The bye week has given the banged up Trojans a chance to heal up and get healthy just in time for an important showdown with the rival UCLA Bruins, and has also provided several of the younger and backup players an opportunity to get more reps with the first-team, and make a case for more playing time.
This week, wide receiver Jordan Cameron appears to be the player that benefitted the most from receiving extra reps, and could be a factor in the offense next Saturday against the Bruins.
"How about Jordan Cameron today,?" Pete Carroll said after Friday's practice, in which the junior wideout pulled in a number of impressive catches, including a leaping touchdown reception on a Matt Barkley pass. "That's a great example of what we hope to have happen in a week like this, that guys take advantage of it, seize the opportunity to help their cause, and help us get better as well."
Cameron's strong performance this morning capped off one of his most productive weeks since transferring to USC in the fall of 2008.
"Jordan Cameron was the player of the week and he's got to play because of it," Carroll said. "We are going to let him play in the football game and get him a lot more reps because he just deserves it."
With David Ausberry sidelined with two fractures in his tibia, Cameron's emergence gives the Trojans' a big, athletic receiver that has the frame and athleticism to be a weapon on third downs and in the red zone.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior has had many impressive practices in the past and has looked like a player capable of making an impact, but as Carroll explained, he has been held back by his inexperience and inconsistent play.
"He has always had ability but he hasn't known what he was doing so he has made mistakes," Carroll said. "When things change or you have to adjust, he hasn't been that adaptable because he doesn't have the background. He has played very, very little football. It's just taking him longer to get comfortable."
After his strong showing this week, Carroll said he will no longer hesitate to call on Cameron during games.
"This week in particular, because of the numbers he just got so many reps at things that it just showed up, the consistency and doing the things that he did this week will show up in the game," Carroll said. "I don't have any question in my mind about that.
"We got to get him out there now."
- Carroll said he expects defensive end Everson Griffen to return to practice when the Trojans begin preparing for UCLA on Monday.
"I thought the two freshmen safeties that got a lot of work really advanced themselves and gave us confidence in them," Carroll said.
- Center Kristofer O'Dowd continues to make progress and looks the healthiest that he has been this season.
"He's better. He's been physically better. He's been the best that he has been, probably all year," Carroll said. "He needed a break to get his body back going and he's had a much better week. He has been quicker and stronger. He was too banged up to be at his best."
"I think he's just battling. He went against the first defense the whole time," Carroll said. "I think he's working really hard to get stuff done."
- With a weekend off, Pete Carroll said it is important that the players stay focused on the game ahead and not cause any distractions by getting into trouble.
"I don't want any distractions or guys getting in trouble or doing something crazy," Carroll said. "It's about keeping them in touch with what's at hand.
"We want to bounce back with a great week of work. We are going to take a really big step and get a heckuva preparation put together so we can go win this week."
Jordan Cameron had his most productive week of practice.
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