The Obvious and Not So Obvious

What a difference a year makes in the development and understanding of the Chow's offensive system, a pressure relief to both Carson and Norm. Prior to this year, Palmer had thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns (36). With his receivers improving by the game and the semblance of a running game, Palmer has helped himself with better decisions and now has a 3:1 ratio of TDs to interceptions.

The Obvious - The drumbeats of the Bowl Championship Series and the Heisman Trophy began to grow louder immediately after the USC Trojans and quarterback Carson Palmer dispatched the Stanford Cardinal 49-17 before a disappearing 44,950 fans late Saturday afternoon at Stanford Stadium.

The Not So Obvious - With visions of Roses, Oranges, and Sugar dancing in their collective helmuts, the Trojans erased a painful three-game losing streak to the Cardinal and increased their own conference winning streak to four. The victory also escalated their senior quarterback's chances for a post-season trip to the "Big Apple" and perhaps that famous set of trophies often seen in Heritage Hall.

The Obvious - In order to earn serious consideration for the Heisman, Carson Palmer will need to get the West Coast scribes and electronic media on board for a "block" vote, and Palmer will need to shine brightly in his next three conseuctive television exposures, two of which will be shown nationally at a reasonable prime-time hour in the East.

The Not So Obvious - While the Trojan team improved to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-10, Palmer received an endorsement from the San Francisco Chronicle which said, "Trojans' quarterback Carson Palmer is in the midst of an eye-popping stretch that is likely transforming him from long-shot Heisman choice to an invited guest to the New York party."

The Obvious - On Saturday, Carson Palmer stung the Cardinal by completing 22 of 32 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Not So Obvious - Palmer's performance did not go unnoticed by the Stanford coaching staff. So impressed with Palmer's performance, Stanford defensive coordinator Mike Williams commented, "Give Carson credit. He might be the most improved player in the Pac-10."

The Obvious - In his last three games, Palmer has thrown for 1,113 yards and 13 touchdowns, and now is the USC career leader in touchdown passes.

The Not So Obvious - What a difference a year makes in the development and understanding of the Chow's offensive system, a pressure relief to both Carson and Norm. Prior to this year, Palmer had thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns (36). With his receivers improving by the game and the semblance of a running game, Palmer has helped himself with better decisions and now has a 3:1 ratio of TDs to interceptions.

The Obvious - With the rain, live television, and the poor Stanford record, it seemed as though the Cardinal might be in trouble matching their season average of 39,683 fans. However, the thought of beating USC for a fourth straight time probably sold some extra ducats and hope.

The Not So Obvious - So large so the USC turnout and so small was the Stanford faithful at the end of the game, that the appearance of USC President Steven Sample even drew an ovation that sounded more like a response to a Trojan touchdown.

The Obvious - Many Trojan fans were concerned how long Palmer would remain in the fourth quarter after the outcome had long been decided.

The Not So Obvious - With five minutes remaining in the game, Carroll finally replaced Palmer with sophomore Matt Cassel, who completed his first Trojan pass of the season for 10 yards.

The Obvious - Much of USC's offensive attack is based on speed and there was concern about the turf after the earlier rain. Before the game, it was reported that the grass would not be an issue.

The Not So Obvious - Well, so much for a non-issue. Trojan tailback Justin Fargas slipped on his first carry of the game and others had a testy time during the course of the game.

The Obvious - It was the third consecutive game that Palmer has led his offense to more than 40 points, thus tying McKay's legendary 1972 Trojan national champions, which scored more than 50 points in victories over Oregon State, Illinois, and Michigan State.

The Not So Obvious - The 1972 team scored over 40 points seven times that season.The quarterback for the USC team that many historians call the greatest college football team in history was Mike Rae. Rae (6-1, 186) played in 1970, 1971, and 1972 and was a graduate of Lakewood High School, where he played for legendary Lancer coach John "Model-T" Ford.

The Obvious - A back-up to Mike Rae during the 1972 season was Pat Haden. With two super quarterbacks, the dream backfield consisted of Sam "Bam" Cunningham and Anthony Davis (who didn't start till the eighth game).

The Not So Obvious - While the 1972 team averaged 39 points and never trailed in the second half, they only defeated Stanford that year 30-21, thus illustrating how tough it always is when the Trojans come to Palo Alto. It was the smallest margin of victory for that great USC team.

The Obvious - The Trojans were intent on continuing with Justin Fargas at tailback to "hammer" and "move the pile". Fargas had nine carries for 43 yards and a couple of impressive runs up the middle, one which led to a seven-yard touchdown.

The Not So Obvious - Tailback Sultan McCullough didn't get into the game until the four-minute mark in the first quarter when he gained some yards on a screen pass. McCullough didn't get his first rush until the eleven-minute mark in the second quarter. For the record, Fargas carried nine times and McCullough had seven.

The Obvious - Despite a somewhat balanced attack of 29 rushes and 33 passes, the Trojans were held to 87 yards on the ground, thus not cracking the 100-yard goal.

The Not So Obvious - The Trojans would have cracked the 100-yard barrier had Palmer not been sacked twice for a total of 32-yards. One sack was worth 26-yards, but the "new" Palmer elected to take the sack and not risk interception.

The Obvious - The Trojan line has improved from last season both in protecting Palmer and opening occasional holes to keep the rushing game honest.

The Not So Obvious - By all accounts, freshman tackle Winston Justice was flagged for his first holding penalty of the year in the third quarter, while junior guard Lenny Vandermade went out of the game with an arm injury and was replaced by Eric Torres. Vandermade believed that he had torn a muscle.

The Obvious - While freshman Mike Williams continues his onslaught to Pac-10 freshman of the year, Keary Colbert continues to quietly impress and get open as he burned the Cardinal secondary for two impressive 13 and 17-yard touchdown receptions.

The Not So Obvious. On his first score, Colbert ran a slant-and-go and had the Cardinal defender on a merry-go-round. However, the second score was a beautifully designed play by Norm Chow who had Colbert go in motion, execute a cut-block and fall to the ground, and then get back up and float to the flat where Palmer rolled right away from Colbert and threw back across the field to the suddenly wide-open receiver.

The Obvious - The Stanford band is like a coiled snake waiting to strike during the game, especially if the opponent has some misfortune or goes into the tank.

The Not So Obvious - After Trojan freshman receiver Mike Williams made what is becoming his annual game fumble after the catch, the Stanford band immediately played the upbeat "Trojan Fanfare" at a funeral march pace. Actually, it was cleaver and humorous, but probably not to the Trojans' frosh prodigy.

The Obvious - One player that seems to enjoy the challenge every week is converted corner Marcell Allmond, who seems to draw the "big" receivers. Stanford's 6-7 Teyo Johnson was this week's order of the day.

The Not So Obvious - Allmond seems happy to be on defense instead of offense and enjoyed his battles with Johnson. Allmond said, "It's fun running forward to backward. Coach has a lot of confidence in me. They kept Teyo in the slot most of the time. I like defense because it matches my personality."

The Obvious - The Trojans used three wide-receiver screens in the first 19 minutes of play and each was successful.

The Not So Obvious - The wide-receiver screens have been used quite extensively the past several weeks, especially to Mike Williams, who had another outstanding afternoon including one score where three Cardinal defenders could not bring him down at the goal line. The kid hurt his ankle and was held out near the end, but the young freshman will learn the difference between pain and injury.

The Obvious - The Trojan defense looked a bit rusty in the early going probably due to the bye week as Stanford quarterback Kyle Matter completed his first 15 passes.

The Not So Obvious - While the completion percentage looked good, the 15 for 15 amounted to only 95 yards. Matter, the former Newhall Hart High standout, was starting just his third game for the Cardinal and threw for two scores against the Trojan defense. It was the first time Stanford had scored on two TD passes since a loss to Arizona State on Sept. 28th.

The Obvious - Pete Carroll was very animated on the sidelines, especially in the first half as he verbally unloaded on his defense for poor play.

The Not So Obvious - The coach didn't have to worry about pulling his hair out in frustration as he was sporting a new Ivy League haircut for his homecoming to NorCal. Carroll also took in a USC/Stanford women's volleyball match the other night for a little diversion and enjoyment.

The Obvious - All-America safety Troy Polamalu treated those in attendance and watching on ABC to some "lethal", All-American hits, even though one hit was a late wack against Cardinal receiver Teyo Johnson, who was clearly at the sidelines.

The Not So Obvious - Troy the Ambulance had 13 tackles while fellow "striker" Matt Grootegoed, who Carroll indicated earlier this week will stay at linebacker next year, recorded three of the Trojans' season-high seven sacks.

The Obvious - It's looking more and more "obvious" that all-purpose back Malaefou MacKenzie is a definite possibility that his career will continue on Sundays for pay.

The Not So Obvious - MacKenzie rushed for 41 yards on three carries and a four-yard score, not to mention receiving two catches for 23-yards. On one of his catches, "Mac" made an NFL over-the-shoulder catch.

The Obvious - As the game wore on, MacKenzie was the Trojan tailback in place of Fargas and McCullough.

The Not So Obvious - In an interesting collision, MacKenzie was tackled by the Cardinal's secondary member Stanley Wilson, son of the former Oklahoma and Banning High running back. Yep, the same "Stanley Steamer Sr." who played for Chris Ferragamo during the Pilots' glory years.

The Obvious - They say that out there in the world, there is somebody who looks just like you. So it was with great interest that referee Gordon Reese had the attention of Trojan fans paying attention both at home and in person.

The Not So Obvious - "After further review", it finally dawned on some members of the cardinal and gold world that Reese was a look-a-like of former USC coach Ted Tollner, who guided the Trojans after the first departure of John Robinson.

The Obvious - Early in the game, the Trojan defense had trouble containing Stanford running back Kerry Carter, but SC settled down to limit the tough Cardinal runner to 74 total rushing yards.

The Not So Obvioius - One of the main reasons the Trojans had such problems with Carter was the blocking of Stanford fullback Casey Moore, the Cardinal's heralded fullback. Trojan linebackers had their hands full with this guy much of the game. Of course the Trojans' defense was greatly helped when Cardinal speedster running back Tolon went down with a leg injury and didn't return.

The Obvious - During the game,Trojan radio voice Pete Arbogast was reminiscing about how his father took him to his first Stanford/USC game in 1970 at The Farm.

The Not So Obvious - That game was won by the Stanford "Indians" 24-14 before 86,000 fans who saw Jim Plunkett complete a long touchdown pass to steller tight end Bob Moore to seal the Trojans' fate that sunny afternoon. Earlier that year, John McKay's team did beat Alabama in the historic Birmingham game and tied Nebraska at the Coliseum. By the way, Pom Pom Pete went on to say he does read the Trojans' chat boards. Impressive.

The Obvious - Trojan fans held their breath early in the third quarter when Palmer started running up the field, but he hit the ground before he could be tackled. Much of the Trojans' future success this season will still depend on the health of Carson Palmer, who suffered a "kill shot" by Cardinal Louis Hopson in the same quarter.

The Not So Obvious - After the game in discussing the problems that Stanford was having with their injuried quarterback situation and how it affects their offense, Troy Polamalu said, " They (Stanford) are without their starting quarterback. You would see a big difference in our team if Carson was missing."

The Obvious - Along the same lines as above, as the season winds down and the number of games dwindles to an important precious few, Norm Chow seems willing to give Palmer a bit more freedom on the ground as was showcased late in the third quarter.

The Not So Obvious - Probably for the consumption of the Sun Devils, Bruins, and Irish, Palmer ran the option with McCullough, but pitched the ball behind him for a loss. Well, you can't fault the message being sent, but most Trojan fans would have passed out if Palmer had taken a big hit attempting the option.

The Obvious - One of the quiet improvements this season has been that of freshman punter Tom Malone, who seems to have totally shaken off his early season jitters and may be the current Pac-10's best as a freshman out of Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon.

The Not So Obvious - Lost in the Cardinal slaughter was the erratic kick-offs and "sometimes coverage" of the same. It still looks like an adventure and a disaster waiting to happen, which could foreshadow things to come against the Trojans final big three opponents. Pass the blindfolds and the cigarettes. However, Ryan Killeen did make all seven of his extra-points.

The Obvious - Best catch of the day belonged to USC defensive lineman Kenechi Udeze, who deflected Matter's pass, intercepeted it, and then fell down.

The Not So Obvious - Udeze then got up and started to run to the end zone with visions of the evening news dancing in his head. Yo, Kenechi, only in the NFL can you get up and run having not been touched. Have patience, my boy, your day on Sundays is certainly coming.

The Obvious - What was left of the the Stanford Stadium crowd was in no mood at the very end of the game for any further TV timeouts or other prodigal.

The Not So Obvious - Like a patient giving one last gasp, the crowd booed intensely when referee Gordon Reese asked for a measurement with just 14 seconds left.

The Obvious - In the aftermath of the victory, the Trojans became bowl eligible and sang "Fight On" in the lockers. Their season coming to an exciting crescendo.

The Not So Obvious - In the aftermath of their 49-17 beating, Stanford coach Buddy Teevens usually gathers his team for a 10-15 minute meeting in an auxiliary locker room, but Teevens dismissed his Cardinal team after two minutes. Such is life in the dog days of the Pac-10, especially when one team is going bowling and the other is going home.

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