After having a week off to focus on schoolwork and some time to heal from a demanding 12-game schedule, the Trojans were back at Cromwell Field on Saturday preparing for an Emerald Bowl matchup with the Boston College Eagles of the ACC.
"These two days are like Spring football for us in a sense, big fundamental days just to kind of get us back into football," Pete Carroll said. "We want two good, hard days today and tomorrow to set the tempo for the rest of the preparation."
In their first practice of bowl preparations the Trojans knocked the rust off with a very physical day that included the Trojan Drill, which is a variation of the famously grueling Oklahoma Drill.
"We really just want to make sure to set the tempo and get everybody back on track," Carroll said. "We can't take a couple of days wasted trying to get us back into full-speed tempo with the short preparation.
"We want to make sure and capture them and get off to a great start."
The drill pitted three offensive linemen against three defensive linemen with a running back trying to break through the line.
The Trojan Drill was used for the first time and not only got the players in a hitting mode after having seven days off but added some fire to the rainy day of practice.
"It worked out great," Carroll said. "That was the highlight of the day. That was really fun."
For a team that was pushed around at times this season, the Trojan Drill may have also been a message from the coaches to the team about stepping up their intensity and physical play.
Decision Coming Soon for Johnson
Despite a report from NFL.com that said Stafon Johnson has decided to declare for the NFL draft, Pete Carroll said on Saturday that he doesn't believe that Trojans' tailback has come to a final decision yet.
"He hasn't decided that yet officially, as far as I know," Carroll said. "I talked to Stafon last night and he is preparing to make an announcement here in the next couple of days with his doctors and all that about what's going on."
Carroll did say that he expects a decision from Johnson about his future as early as next week.
"I don't think it will take us very long, not tomorrow, but I think early next week if not Monday or Tuesday," Carroll said.
Johnson would almost certainly receive a medical redshirt for this season due to the season-ending injuries that he suffered in a freak weightlifting accident on Sept. 28th.
In the past Carroll hasn't been shy in expressing his opinion on whether a player should stay or go, but due to the unusual circumstances, Carroll said he plans to support Johnson in whatever decision he makes.
"I am going to give him all of the information and just support him," he said. "My opinion is going to be based on what he is feeling and supporting him.
"I think wherever his heart is, where he feels best about it, I'm going to support him. I'm not going to try and talk him into anything, one way or another.
"I think this is an unusual situation that calls for maybe a little bit different thought about it."
- Senior safety Will Harris was in the hospital with an abscessed tooth. Josh Pinkard also didn't practice because he suffered a knee injury against Arizona. No word on the extent of the injury.
- Carroll said he was aware of the comments that athletic director Mike Garrett made during a recent radio interview, in which Garrett said of the season, "I don't think we had one good game."
"Mike gets to say whatever he wants. He's the athletic director. He can call it like he sees it, which he pretty much is always going to do."
"He's prepared to play if he can," Carroll said. "We will see about that when the time comes."
Will Harris missed Saturday's practice with a tooth infection.
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