Senior Oscar Lua will start at middle linebacker ahead of sophomore Rey Maualuga against Arkansas. Pete Carroll said it was a “toss up” but Lua’s experience gave him the edge. “If it’s a toss up, you go that way,” Carroll said.
Sophomore Troy Van Blarcom also gets the nod over sophomore David Buehler on kickoffs. Van Blarcom gets the first kick, but if he struggles, Buehler will replace him.
It’s hot here, but so far at least, none of the dreaded humidity that was expected. The first thing that strikes you on this trip is how spread out everything is despite the rural locale. The airport is “in the middle of nowhere” as a girl who lived here all of her 20 years told me. The hotel is about 25 minutes from the airport and the University of Arkansas is another 20-30 minutes south in Fayetteville. No, we are not staying in Fayetteville.
The season-opener is almost here, but Wednesday night two USC students approached a football player at Heritage Hall (of all places) and asked the following question: “Have you guys started practicing yet?”
Cornerback Kevin Thomas will start against Arkansas ahead of Cary Harris, despite missing nine days of training camp with an arm injury.
“They told me I’m going to start but all three of us will play,” Thomas said. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”
It also means USC’s starting corners for Arkansas will be Thomas and (Terrell) Thomas.
Freshman tailback Emmanuel Moody said he got off to an extremely rough start in training camp because of fumbling. Moody said he realized he was in the doghouse one day because of fumbles.
“That was one of the most stressful days of my life,” Moody said. “I just realized I had to follow the No. 1 rule, `protect the football.’ I had to focus. It happened in one day.
“I changed the way I focused. I decided to focus on one thing at a time and fumbling is on my mind constantly.”
Moody not stopped fumbling in camp, he gained 128 yards and scored two TDs in nine carries on August 17.
“I felt like that was the climax for me,” Moody said. “I had to have a big night. I knew that going in.”
Tailback Michael Coleman will redshirt because of problems recovering from two hip operations. It’s a good decision for Coleman, who did not redshirt last season and played sparingly with 20 carries. Coleman also fractured his hand this week.
A healthy Coleman is something USC has not really seen since he arrived and injured his hip in spring practice after graduating early from high school.
Wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett’s missed a good portion of training camp with a bruised thigh, sat out nearly all the scrimmages and even missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore throat. In the past, Jarrett’s experienced quiet training camps and then quickly emerged when as the season started.
But Jarrett also had the luxury of catching passes from Matt Leinart the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see if a similar pattern emerges this week, since he and John David Booty probably still could use some work to get their timing down.