearing a Trojan helmet in the future.
The Obvious – Los Angeles Dorsey defensive Keith Browner, son of former Trojan and NFL performer Keith Browner, has made a verbal to the California Bears after making an unofficial Berkeley visit this past weekend.
The Not So Obvious – Disappointingly, Browner didn't attend the critical Trojan evaluation camps in June for reasons unknown. Why does the O/NSO get an uneasy feeling when a former Trojan's offspring makes a commitment to another Pac-10 school, especially Cal?
The Obvious – Near the goal line, you can bet the Trojans will turn to powerful running back LenDale White to punch it in for a score.
The Not So Obvious – If you haven't seen it, there is the new home jersey No. 21 now available for all you LenDale White fans. Now, when was the last time you saw "two" Trojan running back replica jersey numbers available for purchase? The other running back jersey available? Uh, some kid named Bush.
The Obvious – Okay, you have feverishly gone to the USC bookstore Internet site and you notice the LenDale White jersey, No. 21, is $50 and the Reggie Bush jersey, No. 5, is listed at $70.
The Not So Obvious – So what's the $20 difference? It's the Nylon "twill" in the Reggie jersey. Thought that would clear up things for you. Of course, the jerseys are not really LenDale White or Reggie Bush, but simply numbers the University selected at random like Matt Leinart's No. 11. By NCAA law, you can't sell the players' names and, of course, the players can't get any cut on the deal.
The Obvious – The Trojans established an all-time Pac-10 attendance record last year averaging 85, 229 fans per game.
The Not So Obvious – Our friends across town are promoting a "buy one, get one free" general admission coupon for selected games in the 2006 Entertainment Book to generate attendance. And, no, the coupon doesn't include the Sept.17th game with the Oklahoma Sooners at noon for those Trojan fans that want to do a little scouting before the 7:15 p.m. Trojan opener with Arkansas, which figures to be a near Coliseum sellout.
The Obvious – Growing a beard has always been symbolic as a macho thing, especially for linemen.
The Not So Obvious – A number of Trojan offensive linemen including the likes of Sam Baker, Ryan Kalil, and Kyle Williams have begun some intimidating growth.
The Obvious – There is always a domino effect in recruiting, especially when a player like Seattle O'Dea safety-receiver Taylor Mays makes a verbal to USC.
The Not So Obvious – So who will the next Trojan verbal? It could be argued that as for Coach Greg Burns secondary, it probably won't come until the fall. Most "experts" are looking at the recruiting weekend of Sept. 17 against Arkansas when hard hitting New Jersey safety Antwine Perez (6-2, 200) makes his official visit from Camden. Depending on how the Trojans view their secondary needs, this could put the squeeze on Perez and/or Venice's Jonas Mouton (6-2, 210). Of course, Pete Carroll could take all three and let things play out on the field, a likely scenario.
The Obvious – When Trojans fans come to Sunday's scrimmage, they should be aware of the new NCAA "spearing" penalty enforcement and interpretation.
The Not So Obvious – No more "intent" interpretation. A player leads with his helmet and he's flagged. As many of you good readers are aware, "spearing is when a tackler leads with his helmet to stop a ball carrier." The most dangerous form of tackling, the NCAA is taking steps to stop "spearing" with a 15-yard penalty. Spearing, by rule, is interpreted as (1) no player shall use his helmet to butt or ram an opponent, (2) strike a runner with the crown or top of is helmet in an attempt to punish, and (3) use his helmet to punish an opponent. The facemask is now also included as spearing. The NCAA is trying to prevent head and neck injuries. Look for the new rule to be really visible with receivers and during quarterback sacks. Sorry defensive ends and blitzing linebacker, no more helmets to the pretty boys' sternum.
The Obvious – We received a copy of Blue and Gold Illustrated's 2005 preview of The Fighting Irish.
The Not So Obvious – Along with the usual unit breakdowns, there is an opponents' section with analysis and game predictions. For analysis of the Trojans' visit to South Bend on Oct. 15, Blue and Gold writes " Chow or no Chow, it would take an awfully incompetent coaching staff – hardly the case at USC – to not be productive with athletes such as Leinart, Bush, Jarrett, Smith, et al." As for the game prediction, B&G writes " The intangibles are in place – including the Oct. 15 date (Miami, 1988) – to make this a potential watershed victory for Charlie Weis. However, three straight 31-point drubbings to the Trojans are sobering. The Irish will make it interesting, but…..USC 38, Notre Dame 27." The Miami game is a reference to ND's upset at home over the talented Canes.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll's practices not only impress novice onlookers but veteran media as well.
The Not So Obvious – During a recent segment of ESPN's Big Show with Steve Mason and John Ireland, Ireland remarked how impressed he was watching a Trojan practice. Ireland said that in all the years he has covered different college practices, he said the Trojan were light years ahead of everybody else. Quite a statement coming from a UCLA grad.
The Obvious – Trojan fans who ordered tickets for the Hawaii game have been informed in fine print that those $50 tickets were an overcharge and they must request a refund or USC will consider it a gift to the University.
The Not So Obvious – The actual ticket price for the UH game is $38 for sideline seats, $32 for south end zone seating, $27 for north end zone seating, and $22 for north end zone seating for seniors and students.
The Obvious – The Trojans finished their final "two-a-days" of practice with Thursday night's closed Coliseum practice.
The Not So Obvious – Single day practices now mean the season is really almost upon us. What it also means for Trojan football players is that academic classes begin on Monday and there will be no practice on that day. It's all a reminder that while Trojan football is No. 1 in your heart, it's a benevolent reminder what a university is all about and that's getting an education.