-- Linebacker Justin London practiced in a red, no-hit jersey, but said after practice he was 80-90% and the ankle was much better than it had been (see his interview down below).
--‘ SC week is in full force now, notable by the throng of reporters at practice (including ESPN) and the defense's crimson red practice jerseys and helmets. Also as signs of team support both tackle Kevin Brown and receiver Junior Taylor were dressed for practice although they of course didn't participate.
Karl Dorrell's post-practice interview:
Have you seen any common denominators for USC in their tough, grind them out wins this season?
"Their tough denominators in winning tough games are first their experience and their confidence and their ability. They are ae you seen any common denominators for USC in their tough, grind them out wins this season?talented football team and they believe in each other and have a tremendous amount of confidence and they believe they can win in any circumstance. The quarterback is proven, he's done it for awhile now. They have some great personnel offensively and they've done some great things to stop on defense when an opposing offense has been trying to make some plays. It's a number of things, some great intangibles that their team possesses and that's why they are the No. 1 team in the country."
How was your first day back?
"It was good, it was a good practice today, very spirited. A lot of good hard work, it was kind of a workman's attitude out there today, getting the base of our game plan installed today. So it was some good work. They had some time off so I'm sure they are happy to be back and are excited about this week. So it's a good first Monday with a few more practices to go to get ourselves in the shape we needed to."
How much do you think that from your first year to now the talent gap moved?
"Well, we'll see. That's what it is, we'll see."
But you've seen their tapes all season, you know what type of talent they have.
"Yeah, but you still have to go out there and compete to see what they have. I have no conclusions on that right now, you'll have to ask me that next week. But I believe our team has gotten better, our team is learning how to compete and they were able to win some very competitive, pressure-oriented games this year and this will be a great test for us. We are optimistic and confident we can over come and that's one thing that our team is excited for, so I am anxious to watch this game unfold."
How big is having Justin London back in the lineup, even at 80-90%?
"We'll see about that too. He practiced today and he was excited as you saw. He was in ra ed jersey but he's still flying around hitting people. You can tell he's had some time off. You can tell he's excited about playing and getting himself back in the fold. He looked pretty good today. We wanted to limit his reps today but we'll increase them as the week goes on. I know he's anxious to play, so it's a good thing."
Talk about being named the Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year today with Pete Carroll?
"Well, I appreciate the recognition from my peers. I'm excited about and appreciate the recognition from them and that's flattering on my part. But that other guy that's Co-Coach of the Year, he's pretty special in what he's done. He's won 33-plus games and taken everyone's best shot and has still overcome and been victorious and won a couple of National Championships and is still building a great program over there. But for me to be a Co- with him is an honor for me but I think he's the one who has been really special."
Given the year that quarterback Drew Olson has had and what he's done, do you think he should have been first team?
"Drew had a tremendous year, and I mentioned that in our press conference. He's very appreciative of all the accomplishments he's earned and all the recognition he's earned over the course of the season. Things like that, you have two really good quarterbacks, well really three really good quarterbacks in the conference. He was up against the Heisman trophy winner and he's got the recognition. Drew came from really no one's chart to being second team All Pac-10, and that's a great accomplishment on his part and he's was close to being as good as anybody in this conference. So I'm sure he's excited about the accolades he's gotten this season and he wants to finish up his career on a positive note and that's probably the most important thing for him right now."
Do you believe any of the other guys should have gotten first team? There was only one guy who did?
"Well, (running back) Maurice Drew was specialist first team and (tight end) Marcedes Lewis. This is a good conference, very competitive guys. The running back that had the most yards in this conference, I mean he's a pretty good player. He's proven it and with their win-loss record and with his production week in and week out how do you argue against that?"
"My ankle feels much better. I'm healthy, I'm healthy to get out here and run around. I felt good today running around. I started my conditioning -- as far as grass work -- last week at home and got a lot of good work in with some of the old fellows, you know got back there to the old high school times. It feels really good, I'm confident in it, we're just going to keep building on it as the week goes on and won't feel anything come Saturday."
It probably killed you to sit out a couple of games?
"Yeah, probably the part that killed me the most was that it was the one game we lost and I don't know how other people deal with that but it was tough on me and it was tough to watch. Now I feel like I really owe these guys and I'm looking forward to getting there and playing my tail off for my teammates and making up for my absence."
What do you say the percentage is strength wise?
"It could be 80%, sometimes it feels 80 sometimes it feels 90. Its one of those things, its definitely feeling much better than it was and we're still getting better. It felt even better today than it did when I first started working out on it and I did a lot more than I did when I was at home. That's a good sign. We're going to go take care of it some more now and get ready to come back for another day of work."
Does it loosen up after you do things?
"Definitely, it actually stays pretty loose now, it really has come a long way.
You ready for the game?
"Yes, sir. They're going to have to pull me."
What does this game mean to you?
"It means everything. I mean we still haven't beaten those guys yet and this is my last opportunity to get out there and get the W against these Trojans to end their streak. They have a long win streak against us and its been incorporated into my entire time here. So I'm looking forward to getting the W for my teammates and for us seniors that want to go out on top, so it means a lot."