Damian Williams has been the Trojans most consistent offensive performer this season, pulling in 45 receptions for 688 yards and 5 touchdowns, including a 75-yard catch and run that proved to be the difference in USC's 14-9 victory against Arizona State.
"He is an unusual open field runner that does marvelous things with the ball in his hands after he catches it, and we have seen tons of illustrations of that," Carroll said. "He also is a very tough competitor and he comes through.
"He has been having a great season and making things happen and doing some special stuff. He's made some very, very big plays with the ball in his hands."
Shortly after Williams' spectacular touchdown against the Sun Devils, he had his ankle rolled up on while blocking down the field, which resulted in a high-ankle sprain that may keep him from playing this week against Stanford.
"When I got up I tried to walk and there was just like a burning in my leg," Williams said. "I tried to re-gather myself and get up again and it wasn't happening, so I just kind of hopped off."
High-ankle sprains generally sideline players for at least a couple of weeks, but Williams says he plans to do everything he can to get back on the field.
"I am going to rehab as much as I can, and do whatever they ask me to do, and then hopefully I can come back and play," Williams said.
The talented junior did acknowledge that he may not be able to return this week.
"It has been tough the last two days just trying to walk and I kind of figured out that there is a possibility that I might not play," Williams said. "That is really tough for me, I love being out there with the fellas and being able to help the team."
If Williams is unable to play the Trojans will not only be without their top playmaker but also one of their fiercest competitors.
"He makes tough plays, tough catches and finds a way to make the play that is necessary," Carroll said. "He is a very, very good football player, really savvy and is very comfortable in clutch and tough situations."
McCoy Getting Closer
The USC Trojans have been without tight end Anthony McCoy the past two weeks, and his absence has been very noticeable, as the offense has struggled to sustain drives and hasn't got much production from the tight end spot.
"He was such a big factor and we have not been able to convert as much as we like to the tight end," Carroll said. "The guys are trying to get their jobs done, and are working hard at it, but he was really play making. "
McCoy had emerged as one of Matt Barkley's favorite targets and the young quarterback has undoubtedly missed his veteran tight end.
Barkley has also seen at least two big gains erased by drops by McCoy's replacements.
"It has been hard on the quarterback because he was such a factor and we are going without that right now," Carroll said. "We haven't gone to the tight ends a lot but we have missed some chances."
McCoy participated in some individual drills during Monday's practice and also tested his ankle by doing some jumping.
"They wanted to just test him today. He was able to jump on that ankle and do a lot of things now, so he is getting close," Carroll said. "They did not want him to practice today but they wanted to check him out. I don't have the report on but it looked like he did pretty well."
After practice, McCoy said that while he is still experiencing some pain he could play this Saturday in USC's critical Pac-10 matchup against Stanford.
"I still have a little spikey pain in the front of my ankle and a little in the back but it's just a little bit," McCoy said. "By the end of this week I think most of that will be died down."
With USC's offense struggling to gain yards Saturday night against the Sun Devils, it was safety Will Harris that supplied the points for USC in the first half.
The senior safety intercepted a Danny Sullivan pass in the closing minutes of the second quarter and returned the pick 55 yards for a touchdown to give USC a 7-3 lead.
Harris highlighted the Trojans defensive effort that caused four turnovers and held the Sun Devils to just 9 points.
On Monday, Harris was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the week after recording 5 tackles, 2 two interceptions and a touchdown.
"It was just a blessing," Harris said of the honor. "Hard work pays off."
- Damian Williams (ankle), David Ausberry (strained calf), Chris Galippo (bruised knee), Curtis McNeal (toe), Brandon Carswell (toe), Drew McAllister (hip), Zack Heberer (back) and Jarvis Jones (neck) were among the players that didn't participate in practice on Monday.
- Middle linebacker Chris Galippo didn't practice because of a bruised knee that he suffered after banging knees with an ASU player. Galippo said he plans to practice on Tuesday.
"He's just got a bruised knee and he feels like he is going to be fine," Carroll said. "He's sore but he should be OK."
- Defensive end Everson Griffen did some limited work in practice today and said he plans to play this Saturday.
- Tailback Curtis McNeal missed practice after injuring his toe on a kickoff return Saturday night. His status is uncertain at this time.
"I have no clue yet," McNeal said when asked if he would practice this week. "I am in a lot of pain right now but I will keep going to treatment and see what happens."
"Shane had a really good football game and he is really emerging as an excellent player for us," Carroll said.
- Carroll said that the offensive struggles are due in large part to their inability to convert third down opportunities.
"The biggest issue is third down. When you miss your third downs you go sit down instead if getting a whole other set of plays," Carroll said. "Unless you are converting and moving the sticks you don't get to feel rhythm."
- The USC defense regained some confidence Saturday night, just in time for a key matchup with Stanford, a team that is averaging 34 points per game behind the power running of Toby Gerhart, and has racked up 1,562 yards of total offense the last three weeks.
"Knowing the games that are coming up and the way that the schedule is going to go here, we have got to play good solid run defense," Carroll said.
Chris Galippo (bruised knee) plans to return to practice on Tuesday. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
*Discuss more on the SCPlaybook.com message boards
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org