O/NSO - Stanford edition

Pete Carroll's No. 9-ranked USC Trojans (6-1, 4-1 Pac-10) take their one-game losing streak up to Palo Alto on Saturday afternoon (4:00 p.m.) and the lowly Stanford Cardinal (0-8, 0-5 Pac-10) are in the cross hairs of a cardinal and gold team that comes to the Bay Area in search for its heart and a soul.

The ObviousPete Carroll's No. 9-ranked USC Trojans (6-1, 4-1 Pac-10) take their one-game losing streak up to Palo Alto on Saturday afternoon (4:00 p.m.) and the lowly Stanford Cardinal (0-8, 0-5 Pac-10) are in the cross hairs of a cardinal and gold team that comes to the Bay Area in search for its heart and a soul.

The Not So Obvious – Much has been now written about on how sensational Oregon State receiver Sammy Stroughter gathered his teammates and discussed the biblical story of David and Goliath. Stroughter then gave each of his teammates a small stone and said the Beavers were going to slay the giant of college football. Well, down went the Trojans, but what the college football world now wants to see is if this cardinal and gold Goliath is going to get up off the ground and or remain comatose.

The Obvious – The Trojans opened as a 28 1/2 point favorites to defeat Stanford in Palo Alto.

The Not So Obvious – At this point in the season, all Trojan fans shutter at any point spread, but the truth is this Stanford team is so lousy that you can't help feeling a little compassion for the injury ravaged club of Walt Harris, the second-year beleaguered Cardinal coach. If they can, expect the Trojans to make it a mission to blow the Cardinal all the way to Berkeley. If Pete Carroll's group can't or don't, the Trojan coach will need all his acumen to explain his way out of this one. Unfortunately for Stanford, the Trojans will use the scoreboard to either put up or shut up. The time is now, boys. And for good measure, the last seven times the Trojans have lost under Pete Carroll, they have won the next game by an average of 17.9 points, so help me Caesar's Palace.

The Obvious – A tough situation in which there are no alternatives is sometimes referred to as "being caught between a rock and a hard place."

The Not So Obvious – This week Stanford coach Walt Harris said, "We know that playing USC after a loss isn't great, but playing them after a win isn't great either. It's a tough challenge, so we look forward to seeing where we're at against a great football team and a great football program."

The Obvious – The weather report for Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 67 and a low of 50.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO weather report questions whether the 2006 Trojans have finally been shocked into reality or will they continue to be gridiron posers? Let's face it, we all could see a loss coming, but most expected it to be in November. Most observers are far more fascinated now to find whether this team goes in the tank or really needed a loss to finally wake up. Whether this team is living off the coattails of the Matt Leinart/Carson Palmer eras, there is now a sense of urgency that this club never seemed to grasp before Oregon State. It will be intriguing to see whether there is a killer instinct to this team, and, no, it really doesn't matter if the Stanford is a Pac-10 junior varsity team at this point in the season. Great teams show no mercy whom they play. There is the feeling here that what we saw in the final quarter in Corvallis speaks greatly to the talent available on the Cardinal and Gold, as well as their emotional thermometer. When pushed against a wall, this team has it. It's unfortunate that this Trojan team appears like a student who waits till the last minute to get that term project done. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't like at Oregon State. What we do know is this Trojan team is all about an inconsistent attitude.

The Obvious – Saturday afternoon's game is being televised on FSN (4:00 p.m. PST) and the broadcast team will again include Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis, and Jim Watson.

The Not So Obvious – When last we heard from Petros, he had the Men of Troy already set for a Holiday Bowl appearance. Suddenly the Fox idea to showcase the Trojans in preparation for a potential national title appearance, which Fox is televising, is still worthy as fans across the country will be looking to see how Pete Carroll's lads bounce back. Saturday's game may have different implications, but there is a sadistic glamour about the affair in Palo Alto. The Trojans need to use the power of the tube to demonstrate they are "as mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore."

The Obvious – The Trojans and UCLA are both playing the Bay Area at the same time for the first time in their football history.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans were asked a couple of week's ago whom they would root for between Notre Dame and the Bruins. With the prospect of seeing your Bruin brethren at Fisherman's Warf or riding a cable car, just whom do you think the Bruins will be rooting for when the Trojans take on Stanford? Thought so. However, who will Trojan fans be rooting for with the Pac-10 title at stake? A loss to the Bruins and the Trojans will likely be tied at the top with the Bears.

The Obvious – The Trojans lead the series with the Cardinal 57-24-3.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal is the Trojans' oldest rival with the first game being played on Nov. 4, 1905. Okay, okay, Stanford won 16-0. Trojan coach Harvey Holmes took a lot of heat for that one. Of course, the first game was played on the road.

The Obvious – Stanford is located in Palo Alto, California

The Not So Obvious – Located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose, Palo Alto is a community of approximately 61,200 residents. The City of Palo Alto is more than 100 years old, and is named after a majestic 1000 (not 250) year old coastal Redwood tree along San Francisquito Creek, where early Spanish explorers settled.

The Obvious – The Trojans have been crowned recruiting champs for the what seems like forever.

The Not So Obvious – There is a growing suspicion that many of the young Trojans have been riding the wave of past glory. If there is a task at hand, it will be for Pete Carroll and staff's ability to get the point across to these former prep legends that they can't live off the glory of national championship teams past. They must earn their own reputation. It will also be incumbent that the current batch of potential stars be reminded that the NFL comes after serving their tour of duty with the country's premier college program. These similiar issues have been exhibited in places like Florida State and Miami and are not uncommon in this day and age of NFL aspirations. What it now comes down to is leadership from above, both coaches and upperclassmen, and we are about to find out whom the real leaders on this team are.

The Obvious – There are many pundits that are giving their analysis on what kind of hangover last Saturday's loss will have on the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – In this week's San Jose Mercury, Stanford coach Walt Harris said, "That loss with some people might make them (the Trojans) seem more human, but it might make them more motivated." Respected Mercury columnist John Wilner responded to the Harris evaluation by saying, " I am betting on the more motivated. Do I hear 45-3?"

The Obvious – Stanford's nickname is the Cardinal.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal have used that nickname since 1981. Previously, Stanford was known as the "Indians" from 1930-72. Sorry to ruffle some feathers, but we preferred it when Stanford was known as the Indians.

The Obvious – The Cardinal are coming off a bye week.

The Not So Obvious – One of the confounding issues to last week's Trojan loss was so much more was expected early-on, thanks to a bye week for the Men of Troy. Most folks at practice saw a team that appeared to have a real bounce to their step. So much for a bounce and a bye week.

The Obvious – The Trojan offense is averaging 30.1 points per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal defense is allowing 34.5 points per game, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Cardinal, despite their winless season, have a wonderful linebacker in senior Michael Okwo (6-0, 225), from Redondo Beach and Mira Costa High School.

The Not So Obvious – Okwo, who leads the Pac-10 in tackles (66), claims his biggest thrill in life was the first time he rode Splash Mountain at Disneyland. Of course Michael says the toughest player he has played against in his college career was the Trojans' Reggie Bush.

The Obvious – The Trojans are averaging 409.4 yards in total offense, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal are allowing an average of 425.6 yards in total defense, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – For the past several weeks, much verbiage has been made by Pete Carroll over his team's lack of defensive turnovers.

The Not So Obvious – The fact of the matter is that the Trojans would still be undefeated if not for the four offensive turnovers last weekend in Corvallis. The O/NSO has watched on almost a weekly basis at practice how much time Carroll puts into turnover drills for his defense, but be that as it may, if the offense had cut down on some early holiday giveaways, the results of the past month would have been spotless.

The Obvious – The Trojans rank eighth in the Pac-10 in sacks (15).

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal rank last in the Pac-10 in sacks (7).

The Obvious – The Trojans reverted somewhat to a successful return to a 4-3 defense that helped in attaining six sacks.

The Not So Obvious – Boy, you talk about increased sack production. The Trojans almost doubled their seasonal total in one game. Not sure if this can be maintained, but the 4-3 sure made things look a little better. DT Fili Moala showed promise and if sophomore Kyle Moore can step up his game, the Trojans could surprise in the final four games. We liked what we saw.

The Obvious – The Trojans will leave the City of Angels on Friday afternoon, scheduled for 2:00 p.m. out of LAX.

The Not So Obvious – The U.S. Airways charter will take the Trojan into San Jose and the Cardinal and Gold will stay at the Santa Clara Marriott.

The Obvious – The Trojans mascot is Traveler, the great white horse.

The Not So Obvious – Contrary to what may be taken as fact, there is no official mascot at Stanford University. The "Tree," which is a member of that infamous Cardinal band, is representative of El Palo Alto, the Redwood tree which is also the logo of the city of Palo Alto. The Redwood tree still exists and stands by the railroad bridge beside San Francisquito Creek, a site where early explorers first camped when settling in the area.

The Obvious –Trojan junior quarterback John David Booty (63.0%, 16 TDs, 251.9 avg./g, 5 int.) is the Pac-10 leader in passing and total offense.

The Not So Obvious – WeAreSC contributer David Newbury set off quite a firestorm on those "dreaded" message boards by suggesting on radio that John David might be leaving after one season at the helm if the Trojans have a rousing conclusion to this season. Folks, don't kill the messenger, but if Booty is thinking about moving on, we've got two words for J.D.…..Tommy Maddox. It was enough of a scare that Pete Carroll asked Booty about it and John David said there was no truth to it.

The Obvious – Senior T.C. Ostrander (40%, 0 TDs, 2 int.) has replaced senior Trent Edwards after Edwards suffered a season-ending injury at Arizona.

The Not So Obvious – Ostrander (6-3, 215), a nearby Atherton native who actually has another year of eligibility, figures to be the frontrunner for the job next year. T.C. (Thomas Clinton), a Public Policy major, comes from good genes as his father, Clint, is a Stanford grad who once was a member of the track and field team and set a freshman record in the pole vault (15-3).

The Obvious – The Cardinal offense is averaging 10.4 points per game, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' defense is allowing 17.6 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Captain and senior linebacker Oscar Lua played a bunch against Oregon State, including the critical fourth quarter.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO talked with Oscar this week at practice and asked him what this team needed to be successful the rest of the way. Lua said, " We need to have leadership on both sides of the ball and we need players to step up and play to their potential. As far playing Stanford, we just have to go out and play the way we are capable. It's not really about them as it is about us, as it always is. I know for me, it felt good to be out there again to provide leadership and be with my teammates."

The Obvious - You have to love the potential of sophomore linebacker Rey Maualuga.

The Not So Obvious – The man-child may become All-World at some point, but the O/NSO has great respect for the work turned in by Oscar Lua last Saturday, especially during crunch time. Oscar provided a missing leadership piece on defense and added much-needed savvy. Maualuga may also be a future Butkus winner, but for our money, we like what Lua brings to the table at middle linebacker.

The Obvious – Much has been made over the fact that as a young assistant coach at the University of the Pacific, Walt Harris got a letter-of-intent signed by a defensive back from Marin Junior College named Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – Harris says, "Pete was a great player and a great player to coach." However, their personalities couldn't be more different with Carroll being Captain Charisma and Harris being Captain Cold. It will be extremely interesting to see at what point Carroll calls off the dogs for his former coach.

The Obvious – The Cardinal are averaging 233.8 yards in total offense, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' defense is allowing 292.1 yards per game in total defense, first in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – It certainly appears that the Stanford offense is one of the worst in many years, a difficult item to swallow for many Cardinal and White followers.

The Not So Obvious – Part of the problem, aside from losing starting senior quarterback Trent Edwards and senior receiver Mark Bradford to injuries, may be the fact that Stanford has five new coaches on this year's staff, two of whom are offensive coaches. Whenever there are changes on the offensive side, it can have an effect. The new offensive coaches are running backs coach Buzz Preston and offensive line coach Doug Sams.

The Obvious – A major highlight of this weekend will be a chance for the O/NSO to see the new Stanford Stadium up close.

The Not So Obvious – It took just 42 weeks of construction beginning right after the last game against Notre Dame in 2005 to get the new stadium underway. Crews worked two, eight-hour shifts per day. Going from 85,500 to 50,000 has improved the sight lines, bringing fans 70-100 feet closer to the field. Among the new amenities is a new natural turf, improved sound and video systems, removal of that annoying track, and, of course, more comfortable seating. There is also a play area for the youngsters.

The ObviousBrennan Carroll coaches the Trojans' tight ends.

The Not So Obvious – Brennan played at Pittsburgh and was coached by Stanford coach Walt Harris, when Harris was at Pitt. Wow, Harris has coached the father and the son.

The Obvious – The Trojan colors are cardinal and gold.

The Not So Obvious – When Stanford first accepted students in 1891, the student body actually voted for gold as the official color, but another student assembly chose cardinal as the school color. In the 1940's, the Stanford Board of Athletic Control adopted white as the second color for away game purposes. So even the colors of the Trojans and Cardinal seemed to be linked.

The Obvious – There are a number of Trojan followers and media that are already counting on the Trojans playing on Dec. 28 in San Diego's Holiday Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – You know, the only thing that keeps the Holiday Bowl from being a top-shelf bowl is the fact that it isn't played on Jan. 1. Don't know if there is some sort of agreement with the Rose Bowl and ABC, but move the Holiday Bowl to Jan. 1 and it has all the trappings of any bowl. In fact, play it after the Rose Bowl and everybody is happy, except the Fiesta Bowl.

The Obvious – Trojan fans attending the game would love to be able to hear the home voices Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, and John Jackson on 710 ESPN.

The Not So Obvious – Well, if you can't get the Trojan broadcast, you can always turn your radio to KNBR (1050 am) and check out Ted Robinson and the venerable Bob Murphy giving the Cardinal account.

The Obvious - Junior linebacker Thomas Williams (6-3, 240) has requested and been granted the move to fullback.

The Not So Obvious – At practice on Wednesday, Thomas spent some time with the O/NSO and talked about how his high school team used him at fullback and his outlook on his team's position. Thomas said, "They (Vacaville High) had me blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. It's pretty much the same kind of the same thing they are having me do now. It's very similar. I am very excited. Coach Carroll asked me if I'd be willing to do it. I took it as an honor with him having so much confidence in me and being able to help the team."

The Obvious – The Trojan passing attack is averaging 257.4 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal pass defense is allowing 170.1 yards per game, second in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious –The Trojans will challenge the Cardinal secondary with receivers Steve Smith (17.0 avg., 6 TDs, 97.3 avg./g), Dwayne Jarrett (10.8 avg., 4 TDs, 55.8 avg./g), and Patrick Turner (8.3 avg., 2 TDs, 28.6 avg./g).

The Not So Obvious – If ever there was a Trojan poster boy for staying for your senior year, it would be Smith, who has greatly improved his status in the eyes of those who scout the NFL. It was curious that on the Trojans two-point conversion attempt at the end of the OSU game, the Trojans elected to focus only on Jarrett even after Smith had just beaten his man for the critical touchdown. For our money, Steve is currently the best receiver for the Trojans and his average of 17.0 per catch speaks for itself.

The Obvious – The Stanford secondary has been the lone bright spot this season and count senior strong safety Brandon Harrison (6-2, 215) as one who isn't throwing in the towel against the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Can the Cardinal win? Harrison says, "Definitely. There are probably about 105 people who think we can win, and they are in this locker room and upstairs in this building. Two years ago we played them real tough, and probably about the same amount of people thought we could beat them then too. Playing against a team like this, no one outside the locker room is going to believe you can win. So it's even more important to really believe in your heart that you can win."

The Obvious - The Trojans finally located junior tight end Fred Davis (8.4 avg., 2 TD, 27.7 avg./g) in the end zone last weekend.

The Not So Obvious – Look who finally scored a touchdown. After some near misses earlier in the season, this score should go a long way in forcing teams to respect the Trojans' tight end, not to mention confidence for Davis. While the Trojans have tried to connect deep at times with Davis, let's give credit to John David for a pinpoint pass, even if it was only four yards.

The Obvious – The Trojan rushing game is averaging 152.0 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal rush defense is allowing 255.5 yards per game, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans' tailback situation cleared up like the fog last Saturday with junior Chauncey Washington (4.6 avg., 4 TDs, 66.7 avg./g) getting much of the load.

The Not So Obvious – Freshmen Emmanuel Moody (6.2 avg., 2 TDs, 61.6 avg./g), and C.J. Gable (4.5 avg., 2 TDs, 20.6 avg./g) will be used along the way, but unless Washington becomes a fumble machine, these two talented freshmen figure to see their roles status quo until the scoring onslaught takes over.

The Obvious – It was a tough week for Chauncey Washington, who not only fumbled twice last Saturday, but probably wished he hadn't spilled his guts over his dislike of school in a local paper this week.

The Not So Obvious – We believe you, CW, when it comes to education. However, doesn't it seem when comments about not liking going to school hit the newsprint, the gridiron gods have a way of dishing out some misfortune? Listen to your parents, No. 23, and get that education. One big injury and what are you left with?

The Obvious – Speaking of injuries, injured starting Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards spent the summer as an intern at Tibco, a local software firm.

The Not So Obvious – Edwards said, " As a football player, you are only one play away from the ‘real world.'" Are you listening, Chauncey?

The Obvious – The Trojan defense is allowing 98.6 yards rushing per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal rushing game is averaging 72.6 yards per game, ninth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Stanford's offensive line has combined to start 162 games, more than any group in the nation.

The Not So Obvious – One of those starters, junior Alex Fletcher (6-3, 300), was heavily recruited by the Trojan when Fletcher was a senior at St. Anthony's High in New York. When asked what he would do if he won $1 million, Fletcher said, "Invest." Ah, spoken like a future Stanford grad. So what do you expect from a player whose father, Steve, played football at Princeton?

The Obvious – The Trojan pass defense is allowing 193.6 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal pass offense is averaging 161.1 yards per game, last in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – Coming out of Brea High, the Trojans really wanted the Cardinal's Evan Moore as a big receiver.

The Not So Obvious – Moore has had a difficult career due to injury. After missing five games, the 6-7 receiver returned to the lineup in Stanford's last game against Arizona State. For the record, five of Stanford's top five receivers, including the top four, did not play in 2005. They include a walk-on, three true freshmen, and sophomore.

The Obvious – Trojans junior placekicker Mario Danelo is now 10-of-11 on field goals for the season, third in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal feature junior walk-on Aaron Zagory, who is 5-of-8 on field goals, eighth in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious - Trojan sophomore punter Greg Woidneck is averaging 41.2 per kick, fifth in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – Cardinal punter Jay Ottovegio, a senior from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Florida, is averaging 40.5 yards per kick, seventh in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious –The Trojans are averaging 55.0 penalty yards per game, seventh the Pac-10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers are averaging 57.6 penalty yards per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference.

The Obvious – The Trojans' televised game with Stanford is sandwiched in between two other games of interest.

The Not So Obvious – If you're not going to be in Palo Alto and need a little pregame Pac-10 football, you can start with "Not Fade Away" Washington at "Who is our quarterback now?" Oregon (12:30 p.m. PST, TBS) and for a little scouting assignment, it's "Strike up taps" UCLA at "Pac-10 champions we're told" Cal (5:00 p.m. PST, ABC).

The Obvious – And finally, there is little suspense who is going to win the game in Palo Alto.

The Not So Obvious – If it's not the Trojans, there will be a USC coaching staff that will be on suicide watch. What we don't' know is will the Trojans look good doing it? We await Goliath's return.

USCFootball.com Top Stories