The Trojans are expected to return 10 of 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball in 2009, but that number could change if any of USC's talented underclassmen decide to leave school early and enter the NFL draft.
USC tailback C.J. Gable acknowledged on Sunday that he has given some thought to the idea of leaving early.
"I was just thinking about it a couple of months ago," Gable said. "I just want to see, but I'm not really sure yet. I still have to talk to my mom."
Pete Carroll said he recommended that Gable and Stafon Johnson both get an evaluation from the NFL, but the redshirt sophomore has yet to send in any of the necessary paperwork.
Carroll plans to sit down with both players in the near future to explore their options.
"I look forward to talking to those guys soon," Carroll said.
With players possibly being reluctant to discuss leaving early with the head coach, Carroll said he often initiates the talks.
"I really don't wait," Carroll said. "I try and make it easy on them because I think they are a little uncomfortable the first time we talk about it.
"I don't want them to think that they can't talk about it. I just want to have a conversation about it and get working at the gathering of information so that we can make some sense of it."
One of the biggest challenges teams face during bowl preparations is trying to find ways to work off the rust during the extended layoff.
With 25 days between the Trojans' 28-7 victory over UCLA on Dec.6th and kickoff for the Rose Bowl Game on New Years Day, Pete Carroll has quite the challenge on his hands.
To help the players stay sharp during Rose Bowl preparations, Monday's practice will feature a mock game.
"What we are going to do tomorrow is a have a mock game situation so that we can get through all of the substitutions and game tempo and all of that," Carroll said. "We have got a lot of situations and kicking game issues to handle."
The mock game will conclude with the younger players on the roster getting extended work.
News and Notes
- Brice Butler tweaked his foot while running routes on Saturday and didn't practice today.
"I think I sprained my foot," Butler said. "I just got to see how it feels tomorrow."
- Corner back Kevin Thomas didn't practice today. After practice, Pete Carroll said Thomas was being rested because of a tight hamstring.
"His hamstring was tight, so we kept him out, Carroll said. "It was not a pull or anything."
- Safety Kevin Ellison hasn't practiced since playing in the final regular season game against UCLA. Carroll said he hopes to get Ellison back after the break.
- While it appears that Carl Smith will join the coaching staff at some point as the new quarterbacks coach, Pete Carroll said he doesn't expect anything to be finalized until after the Rose Bowl.
"We really are going to do it after the ballgame," Carroll said. "We will figure it out after the game."
- USC director of football operations Dennis Slutak has decided to join Steve Sarkisian at the University of Washington. In his new role, Slutak will be an assistant athletic director/director of football operations for the Huskies.
C.J. Gable (Paul Pinner Photo)
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