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O/NSO: Fourth of July weekend explosion edition

The Obvious: On Thursday, the nation celebrated our independence from England with a July 4th with family barbeques, block party picnics, and city firework celebrations at home, in a stadium, or at the beach.

The Not So Obvious: So speaking of fireworks and explosions, it got the O/NSO to thinking about the explosive plays we’ve seen in our 50-plus season of watching USC football. Certainly, there are many, but for the sake of our memory, here a few of mine with a little help of some video to see the cardinal and gold “fireworks,” which are not only some great individual performances but team moments that were “Piccolo Pete’s” in their own right.

The Obvious: When you talk about explosive USC football offensive fireworks, no question you have to include “Jaguar” Jon Arnett, a 1955 running back, who would have been sensational in John McKay’s I-Formation or any era.

The Not So Obvious: Step away from the fuse because some Jaguar Jon video highlights are about to explode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P0Vo-MQJXw  

Jaguar Jon Arnett was one of the USC’s most explosive running backs, and he could shake and bake with the best

 The Obvious: Okay, you’ve also seen this O.J. Simpson 80-yard TD run in a losing effort against Ohio State in the 1969 Rose Bowl, but the O/NSO just can’t have a USC football “fireworks show” without again enjoying this brilliantly executed run.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e25kfgmKV48

There was no greater combination of size, speed, and moves than tailback OJ SImpson. A true fireworks show.

The Obvious: Is there anything more obvious than putting Reggie Bush right up there with O.J. Simpson when it comes to explosive plays? So, relax and enjoy some of Bush’s best fireworks moments wearing cardinal and gold.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGTydDSrw68 

When you talk about about the most explosive running back in USC history, Reggie Bush is right at the top

The Obvious: Like the O/NSO said, this column is a piece that not only recognizes individual explosive plays but team and game fireworks, too. The 2005 USC win at Notre Dame was a $100.00 box of pyrotechnics in South Bend, so don’t get too close or you might get burned like the Irish.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mo7940H72o  

The beginning of the legendary “Bush Push” was a firework’s display that Notre Dame fans will never forget.

The Obvious: You can bet the Irish didn’t like that last video, but how can you have some pigskin fireworks without having Trojans’ legendary tailback and kickoff returner Anthony Davis as a central figure.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iceQZSOGH-8

Trojans’ Hall of Fame coach John McKay saw big fireworks in a small package when he started tailback Anthony Davis.

The Obvious: Talk about fireworks, if you’ve forgotten wide receiver and punt returner Curtis Conway, you haven’t bought a big enough set of cardinal and gold fireworks. In this Pac-12 Network piece in which Conway does punt return analyzations, fast-forward to the 2:43 part of the piece and watch Curtis describe his punt return as a Trojan.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmRA7mz6-Yc

Adoree’ Jackson (left) and Curtis Conway (right) discuss the art of returning explosive kickoffs and punts.

The Obvious: When it comes to explosive rivalries, few match USC/UCLA. There have been so many gridiron fireworks that have come from this crosstown series. Watch this video, narrated by WeAreSC friend Pete Arbogast,and pay close attention to the 1969 game both with the winning touchdown by Trojans’ receiver Sam Dickerson, but the incredible “hit” delivered by Trojans’ All-America defensive end and Wild Bunch homie Charlie Weaver on UCLA quarterback Dennis Dummit, whichranks as one of the legendary tackles in the history of the rivalry.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEsXiytR_D8

Charlie Weaver (second from far right) was part of the original 1969 Wild Bunch defensive line. The Wild Bunch was so big that they had their picture taken in appreciation of the movie of the same name.

The Obvious: In 1969, the Trojans were known as the Cardiac Kids for their many late wins that drained all USC fans during that season. However, one particular game against the hated Stanford Cardinal had some explosive happenings that ended in one of the great field goal efforts by a multi-positioned athlete named Ron Ayala.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUbL-nVNfY0

Ron Ayala will always be remembered for his 1969 Coliseum field goal to beat Stanford as time ran out. Ron was like that little Piccolo Pete that folks love in their fireworks box. Just 5-9, Ayala was certainly explosive when it was time to deliver.

The Obvious: Our nation has seen many social changes along the way, and no college football game did as much for not only the game itself but the country as a whole. One can say when legendary USC coach John McKay took his team down to face Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide in the segregated South in 1970, it turned out to be not only social change in the region, but it also completely changed SEC recruiting. Oh yeah, and some USC super fullback named Sam “Bam” Cunningham helped change the attitude of football in the South, no doubt. Here is a short documentary on how that explosive evening came about.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnOpZvEulvY 

The fans in Alabama will always remember the name Sam “Bam” Cunningham for the explosions he had as a running back against their beloved Tide, which opened a lot of Southern eyes to the greatness of Afro-American athletes and changed SEC recruiting forever.

The Obvious: When the O/NSO thinks about fireworks on the field, it’s not hard to remember what Adoree’ Jackson did to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2016. Oh, you kind of remember? Well, you can bet the Irish and their fans haven’t forgotten. Take a look.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB4dkqFQmfM

Adoree’ Jackson was the whole fireworks package against Notre Dame in the Coliseum, which conjured up horrible Irish memories of Anthony Davis.

The Obvious: One of the greatest players of all-time and one of the game’s most violent but play-fair competitors was Trojans’ defensive back Ronnie Lott. Ronnie is on everybody’s All-Century team albeit college or the NFL. Here is a little reminder of his fireworks both on and off the field.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnOrbMKytrc

Ronnie Lott’s hitting was Fourth of July explosive, so much that this Trojan legend make the Pac-12 All-Century team.

The Obvious: Was there anybody more explosive as a quarterback than the Trojans’ Sam Darnold? He could make it happen when there was nothing there to happen. Ask the Texas Longhorns in 2017 all about Darnold – who showed he could come back from a big touchdown interception – and rebound with his explosive ability. And then there was also the explosiveness of tailback Ronald Jones lll, a native Texan, and the explosive placekicker leg of Chase McGrath.

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x377EyNlWaw

If you could interview a human firework, Trojans QB Sam Darnold would be your man.

The Obvious: And finally, how could we pay homage to some of the most exciting and explosive moments in USC football history without reliving Sam Darnold’s performance in the 2017 Rose Bowl game against a tough foe in Penn State? So light up the skies in Pasadena, Sam, and give an encore of July 4th football fireworks.   

The Not So Obvious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qAQk18DL5E  

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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