Linebacker Brian Cushing suffered an ankle sprain early in the game two weeks ago against the Idaho Vandals. Since then, much attention has been placed on the availability of Cushing for the Trojans. Pete Carroll updated Cushing's status, "He did a little bit of running around today, he's going to dress up for the game, we're going to see how he does in pregame, how much he can handle."
In Cushing's absence, former walk-on Clay Matthews has played well for USC. Carroll said, "We're prepared to start Clay Matthews, he's had a great two weeks and he's ready to go. Cush might be able to come off the bench and give us a little bit."
On what situations the Trojans would utilize Cushing, Carroll continued, "We'd just like to play him. If he can run around well, then we'll play him some and see how he does. It would be nice to have him out there with us, and if he can help us, then we'll go to him."
Brown vs. Radovich?
Toward the end of fall camp, right tackle Drew Radovich suffered from back spasms and was sidelined briefly. Charles Brown has stepped up and been able to relieve Radovich. During the bye week, both Radovich and Brown have played the position. Carroll described the situation, "They've both been switching up, back and forth, I need to talk to the coaches to see who we want to start. We've just alternated them all week. They're both going play for sure, and they both will contribute."
What Stands Out About Nebraska's Defense?
Carroll had this to say about the Cornhusker defense, "Real strong up front, big and strong front four. The linebackers are strong guys, and they run well enough to give you problems when they pressure. The secondary is real fast and really athletic. It's a real solid defense, they kind of challenge you. They're not going to try and fool you a whole lot on the early downs. Then they're going to come after you on third downs. That's kind of how they've done it. They're a good base defense, and they pressure you on third down. So we have to see how we handle it."
And USC's Defense Against the 'Huskers
The priorities for the Trojan defense according to Carroll, "I want to see them play really sharp, consistent football. We have a lot that we have to adjust to in this game. This is a very complex offense. You'll see that shifting and motion all over the place. So we have to adjust very well."
He continued, "If we get in the right situations by our adjustments, then you'll get to see a good base defense to see how we do. I think if we align well and we match up well, then we'll have a chance to play really good."
Earlier this week, the Trojans suffered a blow when free safety Josh Pinkard was diagnosed with an ACL injury. Carroll addressed the situation, "Josh hasn't played two years now. He didn't play for a long time with us so, as much as I hate the fact that he's not with us, he's only played three quarters with us the last year."
Continuing, he characterized Harris' abilities, "Cary's had a great preparation for this year, he played all of last season, he's a legitimate starter and a good player for us."
Finally, Carroll said, "We don't miss him as much as the addition of what Josh would bring. So it's just an unfortunate injury situation for him. This is where we've been for the last couple of years."
On describing last year's offense to this year's Carroll iterated, "They
look very similar, they have a lot of things that they do. They can really load
it up for their running game or they can spread you out also. They've done all
of that in their game, we've seen so much of these guys in the last two years
We've watched so many games. We've seen every thing that they've done, we're real impressed with variety of things that they can do. So we have to prepare for a big game plan from them and figure out where they're zeroing in at game time. The two weeks (of practice) definitely helped us in that regard."
Chauncey Washington Revisited
Senior tailback Chauncey has worked hard to prepare for his senior season. After having a superb fall camp, Washington injured his shoulder in the team's final intra-squad scrimmage and has been sidelined since. Carroll commented, "We're playing him, he's going to play in the game. He'll be in the game in the first quarter. We'll see how he takes to the pounding and all that."
Further, said Carroll "He's had a great week of work and you know he's really physically fit. He's maintained his condition over this time. He looks great, and he's real fast so we're anxious to get him in there. I think we don't want to rely on him totally right now. We'll wait and see how he feels and get him banged up a little bit and see how he does. Maybe play him more in the second half than the first half. We'll just go with what we feel in that situation."
USC takes on Nebraska at 7:00 Central, Saturday.