USC Scrimmage, 08/21/05
Coincidentally enough, the final score of Sunday's scrimmage at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was slightly less of a blowout than the Trojans last official game, that being the National Championship Game at the Orange Bowl in January of this year.
The USC Second Team managed to keep the difference to just 34 points (50-16), where the number two ranked (at the time) Oklahoma Sooners lost by a margin of 36 (55-19) in Miami.
I'm not the biggest sports fan in the world. I don't know everyone's name and all of their stats. Heck, I'm not even sure about all the rules, even though I played football in high school. One thing I am is a huge USC Trojans fan, especially football.
I know, you're saying, "Sure it's easy to be a fan of a team with back-to-back National Championships." Thing is, I was a fan when we weren't winning all those games. If I wasn't at the game, I was watching it on TV or if I couldn't get to a TV, I was listening on the radio. I got hooked way back in 1985 when I was an undergrad and went to my first game.
But I'm not here to talk about how cool I am...
...okay, who am I kidding? Isn't that what this blog-o-land is all about?
Mostly, but you will come to know my coolness through my witty and incisive comments about pop culture, current events and, from now through bowl season, USC football.
All of that said, it was both nice and odd to be in the Coliseum this past Sunday. It's always great to hear the best college band in the world, the University of Southern California Spirit of Troy Trojan Marching Band. Odd note #1: The band left part way through the third quarter.
For a scrimmage, there was a pretty big crowd. Estimates put the attendance between 20,000 and 30,000, but for a building that holds around 92,000 for a football game, it seemed kinda empty. Odd note #2: Even though it looked empty the crowd noise was very loud for most of the scrimmage, mainly because there were loud speakers on the field pumping in recorded crowd noise. It's not so much odd that they were doing this, it's common practice to help acclimate players to game conditions, it was just an odd experience as a spectator.
Odd note #3: I got to park right next to the Coliseum for $8.00. I guarantee that's not going to happen again in the next five months.
Of course, all of the above is just prologue to the main event.
photo from ValleyTrojan.com
A scrimmage is a weird thing because it doesn't count for anything, but it can be hugely important for the team. Just getting into the game time routine as well as running plays under semi-real world conditions can be invaluable.
For the fans, it's just a great bonus after waiting eight months to see the Trojans back on the Coliseum grass. It was fun and funny to see how the crowd reacted to big plays. Reggie Bush breaks a kick off for a touchdown and the crowd goes wild. Did I mention that as far as the record goes this game is meaningless? Well, obviously stats aren't everything. I was up on my feet cheering too.
Lendale White and Steve Smith also brought the crowd to its feet on several occasions. As Petros pointed out on the SCSR last night, where Bush is the flashy player, who can make big, game-changing plays, White is the guy you give the ball to over and over again and he'll produce every time. As far as Steve Smith goes, my prediction is that he'll make a lot of people forget the name Mike Williams.
We also got a glimpse of Matt Leinart, but we already knew that he was great. The treat was getting to look in to the future of Trojan Football when John David Booty and Mark Sanchez took the field. Booty flung a few nice passes, but Sanchez, playing for the scout team, spent a good part of his day getting beat up by the defensive first team. There are no promises for the future from these guys, but things look like they could be very good.
The bad thing about a scrimmage is that it's not real. It's not a game. If I wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool Trojan, I'd have had a hard time justifying baking out in the midday sun for four hours to watch a not-a-game. It's like seeing a preview for a really cool looking movie in October and then at the end it says, "Coming Next Summer." Luckily, Trojan fans only have to wait until September 3 for the blockbuster to begin.
photo from ValleyTrojan.com