O/NSO - Washington review

It's a good thing that junior Trojan placekicker Mario Danelo's golden right foot was healthy throughout Saturday afternoon's spine-tingling 26-20 victory over the inspired Washington Huskies, because the way the USC Trojans kept shooting themselves in the metatarsals, it's surprising that there were any cardinal and gold bones left to run around the Coliseum turf in front of 90,282.

The ObviousLos Angeles – It's a good thing that junior Trojan placekicker Mario Danelo's golden right foot was healthy throughout Saturday afternoon's spine-tingling 26-20 victory over the inspired Washington Huskies (4-2, 2-1 Pac-10), because the way the No. 2/3 USC Trojans (5-0, 3-0 Pac-10) kept shooting themselves in the metatarsals, it's surprising that there were any cardinal and gold bones left to run around the Coliseum turf in front of 90,282.

The Not So Obvious – Despite Tyrone Willingham's declaration that this was his Huskies best played game of the year, Saturday's fortuitous Trojan victory was not overlooked by the voters in the AP Top 25. Although the Trojans remained No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, Florida bypassed the Trojans into the AP No. 2 position. AP voter Mike Radano of the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., was one of many voters to move Florida ahead of the Trojans. Radano said, "USC hasn't been its same dominant self. I thought they got a little fortunate yesterday. I got to watch both (USC and Florida) and I was a little more impressed with Florida's offense right now."

The Obvious – The Trojans opened the week as 22 1/2–point favorites to defeat the Huskies but won by just 6 points.

The Not So Obvious – On Saturday morning, the hometown Seattle Times predicted "The Huskies have their most momentum in probably five years and are sure to give the Trojans their best shot. But USC has just too much talent, as well as the home-field advantage. USC 31, UW 13."

The Obvious – With the Trojans' main offense scoring just seven points and, no, we're not counting the Trojans' fake field goal score, it brought backmemories we haven't seen since the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – It's a good thing the Trojans don't have to play the likes of California in October because while the Trojans remain undefeated, they probably aren't the best team in the Pac-10 right now, certainly not with all the injuries, uncharacteristic turnovers, penalties, inexperience, and some questionable strategy. The good news is the Trojans still plenty of time to prepare for the November run, thanks to a friendly October schedule of opponents they should be able to handle. However, there is little question from the O/NSO that October remains challenging, especially the way the Trojans are performing at this point. You think ASU will come to the Coliseum with fear? Right now, don't count on it.

The Obvious – The southland headlines reflected Saturday's outcome as the Times bannered "USC EXPERIENCES DEJA-WHEW," the OC Register screamed " USC ALMOST GETS CLOCKED," and Seattle Times headlined "HUSKIES GET TICKED OFF."

The Not So Obvious –Seattle Times writer Bob Condotta wrote "For once, a game against USC ended too soon.The last four years there had been no better indicator of the distance between the Washington Huskies and the top of the Pac-10 than their defeats against USC, all blowouts by 20 points or more.Saturday, the Huskies fought to the Trojans to the bitter end and when the end came, it was more bitter than they could have ever imagined."

The Obvious – The Trojans scored 26 points and had 411 in total offense against the Huskies on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan offense was averaging 31.5 points per game and 414.0 yards in total offense, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference. Against a Husky defense that ranked sixth in the Pac-10, one doesn't need the USC Marshall School of Business to figure out the numbers are somewhat ominous.

The ObviousMario Danelo's final field goal, a 21-yarder with 1:34 remaining, capped a great kicking day, which also included boots of 34, 25, and 32 yards.

The Not So Obvious – There is no more valuable offensive performer at this point in the Trojan season than Danelo. While Trojan fans would like to see less field goals and more touchdowns, there is no question that Danelo was the offensive hero on Saturday. The San Pedro product has become major cog in the Trojans drive to a fifth consecutive Pac-10 championship.

The Obvious – At the rate he is going, it won't be long before Trojan kicker Mario Danelo is a main subject for autograph seekers.

The Not So Obvious – Before the game at the Trojan Football Alumni Club autograph booth, former Trojan placekicking hero, Chris Limahelu (1973-74) was signing. In 1973, Chris kicked a game-winning 34-yard field goal to beat Stanford with three seconds to play.

The Obvious – No play on Saturday afternoon showed more Trojan frustration than in the third quarter when junior tailback Chauncey Washington exploded 61-yards off the right side and finally showcased what all the hubbub was about.

The Not So Obvious - Out came a penalty flag and junior All-America left tackle Sam Baker was accused of holding, which nullified a brilliant run. You know when the smart and dependable Baker is flagged, there is big trouble in River City. In fairness to Sammy, let the record also show that starting senior offensive right tackle Kyle Williams was also cited for holding on a touchdown pass from John David Booty to Steve Smith that ended up in a field goal. In most cases, the difference between a great, good, and an average team is the amount of penalties accumulated each game. As of the current state of affairs, the Trojans' ball-control offense isn't good enough to withstand touchdown killing flags of this nature.

The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans were penalized eight times for 70 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 52.2 penalty yards per game, sixth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Before the last play of the game, officials huddled before spotting the ball and finally started the clock, and before Washington center Juan Garcia could snap the ball back to quarterback Isaiah Stanback, officials signaled the game was over

The Not So Obvious – We could see this scenario coming when the rule was first announced, and Saturday it finally happened. Somebody lost because of the new clock rules. Even the officials looked uneasy. If it was a painful learning experience for the Huskies, it was a welcome lesson for the Trojans. Count the Trojans as fortunate and the Cardinal and Gold will take'em anyway they can at this point. After the game, those in the Coliseum were asking each other what happened at the end of the game. Even players on both sides looked confused and dazed when time ran out before the snap.

The Obvious – As the game wore on, the physical nature of the contest became more violent.

The Not So Obvious – After Washington had scored in the fourth quarter with a Stanback pass to sophomore tight end Johnny Kirton, on the ensuing kickoff, Trojan freshman C.J. Gable returned the kick 18 yards and then had his helmet ripped off in a decapitating manner.

The Obvious – The cover of Saturday's game program featured coach Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – A lady vendor who was selling programs said, " We are selling a lot more programs today because of the coach." This, of course, is an "obvious" reference to the handsome looks of the Trojans' football CEO.

The Obvious – The Trojans have now won 29 consecutive home game games, 39 of its last 40 games, and 50 of the last 52 games.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, Trojan fans were searching their brains when was the last time the Men of Troy came so close to snapping the Coliseum streak. How quickly we forget that last series against the Cal Bears two years again when the Trojans held Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers from completing a final end zone attempt.

The Obvious – The Trojans allowed the Huskies 20 points and 379 yards in total defense against the Huskies on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan defense was allowing 12.3 points per game and 267.5 yards per game in total defense, second in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans are now struggling offensively in the red zone, but defensively things have been revealed and can we buy a Vanna White sack, er vowel?

The Not So Obvious – What has happened to the fast, swift, and vicious defense of earlier games and the once vaunted offense? Media members from throughout the southland are now coming out of the woodwork to present their theories on the Trojans' woes. On Sunday, Trojan alum and award winning Orange County Register columnist Steve Bisheff wrote "Well, maybe all those coaching changes the past couple of seasons have begun to catch up with this program. Would Norm Chow be calling the same playas Lane Kiffin? How about Ed Orgeron's intensity? Perhaps it wasn't as easy to replace as some thought."

The Obvious – The Trojan Football Alumni Club hosts a pregame tailgater just outside the peristyle end of the Coliseum before every home game.

The Not So Obvious – A number of former Trojan greats were in attendance on Saturday including Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz and former running back Rod McNeil.

The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans passed for 263 yards against the Huskies' defense.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan passing attack was averaging 246.2 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback John David Booty threw for 243 yards and a touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – Before Saturday, Husky defensive coordinator Ken Baer said, "I think (he's) the best quarterback we've seen thus far all year. Strong arm, great release, quick release, moves well out of the pocket, hard to get to him ... athletic. You can tell he's been in the system." There is no reason to believe that Booty tarnished his image on Saturday with Baer. John David made some good throws, misjudged some targets both physically and intellectually, and had his normal "batted down" passes. At this point, the O/NSO agrees that John David Booty is a major reason why the Trojans are still undefeated.

The Obvious – Senior receiver Steve Smith (5 catches for 96 yards) suffered an ankle injury and had to walk to the dressing room during the fourth quarter, which drew groans from fans behind the closed end of the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious - At one point in the second half, the Trojans receivers in the game were freshmen Travon Patterson and Vidal Hazelton and junor walk-on Brad Walker.

The Obvious – Largest cheer of the day in warm-ups was the announcement that Auburn had lost badly to Arkansas.

The Not So Obvious – Everything seemed to go smoothly with the Trojans new policy in handling the student entrance to home games. The early entry proved to be a success as the student section was filled at 11:20 a.m.

The Obvious – The Trojans shocked the Huskies in their opening drive of the game with a fake field goal when reserve quarterback-holder Michael McDonald threw for a 20-yard touchdown to a wide-open Steve Smith.

The Not So Obvious – Who would have thunk that without this timely coaching call, Saturday may have been the Trojans first defeat of 2006? There was no more surprised "fan" with the call than Trojan radio analyst Paul McDonald, who told his audience after the game that he knew the Trojans had worked on the play, but he didn't think it would come so soon.

The Obvious – The Trojans trick field goal touchdown to Steve Smith wasn't without controversy and the Huskies still aren't sure it was kosher.

The Not So Obvious – UW defensive coordinator Ken Baer afterwards said, "I can't wait to see it [on film] because I'm not sure it was legal, but we didn't see him standing there. We don't have our eyes open. That's difficult and it's unfortunate that it happens that early in the game. That took a little bit out of us."

The Obvious – The Huskies returned the favor with the second half kickoff by executing a perfect on-sides kick.

The Not So Obvious – If ever there defined a play which indicated how the remainder of the game would be a "dog" fight, no pun intended, this was the one. Call it asleep at the switch. Call it a brilliant Tyrone Willingham call. Or just call it "wake-up Trojans" if you wish to ascend to your lofty goals. With previous special team lullabies this season, special teams meeting this week should again be loud and clear.

The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 148 yards against the Huskies' defense.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan rushing game was averaging 167.8 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The only two runners for the Trojans were tailbacks Chauncey Washington (17 carries for 81 yards) and Emmanuel Moody (15 carries for 67 yards).

The Not So Obvious – Give Washington backs his yards from his explosive third quarter run and CW is well over 100 yards for the day. You can sense that Washington, who is still not quite right, is about ready to be the type of running back to match his hype. As for Moody, the freshman continues to grow and his decision-making skills are getting better. There is nothing wrong with the Trojan running game…when it is called upon. The right side of the offensive line, which has undergone scrutiny, was effective late in the game. Offensive right guard Tiny Malu played the whole game in place of sophomore Chilo Rachal and appeared to do well. In fact, the Trojans ran Moody off Tiny's right side on their first play of the game.

The Obvious – Trojan play-by-play voice Pete Arbogast has told his audience that when things get tough for the Trojans, he normally stands when doing the broadcast.

The Not So Obvious – When things got hairy in the final stanza, Arbogast was standing and bent over in calling the actions. Either the Voice" was as nervous as Tommy Trojan or it was the effects of some Coliseum press box cuisine.

The Obvious – Trojan sophomore receiver Patrick Turner had a career day with 12 catches for 116 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass from Booty in the second quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Turner certainly deserves to be recognized for playing mostly a fine game. The kid showed courage in catching the ball in touchdown traffic and for the most part, his stats on Saturday showed promise to a career that appeared behind schedule. There are times when Patrick catches the ball short of yardage needed for a first down, and you could argue that his deflection-turned-interception during a crucial Trojan scoring drive deep in Husky territory was a killer, but there was definite progress on Saturday.

The Obvious – The Huskies passed for 212 yards against the Trojans' defense on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan pass defense was allowing 189.2 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Husky senior quarterback Isaiah Stanback completed 17-of-38 for 212 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – For the most part, the Trojans kept Stanback from doing any real long-range damage with this legs However, Isaiah showed his senior experience by constantly running out of bounds or sliding down after attaining a first down. Nick Holt's Trojan defense never got a real shot at No. 4, although he did suffer a bruised hip injury and limped off the field at the game's conclusion. If there was a real Trojan frustration, it was Stanback's ability to deliver on target a number of critical third down completions. No question, the Seattle Garfield product has turned himself from an athletic quarterback to a productive signal-caller.

The Obvious – Prior to the game, UW senior receiver Sonny Shackleford (9 receptions for 125 yards), the former Beverly Hills High star, said, "I think we match up well against them (USC). You've seen we can put up points on the board as well as any other team."

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans are hoping that future Husky results will validate Shackleford's statement. Based on Sonny's comment of matching up well with the Trojans, either Pete Carroll's boys played down to UW or what you see is what the Trojans are. As for Shackleford, he made all the catches and looked right on par with Washington State receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus in terms of efficiency.

The Obvious – The Trojans have had senior linebacker Dallas Sartz working out at safety during recent practices.

The Not So Obvious – Call it what you will, but a number of times Sartz dropped back in the secondary looking very much like a free safety.

The Obvious – The Huskies committed no turnovers, a killer Trojan stat, which has been the key to Pete Carroll's dominance at Troy.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, Husky offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said, "We've got to take care of the football. USC does a great job of stripping the football. And they're very physical, so when they hit you they're going to jar you. This team tackles better than any team we've faced this year."

The Obvious – The Trojans had potentially enough long scoring drives to have avoided being caught in Saturday's frantic finish.

The Not So Obvious –When you're area able to generate drives of 96, 71, 63, and 76 yards, the offensive ability is there. The good news on long drives is that you use clock and hopefully score touchdowns. The bad news is while field goals score points, the game is shortened considerably and with the new clock rules, it allows the underdog a bigger chance of an upset

The Obvious - Perhaps a big warning sign ahead for the Cardinal and Gold offense was when Trojan linebacker Brian Cushing blocked a third quarter Husky punt and the Trojans took over on the UW 19, only to come away with another Danelo field goal.

The Not So Obvious - To come away with just a field goal, albeit a critical one, just won't cut it down the road against high-powered offenses like Cal and Notre Dame and possibly Oregon. Trojans fans have every reason to be concerned. The O/NSO confided to a colleague at the time of the Cushing block that now we will find out what this offense is all about with first-and-10 at the UW 19. Unfortunately, we found out there were issues running and passing in the red zone on this Saturday. First Moody was dropped for a three-yard loss, Smith had an eight-yard reception, but then Booty threw an incomplete pass on third-and-5 at the UW 13-yard line. Game, set, match, field goal.

The Obvious – The Trojans did not get to the quarterback again this week, and afterwards Pete Carroll said, "We're not getting any sacks. We are not getting any turnovers. Those are major changes and we need them and we're just not doing it. We are not going to stop emphasizing it in practice, but until we make those things happen, games are going to be close."

The Not So Obvious – So how long will it be before Trojan fans start chanting for the "old" 4-3 defense? In the world of high-powered Pac-10 offenses, rushing four is always better than rushing three. However, with the large surplus of standout linebackers, the Trojans use of a hybrid 3-4 is certainly logical. A bigger question is how long will Pete Carroll show patience with this 3-4 alignment? Against Arkansas and Nebraska, the Trojans were not burned because Mitch Mustain hadn't taken control of the Razorbacks' offense and coach Bill Callahan stopped the Cornhusker attack, but with success of Washington State's Alex Brink and UW's Isaiah Stanback and a future of Cal's Nathan Longshore and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn on the horizon it will, indeed, be intriguing to watch any changes along the front seven. The upcoming bye week after this week's ASU game should be very interesting.

The Obvious – The base price of a ticket on Saturday was $40.

The Not So Obvious – There were a number of tickets available at the base price. Surprisingly, there were even some fans in the peristyle end holding signs for tickets.

The Obvious – The Huskies rushed for 167 yards against the Trojans on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan defense was allowing 78.2 yards rushing per game, second in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans defense against the rush was led by junior linebacker Keith Rivers with 12 tackles.

The Not So Obvious – Before the game, Rivers told the O/NSO he had plenty of respect for the Husky offense. There is always a tendency to believe that players give quotes to built up an opponent. However, Keith seemed very sincere when giving high marks to the Husky offensive line, which statistics show kept the Trojans at bay on the ground. Like E.F. Hutton, when Mr. Rivers next speaks, everybody will listen.

The Obvious – In the second quarter, the Trojans passed on every first down.

The Not So Obvious – It would be easy to blame offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on the trend, but the truth is only the coaching staff knows just how many calls were changed by Booty. No, we aren't here to defend Kiffin, far from it, but only Booty could answer this question. What we do know is when a pass is incomplete on first down, there are far too many second-and-10 situations. No matter how confident you are in your passing attack, the odds catch up.

The Obvious – Thy Trojans won their 29th consecutive home game at the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – For the most part, the crowd was laid back after the beginning of the game and only came back to life in the nervous portion of the fourth quarter. It appeared that many in attendance were growing frustrated with the Trojan performance and there were a smattering of booing concerning the Trojan play-calling.

The Obvious – Washington converted eight of 16 third-down plays.

The Not So Obvious – Far too many times the Huskies were let off the hook. Some of Stanback's throws were pinpoint and some of the time the Trojan rush was within a hair of getting to the elusive UW quarterback. Either way, against a better offensive opponent, Saturday's game would have been a Trojan rosary.

The Obvious – The Trojans held Washington to no sacks for the first time this season.

The Not So Obvious – Washington held the Trojans without a sack for the second consecutive game.

The Obvious – There is a new Miller beer location inside the Sports Arena.

The Not So Obvious – It was a alive with fans when the O/NSO made the rounds and most were enjoying some brew and watching college football on a number of plasma televisions. However, we would be remiss to mention that while the clientele was enjoying the various libations, a number of "fans" were enjoying the beauty of the Miller girls, who were passing out necklaces with Trojan football designs attached.

The Obvious – Should the Trojans win the Pac-10 and a bowl game, the players can expect another ring for their jewelry collection.

The Not So Obvious – Sometimes players give their rings to family or friends. Ran into a guy who was wearing two recent rings from Trojan championships and Mrs. O/NSO was very impressed with the jewelry collection. Sorry, honey, in the next life, the O/NSO will return as a Trojan football player on a championship team.

The Obvious – Prior to the game, Oaks Christian running back Marc Tyler and junior Servite receiver D.J. Shoemate were spotted taking in the excitement of the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – The two Trojan verbals were in a festive mood. Tyler, who is now ESPN No.1-ranked senior, told the O/NSO he was excited to start league play and D.J., sporting a black cast on his leg, said his recovery was going well. Shoemate, considered by many the top junior in the country, added, " I am being very careful with my foot. I want to be ready for next season and for college."

The Obvious – There appeared to be an expanded number of Kettle Korn booths located inside the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – The popular treat has expanded his menu to include caramel and cheese as its newest flavors. Bags were selling for $3, $5, and $8.

The Obvious – You can tell the players were very excited to be back in the Coliseum asa number of Trojan players were all smiles during the Trojan Walk.

The Not So Obvious – During warm-ups, a fan yelled, "A Kalil, block somebody today, will ya?" Ryan turned around and just smiled at the Trojan fan.

The Obvious – Servite junior tackle, Matt Kalil, is the latest underclassman to verbal to the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Kalil was on the sidelines before the game with fellow Trojan verbal, Edison senior tackle Martin Coleman. They appeared to be enjoying the Trojan sideline activites and mixing with other dignitaries.

The Obvious – Saturday morning's tailgating reminded the O/NSO just how large the turnout is at the Coliseum compared to places like Tucson and Pullman, which were token gestures.

The Not So Obvious – There is always the clever and comfy feelings of home at Trojan tailgaters. One cardinal and gold group was cooking breakfast with the traditional scrambled eggs and sausage while others were serving a full-on lunch buffet. Another gathering was watching games from the comfort of a leather coach as kids played on a make-shift football field with goal post. The O/NSO liked the creativity of cars that featured plasma televisions built in the backseats. Very cool, indeed.

The ObviousAnd finally, this 2006 season is turning out to be more exciting than many Trojan fans anticipated.

The Not So Obvious – Up next is the scoring potential of Dirk Koetter's Arizona State club and despite the well documented woes of the Sun Devils, you won't see any Trojan fans puffing their chests and spouting some smack in the direction of Tempe. As the 2006 Trojan season has now shown us, it's no longer expect the unexpected but expect the expected.

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