O/NSO - Hawaii review

Aloha Stadium annually hosts professional football's post-season Pro Bowl All-Star Game, so it was appropriate that the top-ranked USC Trojan offensive all-stars (1-0) turned Saturday's opening game with the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (0-1) into it's own version of an NFL preseason exhibition game with a crushing 63–17 victory before a sun-drenched 48,803 fans.

The Obvious – Aloha Stadium annually hosts professional football's post-season Pro Bowl All-Star Game, so it was appropriate that the top-ranked USC Trojan offensive all-stars (1-0) turned Saturday's opening game with the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (0-1) into it's own version of an NFL preseason exhibition game with a crushing 63–17 victory before a sun-drenched 48,803 fans.

The Not So Obvious – Living up to the old motto "better to look good than to feel good," the Trojans' offense lived up to their press clippings, but the defense left much to be desired, despite the fact the Rainbow Warriors, at times, turned into their own worst enemy. However, memories are short and it should be recalled that last year's national champions used to go through "warm-ups" in the first half only to explode after intermission, a familiar pattern demonstrated by Saturday's Trojan 42-14 second half Trojan detonation.

The Obvious – Before Saturday's game, Pete Carroll said he was concerned that his offense would be "so explosive that the defense will have to spend a lot of time on the field."

The Not So Obvious – The last thing that Carroll wanted to see at the start of the game on Saturday was his defense on the field for almost 14 minutes of the first quarter. In total time of possession, the Trojan offense had the ball for 26:48, while the Rainbow Warriors controlled the pigskin for 33:12. It doesn't take Hawaii's June Jones to figure out if you can control the ball and keep it away from Matt Leinart and company, you have a chance to compete.

The Obvious – For the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, playing the top team in the land left a lasting impression.

The Not So Obvious – UH running back Bryan Maneafaiga said, "What they really had that's special is their speed. They're No.1 for a reason. I can see that now."

The Obvious – After Saturday's performance of three scoring tosses, Trojan All-American quarterback Matt Leinart (18-of-24 for 332 yards and 1 PI) established the all-time school record for touchdown passes with 74, erasing the previous record of 72 held by Carson Palmer.

The Not So Obvious – What makes Leinart so incomparable at this point in his career is the ability on any given play to call an audible, go through his progression of receivers, and then fire a lethal strike, which he illustrated by his 28-yard scoring pass to Dwayne Jarrett.

The Obvious – The Trojans scouting of opponents leaves nothing to chance and Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart showed again on Saturday he misses nothing when it comes to game planning and execution on the field.

The Not So Obvious – Case in point. On Lefty's 67-yard pass to Steve Smith, who beat UH corner Kenny Patton, Leinart said, "No. 24 (Patton) is a good player ... but we knew he was hurt. We knew he had (arthroscopic knee) surgery a couple of weeks ago."

The Obvious – Tailback Reggie Bush carried 12 times for 86 yards, two touchdowns, and 167 total yards in three quarters.

The Not So Obvious – Oh hum. So he didn't catch a touchdown reception, who complaining? So he didn't have one jaw-dropping punt return. You'll just have to settle for Reggie's electrfying 41-yard scoring romp. The Roadrunner got a great trap block by pulling guard Fred Matua and a physical seal block by wide receiver Chris McFoy

The Obvious – Legendary Trojan tailback Anthony Davis had a "habit" of dropping to his knees in the end zone when he scored, doing the "Davis Shuffle."

The Not So Obvious – Reggie Bush has his own end zone signature… if the officials don't call unsportsmanlike conduct. It appears if Bush has a chance to launch himself over the goal line, No. 5 needs no clearance from NASA. When asked about Bush's ability to go airborne, reserve tailback Desmond Reed joked, "Are you surprised that Superman can fly?"

The Obvious – There appeared to be more a Trojan emphasis on the run than last year, especially with tailback Reggie Bush inside the tackles.

The Not So Obvious – There was a nice balance of run and pass and didn't a number of you old geezers get a gridiron Viagra when you saw those "student body sweeps" with Reggie Bush? Not only has Pete Carroll brought back the proud Trojan heritage but a form of 28-pitch as well.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback LenDale White, who first appeared in the game in the second quarter, carried 13 times for 69 yards, mostly in scrubini time.

The Not So Obvious – It was almost overlooked when the Trojans got inside the Hawaii five yard line that it was Bush, not White that would push it into the end zone. So much attention has been paid to the Bush campaign and his off-season conditioning, few paid attention that LenDale was not in the game.

The Obvious – Sunday, the Los Angles press jumped all over the fact that White appears to be no longer 1-A alongside Bush, perhaps igniting the first real firestorm in a tailback relationship that has previously worked harmoniously.

The Not So Obvious - Make no mistake about it, this was a Pete Carroll decision. Do young assistant offensive coaches tell the veteran head coach what to do? Of course not. Carroll's Bush-over-White pecking order was born of White's recent academic and injury issues and Bush's relentless drive for self-improvement, both physically and mentally. Bush's team leadership and work ethic has brought massive respect from his teammates, as well. However, don't fret about LenDale. The gifted junior tailback still needs to be a major factor if this team is going to make it three in a row, but it could be a real test of team chemistry for all concerned. Considering Saturday's circumstances, give credit to an emotional White for trying to say all the right things under some very difficult circumstances.

The Obvious – Sophomore receiver Dwayne Jarrett had seven catches for 88 yards and three touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – Although he had a fourth scoring possibility taken away in the end zone on an official's neglect of an obvious defensive pass interference which resulted in a Leinart interception, the physical maturation of Jarrett was quite evident on Saturday as he broke a tackle for a score on a post pattern and showcased a mean Mike Williams stiff-arm on Rainbow Warrior Ruan Kenomaka.

The Obvious – The Trojan offense accounted for 518 yards in total offense, not exactly a surprise, but Pete Carroll's defense was unable to provide much more than unanswered questions.

The Not So Obvious – The Rainbow Warriors accounted for 437 yards in total offense and that is not what a national championship team allows, no matter what unusual offense the opposition employs. While Saturday's final score won't indicate it, upcoming teams like Oregon, ASU, and surprising Notre Dame have been given more hope against this year's Trojans, at least at the outset. Indeed, the Trojans have much work to be done on defense, if they wish to make Pasadena.

The Obvious – Coach Pete Carroll was impressed with the design and strategy of Hawaii's June Jones' run and shoot offense, which seemed to incorporate a little bit of the Urban Meyer philosophy.

The Not So Obvious – Following the game, Carroll said, "The new age football is the shotgun Utah stuff. They (Hawaii) had nice stuff. We tapped into some of their stuff during camp, but they did everything."

The Obvious – The Trojans defensive front had it's hands full trying to track down alternating Rainbow Warrior quarterbacks Colt Brennan (21-of-32 for 250 yards and a score) and Tyler Graunke (12 of 17 for 127 yards).

The Not So Obvious – The new age of shotgun formations mixed with some option is something the Trojans better get accustomed. With quarterbacks that run like Oregon's Kellen Clements and ND's Brady Quinn, it could be ominous Trojan foreshadowing as Hawaii's Tyler Graunke added an additional 43 yards rushing

The Obvious – Considering the amount of Rainbow Warrior passes attempted (49), the Trojans recorded just three sacks for the game.

The Not So Obvious – It would be easy to blame the pass rush on coach Jethro Franklin's unit, but when the Hawaii quarterbacks stay in the shotgun for the entire game, getting sacks is just hard to come by. Two of the Trojan sacks were credited to linebackers Oscar Lua and Dallas Sartz and defensive end Lawrence Jackson had the other. The vicious hit of the day was provided by Trojan sophomore linebacker Thomas "Hitman" Williams (6-3, 230) on UH's diminutive Michael Washington, who is listed at 5-foot-5 and 155 pounds. Ouchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

The Obvious – UH quarterback Colt Brennan is a close friend of Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart, both having played at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California.

The Not So Obvious – So what did Brennan think of the Trojans? Afterwards Brennan said, "The reason they're the national champions is because they've got great athletes, and they know how to play and win football games. They don't make mistakes. Physically, we were with them, but we made too many errors, and they know how to capitalize on them. Once we started making enough, they started running the tables on us. There's nothing you can do about it but work hard day in and day out."

The Obvious – The Trojans' rebuilt defense allowed 377 yards in Rainbow Warrior passing offense.

The Not So Obvious – The fact that Hawaii threw the ball 49 times certainly gave the Trojans a full day of pass defense practice. There were just too many open Warrior receivers during the afternoon. A couple of bright spots on defense, however, were the play of reserve linebacker Collin Ashton, who had five tackles and almost returned an on-sides kick back for a score, sophomore safety Josh Pinkard, who had five tackles, and improving senior corner John Walker, who had five tackles.

The Obvious – The Trojans secondary, especially in the middle, left a lot to be desired as the Rainbow Warriors found huge seams.

The Not So Obvious – Had the Rainbow receivers been Oregon's Demetrius Williams and James Finley, some of those dropped passed deep down the middle would have inflicted heavy pain to the Trojans' cause. Hawaii's Ross Dickerson (5 receptions for 116 yards) gave the Trojans' defensive backfield all they could handle and certainly showed Pac-10 ability. Free safety Scott Ware, the biggest hitter on defense, had only one tackle.

The Obvious – While the first half wasn't pretty, as most aren't in the season opener, Darnell Bing's early 66-yard touchdown interception of a slant pass was almost a designed defensive play.

The Not So Obvious – After the contest, Bing, who played sick along with an injured hip, revealed, " We worked on that play all week. I read the receiver and saw the quarterback (Brennan) going that way." Conversely, UH quarterback Brennan said, "It was one of those things where I've been reading that play a certain way all week. If a guy backed up on the middle receiver, 'throw it, hit it, get it to him.' ... They pretty much switched guys. I saw (a linebacker) back up, and I threw it. (Bing) jumped in there. He was right there. It was a read I'm two or three games away from making."

The Obvious – Coach Pete Carroll was excited about Bing's scoring interception, which the coach referred to as "great."

The Not So Obvious – Carroll said it was "frustrating" by Hawaii's ability to control the ball almost the entire first quarter of play. As for June Jones' offense, Carroll said, " It was a great experience for us for a first game. They did more than we expected. We tried to coach some of the different things they do, but they did they their whole thing today. They (coaches June Jones and Jerry Granville) are great coaches over there. They kicked my butt."

The Obvious – Saturday's game was the first sellout for Hawaii since Nov. 30, 2002, when UH hosted Alabama.

The Not So Obvious – It was also the worst beating in a home opener for the Rainbow Warrior since, well, the Trojans hung a 62-7 loss in 1999, coach June Jones' first year. Once the Trojans did their third quarter explosion of 28 points, Aloha Stadium started to do an impression of last season's Orange Bowl, as many fans who braved the heat and humidity, headed for the exits and cooler terrain. In fact, for the most part, Aloha Stadium did not even approach the noise factor of a normal Trojan game.

The Obvious – The Trojan offensive line did a masterful job, especially in protecting Matt Leinart and providing cardinal and gold runners with 177 yards rushing.

The Not So Obvious – Leinart was only sacked once and stayed out of harm's way most of the game. The line of Sam Baker, Deuce Lutui, Ryan Kalil, Fred Matua, and Winston Justice kept Jerry Granville's alleged Matt Leinart bounty from materializing. For a majority of the time, coach Pat Ruel's group were Leinart's Lloyds of London gridiron insurance policy. Justice, starting his first game in a year and a half, did show some rust with consecutive false starts starting the second quarter.

The Obvious – The Trojan receivers accounted for 341 yards and four touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – There is little question that junior Steve Smith, who accounted for 185 yards in receptions on Saturday, is turning into his own version of Kerry Colbert, the former Trojan receiving great now in the NFL. However, much of Smith's success, according to Steve, is produced by Matt Leinart and coaching. Deep in the Aloha Stadium locker room, Smith said, " The coaches have given Matt a lot of leeway and going against our defense make it easy. On Matt's audibles, I just change my feet. I watch Keary (Colbert) and just work on my release and learn the details from my coaches."

The Obvious – The play-calling of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian was efficient as the big Trojan offensive numbers would indicate.

The Not So Obvious – Carroll was extremely happy with the performance of his inexperienced play-callers. Pete said, " They rocked the whole time. These guys are sharp and terrific. Their adjustments were really good." There were some Chow-departing strategies as on one third-and-five, Kiffin called for a run whereas Chow might have ordered a pass. Although the run didn't get the first down, it didn't play a major factor in the game either and even Norm Chow called some duds during his tenure at Troy.

The Obvious – The temperature at kickoff was 86 degrees with a workable breeze.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, Carroll addressed the weather challenge. Carroll said, " I am thrilled. The weather was not factor because of our conditioning. I liked this first game. We played so hard and with intensity. We're going to have a big luau tonight!"

The Obvious – Trojan backup quarterback John David Booty finally made his debut with 1:22 remaining in the third quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Give Lane Kiffin credit, John David's first pass was an attempted long strike that fell incomplete, but later Booty did get a confidence boost with a two-yard fade touchdown pass to Dwayne Jarrett. John David might have had another score when tight end Fred Davis tried to make a one-handed grab in end zone. It was probably an afternoon that Kiffin and Sarkisian would have liked to have gotten Booty more than five passing attempts, but the former Louisiana prep legend figures to get more opportunities.

The Obvious – As the visiting team, the Trojan wore their white jerseys and gold pants.

The Not So Obvious – For the record, the Trojan helmets did have their "Trojan head" decals on each side of their headgear, something they did not wear in their dress rehearsal during the public scrimmage in the Coliseum in August, causing some concern among the masses.

The Obvious – The Trojans were the least flagged team in the Pac-10 Conference last season, the sign of a champion.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's game took on a negative tone in penalties as Carroll's boys were hit with nine flags for 97 yards, compared to Hawaii with 9 flags for 55 yards. The worst Trojan penalties were the unsportsmanlike flag on tight end Dominique Byrd for throwing the ball at a defender after a play and for a celebration penalty on Dwayne Jarrett, which brought the wrath of Pete Carroll. Throw in three late hit calls and you can bet Carroll will do everything in his power from having his beloved program referred to as Miami Hurricanes of the West. This has not been the Pete Carroll way.

The Obvious – Tight end Dominique Byrd caught only one pass on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious - The Trojans were scoring was quickly there wasn't any real sense of urgency to get the talented Byrd the ball. However, Dominique didn't help his cause with his ill-timed penalty. One got the impression that Bryd's lack of receptions was a combination of lack of need and perhaps the coaching staff's displeasure with his unsportsmanlike penalty.

The Obvious – Freshman wide receiver Patrick Turner made his debut but had no receptions.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, Pete Carroll said, " Patrick was open, but we just didn't get him the ball." Expect Turner to get his first reception in the home opener against Arkansas.

The Obvious – Leading tackler for the Trojans on Saturday was linebacker Dallas Sartz, who recorded a team-high seven and a sack.

The Not So Obvious – It appeared, however, that Dallas didn't play one of his better games, and it could have been the fact he was injured (hip and hand) during camp and played more on guts on Saturday. Aside from some blitzes he ran effectively, the senior was out of position on a number of plays and was burned on a touchdown pass. Expect this respected defensive captain to make up for it against Arkansas in two weeks.

The Obvious – Trojan special team kickers Troy Van Blarcom and Mario Danelo made their first starts.

The Not So Obvious – Give freshman Van Blarcom some love as the kid showed massive improvement from his underwhelming Coliseum scrimmage from a couple of weeks ago. The kid nailed it into the end zone a couple of times and near the goal line as well. As for Danelo, he did what he has done in practice and he hit all nine extra points. Mario did miss on a 43-yard field goal attempt.

The Obvious – The Trojans punted only one time with reserve Taylor Odegard knocking one 38 yards.

The Not So Obvious – All week Trojan fans were told by All-America punter Tom Malone that he would be ready for action. However, it was Odegard, the redshirt walk-on freshman from Mercer Island in Washington, that punted. Since the game was out of reach when a Trojan punt was needed, perhaps the coaching staff simply thought it was best to give Malone the day off, especially with the next game two weeks off.

The Obvious – The Trojans have a no-beer policy for home games this season, a policy that has drawn some criticism in some corners.

The Not So Obvious –Aloha Stadium has also been the subject an alcohol ban controversy. Hawaii fans before the game, many sitting under green and white umbrellas, simply beat the system by consuming the firewater before entering the stadium, as did the Trojan fans. Perhaps it was just the kick-back attitude of Oahu, but the Aloha Stadium tailgating was rather subdued compared to the usual Coliseum excitement.

The Obvious – According to Hawaii coach June Jones, the 10,000 Trojan fans that came to the Islands contributed $20 million dollars to the Hawaiian economy.

The Not So Obvious – Thanks to the appearance from the Trojans, the Rainbow Warriors also did well by raising their ticket prices this season. It's amazing what hosting the No. 1 team in the country can do to overlooking a ticket increase. FYI, a number of Trojan fans were disappointed that they couldn't get into the Trojans team hotel, the Marriott Ihilani, which got high marks with those that had an ocean view.

The Obvious – A good turnout of Trojan Marching Band members brought cardinal and gold spirit to Aloha Stadium.

The Not So Obvious – Throw the band some love as they dressed in true uniforms along with head gear, not an easy thing to wear considering the heat of the afternoon.

The Obvious – The Trojan song girls generally wear those attractive, long-sleeve white sweaters with the U-S-C letters on the front.

The Not So Obvious – Showing good common sense, the song girls wore cutoff sleeves with U-S- C on the front and left the heat-seeking sweaters back in the hotel.

The Obvious – Saturday's game last three hours and thirty minutes.

The Not So Obvious – Most Trojan fans were worried that ESPN2 would cut to the UCLA at San Diego State game if the Trojan/UH game was no longer in doubt. Nope, ESPN2 stayed at Aloha Stadium and joined the UCLA game in progress, which, of course, annoyed UCLA fans and brought great pleasure to Trojan fans.

The Obvious – Saturday's game was televised nationally on ESPN2.

The Not So Obvious – While Saturday's ESPN2 broadcasting team was average at best, the worst comment was made after Desmond Reed's 17-yard fumble recovery touchdown. Without considering the recent disaster in New Orleans, analyst Kelly Stouffer said, "I think the flood gates are officially open."

The Obvious – And finally, Pete Carroll gave his team a number of tourist options on Sunday to enjoy their "all over the Island" experience.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans departed Hawaii late Sunday with the knowledge that there is much work to be done on defense during this week's bye. With the home opener against the SEC's Arkansas Razorbacks on Sept. 17 followed by Pac-10 play at Oregon in three weeks, it's going to be a busy time at Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields. But after all, when you win your opener on the road, 63-17, it ain't a bad beginning, even if it did feel like one of those meaningless NFL preseason games.

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