GroundDog Day

In response to those who don't feel there's enough "football knowledge" in my previous 100 plus articles, please find: THE GLIB REPORT. Glibness is not just a state of mind. The idea of making a joke out of something, say an opponent or its coach, is an art form.

And if I, according to all of you, have become a master, then the USC Trojans are near Zen. For no matter the size of coach, length of grass or color of jersey, it is the Trojans who always seem to laugh last.

The Glib Report, which I also considered calling "Smack Down," found its voice, thanks to you, the reader, whom I thought could translate the idea of stats mixed in with a little subjective fanaticism from my pieces, into a fairly informed "football preview," if you will. As usual, I was wrong. And so, for your critical review, I present the first and perhaps only (because this is the only game USC can afford to be so "glib" about and win) installment of…THE GLIB REPORT:

In the movie version of our story, "Groundhog Day," weather man, Bill Murray is in his fourth year covering a story of a weather predicting "rat" as he calls it. He makes no effort to hide his frustration over the assignment and wakes one morning to discover that this curse has become his reality and it's Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. Murray comes to the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing every day.

For the Tyrone Willingham and his University of Washington Huskies, the way this season has progressed and now compounded by a visit by the USC Trojans, life and football must feel every bit like Grounddog Day.

For the Trojans, it is their own ineptness with dropped passes and penalties that seems to have become their own recurring nightmare. However, even with one hand tied behind their back, or more accurately, with star back Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart watching from the sidelines, USC should handle the Huskies the way Moe handled Curly and Larry.

Following the monster of a game, that was last week's war in South Bend, why should I, or for that matter, the Trojans, even attempt to take this week's game against the Washington Huskies as anything more serious than say, well, a bye.

Glib you say, hardly. Take the following quote from The Daily Washington: UDub's school paper: "This weekend will be the first of two games in which USC will carve a brutal path straight through the hearts of both Washington schools. As far as this weekend goes, there can be no hope..."

"No hope." That isn't glib, it's nihilistic. This sort of mentality brings to memory the heavy metal hit from those ‘70's rock icons, Deep Purple, (ironic that those are the colors of the Washington Huskies and also that of a vicious bruise formed from a Scott Ware life-ending hit to the body – deep purple.

With monster axe leading the way on that famous, crunching four note guitar riff, Deep Purple sang "Smoke on the Water." The song, a true story about the fires witnessed by the band that destroyed a famous concert venue and gambling casino in Montreux Switzerland, had lyrics that continued… "smoke on the water and fire in the sky…"

If any of you have ever visited venerable Husky Stadium at Montlake, the image conjured by the Purple's song seems hauntingly if not entirely glibly appropriate to the Trojans own "Leave No Doubt" tour. And in the wake of this, the seventh of twelve sold out shows, USC just might "burn down the gambling house" leaving only smoke on the water and fire in the sky.

Does that leave a bleak image in the mind? Listen to Washington Head Coach, Tyrone Willingham, a man who doesn't throw superlatives around easily, and the man whose team will face USC on Saturday at Husky Stadium describe the Trojans.

"I hesitate to put a label on ‘best ever,' but I think in their generation that exists, in their time span. And the type of football they are playing, there is no question that, right now, they are dominating the landscape."

Unsure of how to do what no other coach has done, beat the Trojans, in the last 27 games, Willingham put out a call for help. His rescuer, a local sports writer decided to poll his family and had this to offer the coach:

From the writer's father…

"Maybe they shouldn't show up," his father advised, before realizing the game was at Husky Stadium and not on the road. "No hurricane is going to hit here, so they probably can't put the game off. Well, even if they don't win, at least try to not get killed."

I think he meant that figuratively, though as imposing as USC is, maybe not.

His mom…

"Change whatever they've been doing," said his mom. "It's not working, whatever it is. Who knows? Can they call it off?"

No, they can't, though the humiliation of not showing up might be less painful than actually playing.

Speaking of pain, more than one member of this writer's clan felt that, yes, pain might be the answer.

"Maybe hurt the quarterback," suggested his brother, clearly an honorable sportsman. "Maybe hurt the running back. Hurt as many of them as you can and then hurt the guys who come in for them. That usually works."

Looks like Tyrone, just like Charlie, Bob, Jeff and the other "geniuses of the college football world" who lost to Pete Carroll and his USC Trojans, is on his own.

The bigger question comes then, has Tyrone even improved upon a team who got such a beat down by the Trojans last year that the University considered canceling the season?

The answer comes from yet another "expert" on the subject of the Husky football team… "The main progress under Willingham is that these Huskies seem to beat themselves less often. The progress yet to come will involve assembling enough talent to beat someone else."

With that diagnosis, perhaps the Trojans would be better off not taking the field and let the hapless Huskies slaughter themselves. This would save injury, to an already depleted Trojan secondary, and allow USC's stars a well deserved weekend off.

I know, I really shouldn't be so cavalier about the game. Afterall the last time USC went 28 straight games without a loss, the streak ended in Seattle.

Granted that occurred a quarter century ago in 1980 when a USC team that had gone 26-0-2 in its last 28 games was beaten by the Huskies 20-10. The Huskies had Don James then. They have Tyrone now, along with a defensive backfield that has been hit by more injuries, academic ineligibility and defections than the boys in Cardinal and Gold. There is just one senior in the group, starting safety Dashon Goldson, and statistics reveal the unit's thinness and weakness. In the past three games, opponents have lit Washington up for 1,048 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Leaving them ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in pass defense, giving up 284.3 yards per game.

Huskies cornerback Josh Okoebor (hamstring) is out Saturday, and defensive end Brandon Ala (knee) is questionable.

So you tell me how not to be glib. I'll say it now, "SC WINS! SC WINS!!!"

Tyrone is so nervous about the game, he's ordered taller field turf littered with pot holes with the hope of slowing the Trojans down – or as one writer's brother suggested, do what Charlie did, hurt as many as possible and then try and hurt the ones who come in for the guys that got carted off. (I know, that's not funny.) Go tell Charlie.

As Tyrone witnessed, along with the rest of us, it takes more than that to stop USC from burning down the Husky's house. I can hear the guitar riff, those four heavy chords, as the Trojans take the field… "Smoke on the water and fire in the sky…"

USC returns to early season form in this game and puts up some outstanding numbers – not by Leinart or Bush, however. Without revealing too much of my football knowledge and "inside" connection to the USC program, I think Trojan fans just might see some key skill players of the second unit get their shot.

More specifically, we are either going to witness the all out capabilities of the USC Trojans, as they foreshadow the remainder of their season, or… we are going to see the beginning of the end, if USC can't finally get its act together and play a complete ball game.

I think they do the former and introduce the stars of next year's team in the process.

Trojans 49 Huskies 20 nothing glib about it.


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