Tuesday Practice: Back on the Road

The USC Trojans certainly won't be mistaken for an SEC team as they head back out on the road for the sixth time this season for Saturday's matchup with the Arizona State Sun Devils. Look inside to see why taking the tough road will be a valuable experience for the Trojans.

On the Road Again

The USC Trojans certainly aren't going to be mistaken for an SEC team as they head back out on the road for the sixth time this season for Saturday's matchup with the Arizona State Sun Devils.

In the first nine games of the year, the Trojans have spent six on the road, playing at some of the toughest stadiums in all of college football, including Ohio Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, and Autzen Stadium.

"There is never going to be a more challenging road season than we have had," Carroll said.

While the Trojans have suffered two road losses this season, Carroll said the experience is valuable for the younger players and will benefit the team in the years to come.

"I think the experience of this season will pay off for a number of years for our guys," he said. "I think the challenges that we have had, the games that we have played, we'll always be able to utilize this as long as these guys are here."

One player in particular that has benefitted from the experience is freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, who has been thrust onto the national stage in a number of USC's road game this season, and has responded very well.

"It has been huge in just preparing me for what it is like on the road, especially in some of the biggest environments that this country has to offer," Barkley said. "It just made me realize what type of football is out there and how crazy fans can be. Not everyone is Trojans fan."

The first-year signal caller has gained valuable playing time on the road and proven that he has the poise and leadership skills to lead the Trojans to victory in Columbus, Berkeley and South Bend.

"For Barkley, he knows that there is no situation that he can go in that can be such that it affects his ability to perform," Carroll said. "These were enormous opportunities for him to grow and he has."

O'Dowd Showing Improvement

After entering the season as an All-American candidate it was quite a surprise when center Kristofer O'Dowd was taken out of the starting lineup prior to the Oregon State game and replaced by sixth-year senior Jeff Byers.

It wasn't simply a case of O'Dowd underperforming this season but more about being limited by his knee and shoulder that had been previously injured.

"He was in the midst of coming back, and the pounding and the buildup he got worn down," Carroll said. "It was obvious and that is why we pulled him out of there.

"We piled it on him and he was willing to stay in there and keep battling, but we had such a good alternative with Jeff and Butch going in, that I thought it was the right thing to do for the long haul for Kris and I think it helped us."

After Tuesday's practice, Carroll said that he has already seen improvement by O'Dowd.

"I think he is looking stronger and he needed a break," Carroll said.

Doctors Visit

Below is a complete injury breakdown after the players met with team doctors on Tuesday night:

Malcolm Smith - Out for ASU game
David Ausberry - Out for ASU game
Drew McAllister - Out for ASU game
Jarvis Jones – Questionable
Anthony McCoy – Questionable
Nick Perry – Questionable
Joe McKnight - Expected to play
Everson Griffen - Expected to play
Allen Bradford - Expected to play
Damian Williams - Expected to play
Stanley Havili - Expected to play
Armond Armstead - Expected to play
Chris Galippo - Expected to play

Hot Reads

- Malcolm Smith (shoulder), Anthony McCoy (ankle), Damian Williams (glute) Jarvis Jones (neck), Armond Armstead (wrist), Everson Griffen (toe), Allen Bradford (knee), Nick Perry (shoulder), David Ausberry (calf), and Drew McAllister (hip) were among the players that didn't participate in practice on Tuesday.

- Tailback Allen Bradford was sidelined with a sore knee that got banged up against Oregon, but is expected to play this Saturday.

"His knee was sore coming out of the weekend," Carroll said. "He got banged on it and it's still too sore to push it right now. He got x-rays over the weekend and it was fine but it's still very sore."

- Tailback Joe McKnight was also limited on Tuesday with a sore hamstring and Carroll said they will rest him for a "couple of days."

- On a positive note, Chris Galippo and Ronald Johnson both returned to practice on Tuesday and will play this weekend against the Sun Devils.

- Many in the national media have questioned just how good USC is after their 27-point loss against the Oregon Ducks, but Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson still thinks very highly of the Trojans and is expecting to get USC's best shot this weekend.

"[They'll be] scary. Those things happen and they're still a great football team and a great program," Erickson said. "They'll come in here and play their best game. Pete will have them ready to go. They react pretty well when they get beat."

- While the defense has received the majority of the blame for Saturday's loss, and rightfully so, freshman quarterback Matt Barkley said the offense, which scored just 3 points in the second half, deserves a share of the criticism.

"We just kind of got out of our groove and didn't have a rhythm going, have a flow. We didn't control the ball," Barkley said. "People could say that they scored as many points as they did, and it was our defense, but in reality we weren't controlling the ball, which gave them the opportunity to control the ball."

- USC senior safety Taylor Mays was named a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist on Tuesday. Mays is one of 12 players to make the list that also includes Tennessee's Eric Berry and Alterraun Verner from UCLA. The Thorpe Award is given annually to the nation's best college defensive back.

- One familiar face on the other side of the ball this week will be Arizona State freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who originally committed to USC last year before switching his commitment to the Sun Devils.

"He's a young guy that is really trying to make an impression. He's really a physical player and he runs sideline to sideline," Carroll said. "He's a good looking prospect, boy he's a fantastic looking player. He's just going to get better and better as he grows with their system."

- To give you an idea of just how thin the Trojans are this week, ineligible cornerback Shareece Wright spent time today as the scout team tailback.

- Former USC linebacker Chris Claiborne and former tight end Alex Holmes both stopped by Howard Jones field to watch practice.

Linebacker Malcolm Smith will miss the ASU game with a shoulder injury.

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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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