Trojans begin feeling magnitude of game

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week That will be Weis’ daunting task, even with a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback (Brady Quinn) and a more-sophisticated playbook than anything seen under Lou Holtz, Bob Davie or Tyrone Willingham. Forget about Touchdown Jesus, the Irish fans’ will be thinking more about Touchdown USC. “We never think a team will outscore us,’ USC offensive lineman Winston Justice said. “We should always score,’ tailback LenDale White added. It’s ironic that most of the media focused on Weis this week, with his 15-year NFL career a perfect foil for USC coach Pete Carroll. Of course, Weis planted that seed back in February, shortly after Notre Dame hired him. But for all the tradition, hype and privilege of playing on a game shown to 100 percent of the country, this game really rests on the same question as every other USC game this season. Can any team outscore the Trojans? SOUTH BEND, IND — Everything here is different for No. 1- ranked USC today, as landmarks like the Golden Dome and the giant mural Touchdown Jesus impressively greet the Trojans before they take the field. So will rabid fans from about every state in the Midwest, camped out for days in anticipation of this marquee matchup, confident with Notre Dame ranked No. 9 and sporting its pro-style offense under new coach Charlie Weis. center_img “They had their advantage because I was coming into recruiting late,’ Weis said. “Well, it’s X’s and O’s time. Let’s see who has the advantage now.’ That comment proved popular with Notre Dame fans, but it didn’t even register with Carroll. He claimed to be unaware of the comment this week and when asked for his opinion, said, “I don’t really care.’ The true story of USC games this year isn’t the other team: Oregon (for a half), Arizona State and Arizona proved it’s possible to dent the Trojans’ defense. However, no one kept pace with the offense, which scored at least 38 points in every game. Even last week’s relatively disappointing effort saw turnovers and penalties “limit’ the Trojans to 42 points against Arizona. “It’s never been anything other than what our offense does to stop itself, because no one else really has,’ center Ryan Kalil said. “It’s been penalties and stuff like that, but not really the other team.’ So while the setting is unlike any other in college football, as NBC will constantly remind viewers, Carroll’s only question will be whether Notre Dame can match points with the Trojans. “They do a great variety of things,’ Carroll said. “They do something in one game and then you won’t see it again for a couple of weeks.’ That’s one reason USC started watching film of Notre Dame before the Arizona game, generally a no-no in football but necessary when studying the new-look Irish, who got an extra week of practice to prepare for the Trojans. “That really makes them dangerous,’ Carroll said. “In the NFL, you get so familiar with opponents you can’t do the same thing week-in and week-out. Well, they have brought the same concept.’ USC’s concept changes less and less. White and Reggie Bush are attempting to become the first backs in school history to gain more than 100 yards in four straight games. Bush’s sore knee remains a question although he practiced most of the week. But he remembered two years ago making a national impression with a 58-yard cutback run for a touchdown and a memorable 38- yard reception. “I guess that was seen as my coming out party and I got a lot of recognition,’ Bush said. “I’m a lot more experienced now. I’ve just learned a lot more. I’m bigger and stronger. And this type of game brings out the best in people.’ That’s a rare concession on USC’s part that playing in Notre Dame Stadium is special, something the normally cautious Carroll even conceded. While he disdains bowing to tradition, he got his first taste of the rivalry in 2001 and made sure to immediately call legendary USC assistant, the late Marv Goux. “I was talking to Marv on the cell phone as I was walking down the tunnel so that he could tell me what he remembered about it and share the experience of doing that,’ Carroll said. “That was just out of respect for him but it was for fun because he was so colorful about it. “Then we went into the stadium to do our prayer and I mentioned to the players in my mind I wanted to share this game with Goux and I said Marv will be with us every time we ever play this. Then boom, and the thunder hit. And (former assistant) Eddie Orgeron’s eyes got like this and he didn’t know what had happened. Marv Goux was the connection for me personally to take it to a different level.’ Scott Wolf can be reached at (818) 713-3607. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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