The Not So Obvious – It's November and the month that has yet to see a Pete Carroll loss, but the Stanford Cardinal have usually presented the Trojans with an inspired effort as evidenced by last season's all-too-thrilling 31-28 USC victory in Palo Alto. Pay no attention to the Cardinal loss against UC Davis or the fourth quarter disaster to UCLA last Saturday. Stanford will be ready for the Trojans by kickoff, but the Trojans will be more than prepared for the Cardinal, thanks to last season's close call and the ascending glow of Pasadena rising just over the November horizon.
The Obvious – The Trojans opened as 31 1/2-point favorites to defeat the Cardinal.
The Not So Obvious – There is just something different when the Trojans tangle with Stanford. Perhaps it's the very nature of the two private schools that promotes the intense competition. There has always been the perceived Stanford academic elitism and the Trojans' athletic arrogance that is the common stereotype, but when these two different shades of red match wits on a football field, anything can happen and usually does despite the odds.
The Obvious – Although Saturday's game is at night, the weather report for Saturday calls for sunny and a high of 73 with a low of 52. Temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the low 60s.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojan whether report calls for whether the Trojan defense can continue its rise against an injury-plagued Stanford offense that has traditionally punctured holes in the Trojan secondary. Conversely, if the Stanford defense thought it had trouble with the offenses of UC Davis and UCLA, what in heavens will the former "Indians" be able to do with the Trojans, who will make a major push early to send the Coliseum scoreboard into a Las Vegas strip light extravaganza.
The Obvious – The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in home attendance, averaging 90,884 after three games.
The Not So Obvious – After four games, Stanford is averaging 33,375 in home attendance. For the record, struggling Washington is second behind the Trojans in Pac-10 attendance, averaging 63, 632 after four games.
The Obvious – The Trojans' Pete Carroll and Stanford's Walt Harris have known each other since the days when Harris recruited and coached Carroll as defensive back at the University of Pacific in 1971-72.
The Not So Obvious – Harris also coached Carroll's son, Brennan, the current Trojans tight end coach, at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll admitted this week that he and Harris still have time to talk during the season, all of which makes Saturday's game "fun", according to Carroll.
The Not So Obvious – Of his relationship with Carroll, Harris says, "I recruited him, too, so not only did I get a chance to coach him, I got a chance to meet his mom and dad and his brother. They were great people. We have been real close for a long period of time. As a player he was a gem to coach. He wanted to know how to make the play, he would take coaching tremendously, and he always had a bright attitude. He was a heavy hitter, too. He would always try to knock you out. He had great ball skills; he admitted to me that Dwayne Jarrett has better hands than him, which was a big deal by him, because he thinks he has the best hands in America, Pete does."
The Obvious – While the Trojans' 30-game winning streak gets national attention, it's the growing 24-game Coliseum winning streak that has returned the luster to the Grand Old Lady.
The Not So Obvious – Pete Carroll make it a priority from the beginning to turn the Coliseum into an opponent's nightmare and has succeeded, but the irony of Saturday night is the fact that Stanford is the last team to beat the Trojans in the Coliseum, surprising Troy 21-16 on Sept. 29, 2001.
The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive is averaging 49.8 points per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal defense is allowing 29.1 points per game.
The Obvious – The Trojans' first-year offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach is 31-year-old Lane Kiffin, whose eight- year career includes the Trojans, Colorado St, Fresno St., with a one-year stop with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Not So Obvious –Stanford's first-year defensive coordinator and secondary coach is 56-year-old Tom Hayes, whose 30-year career includes nine seasons at UCLA under Terry Donohue, Oklahoma, Kansas, and a five-year stint with the Washington Redskins.
The Obvious – Each Trojan opponent has come up with its own observation on what makes Pete Carroll's team tick.
The Not So Obvious – Stanford head coach Walt Harris says, "The quarterback [Matt Leinart] is the key guy. He's well schooled and has had a great career. They have skill, a great scheme on offense and great backs, but what really makes them tick is a great offensive line. Defensively, they're probably not as well known because they have some new starters, but they have some athletes with good size, and tremendous speed and quickness."
The Obvious – Stanford coach Harris isn't the first coach this season to make reference to the accomplishments of the Trojan offensive line.
The Not So Obvious – In a recent Sporting News mid-season report card, Trojan senior left guard Taitusi Lutui was named to TSN's mid-season All-American team, joining Reggie Bush and Dwayne Jarrett. Matt Leinart? Nope, Lefty didn't make the cut. Texas QB Vince Young was the TSN signal-caller.
The Obvious – The 2005 Trojan offense is being compared to college football's all-time great units.
The Not So Obvious – Commenting on the 2005 Trojan offense in the San Francisco Chronicle this week, Turner Gill, former star Nebraska quarterback of the 1983 Cornhusker offensive juggernaut, said, "They can pretty much do what they want. They are a dream of what you're looking for."
The Obvious – The Trojan defense is allowing 20.5 points per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal offense is averaging 27.2 points per game.
The Obvious – Many are calling the Trojan offense one of the greatest of all-time and when you look at the star-studded lineup of quarterback Matt Leinart, running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White, receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, and tight end Dominique Byrd, not to mention an imposing offensive line, it's easy to swallow the cardinal and gold Kool-Aid.
The Not So Obvious – The Stanford defense has been traditionally vulnerable to almost any kind of attack (i.e. wishbone, veer, I-formation, or just plain spread). Walt Harris says his team has stars, not just enough of them. Watching the Cardinal game against the Westwooders, it was confounding to figure out just how in an eight-minute span the Cardinal defense could go from an immoveable object to a wet paper bag. What the Stanford defense proved for three-plus quarters last Saturday is that they are capable of putting up a damn good fight, if the Trojans don't take them out early.
The Obvious – The Trojans rushing offense is averaging 257.6 per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal rush defense is allowing 144.7 per game.
The Obvious – If ever there is a team for Reggie Bush and LenDale White to go hog wild, it would appear the Cardinal are candidates.
The Not So Obvious – It's not like the Stanford defense is without stars. Senior linebacker Jon Alston (6-1, 220), a public policy major, is a second-team All-Pac-10 selection and provides the experienced leadership and a respected pass rush. When asked what he would do if he won a million dollars, the Shreveport, Louisiana native claims he'd put some In N Out burgers in Louisiana and bring Johnny's Pizza to California.
The Obvious – One of Stanford's legendary defensive lines was called the Thunder Chickens, which helped them get to the 1971 and 72 Rose Bowl games where they defeated Ohio State and Michigan, respectively.
The Not So Obvious – While Stanford's current defense won't bring back memories of the Thunder Chickens, they do have a star in senior defensive end Julian Jenkins (6-4, 275) from Atlanta, Georgia. Jenkins, who had three sacks and nine tackles against UCLA, is confident that his defense, which did a good job against the Trojans in the first half last year in Palo Alto, will be ready on Saturday. Jenkins says, "They're (USC) the world champions, they're the No. 1 team in the country right now for two years running. It's a great opportunity for us. I'm really excited for this game right now. It's going to be a great game. We're going to practice like we're going to win this week."
The Obvious – Pete Arbogast is the Trojans' radio play-by-play voice on 1540.
The Not So Obvious – Well, let's see if Mr. Arbo consistently announces the full name of Stanford tackle nose tackle Babatunde Oluwasegun Temitope Oluwakorede Adisa Oshinomo, Jr. as the game progresses. FYI, the kid was his Jazz Band section leader playing the trombone at Neuqua Valley High in Naperville, Illinois.
The Obvious – The Trojans continue to be led on defense by linebacker Oscar Lua, who is having an outstanding season and continues to lead the Men of Troy in tackles with 52.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal, too, have an intense senior linebacker in Kevin Schimmelmann (6-3, 228), who had a season-high 10 tackles last year against the Trojans. The Georgia native is a candidate for the Draddy Award, the academic Heisman Award. Need more academic proof? He is a co-term student working on a Master's degree in sociology and a Bachelor's degree in economics.
The Obvious – The Trojans' pass offense is averaging 344 yards per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal pass defense is allowing 282.7 per game.
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart is now passing at a 65 percent clip to go along with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Not So Obvious – Last game, Leinart threw into heavy end zone coverage for Dwayne Jarrett and the ball was intercepted. It will be interesting to see how Lefty plays it on Saturday night should a similar situation should arise. We fully expect him to run it or throw it away, with the probability being the latter. FYI, both Leinart and reserve John David Booty are throwing at a 65 percent rate. Who knew?
The Obvious – Stanford will attempt to stop the Trojan air game with two-year, part-time corner T.J. Rushing (5-11, 180) from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.
The Not So Obvious – Rushing says his ultimate SportsCenter highlight this season would be " intercepting a pass in the final two minutes of Stanford vs USC and return it for a touchdown."
The Obvious – The Trojans defense is allowing 339.4 yards per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal offense is averaging 310.9 yards per game.
The Obvious – The offensive coordinator for the Cardinal is head coach Walt Harris.
The Not So Obvious – Like Carroll, Harris was a defensive back at the University of Pacific (1966-67).
The Obvious – The Trojans' rush defense is allowing 107.6 yards per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal rushing offense is averaging 114.4 yards per game.
The Obvious – Stanford presents the Trojans with one of the largest fullbacks in the country in converted defensive lineman Nick Frank (6-2, 260), a junior out of New Orleans.
The Not So Obvious – Frank, who had his best game rushing against UCLA with 61 yards, is motivated for Saturday's game because of the Cardinal seniors. Frank says, "The seniors on this team are great leaders, and I don't think they are going to let us slip away. I think we're really going to come together and be the same team, or hopefully better, when we take the field Saturday."
The Obvious – Injuries have taken a toll for both teams and the Trojans may be minus the services of linebacker Keith Rivers and tight end Dominique Byrd.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal did get the return last week of senior running back J.R. Lemon (6-1, 225). Keep an eye out for this big fella from Fayetteville, Georgia, as last year against Troy Lemon got off for 96 yards on just 10 carries and a touchdown.
The Obvious – There was a large hole to fill this season when Trojan nose tackle Mike Patterson graduated to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Not So Obvious – With each passing game, the Trojans' nose tackle position seems to be getting stronger. Sophomore Sedrick Ellis has become a fine Patterson replacement, and we are seeing some nice production from quick backup Travis Tofi, the junior from American Samoa (Fagaitua HS).
The Obvious – The Trojan pass defense is allowing 231.8 yards per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal pass offense is averaging 196.4 yards per game.
The Obvious – Cardinal senior quarterback Trent Edwards (6-4, 220) is completing 64.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 12 touchdowns.
The Not So Obvious – With just two interceptions this year, this may be the game that Edwards attacks new Trojan sophomore corner Josh Pinkard. Edwards was brilliant in the first half last year against the Trojans as he led the Cardinal to two long touchdown drives.
The Obvious – Stanford may not have the services of stellar wide receiver Mark Bradford, the one-time LA Fremont star and former Trojan recruit.
The Not So Obvious – Even if Bradford plays, the huge loss at receiver was that of 6-7 junior Evan Moore, the multi-sport athlete who was injured early in the season. Bradford, the one-time LA Fremont star, is averaging 14.9 yards per reception with five touchdowns. Will Bradford play? Coach Harris says, "Honestly, this isn't the NFL so we don't have to talk about injuries, so I would rather not talk about injuries."
The Obvious – Trojan defensive end Frostee Rucker will be looking to increase his team-leading sack total (5.5) against the Cardinal.
The Not So Obvious – Rucker, a free spirit from Tustin High who seems to be a regular cast member on FW2's Trojan Rewind,, has really cranked up his game and has been the "voice" of the rebounding defense. BTW, Rucker's mother, Melba, will be featured in next month's edition of WeAreSC magazine. The story emphasis is on the life, pressure, and emotions of a parent whose son plays for the national champions.
The Obvious – Perhaps looking ahead to the remaining four games, last weekend Pete Carroll elected to go for a field goal late in the second quarter, which allowed sophomore kicker Mario Danelo a rare opportunity to convert and the kid did.
The Not So Obvious – Stanford presents one of their finest kickers in Cardinal history in senior Michael Sgroi, who has converted 11 field goals in seven games. The Plymouth, Michigander is fourth on the all-time Stanford list with 43 field goals.
The Obvious – The Trojans are averaging 65.1 yards in penalties per game.
The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal are averaging 46.7 yards in penalties per game.
The Obvious – One of the most unusual recruiting sagas in many moons was last year's tale of Stanford freshman tight end Erik Lorig (6-4, 250), the former Palo Verdes Peninsula star, who couldn't decide between the Trojans and the Cardinal, among others.
The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO is pleased to confirm that Lorig did make his way to Stanford and is listed in the media guide, complete with a handsome mug shot. Lorig is listed in the freshman bios along with defensive tackle Ekom Udofia (6-2, 335) from Scottsdale, Arizona, who was also part of the Trojan recruiting map. Udofia has an older brother, Udeme, who is a junior on the Cardinal squad.
The Obvious – Before Pete Carroll took the Trojans to the top of the college football universe, the controversial Paul Hackett was the fearless leader of the Cardinal and Gold.
The Not So Obvious – If you notice a figure on the Stanford sideline on Saturday that looks like a young Paul Hackett, it's the former Trojan leader's son, Nathaniel, who is a specialist coach (punters, kickers, snappers) and recruiting coordinator. You'll be happy to know that young Nathaniel, 25, attended UC Davis and once taught Hip Hop for two years.
The Obvious – Earlier this Stanford practice week, Pete Carroll and running back LenDale White pulled one of the all-time Halloween pranks by having White "quit the team" after arguing about his number of carries and then apparently being thrown off the top of a building.
The Not So Obvious – While the prank was pulled off with stunning realism by Hollywood's newest leading man, LenDale White, the real "facial" was administered by Carroll to his own staff who weren't previously informed by their boss of the prank. Verbally admonishing White about his "selfish" behavior, the coaches were caught hook, line, and sinker. Oh to be a fly on the wall when those unsuspecting coaches saw LenDale after the prank was revealed.
The Obvious – A number of the national media and some members of the general public found Pete Carroll's Halloween prank highly offensive.
The Not So Obvious – Although we can understand and respect views to the contrary, from the O/NSO prospective, we found the prank neither highly offensive nor in poor taste. If the prank had been on April Fools Day instead of Halloween, maybe the reaction might have been different. If Carroll is guilty of anything, it was the flawless execution of the prank and the Oscar performance of White and the rest of the "inner circle." Don't think for a moment that Carroll didn't get an inside chuckle at those devoted beat reporters chasing after White's cart after No. 21 left the field.
The Obvious – It's becoming increasingly apparent that the NFL is returning to Los Angeles and a new Coliseum is on the horizon.
The Not So Obvious – Following the conclusion of the 2005 season, Stanford Stadium is scheduled to undergo major renovation. The running track will be removed and having seen the design, you'll never believe what a difference the "new" stadium will look like. It's double decked along with a new, modern state-of-the-art press box. The 85 million dollar facelift also will include the elimination of 30,000 seats for a more "intimate" experience for fans.
The Obvious – With current Stanford athletic director Ted Leland leaving The Farm for an athletic position at the University of Pacific, former Stanford and San Francisco 49'er football coach Bill Walsh will serve as interim athletics director while the university conducts its search for a permanent director.
The Not So Obvious – Well isn't that special to have Hall of Fame coach Walsh back in the saddle again. The self-appointed coaching legend is best known in these parts as the voice that constantly reminded Trojan USC was "Yesterday U." My, how times have changed, Coach. Perhaps it's the fact that Walsh had Carroll on his 49'er staff and the recent dominance of the Trojans, but Mr. Bill has commented that the Cardinal and Gold have had the best college coaching staff in the country.
The Obvious – Saturday night's 7:00 p.m. game will be telecast on TBS with Ron Thulin, Charles Davis, and Craig Sager.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans televised match with Stanford will be the final game of a Pac-10 tripleheader which begins with a huge game in Eugene with No. 23 "We want our respect back" Cal at No. 15 "Did you think we would be 7-1 at this point?" Oregon (12:30 p.m., ABC) followed by No. 7 "Never say die" UCLA at "We're better than our 2-6 record" Arizona (5:15 p.m., FW2). All times are Pacific.
The Obvious – Saturday night begins the Trojan November push to complete a season that has had more excitement and suspense in late September and mid-October than most cardinal and gold fans bargained.
The Not So Obvious – It doesn't figure that Saturday night's game will produce a thriller or a new hero. However, this series history is full of names that created the unlikely and dramatic like Ron Ayala, Mike Langford, Chris Limahelu, Chris Lewis, Sam Tsagalakis, and Steve Stenstrom, One thing is for sure, if the Trojan do wax the Cardinal and beat the point spread, it's safe to say USC and Stanford game was all academic.