The Not So Obvious – After what has seemed like endless weeks of practice and equally concentrated inspection by the nation's media, it's a relief for Pete Carroll's boys to finally kickoff the most scrutinized preseason in the history of Trojan football. While the Trojans will "take it one game at a time," the ultimate goal is BCS crystal clear and that's to participate in a magical 13th-game in Pasadena on Jan.4, appropriate since the theme of this year's Tournament of Roses is "It's Magical."
The Obvious – The Trojans opened as 31-point favorites over the Rainbow Warriors.
The Not So Obvious – The final score may not be as relevant as the Trojans overall game execution and management. The Cardinal and Gold will also be trying to avoid any catastrophic injuries in a game that should be as one-sidedly entertaining as it is Trojan dominating. Perhaps the better odds will be how long it will take USC 1540 radio voice Pete Arbogast to inject his first 2005 "Touchdown U-S-C, How do you do!"
The Obvious – The Trojans are 172-52-10 in season openers for a 75% winning percentage.
The Not So Obvious – One of the reasons for such a glossy opening game winning percentage is out of the 234 opening games played, only 32 have been road openers (24-7-1).
The Obvious – The Trojans, who departed for Honolulu early Thursday evening on a chartered Hawaiian Airlines flight, are staying at the plush J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort in Ko Olina, Hawaii.
The Not So Obvious – The Marriott Ihilani, on the west side of Oahu and far away from downtown Honolulu, could be the equal of the Trojans' Orange Bowl home, the incomparable Westin Diplomat. The Marriott Ihilani will throw down the hotel gauntlet with rooms containing Yukata robes, oversized tubs and separate showers, a large marble bathroom, and a "large" television. So what did you expect for a "normal" rate of $370 a night. Ah, life as number one is good.
The Obvious – Saturday's kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m., Hawaiian time, and the weather forecast calls for sunny and 92 degrees.
The Not So Obvious – The real whether forecast is whether or not the Trojans retooled defense makes the impact that Pete Carroll hopes against a rebuilt and inexperienced Rainbow Warrior run-and-shoot offense. Utilizing their "home field" advantage, UH coach June Jones has departed from normal game routine by electing to make a switch to the "makai sideline" or visitor's shady side for the flaming 1:05 p.m. start.
The Obvious – If Trojan fans are concerned about Carroll's boys physical reaction to the hot, humid Hawaiian sun on Saturday, this team appears be in as good a physical shape as the O/NSO has seen in the Pete Carroll era.
The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO asked strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle after practice on Wednesday if the Trojans indeed looked leaner and Carlisle replied, " We are definitely more athletic." Translation: With Carlisle's emphasis on the word "definitely," the Trojans are in superior physical shape.
The Obvious – This is the season opener for both the Trojans and Hawaii.
The Not So Obvious - "There's always excitement to begin the season," commented June Jones, the Rainbow Warrior head coach. "And to have the opportunity to play the first game against the number one team in the country, I'm sure the emotions will be as high as they have ever been."
The Obvious – The Trojans' Pete Carroll begins his fifth season as head coach and is the Trojans' defensive coordinator.
The Not So Obvious – Hawaii's Head Coach June Jones begins his seventh season as head coach and is the Rainbow Warriors' offensive coordinator.
The Obvious – Both Pete Carroll and June Jones are former head coaches in the National Football League.
The Not So Obvious – The same holds true with a number of their assistant coaches. Trojan assistants with an NFL background include offensive line coach Pat Ruel, defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, linebacker coach Ken Norton, assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian, running back coach Todd McNair, and special teams coach Sam Anno. Hawaii assistants with NFL backgrounds include defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville, secondary coach Rich Miano, tight ends coach Mouse Davis, and defensive line coach Vantz Singletary, the nephew of Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary.
The Obvious – The Trojans averaged 38.2 points per game and 449.1 in total offense last season. Don't expect this trend to cease as of Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – The Rainbow Warriors allowed 38.4 points per game and 487.8 yards per game on defense last season. Don't expect this trend to cease as of Saturday.
The Obvious – The Trojans come into Aloha Stadium with a 22-game winning streak, having won 33 of 34 games. Did we mention the 55-19 Orange Bowl win?
The Not So Obvious – The Rainbow Warriors have won five of their last six games, eight of their last 11 games, including a wild 59-40 win in the Hawaii Bowl.
The Obvious – Verle Sorgen is the Coordinator of Football Officiating for the Pac-10 Conference.
The Not So Obvious – Sorgen won't have to evaluate his Pac-10 officials at Aloha Stadium since WAC officials are being used on Saturday.
The Obvious – The star-studded Trojans return 15 starters from last year's national champions, eight on offense, six on defense, and one punter.
The Not So Obvious- Hawaii returns just nine starters and is missing 15 starters from 2004, including celebrated NCAA record-setting quarterback Timmy Chang and highly decorated receiver Chad Owens, who was an NFL draftee. Aside from the offensive line, gone are all four wide receivers from last year, which of course hurts June Jones run-and-shoot offense.
The Obvious – While Troy is led by two-time, All-American QB Matt Leinart, it looks like the Trojans will face the Rainbow Warrior's duo of first-year redshirt freshman Tyler Graunke (5-11, 179) and sophomore Colt Brennan (6-3, 205).
The Not So Obvious - "Since Timmy (Chang) was here for five years, there's no one right now who has had the time or opportunity to gain any experience," Warrior quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison said. "It takes time to learn the offense and you can do all you can from the sideline, but it's a whole different picture when you're in a game situation."
The Obvious – The final gridiron novel in Matt Leinart's glorious USC career begins on Saturday and Leinart's dad, Bob, has commented that his son is throwing with so much more velocity than last season.
The Not So Obvious – In this week's Sporting News, college football columnist Matt Hayes writes "Wake up, people. Matt Leinart is becoming the best ever to play the college game. We're about to witness the crowning achievements of the greatest player in college football history. Sit back and enjoy it while you can."
The Obvious – Saturday's game will mark the premier of the new Trojan offensive chain of command play-calling with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin in the press box, quarterback coach Steve Sarkisian on the sidelines, and final-say head coach Pete Carroll.
The Not So Obvious – The intrigue of Saturday's game, however, will be the debut of new Hawaii defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville, the former NFL coach and media celebrity, and his battle of wits with the inexperienced Trojan offensive command. With enough time to dissect the Trojan offense, the Cardinal and Gold may get an inkling of what future opponents may be plotting by the type of game plan that Glanville concocts. Although badly outgunned, the scheme of the gregarious Glanville will be of great interest to Pete Carroll and his staff, especially during the mysterious first quarter of play.
The Obvious – During practice this week, the Trojans offense worked on various defenses they might see from Glanville.
The Not So Obvious – Commenting to the O/NSO on the lack of knowledge pertaining to Glanville's schemes and blitzes, starting offensive right guard Fred Matua said, " We're just grinding. We just work on everything we do in practice and we're practicing for everything, the run and the pass. We just work and work and work. We're just ready to play a game though, tempers are really flying."
The Obvious – Trojan practices this week through Wednesday were held at 4:00 p.m.
The Not So Obvious – The majority of this week's Hawaii practices were held at 7:00 a.m.
The Obvious - Considering the Oahu heat and humidity, Trojan fans should keep a watchful eye on the Trojans' rebuilt front four of DE Lawrence Jackson, NT Sedrick Ellis, DT LaJuan Ramsey, and DE Frostee Rucker.
The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans would also be advised to check out the backup front four unit of DE Chris Barrett, NT Travis Tofi, DT Fili Moala, and especially gifted freshman DE Kyle Moore. Contributions from this quartet will be crucial in the seasonal big picture. Lack of a rush from this unit on Saturday would not bode well for the Trojans.
The Obvious – Sophomore nose tackle Sedrick Ellis (6-2, 285) will get his first start, replacing All-American Mike Patterson, who was voted to the WeAreSC magazine's All-Time Trojan Defensive Team.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to the Trojans' departure to Hawaii, the O/NSO asked Sed about his team's reaction to the constant reminder of being No. 1, his personal feelings on his first start, and his perception of the Rainbow Warriors. Ellis said, " We just need to stay focused. I will probably be a little nervous, but I am a football player, so it's probably a little combination of both. They (Hawaii) may not have so much in talent but a will to be more dangerous, and they're really comfortable together as a team." Sed's battle with three-year starting Rainbow Warrior center Derek Faavi (6-0, 271) will be worth watching, especially knowing that Faavi has allowed only one sack in 589 pass attempts.
The Obvious – The Trojans return All-America running back Reggie Bush and powerful LenDale White, the best combination one-two punch in college football.
The Not So Obvious – Brian Maneafaiga (5-8, 184, Sr.) and Kala Latuselu (5-11, 223, Jr.) are the Rainbow Warriors version of White and Bush. Both are getting their first real look, and it will be interesting how they fare against the Trojans new front seven, especially new linebackers Oscar Lua and Keith Rivers, who much is expected. Keep a close watch on linebacker Dallas Sartz, who had some injury issues leading up to this week. Freshman Brian Cushing figures to see a good deal of playing time this Saturday, depending on Sartz's condition.
The Obvious - Saturday's game will mark the return of junior Winston Justice at the offensive right tackle position.
The Not So Obvious - Hawaii may test Justice with highly publicized senior defensive end Melila Purcell (6-4, 288), who had a team-high six sacks last season. There is a growing list of trained observers that believe this will be Justice's last year with the Trojans due to the fact Justice is being talked about as a Top-5 pick in next spring's NFL draft. In the best shape of this life, Justice has been dominant in Trojan practices, and it should be highly entertaining to watch his performance on Saturday. Let's watch how many times Lane Kiffin calls running plays to Winston's side, and Reggie Bush and LenDale White figure to benefit this weekend.
The Obvious – Saturday will be the debut of new Trojan offensive line coach Pat Ruel.
The Not So Obvious – Hawaii also has a new offensive line coach in former Rainbow Warrior running backs coach Wes Suan.
The Obvious – The Trojans return one of college football's elite offensive lines in tackles Sam Baker and Winston Justice, guards Deuce Lutui and Fred Matui, and center Ryan Kalil.
The Not So Obvious - While the Trojans have tremendous depth, experience, and talent along their national championship offensive line, the Rainbow Warriors counter with freshman All-American and second-team all-WAC performer Samson Satele (6-2, 278, Jr.) at the left guard spot. Satele, a local product from Kailus High in Oahu and future first round pick, according to June Jones, is the nephew of former Warrior and San Diego Charger, Alvis Satele. With a remarkable facial resemblance to the Trojans spirited offensive right guard Fred Matua, Satele recorded 42 "knockdowns" in 2004 and allowed only three sacks.
The Obvious – The right side of the Hawaii offensive line seems to have some special motivation to beat the nation's No. 1 team.
The Not So Obvious –Starting junior right tackle Dane Uperesa (6-5, 315), whose uncle, Keith, was one of Pete Carroll's first hires has an issue with the Trojans Marching Band. Commenting on a USC pet peeve: "Their band. It's cool when you first hear ("Fight On"), but they play it after what seems like every first down. It gets irritating." Uperesa's right guard partner, Brandon Eaton (6-2, 291), has his own Trojan motivation: "I used to live in California. I was in the shadows of USC. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to go there. I ended up here, playing against them. Their cockiness. They've been cocky since forever. I don't like that."
The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive line will need to rotate Saturday because of the heat and Trojan fans may see some early substitutions.
The Not So Obvious - A surprise depth chart advancement to investigate on Saturday will be the play of sophomore reserve right tackle Alatini Malu (6-4, 340), who worked his way up the depth chart ladder to backup junior starter Winston Justice.
The Obvious – Trojans' coach Pete Carroll believes that the media and fans have underestimated the ability of his secondary.
The Not So Obvious – While the Rainbow Warrior wide receivers might not evoke memories of the New England Patriots, the mental challenge directed at Carroll's secondary, especially in the underneath coverage of the Trojans, will be worthy of inspection. The country will be in for quite an awakening if senior free safety Scott Ware gets some lethal opportunities to introduce himself to Rainbow Warrior receivers. It should be noted that strong safety Darnell Bing did not practice Thursday due to the flu, so Trojan fans may get an increased opportunity to watch talented sophomore Josh Pinkard gain additional playing time. True freshman Kevin Ellison looks to also get additional playing time.
The Obvious – The Trojans will feature a new starter on the corner in sophomore Terrell Thomas (6-1, 200) and a new free safety in Ware.
The Not So Obvious – The Rainbow Warriors secondary will also be under a "heightened" alert" as UH corners Ryan Keomaka (5-10, 168) and Keao Monteilth (5-11, 170), both sophomores, will contend with the tall talents of Trojan wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Patrick Turner, both at 6-foot-5.
The Obvious – The Trojans will showcase to the nation their wealth of talented wide receivers, featuring a first unit of Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, and tight end Dominique Byrd.
The Not So Obvious – One of the strengths of the new Rainbow Warrior defense figured to be a secondary led by senior safety and captain Leonard Peters (6-1, 184) and junior corner Kenny Patton (6-0, 184), but Patton is doubtful for Saturday because of recent right knee surgery. Peters, in particular, is a favorite of Warrior coaches who feel he should have been all-conference last season and could be an NFL draft selection this spring.
The Obvious – Of the 10,000 Trojan fans that are expected at Aloha Stadium, a number of USC fans are annoyed about their seat locations, many placed in the upper decks of Aloha Stadium (50,000).
The Not So Obvious – According to a new colorful Sporting News hardcover college football stadium book, Saturday Shrines: College Football's Most Hallowed Shrines, the highest seat in Aloha Stadium is as high as a ten-story building.
The Obvious – Parking for Coliseum home games this season is $20 per car.
The Not So Obvious – Parking for Saturday's game at Aloha Stadium is $5 per car.
The Obvious – Talented freshman linebacker Kaluka Maiava from Wailuku Baldwin on Maui is the lone Hawaii representative on the Trojans' roster.
The Not So Obvious – The Rainbow Warrior roster lists 26 Californians.
The Obvious – Depending on his physical condition, the Trojans all-star punter Tom Malone may give way on Saturday to redshirt freshman walk-on Taylor Odegard from Mercer Island, Washington.
The Not So Obvious – With the late arrival of last year's kicker Nolan Miranda, Hawaii will be going Saturday with a true freshman kicker in No. 99 Dan Kelly (6-3, 190), a Temecula product who attended Linfield Christian.
The Obvious – Hawaii coach June Jones has been very coy on his quarterback starter, either Tyler Graunkei or Colt Brennan.
The Not So Obvious – For quarterback recruitniks, UH's Graunke is a Salpoint Catholic High alum who set the state of Arizona prep passing record and selected the Rainbow Warriors over Northern Arizona, Idaho St., and U. Mass. Colt Brennan, a former Santa Ana Mater Dei signal-caller and high school best buddy of Leinart, came to the Islands after stops at Colorado and Saddleback JC.
The Obvious – Hawaii is America's 50th state.
The Not So Obvious – Hawaii became America's final state in 1959, the same year coach Don Clark's Trojans went 8-2 and the McKeever brothers, RE-FB Marlin and LG Mike, and RT Ron Mix were all named Trojan All-Americans.
The Obvious – It figures that Trojans fans lucky enough to finish their summer vacations in Hawaii will be dressed in cardinal and gold attire, despite the warm and humid Aloha Stadium temperature.
The Not So Obvious – Don't adjust your television if there seems be a Green Hornet convention at Aloha Stadium. Saturday's game has been designated as a "Green-Out" game, and all Hawaii fans have been encouraged to wear green clothing.
The Obvious – The Trojans will host Fresno State on Nov.19 in a nationally televised night game on FSN.
The Not So Obvious – Hawaii will host Fresno State on Oct. 29 in a regionally televised game on ABC.
The Obvious – The Trojans' trip to Hawaii was a game negotiated by former athletic department official Darryl Gross, who is now the athletic director at Syracuse.
The Not So Obvious – According to a summer article in the Honolulu Advertiser, "The contract said UH is to provide (USC) round trip airfare for 175 people, 95 hotel rooms, per diem, ground transportation and 250 complimentary tickets. Similar terms surround the Sept. 4, 2010, game here. A later addition even got USC to peddle 7,250 tickets to its fans. (UH received a little more than expenses, $150,000, for its appearance at the Coliseum in 2003)." Not a bad little contract by Gross, especially the way things have worked out for both sides.
The Obvious – Saturday's game will be telecast into the southern California region on ESPN2 with Dave Barnett, Kelly Stouffer, and Shelly Smith on the broadcast crew.
The Not So Obvious –Play-by-play Barnett is a former voice of the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and Texas Rangers, analyst Stouffer, a former high NFL QB draft pick, and sideline reporter Smith, a print journalist having worked with Sports Illustrated.
The Obvious – This weekend begins the O/NSO public service to Trojan fans with television games of interest that actually started Thursday night with Oregon's 38-24 whacking at Houston on ESPN2.
The Not So Obvious – Friday night Trojan fans can watch ESPN to scout "we're getting better" Arizona at "say it ain't so, Urban" Utah (5:00 p.m./ ESPN). Saturday presents a tripleheader of Pac-10 action starting with " triple-option " Air Force at " where's there a Will-ingham, there's a way" Washington (12: 30 p.m./ABC), followed by the Trojans island hop, and concluding with "this is our year" UCLA at "we're a nice place to vacation" San Diego State (7:15 p.m./ ESPN2). Shhhhh. Did we mention "I've never lost to him" Notre Dame at "former Trojan assistant Wannestedt's" Pittsburgh (5:00 p.m., ABC)? All times are Pacific.
The Obvious – And finally, 1540 analyst Paul McDonald will have a silent pastime this season, waiting for his Trojan quarterback son, Michael, to get some game action.
The Not So Obvious – Like McDonald, Hawaii broadcasting analyst Robert Kekaula also has a pastime which he says is " a shady spot under the tree and an ukulele, singing a Hawaiian song." So what did you think the Hawaii analyst was going to say?