As Josh Shaw made his way out to the USC practice field on Wednesday morning, herds of reporters followed. The media was there as he emerged from the locker room, snapping pictures of him as he made his way up the ramp en route to the field.
Shaw’s physique looked like it always has; big for a corner, but chiseled and looking like he could contribute right away. However, looks don’t always translate to skill on the field and it’s been almost 11 months since the senior defensive back has played in a real, live game. USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is no stranger to this fact and didn’t offer a ton of inside to whether Shaw would play against UCLA on Saturday or not.
“It’s his first day out,” Wilcox said. “We're glad to have him back. We’ll see how it goes. He’s missed a lot of time so we’ll see. It’s just one day of practice. "There’s a lot of hypotheticals, lot of what ifs. We’ll see what happens. He practiced today, he’ll practice again tomorrow. We’ll see from there… He went through individuals, he did one on ones, he did seven ons, he practiced fine… There’s more people on the sidelines, but it’s practice… Adoree [Jackson] is our starting corner. Kevon [Seymour] is our starting corner. We’ll see where it goes from there. There’s really nothing more to talk about in terms of the depth chart.”
With Shaw or not, the Trojans will be fired up to take the field against the Bruins. Though Shaw’s situation is clouded in a mist of uncertainty, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley’s situation is not. There is no doubt the Bruins’ leader will play on Saturday, even though Justin Wilcox wishes there was.
“He’s a good football player,” Wilcox said. “He can throw the ball, he can run the ball, he makes plays with his arm and his feet so when guys can do that, they’re a challenge to defend. He’s an excellent player, makes a lot of plays in different ways. Run game, pass game, some pass game that turns into run game so we still have to cover the talented wideouts and defend their run game with their talented running backs. They’re a challenging offense and very good so I know our guys will be excited to play them.”
Many people thought entering the year that Hundley would be the do-it-all guy for the Bruins. He has been, but UCLA has also been exceptional on the ground. UCLA running back Paul Perkins has rushed for 1,169 yards this season and combines with Hundley to create a lethal duo. If USC wants any chance at the Pac-12 Championship Game, they must contain Hundley and shut down the Bruins’ rushing attack.
“You can see from the early part of the year until now, watching all of their games, the o-line is really playing well,” Wilcox said. “The running backs are physical and are talented, talented guys. When you add the quarterback run game in that and then obviously the pass game where he’ll drop back to pass, a lot of teams if something is not there, the guy will get rid of the ball, but he tucks it and makes plays and he’s a big physical guy.”
Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of USCFootball.com since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .