Thursday Practice Report

The Trojans got ready to play the California Golden Bears with an intense practice on Thursday. SCPlaybook's Kevin Carden brings you all the news and notes from Howard Jones Field.

Butch Lewis to Start at Left Tackle

Senior left tackle Sam Baker hasn't practiced this week and is doubtful for Saturday's game against California. As a result redshirt freshman Butch Lewis will start for the Trojans at left tackle.

Charles Brown returned to practice this week and competed with Butch Lewis for the starting role. Brown will backup Lewis at left tackle.

Tailback Trio

USC tailback Stafon Johnson has been available to play the last few weeks but only in a limited role. This week in practice Johnson has look much healthier and as a result could play a much bigger role this week against California. "He just felt on Monday and Tuesday that he just had it," said Pete Carroll. "You could just tell by his energy and juice on the football field. He's better than he has been and he feels like that injury is done and behind him."

With Stafon Johnson healthy the Trojans now have a formidable trio of tailbacks to choose from this weekend. "We are going with the rotation that we have been going with. Chauncey (Washington) and Joe (McKnight), and Stafon (Johnson) is ready to go now," said Carroll.

McKnight Returning Kicks

Freshman Joe McKnight has progressed as a punt returner and will see more and more action in the coming weeks. "I think Joe's got great awareness back there and great sense and you don't have to give him much room for him to get something going," said Carroll. "So we will continue to count on him. He's the right kind of guy to have back there."

The USC coaches continue to experiment with ways to get freshman Joe McKnight more involved in the game plan. At Thursday's practice McKnight worked on returning kickoffs, rotating with Ronald Johnson. "Rojo (Ronald Johnson) goes first but he (Joe McKnight) is the second guy to go. So he is ready to go if we need him," said Carroll.

Booty Working off the Rust

USC quarterback John David Booty will be back at full strength this week against California. Booty had a good week of practice and Pete Carroll said his finger is no longer an issue.

"He's had a good week, a really good solid week. His finger looks really good now. It looks like it has quieted down. There is no inflammation in it at all like there was even last week," said Carroll. "He feels like he has left that behind him. So that should be a no-issue anyway."

The Future at Wide Receiver?

The Trojans face one of the best receiving corps in the nation this week in DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, and Robert Jordan. The Trojans defensive backs will be well prepared after facing Damian Williams and Brandon Carswell all week in practice.

Brandon Carswell and Damian Williams have shined all year on the scout team and have developed great chemistry with quarterback Mitch Mustain.

Next season, Carswell and Williams will compete for starting roles at receiver and add much needed deep threats for USC.

Practice Notes

John David Booty looked really sharp at Thursday's practice connecting with Fred Davis and Patrick Turner on several deep passes.

Kevin Ellison and Taylor Mays each intercepted passes against the scout team. Mays returned his interception for a touchdown.

Linebacker Clay Mathews had a nice pass deflection of a Mark Sanchez pass. The pass bounced ten feet in the air and was intercepted by Vincent Joseph.

Carry Harris intercepted a Pete Carroll pass during 7-on-7 drills.


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