September 23, 2008

Practice Insider: Nothing wrong with Corvallis

After a failed two-point conversion in Corvallis, Ore., the Trojans walked off the field defeated for the first time in 2006 as Oregon State fans rushed the field.

Senior Fili Moala remembers. It's impossible not to.

"I remember how I felt walking off the field, having all those people run by you," Moala said.

That memory will be fresh in his mind when he hits the turf at Reser Stadium, but it won't be a dominating emotion. First and foremost, Moala and the Trojans have work to do.

"It was kind of just a crappy game. I don't look at this as a revenge game, and I don't think the team looks at it that way," Moala said. "It's just another game where we need to just perform."

USC head coach Pete Carroll had to listen to questions about how his teams have performed at Oregon State, specifically in 2006, and he's sure that the trip isn't the issue.

"It wasn't the air in Oregon. It wasn't the atmosphere. It wasn't the hills, the trees, the water or any of that stuff," Carroll said. We fumbled the ball.

"Any game, regardless if we played a home game, would go like that. It had nothing to do with anything else, and I'll never talk to these guys about it."

That doesn't mean the game hasn't come up in the days leading up to Thursday's contest.

"It's real. It happened," Carroll said. "I just don't spend a lot of time on it myself. I don't think it matters to the whole team. You can't help but make references to it, but we don't dwell on it."

Still, Patrick Turner said the past can be used to the Trojans benefit.

"We just want to go out there and play a good game, the way we know," Turner said. "You can't help but remember it though. You can use it if you were out there."

Carroll said the coaching staff believes the past is the past, and there's nothing extra worrisome about another trip to Corvallis.

"It's not the place. It's really the game and what can happen in the game," he said. "That's how we see it and that's how we talk about it.

"It's not the color of uniforms."

Turf Luck

Playing on an artificial surface at Oregon State doesn't worry Carroll. Still, though, he wanted his team ready.

USC moved its practice from the spacious grass at Howard Jones Field onto the turf inside Cromwell Field.

"Really the only thing different is that we're on turf," Carroll said. "The kickers have been working on it all week. We don't make a big deal about it at all."

Carroll said the only real area of concern about the different playing surface would be a negative effect on the Trojans' kickers.

Punter Greg Woidneck said that things, if anything, are easier off of the turf.

"I don't find much of a difference at all," Woidneck said. "It's just a cleaner surface. I prefer kicking on turf to grass. It doesn't phase me at all. We've been kicking on turf forever."

Woidneck said he and David Buehler wouldn't have to worry about unkempt grass or divots.

Extra Points

• Carroll said he wasn't concerned about the lights at Reser Stadium giving Joe McKnight another migraine headache. The lights, though, could aggravate the condition.

"I'm having trouble thinking it's the lights," Carroll said. "Once you have a migraine, the lights can be really treacherous, but that's after you have one."

• Carroll said the Trojans would miss cornerback Shareece Wright most on punt coverage, especially when it comes to containing an explosive returner like Sammie Stroughter.

Carroll called Wright the Trojans' best punt-cover man since Troy Polamalu.

Garrett Green will back up Mark Sanchez Thursday, Carroll said. Green would give the Trojans the best chance to maintain in-game performance.

"If Mark got banged up for a month or something like that, we might look at things a little differently," Carroll said.

Marc Tyler did not practice Tuesday and will not travel to Oregon State.

• The Trojans are scheduled to land late Wednesday afternoon and will go through a walkthrough at Reser Stadium shortly afterwards.

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