Monday Practice: Secondary Shakeup

The USC secondary, which is considered the best in the country by many, took a major hit on Monday with the news that starting cornerback Shareece Wright was ruled academically ineligible.

Wright Ruled Ineligible

The USC secondary, which is considered the best in the country by many, took a major hit on Monday with the news that starting cornerback Shareece Wright was ruled academically ineligible.

Pete Carroll learned of the news after Monday's practice.

"Shareece didn't get it done," Carroll said in a release on the school's website. "He didn't get the GPA he needed to get."

Wright's academic status has been in question throughout fall camp and he also missed time with a nagging knee injury.

The junior from Colton was held out of Saturday's scrimmage because of the knee injury, and the Trojans had already begun preparing for the possibility of not having him in the lineup.

"We have to move on right now and get ready. I felt like that really late last week," Carroll said when discussing the possibility of playing without Wright. "That's why we made the move with Josh and got him back at corner, to give him time to get ready and to get focused on it.

"At this point it's not going to affect our game plan."

Wright was slated to return as the starter at cornerback, after taking a medical redshirt in 2008 when he suffered a hairline fracture in his neck prior to the Oregon State game.

With Wright out for the 2009 season, Sixth-year senior Josh Pinkard will move back to cornerback and Will Harris will start alongside Taylor Mays at safety.

"Playing safety was a good option for him, and he liked it, but he knows he can play corner for us and that we would love him at that spot," Carroll said of Pinkard.

Pinkard started 11 games at cornerback last season, taking over the starting spot when Wright was injured, and recorded 39 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles and an interception.

"He's such a versatile football player that we do utilize him in a lot of unique ways," Carroll said. "He's 215 pounds. That's about as big of a cornerback as you're going to find anywhere.

"He can do things a lot of corners can't do…He's in there where he can blitz and cover the slot and do a lot of cool stuff in there."

Pinkard returned for his sixth-year at USC in part to showcase his versatility by playing safety, which would increase his stock for the NFL draft.

"I think if he had his way, he would like to play all of the time at safety but more important he wants to play all of the time," Carroll said. "In the rotation with the other guys he wasn't going to get to play all of the time because of Will and Taylor playing at the spot and he knew that going in.

"As it turned out Will has had a great camp and has played like a starter all throughout the camp, so in a sense it has worked out for those guys. They both have a chance to be full-time players."

Hot Reads

- USC center Kristofer O'Dowd did some work on the side during practice but won't be available this week. O'Dowd said after practice that he expects to return for the Ohio State game.

"It still needs a little bit more time just to get ready and be the best that I can for Ohio State," O'Dowd said.

- T.J. McDonald was back at practice on Monday and defensive lineman Averell Spicer participated in a limited basis as well. Offensive lineman Nick Howell also participated in practice and is optimistic that he can play this Saturday against San Jose State.

"I think I am going to be able to play this week against San Jose State," Howell said.

- Return Game: Pete Carroll announced after practice that C.J. Gable and Curtis McNeal will return kicks. Damian Williams will be the starting punt returner and Joe McKnight will be his backup.

- Carroll also announced that Billy O'Malley is the Trojans' starting punter.

"We're pretty well squared away in that Billy O'Malley is going to do the punting. Jake's (Harfman) going to do the kickoff work, and Jordan (Congdon) is going to do the placekicking," Carroll said. "Jake will be available for us if we want to try any long-distance kicking."

- The starting offensive line consisted of: Charles Brown (LT), Butch Lewis (LG), Jeff Byers (C), Alex Parsons (RG), Tyron Smith (RT)

- Now that it's game week, the Trojans' have really started to focus on the game plan for San Jose State, which should be much easier than having to remember every single play in the playbook like during fall camp.

"I am anxious to see as we pare down and we zero in, how it works out. Particularly for Matt (Barkley) and the offense as they can really focus in on what is really specific to the plan. That's designed to help us execute and to know where we are going and play fast.

"It's a little different mode for us right now, so it's nice to kick into that."

- Film Review: Carroll praised the play Devon Kennard, Allen Bradford and Blake Ayles after reviewing the tape of Saturday's scrimmage.

"Devon Kennard had a really good day. Devon Kennard jumped out. He had about four or five highlight plays. We're trying to figure out how to get him on the field more. He really played well. In coverage, he tipped an interception. He had a couple of really good plays in the line of scrimmage. He had a big hit on Damian on a catch that he made down the field. He's a really good football player, and we're really fired up about him.

"Allen Bradford played really well. I thought Blake Ayles looked the best he's looked in a long time. He looked like he's fully back."


USC wide receiver Damian Williams will be the Trojans' starting punt returner.

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com



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