Ask Everson Griffen about 2008 and you'll get a surprising response.
"I've moved past it, I'm way past it. I'm not even worried about that."
Griffen spent most of last season in the doghouse. In 2009, however, the junior defensive end is the lead dog in USC's deep pack of linemen.
After recording just 4.5 sacks all last season, working mostly as a reserve behind Clay Matthews, Griffen has four through five games.
"That's a good number for him this early in the year and he's been active and close to some other ones," coach Pete Carroll said. "He's been very aggressive, can continue to improve but has big upside as well. He's really taken a big step forward."
Much of the credit has been attributed to new defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, back with the Trojans after a three-year stint in the NFL.
"You've got to get guys believing in themselves, believing in their ability," Franklin said. "He's fast and explosive, but has to be that way all the time. He's starting to come around and starting to believe that.
"He wants to learn and really wants to do well. As long as he has those traits, the sky is the limit for him."
Franklin has also overseen a group that has seen plenty of contributions from unexpected places, most notably freshman reserve Nick Perry, who leads the team and conference with six sacks.
"It's probably the most we've rotated guys, a more active rotation than in years past," Carroll said. "Without having real incumbent guys in every spot, it's giving a lot of opportunities. Jethro is doing a real good job, but we continue to stay open minded about changes and guys elevating as we go through the season. It's cool a lot of guys are taking advantage of that. It should help us going forward."
"We've got everything – speed, power, smarts," Griffen said.
Six Trojan linemen have a sack, 10 have accounted for a tackle for loss this season, all without projected starting end Armond Armstead.
Armstead, who suffered a broken foot in fall camp, did some individual work Thursday and is expected to be available next Saturday at Notre Dame.
"Let's get him into the fold, take it one step at a time from there," said Franklin, who added Armstead brings "a big physical presence" on the outside.
Stafon Johnson update
Ten days removed from throat surgery, doctors are pleased with how senior running back Stafon Johnson is responding.
"He got marvelous results," Carroll said. "The doctors are beside themselves with the results they got, seeing everything they worked on looking great at this point. This is a really big day for him."
Johnson had his feeding tube removed and is up and about, according to Carroll, but is still several weeks away from attempting to speak.
-Carroll on Joe McKnight's workload: "There's no question Joe is an every down back in our system. As far as the future, the more you can do the better."
-Carroll on Allen Bradford: "He's really getting going. He's a young running back, but has certainly elevated himself and found a role. We love the way he runs with a downhill attack and he's been very consistent. It's taken him a while, but this is the best we've seen of him."
-Flournoy caught a long touchdown from Mitch Mustain at the end of practice. Bradford bounced off the pile and reversed direction for a 35-yard touchdown run. Joe McKnight and D.J. Shoemate each had impressive catches, with McKnight pulling in a tipped Matt Barkley screen pass with one hand.
-San Diego Chargers safety Kevin Ellison attended practice.
-The Trojans practice tomorrow morning at 6:45 a.m., allowing coaches to go out recruiting Friday night.
Armond Armstead did some individual drills on Thursday.