After a short two-day break, the Trojans returned to practice Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at Howard Jones – Brian Kennedy Field. USC takes on the Arizona State Sundevils Thanksgiving Thursday, 5:00 p.m. PST on ESPN in Tempe, Arizona. After Oregon's loss on Saturday, the Trojans looks to better its chances for a Rose Bowl berth with a victory over ASU.
The team was in high gear as they prepared for the upcoming game with ASU. Defensive players were animated and played with the intensity normally reserved for Competition Tuesdays. The offense seemed to be a step behind the defense today – there appeared to be more fire on the defensive side of the ball.
Rivers took some reps during drills, but is not quite ready for full time work. He practiced with a brace around his left ankle. Regarding his return, Rivers said, "I'll see how it feels day by day, keep treating it and do the best I can with the goal of playing this weekend."
Sam Baker is making a strong push to be able to play on Thursday. Said Baker, "I was really pleased today because I was able to do a lot more than I thought I would be able to do."
Sam Baker (right) looks forward to playing against the Sundevils
Pete Carroll evaluated the progress of both players saying, "Sam (Baker) made it through service team last week and also some today so looks like he'll get a chance to play for us, we won't know till the end of the week. Keith (Rivers) is a bit more ‘iffy' right now."
Fall has finally arrived in Southern California and it was a bit nippy on the field. The sun was up when practice got underway at 4:00 p.m., but once it retreated, it got cool in a hurry. The temperature was in the high 50's, but for Los Angeles, that's quite cool. Fog rolled in to North University Park at around 5:00 p.m.
Service Team Period
Against the service team, Chauncey Washington peeled off a couple of very tough runs, he seems to be running with the same determination he has displayed the last few weeks. John David Booty was working behind a line of Sam Baker, Jeff Byers, Matt Spanos, Chilo Rachal and Drew Radovich. Washington and Joe McKnight got some good work done in this period.
The punt team continued to spend time on protection and coverage. The field goal unit was a perfect four for four including a PAT.
During the full-team part of practice, Booty was able to connect consistently with Fred Davis and Patrick Turner. Allen Bradford looked very strong and Vidal Hazelton made an impressive one-handed catch, which was called out-of-bounds.
Overall it was a nice practice, the players were upbeat, and the coaches prodded the team along. The defense put up some big hits. It seems the defense out shined the offense both in intensity and completing plays. It was nice to be back after a two-day layoff.