O/NSO - Arizona preview edition

"Born in the heat of the desert" is the first line of the Elvis Presley ballad "You Gave Me a Mountain," and on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Arizona (2-1, 0-0 Pac-10), the Tucson desert and "A" Mountain seem the appropriate place for the USC Trojans (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) to begin the potential delivery of a fifth consecutive Pac-10 championship.

The Obvious – "Born in the heat of the desert" is the first line of the Elvis Presley ballad "You Gave Me a Mountain," and on Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Arizona (2-1, 0-0 Pac-10), the Tucson desert and "A" Mountain seem the appropriate place for the USC Trojans (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10), ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' poll and No. 3 in the AP poll, to begin the potential delivery of a fifth consecutive Pac-10 championship.

The Not So Obvious – All summer long, the general consensus was that of the first three games of the 2006 Trojan season, the Pac-10 opener against coach Mike Stoops' Arizona Wildcats raised the most concern. It still figures that sold out Arizona Stadium, albeit a solid number of traveling Trojan fans, will be rocking and potentially threatening. However, with Arizona's struggles in its first three games, especially the wipeout loss at LSU, Saturday night's booby trap game looks a bit defused. Once considered a potential Trojan Waterloo based on Pete Carroll's history of difficult conference openers, this contest is shaping up as another indication of Cardinal and Gold growth when the scoreboard displays its final numbers.

The Obvious – The Trojans opened as 14-point favorites to defeat the Wildcats in Tucson

The Not So Obvious – During Pac-10 Media Day, the Trojans were picked to win the conference while the Wildcats were picked for sixth. As mentioned above, a lot has changed in terms of Las Vegas confidence, as the Wildcats' underdog status has grown larger by the day. With productive Trojan wins at Arkansas and at home against Nebraska, one has to wonder if the Wildcats have been holding back their Pac-10 cards in home wins over BYU (16-13) and Stephen F. Austin (28-10) or what you see is what you get at LSU (45-3).

The Obvious – Entering the season, the Trojans had the Pac-10's fewest returning starters with 11.

The Not So Obvious – Entering the season, Arizona had the Pac-10's most returning starters with 17.

The Obvious – The weather report for Saturday evening in Tucson calls for mostly sunny skies with a high of 83 and a low of 59.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO weather report questions whether the UA offense will finally test the Trojans secondary and will the Trojans' offensive line return to its dominating ways? Perhaps the worst thing for Arizona was the fact that the Trojans were in a real slugfest last weekend against Nebraska. The high level of physical intensity should set the pace for the Men of Troy in Tucson. It doesn't figure that the weather will be a factor since the kickoff is in the late afternoon and there is a temporary cooling trend, which will continue as the game plays deeper into the desert hours of darkness. Of course, traveling Trojan fans probably won't need "Kool Zone" air conditioning either, considering the Sons of Tommy Trojan have been stuck in the upper corner level of Arizona Stadium.

The Obvious – Saturday night's game is being televised regionally on ABC (5:00 PDT) and the broadcast team will include Dan Fouts, Tim Brant, and Jack Arute.

The Not So Obvious – Doing analyst work for the Wildcats' weekly cable show and local game telecasts is former Trojan coach, Larry Smith.

The Obvious – All Trojan home games this year are now considered sellouts and the same is almost assured for road games.

The Not So Obvious – A crowd of 58,450 fans jammed Arizona Stadium on Sept. 2 for BYU, marking the Wildcats' first sellout since the 2000 season against Ohio State. Arizona fans have been trying to get tickets for Saturday night's sellout and there was a rumor that might be put on sale on game day, if the Trojans have any to return. However, according to UA assistant athletic director James Francis, the remaining 1,100 were gobbled up earlier in the week.

The Obvious – Trojan All-American receiver Dwayne Jarrett was selected as Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for his work against Nebraska.

The Not So Obvious – Wonder if Cornhusker defensive back Andre Jones took any credit for Dwayne's selection.

The Obvious – Arizona junior CB Antoine Cason (6-0, 182), the former Los Alamitos High star under coach John Barnes, is listed as a player to watch for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation's top DB.

The Not So Obvious – Apparently there is a new virus in the football community called Andre Jones Disorder. No sooner had Dwayne Jarrett dispensed with Nebraska's Jones and up pops up a confident Antoine Cason. On Wednesday, Cason told the Tucson Citizen, "He (Jarrett) is pretty good. So am I. I want him. We will see what happens. I really want to (defend him one on one). He is a pretty good receiver. I think I'm a pretty good DB. I think I'm ready for the challenge to guard him." Cason, a political science major, has NFL bloodlines as his father, Wendell, played at Oregon and with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Obvious – The Trojans sold a reported 60,000 season tickets for the 2006 season and had to cut off sales.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcats have sold over 26,000 season tickets for the 2006 campaign, the third most for a single year ever at UA.

The Obvious – Both Pete Carroll and Mike Stoops bring positive coaching vibes to their respective teams.

The Not So Obvious – Stoops, like Carroll respects but fears no one. Earlier this week Stoops told the Tucson Citizen, "We have to bring our A-plus game and we have done it," a reference to how tough the Wildcats have played the Trojans and how confident they are for Saturday night.

The Obvious – The Trojans will depart Friday from Los Angeles on their 2:00 p.m. U.S. Airways charter for Tucson, arriving in Wildcat Country at 3:30 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – Without much fanfare and this being a Pac-10 Conference game, 64 Trojans will travel to Tucson. It will be interesting to see who boards the Trojans charter and who doesn't. You can begin formulating your list of potential redshirts if you train your eyes down to the sidelines for warm-ups. Yes, the usual freshman suspects made the traveling list including freshman running back Stafon Johnson, who many thought might be on the borderline for the trip to Tucson.

The Obvious – The Trojan passing attack is averaging 268.5 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcat pass defense is allowing 209.7 yards per game, seventh in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans will start junior John David Booty at quarterback while the Wildcats will start sophomore Willie Tuitama (6-3, 225), who has rebounded from a concussion suffered in the LSU disaster.

The Not So Obvious – Tuitama, who is a relative of Trojan legend, Junior Seau, was held out of most of last week's game against Stephen F. Austin, until the fourth quarter. "Tui" led UA to two scores in his two possessions, hitting on 6-of-9 passing for 61 yards and a three-yard touchdown strike. The Wildcats communication major was no prep sleeper to the O/NSO during his senior year at Stockton St. Mary's. We were told by some very strong sources that this kid was one of the most overlooked prep quarterbacks in the country. On a side note, the kid also comes from bright parents, both of whom graduated from the University of Pacific.

The Obvious – A key component for Saturday's game will be the play of Trojan strong safety Kevin Ellison.

The Not So Obvious – Ellison has great respect for the Arizona offense and Wildcat quarterback Willie Tuitama. This week Ellison told the O/NSO, "We need to stay on top and be accountable for the deep ball. Just make tackles when they come to us. Tuitama has a very strong arm and he has a nice deep ball. He has good pocket presence, not the fastest guy, but he has a real live arm. They have two pretty good running backs and the one that ran for 200 yards (Chris Jennings) looks pretty good on film. He looks real explosive. We just have to keep our feet and tackle. I am not really worried about the crowd; we just need to play football."

The Obvious – Trojan junior quarterback John David Booty has surprised some people by not committing a turnover in his first two games.

The Not So Obvious – J.D. sure looks like a veteran for being a first-year starter, playing without almost a flaw. Of course there was that little flap over giving ABC some inside Booty audible info on hand signals for man-to-man coverage. If that's all the "turnovers" the Bayou Bomber makes this season, Trojan fans will be more than happy. Now speaking of Brent Musburger and his leaking of Trojan audible info, we learn through the Times Larry Stewart that retired broadcast legend, Keith Jackson, says he would never have allowed John David to give him that type of info. That, my friends, is just another reason why college football should miss Mr. Jackson.

The Obvious – The Trojan rushing game is averaging 167.0 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcats rush defense is allowing 113.7 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – One of the great mysteries of the game will be whom will Pete Carroll start at tailback and fullback?

The Not So Obvious – Some thought this week that Arizona would be the perfect time to start junior Chauncey Washington. However, since Chauncey missed Thursday's practice for a family illness, perhaps this is the opening for freshman Emmanuel Moody. One thing for sure, if Stanley Havili does start at fullback, who would have ever thought this freshmen combination would be the starting backfield in the Pac-10 opener at Arizona?

The Obvious – The Trojans offensive line took some criticism this past week from offensive line coach Pat Ruel, who worked on "consistency" during practice during the week.

The Not So Obvious - After working on that consistency this week, starting senior left tackle Kyle Williams was asked by the O/NSO his thoughts on Nebraska and how will the O-line approach the Arizona front four. The deep-voiced tackle said, "We learned against Nebraska we could face any defensive line right now. We did well. This next group (Arizona) coming up is good and strong up front, as well. They will be another good challenge for us. I think their front four seems to be pretty solid and their whole defense doesn't seem to have any weak points. I would say their down guys are pretty good. I think we just need to do what we do the same each week and treat each game like it's the same. What are you going to do when you find an opponent that isn't as good? You need to treat them the same just as well. I think our team now has the ball moving and we're doing awesome. I think this offense is going to explode soon. I think this opener is just another game in the season."

The Obvious – Arizona junior college transfer defensive tackle Louis Holmes (6-6, 270), who will start on Saturday, was highly recruited by the Trojans last season.

The Not So Obvious – The JC All-American is originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and signed out of high school with Ohio State. The big fella also played tight end at Dillard High. Trojan offensive line coach Pat Ruel certainly is respectful of the Arizona front four. Ruel told the O/NSO, "Their defensive line has two really good players in Holmes and Turner. Those two are very good. We need to bring our "A" game this week."

The Obvious – Over the seasons, not every Trojan commitment makes his way into the Pete Carroll's program.

The Not So Obvious – Keep your eyes on No. 97 at defensive end for the Wildcats. If his name sounds familiar, it should. That starter is Johnathan Turner (6-3, 250) who signed with the Trojans in 2003 but did not enroll. There were rumors that Turner would still find his way to Heritage Hall, until he found his way to Arizona. If you look at the UA front four, two starters, Turner and Holmes, were Trojans almost.

The Obvious – There seems to be a growing consensus that the identity of this year's Trojan team revolves around a very talented defense.

The Not So Obvious – UA coach Mike Stoops says, "I think they are a better team, especially defensively from what I can see. Their defense is legit. From what I heard they smothered Nebraska pretty good. They didn't give up many yards. They are very capable of doing that to you."

The Obvious – The Trojan defense is allowing 99.0 yards rushing per game, second in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcat rushing game is averaging 149.0 yards per game, ninth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – UA junior halfback Chris Jennings (5-10, 220), a recruited walk-on from Ashland, Kentucky, who missed the early week's practices because of a foot sprain, rushed for 201 yards and pair of scores to help lead the Wildcats to a 28-10 victory over Stephen F. Austin last Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – One of those Trojans in charge of stopping Jennings on Saturday will be sophomore inside linebacker Rey Maualuga, the fearsome one, who ranks fifth in tackles (8.5 ave.) in the Pac-10. On the 710 ESPN afternoon show, Mason and Ireland, John Ireland said, " Rey is so fast, there should be rule that says he has to start a play from the sidelines. Man, he is fast."

The Obvious– The Trojans defense has a number of very football-bright players on the unit, and one such member is senior linebacker Dallas Sartz.

The Not So Obvious – Looking ahead to Saturday night's Pac-10 opener, Sartz told the O/NSO, "Arizona is a pretty well balanced offense. They have a lot of skill position players and a couple of good receivers and running backs. They also have some strong tight ends. It's going to be a pretty good match for us. Their offense is different than Nebraska because Nebraska liked to just line it up with three-four tight ends and pound the ball in there. Arizona is going to try and go up in the air a little bit more and try to mix it up a little better than Nebraska did. The Arizona running game is pretty good. Their backs are strong runners with a lot of agility. They are hard runners and they like to go out there and smash people."

The Obvious – There were mixed reviews over the Trojans new policy towards student seating and the way things were handled before the Nebraska kickoff.

The Not So Obvious – A large part of UA's attendance climb is the support of the Wildcats' student section - The ZonaZoo. Numbering 10,000-plus and stretching from the north endzone well into the south stands, the student section, a general admission/first-come, first-served endeavor, has been reported sea of red. The "ZonaZoo" has increased 56% since 2003 in support of Mike Stoops' Cats.

The ObviousTitus Tuiasosopo was an offensive lineman for the Trojans from 1988-91.

The Not So Obvious – Mike Tuiasosopo, brother of Titus, is the Wildcats' third-year defensive line coach. For old timers, their uncle, Bob Apisa, was a two-time All-America fullback at Michigan State.

The Obvious – The Trojan pass defense is allowing 249.0 yards per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcats passing attack is averaging 149.0 yards per game, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans will again start freshman safety Taylor Mays (6-4, 225) at free safety.

The Not So Obvious – It figures that UA will most certainly test young Mays, something Nebraska failed to do. Senior WR Syndric Steptoe (5-9, 193) figures to take a shot at Mays. Steptoe extended his streak to 20 straight games with at least one catch with a first quarter reception against Stephen F. Austin last Saturday.

The Obvious – With the latest devastating loss of senior fullback Ryan Powdrell, the Trojans will turn to freshman Stanley Havili (6-1, 220), the Salt Lake City,Utah native and senior Mike Brittingham (6-1, 210).

The Not So Obvious – Ask any number of veteran players on the Trojans and they will tell you the most impressive freshman during camp was Stanley Havili. In his senior year at Cottonwood High, Stanley Steamer had 2,652 all-purpose yards, including 1,500 yards rushing and 1,000 receiving. Did we mention the rookie scored 32 touchdowns?

The Obvious – Eight Trojan starters on offense and defense combined hail from outside California, if you include freshman running back Emmanuel Moody.

The Not So Obvious – Eleven Arizona starters from offensive and defensive combined hail from Texas.

The Obvious – Thanks to a Los Angeles Times sports editor named Owen Bird, USC got the nickname "Trojans" in 1912 after Bird was asked by Warren Bovard, director of Athletics and son of university president Dr. George Bovard, to select something to replace the Methodists and Wesleyans.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcats got their nickname when in 1914, a student correspondent for the Los Angeles Times covering the Arizona at Occidental football game, wrote that U of A "showed the fight of Wildcats." The UA student body loved the description so much that they quickly changed the nickname from the "Varsity" to the Wildcats.

The Obvious – The Trojan offense is averaging 39 points per game and 435.5 yards in total offense, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcat defense is allowing 22.7 points per game and allowing 323.0 yards in total defense, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans will attempt to utilize junior tight end Fred Davis (6-4, 260)

The Not So Obvious – You remember this guy, right? After a big night against Arkansas, Freddie had just two receptions for 16 yards against Nebraska. We're not a big gambler, but we'll down a couple of pennies that we shall hear from No. 83 on Saturday night.

The ObviousLane Kiffin is the Trojans recruiting coordinator.

The Not So Obvious – It figures that two of the mostly highly coveted Trojan recruits will be in attendance on Saturday night. Perhaps you've heard of offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd from Tucson Salpointe Catholic and defensive lineman Everson Griffen from Avondale Aqua Fria?

The Obvious – One of the fiercest players on the Trojan team is linebacker Thomas "Hitman " Williams, who cover his face with eye black before games.

The Not So Obvious – So why does he do it? Williams said, " When I put it on, it feels like a mask. I can be a warrior under that mask. And then I can go and be Thomas off the field."

The Obvious – The Trojans lead the series with the Wildcats 23-6

The Not So Obvious – The first meeting between the two universities was 1916 and the Trojans won 20-7.

The Obvious – The Wildcat offense is averaging 15.7 points per game and 270.7 yards in total offense, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojan defense is allowing 12 points per game and allowing 249.0 yards per game in total defense, second in the Pac-10 Conference.

The ObviousPete Carroll is very liberal with his open practice policies and the media has pretty much open access.

The Not So Obvious – Arizona coach Mike Stoops, closes all practices to the media during the season. Arizona players and coaches are available to the media during "post-practice" on Monday-Wednesday. How about them apples, Los Angeles scribes?

The Obvious – Few people think of snow and skiing when they think of Tucson, where the average temperature is 81 degrees.

The Not So Obvious – The local Santa Catalina Mountains, however, are home to the southernmost ski area in the country. It is perched near the 9,157-foot summit of Mt. Lemmon and ski runs are usually open from mid-December to early April. No wonder Arizona has such a recruiting advantage over the rest of the conference.

The Obvious – With seven Heisman Trophies on display and having won 11 national championships, there is no more imposing building showcasing raw football hardware than Heritage Hall.

The Not So Obvious – The Jim Click Hall of Champions, located in the Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion, is Arizona's equivalent to Heritage Hall. The Wildcats' Sports Hall of Fame and rotating exhibits showcase all aspects of Arizona athletics in nearly 10,000 square-feet display space, which includes exhibits of Wildcat football greats.

The Obvious – The Trojans feature an outstanding field goal kicker in junior Mario Danelo, who wasn't needed in last week's game against Nebraska.

The Not So Obvious – Arizona senior PK/P Nick Folk (6-1, 218) has been placed on the watch list for both the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top place kicker, and the Ray Guy Award, presented to the top punter. Folk is one of eight players on the Division I level that handles all of the kicking duties - kickoffs, field goals, PATs and punting - for his team. As a punter, Folk is second in the conference, averaging 47.3 yards per boot. Trojan sophomore punter Greg Woidneck is averaging 39.1, seventh in the Pac-10.

The Obvious –The Trojans are averaging 48.0 penalty yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Wildcats are averaging 36.3 penalty yards per game, second in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Saturday night's game in at Arizona Stadium is a sell out.

The Not So Obvious – As of late Thursday evening, tickets prices at StubHub were going from between $40 and $172.

The Obvious – The Trojans have no players from Arizona on their roster.

The Not So Obvious – According To Arizona officials, there are 20 Californians on the Wildcat roster.

The Obvious – One of the icons of pride for the University of Arizona is "A" Mountain, also known as Sentinel Peak.

The Not So Obvious – The original name of this mountain, west of downtown, was derived from its function as a lookout point for the Spanish. In 1915, fans of the University of Arizona football team whitewashed a large "A" on its side to celebrate a victory, and the tradition has been kept up ever since -- the permanent "A" is now red, white, and blue.

The Obvious – The Trojans list of famous alumni is second to none when you start with such names as John Wayne, George Lucas, and Neil Armstrong.

The Not So Obvious – Arizona heralds famous alumni including Angels owner Arte Moreno, actor Craig T. Nelson, comedian Garry Shandling, and creator of Sesame street, Joan Ganz.

The Obvious – A number of Pac-10 teams open play this weekend.

The Not So Obvious – The TV schedule figures to keep you occupied. So get the remote ready for Saturday's Pac-10 action beginning with "We're still undefeated" ASU at "We back" Cal (12:30 p.m., FSN) followed by "What are we?" UCLA at "Happy Huskies" Washington (4:00 p.m., TBS).

The ObviousAnd finally, received an e-mail from the Trojan Ticket Department which said, "Fresh off a sell-out world tour (with concerts in Tokyo, Taipei, Sydney, Dubai, and Malaysia) England's #1 Tenor, classical-crossover artist Russell Watson will give a special one night only performance on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at the Galen Center at USC."

The Not So Obvious – Turmoil. Confusion. Hypertension. Russell Watson in the new Galen Center or Trojan football? A Saturday night!? Ah, not to worry, Richard Watson fans, the Trojans will have their second bye week. See even Richard Watson knows not to compete with Pete Carroll's Men of Troy. Hey, you don't think Richard will croon an English version of "Hound Dog" do you?

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