O/NSO - Bye Week 1 edition

The Obvious – There was little question that the Trojans were ready to play last Saturday, despite the allure of the Hawaiian Islands. The Not So Obvious – Don't expect any future letdowns according to defensive end Lawrence Jackson. The former Inglewood High star said, "It's too hard to get distracted when you're No. 1. Everybody's gunning for you."

The Obvious – Having revitalized their Honolulu-drained bodily fluids, Pete Carroll's top-ranked USC Trojans (1-0) spent their first bye week turning their attention to the Arkansas Razorbacks, cleaning up first-game mistakes and re-establishing on-field discipline, and using the extra time to open up their southern California recruiting base full throttle.

The Not So Obvious – Last weekend Arkansas (1-0), which will host SEC rival Vanderbilt (1-0) on Saturday night, rushed for 483 yards in its victory over Missouri State. Razorback tailback Felix Jones established a freshman record of 137 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. The Tulsa native was not the only newcomer for coach Houston Nutt's Hog offense as sophomore quarterback Robert Johnson, starting his first game, was 12-of-22 for 88 yards through the air. It figures the Razorbacks will come to the Coliseum 2-0, hoping their respected SEC rushing attack can keep the ball away from the Trojan offense.

The Obvious – One of the intriguing sidebars of the Trojans' home opener against Arkansas will be the attendance for the 7:15 p.m. kickoff.

The Not So Obvious – According to a Trojan ticket department representative, the Arkansas game is not yet a sellout, but the USC games with Fresno State and UCLA are unofficial sellouts, meaning that all individual tickets have been sold. The only way to get tickets for those games is to become a Trojan season ticket holder.

The Obvious – Winning and losing means everything in attendance in the Los Angeles sports market.

The Not So Obvious – According to the Daily News, a record 47,000 Trojan season tickets have already been sold, while according to the Los Angeles Times, UCLA has just reached 30,000 season tickets.

The Obvious – There was a rumor that one of the Coliseum seating changes for this season was the reassignment of the visitors sections from the closed end of the Grand Old Lady to the peristyle end.

The Not So Obvious – According to the same Trojan ticket representative, this is not accurate and the visitors and their band will be located where they have been in the past. So expect to see a lot of Razerbacks behind the closed end of the stadium along with any band Arkansas might send.

The Obvious – Coach Pete Carroll believes he has nipped the uncharacteristic opening game penalties in the helmet this week before it becomes a national championship dream buster.

The Not So Obvious - By his own admission, coach Pete Carroll was caught by surprise by his team's lack of self-discipline, calling it a "gift" that it happened in the opening game. Few teams in America the past four years have been more structured than the Trojans, as evidenced by last year‘s average of 5.7 penalties for 45.2 yards per game, third best in the Pac-10. The Trojans, however, were flagged nine times for 92 yards last Saturday, more than doubling last season's average. Perhaps most disappointing for Carroll was that a couple of the major unsportsmanlike flags were on seniors, tight end Dominique Byrd and defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey, something you don't like to see in your senior leadership.

The Obvious – Thursday night was the first night that the Trojan staff was able to hit the recruiting road.

The Not So Obvious -Pete Carroll and staff wasted little recruiting time making an appearance at Thursday night's Crenshaw at Taft game. Carroll, wearing a red USC windbreaker, was accompanied by three members of his staff to watch a wild 35-34 Taft victory. Carroll was looking at talent on both teams including Taft WR Jamere Holland, RB Andre Harris, and junior Malcom Smith, brother of the Trojans' Steve, along with Crenshaw's DB Darian Hagan, Jr., and receivers John Thompson and Tyquan Knox, who had a monster game. Carroll and staff had to show great discipline after every Taft score that resulted in the playing of the school fight song, "Sons of Westwood."

The Obvious – Perhaps the Trojans most recruited defensive lineman in southern California is Irvine Woodbridge's Alex Parsons, named by the Los Angeles Times as the top defensive lineman in the CIF Southern Section.

The Not So Obvious – Expect another turnout of Trojan coaches at Irvine Stadium tonight (Friday) at 7:00 p.m., when Woodbridge battles city rival Northwood in the season opener for both teams. Alex Parsons (6-4, 260), who made close to 100 tackles last year and five sacks, wears No. 6 and is listed as a tight end/linebacker, although the Trojans see him as a likely defensive end. The game will be played on FieldTurf, the newest rage in high school football surfaces.

The Obvious – Strong safety Darnell Bing's hip injury looks to be more serious than originally diagnosed and he could miss the Arkansas game.

The Not So Obvious – Bing's hip injury, which sends a chill down the spine of Trojan fans who have followed the uncertain hip recovery time of punter Tom Malone, gives talented sophomore Josh Pinkard a chance to move from free safety to starting strong safety. The O/NSO sees Pinkard as a future star free safety and while the move to strong safety helps the team, a return to free safety will benefit the Trojans in the long run. It will also allow Pinkard to challenge Scott Ware down the road and don't think that Ware's starting status is in cement.

The Obvious – On page three of the USC Football Media Guide, there is a highlighted paragraph that asks the media not to refer to the University of Southern California as Southern Cal.

The Not So Obvious – During player introductions on ABC during Thursday night's NFL opener between New England and Oakland, former Trojan two-time, All-Pac-10 defender and New England defensive lineman Willie McGinest introduced himself to America as, " Willie McGinest from the University of Southern Cal." The O/NSO gives Willie a free pass because he is not part of the media and his football home is east of the Mississippi, where the Trojans are routinely referred to as "Southern Cal."

The Obvious – Prior to last weekend's college football openers, Sports Illustrated came out with their Top 15 games to watch in 2005, which included the Trojans at California on Nov. 12.

The Not So Obvious – The loss of Cal starting redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Longshore to a broken leg against Sacramento State certainly changes the landscape for coach Jeff Tedford's Bears. It's anybody's guess why the Bears were playing Sacramento State in the first place. If Matt Leinart had a season ending injury because the Trojans played a Sacramento State, the cardinal and gold natives would be going whacko.

The Obvious – A very multi-talented fullback that played fullback for the Trojans from 1974 to 1976 was David Farmer out of La Puente Workman.

The Not So Obvious – Although Farmer never scored a touchdown for John McKay's national champions during his USC career, his son, David, scored one against his father's alma mater at Aloha Stadium last Saturday. Young Farmer, who always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps to USC, scored on a seven-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tyler Graunke with three minutes to play.

The Obvious – Fox Sports West 2 has a new show on Tuesday nights at 10:30 p.m. called Trojan Rewind, a comprehensive look at the Trojans' previous game.

The Not So Obvious – Using last Saturday's Hawaii game as its inaugural show, Trojan Rewind provides Trojan fans with network video highlights from both the actual telecast and Fox ground level video. The thirty-minute show tries to provide fans with a comprehensive experience, including pregame and fan interaction. The audio is provided by the actual radio broadcast of Pete Arbogast. Paul McDonald, and John Jackson. The O/NSO thought the show was entertaining and worthwhile watching, but there was too much ground-level action footage for our tastes.

The Obvious – More than one pundit has spoken unfavorably of the Trojans' "soft" schedule.

The Not So Obvious – However, as of this bye week, there are four future Trojan opponents that are in the AP Top 25. With No.15 ASU, No. 16, Cal, No. 20 Notre Dame, and No. 24 Fresno St, the Trojan schedule looks like it's "hardening" in the early going. Upsets this weekend by Notre Dame over Michigan and Arizona State over LSU would further erode the "soft schedule" image.

The Obvious – No. 20 Notre Dame (1-0) is a seven-point underdog at No. 3 Michigan (1-0) on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans may want to make sure they watch the Irish (9:00 a.m., ABC) battle the Wolverines. IF the Irish win, the chances suddenly become more likely that if the Trojans can overcome their future road challenges and ND wins Oct. 1 at Purdue, the two teams could be unbeaten on Oct. 15. Following their game this weekend in Ann Arbor, the Irish return home to battle Michigan State, travel to Washington, and then head down to West Lafayette for Joe Tiller's Boilermakers. So who cares about the Irish being undefeated? Those Trojan fans that don't yet have tickets for the South Bender.

The Obvious – Mississippi defeats Memphis State, 10-6, in former Trojan defensive line coach Ed Orgeron's head coaching debut.

The Not So Obvious - The Ole Miss win was also a tribute to the USC program because Orgeron freely admits using all the Trojan terminology and concepts. Like the Trojan players, the Ole Miss players touch the "I am In" sign when they come to practice or leave the locker room for a game. Watching Orgeron pace the sidelines on Monday afternoon like every play was fourth- and-goal at the one-yard line makes you wonder how he'll still be standing after the 11th game at Mississippi State come November.

The Obvious – For Trojan fans that sat in the stands last Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium, you know how hot it was.

The Not So Obvious – One veteran field observer who viewed Saturday's game at field level said it was the hottest he had ever experienced, and the field heat was measured at 120 degrees. No smiling from you ESPN2 air conditioning, lemonade sippers.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback recruit Tim Tebow (6-2 1/2, 220) of St. Augustine Nease High, Florida, was featured recently on ESPN in a high-intensity game against Alabama powerhouse Hoover.

The Not So Obvious – Some would say he is the second coming of Steve Young and some might say he minds of a big Cade McNown, but the impressive thing about the kid is that way he competes. The lefty is not the smooth performer of a Matt Leinart at Mater Dei High, but the end results of many of his plays results in damage to the defense. Tebow takes a lot of punishment because he runs the ball a bunch, which eventually caused a killer second half fumble against Hoover, which won the game going away. The big lefty is being home-schooled and doesn't attend classes at Nease. During the ESPN telecast, a member of the Nease coaching staff mentioned the fact that the Trojans are recruiting him.

The Obvious – There was little question that the Trojans were ready to play last Saturday, despite the allure of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Not So Obvious – Don't expect any future letdowns according to defensive end Lawrence Jackson. The former Inglewood High star said, "It's too hard to get distracted when you're No. 1. Everybody's gunning for you."

The Obvious – "To be the hottest ticket in L.A. makes you feel pretty good. Being in Hollywood, we meet so many people. We've got Snoop working out with us, Will Ferrell working out with us. All the movie stars, all the rappers, they want to be part of winning." – LenDale White, Trojans' running back, in a recent N.Y. Times story.

The Not So Obvious – And one of the stars of the Trojans is still LenDale White, who was the subject of alleged displeasure after the Hawaii game. After all the denials on all fronts that there is trouble brewing in Trojan City, we'll see what happens when the Trojans get close to the Arkansas goal line.

The Obvious – The Trojans All-American tailback Reggie Bush is a rare combination of physical gifts and there are constant comparisons to legendary performers from the past.

The Not So Obvious – Some have compared Bush to former 1972 Nebraska Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers. However, we agree with veteran Buffalo News sports editor Larry Felser who calls Bush "the second coming of Gale Sayers."

The Obvious – Trojan freshman kickoff starter Troy Van Blarcom nailed the Aloha Stadium end zone a number of times last Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Apparently the Coliseum scrimmage that Carroll counted on for some important pregame experience had the desired affect on Van Blarcom. It was a reminder of a scene from the movie Hoosiers when coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) took his Hickery team into Butler Field House to help eliminate arena intimidation. Coach Dale reminded his players through the use of a measuring tape that regardless of the building, the hoop still stands 10-feet high. Much the same with Van Blarcom, who was reminded that it's the same football dimensions whether its Orange Lutheran High or the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – a 100 yard field.

The Obvious – While the big game on the tube this Saturday is No. 2 Texas at No. 4 Ohio State (5:00 p.m., ABC), special recognition should be paid to No. 5 LSU at No.15 Arizona State, a venue change due to Hurricane Katrina (5:45, ESPN).

The Not So Obvious –LSU will wear their traditional home uniforms since it was originally a Tiger home game. Trojan fans wanting to do some additional Pac-10 scouting on Saturday can begin viewing with No. 16 "Now who's our quarterback" California at "Tormented Ty" Washington (12:30 p.m., ABC). Next up is "Walt makes us better" Stanford at "Where have you gone Roger Staubuck?" Navy (3:00 p.m., CSTV). Thirty minutes later it's "Georgia no longer on my mind" Boise St. at " Don't embarrass the Pac-10" Oregon State (3:30 p.m., FSN). The nightcap features "Uncle Ben's" Rice at "Are we peeking at Oklahoma?" UCLA (7:00 p.m., FSN2). All times are Pacific Standard Time.

The Obvious – Thanks to the NCAA allowance of an extra game, the Trojans will play all their Pac-10 foes in 2006.

The Not So Obvious – There are some changes in dates from the originally 2006 listed schedule. The revised 2006 Trojan schedule now includes at Arizona (Sept. 23), at Washington St. (Sept. 30), Washington (Oct. 7), at Stanford (Nov. 4), and Oregon (Nov. 11).

The Obvious – There was a recent article in the Los Angeles Times concerning the fact that the only class being taken this semester by Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart was a dance class, the only two units he needed to graduate.

The Not So Obvious – In their 2005 college football preview edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there was an a Q&A with Leinart covering a number of topics. When asked about his most interesting class, Leinart said, "Gang culture. It was really cool, learning how some of the bigger gangs form – the Bloods, Crips, the Mexican mafia. We had guest speakers who were former gang members who did a (lot) of stuff." The class was especially relevant because Lefty is a sociology major and grew up in Santa Ana, a city that has worked hard to reduce its gang activity.

The Obvious – In WeAreSC's Yearbook edition of the All-Time Trojan Team, Reggie Bush was voted the best punt returner in school history.

The Not So Obvious – Although we voted for the electrifying Bush, the most reckless and fearless punt returner in our opinion was safety Mike Battle, a Trojan star from the mid-60s who turned hurdling into his punt return signature.

The Obvious – Last Saturday's Trojan opener in Hawaii was seen on ESPN2 at 4:00 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – However, early last week, ESPN sent out an e-mail proclaiming the Trojans at Hawaii was on ESPN and kickoff was at 4:45 p.m.

The Obvious – Trojan freshman linebacker Kaluka Maiava from Maui was so excited to play in front of his family and friends in Aloha Stadium that he received an unsportsmanlike penalty for spearing, a rule of emphasis by officials this season.

The Not So Obvious – Earlier Kaluka told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin there is a major difference in his new social and football environment. Maiava said, " Maui has a laid-back lifestyle and the pace of high school ball is a joke compared to here (USC)."

The Obvious – And finally, Trojan fans are preparing an enthusiastic welcome for their cardinal and gold heroes in their first home game against Arkansas.

The Not So Obvious – ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit had a column in which he gave his Herbies Awards. One of the categories was "Top 5 Game Day Locations." Of his visit to Los Angeles last year for the Cal game with Lee Corso and Chris Fowler, Herbstreit commented: "USC -- I never thought I'd put a Pac-10 school on this list, but the Trojans' fans blew me away last year with their support. They showed up at 7:30 a.m. local time, and the thousands of Trojans fans let the nation know USC and the Pac-10 are to be taken seriously." Don't be surprised to see the Game Day crew for the finale with the Westwooders on Dec. 3.


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