Some bounce in their legs and some rust in their game is the best way to describe the Trojans' return to the practice field Saturday after six days off since the Washington State win.
And no more bounce than that in the legs of super-soph Su'a Cravens, who when last seen in Pullman was using crutches to help him get off the field at the end of the game after suffering what would turn out to be a sprained knee.
But you would have never known that by watching him full-speed in full pads with no limitations Saturday. "You guys saw Su'a," Steve Sarkisian said. Indeed. Saw him looking like nothing had happened.
Actually an MRI happened Sunday and lots of rehab since. But the knowledge that there was no serious damage and the chance to come back and go against another high-powered offense in Cal Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN) at the Coliseum was all Su'a needed to get himself back, Sark said.
Leonard Williams was as active and unlimited as he's been for a full-pads practice all year. In fact, he'd used the off time to get rejuvenated, Sark said, and charge his battery. "He took advantage of the down time," Sark said, something he thought all the USC players did. "Leonard is just an indication of that."
Don't call Cal WSU2
It's easy to think of Cal as following in the footsteps of pass-happy Washington State in back-to-back challenges for the USC defense. After all, WSU's Conner Halliday was the nation's No. 1 passer and now Cal's Jared Goff is No. 2. But it's not that simple, Sark said.
"Cal is much more commited to running the football," Sark said, "with a much more balanced offense than Washington State . . . you can't stay back in Cover 2, you have to come up and make plays . . . they do a really good job changing their plays . . . you load the box and they'll make you pay."
And they've got "more explosive players," at wide receiver and running back than Wasihngton State has, Sark said. This will not be easy.
Having Cravens and McQuay and a recharged Williams on defense won't hurt.
Shaw situation still 'not on Sark's desk'
Not much has changed -- at least from USC's official take on the Josh Shaw return possibility. "I still don't have any news," Sark said after practice. "It's not on my desk."
Where exactly is it, Sark was asked of the senior defensive back's now nine-game, nearly three month suspension after an off-campus incident at his apartment and a made-up story about saving his nephew to cover up his sprained ankles from jumping off a balcony. No charges were ever filed but for some reason, the LAPD has yet to close the investigation.
"I wish I could give you more," Sark said, clearly unwilling to give us anything even though it's understood there will be a meeting Monday between Shaw and the LAPD that could possibly resolve this, allowing the Shaw situation finally to get to Sark's desk.
Ajene Harris and Soma Vainuku may not be all the way back but Soma looks closer and Ajene seemed like he was really close the way USC was using the freshman wide receiver . . . but Sark said he'd like to wait until Sunday to say for sure that Ajene is back all the way . . . USC will go in pads again Sunday causing Sark to say with the back-to-back pads days, it's "like we stole a day" on what would normally be a no-practice Monday . . . USC will be back in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts Monday, in helmets and shorts Tuesday with a walktrhough Wednesday . . . Sark said the reason he's coaching college football is that he's "one of the biggest college football fans" and he was keeping up, at least right after practice, with the Notre Dame-ASU score and would have the TV in his office turned to the UCLA-Washington game first and then the Utah-Oregon game . . . but not to handicap what USC must do in the race for the Pac-12 South . . . he says that's far more going to be determined by what USC does on and off the practice field . . . no sign of J.R. Tavai here so it doesn't look like this week will see him return.
For a wrapup of Saturday's practice, check out SATURDAY CAL WEEK GHOST NOTES.You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.