O/NSO - Washington review

No, that wasn't Michael J. Fox winging the pigskin around Husky Stadium for the No.1-ranked USC Trojans (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10), but the Trojan offense was perceptively Back to the 2004 Future, which resulted in a 51-24 pounding of the out-manned and self-destructive Washington Huskies (1-6, 0-4) before 64,096 fans.

The Obvious – No, that wasn't Michael J. Fox winging the pigskin around Husky Stadium for the No.1-ranked USC Trojans (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10), but the Trojan offense was perceptively Back to the 2004 Future, which resulted in a 51-24 pounding of the out-manned and self-destructive Washington Huskies (1-6, 0-4) before 64,096 fans.

The Not So Obvious – Almost to an offensive man, Trojan players rejoiced at the return to the Norm Chow philosophy. Matt Leinart left no doubt that some of the pressure he has been feeling after the laughers against Hawaii and Arkansas has been a direct result from the departure of last year's offensive philosophy. Afterwards, Lefty told the media the Trojans had to stop going for the "home run" and go back to the "slants and stuff that "we've run our whole career." And, boy, did it show.

The Obvious - The Trojans remained No. 1 for a record 27th AP straight poll, although No. 2 Texas received two more first-place votes.

The Not So Obvious – Voter Joe Giglio of The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., said, "I didn't move USC down as much as I moved Texas up, I feel [the Longhorns] have a more complete résumé and I'm really impressed with how they've handled their business." Easy Trojan fans, it's still a long way till the end of the season, two nationally ranked teams still to play, and much to be accomplished and haven't we heard it all before?

The Obvious – The Trojans winning streak is now at 29-consecutive wins and No. 30 could come with next Saturday's Homecoming game with Washington State at 12:30 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – As for streaks, the O/NSO is more impressed Saturday with the fact the Trojans won their school-record 14th straight road game. Even Pete Carroll was impressed with the awesome task of having to play on the road, After Saturday's win, Carroll said, " Playing 5 out of 7 on the road, nobody has had it as hard as we have." FYI, No. 2 Texas has played 5 of their first 7 games at home, unless you count Oklahoma in Dallas as a road game. Of course, give the Longhorns their due, they did get a big win early at Ohio State.

The Obvious – Naturally, after Saturday's contented victory, Pete Carroll said, "We didn't get a long way from the basics. We never have. But we weren't finding the same rhythm and we went overboard almost to make the rhythm be faster."

The Not So Obvious – Assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian commented that Leinart wanted to have fun again and the coaching staff attempted to keep it "basic" and to go "back to what works." So what did you expect the Trojans' celebrated coaches to say? The fact the Trojans reverted to the philosophy of their national championship years says it all. The sign of good coaching is when the men in charge are willing to reevaluate the offense and return to the past proven product. This was a Carroll decision. Do assistant head coaches and offensive coordinators tell the head coach what to do? It doesn't hurt, of course, to listen to your Heisman quarterback's frustrations and now relieved emotions. If anything, the real challenge may to continue this philosophy the rest of the way. Carroll says the Trojans believe in what they're doing; it was a case of going back to basics. The feeling here is they will and they should and this could be potentially a devastating preview for the Trojans' remaining opponents.

The Obvious - Quarterback Matt Leinart, who hit seven different receivers, and his "three-step drop" looked and played like one happy signal-caller.

The Not So Obvious - You knew right away something had gone down in the offensive back room of Heritage hall as senior tight end Dominique Byrd was the target on the first pass of both halves and when the Trojans did go deep, receivers were open. BTW, Byrd finished with 31 yards on three receptions and somewhere in Tennessee, a first-year NFL football coach must have been nodding his head and smiling from Saturday's offensive success.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart, who established a new Pac-10 career record for touchdown passes (87), threw for 201 yards and four touchdowns against the Huskies, hitting on a torrid 76.9 percent.

The Not So Obvious – One missing stat was an instant replay decision. Leinart and receiver Dwayne Jarrett, whose final touchdown was a spectacular one-handed, one-foot-in, were "robbed" by instant replay on an apparent touchdown reception. It sure looked like a score to the aged eyes of the O/NSO, no matter how many times and angles of the replay. The two roommates were unstoppable on Saturday and one of the reasons was the fact that the Dynamic Duo spent the week after practice working together. Jarrett said, " Me and Matt took some extra work at practice, working on our timing and route running."

The Obvious – Sophomore wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett continues his torrid pace of scoring receptions with three more, now totaling of 25 TDs in 20 college appearances.

The Not So Obvious – Jarrett was very complimentary after the game of Trojans' offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Jarrett said, " Coach Kiffin called some great calls this week."

The Obvious – Wide Receiver Dwayne Jarrett is starting to be spoken in the same tones as former Trojan All-American Mike Williams, now with the Detroit Lions.

The Not So Obvious – Defending the 6-5 Jarrett is getting tougher and tougher with each game of experience. Husky corner Roy Lewis said, "You just have to be aware of his presence. He has a height advantage; he's a big guy. Other than that it was pretty much just he and I. I misjudged a few balls and Matt Leinart placed some great balls in there."

The Obvious – The Trojans had 51 points and 390 yards in total offense and had their highest scoring output since the Arkansas game.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans came into the game averaging 48.7 points and 613 yards in total offense, but who's counting? It's not total Paul Hackett yards that win games but the scoreboard, baby.

The Obvious – The Trojans "return to the "basics" on offense brought forth the problems future Trojan opponents will have, as the Huskies found out on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Husky safety C.J. Wallace, who played a standout game with eight tackles, said, "They have a lot of threats. Most offenses have a couple real good guys but then everyone else you can match up with. With USC you pretty much have to worry about everybody. On the left side or the right side of the formation they have somebody who's good so you can't concentrate on one person."

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Reggie Bush had only 52 yards rushing against the Huskies, but accounted for 189 all-purpose yards, a notch below his nation-leading 206.2 average.

The Not So Obvious – Bush's 83-yard scoring punt return was hall of fame material. His 8-yard score, with a key block from fullback Brandon Hancock, underscored his new-found strength, bulldozing Husky safety Dashon Goldson, the former Narbonne High star, into the end zone. As for Bush's scoring on the punt return, Husky punt coverage gunner J.R. Wolfork said, "That was just great athleticism. We got guys down there on him, and it looked like we were going to wrap him up. Then he got some good blocks from his guys, and made some great moves and got outside on us. He's an amazing athlete."

The Obvious – Saturday's game was telecast regionally on ABC to a Western audience.

The Not So Obvious – Both Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts had some choice quips. After Bush's scintillating punt return, Fouts said, " Only thing missing is the Heisman pose." After the Trojans came roaring back after the early Washington touchdown, Jackson said, " Can you say, ‘ In your face.'"

The Obvious – The Husky coaches and all Trojan opponents, as well as the Trojans, have a designated Internet and newspaper reader to pick up intelligence before kickoff.

The Not So Obvious – Considering this week's articles and Internet musings coming from Los Angeles, the Huskies might have been anticipating the Trojans return to their basic offense. During the Trojans first offensive series, Ty Willingham had his purple and gold corners rolled up. That latter allowed the Trojans to go deep, which was the pattern last year.

The Obvious – The Trojans were happy to finally have a game in which they could relax in the final quarter, but don't expect that cushy feeling to return with future opponents.

The Not So Obvious – On being overconfident, Reggie Bush revealed, "No, I think maybe the first two games might have made us overconfident. I think that kind of made us think that we were going to blow teams out. Lo and behold, a couple of games were closer than we thought, and we were fighting for our lives. So, at this point, I definitely know we are not an overconfident or cocky team. We are a focused team, and we know what we have got to do."

The Obvious – The Trojans offense featured an early appearance of both Reggie Bush and LenDale White in the same backfield.

The Not So Obvious – On one first quarter play, Bush carried the ball for eight yards, getting a key block from White. Some have wondered if LenDale is hesitating before exploding at the point of attack. The feeling here is that White who is very good at reading blockers and his holes, is being deliberate in trying to find daylight. He is a very patient runner.

The Obvious – Before the game and commenting on the Trojans' close win at Notre Dame, Husky linebacker Scott White said, "They played one hell of a game, an emotional game, the other day. Maybe they won't respect us."

The Not So Obvious – Wrong, Scotty. It had nothing to do with Husky respect but more a case of self-respect and self-esteem, cardinal and gold style. The Trojans came out to prove they could dominate. Well, the Trojans didn't really dominate on defense because the Huskies did a good job of playing defense on themselves.

The Obvious – Husky Stadium has a capacity of 72,000.

The Not So Obvious – While 64,096 fans did show up for a beautiful Seattle afternoon by Union Bay, it was not your father's Husky Stadium, once known as one of the most intimidating stadiums in America. Saturday's non-capacity with the No. 1 team in the nation in town not only indicates the dissention of the Dawgs' program, but it will also be the only Trojan road game non-sellout.

The Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Huskies ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in pass defense, giving up 284.3 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans passed for 272 yards, so it goes to show you statistics don't always tell the story. So, the Trojan were "held" to 12 yards below the Husky average. Of course, that was due to the fact the Trojans burned much of the second half clock giving the ball to LenDale White and freshman Michael Coleman.

The Obvious – The Trojans were penalized six times for 30 yards.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans were well under their average of 74.4 yards per game. However, two of those 30 yards in penalties belonged to right tackle Winston Justice, who has had a tough two-game run of flags. No doubt the past two weeks Big Winston has grown tired of hiring the referee announce "No. 74" to the live crowd and the folks at home watching on television.

The Obvious – Offense left guard Deuce Lutui and left tackle Sam Baker are having marvelous seasons.

The Not So Obvious – Once again, Deuce had his way and opened some big holes along with Slammin Sammy. This duo is slowly rising in prestige to go along with some other talented tandems in Trojan history reaching all the way back to the days of tackle Ron Yary and guard Mike Scarpace.

The Obvious – The Trojans used the second half to run some clock and allow some much-needed playing time for reserves.

The Not So Obvious – By employing the running strategy, Washington limited the Men of Troy to 14 second-half points, the Trojans' lowest second-half output of the season.

The Obvious – It was another mixed bag of defense and special teams highs and lows.

The Not So Obvious – The play of the Trojans' front four was pretty good led by defensive end Frostee Rucker with seven tackles and two sacks. In fact, the front four did some sack damage to Husky quarterbacks and it wasn't limited to just Rucker. Lawrence Jackson, LaJuan Ramsey, Sedrick Ellis, and reserve Alex Morrow all got some "sack" time.

The Obvious – Part of the problems in the Trojans inability to make third downs stops has been the inexperience and inconsistency of this year's front four.

The Not So Obvious - After the game, Pete Carroll commented he wanted to see more consistent play out of his front four and that the team does miss Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson. Carroll said," We not getting a great four man rush. We miss Cody, who made a lot of calls. In our system, it's better to have an inside (tackle) do it. LaJuan (Ramsey) does it, but he's been in and out." The reference to "calls" was to loops and stunts within the defensive line.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense allowed the Huskies 329 yards in total offense

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans defense came into Husky Stadium allowing 353 yards per game.

The Obvious – Many were surprised to see that budding sophomore star linebacker Keith Rivers was held out due a late hamstring pull during the week.

The Not So Obvious – Leave it to the old vet, senior Collin Ashton, to step up and lead the Trojans in tackles with nine. Ashton is one of those unsung heroes of a No. 1 team that tend to go unnoticed but not by the O/NSO.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense has have found a budding star in multi-talented secondary candidate Josh Pinkard (6-1, 200), who played the majority of the game at corner due to John Walker's high ankle sprain and recorded four tackles.

The Not So Obvious – Pinkard's steady performance on Saturday may turn out to be addition by subtraction. The near full-game experience and Pinkard's recent practice at corner from safety gives Pete Carroll some future promise. After the game, Carroll said, " It's almost impossible (the transition). It's really a remarkable statement on the kid. He makes it so natural. Josh seems to really understand it and he has good hand-eye and he's tough. Remember, we were still shuffling corners around last year."

The Obvious – Freshman corner Kevin Thomas of Oxnard got some early action when Walker went down.

The Not So Obvious – Having recovered from a slight case of mono, Thomas contributed with three tackles on a gorgeous Emerald City afternoon. Again, Saturday's game helped gain valuable playing time for young Carroll "pups" like Thomas.

The Obvious – Washington's Marlon Wood, the son of the Trojans legendary linebacker Richard Wood, opened the game with a 92-yard kickoff return that was the longest non-scoring return in Husky history.

The Not So Obvious – Marlin Wood wore No. 83 on Saturday, the same number his famous father wore as a three-time All-America linebacker at Troy. Unfortunately, Marlon was injured on the kickoff after being tackled by the aforementioned Josh Pinkard and never returned.

The Obvious – Trojan defensive back John Walker had two tackles before his game-ending injury.

The Not So Obvious – Walker is the November cover of this month's WeAreSC magazine and please don't say it's related to the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

The Obvious – With Desmond Reed out for the season, strong safety Darnell Bing filled in at one of the kick return spots.

The Not So Obvious – Bing returned one kickoff 68 yards to set up a Trojan score in the first quarter. ABC's Dan Fouts said that Bing certainly didn't run like a defensive back. In case folks have forgotten, Bing was a legendary running back in Pop Warner and played with redshirt Trojan tailback Hershel Dennis at Long Beach Poly. We suspect this won't be the first big return by Bing and it will only strengthen the argument that Darnell's potential as a running back is greater than that of strong safety. Of course, the Trojans aren't doing too badly in the backfield department at the moment with Mr. Thunder and Mr. Lightening.

The Obvious – The Trojans were happy to see the return of freshman linebacker Brian Cushing, who had a big block on punter Sean Douglas that eventually led to a Trojan score.

The Not So Obvious – It figures that Cushing, who had two tackles on Saturday, will see increased time at linebacker in the coming weeks as his health permits. Carroll said, " He is a playmaker. He also forced a fumble in the Hawaii game." As for the punt block, Cushing said, " I just came through a gap. I didn't think I would get through so fast." Don't forget he was a punishing runner at Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, accounting for 475 yards rushing and 35.1 yards per reception as a tight end.

The Obvious –Not all of the return to the 2004 offense was picture perfect as Washington Free safety Dashon Goldson intercepted a pass by Trojan backup quarterback John David Booty and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown,

The Not So Obvious – The scoring interception was the sixth-longest interception return in UW history. Goldson said, "I saw that play all week, and we knew exactly what they were going to do. I got inside leverage, he did a slant, and I just jumped it right in front of him and took it to the house."

The Obvious – Trojan freshman wider receiver Patrick Turner had 31-yard scoring reception from John David Booty in the final quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Turner also had a key comeback block that allowed Reggie Bush to proceed down the sidelines on his 84-yard scoring punt return.

The Obvious – Trojan senior fullback David Kirtman played at nearby Mercer Island High.

The Not So Obvious – It appeared late in the game that the Trojan coaching staff made a benevolent attempt to get the valuable fullback some carries in front of the home folks. Big David even was split out in the flat and then reset in the backfield, only to catch a swing pass. For the record, Kirtman had three carries for 9 yards and two catches for 11 yards. It's the thought that counts.

The Obvious – The Trojans senior Justin Wyatt was burned on an 8-yard pass to a taller Craig Chambers (6-5) in the first quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Such is life on the island. In the fourth quarter, Wyatt (5-9) had a certain interception go through his hands. Showing some compassion, strong safety Darnell Bing came over to express his condolences.

The Obvious – The Trojans had freshman Michael Coleman at running back in the fourth quarter and the Inland Empire star looked pretty good rushing for 12 yards on three carries.

The Not So Obvious – On one of his runs, he got a block from wide receiver Whitney Lewis. Yes, Whitney is still alive and kicking.

The Obvious – Former Trojan all-star linebacker Lofa Tatupu, starting linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, was a sideline observer.

The Not So Obvious – In an ABC Todd Harris interview, Tatupu, who left the Trojans early, said, " I'll be going back to school, mom and dad." It must have been music to the ears of both Tatupu's parents and USC president, Dr. Sample.

The Obvious – And finally, with the Trojans win, the Cardinal and Gold are bowl eligible, but we don't think visions of the Holiday or Sun Bowl are dancing in their metallic red helmets.

The Not So Obvious – With Homecoming next weekend against Washington State, followed by those improving Stanford boys, a little trip to No. 24 Berkeleyland, eager Fresno State, there is little time to think about those No. 8 powder blue boys from Westwood. However, the same may not be said from a Bruin point of view. In a fine OC Register Sunday column by the talented Jeff Miller, UCLA safety Jarrad Page said, " Other teams show character (in coming back). USC has been down a few times in the second half and come back. We have to do it and it's not seen the same way." Ah, let the head games begin.


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