The Not So Obvious – With more offensive injuries to key Cardinal and Gold performers, Saturday night's game, Pete Carroll and his offensive staff will again be challenged this week to mold this beleaguered unit into a fighting force for next week's second consecutive conference road game at Washington State. While the coaching staff reviews the game film and begins the adjustments, the O/NSO will review with our good WeAreSC.com readers this columnist's stay in Tucson, the second part of a series we call "On The Road" with the Cardinal and Gold.
Saturday, Sept. 23
4:55 a.m. – What time is it? Game time! What time is it? Game time! Woo, woo, woo, woo! What time is it? Snooze button time! No, no, no. no!!!!
5:15 – All right, it's road trip time, baby, and after the obligatory oat bran and toast, it's time to check the weather in Tucson with the computer and www.weather.com. Looks like the low 80s and most sunny. It could be worse, especially after hearing the story by WeAreSC staffer George Young, who reminded me more than once how he melted on the metal benches last year at Arizona State.
5:45 – With Mrs. O/NSO acting as chauffer, we depart for John Wayne Airport with my mother-in-law, Anne Greene, who is heading out to meet her sister in Maryland. Since she has a 6:45 flight and your humble correspondent leaves at 6:55, it only makes sense to make this one a two-fer.
6:35 – A little confusion at the airport with the new merger of America West and US Airways. No biggie. Not as confusing as some of those formations the Trojans' offense will throw at the Arizona Wildcats tonight. Board Flight #653 and look for fans dressed in cardinal and gold. Apparently this isn't going to be the "normal" Trojan Express out of Orange County. Finally a father walks down the aisle with a son wearing a USC sweatshirt. On well, they all can't be South Bend Weekenders.
6:45 – Flight isn't bulging with passengers, but suddenly some small talk behind us turns to the Trojan game with the Wildcats. Guy next to me is reading the Times sports page. Headlines read " Carroll, Trojans Return to Where It All Began." My mind goes into immediate pre-game mode. Could Pete Carroll start a freshman backfield of Stanley Havili and Emmanuel Moody?
6:50 – Guy next to me turns his sports section to the front page with a headline of "After Carroll Reaches Out, Upshaw Seeks Agent Solution." Stomach starts doing Chris Carlisle jumping jacks, not because of the agent story, but the repercussions of an early wakeup call. This is what John David Booty must have felt like when he walked out of the Coliseum tunnel last weekend in front of 92,000 screaming admirers.
6:54 – Fan in back of me starts conversation about when the "Trojans lost." Don't know if he's talking about last January, but it's been a looooooooonnnnnnnng time since Cal in 2003. Finally we pull out of the gate. Flight time to Phoenix, we are told, is about 55 minutes. Will the clock begin after a change of cabin pressure possession?
6:56 – Guy next to me now reading that "Trojans Pac-10 Streak at 23 Games." Suddenly notice a sidebar story that "Suspended Referee Will Work USC-Arizona Game." We can actually hear the scream of Arizona coach Mike Stoops all the way from Tucson. Brother Bob gets ripped off last week at Oregon and the nightmare continues. Wonder if this, however, will work against the Trojans as the evener-upper.
6:59 – We are set for takeoff and when was the last time a flight actually got off in time? Hopefully, John David Booty's passes all come to his receivers on time.
7:02 – Cancel the enthusiasm, we are told by the captain that due to high traffic into Phoenix, we will be delayed on the runway for 20 minutes. I demand a replay! Where's the beanbag? Start to worry about missing the Tucson connection. Well as long as Booty doesn't miss his connections with Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, we'll sacrifice the downtime.
7: 13 – Captain says after further review, Flight #653 will get earlier clearance than announced. All systems are go. Hey, the captain calls an audible! Wonder if Brent Musburger was aware of it.
7:15 – Take off! Fly over USC South, better known as Newport Beach.
7:24 - Don't know why, but somewhere over somewhere, the O/NSO starts to think about those Trojan players that didn't make the 64-man traveling team. How tough can it be for players who made the trip to Arkansas and played to be watching their teammates on TV tonight? After sentimental review, thank goodness the O/NSO made the WeAreSC traveling team. Whew No. 1!
7:40 – Emergency! Emergency! Something in the above blowing air vent triggers one of my famous sneezing attacks. Not here, not now. People look at me like I am Matt Leinart. The Trojans could enhance their plethora of streaks this season before this "attack" subsides. A previously unseen Trojan fan in a red USC T-shirt seems to have been a sneezing distraction. All's now quiet on the western front.
8:05 – Land in Phoenix. Flying over Bank One Ballpark, I have to admit it sure looks like my Danbury Mint model that resides on my ballpark shelf in our bedroom. Tried to see the new Arizona Cardinal football stadium, but have no success. Just trying to do some advanced scouting IF the Trojans make the BCS championship game.
8:30 – In Gate 5 lobby of the Phoenix International, run into Nick Sanchez, the older brother of Trojan quarterback, Mark, and Arena Commish David Baker. Both are upbeat about tonight's game and the conversation turns to the Brothers Stoops and the "coincidence" about tonight's referee. Not far away, we now see a large number of Trojan fans waiting to board the flight to Wildcat Country. Board the commuter plane and don't think I've ever seen so many misaligned windows to seats. Hopefully that won't apply to the seating at Arizona Stadium. Of course, how many stadiums have windows?
8:58 – Before takeoff, we hear the funniest female flight attendant we have heard in years. She tells us, "Pretend to follow along as I read the required safety instruction." She goes on to say, "In the very UNLIKELY water landing between Phoenix and Tucson, the flotation device REALLY DOES WORK." You talk about people rolling in the aisles. She finally says, "You can ring the bell for us once. You can ring the bell for us twice. You ring the bell three times and you're out of here!" Above the laughter from the large Trojan following, she reminds us the flight time is only 25 minutes.
9:52 – Arrive in Tucson and one thing strikes us immediately. Cactus, Cactus, Cactus everywhere. National Car gives me an upgrade from a compact to a Pontiac Grand Prix at no extra charge. Maybe it's because I belong to the Emerald Isle Club, because I said I wouldn't pay for it. Of course, maybe the National guy was a closet Trojan fan. Leave the Tucson International and make a quick right on Valencia Blvd., a move that would make Emmanuel Moody proud.
10: 50 – Arrive at the Holiday Inn Tucson Airport and know I am at the right place as some Trojan fans are tossing a football in the parking lot. The weather is really pleasant and there is a nice breeze that sometimes turns into a wind. We'll take it.
11:05– Unlock the door of Room 221 and turn on the TV and on pops the Mike Stoops Show. After a commercial, Stoops, who looks completely uncomfortable in front of a camera, says, " All eleven of our guys on defense will be challenged tonight. USC likes to spread the field and expose a defense. They change their looks, but the plays are the same and we have alerted our guys to that. John David Booty is an exceptional quarterback and just needs to gain repetitions. On defense, their front seven is as good as anybody. Their backs will get better as the season goes along and their linebackers are as good as anybody in the country. They are very fundamentally sound on defense. We just can't turn the ball over. Their offense doesn't have Reggie (Bush), so their offense just doesn't have the flexibility they have had."
11:25 – Read the Arizona Republic, which predicts a 34-17 Trojan victory.
11:50 – Check out college football on the tube and Michigan is up on Wisconsin in the fourth quarter. Geez, how many years has Michigan receiver Steve Breaston been there? He played against Troy in the 2005 Rose Bowl.
11:59 – The Arizona Daily Star impresses the O/NSO with a special edition for tonight's game. The Daily Star says the keys to victory over the Trojans includes winning the battle of turnovers "against a team that has not yet to be intercepted, move the ball offensively with Chris Jennings, who is making just his second start, keep quarterback Willie Tuitama safe after suffering a concussion, and dominate on special teams." In a special feature, former Trojan football coach Larry Smith says, " I am rooting for Arizona to win, but I am not rooting for USC to lose."
12:25 p.m. – Depart the Holiday Inn and head for the game. Along the way, we pass by the spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and there is a sign for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Along Kino Parkway and to our left, we see "A" Mountain, with the inspiration, colored letter in honor of the University of Arizona. It provides a nice touch.
12:50 – Arrive at Arizona Stadium. It has a unique location, right along 6th Street, a major road. To the right we can see McKale Center, home of Lute Olson's basketball team. It's a must for me to get inside the Cats' famous roundball venue. After careful deliberation and going in circles three times trying to understand the parking lot layout, we park in a university parking structure for $5. That's right, Trojan fans, that's not a misprint. Only $15 less than most Trojan fans shell out for Cardinal and Gold home games. We sort of luck out by getting a space in the "front row," as two Arizona students pull out and obviously aren't going to the game.
1:00 – Head over to the Arizona Student Union and have first encounter with a student group known as the "ZonaZoo." This is a very successful student spirit group that seems to have every student on campus wearing the ZonaZoo red spirit shirt.
1:05 – Temperature is in the high 70s and now it is very windy. It's comfortable. Walk past the Old Main, a red brick building and one of the original structures on campus. Very cool. Everywhere you look on campus there is the colored "A" logo and flags everywhere for Arizona.
1:12 – Go inside the student union and find their food court. Not a bad choice of items. We must decide from McDonalds, Papa Johns Pizza, Chick-fil-a, Panda Express, and IQ Fresh. This is as tough a decision as whom to start at tailback for the Trojans.
1:18 – Suddenly a coed walks by wearing, of all things, a burnt orange Texas Longhorn shirt. Is this a plot to rattle Trojan fans? Hmmm. Where did she come from? Then, some guy walks by wearing a purple University of Washington basketball shirt. What is this, athletic's Halloween?
1:25 – Finally decide to order Panda Express. It's our usual 2-entrée with half rice and half low mein, with orders of Mandarin chicken and orange chicken. The food court is now in full red as more and more fans are walking in. Out of nowhere, a fan yells, "Yeah, Ohio State is losing!" The whole place erupts.
1:55 – Leave the food court and walk into the Arizona Bookstore. It's the usual rah-rah stuff and a good number of Trojan fans are sitting in front of a 7-by-7-foot TV screen, watching Ohio State and Penn State. The buzz among the group is that Arizona State is getting crushed by Cal. With the volume down, an employee of the bookstore asks the Trojan fans if they would like more chairs and do they want him to turn up the volume. The Trojan fans unanimously applaud and the volume goes up.
2:10 – Penn State intercepts an Ohio State pass and the Trojan fans go crazy, perhaps sniffing the possibility of being No. 1 at the end of the day. Moments later, the Trojan gathering decides to take a group picture in front of the giant TV set. One of the ladies also decides to do some rearranging of a mannequin clothing display. She thinks it looks better her way. Nobody argues and few care.
2:17 – Run into Pete Arbogast, Trojan radio voice. Pete is doing a campus self-tour and recommends we take in an exhibit honoring the battleship Arizona. We take the advice of Mr. How-Do-You-Do and go inside the exhibit door. Inside, there is a wonderful scale model of the Arizona and numerous artifacts, such as the first American flag that flew on the ship in 1939. There are also pictures displaying the "life" of the ship.
2:23 – A group of Trojan fans getting their picture taken with a large statue of a wildcat and her baby wildcats.
2:28 – Enter the south mall area of the main tailgating. Not a super large contingent, but everybody seems to be having a good time and there are a number of fans from both teams intermingling. There is, of course, the usual amount of TV sets watching selected games. There is a life-sized picture of Arizona basketball coach, Lute Olson, with an x-rated sign. There is also a midget version of a yellow goal post and some artificial grass from which kids are attempting field goals and having a great, old time. Yes, plenty of chairs and tents with U of A on them.
2:25 – Enter the Eddie Lynch Athletic Pavilion. The place is sort of a Heritage Hall, housing all sorts of Wildcat sports memorabilia, including the John "Button" Salmon's leather football helmet.
2:45 – The Eddie Lynch Athletic Pavilion leads into McKale Center, the home Lute Olson and Joan Bonvacini's basketball Wildcats. The arena is somewhat dark, but you can see enough. It doesn't look as big in person as it does on television. You enter from near the top level, so it appears the roof is very low, hence the ability to make some incredible noise.
2:55 – Cross the street from McKale Center and see the Jerry Kindle Baseball Stadium. It has some meaning for the O/NSO because we used to have a baseball card of the former Cub. You know, we used to have thousands of baseball cards and if we had kept them, dating back to the late 1940's, we probably could have retired ten years ago.
3:00 – Walk inside the outer portion of Arizona Stadium and the UA students are lining up while booing Trojan fans. Now we're getting on our game faces. Walk to the other side of the stadium where there is a large contingent of Trojan fans awaiting the arrival of Pete Carroll's boys. Trojan assistant equipment manager, Tino Dominguez, is standing near the players' entrance, so we are at the right place. The parents of offensive guard Drew Radovich and Sam Baker are in deep discussion with a lot of laughs. Former Trojan All-American tight end, Hal Bedsole, comes up and starts a discussion with Dave Baker.
3:30 – Here comes three charter busses containing the team. As per the order of things, Pete Carroll is the first off the bus and the Trojan fans go wild while an adult humor sign regarding Trojans, hung from above a window in the stadium, greets the Trojan coach. Perhaps because it's the conference opener, the Trojan team looks unusually concerned and grim. Fans applaud, but this team seems to know it could be in for a big war this evening. Due to the numbers that can travel, the squad looks very small.
4:10 – Can't seem to find a game program anywhere. Very strange. Finally find a fans' oasis, an elevator to go to the to of Arizona Stadium. Upon entering the elevator, we are given what appears to be the type of program one gets when attending a performance at the Music Center. You've got to be kidding. Although they are being handed out at no charge, we have to ask twice if this is the game program and an usher nods her head and rolls her eyes. This is Pac-10 football? It makes the Trojan game program look like the wholly Bible of football programs. We've seen Mater Dei High football programs that would put this thing to shame. If you must know, the Arizona "brochure" is 75 pages, but does have color pictures of its players.
4:20 – The Spirit of Troy makes its musical entrance by playing those favorite tunes that drive the opposition crazy. The band is sitting across the way on the Trojan sidelines by the end zone. Decide to check out the concession stands and here we go. Hot dogs ($3), Nachos ($3), Pepsi-large ($4), and, yes, you can get Cherry Pepsi ($4). Oh, a cup of filtered ice water is $3. Good, we have that covered.
4:17 – Bob Leinart, father of some guy named Matt, walks by and says hello to the O/NSO. The son is expected to be on the sidelines for the game.
4:30 – In the little boys room, a Trojan fan starts freaking out how high his seats are, like vertigo high. Hey, buddy, you ain't been high till you've been in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
4:42 – Decide to sit with the people in Section 209 and, yikes, it's high, especially with the wind adding some unnecessary effects. Thank goodness for the Trojan Marching Band as a distraction. Have to admit it's a great view of downtown Tucson and "A" Mountain. The playing field looks in great shape with a catch phrase of "BEARDOWN" written at both ends of the field. As tradition calls, Pete Carroll is standing and looking at the opponent warm up.
4:45 – The Trojan bench is in the shade on the press box side and it's the home Wildcats that are partly in the sun, although it's not uncomfortable. Speaking of being high, nobody is higher than ABC's Dan Fouts and crew, who are at the very top of a very high press box.
4:50 – Shhhhhhh, but Desmond Reed looks like he might start. Now this would be a surprise. He started with the "Ones" in the first huddle. Perhaps a little Pete Carroll gamesmanship?
4:52 –The Arizona team runs to their "A" logo in the center of the field and the officials create a barrier between them and the Trojans. While the Wildcats jump all over themselves, the Trojans go about their business, but the officials are moving their heads back and forth to make sure this doesn't spill over into an incident. As always, the Trojans end the pre-game drills with a deep John David Booty pass to receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Perhaps at some point we will see that completion in a real game.
4:58 - The U of A band announcer wakes up the crowd and turns into Michael Buffer, the famed public address ring announcer. Speaking of systems, this public address system won't make you forget the Hollywood Bowl. The Wildcat band is referred to as "the best marching band in the history of the world."
5:07 – Trojan fans begin SoCal spellout. The game public address announcer pleads with the Arizona fans to "get on your feet and make some noise. It's almost game time."
5:09 – Fireworks and explosions go off as the Wildcats take the field. After what seems like minutes, the Trojans enter the field from a downstairs stairway and the boos try to drown out the Trojan cheers. Ah, through it all, we see crack Trojan WeAreSC photog, Joe Andras, working his magic along the sidelines. Apparently Joe is in game demeanor, showing that macho facial growth. Like we've said, never mess with a WeAreSC photographer during Pac-10 play.
5:14 – Kick off and we're underway with the Trojan deferring to the second half. The Trojans' Troy Van Blarcom boots one to the goal line where the Wildcats' dangerous Syndric Steptoe returns the opening kickoff 41 yards and the Trojans worst special teams nightmare has unfolded….again. But at least he doesn't score. Whew No. 2.
5:17 – Order is restored by the Trojans lethal defense as linebacker Rey Maualuga comes up and delivers a major "stick" on Steptoe, who doubles as a receiver. Ouch and double ouch.
5:21 – Former Trojans Matt Leinart and Deuce Lutui are on the Trojan sideline chatting with strength and conditioning coach, Chris Carlisle. After holding the Wildcats on their first possession, the Trojans take over and guess what? It's freshmen Emmanuel Moody and Stanley Havili, in the backfield, so what does offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin call, a play-action pass to Dwayne Jarrett for 10 yards and a first down. Take that, Mr. Stoops.
5:25 – Trojans find out in a hurry what happens when a highly prized recruit, Wildcat defensive tackle Louis Holmes, doesn't come to Troy and attends another school. Holmes delivers a big hit on Trojan tailback Chauncey Washington. This Holmes kid, who originally signed with Ohio State, is the real deal.
5:33 – Trojans try a little magic with running back Desmond Reed attempting a halfback pass but is sacked by Louis Holmes. From here on out, the drive stalls as Booty has exchange issues with Chauncey Washington. So much for putting in any early knockouts on the Wildcats.
5:37 – John David Booty's pass is almost intercepted. The Bayou Bomber has come close in several games to having a PI turnover, but he has had the luck of an Irishman. You have to admit, J.D. has perfected the art of the "almost interception." Arizona takes over.
5:38 – Two guys wearing blue and red afro wigs show up on the Wildcat video board chanting, "U-of-A!"
5:39 – Trojans' defense is shaken for the moment as quarterback Willie Tuitama connects with Syndric Steptoe for a 44-yard gain. Moments later, Willie gets his first taste of Trojan violence has he is sacked by linebacker Keith Rivers.
5:44 – Trojans go with empty backfield on third-and-three and Booty keeps for a first down. Take that, Kiffin bashers.
5:49 – The first quarter ends with no score. The Trojans seem to be able to move the ball, but lack the big play. Call it mistakes of youth, inexperience, and execution. Does that cover it all? During the first quarter break, cops head into Section 209 and remove a female Trojan fan, an Arizona fan, and an apparent neutral observer. The ultimate jury, the fans, show no preference as the trio is taken away.
5:55 – It finally happens, Booty has his run of "almost interceptions" broken as he throws into double-coverage and is picked by Antoine Cason, who said before the game he welcomed the challenge of Trojan receivers. Score one for Cason….for the moment.
5:58 – No so fast Wildcats, Trojans defense stiffens and a 46-yard field goal attempt by the Wildcats' Nick Folk is blocked by Trojan defensive end Lawrence Jackson. Whew No. 3.
6:04 – The first Stoops challenge appears as the Arizona coach questions an apparent great catch by the Trojans' Steve Smith. Stoops wins. Stoops wins. Well, could there be more challenges? Who want to upset this Stoops?
6:07 – The Trojan offense as a whole might not be shaking and baking, but freshman Emmanuel Moody certainly is. The kid, we've said it so many times recently it's getting boring, but he is getting better and better. Moody gains nine yards through his "night moves" and gets a Trojan first down.
6:12 – Marching 47 yards in 10 plays, the Trojans get Mr. Reliable, kicker Mario Danelo, to connect on a 35-yard field goal. USC 3, UA 0.
6:13 – Although it is a pleasant evening in the desert, the sun finally goes down behind the mountains. This is a far cry from the George Young nightmare scenario of Tempe.
6:16 – Trojan linebacker Rey Maualuga picks off Willie Tuitama and the Trojans are in business at the Wildcat 31-yard line.
6:20 - Cool the Trojan euphoria. Tailback Chauncey Washington fumbles and the Wildcats dodge their own bullet. So much for the Pete Carroll mantra of "protect the ball."
6:21 – Trojans return the favor as corner Terrell Thomas fires in on a corner blitz and sacks Tuitama at the UA 19-yard line. Not so quietly, Thomas is living up to his potential after being out last season.
6:32 - The half ends with the Trojans up 3-0. It's getting pretty "obvious" that the Trojan offense has a lack of big play potential at this point. The defense, however, is national championship, although we've yet to see it face a major league passer. If Nick Holt's defense continues in the second half to administer physical pain, there will be Wildcats who started the game who will not be finishing it.
6:35 – Halftime begins with an exhibition scrimmage between two Pop Warner teams, the Rams and the Dolphins. Even their offenses are dominated by their defenses.
6:45 – UA place kicker Nick Folk comes out early and practices field goals. You know, this one could get down to the kickers. Who makes them and who doesn't.
6:47 – Arizona returns to the field very visibly fired up and the Trojans come out with an air of confidence. Not entirely surprising, considering the Trojans have the track record to prove they've been down this road on a number of occasions at halftime. Crowd reacts to score of the Notre Dame game, as the Irish are down by a bundle.
6:53 – Trojans receive second half kickoff and hope to show they can be a second half team, which has been a major trait in the Pete Carroll era.
6:56 – Tailback Emmanuel Moody lights up Arizona Stadium with a stunning array of moves and agility with a 40-yard tour of the Wildcat defense. A big play, a big play, a big play…finally. The Arizona crowd senses they've seen this all too many times before.
6:58 – The Trojans complete their first-drive challenge with a three-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Jarrett. Mario Danelo converts. The Men of Troy move 80 yards in 10 plays. Happiest man in the stadium is Trojan offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who knows this is not the offense he had in mind after two-and-a-half games. Oh, and did we mentioned that Wildcat corner Antoine Cason got burned by Jarrett. Ah, sweet revenge. USC 10, UA 0
7:12 – Crowd amuses itself with a video board race with the red, white, and blue cars. You've seen it a million times and the fans react with little interest. Trojan band reacts by playing "Fight On."
7:13 – Trojans call a timeout after a TV timeout and the fans go crazy on both sides. Sensing a moment, a Trojan fan in the stands chimes in with a frustrated " You had a timeout already to figure it out." Well, hard to argue that one, my friends.
7:21 – A number of Trojan fans start asking about the whereabouts of receiver Dwayne Jarrett. After his touchdown reception, Big Dwayne is absent from the sidelines. There are now more binoculars investigating the Trojans' sideline than on the field of play.
7:28 – While fans continue to search for Jarrett, Mr. Reliable, Mario Danelo, makes one of his rare misses on a 25-yard gimme. This is a bad sign, Dr. Phil. Of course, Dr. Phil would tell the Trojan offense, "You're going to stop that, and you're going to stop that right now!"
7:29 – The Trojan offense might be missing on some big hits, but the defense continues to punish as strong safety Kevin Ellison comes up and pops Wildcat receiver Anthony Johnson. You could feel that one.
7:34 – Arizona shows no quit as Tuitama completes a big 28-yard pass to Syndric Steptoe to the Trojans 26-yard line.
7:36 – End of the third quarter. The Trojans are hoping that their mentality of "it takes four quarters to win" will streak them to victory. Speaking of streaking, a fan comes out of the stands and shows his shortcomings as security tackles him in the end zone in front of the Trojan band.
USC 10, UA 0.
7:39 – With Arizona at the Trojans 32-yard line, Rey Rey again makes a statement as Maualuga blows up running back Chris Henry. Better tell the marketing department to hurry those Christmas orders of No. 58 jerseys. In fact, put a rush on it for the Bookstore for the next home game against Washington.
7:43 – Wildcat placekicker Nick Folk makes a 43-yard field goal and, folks, we have a ballgame. Just the type of fourth quarter game that Mike Stoops was hoping to see. USC 10, UA 3
7:46 –Immediately, the Trojans go to senior receiver Chris McFoy for 12 yards. Is there a more important receiver at the moment that McFoy, who can catch, run, and block? Somebody throw some ink this kid's way. Fan in the stands calls home on cell phone and is told Dwayne Jarrett has some sort of shoulder injury. Thank goodness for the cell.
7:47 – The Trojans take a page out of John McKay's Tailback U. and Moody goes for 30 yards and a first down. We are now looking at the starting Trojan tailback for next week at Pullman, Washington.
7:53 – Marching 64 yards in 10 plays, Mario Danelo returns to form with a key 33-yard field goal. Is this kid becoming the offensive hero of the night? Keep an eye on him, he could also be the key to the season as we get into the next two months. USC 13, UA 3
8:03 – Trying to mount a major comeback, Arizona pulls a major blunder with a personal foul, which returns the ball back to the UA 46-yard line. Stoops looks like he is ready for murder, although he seems to be winning every replay challenge.
8:05 - Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Nick Holt slap hands on the sideline over the previous defensive series, which included some needed sacks. They sense the Trojans may be in bigger command than the scoreboard indicates. Some UA fans start heading for the exits with 7:54 remaining.
8:14 – Trojans punt to Mike Thomas, who fumbles and the Trojans are in business at the Zona 9-yard line.
8:16 – Using two moves that would have brought a smile to Reggie Bush and with the aid of a major league block by left tackle Sam Baker, Emmanuel Moody runs to the Promised Land and this one is over. Danelo makes the PAT and it's USC 20, UA 3. Whew No. 4
8:22 – Trojans get the ball back and Mark Sanchez comes in to relieve Booty at quarterback. The final two minutes go quickly and the Trojans win 20-3.
8:26 – ABC sideline reporter, Jack Arute, sprints to grab John David Booty and the rest of the media horde follows. Trojan freshmen Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright find Inland Empire buddy, Devin Ross, and all three exchange hugs. A number of Trojans flash the victory sign and fans flash back a sigh of relief.
9:00 – Outside the Trojans locker room, Rey Maualuga comes out and takes pictures with numerous fans. Nose tackle Fili Moala gets the star treatment, as he also is a requested photo. Tackle Sam Baker is all smiles as he explains the game to his family and center Ryan Kalil shakes hands and has a relieved look on his face. Pete Carroll finally emerges from the dingy lockers and is swamped by fans from both teams. He is a celebrity, no doubt. The Trojans finally board their bus and make it back to Tucson International, having avoided a major upset. On this night, the pre-season magazines were on-point; this was, indeed a trap game. Some potential bad news as word spreads that that freshman fullback Stanley Havili has a broken fibula and receiver Dwayne Jarrett may have a major shoulder problem.
Sunday, Sept. 24
7:30 a.m. - Wake up and start wondering just what Trojan fans in the airport are going to say about this one. Great defense and an offense that has issues?
10:20 – Board plane back to Phoenix and it's very quiet. No Trojan talk.
1:30 p.m. – Board flight back to Orange County and sit with former Trojan linebacker Dale Logie, a member of the famed John McKay teams from 1974-75. Dale loves the Trojan defense but says he is concerned about the offense. So who at this point isn't? Logie, who lives in Dana Point, had some wonderful stories about his years under McKay and great memories of that 1974 Notre Dame game. He attended the Arizona game with former Trojans like Mark Spino and the Obradovich brothers, Jim and Steve.
3:00 – Arrive home and begin writing. The little woman says that was a rough one and she wasn't kidding.
The Obvious – The Trojans have now won 24 Pac-10 games in a row.
The Not So Obvious – You think that the Trojans have lost their aura? On Sunday, the Arizona Republic wrote "For the second year in a row, the Southern California Trojans toyed with a team from the 48th state, keeping its hopes alive before finally stomping them like a cigarette and securing another notch on their Pac-10 belt, which at this point shines like a heavy weight champion's." Sound like the end an era? Sounds to the O/NSO like "next stop, Pullman, Washington. Tickets, please."