O/NSO - Arkansas review

Having turned the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum into the Swamp in Florida, the Big House in Michigan, and Memorial Stadium in Nebraska, the record-setting top-ranked USC Trojans (2-0) turned the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks (1-2) into a delicious BBQ pork three-course meal with a satisfying 70-17 triumph before 90,411 mostly gratified Trojan fans.

The Obvious – Having turned the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum into the Swamp in Florida, the Big House in Michigan, and Memorial Stadium in Nebraska, the record-setting top-ranked USC Trojans (2-0) turned the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks (1-2) into a delicious BBQ pork three-course meal with a satisfying 70-17 triumph before 90,411 mostly gratified Trojan fans.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday night's Coliseum atmosphere applied the appetizer, the Trojans' offense served the main course, and Trojans second and third units were a pleasing dessert. But most of all, the entire event left Trojan fans wanting more. However, like all large servings of excitement, the potential loss of starting corner Terrell Thomas and linebacker Dallas Sartz left more than a number of Trojan fans with a bad case of indigestion.

The Obvious – The Trojans created a new AP record on Sunday by being voted No. 1 for 22 consecutive weeks, breaking the old record of 21, formerly held by Miami.

The Not So Obvious – With the record-setting AP voting streak, a nation's best 24-game winning streak, and a Coliseum streak now at 22 games, some attention may be shifted from three-peat to streaks. However, two of those streaks will be under severe fire the next two weeks with Trojan road trips to No. 24 Oregon and No. 18 Arizona State.

The Obvious – Judging by Saturday night's fan electricity and if the Trojans can survive their ominous two-game road trip, it is conceivable that Saturday night's Coliseum atmosphere may live up to the old proverb that "Past is Prologue."

The Not So Obvious – So intense was the appearance of the Trojans coming out of the famed Coliseum tunnel, that when Pete Carroll's boys took the field, camera flashes exploded like tip-off at a Final Four along with unparalleled volume from all directions. Even Trojan radio voices Pete Arbogast and Paul McDonald commented they had not seen or heard this type of early pregame intensity.

The Obvious – Matt Leinart scored on a first quarter 17-yard run, capping a two-play 70-yard drive.

The Not So Obvious - It appeared that the entire air of the Coliseum was sucked in by 84,000 Trojan fans inhaling their collective breathes as Leinart took off. As Leinart was hit at the goal line, there was a stunned moment of silence before the expected explosion of scoring. When Lefty go up, they was a collective sigh of relief, not the least which was Pete Carroll.

The Obvious – Tailback Reggie Bush carried eight times for 125 yards and a touchdown to go along with three catches for 70 yards and another touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – Before the game, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt believed there was a map the Razorbacks could follow that could lead his team to Upset City. "Don't let them get out the gate too fast," Nutt said, "with a kickoff return or punt return. I worry about Reggie Bush. No. 5 takes your breath away. We've got to slow him down." Both Bush's long run and acrobatic non-scoring catch proved prophetic for Nutt.

The Obvious – It didn't take Bush long to explode as he went 76 yards through the heart of the Razorback's defense.

The Not So Obvious – Once into the teeth of the Hogs' defense, The Roadrunner got a great block from fullback David Kirtman to place him one-on-one with a Razorback safety who was frozen in the Coliseum turf with one final Bush juke. Whoosh!

The Obvious – When Reggie Bush came onto the Coliseum turf for his first punt return opportunity, he encouraged the Coliseum fans by waving his warms in the air to pump up the excitement.

The Not So Obvious – As Bush trotted onto the field, the crowd stood up and started yelling "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie." Pete Carroll is on record as wanting his players to connect with the hometown fans and they certainly did.

The Obvious – Quarterback Matt Leinart completed 18-of-24 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – There is not much more you can say or add to an evaluation of Lefty. However, the scariest thing for an opposition defense and defensive coordinator has to be when No. 11 starts waving his hands, flicking his fingers, or tapping his helmet to indicate an audible is in the works. How helpless Arkansas looked when Leinart changed the play into an offensive explosion. It won't be long for fans to increase their volume when they recognize Matt is changing the play before the snap.

The Obvious – The Arkansas Razorback's secondary were taken to slaughter by the Trojans receiving duo of Steve Smith (4 rec/129 yds) and Dwayne Jarrett (4rec/79 yds/ 2 TDs).

The Not So Obvious – Recently Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the Trojan receivers were on a completely different level than the rest of college football. You won't have to convince Razorback corners Michael Coe and Chris Houston, both of whom had enough of Jarrett and Smith, and pity poor senior linebacker Clarke Moore (6-2, 245) who was matched against Reggie Bush (6-0, 200), who raced by Moore for a 29-yard scoring reception from Leinart.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll was very unhappy against Hawaii when the Trojans were flagged nine times for 97 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Apparently Carroll had his point across the past two weeks of practice as the Trojans were penalized just four times for 23 yards. Thumbs up.

The Obvious – Arkansas coach Houston Nutt knew his chances to stay with the Trojans were his Razorbacks ability to "offensively keep the clock moving and stay on the field and when you get your opportu- nities, score."

The Not So Obvious – As far as time of possession, Arkansas ended with over a nine-minute advantage (34:09 to 25:51) over the Trojans. For those of you that complained about the length of Saturday night's game (3:19), sending many of you into a cavalcade of yawns, the officially ending was officially 10:44 p.m. You can thank Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, however, for allowing the game to be a whole 21 minutes shorter than the Hawaii contest (3:30). Ah, those running teams really drain that clock.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense amassed 736 yards in total offense.

The Not So Obvious – Is this the greatest Trojan offense of all-time? We're not quite ready to say it is, but it certainly is through the first two games. Combined with the four touchdowns in a 1 minute and 32 seconds at the very outset of the game and with FSN commercials after each score, many fans felt they had experienced a whole game with still nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Obvious – The Trojans defense allowed the Razorbacks 244 yards in offense, 197 of those yards in rushing.

The Not So Obvious – The Razorback runners were swift and ran with authority, but it was curious that coach Houston Nutt's offense seemed to be never quite sure what it was it wanted to do - pass or run. The Hogs showed they could throw the ball, especially to talented 6-foot-6 receiver Marcus Monk, who gave the Trojans some tough times in the secondary. While the Razorbacks won't be confused with the passing efficiency of Oregon and Arizona State, there is reason for concern based on the way UA receivers got open.

The Obvious – The loss of linebacker Dallas Sartz was a stunning blow to the Trojans linebacker unit which already has Sartz backup, freshman Brian Cushing, on the dislocated shoulder shelf.

The Not So Obvious – Let's credit to senior linebacker Collin Ashton and sophomore linebacker Thomas "Hitman" Williams, who filled in nicely after the Sartz injury. Utility linebacker Thomas Williams gives a "face" of emotion and physical play to the defense. Williams' pressure of UA QB Robert Johnson led to a Josh Pinkard interception.

The Obvious – Senior corner and nickel back John Walker, who has been itching for more playing time in the secondary, has been granted his wish with the unfortunate injury to Terrell Thomas.

The Not So Obvious - Walker played a bunch at corner, although early in the game he got beat by UA 6-foot-6 receiver Marcus Monk for a 12-yard scoring pass. If the Trojans are going to be a force, Walker will need to step up.

The Obvious – The loss of corner Terrell Thomas really cut to the quick in terms of depth in the Trojans' secondary.

The Not So Obvious – The Thomas loss will really put pressure on the resourcefulness of coach Greg Burns, who may need to rush his freshmen corners like Kevin Thomas faster than he may have wanted. However, on Saturday night, Ryan Ting plugged some gaps nicely, although Ting was beaten late in the game by UA's Marcus Monk in a height mismatch for a late scoring reception.

The Obvious – There was much concern how Trojan middle linebacker Oscar Lua would handle the Razorback rushing attack.

The Not So Obvious – From all indications, Lua did just fine with a team-high eight tackles.

The Obvious – One young linebacker the Trojans hope lives up to his prep status is starting weakside linebacker Keith Rivers.

The Not So Obvious – As sophomore Rivers, who had was second in Trojan tackles with seven, is still getting accustomed to his starting role, the former Florida prep star had one impressive tackle when he grabbed UA freshman running back Darren McFadden with a one-handed, collar take-down, which brought a big response from the Coliseum.

The Obvious – The Coliseum faithful were wearing so many Nike jerseys of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White that you thought that you were in a Trojan huddle.

The Not So Obvious – One fan in the stands went a step further and was also wearing an actual Trojan football helmet.

The Obvious – The word "fear" is defined in Webster's Dictionary as " distressing emotion aroused by impending evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the fear or condition of being afraid."

The Not So Obvious – And that's exactly what opposing coaches feel when they see Reggie Bush and Desmond Reed back deep to receive kickoffs. Reed made Houston Nutt's fear come to life with a 52-yard kickoff return in the first quarter to put the ball on the UA 29-yard line.

The Obvious – There were a number of writers from the South that were witness to Saturday night's Trojan demolition of the Razorbacks.

The Not So Obvious – Columnist Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote "Maybe it was the spectacular weather. Or the incredible atmosphere. Or maybe it was just the Arkansas defense. Whatever, that was perhaps the most awesome offensive team these blues have ever witnessed. Yes, some great Florida, Alabama and Tennessee teams have been seen and written about, but none had the overall firepower of these Trojans."

The Obvious – Josh Pinkard filled nicely for injured strong safety Darnell Bing.

The Not So Obvious –Pinkard, who had six tackles, set up a Trojan touchdown when he intercepted a Robert Johnson pass. One wonders if Carroll would be interested in moving Bing to linebacker. Probably not, but Pinkard proved once again that he is a star in the making.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback LenDale White carried 10 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – There is just something comfortable when White is at tailback and the Trojans are inside the opponent's 10-yard line. No questioning Bush's All-Galaxy ability, but when it comes to the grunt work, White moves the pile. FYI, in the third quarter, someone "borrowed" the giant white Arkansas flag, snuck it in the Trojans' rooting section, and waved it when LenDale scored his second touchdown.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive line demonstrated its usual outstanding performance, both in providing running room and protecting Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – The unit allowed only one Leinart sack. When the Trojans went with their backup offensive line, starting right guard Fred Matua was working at center and making the line calls. The second unit guards of Drew Radovich and Chilo Rachel were also very effective. Rachel in particular was really moving the pile near the goal line. The former Dominguez star, who as a senior also participated on the highly successful Dons' varsity basketball team, is going to one offensive line force to deal with in the future.

The Obvious – UA coach Houston Nutt made a quarterback change during the game pulling starter Robert Johnson (8-16-1-91), who threw for one score, and replacing him with redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen.

The Not So Obvious – It was a night for celebrated fathers as Alex Mortensen, the son of former South Bay Daily Breeze writer and current ESPN NFL talking head Chris Mortensen, threw a fourth quarter touchdown. Trojan reserve quarterback Mike McDonald, son of former Trojan All-America quarterback and Trojan radio analyst Paul McDonald, threw the last score of the evening with a four-yard toss to redshirt freshman tight end Jimmy Miller.

The Obvious – Saturday night's game was considered a major physical test for new defensive tackles Sedrick Ellis and LaJuan Ramsey.

The Not So Obvious – Both did a fine job and made life tougher for the Hogs as the game went on. If there was a weakness on the Trojans front, it was on the right side of the Trojans defense, which the Razorbacks continued to attack. There were a number of times that Hog runners went around that area. Some of the credit has to go to Hog runners Darren McFadden, a true freshman out of North Little Rock, and Felix Jones, a true freshman out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both were fast and averaged six-yards per carry. We liked Nutt's sophomore fullback Peyton Hillis (6-2, 240), who had three receptions for 22 yards, and reminds us of Trojan fullback Brandon Hancock, who played on Saturday.

The Obvious – With close to 6,000 Arkansas fans in attendance, the loudest outburst of noise was when the Razorback defense contained Reggie Bush for gains of three and four yards.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO was told before the season by a Trojan ticket department representative that they had no knowledge of the Internet rumor that the visiting teams' fans had been moved from behind the end zone of the closed end of the Coliseum to beyond the peristyle end zone on the press box side. On Saturday, the entire Arkansas contingent and band was located next to the Matt Leinart No. 11 giant jersey beyond the peristyle end zone of the press box side. The area vacated behind the closed end of the Coliseum was filled to the rafters with red-clad Trojan fans. The move unquestionably made the Coliseum into a true Trojan filled venue. Thumbs up.

The Obvious – A large No. 11 jersey representing Matt Leinart's 2005 Heisman Trophy was unveiled at the peristyle end.

The Not So Obvious – There was some conjecture during preseason camp if the Trojans athletic department would honor Leinart alongside the other Heisman winners. We mentioned it to Bob Leinart during a closed Coliseum scrimmageine August and he didn't know what was going to happen. The University make the right choice in putting Lefty up there next to the other great ones, now. Since he was a junior when he won the Heisman, we thought it was a no-brainer. Thumbs up.

The Obvious – Trojan freshman receiver Patrick Turner scored his first Trojan touchdown with a 21-yard reception from quarterback John David Booty.

The Not So Obvious – Despite all his advanced hype and practice field accomplishments, Turner has been challenged with game experience to live up to his deserved hype. There is no disappointment here with the Tennessee native. Heck, Mike Williams went through some similar learning curves and we know how that one turned out. FYI, after his touchdown grab, he chest bumped Fred Matua and landed on his wallet. Ah, memories of our first Trojan touchdown.

The Obvious – Trojan fans got their first experience with first encounters with instant replay.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the only snag was the delay from the press box to the officials on the field to inform that the play was under review. In the case of the alleged Dwayne Jarrett short touchdown pass from Matt Leinart, the Trojans were already in extra point formation when play was suddenly halted. As far as the wait, it was really no problem except many fans couldn't hear referee Brian O'Cain replay decision.

The Obvious – Referee Brian O'Cain has a crowd microphone that he uses to announce penalties and replays.

The Not So Obvious – For a large number of fans in various areas of the Coliseum, when O'Cain announced a penalty and the perpetrator's number, fans couldn't hear it. Coliseum and Trojan officials will need to huddle in the next two weeks to correct the problem or it will be a step backwards in what has become an event-like atmosphere inside the legendary stadium. Thumbs down.

The Obvious – Temperature at kickoff Saturday night was a very comfortable 66 degrees.

The Not So Obvious – The Coliseum temperature "clock" was at its standard 71 degrees. Is that called Coliseum tradition?

The Obvious – In the Trojans' scoring deluge, place kicker Mario Danelo established a school record kicking ten extra points, breaking the old record held by Danelo and Don Shafer.

The Not So Obvious – Freshman kickoff artist Troy Van Blarcom continued to improve his kickoff distance as the game wore on. Although Arkansas had a big return early on one of Van Blarcom's kickoffs, it was more due to the outstanding wedge that Hogs executed and poor coverage by the Trojans. The kid has overcome his previous Coliseum jitters and figures to get better each time out.

The Obvious – There were no beer sales inside the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – No beer sales in the Coliseum meant that the longest lines at halftime were for the popular Kettle Korn.

The Obvious – The Trojan athletic department decided to spruce up the Coliseum with some additional ambiance.

The Not So Obvious – Impressive new cardinal-and-gold bunting encircled the field and the "USC" in both end zones was painted much larger than in the past. The end zone letters size increase was very intense and the change showed up well both in person and on television. Thumbs up.

The Obvious – Approximately 5,400 tickets were sold to the Razorbacks for Saturday night's game.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday night's game was the second-highest road ticket total in Arkansas history for a regular-season game. Ironically, the top total (6,000) was for a 2001 road game at Mississippi, whose current coach is Ed Orgeron, the former Trojan defensive line coach whose team lost to Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The Obvious – The 2004 national championship banner was unveiled and banners commemorating the program's national titles and Rose Bowl appearances were displayed below the press box on each level.

The Not So Obvious – The new banners were equally well received and accomplished their intended purpose. Give up props to the minds inside Heritage Hall for adding more icing to the inside Coliseum experience. Thumbs up.

The Obvious – It was the "standard" $20 per car at the Trojans' parking structures.

The Not So Obvious – However, as a reflection of the Trojans dominance of college football, the "KFC" Figueroa parking flat was charging $60 per car. Now folks, if the parking sharks are charging $60 dollars for Arkansas, might we see the first $100 game come UCLA, especially if our friends from Westwood continue on the upward spiral.

The Obvious – The inaugural opening of the Trojans Fan Fest outside the peristyle end of the Coliseum was well attended.

The Not So Obvious – With the giant inflatable red Trojan helmet and the various commercial booths, it was like being at a true pregame event. The giant slide for kids was quite popular and the Matt Leinart signed jersey application booth was doing good business. The O/NSO found the whole experience to be good planning and well received. Thumbs up.

The Obvious – The Miller Lite tent outside the Coliseum gave fans an option to have a few brews before entering the beer-ban Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – With a one-sided open tent and a number of HDTV sets showing the Fresno State/Oregon game, the Miller Lite tent, located next to the Sports Arena and Trojan Fan Fest, was well attended.. Fans from Arkansas, USC, and a few with Wisconsin shirts were in the mix. The beer was a reasonable $7 per cup. The only negative was fans wanting to leave the enclosed area were told they could leave with beer in hand. It was a bit juvenile to tell adults they had to finish their "milk" before they could go outside and play. Otherwise, this tent has the potential to be a big watering hole in the future. Thumbs mostly up.

The Obvious – The cover on Saturday night's game ticket was a wonderful color photo of Pete Carroll with a black and white background picture of legendary Trojan coach John McKay.

The Not So Obvious – One fan said he was going to keep the impressive ticket stubs from each home game and frame them as a unit.

The Obvious – The game cover was a beautiful photo of Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – Talk about a big change, the $5 dollar "bound" program definitely had a NFL game program look and we say that with a positive take. There was a marked increase in the number of pages (228 pages compared to last year's 156 pages) and it really hit on the Trojans' football past of NFL stars, All-Americans, and award winners. The lone negative, considering the impressive program was basically a color production, was that the individual player photo mugs were in black and white. Turn those Trojan player mugs into color and you're talking about a near flawless program, college or pro. Thumbs up way high if the player mugs become color.

The Obvious – The Trojans, having swept their opening two non-conference games, now turn their attention to their Pac-10 opener at undefeated Oregon.

The Not So Obvious – And finally, for most experts and fans, the real season begins next Saturday at Eugene. Two straight conference road games, two straight hostile crowds, an evolving Trojan defense, and a visit Autzen Stadium next Saturday afternoon. It's enough to make most Trojan fans too excited and too nervous. The adventure begins.

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