O/NSO - Texas review

The hopes and dreams of an historic third consecutive USC Trojan national championship were left along alongside the rubble of Monday's Rose Parade as the No. 2 Texas Longhorns (13-0) literally outscored the No.-1-ranked Trojans (12-1) 41-38 thanks to a Superman performance by Longhorn quarterback Vince Young, who left Rose Bowl Trojan fans amongst the 93,986 crowd in a state of suspended, speechless animation.

The Obvious – The hopes and dreams of an historic third consecutive USC Trojan national championship were left along alongside the rubble of Monday's Rose Parade as the No. 2 Texas Longhorns (13-0) literally outscored the No.-1-ranked Trojans (12-1) 41-38 thanks to a Superman performance by Longhorn quarterback Vince Young, who left Rose Bowl Trojan fans amongst the 93,986 crowd in a state of suspended, speechless animation.

The Not So Obvious – This was one of the all-time great Rose Bowl games, certainly worthy of an instant ESPN Classic sports replay, but it will be a painful viewing for Trojan fans, whose cardinal and gold hearts were ripped out by Young, especially after the Men of Troy took a 38-26 led with just 6:42 remaining on the clock. Was there any Trojan fan out there that had a split personality in regards to the outcome of the game? Of course there was. However, let's face it, Trojan fans, if you give up two Texas touchdowns in just over six minutes and allow 41 points for the game, it can't be expected that the final outcome would garner another successful national title, especially if you also allow 18 fourth-quarter Texas points.

The Obvious – We live in a wonderful country that gives second chances for those that make first-time mistakes.

The Not So Obvious – Both the Trojans and the Longhorns were given more than their share of game-changing chances. In the Trojans' case, had they taken full advantage of some colossal Texas blunders in the first half, both offensively and defensively, and executed, Pete Carroll's boys would have had enough football currency to pay their way out of their lethal fourth quarter finale. Carroll certainly wasn't rationalizing when he felt the Trojans could have been up at least 21-7 before the Longhorns knew what hit'em. Texas's hope was to get into a fourth quarter shootout and hope the last team that scores wins and that was what precisely happened.

The Obvious – Trojan coach Pete Carroll is now the subject of controversy over his decision to go for a first down late in the fourth quarter on fourth-and 2 with 2:13 remaining in the game.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO supports Carroll completely in his gutsy decision to go for it, a John McKay move. With the way junior tailback LenDale White was pounding the interior of the Longhorn defense and Vince Young was slicing the Trojan defense to ribbons, why not? The feeling here is, like Pete Carroll said afterwards, what was another 20 yards for Young? It could be argued that the game turned on that play, but we think the game turned on a plethora of plays leading all the way back to the first quarter. We also agree that Vince Young is so good, like Reggie Bush, it really doesn't matter what part of the field he operates. Just ask the Michigan Wolverines, who must have been shaking their heads in Ann Arbor after their experience with Young in last year's Rose Bowl game.

The Obvious – Texas quarterback Vince Young was the no-duh MVP of the Rose Bowl with 467 yards in total offense.

The Not So Obvious – A Vince Young, who redshirted his freshman year at UT, is a morphing of Matt Leianrt, Reggie Bush, and LenDale White. Like trying to prepare against the three Trojan superstars, the Trojan scout team could not in any shape or form, replicate Young. Trojan reserve tailback Michael Coleman gave glimpses of the potential damage Young was capable of during bowl practices and redshirt quarterback Mark Sanchez was able to throw pinpoint passes to pretend Longhorn receivers, but nothing could have prepared the Trojans for a Vince Young onslaught. Think of it, Big Vince had 200 rushing, only six yards less than LenDale and Reggie combined! That's a ten-yard average!! Whew!!!

The Obvious – Vince Young, the Houston Madison High grad, was the 2002 Parade Magazine National Player of the Year.

The Not So Obvious – As a prepster, Young also won the Pete Dawkins Trophy after leading the West squad to a 26-6 victory in the U.S. Army All-America game a few years ago. As a quick reminder, Trojan fans will want to watch the U.S Army Prep All-America Game on Saturday morning on NBC to hear and see from some future Trojan stars. Expect some announcements and our Garry P. is now in San Antonio for first-hand reports.

The Obvious – The game may have been decided, for the most part, by three separate fourth down plays by both teams, which included the aforementioned Carroll decision. Let's not forget the first quarter Leinart rebuff by the Longhorn defense at the UT 17-yard line, and, of course, Young's fateful eight-yard winning score in the final minute.

The Not So Obvious – The game was also a disastrous showcase of Trojan clock mismanagement in the second half and showed a contrast in the two teams as Texas had three timeouts in the end and the Trojans were left with none, thanks to ill-timed timeouts during the beginning, middle, and end of the second half. Could the Trojans have used just one more timeout on their final desperation drive to set up for a tying field goal attempt? You bet they could have. The clock mismanagement, whether by coaching or player decisions, was a significant factor coming down crunch time.

The Obvious – Trojan All-America wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett (10 Rec., 121 yds) made a sensational 22-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Didn't most Trojan fans start to smell victory in the Pasadena air after Jarrett's backbreaking stretch with the ball into the Longhorn end zone. However, when you talk about blown opportunities, the sophomore wide receiver from New Jersey could have put Texas in deep Longhorn manure had he completed his left-handed pass to a wide, wide open Steve Smith in the first quarter. You talk about a blown opportunity? Forget about the Carroll fourth quarter call and remember this first half misconnection. This was a play the Trojans practiced a number of times during Rose Bowl practices. One Texas fans fearing a Trojan blowout after the near completion yelled, "There is always beer!"

The Obvious – The Trojans scored 38 points against the Longhorns.

The Not So Obvious – If you want to vent your anger or disappointment, don't do it in the direction of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin or assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian. They directed their team to 38 points, which should be more than enough in a championship game, and the Norm Chow factor was no factor.

The Obvious – Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush ran for one trademark 26-yard run early in the fourth quarter to put the Trojans ahead.

The Not So Obvious – It could be a generation or more before we see a another Reggie Bush able to turn a corner against a near perfectly defended play and burst down the sidelines for a score. However, Bush's attempted lateral to walk-on receiver Brad Walker in the second quarter left Trojan fans gasping for an interpretation. Bush, who was held o 82 yards rushing, is to be complimented for admitting he tried to pitch it to Walker, who probably was as stunned as the massive viewing audience. Such is destiny that had Walker caught the ball and raced into the end zone, Bush would have been called a genius and Walker, a former Foothill High star, would have told stories to his grandchildren.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart was on fire in the second half and finished the game by throwing for 365 yards and one touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – However, in keeping with the story line of the game, it was lefty's interception by Longhorn safety Michael Griffin, who played Leinart's pass beautifully, cutting in front of Steve Smith in the end zone. For Leinart, fate was not especially kind during the regular season as similar end zone interceptions took place in stadiums like Eugene and Berkeley. Wednesday night's interception turnover is yet another reason not to dwell on Carroll's fourth quarter call on fourth down.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback LenDale White finished the game with three touchdowns and 124 rushing.

The Not So Obvious – Good Lord is this kid good and good luck in the NFL, No. 21. White showed the country again why thunder is as devastating as lightening for the 2005 Trojan offensive juggernaut. Except for the fourth down that came up short, the Longhorns couldn't stop White at any point in the game. Perhaps the only irony was the fact LenDale didn't catch a pass, considering the Trojans worked on it during bowl practice, especially of the screen variety. No complaint here as White did as much damage as the Burnt Orange fans wanted to endure.

The Obvious – The Trojan defense had all sorts of problems in defending the Longhorn offense.

The Not So Obvious – It was certainly no secret that the 2005 edition of the Trojan defense was a shell of previous Pete Carroll products. After all, if Fresno State could light up the scoreboard for 42 points and Notre Dame for 31 points, why couldn't the nation's number one scoring team (50.9 ave) in the country do it? Probably the two most frustrating things about the game was the inability of the Trojans to keep Young in the pocket and miss and just how wide open his receivers were throughout the game.

The Obvious – Texas tight end David Thomas had ten catches for 88 yards.

The Not So Obvious – During media day on Monday, many writers could feel the confidence in Thomas in regards to his knowledge of difficulty the Trojans had in covering tight ends during the season. Time and time again on Wednesday, Thomas, a senior from Wolfforth, Texas, came through time after time. Some of his catches were very athletic. The Trojan tight ends also accounted well for themselves with senior Dominique Byrd (8..0 ypc) and sophomore Fred Davis (9.5 ypc) doing some damage.

The Obvious – The Trojans' winning streak was snapped at 34 games.

The Not So Obvious – Such was the drama of the game, that many didn't even think of it, although both Pete Carroll and Texas coach Mack Brown made comments about it after the game. Carroll said he never put emphasis on it and Brown said when you are down to a team (USC) in the fourth quarter that has won 34 games in a row, the whole deal becomes surrealistic. For many Trojan players, most of whom have never lost a game, they sat in their lockers with far away looks in their eyes. Some even admitted they didn't really know what to think.

The Obvious – The Texas offensive line did a fine job of defending Vince Young.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps Texas All-America offensive tackle Jonathon Scott made the biggest line play late in the game when he rode Trojan defensive end Lawrence Jackson out of the action as the Trojan junior was about to sack Young on his fateful winning score. On the same play, the Trojans' other defensive end, senior Frostee Rucker, was caught inside and then was brush blocked, giving Young a chance to sprint outside to the Trojans' end zone pylon, the same spot that Young used to beat Michigan the year before. The most lethal Young moments for the Trojans' defense was late in the game when Young took over with no-huddle pass decisions, something that shouldn't have come as a shock from a player that Carroll called the toughest player to defend outside of Dan Marino, the Hall of Famer of the Miami Dolphins.

The Obvious – The Trojans gave up 267 yards passing to Vince Young.

The Not So Obvious – The Texas receivers were not only fast, solid catchers, but found big opening in the Trojan secondary, not a shock considering dilemma the Trojans linebackers were under in trying to defend Young and the pass. However, when talking about turning points, Trojan players and fans will always lament over the potential game-saving interception that Brandon Ting had in his hands on the final Texas winning drive. Such is the sometimes cruelty in sports – the what-if syndrome that seemed to permeate the Trojans all evening in the Arroyo.

The Obvious– The Trojans were led in tackles by All-America strong safety Darnell Bing with nine.

The Not So Obvious – The second leading tackler for the Trojans was sophomore Josh Pinkard. While Bing may be gone to the NFL, Pinkard's return next season presents a solid secondary foundation.

The Obvious – The Rose Bowl game program was $10 and 228 pages.

The Not So Obvious – The program was a "standard" Rose Bowl program and one vender said she sold her box allotment in ten minutes. We always enjoy the Rose Bowl program, especially the player mugs in color, in our opinion, is the difference between the average and good game programs. We also enjoyed a pictorial spread celebrating the 50-year pregame tradition of the Lawry's Beef Bowl. Pictures from all the way back to the 1957 game are included and there are some Trojans included as well – a 1990 photo of Trojan defensive tackle Tim Ryan and a 2004 photo of member of the Trojan Marching Band at the famous restaurant in Beverly Hills.

The Obvious – The Rose Bowl let fans in the Stadium at 2:30 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – There was an interesting interaction of regional pregame music being played to keep the mood festive. The song selections alternated between Country Western and Rock, giving us the impression that the musical genre represented each team.

The Obvious – You knew it was a big game by the number of limos arriving at the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – There was even a stretch limo Hummer with a pair of orange longhorns painted on the door sides.

The Obvious – There were the usual number of celebrities at the game including the likes of Henry Winkler, Dennis Quaid, and, of course, anthem singer LeAnn Rimes.

The Not So Obvious – Out in the tailgate area, Will Ferrell partied with some former fraternity brothers like teacher Billy West. Other celebs came from the sports world as famed jockey Lafitte Pincay walked up the steps of Section 7 followed shortly by former Seattle Mariner second baseman and ESPN baseball analyst Harold Reynolds.

The Obvious – There was the expected number of former Trojan athletes from the past in attendance.

The Not So Obvious – Besides the field pass stars like Marcus Allen, Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott, and Rodney Peete, former tailback Sultan McCullough was wandering the grounds wearing his Trojan letterman's jacket. There were others Trojans like former USC basketball center Clayton Olivier and baseball pitcher Mark Prior

The Obvious – Trojan Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush will always be remembered by Trojan fans as class acts, especially considering the incredible amount of media pressure the two were under this season.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, both went inside the Texas locker room to congratulate the new national champions.

The Obvious – There was a large number of signs of all varieties outside the Rose Bowl and in the tailgate areas.

The Not So Obvious – One of the best artworks was a sign that displayed all the helmets of the teams that the Trojans had beaten in their 34-game win streak. Each helmet also had an "X" through each victim.

The Obvious – One of the icons on the University of Texas campus is the University of Texas Tower, an Empire State Building looking edifice

The Not So Obvious – Out in the tailgate area was a much smaller replica of the building that was rather nicely done.

The Obvious – Fans were decked out in all sorts of school spirit items

The Not So Obvious – One tailgate group had fans wearing Trojan "Bush/Leinart" political looking shirts while wearing huge red and yellow Stetson hats with Longhorn logos.

The Obvious – The smell of hot dogs, hamburgers, and ribs was everywhere around the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – One group, the Ventura County Professional Fire Fighters Association, even had a rental U-Haul that included a huge BBQ grill.

The Obvious – After the game, there were the usual sellers trying to pick up a quick buck with fans of the winning team.

The Not So Obvious –Trojan "victory shirts" were going for just $2. There were no takers.

The Obvious – Both teams arrived before 3:30 p.m. with police escorts entering a sea of fans in front of Gate A.

The Not So Obvious – As the buses arrived, the Trojan players inside did their "traditional" rocking of the busses. The Trojan Walk had already been formed and extended both outside and inside the gates of the Rose Bowl. It was quite a sight and the players sure looked appreciative. Some confident Trojan players even gave an upside down version of the two-fingered Texas "Hook-em Horns" sign.

The Obvious – More than a number of Trojan fans were happy discussing the loss by Notre Dame to Ohio State on Tuesday.

The Not So Obvious – Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie, doing the game on a national radio broadcast, was outside the Rose Bowl gate taking pictures and signing autographs.

The Obvious – There were almost no sign of ticket availability at the Rose Bowl, but there was a sea of buyers.

The Not So Obvious – Sometimes it was hard to figure out if someone was giving the "Fight On " salute or they needed two tickets. One transaction did go down as one ticket sold for $800 just in front of the players' entrance. The wad of hundred and twenty dollar bills was as impressive as Vince Young.

The Obvious – In many parts of the stadium, fans from both sides were seated side-by-side.

The Not So Obvious – Without first noticing the team affiliation, one fan was on his cell phone and said, "Hey, baby doll, we're inside the stadium." Baby doll? Of course, nobody talks like that in SoCal. Yes, it was a Longhorn fan.

The Obvious – The halftime show was the traditional school bands doing their "traditional" halftime routines.

The Not So Obvious – It was certainly an improvement from last year's Orange Bowl when fans were subjected to Ashley Simpson, who almost drove fans from SC and Oklahoma out of the stadium.

The Obvious – So, the Trojans end their 2005 season with a still remarkable 12-1 record and memories of some of the greatest players in the history of USC football.

The Not So Obvious – Yes, it may take some time to get over this national championship loss, but Trojan football is too deep, powerful, and enjoyable under Pete Carroll's program to let one loss become a longterm distraction. After all, just when you think all is lost, just remember six years ago when all DID seem lost. Excuse us now, but we have to get ready for Saturday's U.S. Army game and see those 5-star Trojan commitments announcements. There's nothing like a prep All-America commitment to the Cardinal and Gold to soothe the pain.

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