Tuesday, October 26, 2004

One Washington Down, One to Go

Before we discuss the game last week and the upcoming game, I strongly encourage everyone to read this story about how the USC football program "adopted" a young boy with cancer and helped make his dreams of attending a USC game come true Click here for this MUST READ story .

The Trojans defeated the Huskies 38-0 in a game dominated by USC. The Trojans looked very sluggish and uninterested on offense, but really cranked it up on defense.

Tidbits about the Game, USC and the Pac 10

  • USC ended Washington's streak of 271 games without a shutout, the longest such streak in the nation
  • With an attendance of 72,855 last week, USC is averaging over 84,000 and is almost certain to break last year's attendance record of approximately 78,000
  • UW had only 113 yards of total offense, 63 passing yards and 6 first downs
  • This was the 6th shutout of the Pete Carroll era and the 4th shutout of a Pac 10 team
  • USC is now ranked 3rd nationally in scoring defense, 6th nationally in rushing defense and 10th nationally in total defense
  • Reggie Bush had another strong game with an electric 30yd punt return, a beautiful TD catch (see below) and several strong runs between the tackles Click here for Reggie Bush highlight video

  • Redshirt freshman and Temple City product, Desmond Reed, had a fantastic game with a 22yd TD run (his first TD as a Trojan), a huge block to spring Bush's punt return and a big tackle on a Husky kickoff return
  • Other "firsts" included Jason Mitchell's first TD reception, Jody Adewale's first reception, Keith Rivers' first interception and John Walker's first reception
  • For those of you who don't like Pete Carroll's "bend, but don't break defense", USC has not given up a pass completion longer than 26yds in 17 quarters
  • Matt Grootegood made a huge hit on the first play of the second half, forcing a fumble and setting up an easy Trojan TD
  • Eric Wright continues to play outstanding at corner back and had a forced fumble and the deflection that led to Rivers' interception
  • Reggie Bush and LenDale White have each scored 9 touchdowns this season....the same number scored by all USC opponents combined
  • Husky defensive tackle Manase Hopoi had six tackles for loss (ties a UW record) and now leads the nation in that category with 19
  • For the second consecutive week, UCLA lost to the team defeated by the Trojans the previous week. UCLA gave up 93 points to Cal and ASU, while USC gave up only 24 points
  • Cal and USC are both ranked among the top 15 nationally in scoring offense, scoring defense and total defense
  • Cal is ranked first nationally in total offense while USC is ranked 2nd in turnover margin
  • There are some big games in the PAC 10 this week with UCLA taking on Stanford and ASU traveling to Cal...the PAC 10 race will look much clearer come Sunday

Tailgate Review
We had another great tailgate this week as we were fortunate to have perfect weather and some great footballs games to watch while we relaxed and enjoyed some food and drink. It was tough to watch Florida lose to MSU and very painful to see the Fighting Irish choke against BC, but most of us did enjoy watching the Bruins collapse against ASU!

Marcus Wooler made his long-awaited return to California (and the tailgate)....it was great to see him! Thanks again to everyone who brought food and drink...it has been a long 3 weeks for everyone involved and it is time for a well-deserved break. Get your rest now because the final stretch includes huge games (and early arrivals for tailgaters) against Notre Dame and UCLA. Next home game is against Arizona (homecoming) on November 13th at 7:15pm.

Washington State Preview

  • The Cougars are 3-4 and are coming off a loss to Oregon St. last week in Corvallis
  • USC is 3-3 vs the Cougars in their last 6 meetings, including a big USC win at the Coliseum last year (#3 USC defeated #6 WSU 43-16) and a hearbreaking loss in Pullman in 2002
  • WSU is without starting QB, Josh Swogger, and back-up Alex Brink will be getting his second consecutive start
  • The Cougars are ranked 7th or 8th in the conference in most key statistical categories, but they do have some talent and are always dangerous in the Palouse (click here for Pac 10 stats)
  • Cougar WR Jason Hill leads the Pac 10 in TD receptions with 9...he is a legitimate deep threat, similar to Todd Watkins from BYU
  • WSU linebacker Will Derting was first team all conference last year and anchors the Cougar defense
  • Forecast is for wind, rain and temperatures in the high 30s
  • Look for USC to play a similar defensive scheme as we have seen the last few weeks....stuff the run, no deep passes, sure tackling on underneath routes
  • Given the weather, one would expect to see USC run the ball more, but Chow always seems to do the opposite of what would be expected
  • With LenDale White nursing a bruised thigh and a nagging ankle sprain, we may finally see more of Herschel Dennis
  • Cougar punt returner/WR (and former USC recruit), Michael Bumpus has been very explosive on punt returns
  • The Cougars will likely try and press the USC wide receivers and try and force Leinart to beat the Cougars deep
  • Kickoff is 4pm and game will be televised on ABC regionally

Road games in Pullman are never easy and the Cougars always play tough....let's hope the Trojans can grind out another road win.

Fight On!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Trojans Dominate Sun Devils....Huskies Coming to LA

After the Cal game, the USC doubters (and haters) came out of the woodwork. The media chirped "Cal this, Cal that" and the Arizona State Sun Devils became the popular pick (LA Times, Kirk Herbstreit, Mark May and Trev Alberts to name a few) to beat the #1 ranked USC Trojans.

Well the Trojans took notice and simply dominated the Sun Devils from the opening kickoff in a performance reminiscent of the 2002 and 2003 teams. Punishing defense combined with an explosive and imaginative offense propelled USC to a 42-7 halftime lead. The Trojans cruised in the second half, finishing with a 45-7 victory.

Tidbits about the Game, the Pac 10 and USC Football

  • The Trojans are 10-0 in their last ten games vs ranked opponents with an average margin of victory of 38-16
  • USC is the only team in the country this year to defeat 3 teams currently ranked in the Top 25
  • This was the 2nd consecutive sell-out at the Coliseum, the first time this has happened since 1947. USC is ranked 7th nationally in attendance, averaging over 88,000 per game
  • The crowd has become a real factor at the Coliseum, with ASU suffering 2 false start penalites on their first drive....the noise level during opponents' 3rd downs is impressive
  • USC scored 4 touchdowns in the second quarter despite having the ball for under 5 minutes. Sometimes Time of Poss. stats can be misleading
  • USC had 8 sacks of the ASU QBs....by 8 different players. USC has 29 sacks this year vs 22 sacks through 6 games last year
  • The Trojans stuffed the ASU run game, allowing only 24yds (zero yds in first half)

  • The Trojans held ASU 27 points below their scoring average....this after holding Cal to 32 points below their average last week. USC leads the conference and is 7th nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 12.5 points per game
  • The USC defense has held opponents scoreless in 14 of the 24 quarters this year and has only allowed 3pts in the 4th quarter
  • The USC offense was clicking on all cylinders for the first time since last season...there are lots of reasons for the improvement, but none bigger than the return of TE Dominique Byrd
  • Reggie Bush had 115yds of all-purpose yards and now leads the conference and is second nationally in that category (does not include his 52yd TD pass to Dwayne Jarrett)
  • True freshman Dwayne Jarrett had 3 TD catches, giving him 6 on the year....one less than Mike Williams had through 6 games last year
  • For the second consecutive week, the USC special teams made big plays. Justin Tolliver got the game started with a big hit at the 14yd line on the opening kickoff and Shaun Cody blocked a FG attempt. Ryan Killeen made his only FG attempt and continued to put his kickoffs deep into the endzone
  • What was ASU coach Dirk Koetter thinking when he called timeout when ASU had the ball deep in its own territory with just over a minute left in the first half?......a Reggie Bush punt return and a pass to DJ and the Trojans added 7 more points to the pounding
  • ASU will take on UCLA this week, making it the second consecutive week the Bruins have had to play the team defeated by the Trojans the previous week
  • ASU freshman tight end Zack Miller showed why he was heavily recruited by the Trojans, making 8 catches for 102yds in the loss
  • Don't look now, but the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are ranked in the Top 25

Tailgate Review

This was the best tailgate of the season by far. We had a great turnout and a very mellow, manageable environment. The move off the corner was very successful and that will be a permanent change. We also benefited from some great football games both before (Oklahoma/Kansas St.) and after (Purdue/Wisconsin and UCLA/Cal) the USC game.

Thanks to everyone who attended and special thanks to those who contributed food, beverages and cooking (Hoovers, Curt & Jennifer, Aaron & Melanie, Denise & Brian, Alton...sorry if we forgot anyone).

We will be back again this week and should be set up by 10:15am or so. Kickoff is at 3:30pm, but there are some great games to watch in the morning and early afternoon (ND/Boston College, Michigan/Purdue) so we are looking forward to another great day of college football.

If you are planning on attending this week, please email Tim with the number in your party by Thursday at noon.

Washington Preview

  • The Huskies are not a good football team this year and have been decimated by injuries
  • At 1-5 (only win vs San Jose St), it is not surprising that UW is 9th in the conference in total offense, total defense, scoring defense and scoring offense
  • However, the Huskies are a proud program and do have some talent. Look for UW to start Isiah Stanback at QB (he took over for Cory Paus in the second quarter last week)
  • Stanback is a fantastic athlete with a strong arm and very capable of running the option and scrambling. He will be looking to throw to Charles Frederick, who is an outstanding receiver
  • UW has been awful against the run this year and that does not bode well for the Huskies
  • After playing and beating 3 straight unbeaten opponents, a game vs a 5 loss Washington team has letdown written all over it
  • The coaches know this and will be all over the players this week...look for the Trojans to get off to a fast start and crush the spirit of UW
  • Spread is USC by 34, which is way too much
  • Let's hope the Trojans can stay focused and win another game at the Coliseum with no injuries to either team

See you Saturday!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Huge Win vs Cal....Another Tough Game this Week

Rarely does a "big" game live up to the hype, but under the bright national spotlight of ESPN GameDay and 90,000 screaming fans, the Trojans and Bears did not disappoint. The Coliseum was electric....from the beginning of GameDay at 7am to the cheers as Cal's last pass hit the ground, this was the best USC crowd I have ever seen/heard Click to hear the USC radio broadcast of the last play.

The Trojans have another big test this week at the Coliseum as the 5-0 and #15 ranked Arizona St. Sun Devils come to town. Game time is 12:30 again.

Before we review last week, if you are planning on attending or have invited friends to attend this week, PLEASE LET TIM KNOW BY THURSDAY AT NOON. It is important that we get an accurate count for planning purposes.

ESPN GameDay
There was a very impressive crowd at the GameDay set and Chris Fowler made it clear that he was shocked at the size and zeal of the group at 7am. On Fowler's Monday radio show, he called it one of 2 or 3 best GameDay environments they have seen. The crowd went crazy as Lee Corso picked the Trojans by donning his Trojan helmet and proceeding to stab a bear with his Trojan sword (look at the big screen in the background of this picture)

The tailgate crew was well represented with Cordell Sweeney, Andy Hoover, Dan Cherrie and Jeff Herman all taking turns waving the USC flags for the camera. GameDay is great fun to attend and brings some much needed national media attention to the Pac 10. I have no doubt that ESPN will be back to USC for GameDay in the future.

The Tailgate
With over 90,000 expected at the game and GameDay starting at 7am, the tailgate set-up team arrived well before sunrise

This was by far the biggest tailgate we have ever had and there are several people who made outstanding contributions.

  • Aaron and Melanie graciously provided the keg and despite having to drive from Pasadena to El Segundo to the game (AT forgot the tix!), they arrived well before dawn to help set up
  • Jennifer and Curt supplied tons of burgers with all the fixings for pre and post game
  • Phil Navarro brought the sausages
  • Pete and Erin provided the bottled water and Pete made a heroic effort to restore the satellite connection after it mysteriously disappeared around 10:45am

  • Derek brought some great food and his grill was certainly a welcome addition
  • Dan Sullivan brought all the soda and made sure there was some extra beer when the keg went dry
  • Scott and Ruth provided the tasty margaritas
  • The Beaubien's brought their top secret spicy bloody mary mix
  • It was great to see Lawrence and Cordell at the tailgate as family and work matters have limited their ability to get to games and the tailgate

    Of course, Clare, Andy and Liz did most of the "heavy lifting" and deserve all of our thanks for continuing to manage an ever growing event. The size and scope of the tailgate has grown such that it is starting to get a bit rough around the edges. We are going to look at some changes for next week to ensure that the tailgate is a nice enjoyable time for everyone and not quite as raucous. One change that is likely to occur is to move the tailgate about 5 or 6 cars west from the current spot to cut down on random traffic from the corner. We will also begin shutting down the tailgate a bit earlier before the game to ensure that we can see kickoff.

Game Tidbits

  • Cal proved to be every bit of a top 10 team and chances are that they will finish the regular season in the top 5. Cal deserves credit and respect....the Bears are real good this year
  • Lies, damn lies and statistics. Cal dominated this game statistically (yds, first downs, time of possession). USC's total yds, first downs and time of possession were lower due to outstanding fied position as a result of superior special teams play
  • USC's 9 drives started on average from the 50yd line (includes the muff punt as a new drive), while Cal's 8 drives started on average at their own 22. Cal simply had much longer to drive for each score
  • USC scored on 5 of their first 6 possessions and 5 out of 9 total possessions. Cal scored on 3 of their first 5 possessions, but were held scoreless in the final 3 possessions (3 of 8 total)
  • QB Aaron Rodgers completed 29 of 34 passes (including a NCAA record tying 23 consecutive), but the longest pass was 20yds
  • USC held Cal to 17 points which is 32 points below the Bears' average
  • In USC's last 32 games, only 2 running backs have rushed for over 100yds....both from Cal
  • Cal is not only talented, but experienced. Cal started 12 seniors vs USC (not including WRs Toller and Makonnen who both played substantially) and Rodgers is likely to leave for the NFL draft. Cal will lose its QB, top 5 WR, 4 of top 5 LB, 5 of top 6 DL and both safeties
  • USC started 8 seniors, but will return its QB, all WRs, 8 of top 10 OL (4 of 5 starters) 6 of top 8 DL and 5 of top 6 LB
  • In the game, USC played 14 underclassmen vs 5 underclassmen for Cal
  • LenDale White averaged 5yds per carry, but only was given 11 chances to rush
  • Steve Smith had two catches, each for over 40yds, but left the game early in the 3rd quarter with a broken leg. Fight On Steve!

  • Dwayne Jarrett had his best game as a Trojan and will be in the starting line-up vs ASU

  • USC has not allowed a 4th quarter TD this year

ASU Preview

  • ASU is 5-0 (2-0 in the Pac 10) and has solid victories over Iowa, Oregon, Northwestern and Oregon St. Ranked #15 in the country
  • Click here for some good info on ASU
  • ASU has an outstanding QB in Andrew Walter, but he is much different than Aaron Rodgers from Cal
  • Walter likes to throw it deep and is very immobile (think Drew Bledsoe). Walter is not as patient nor accurate as Rodgers
  • Look for USC to play a very similar defense this week. ASU prefers to stretch the field and is not happy to dink and dunk like Cal
  • ASU has very good WR (Hagan and Richardson) and true frosh TE Zach Miller is outstanding
  • ASU's running game is OK, but not as good as Cal's. They are very thin at RB due to injury and suspension issues
  • I would expect USC to put similar pressure on Walter as the Trojans did to Rodgers, but with better results (i.e. Walter can't scramble like Rodgers)
  • ASU's defense is much improved and they have a great set of LBs. Weakness is on the DL. I would hope we see much more of LenDale this week
  • I think we match up better with ASU than Cal, but ASU is a very dangerous team and is coming off a bye week while the Trojans are coming off a very tough game
  • I expect this game to be a battle, but hope the Trojans can grind out another tough victory

Monday, October 04, 2004

Cal and ESPN GameDay Visit the Coliseum


This is the game that people have had circled on their calendar for quite a while. Way back in July, we predicted that this game would feature the #1 USC Trojans vs #6 Cal Golden Bears in front of 90,000. Well, you have to give us some credit as the preseason ranked #21 Cal Bears have risen up to #7 and the game is sold out meaning there will be over 92,000 in attendance.

Adding to the big game atmosphere, ESPN College Football GameDay will be broadcasting live from the Coliseum. This is the official GameDay website. This is simply a huge game for the Trojans, the Bears and the PAC 10 Conference. On Saturday, the PAC 10 will be in quite possibly the brightest national spotlight that the conference has ever seen. Here are a couple of tidbits about the magnitude of this game:

  • This is the first Coliseum sellout (other than UCLA or Notre Dame) since 1952
  • This is only the 3rd time that GameDay has visited a PAC 10 stadium and the first time since 2000
  • The is the first time GameDay has visited USC
  • GameDay is skipping the Oklahoma/Texas (#2 vs #5) matchup to broadcast from the USC vs Cal (#1 vs #7) game

If you play on attending the tailgate, please email Tim with how many are in your party by Thursday at 5pm so we can plan accordingly.

Tailgate Logistics
Needless to say, this is a game to get fired up for. We have fond memories of tailgaiting on site with GameDay as we did at the Rose Bowl earlier this year.

Time: GameDay comes on the air at 7:30am (7:30-9:00am) and the tailgate will be set up by 7am at the latest. Most of the tailgate crew will be at the GameDay set, but Clare and others will watch over the tailgate during the show. When GameDay is finished at 9am, we will be back at the tailgate. Game starts at 12:30pm.

We encourage people to come early and go the GameDay set...this is a great opportunity to show a national audience that USC has great fans that support their team as much as any fans in the country. On top of that, with 92,000 at the game, traffic and parking will be a nightmare.

Location: We will be set-up in the same spot (grass lot on Southwest side of Coliseum on corner of Leighton & Menlo, just outside tunnel 13, adjacent to cement bus/rv lot). Please call Tim at 310 508 5858 or Andy at 310 480 7798 with questions. As usual, you can always look for the USC flags flying high, the 2 EZ Up canopies (one blue, one cardinal) and the cardinal Volvo SUV.

While not confirmed, we believe that GameDay will be set up near the Peristyle entrance to the Coliseum (opposite side of stadium from the tailgate). GameDay will be easy to find....see you there!

Menu: We will be serving breakfast before the game. Eggs, breakfast burritos, pancakes, turkey bacon, bagels, cream cheese etc. There will be breakfast juices and Bloody Mary's to help everyone wake up. The keg and jockey box will be making a repeat appearance and we will also have the full bar set up. There may be a special tailgate drink as well. After the game we will be serving the regular burgers and sausage and hopefully enjoying another USC victory.

Entertainment: We will be flipping between Oklahoma vs Texas and Michigan vs Minnesota (both at 9am) before the game and will be watching LSU vs Florida after the game. Click here to see a list of all the games on TV. The Trojan Marching Band should pass by at about 12:20pm or so. Click to hear the Band (requires Real Media Player).

Cal Preview

  • Cal is a very good team and USC will have to bring its A game for 60 minutes to win. The "revenge factor" alone will not be enough....USC must be ready to play
  • Cal is extremely talented on offense with a star QB in Aaron Rodgers and an outstanding RB (Arrington). Their OL is solid and they have a nice group of receivers (Macarthur, Makonnen, Lyman) and a solid TE (Cross)
  • Cal's defense is an unknown, having played two option teams (Air Force and New Mexico) and a reeling Oregon St. team. They certainly have not seen an offense like USC this year
  • Cal's defense has only forced 4 turnovers (and that includes a game against Oregon St which is a turnover machine!) vs 12 for the USC defense. If USC can win the turnover battle, the Trojans will be in good shape
  • The Trojans have played very vanilla this year on offense and defense...look for some new wrinkles
  • The Trojans must put pressure on Rodgers....we will see much more blitzing in this game and it will come from lots of places. Arbet, Leach, Taputu and Groots will be sent on blitzes
  • Speaking of pressure, #55 will see more time at DE to put pressure on the QB in third down situations. Jeff Schweiger is likely out for the Trojans
  • On offense, I think we will see LenDale and Reggie in the game at the same time. Also, I expect to see Kirtman and Fred Davis involved in the passing game. Dom Byrd makes a return and if he is healthy, he will expose the middle of the field. We might see Herschel Dennis play a bigger role since it would be difficult to game plan against him
  • The Trojans could be in trouble if LenDale is not 100%...he simply did not have the burst against Stanford


  • This is a better Cal team than the team that beat USC last year, BUT while this USC team is not as talented as the team in the Rose Bowl last year, it is probably better than the team that played Cal last year.
  • Remember, LenDale White and Reggie Bush barely played against Cal and had not yet exploded onto the scene. Leinart threw 3 interceptions vs Cal, but has only thrown 4 more pics since Cal (13 games).
  • Cal has not played with the pressure of a top 10 ranking...USC is battle tested and Cal is not.
  • The Trojans are simply awesome at home and this will be a huge advantage
  • Turnovers and penalties will be critical in this game and I think the advantage goes to the Trojans
  • Both offenses are good and both will score...I think USC has the better defense and the better defensive coaching. This will be the difference
  • Let's hope the Trojans can grind out another tough victory in an injury free game