Tuesday Practice Report

The Trojans have another bye week before they face rival Notre Dame. Pete Carroll is using the extra time to give some younger players a look with the first-team. Look inside for updates on Joe McKnight, C.J. Gable and much more.

Special Teams Plays Big Role

USC's C.J. Gable was named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week after his impressive performance in the Trojans 45-23 victory over Stanford on Saturday.

Gable returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter, which tied the game up at 17-17.

While the Trojans offense sputtered in the first half, it was the play of their return men, C.J. Gable and Ronald Jonson, which kept them in the game.

"It truly was a factor and set up the first field goal and got us a touchdown, so it was a big deal in the first half," Carroll said. "Then we came right out the first play of the second half and hit another one."

Gable and Johnson combine for 230 yards on just four kickoff returns.

"This is really what I had hoped with leaving Ronald Johnson and C.J. (Gable) back there," Carroll added. "We thought we would have a good 1-2 punch back there."

Garenn Figueroa Passes Away

Garenn Figueroa, the 15-year-old-boy from Palmdale who suffered from bone cancer and whose name was inked on Mark Sanchez's eye-black earlier this season, died over the weekend.

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez commented on Garenn's passing:

"I was so, so sad to hear about Garenn's passing. My heart goes out to his family. He was such a neat kid and a real Trojan fan. It was a privilege to get to know him.

"My teammates, coach Carroll and I all cherished the opportunity we had to play a small part in his life and to help him deal with his situation. The time we had with him was as valuable to us as we hope it was for him. We talk about competing here at USC all the time and Garenn epitomized that philosophy. He competed fiercely against his disease and lived longer than many predicted he would.

"I know Garenn would want us to do what he always did, and that's live the Trojan spirit and fight on."

News and Notes

- With another bye week upon us, Pete Carroll said it gives the coaches an opportunity to feature the younger players and evaluate their progress. Carroll mentioned Curtis McNeal, Nick Perry, Khaled Holmes, Tyron Smith and Brice Butler as players that will get more work this week.

- Tailback Joe McKnight, who re-aggravated his toe late in the Stanford game, made it through practice on Tuesday. Carroll said McKnight and Blake Ayles will benefit from the week off.

- Clay Matthews didn't practice on Tuesday with what Pete Carroll called "wrestler's ear." Matthews was poked in the ear during practice last week.

- Safety Kevin Ellison could do some running at practice later this week. Ellison hopes to return for the Notre Dame game, which would be the last home game of his career.

- Quarterback Mark Sanchez praised the play of the running backs and offensive linemen for their effort against Stanford. "The running game really took off, and that shows our versatility," Sanchez said. "The running backs did very well behind some awesome blocks and we really got it going on the ground."

- While fielding questions about his play, Mark Sanchez said he has been happy with his ball security the last three weeks. "I'm playing real well in the turnover battle. The last three games, no picks," Sanchez said. "That has been a goal of mine, to eliminate interceptions for the last half of the season."

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez (Getty Images/Kevin C.Cox)

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