Monday Practice Report

The UCLA defense that drew the praise of Pete Carroll because of their playmaking ability, currently leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 20.6 points per game, and is coming off a 23-13 victory over Arizona State in which they forced six turnovers.

Williams Uncertain

The Trojans could be without their top wide receiver this week when they face the UCLA Bruins.

Damian Williams was held out of practice once again on Monday because of a sprained ankle that he suffered in USC's 14-9 win against Arizona State earlier this month.

The junior wide receiver was scheduled to do some running today and as he explained it turned out to be more jogging than running.

"I wouldn't call it running. I jogged a little bit," Williams said. "They just wanted to see if I could move around a little bit. I did some agilities and stuff like that."

Williams said his injured ankle has benefitted greatly from having the week off and a weekend of limited movement.

"It feels a lot better than last week," he said. "I think just having the week off, and then this weekend of just rest and not having to walk around."

His weekend consisted of lounging on the couch watching football on television and stretching during the commercial breaks.

"I watched football all day, iced it and did some stretches," he said. "That was it."

While he still has a lot of progress to make, Williams remains optimistic about his chances to play Saturday.

"Right now, the way I am progressing, I have a good shot at playing this weekend," he said.

Pete Carroll shared Williams' optimism adding: "I think he's the kind of guy that will find a way. He did it with a hamstring strain a couple of weeks back that he shouldn't have been able to play and he just figured out how to do it.

"It takes experience and a little wherewithal to realize that you don't have to be 100 percent to play, and Damian is little bit like that. Whether he makes it this week I don't know, but he is going to try, and he is going to try in a way that he'll find out a way to adapt to what he's got."

Carroll Impressed by UCLA's Defense

The UCLA bruins come into Saturday's rivalry game at the Coliseum with a three-game winning streak and playing their best football of the season.

"They are playing good, consistent football and they are playing off of their defense. Their defense is a good solid team, been able to turn the football over," Carroll said. "If you look at their scores, they have kept scores down all year long with a couple of exceptions."

The Bruin defense that drew the praise of Carroll because of their playmaking ability, currently leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 20.6 points per game, and is coming off a 23-13 victory over Arizona State in which they forced six turnovers.

"They have just been very solid and a very active football team," Carroll said. "The guys on defense get around and chase the ball well and they have made a lot of big plays. They have a lot of interceptions, particularly with Rahim's season, that has helped a bunch."

Sophomore safety Rahim Moore currently leads the country with 9 interceptions this season and Alterraun Verner returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown last week against the Sun Devils.

Hot Reads

- Damian Williams, David Ausberry, Blake Ayles and Brian Baucham were among the players that didn't participate in Monday's practice.

- Defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) and wide receiver Brice Butler (back) both returned to practice on Monday. Carroll said that Griffen is full go.

- Freshman Devon Kennard has impressed the coaches with his play at strong-side linebacker and will remain at that spot this week. Kennard gives the undersized linebacker corps some much needed physicality and Carroll even compared him to former USC linebacker Brian Cushing.

"We are excited about what he adds. He kind of took over the practice today. He's such a hardnosed football player and he is a load too playing the spot, he's much bigger, he's like Cush," Carroll said. "A good 255 is what he weighs and it makes a difference. He has been obviously effective at this spot in such short time."

- One of the main benefits of a bye week is the extra time to game plan for your next opponent, and Carroll said that the USC coaches have already looked at a good deal of UCLA film in preparing for Saturday's rivalry game.

"We get a little bonus Monday going on here. In bye weeks, when we return, we do extra stuff on this Monday to start the process of the game plan," Carroll said. "We are deeply into it. We started last week so we are well into and we are way ahead of where we normally are on this day planning-wise."

- With a weekend of much needed rest, several of the players and coaches commented that Monday's practice had a faster tempo. Carroll said he noticed the quarterbacks had more zip on their passes.

"You could see in the quarterbacks' arms, in particular, they got a couple days off and not much work on Friday, so they got three good days where they are not throwing a whole lot," Carroll said. "I thought you could see a little pace to the football."

Freshman Devon Kennard will remain at SAM linebacker this week. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)

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