Trojans’ squad nearing full strength
A fully healthy football team is practically an oxymoron, but it is close to being a reality for the No. 18 Trojans.
USC coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday that just about everyone on USC’s roster could be available for Saturday’s game against Pac-12 foe Washington.
“Everybody did a lot of stuff today outside of [senior defensive tackle] DaJohn Harris,” Kiffin said. “[Redshirt sophomore cornerback] Torin Harris was even able to do some things today. We have the anticipation that everybody could be playing Saturday, which is obviously good for us.”
The younger Harris, who is one of two USC starting cornerbacks, has not played since he injured a nerve in his shoulder on Sept. 24 in a loss to Arizona State.
Junior tailback Curtis McNeal is set to make another start for USC on Saturday, but the team will continue to use the other tailbacks at its disposal. Despite missing the Trojans’ last game at Colorado on Friday, senior tailback Marc Tyler is expected to factor into the rotation, as well as freshman Amir Carlisle, who nabbed his first touchdown of his career against the Buffaloes.
“Most likely, Curtis [McNeal] will start, and we’ll look for [Tyler] to play as well,” Kiffin said.
After a game without its starting safeties, the Trojans anticipate the return of starting junior Jawanza Starling and junior T.J. McDonald.
“Prior to injury, Jawanza [Starling] was paying very well, playing some of his best ball since he’s been here,” Kiffin said. “And then T.J. [McDonald has] been playing at a really high level. We’ve been playing Drew [McAllister] the last few weeks anyway, so we’ll continue to make sure to get him in the game.”
Sophomore cornerback Nickell Robey has come on strong with his play recently, and was noticeably energetic in practice this week. But Kiffin insists this is Robey’s normal work ethic.
“That’s who he is since the first day I ever met him when he came onto our campus at Tennessee,” Kiffin said. “[He was] first in every line, first in every drill, wanted extra work, was staying after with [associate head coach Monte Kiffin] getting work in between sessions at camp. He’s so dedicated to being great.”
Saturday’s game might be even bigger for Robey. This weekend would have been the birthday of his mother, who passed away shortly after Robey committed to USC in February 2010.
“A bunch of his family will be out here to celebrate [his mother’s birthday],” Kiffin said. “It’s even more special for him this week, and he wants to make some big plays.”