The Fighting Irish may be limping into the Coliseum following Saturday's stunning upset loss at the hands of the Syracuse Orange, but the Trojans are rested and ready to go, after a rare three-day break.
With the end of the season in sight and the player's legs getting heavier with each passing practice, Pete Carroll decided to give the Trojans some needed time for rest and relaxation.
"Coach was great about giving us those days to see our families and relax before we get into the final push," Mark Sanchez said. "Right now, I think we are more than ready to go."
Sanchez took the opportunity to share a quiet weekend with friends and family.
"It felt good just to go home and get away from school a while, see some of my old buddies and really just hang out at the house and relax," said Sanchez.
While Sanchez got a break from playing football, he couldn't completely escape the game he loves.
"It was fun to watch other teams play," Sanchez said. "I watched the Oklahoma game and watched Syracuse."
So what did he think of Notre Dame's dismal performance?
"That was probably what other teams were thinking when they saw us play Oregon State," Sanchez said. "We weren't on our game, and they obviously weren't either. Syracuse put up a fight and it went down to the wire.
"It's tough on your senior night, to lose like that, but these guys can get it going again for us. We will be ready for their best."
Sanchez and the Trojans were back at Howard Jones Field on Monday working off the rust before Saturday's rivalry game against Notre Dame.
"You do get a little rusty real quick, but I think we shook that off today," Sanchez said. "I felt good today. I felt like I was on target with the wideouts."
After practice, Pete Carroll said he was pleased with how the players responded from the time off.
"Everybody feels good. Their legs are fresh and everybody is strong," Carroll said. "Just in general they feel good, we are pretty healthy and pretty strong right now.
"Hopefully we can parlay that into a good performance."
News and Notes
• Defensive tackle Armond Armstead didn't practice on Monday and was wearing a soft cast.
• Safety Taylor Mays was named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the top defensive back in college football.
"He's had a terrific season," Carroll said of the junior safety. "I don't know anything about the other guys, but he has made spectacular plays on a really excellent defense.
"There can't be many guys a whole lot better than him."
• Linebacker Rey Maualuga is one of three finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award. The Bednarik Award is given to the best defensive player in college football.
• Kevin Ellison didn't take part in any drills on Monday, but was on the field for the walk-thru. Ellison plans to test his knee at Tuesday's practice.
"Aaron had a really good week last week," Carroll said. "It was fun to watch him keep battling. They had a lot of turns and he made a statement."
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