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NO.4 USC VS. HAWAII Today at the Coliseum, 1 p.m.,
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Carroll and Jones Know the Scheme of Things

September 13, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC Coach Pete Carroll and Hawaii Coach June Jones squared off several times from the sidelines during their years as NFL assistants and head coaches.

So mystery will be lacking when fourth-ranked USC plays host to Hawaii today at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum.

"I'm sure he's not going to be surprised by anything we do, and I kind of feel like I have a pretty good handle, as far as scheme, on what they do," said Jones, who is in his fifth season at Hawaii after NFL head-coaching stints with the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers. "But they always seemed to throw in a new wrinkle every time we played them, something that we haven't seen."

After defeating an apparently overrated Auburn team in its opener and surviving a scare against Brigham Young, USC is making no secret about its intent to establish the run against Hawaii.

The Trojans (2-0) are averaging only 97 rushing yards a game.

"This game is very important to find out where we are," said Carroll, whose team gained 71 yards rushing against BYU. "I'm really hoping we find some consistency and work the clock the way we like to. It remains to be seen if we've got that going."

USC took a 21-0 first-quarter lead against BYU before going nine consecutive possessions without a touchdown or field goal.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart passed for 235 yards and three touchdowns, but also had three passes intercepted before engineering a fourth-quarter scoring drive that he capped with an outstanding play-action fake and his second touchdown pass to receiver Mike Williams.

"We can't start fast and go through lulls in the second and third quarters," Leinart said.

Hawaii is led by junior quarterback Timmy Chang, who will be making his season debut. Chang sat out the Warriors' season-opening victory over Appalachian State as a penalty for not meeting the Western Athletic Conference's six-credit minimum last season because of an incomplete class.

Operating a run-and-shoot offense from the shotgun formation, Chang has passed for 8,615 yards in two seasons and is on pace to break Ty Detmer's NCAA career record of 15,031.

"They get rid of the ball pretty quick so there isn't a lot of time to get to him," USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson said. "We're going to have to find a way to put pressure on him."

The real pressure will be on the Trojan secondary.

"When you play a team that will throw the ball this much you're under the gun the whole time," said Carroll, who is also the Trojan defensive coordinator. "The stress level is maximized because every play could be the one play they're going up on you."

Senior Will Poole will start for USC at left cornerback in place of Kevin Arbet, who was declared out for the season this week because of a broken bone in his right foot. Junior Ronald Nunn and sophomore William Buchanon also will play.

Right cornerback Marcell Allmond and free safety Jason Leach are healthy, but freshman strong safety Darnell Bing has a high ankle sprain that could affect his mobility.

"We're going to be running a lot, trying to slow them down," Allmond said. "But this is going to be fun. Against a team like this, you get to make a lot of plays."

Hawaii had a bye last week after its 40-17 victory over Division I-AA Appalachian State on Aug. 30 in Honolulu.

Despite Chang's absence, the Warriors amassed 450 yards with quarterback Jason Whieldon, a senior from Orange who passed for 359 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start.

Jones was happy with the victory but not entirely pleased with a line that gave up three sacks.

"We didn't do a very good job of protecting our quarterback considering that Appalachian State probably didn't have one player that could play on USC's defense," Jones said. "We have a real task at hand.

"Defensively, we have some talent but we're still not assignment-perfect yet. I wish we had two or three games under our belt before entertaining this game, but we don't so we have to step up and get it done."

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