It was “Competition Tuesday” at Howard Jones Field, and the offense and defense were entangled in a fierce battle at the end-of-practice scrimmage.
The end result was a 8-7 victory for the offense — by all accounts a much closer score than the 47-20 loss the Trojans suffered at the hands of the Oregon Ducks on Saturday.
Don’t remind them.
“I hate losing,” freshman quarterback Matt Barkley said. “It’s really terrible to see our team go down and it kills me inside. You try your best not to show it, but from this point on we’ve moved on.”
Barkley has, at a minimum, two years left as a Trojan. USC coach Pete Carroll said after practice Tuesday that 2009 will surely serve as a learning experience for Barkley and Co.
“The experience of this season will pay off for a number of years for our guys,” Carroll said. “The challenges we’ve had, the games that we’ve played, the settings that we’ve been in — we’ll always be able to utilize that as long as these guys are here.”
On the injury front, redshirt junior running back Allen Bradford sat out of practice with a sore knee Tuesday, leaving Howard Jones Field early.
“His knee was sore coming out of the weekend,” Carroll said. “He got banged on it, and it’s still too sore to push it right now. He had X-rays over the weekend, but it’s still very sore.”
Junior running back Joe McKnight also stayed on the sidelines with a sore hamstring, which Carroll described as minor.
“We’re just making sure we don’t extend it and allow it to nag all through the week, so we’ve got to rest him for a couple days here,” he said.
If either of the two can’t suit up against Arizona State, it’s likely that redshirt junior running back C.J. Gable will pick up the carries.
Gable registered more than 100 carries during both his freshman and sophomore seasons, but has carried the ball only 16 times this season.
“C.J.’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “He’s been waiting, and he’s done a great job of being patient about it.
“He can answer that call. He’s done it for years, and I know he can now.”
Middle linebacker redshirt sophomore Chris Galippo returned to practice Tuesday showing no ill effects from a neck injury.
Carroll said Galippo was 100 percent recovered.
Arizona State freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict was a USC verbal commit for much of the recruiting process before switching to the Sun Devils on Signing Day amid concerns he wouldn’t qualify academically at USC.
Now, Burfict is the starter at middle linebacker for Arizona State and the centerpiece of a young defense.
“He’s a young guy that’s really trying to make an impression,” Carroll said. “He’s really a physical player, and he runs sideline to sideline. He’s a good-looking prospect, fantastic-looking player, and he’s only gonna get better as he grows within their system.”
Burfict was the highest-ranked high school prospect to ever sign a letter of intent with Arizona State.
“He’s a beast and he plays hard,” Barkley said. “He doesn’t stop. I’m excited to see him play. From the tape we watched, he plays like a crazy man.”