Tuesday Practice Report

The USC Trojans got some much-needed positive news on the injury front Tuesday night. Defensive end Everson Griffen, tight end Anthony McCoy and linebacker Malcolm Smith met with team doctors and were cleared to return to practice. Look inside for all the news, notes and quotes from Tuesday's practice.

McCoy, Griffen and Smith Cleared to Practice

The USC Trojans got some much-needed positive news on the injury front Tuesday night.

Defensive end Everson Griffen, tight end Anthony McCoy and linebacker Malcolm Smith met with team doctors and were cleared to return to practice.

All three players participated in some non-contact drills during Tuesday's practice.

Along with the trio of Trojans that were cleared for practice, junior fullback Stanley Havili continues to make progress and is expected to start this week when the Trojans face Stanford in a critical Pac-10 matchup at the Coliseum.

"Stanley should start this week. We're planning on him being full-go," Carroll said. "We're expecting Stanley to play in full-time duties this week."

Havili's return to the starting lineup will provide a big boost to USC's offense that has struggled to sustain drives the last two weeks and has put up just 10 points in their last six quarters of play.

There has been a noticeable drop off at both the tight end and fullback spots in the absence of Havili and McCoy, and freshman quarterback Matt Barkley has clearly missed having two of his most productive offensive weapons available.

"I hope that Anthony (McCoy) plays this week because he is a big force. I said after the Notre Dame game how great he is and how great he can stretch the field," Barkley said after practice. "I think Anthony will be able to play this week."

All three players still need to make it through practice without any setbacks in order to play against Stanford but Tuesday's news makes it more likely that they will be available.

Hot Reads

- Damian Williams, David Ausberry, Curtis McNeal, Jarvis Jones and Averell Spicer were among the players that didn't participate in Tuesday's practice.

- Freshman linebacker Jarvis Jones is expected to miss the Stanford game with a sprained neck, Carroll said.

- Damian Williams, Curtis McNeal, Averell Spicer and Drew McAllister met with the team doctors Tuesday night and are considered day-to-day.

- After facing their share of small, shifty backs in the last few weeks, the Trojans will have their hands full with the Pac-10's most physical runner, Toby Gerhart. The Trojans have turned to freshman fullback Simione Vehikite to simulate the bruising back on the scout team.

"He's 230 pounds, so he gives us a good look at it," Carroll said. "You can't get it exactly right but he is running hard and tough and we are working on our tackling and doing the things that you got to do to get prepared."

Carroll compared Gerhart to former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.

"He would be like playing the Bus (Jerome Bettis) the old days at Pittsburgh where you just knew you had a big war daddy coming back there at you down after down after down," Carroll said. "There is a certain style to his running and all that and certain things you want to do to try to defend against that.

"He looks faster than the Bus, and the Bus doesn't want to hear that, but yeah. It's that kind of style draws your focus because of the way of his running and the things that happens when he runs knocking piles forward, and running over guys."

- If Damian Williams is unable to play this week, Joe McKnight would take his place as the starting punt returner against Stanford, Carroll said.

"Joe is a terrific open field guy and he's worked really hard at all of his situational catches and all the things you have to deal with back there, Carroll said. "He's ready to go."

- Matt Barkley's struggles the past two games have been well documented but Pete Carroll has been impressed with how his young quarterback has bounced back this week in practice.

"He had a game that he didn't like. He has jumped right back at it. He has a lot of energy and is firing the ball around," Carroll said. "I think he is equipped at putting it behind him. He's had to bounce back before and I think he is clearly into it, focused and energized the way you like to see him."


Freshman linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck) will miss Saturday's game.


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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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