O/NSO - Nebraska review

Led by a vicious group of frothing defenders while its offense was suffering from readily apparent growing pains, the USC Trojans (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) physically and finally systematically subdued the No. 19 Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) 28-10 before 92,000 on a beautiful evening in the City of Angels.

The Obvious Los Angeles, Ca. - Led by a vicious group of frothing defenders while its offense was suffering from readily apparent growing pains, the USC Trojans (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) physically and finally systematically subdued the No. 19 Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) 28-10 before 92,000 on a beautiful evening in the City of Angels.

The Not So Obvious –The reward for the Trojans' Saturday night victory was Sunday afternoon's revelation that the Men of Troy have advanced to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 and remained No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Ohio State remained No. 1 while Auburn advanced to No. 2 in the AP. So, the Trojans survived "Separation Saturday" unlike those national championship dreamers in hamlets such as South Bend, Tallahassee, and Baton Rouge. For Miami coach Larry Coker and those beloved Hurricanes, it's looking like it's "South Beach man overboard." Somebody get out a Dr. Bartner bugle, it may taps time for old Larry.

The Obvious – The ESPN College GameDay trio of Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, and Kirk Herbstreit were seen during various parts of the day.

The Not So Obvious – Right before the Trojan team came through for their "Trojan Walk," the three walked into the peristyle end, heading for their inside the Coliseum studio set up. As Corso walked by, Trojan fans yelled, "Hey, Lee, Notre Dame is getting killed!" When Fowler came through, other Trojan fans screamed, " Chris, what did you think of Brady Quinn's Heisman Trophy now?" Ah, is this considered lobbying?

The Obvious - Pete Carroll admitted Saturday's victory "didn't feel right; too many issues."

The Not So Obvious – Carroll, of course, was referring to his offense. Despite its lack of offensive beauty, it was still a win and Trojan fans are grateful for that. The spirit in the Coliseum before the game and in the first half was invigorating. Yet, the halftime mentality was a "just wait till we blow them out." Trojan fans have grown accustomed to seeing second half adjustments followed by second half dominance. While there was no glaring third and fourth quarter offensive dominance, there was also no "take that, you farm boys. The Cardinal and Gold, however, did show consistency by scoring once in each quarter of the game. Now it's getting serious time in getting ready for nest weekend's Pac-10 opener at Arizona.

The Obvious - The return to form of Trojan junior All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett was a major offensive boon, but the Cardinal and Gold rushing attack turned into an uneasy swoon.

The Not So Obvious - The early game injury to senior fullback Ryan Powdrell seemed to set the physical tone of the game and the Powdrell loss certainly hurt the Trojans rushing attack, especially blocking. The Cornhuskers, meanwhile, insisted on becoming a one-dimension team of trying to establish a fluid rushing attack, surprising even Pete Carroll. However, let's not take away from solid defensive performances by a number of "replacement troops" from the Trojans' reservoir of depth. All in all, the game turned into a clean but not-so-pretty affair, but a win is a win, and the Trojans are happy to be 2-0 as opposed to some of the nation's other elite programs.

The Obvious – The local Nebraska press had their own take on the game.

The Not So Obvious – The Lincoln Journal Star wrote "Nebraska showed for the most part it was indeed ready for the big stage. It just wasn't ready to win on the big stage. Battling toe-to-toe with fourth-ranked Southern California deep into the night, No. 19 Nebraska ultimately had too few answers for the dazzling display put on by Trojan quarterback John David Booty and wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett."

The Obvious – Many thought they would see more offensive explosions from the Cornhuskers, who piled up massive yardage in playing two previous creampuffs in Louisiana Tech and Nicholls State.

The Not So Obvious – The Omaha World-Herald gave a perspective ofthe Husker mindset. The World-Herald led with "The discussion during USC-Nebraska week often turned to similarities between the teams' offenses. But when they played, they seemed two time zones apart. Southern Cal mixed the run and pass, made big plays and didn't turn over the football Saturday night in a 28-10 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Nebraska? Well, let's just say it couldn't quite match the Trojans before a crowd of 92,000, which included about 25,000 Husker fans wanting to see how their West Coast offense worked on the West Coast."

The Obvious – Official attendance for Saturday night's game in the Coliseum was listed as 92,000.

The Not So Obvious – From a Husker perspective, Saturday night's attendance was the second-largest crowd to see Nebraska play a regular-season game, behind only the 110,753 at Penn State in 2002.

The Obvious – Walking to the game, there was a large mixture of Trojan and Husker fans, both exchanging good-natured barbs.

The Not So Obvious – Upon crossing a main street on Figueroa, a Trojan fan yelled at a Nebraska fan, " Send'em back, they don't have streets where they come from!" The Nebraska fan replied, " Yes, we do, our combines are so damn big, they block the streets!"

The Obvious – The Cornhuskers scored 10 points and had 211 yards in total offense on Saturday night.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Cornhusker offense averaged 52.5 points per game and 541 yards in total offense.

The Obvious – It doesn't take ESPN's Lee Corso to tell you the Trojan offense is trying to find the right combinations.

The Not So Obvious -OC Register columnist Steve Bisheff has his own theory right now on the Trojans' offense. In Sunday's column, Bisheff wrote,"Obviously, this is a young team still experimenting at several positions. But it's difficult to generate any continuity when there's always a new guy next to you on every play."

The Obvious – After the game and taking full responsibility, Trojan offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin told the members of the media "I didn't think I was good tonight. There's a lot of work left. It's no secret we have a long way to go."

The Not So Obvious – After the game, Cornhusker offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said, "The bottom line is we didn't want to get into a game where we spread them out and throw it all over the place, We didn't feel like that would serve us very well. We wanted to try to keep it close."

The Obvious – Trojan fullback Ryan Powdrell's career ended in the first quarter with a broken fibula and dislocated ankle.

The Not So Obvious – Boy, what a personal and team-killer of an injury. What can you say that hasn't already been said about the star-crossed career of No. 37? This senior was becoming such a cog in the Trojans' offensive plan that it really seems like a nightmare. Our lasting memories of Ryan will always be his catch and run against Arkansas that displayed such promise and his "Fight On" sign that he flashed the Coliseum crowd as he was carted off the field. The kid, after trying to find a position that would get him on the field, will always be remembered for his spirit and team dedication. In our pre-season interviews with Ryan, he was all class and we wish him the best in his future and a healthy recovery.

The Obvious – Before Saturday night's game, all-star Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker said the Trojans presented a physical running game. Carriker told the Lincoln Star Journal "They (USC) like to hit you right in the mouth. They're a physical team. They like to come right at you and see what you're going to do, see how you're going to respond. When they come at us, we have to come right back at them. That's fine with me. That works well for me because I'm a big guy and not many people can move me."

The Not So Obvious – Apparently Carriker was right. Let's, however, credit the Trojans offensive line for protecting John David Booty and for giving up just one sack to Husker sophomore DT Ndamukong Suh (6-4, 315). When All-Pac-10 center Ryan Kalil and senior tackle Kyle Williams tell you that the Husker front seven was a mean group of street fighters, you better believe it. These two Trojan warriors have been in the trench wars for a long time and the O/NSO even saw Kalil knocked backwards on occasion during Saturday's test of testosterone. It was a good, physical lesson for coach Pat Ruel's offensive line. It will be an interesting film and learning session this week in preparation for Arizona.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive line was very aware of the Huskers two defensive ends, all-star candidates Adam Carriker and Jay Moore.

The Not So Obvious – Neither had a sack and Carriker recorded just two tackles and Moore just one. Mission accomplished.

The Obvious - The Huskers' starting corner, Andre Jones, who predicted the Huskers would shock the world with a victory and restore order, was burned by Dwayne Jarrett's first touchdown reception of 12 yards.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, "Mr. Victory" politely declined to be interviewed. Well, let's give Andre high marks for his after-game manners. Ah, learning can be so painful. However, Jones was not the only exposed issue for the Huskers. NU feebly tried to cover Jarrett at times with 5-9 Cortney Grixby, a mismatch of "monster" proportions, a term that NU coach Bill Callahan used afterwards in referring to Jarrett. It would not be a stretch to say this mismatch was the essence of the game.

The Obvious – The Trojans held Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor to 115 yards passing on eight of 16 passes.

The Not So Obvious – Much of that credit goes to Callahan's admitted strategy for the game and the Trojans defense. After the game, Callahan said, "They're a pretty good pass rush team. We wanted to come in here and have a good protection plan. Even a couple of times when we were having max protection, they broke that scheme down and applied pressure."

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback John David Booty threw for 257 yards on a 25 of 36 tosses.

The Not So Obvious – Booty continues to show good game management, calling audibles and even timeouts when needed. However, he was darn lucky on two balls that could have been intercepted and perhaps ran back for Nebraska scores. On another Saturday, that could be the case. John David is still learning and much of what he has done in games is what has happened in practice, both the good and the bad. It kind of goes with the current territory that he will get passes batted down and sometimes locks on to one receiver. There was play during the game when he forced a ball to Dwayne Jarrett in the end zone while Chris McFoy was all alone in front of Jarrett. The O/NSO is not being critical as much as pointing out that the Bayou Bomber is feeling his oats and the Trojans are 2-0 with a considerable upside offensively. The players love him and that will be important has he has his highs and lows.

The Obvious – As your unofficial Minister of Parking Fees, the last time we were at the Coliseum, parking costs of private lots were going for $100 per car across the street from the KFC on Figueroa.

The Not So Obvious – Well, the good news is that the USC school lots remained at $20 per car, with a shuttle where applicable. Now for the private lot across the street from the KFC, individual cars were being charged $80. Now if you wanted a bargain, the private lot next to the KFC was showing great American competition by slicing the cost to just $70.

The Obvious – Wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett became the Trojans' all-time career touchdown leader (31) and returned to form with 11 receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – What a perfect night for the All-American to show the nation that he is "back." Unfortunately for the Nebraska secondary, it was a painful lesson. As good as Dwayne was, senior Steve Smith looked very much the Keary Colbert role and had a wonderful evening with six catches for 53 yards. Chris McFoy actually led the Trojan receivers in yards-per-catch at 13.0 (3-for-39 yds.). Perhaps as impressive as the receptions, was the downfield blocking of the Trojan receivers.

The Obvious – Having practiced it this week as one of the Trojans' "tricks" for the Cornhuskers, wide receiver Patrick Turner attempted an end-around pass that was almost intercepted by the Huskers.

The Not So Obvious – Conversely, the Husker were successful in their "punting" trick as sophomore punter Dan Titchener found Todd Peterson for 28 yards. Titchener said, "We'd worked on it all week. It was put in specifically for the look they gave us on that play. Coach had told us we were going to run it at some point during the game. I didn't know when it would be. He called it early. I was really shocked by that. He called it. I got a little nervous, but I got control of it and threw it out there."

The Obvious – A number of fans were concerned because the Trojan Walk did not take place until well after 3:00 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – Right before the team arrived near 3:25 p.m., a Trojan fans asked if the team does this for every game. The fan couldn't believe when the team walked by just how close he was to his heroes. Naturally, Pete Carroll led the walk. As players filed by, wide receiver Patrick Turner noticed his mother, dressed in a USC shirt that read "No. 1 Mom." Patrick stopped and embraced with his mother for a rather poignant moment. It was quit a spirited walk by the team, which was forced into a single file line due to the enormity of the fan turnout.

The Obvious – Nebraska lost for just the third time in its past 11 games against Pac-10 competition.

The Not So Obvious – With Oklahoma's loss at Oregon on Saturday, it was a sweet day for the Pac-10 Conference after early season results which could be described as embarrassing.

The Obvious – The Trojans traditionally end their pre-game warm-ups with a long toss from the starting quarterback John David Booty to wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett.

The Not So Obvious – The Cornhuskers ended their pre-game warm-ups by huddling under the peristyle goal post and hoisting corner Cortney Grixby and receiver Maurice Purify on their shoulders. Grixby and Purify then proceeded to raise their arms above the crossbar and give Husker fans a "No. 1" finger salute.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense appeared in full stride despite the injuries.

The Not So Obvious - At some point in every Trojan game, the opponent is going to have its moments. In the early returns with Arkansas and Nebraska, those teams had trouble putting those "moments" together for an entire game. The O/NSO appreciated the viciousness the defense is playing with these days, much like those Carroll teams once led by Pro Bowlers Troy Polamalu and Lofa Tatupu. Although NU QB Zac Taylor's fumble near the Trojan goal line was called back, any signal-caller that goes on his own a educational tour of the Trojan defense better carry life insurance, especially running ones like Oregon's Dennis Dixon. Buyers beware.

The Obvious – Nebraska was held to 68 yards (1.9 ave.) rushing by the Trojans' defense

The Not So Obvious – Sedrick who? Well, let's not be too naive about this, but tackles Chris Barrett and Fili Moala were like clones out there, doing a solid job of shutting off some good, tough running backs from Lincoln. It was a shame that Barrett's fumble recovery sprint to the end zone was called back. The former Tustin High star ran like the former tight end that he is.

The Obvious – Before the game, the Omaha World-Herald printed their key to the game. They wrote "USC already has lost safety Josh Pinkard to a knee injury. Without him, how well will the Trojans' secondary hold up against QB Zac Taylor?"

The Not So Obvious – Well, we never found out as Nebraska coach Bill Callahan seemed to be saying he busy preparing his team for the future. In the Nebraska press on Sunday, Callahan was being baked at 450 for his decision to pass on passing.

The Obvious – Trojan freshman running back Emmanuel Moody led Troy in rushing with 70 yards on nine carries.

The Not So Obvious – The freshman from Coppell, Texas, who surprised some with his video board announcement that he was Saturday's starter at tailback, continues to improve as a runner. Credit running back coach Todd McNair for the continued growth. As we say in the trade, Moody has "happy feet." While he doesn't have "top-end speed," Emanuel does have a big knack of making tacklers miss and getting some critical extra yards. It certainly doesn't hurt that he seems exceptionally adept at counter plays, which showcase his skills.

The Obvious – Sophomore middle linebacker Rey Maualuga made his first start and led Trojans in tackles (11).

The Not So Obvious – Well, Rey got the physical game he so sorely wanted. Nebraska came out to challenge the prodigy linebacker and the sophomore came out blazing. Not that he was perfect, he got blocked on a couple of big runs, but he sure made his presence felt. It will be no shock if the kid is the middle linebacker of the "now" generation. Of course, if he forgets to compete in practice, senior Oscar Lua will be happy to return to his spot.

The Obvious – Both Trojan linebacker Rey Maualuga and Husker wide receiver Maurice Purify were high school teammates up in Eureka High in Eureka, Ca.

The Not So Obvious – Rey had mentioned that he hoped to "meet" his former prep teammate on a pass over the middle. As things worked out, Purify did not catch a pass on Saturday and Rey was unable to give his own personal greeting.

The Obvious – The Trojans accounted for 399 yards in total offense.

The Not So Obvious – For most offenses, this would be a great day, but not for Lane Kiffin's. The lack of consistency is not alarming, but it is a yellow flag. One wonders what would happen in a shootout. Thanks to one of the nation's truly fine defenses, the Trojan offense doesn't figure to be in many high-scoring barnburners. However, no matter how physical the Cornhusker front seven was on Saturday night, the general feeling is that the Trojans won't see a front seven like that the rest of the season.

The Obvious – The Trojan Marching Band played their first "gig" from the peristyle Sun Deck of the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Well, when the music started and the speakers were turned up, the O/NSO could hear the band as never before. With speakers located at both ends of the Coliseum, it certainly gave a much different feel to the game. In the game program, the last page was a letter from Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, the Trojans' famed band director, exhorting this new opportunity to play to the fans. The band showed "toughness" early in the game by having to be in full uniform while enduring the direct hit of the sun. As for the good doctor, Bartner was high on a metal latter and had to twist his body to see the field, since the band was behind the peristyle end zone.

The Obvious – The Trojans started freshman Taylor Mays at free safety on Saturday night.

The Not So Obvious – We certainly learned that those rumor that May didn't like to stick his head into the fray were just that – rumors. The kid does come up to hit and, boy, he is quite a competitor. The O/NSO saw it in practice, but it's always nice to confirm in games by playing all four quarters. Although he wasn't truly tested through the air, the fact that he gained such valuable experience should help him ease into the high-powered world of Pac-10 passing offenses. The O/NSO would be remiss if we didn't mention the solid performance turned in by Mozique McCurtis in the secondary. While McCurtis accounted for just one tackle, he was always around the ball and played with great enthusiasm.

The Obvious – Temperature at game time was officially listed at 74 degrees.

The Not So Obvious – You know it's Trojan football season by the temperature gauge at the peristyle end. Please, somebody fix the darn thing. There were times during the game in which the "pointer" was swaying back and forth like a windshield wiper. Although it was a delightful evening in the friendly confines of the Grand Old Lady, is it too much to ask that all the Coliseum visuals are working correctly?

The Obvious – Trojan fans got to experience the new "clock" rule in which starts the clock after the ball is put in play after a change of possession.

The Not So Obvious – The official time of the game was three hours and five minutes.

The Obvious – Trojan kicker Troy Van Blarcom continues to be on fire with touchbacks the order of the day.

The Not So Obvious – While most Trojan fans are now in shock when Troy doesn't boom one out of the end zone, kickoffs remain entertaining as self-appointed gridiron cheerleader, linebacker Thomas "Hitman" Williams, leads the special teams onto the field with fists pumping, arm waving, and fingers pointing to get Trojan fans fired up. The crowd loves the interaction with the players and it shows on the field. The O/NSO has noticed others such as All-Pac-10 defensive end Lawrence Jackson (3 tackles and a breakup), getting animated with the adoring Coliseum home folks.

The Obvious – The game program featured a cover of linebackers Dallas Sartz, Keith Rivers, and Oscar Lua.

The Not So Obvious – This year's program, which goes for $7, is 228 pages packed full of wonderful photos and information about this year's Trojan team and some of the color pictures are stunning Okay, Mr. O/NSO, there wasn't anything you didn't like? Okay, on the picky side, it would again be a nice touch to have the individual player mugs in color.

The Obvious - The Trojans were penalized seven times for 46 yards.

The Not So Obvious - The Huskers were penalized five times for 51 yards.

The Obvious – The Trojan students entered the Coliseum through Gate 28.

The Not So Obvious – We wouldn't call it a total disaster, but it was close. Standing with the Times' Gary Klein, we couldn't believe how much it resembled trying to fit ten tons of dirt into a two-pound bag. School officials are aware of the problem and hopefully it will get fixed in time for Washington on Oct. 7th.

The Obvious – The Trojans had only 56 yards rushing through the first three quarters of play.

The Not So Obvious – Can this team with rushing numbers like that rely solely on receiver Dwayne Jarrett? Well, in 1995, coach John Robinson's Trojans relied a receiver named Keyshawn Johnson, who eventually led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl win over Northwestern.

The Obvious – Many of the Trojan fans were wearing those new "GameDay" T-shirts.

The Not So Obvious – A large number of Husker fans were wearing shirts that read "Restore the Order."

The Obvious – The O/NSO checked out to the new StubHub Ticket Pick-up booth on the lawn leading to the peristyle end.

The Not So Obvious – The booth was giving out very nice Trojan scarfs if your sign-up card had a green stamp. A representative of StubHub said that fans could now pick up their tickets through the ticket booth if they purchased them between Wednesday and Saturday. StubHub was also giving fans a chance to win NFL playoff tickets through a lottery.

The Obvious – The most imposing new FanFest booth was the 710 ESPN stage, which looked like it could be used for concerts. Flanked by two giant photos of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, it is located at the hub of where the Trojan team walks in before games.

The Not So Obvious – Across the way, there were a couple of books signing taking place including a new book, Turning the Tide, which recounts about the great social change in the South after a Trojan team led by fullback Sam "Bam" Cunningham embarrassed Bear Bryant's boys of Alabama back in 1970. Cunningham and linebacker teammate, John Papadakis, he of Papadakis Taverna fame, were doing book signings. Next to them was authors Loel Schrader and the Orange County Registers' Steve Bisheff, who were signing copies of their book entitled "Fight On."

The Obvious – Nose tackle Sedrick Ellis is expected to miss two to four weeks after his recent knee surgery.

The Not So Obvious – Ellis came walking into the Coliseum under his own power with the use of a cane. A number of players were quite excited to see Sir Sed make his way to his fellow linemen.

The Obvious – Before every home game, the Coliseum video board has the Trojan starters on both offense and defense introduce themselves in a pre-taped production.

The Not So Obvious – Unfortunately, you could not hear the players in the beginning introducing themselves. It seems to the O/NSO this should not be a problem, especially when it's being viewed by so many appreciative fans.

The Obvious – And finally, so how is it that most people have forgotten that the Trojans have now won 47 of their past 49 games?

The Not So Obvious - A victory next week in Arizona will make it 48 of their past 50 and there is something about the number 50 that should draw some additional attention. But who's counting, especially when Pete Carroll reminds all Trojan fans it's one game at a time, starting with next week's Pac-10 opener at Arizona, so please pass the sunscreen.

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