The Not So Obvious – While Sunday's scrimmage attendance was not the 50,000 that some athletic department officials were hopeful, it certainly ended up being more than enough, enthusiastic enough, and game-like enough to satisfy the purpose of the exercise. From the timing of all the "normal" pregame activities, through the Trojan Marching Band's pregame and halftime routines, to the video board's instant replays, most all of the goals appeared to be met. Heck, even the temperature "clock" was in game form, fixed at 71 degrees. Tell that to those that braved the Trojans sunny sideline.
The Obvious - "I thought this scrimmage was a total success," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. "It turned out better than I thought and the big crowd added to the atmosphere. The players played with intensity and there was great communication between the coaches and players."
The Not So Obvious - The coach was pretty much right-on with his assessment. No hyperbole here. Carroll's innovative scrimmage idea created an almost true setting of a normal game, and the crowd continued to grow in size thirty minutes before kick-off. There was some doubt early in the morning when it seemed that the crowd numbers might not reach realistic minimum expectations, but you know those late arriving SoCal crowds. You can expect that this Carroll creation, like his previously successful brainstorms, will now be part of the Trojans preseason activities, as long as Coach Charisma remains the fearless leader.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll wanted a 1:00 p.m. scrimmage in the middle of a heated summer Sunday so his team would have some experience with it and the younger players could also get the feel of one of America's most treasured sports venues.
The Not So Obvious – While Carroll was doing his best to get ready "for" Aloha Stadium on Sunday, Hawaii coach June Jones had his team practicing on Saturday "in" Aloha Stadium for all the same Carroll reasons. The Rainbow Warriors worked out for 2 1/2 hour on the FieldTurf surface, whose field temperature reached 100 degrees. The Rainbow Warrior practice ended at 12:30 p.m., an hour before the scheduled kickoff on Sept. 3.
The Obvious – The Trojan team was decked out in their home game uniforms during pregame warm-ups, adding to the realism of an actual home game, while selected squad members wore black numbered opponent jerseys once the scrimmage began.
The Not So Obvious – One uniform item missing from both teams was the "Trojan head" decal, which normally is attached to both sides of a player's helmet. There has been no official word if the Trojan helmets are returning to their pre-decal look.
The Obvious – As per the new rules, there was no beer sold inside the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – There was, however, a Coca-Cola truck parked outside the front of the peristyle end of the Coliseum giving away free soft drink products and later an announcement was made during the game promoting the give-away.
The Obvious – Heritage Hall announced there would be a fun zone for kids before and during the scrimmage.
The Not So Obvious – A number of fans outside the Coliseum wondered where it was, considering most thought the fun zone was going to be located on the grass area across the street from the peristyle end. However, once inside the Coliseum, there was a well-received fun zone consisting of three football related activities, including a tackling area and a placekicking attraction.
The Obvious – The Trojan Marching Band, while not wearing their game uniforms, was in attendance and performed to the delight of the fans, many of whom gave Dr. Bartner's musicians a standing ovation.
The Not So Obvious – Unlike a regular home game, the TMB lined up on the Trojans' sideline as opposed to the visitor's sideline. Pete Carroll wanted such detail to a game atmosphere that he took his team back into the locker room before the kickoff and then the TMB performed our national anthem, accompanied by the video board with the American flag. Later captains for both squads showed for the coin flip.
The Obvious – Despite the imbalance of the two teams, the scrimmage crowd was very active and a number of players such as linebacker Thomas Williams, gave the "pump it up" sign with their arms to increase the noise level.
The Not So Obvious – It was almost competitive between the "live" crowd noise and the "canned" crowd noise. Not leaving anything to chance concerning the attendance and atmosphere, Carroll had intense, taped crowd noise piped through speakers located on the field. The scrimmage public address announcer, not the usual Dennis Packer, informed the crowd of the "artificial" noise, but said fans were "encouraged" to still show their enthusiasm.
The Obvious – The scrimmage kickoff began with recently named starting freshman kicker Troy Van Blarcom doing the honors.
The Not So Obvious – Troy's first kick went out of bounds and only one of his kickoffs went into the end zone. However, having seen Van Blarcom perform before and taking into account his recent assessments that his kickoffs needed more hang time, it's not yet panic time. Given the fact he was kicking before his largest audience ever and was working on his hang time, we'll give the freshman a pass on this one. Those who saw him perform in the Orange County All-Star Game in July and at Orange Lutheran remember he had no problem reaching the back portion of the end zone. Call it inexperience and understandable jitters.
The Obvious – New placekicker Mario Danelo had a good day on PATs and spilt success on field goal attempts, connecting on a 38-yard field goal and missing one from farther out.
The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO is confident that inside 40 yards, the kid will be fine as he gets game experience. Let's face it, if the Trojans need Danelo to make a bundle of field goals, there's something wrong with their high-powered offense.
The Obvious – It didn't take long for the powerful first offense to score as tailback Reggie Bush (4 carries for 32 yards) made it look "ridiculously easy" on a 19-yard scoring scamper.
The Not So Obvious – Bush got a key block from center Ryan Kalil to get enough room to weave through the secondary and into the end zone. The scoring drive reminded the O/NSO that Pete Carroll had warned earlier in the week that the game might not be competitive on the scoreboard….and as the Sunday afternoon wore on, it wasn't. Later, Bush had a 59-yard TD punt return called back, but Reggie had the crowd in the palm of his hand. You can also bet the "Reggie" chant will again be a Coliseum regular and probably louder.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll said on the Fox Sports Trojan Preview Show that this is "the fastest defense" of his brief USC coaching career.
The Not So Obvious – Watching the defensive regulars against the outmanned scout team, the No. 1 defense looked very swift. Defensive end Lawrence Jackson was especially active and sophomore nose tackle Sedrick Ellis gave every bit a Mike Patterson performance.
The Obvious – The Trojans started junior Oscar Lua at middle linebacker, no shock since Carroll had made an earlier announcement about Lua's status.
The Not So Obvious – Two of Oscar's biggest hits came on special team kickoffs as he was very impressive getting down field and laying some good wood.
The Obvious – There is some concern over the health of senior All-America punter Tom Malone, who was held out on Sunday.
The Not So Obvious – Although Malone has few equals, redshirt freshman walk-on Taylor Odegard, a native of Mercer Island, Washington, did a workmanlike job and didn't embarrass himself.
The Obvious – Running back LenDale White (99 yards on 6 carries) has been advertised as being leaner and faster than last year's highly productive model.
The Not So Obvious – White wasted no time in showing the "new" LenDale with a 75-yard run, getting a key block from Winston Justice, who provided a glimpse how improved the running game will be with his presence. White, however, found that not all his efforts were going to be as easy as a later rush brought him face-to-face with freshman linebacker rival Kaluka Maiava, who showed no fear in taking down LenDale, both on Sunday and previous camp encounters.
The Obvious – Trojan offensive line coach Pat Ruel is showing more and more of a demanding demeanor in regards to blocking technique and foolish mistakes.
The Not So Obvious – After an impressive run by Desmond Reed (23 yards on 5 carries), left guard Taitusi Lutui was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ruel was one angry offensive line coach and faster than you can say Sam Baker,Baker, the Trojans starting left tackle, was moved to left guard for a couple of plays. Ruel later returned Lutui to the field and Baker went back to left tackle. It should also be noted that sophomore Chilo Rachael worked a number of plays with the starting unit at right guard and performed well, except for one holding penalty on fellow freshman, defensive end Kyle Moore, nullifying a good gain.
The Obvious - Quarterback Matt Leinart (7-of-9 for 128 yds.), who must think he was seeing thousands of replicas of himself in the stands with all those cardinal No.11 jerseys, was making a mockery of the Scout defense as Lefty would audible at will and the results were predictable.
The Not So Obvious – Leinart connected on a 37-yard touchdown pass to receiver Steve Smith, who split the defenders. While receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who made a dazzling jump-above-the-corner reception over freshman Cary Harris, has rightfully received a wealth of preseason All-America recognition, Steve Smith is no less a threat in the Keary Colbert mode.
The Obvious – Popular 1540 radio personality and former Trojan running back Petros Papadakis was part of the Sunday's turnout.
The Not So Obvious – Papadakis was getting a lot of well wishes from fans as he strolled the press box side of the Coliseum in his Pittsburgh Pirates hat.
The Obvious – There has been a stealth competition at quarterback between sophomore John David Booty and freshman Mark Sanchez.
The Not So Obvious – John David (6-of-11 for 91 yds.) didn't play until the second half on Sunday but was efficient and under control, hitting on a nice 8-yard scoring pass to tight end Fred Davis, while Sanchez (8-of-12 for 108 yds.) played mostly with the "Black Shirts" and was really under the gun from defensive pressure. Based on watching practice, it would be unfair to say that Sanchez didn't play well, especially considering the circumstances. Near the end of the scrimmage, however, Carroll inserted Sanchez at quarterback with "Team Cardinal," and despite the lopsided score in favor of Team Cardinal, Mark was allowed to put the ball in the air and made some fine throws.
The Obvious – The Trojan have begun airing season ticket advertisements on local media outlets.
The Not So Obvious – The Coliseum video board played one clever advertisement where there is a team drill led by Pete Carroll that includes the water boy. Near the end of the drill, Carroll gives the water boy credit for not spilling. The kicker to the sales pitch is a phrase that reads "even the water boy is a blue chip recruit."
The Obvious – Senior linebacker captain Dallas Sartz finally got some action after being held out because of injury.
The Not So Obvious – Give Sartz credit for pushing himself to play. However, following a tackle on receiver Chris McFoy ( 7 rec. for 94 yds.), Dallas was visibly uncomfortable. Freshman Brian Cushing filled in when Sartz was on the sidelines.
The Obvious – The scrimmage allowed Pete Carroll to do some substituting with the emphasis on building depth.
The Not So Obvious – In the fourth quarter, starting offensive right guard Fred Matua gave a good account of himself at center. While Ferocious Freddy starts at right guard, should something happen to centers Ryan Kalil and Matt Spanos, Matua would be moved in as the third replacement.
The Obvious – The Trojan have arguably the finest collection of freshmen linebackers in the country.
The Not So Obvious – All four, Luther Brown (scrimmage-high 7 tackles), Rey Maualuga (6 tackles and 2 losses), Brian Cushing, and Kaluka Maiava, showed they were all big hitters on Sunday. Brown, the former Lakewood star, in particular make a huge hit on RB Desmond Reed for a loss of three yards, and Reed showed his respect by patting Brown on the helmet.
The Obvious – Back up quarterback Michael McDonald (8-of-12 for 108 yds.) scored late on a nifty 3-yard run.
The Not So Obvious – McDonald, who recently earned a scholarship on the team, showed the savvy of a scholarship player when he took New Jersey freshman linebacker Brian Cushing to the Meadowlands with a masterful hip fake that froze the Northeast import and allowed No. 16 to waltz into the promised land.
The Obvious – Like a regular season game, once Sunday's final gun had sounded most of the players headed back up the Coliseum tunnel, and did anybody care the 88-play scrimmage ended up with a 50-15 final score in favor of the regulars?
The Not So Obvious – A small number of Trojan players remained on the field to thank some of the fans, including stellar defensive end Lawrence Jackson (2 sacks), freshman wide receiver Patrick Turner (3 rec. for 53 Yds.), and reserve senior running back Andre Woodert (2-yard scoring run).
The Obvious – The Trojans depart for Hawaii on Thursday evening, Sept.1, at 6 p.m. from LAX.
The Not So Obvious – While Pete Carroll's gridders must wait another week until they hit Oahu, they did get some island environment at Friday night's Hawaiian themed Salute to Troy celebration on Cromwell field. With live Hawaiian music, an events program with a black and white cover featuring the word "Aloha" with palm trees and hula girls in the background, and a stage with Polynesian tiki figures, the mood was certainly South Pacific in ambiance.
The Obvious – Friday night's Salute to Troy included a well-organized and received buffet.
The Not So Obvious – Let's give props for the evening's all-you-can-eat menu, which included teriyaki chicken, BBQ streak, tasty veggies, two selections of salads, and desserts, including chocolate chip cookies and brownies. And , no, the cookies were not Toll House. There was a nice soft drink selection and there was plenty to eat for everybody. Of course, there was alternative food for those with a different appetite as WeAreSC staff writer Tony King elected to go with a chili hot dog mainland dish.
The Obvious – The new USC apparel and gifts in the campus bookstore is finished and is located on the second floor.
The Not So Obvious – It was quite a second floor crowd prior to Salute to Troy, and one of the fastest selling items of the day was the $37 white Trojan football, which makes a great "autograph book." A bookstore employee remarked, " We ran out of these white footballs this morning. They are just flying off the shelf." They were also sold inside the Salute to Troy for those that couldn't purchase them in the bookstore.
The Obvious – One of the fan highlights of Salute to Troy was the availability of Trojan players, with the understandable exception of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Players wore flower leis around their jersey tops, mixed with the sellout crowd, and were very polite and receptive to signing autographs and photographs.
The Not So Obvious – Some of the more popular players that the O/NSO saw being pursued by autograph seekers were junior offensive tackle Winston Justice and freshman linebacker Brian Cushing.
The Obvious – One of the most famous mascots in all of college football is Traveler, the Trojans great, white steed.
The Not So Obvious – Of course, what kind of a USC celebration could you have without Traveler, one of the nation's most recognizable college mascots, who was also available for photos with his costumed rider.
The Obvious – The evening belonged to the Trojan players from the 1955, 1980, and 2005.
The Not So Obvious – Narrator for the evening was Trojan Coliseum public address announcer Dennis Packer, who introduced each player from all three squads, which included comments from selected team members and the current Trojan staff.
The Obvious – The 1955 team was introduced first and a nice mix of players was in attendance.
The Not So Obvious – Some of the celebrities included former Trojan running back great C.R. Roberts and Ernie Zampese, the former "Los Angeles" Rams offensive coordinator.
The Obvious – The 1980 team was introduced next and there was a solid name of celebrities from that club.
The Not So Obvious – It was great to see all-time great DB Ronnie Lott, guard Roy Foster, tight end Hoby Brenner, defensive tackle Dennis Edwards, punter David Pryor, quarterback Scott Tinsley, and linebackers Eric Scoggins and Riki Gray (Ellison). Reserve quarterback Gordon Adams, the former Newport Harbor star, spoke on behalf of the 1980's team and then proceeded to lead the crowd in a three-peat chant.
The Obvious – Coach Pete Carroll was the MC for his team and had his position coaches introduce their players.
The Not So Obvious – To begin the 2005 introductions, Carroll enthusiastically said, "It's a great night for Trojans, a very special night. All our hopes and dreams start here! We can hardly wait and we've been on this stage (being No. 1) before. Our defense has taken the challenge from a good offense." Naturally the coach's opening remarks drew a loud response.
The Obvious – Trojan fans are watching closely how defensive line coach Jethro Franklin inspires his troops, especially after having to follow the charismatic footsteps of Ed Orgeron, now at the head coach at Ole Miss.
The Not So Obvious – Franklin had the large turnout in the palm of his hand as he demonstrated a very gregarious personality. Franklin, the former Green Bay Packers' D-line coach, said, " I missed the college atmosphere. This (evening) is sincerely awesome!" Franklin told the crowd that "SC football has always been about the defensive line. Our school is the only one in the country that has a bronze statue of five great players, The Wild Bunch." Franklin got the crowd roaring with his "I am grabbing this ‘Mike' and I'am walking around." Franklin got the band inspired as he repeated this phrase as he toured around the stage. The new D-line coach showed a lot of spirit and enthusiasm.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll reminded the fans about Sunday's free scrimmage and how the game might not be competitive the way the squad was being divided.
The Not So Obvious – Carroll also informed the crowd that the team would not be staying in their normal "home" team hotel, instead they would be staying in a different hotel, and "we'll feel like visitors." Leave to Carroll to give his team a preview experience of their first game on the road.
The Obvious – During these types of events, there is always a good one-liner here and there that gets the folks in a jovial mood.
The Not So Obvious – Leave it to Carroll's son, Brennan, the Trojans' tight end coach, to shine the funny bone spotlight on his dad. After daddy Carroll introduced his son to the large gathering, Brennan remarked, " Sorry I had to remove the telephone book my dad was standing on." – a reference to Brennan being taller than his famous father.
The Obvious – Offensive line coach Pat Ruel introduced his talent array of players and showed a very intense and entertaining side to his personality.
The Not So Obvious – Ruel, like coach Franklin, really showed a spirited side to the audience. His opening remarks included, "There are two types of people, those that want to be Trojans and those that are," which drew a loud response. Ruel said he has learned that by having the Trojan Marching Band working next door to his offensive line drill station, TMB director Art Bartner is very much like an offensive line coach and gave examples. Ruel gave props to junior center Ryan Kalil, whom the coach said runs a 4.79 in the 40, and, gang, that's really moving for a center.
The Obvious – Perhaps no position coach has two more talented players than running backs' coach Todd McNair, who tutors the dynamic duo of Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
The Not So Obvious – McNair came onto the stage with an umbrella in honor of his two stars recognition as "thunder and lightening."
The Obvious – The culmination of Salute to Troy was the announcement of the team captains for 2005, and to the shock of no one Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush were named on offense and Dallas Sartz and Darnell Bing on defense.
The Not So Obvious – The evening concluded with Dr. Bartner's TMB playing "Conquest" and a display of fireworks.
The Obvious – If you couldn't make it to Friday night's Salute to Troy and/or to Sunday's scrimmage, make sure you check out Joe Andras' photography section on the WeAreSC.com front page.
The Not So Obvious – Joe's pictures will really give you a sense of what this weekend was all about, and we thought his first photo from Salute to Troy, a wide shot from atop the bleachers showing the entire crowd, really set the stage for that event.
The Obvious – And finally, a number of lucky fans on Sunday afternoon won special raffle prizes such as a pair of Trojan football season tickets and an autographed Pete Carroll football.
The Not So Obvious – Keeping with the O/NSO tradition of never winning a raffle, we wish to inform the masses that like the Trojans many streaks during the last three years, we too can say our never-winning-a-raffle streak was kept in tact on Sunday. Of course my draft number way back when was 111. Does that count?