No Chow at Trojan Luau

Despite the lack of Chow, Trojans still intend to feast on whatever Jerry Glanville, the new Warrior's Defensive Coordinator, offers up way of strategy to stop the USC offense.

Glanville, who left college football for the NFL in 1973 is obviously a bit unfamiliar with Trojan Lore. In a recent interview he referred to Traveler, USC's pure bred Andalusian as Trevor. Guess we were lucky he didn't call college football's greatest mascot Mr. Ed.

One would think that Glanville's memory of college ball and the USC Trojans might be a little keener. Afterall, the Trojans were coming off a National Championship in 1972. Just like his black hat and one-liners, for as long as Jerry's stayed away from the game, things remain the same – the Trojans are still on top.

So with Glanville doing his best rendition of his "House of Pain," with the goal of shutting down the USC juggernaut, the question becomes, who are the Trojans without Norm Chow?

Pundits wonder whether USC would feel the effects on offense of Chow's departure to the NFL, but there were no indications in training camp that the Trojans' production will suffer a bit and in listening to the two coaches, Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin describe things, it won't be much different.

"We're doing more now than we've ever done before," said Lane Kiffin, Chow's replacement as offensive coordinator. "We're not slowing down at all."

The two young coaches, who took over responsibilities previously handled by former offensive coordinator Norm Chow are ready for kickoff at Aloha Stadium.

"We've kind of mocked it out a few times but now we're in a real game-plan situation and it's been great," said Sarkisian, 31, who will be on the field during games. "We have real good offensive cohesiveness among the staff. Everything's kind of going as planned so far."

The Trojans thrived in camp because of their vast experience and their ability to work together consistently as a unit.

"It's helped us learn faster because we had the same guys out there," Kiffin said.

That is they key to the Trojan's transition of playing without the best offensive coordinator college football has ever seen – it's the same guys, implementing the same system built by Carroll and Chow. To diminish the contributions made by either of these two men would be losing sight on what they have created – a system that works to near perfection. That's what great leaders do – they build a system that can live well beyond their exit that allows newcomers to immediately thrive.

Every year since Pete Carroll's arrival, the off-season has brought about change – the doing loss of some key element that most prognosticators have used to insure the Trojan's doom. And every year, head coach Pete Carroll keeps going about his business, of implementing his system and building a better team.

For Carroll, he seems to look at these challenges more as opportunity – the opportunity to once again prove, this is his team and his legacy, all the pieces to this magnificent puzzle have been laid out on the table by him. It is my opinion that at the end of the 2005 season, Pete Carroll will have proven his case.

Seventeen thousand yards – that is the number Timmy Chang put up during his quarterback apprenticeship under June Jones. In comparison, the Trojans top hurler in history, Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer fell just short of twelve thousand in his career.

Chang has signed an NFL contract leaving some big shoes to fill. Sophomore Colt Brennan and second-year freshman Tyler Graunke will both play in the season opener against USC.

Hawaii expects just the fifth sellout in the seven years June Jones has been head coach. The crowd of 50,000 will be Hawaii's 17th sellout at Aloha Stadium since it opened in 1975.

It seems everybody wants a chance to see the Trojans do what no other team has done before, three-peat. Everybody that is, but the Warriors. I'm suddenly reminded of the line from the famous Walter Hill 70's exploitation film, "The Warriors," where one nefarious character calls out to this stranded gang of hooligans… "Warriors, come out to play-yay…" The line is repeated over and over again. Granted in that scenario, the Warriors were the heroes, in this current rendition of the greatest action-adventure ever filmed, the Trojans are the men riding the white horse – a quick reminder, that's Traveler, Jerry.

So, without Chang and every other skill position player from last year's team, save Senior slotback Nate Ilaoa, how do the Warriors expect to give the National Champions a game? The answer seems to be, in the trenches.

The Warriors return five of Nate's cousins, or some such number, to an offensive line that was rated among the top in the WAC. Three of those boys were on the receiving end of the last Trojan trouncing and are not in the mood to experience that level of pain again. That said, it won't be easy to keep USC from hitting their offensive average against the Warriors of 61.5 pts per game, especially considering the two preceding Trojan teams were nowhere near the '05 squad in offensive talent.

So what does June Jones and his staff do to prevent another Trojan another onslaught? Nothing but be thankful Traveler didn't make the trip. Not to diminish the level of talent being fielded by the Warriors but, let's put it this way, the Trojan blackshirts would make a more equal match. It's because of this that Hawaii becomes a unique challenge – keeping your kids focused, fresh and uninjured for a three day vacation and a 60 minute scrimmage. And as bodies and egoes get broken and bruised on both sides of the ball, that is not as easy as it sounds.

We talked about doing without Chow but Carroll must also enter this first game sans a list of supporting characters. Gone from his player ranks are the nucleus of the Trojans' recent success: Lofa Tatupu, Matt Grootegoed, Shaun Cody, Jason Leach and big Mike Patterson, all completed their campaigns for Troy.

His staff goes without the man who resuscitated the Wild Bunch, Ed Orgeron. They also lose offensive assistants in Carl Smith and Tim Davis but Carroll seems unfazed by it all, plugging in equal to greater talent both on the field and along the sideline. It is this year that he puts his complete stamp on the program so that no one forgets – this is his baby.

So with the defensive foundation Carroll built his first two national championships on gone, what can Trojan fans, along with the nation expect from USC?

Pete wouldn't say the defense would be improved -- no surprise since star linemen Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson and standout linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed have to be replaced. But he did say this will be the fastest USC defense since he arrived.

"We are excited about it and we are going to need it," the coach said. "Speed is always essential for a terrific defense, but more than that speed can cover up for errors and issues that come up when guys are not doing the right thing."

Incoming freshmen are filling holes alongside seasoned sophomores. This Trojan team might be among its youngest but it is also one of the most talented. The growing pains will be felt along the interior but as Coach Carroll said, "…the speed of this defense will make a difference for us."

Some of that player talent is part of a Pacific Island Creation – USC's own, Polynesian Posse, if you will. It is in the heart and heritage of Tongans, Samoans, Hawaiians et al that the world and USC have seen some of its most fierce football players: Moala, Matua, Maiava, Maulaga, Tofi and others bring their warrior-selves to this game.

For Hawaii, only a handful of seniors remain from Jones own reconstruction efforts. As many questions as the Trojans have on defense, the Warriors have twice as many on both sides of the ball. It makes one wonder what will make this a good game…pride.

Pride is on the line, for both squads. Blood will boil and some might spill but it will be pride, in playing a good, clean hard fought competition, that will make this a great start to the 2005 Trojan football season. It's fitting the Trojans get to go to Hawaii to start the season. Afterall, the National Championship game this season is at home affair.

Coaching has been the key to the success of any great college program. USC has been blessed with the amazing skills of Pete Carroll and his staff through this unprecedented run. Hawaii is the first step of a long journey. Some doubt the Trojans can do what no other team has done before but most know, no other team has had a head coach like Pete Carroll.

A quote from Carroll earlier this year had me suddenly realize the journey was Troy's to sieze, he said:

"We champion the whole concept of competition. We keep everyone at the tip-top of their game or they lose their spot. I can't see any sign of that. I think probably the opposite has happened. We're more driven than ever."

After watching Coach Carroll in this interview and having the luxury of being in his company for other such pearls, I stopped wondering if the Trojans could get it done. I suddenly knew, thru the voice of who will soon be declared the greatest coach in college football history, the answer was yes.

SC travels to Hawaii to play a team it has averaged over 60 points per game against in their last two meetings. The Trojans will continue that same level of play, only this time, allowing sophomore quarterback John David Booty a little more leeway than any of his reserve time predecessors. Because of that, I think it's entirely possible USC goes 60 plus one more time.

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