Practice Report: Woods still not 100 percent

Even as he deals with lingering ankle injury, sophomore Robert Woods is on pace to shatter school and conference receiving records.

LOS ANGELES – It wasn't supposed to take that long.

That was wide receiver Robert Woods' assessment of the final play of regulation in USC's 56-48 triple overtime loss to Stanford.

"We knew we had a time out," Woods said. "I didn't think the play was going to take nine seconds in the long run, but it did hurt us in the end."

The Trojans ran a screen pass for the sophomore in an attempt to gain enough yards to attempt a game-winning field goal, but Cardinal linebacker Chase Thomas forced Woods to cut back across the field.

"The only thing on my mind was, ‘Get out of bounds, get out of bounds.' I thought I made it," Woods said. "It should have went up field, but (Thomas) was right there and that changed everything."

It might not have come down to that play if not for some uncharacteristic mistakes by Woods earlier in the game, who arguably turned in his worst performance of the season despite catching nine passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.

He dropped a ball from quarterback Matt Barkley on the opening drive, a post pattern that might have gone for a touchdown, and struggled against extremely physical coverage by the Stanford secondary, bolstered by a missed pass interference in the end zone.

Still, Woods has 81 receptions for 991 yards and nine touchdowns through eight games, putting him on pace to shatter a number of school and conference records. More impressively, he has done it despite a lingering ankle injury that dates back to the day before the spring game.

"He's flashed at times early in the year," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. "But still, for whatever reason, that ankle just won't get right. There's some days it's really bad, as you can see out here, and some days it just hampers him a little bit. Unfortunately, he just can't get back."

Kiffin pointed to the difference between an 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Arizona and a 61-yard reception at Stanford last season.

"You can still see a limp in his spring there," he said.

For his part, Woods said he feels "close enough" to 100 percent.

"I mean I'm right there," he said. "It's like game day, I'm right there and I feel good. That's what matters to me, game day."

Bailey Back
Linebacker Dion Bailey returned to practice Wednesday, but still has not been cleared for contact.

"They gave me the OK to run around," Bailey said. "But I'm still not cleared to play on Friday. I'm just going day by day, getting better every day and just waiting to listen to what the doctors tell me."

Bailey, a redshirt freshman who leads the team in tackles with 67, suffered a concussion in the second overtime. His head started ringing in the second quarter after hitting a Cardinal running back, a collision so violent it broke the chip strap on his helmet.

"I just kept trying to play through it for the rest of the game," Bailey said. "Then we ended up going into overtime, and then another overtime. Just more and more opportunities to get worse."

Bailey finished with 13 tackles.

Tre Madden, a freshman from Mission Viejo (Calif.), would replace Bailey in the starting lineup against Colorado.

Madden has played in eight games this season as a core special teams players and backup linebacker with eight tackles and one tackle for loss.

Bailey believes the 6-foot, 220-pound Madden will be able to replace him effectively if not cleared in time.

"Tre's an athlete," Bailey said. "He played a lot of (positions) in high school. He's a fast kid. He's smart. He catches on to things well.

"I just told him this week, just prepare like I'm not going to play. Don't prepare like you're a backup; prepare like you're going to start on Friday."

McNeal To Start
After totaling 346 yards rushing and three touchdowns in his last three games, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that running back Curtis McNeal would start against Colorado, whether or not redshirt senior Marc Tyler (ankle) plays.

Kiffin confirmed it, saying, "Curtis will start regardless.

"I do hope that Marc plays," Kiffin added. "As of right now, he's scheduled to go on the trip. We'll continue to test him, starting with tomorrow morning again."

Freshman George Farmer (ankle) again missed practice and is unlikely to play.

Quick Hits
-Fullback Rhett Ellison and left tackle Matt Kalil returned to practice.

-Quarterback Jesse Scroggins saw an increase in reps in practice this week and could see action if needed, Kiffin said.


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