December 22, 2008

Practice Insider: Time is on USC's side

There's a sense running through the Trojan football team as they've prepared for Penn State.

Monday, the Trojans ran through game situations and a physical scrimmage between the team's youngest players.

All the while, regulars like Kyle Moore, Stafon Johnson and Mark Sanchez talked trash, bounced around a cheered like crazy.

USC head coach Pete Carroll said the energy permeating through his team is notable - but not all that surprising.

"They certainly have been spirited. We've had great energy," Carroll said. "That's typical for this team. They really had a good time out here."

Monday's practice at Cromwell Field was more of the same for the Trojans, as big hits and big plays had the sidelines in a frenzy.

"We always prepare hard. There are a lot of opportunities for the younger guys to show what they've got," wide receiver Patrick Turner said. "Over the years, it's been the same. There's a lot of competition."

Carroll said his approach to preparing for a bowl game has not evolved dramatically in recent years.

"In the last five or six years, we've really stayed very true to the way we do it. I think we flew into it a little those first few years," Carroll said. "The principles behind it, the way we prepare before the break, is all passed down from the way Bill Walsh had done at San Francisco in Super Bowl preparations. We've tailored what we've done from their approach."

And part of that approach includes not saturating the team with Penn State schemes and preparation for every second of every practice.

"It really comes down to us doing the little things right in the game plan to become successful," Turner said. "We're still watching film on these guys, but our focus isn't solely on them. We do in a way, but (we don't go over the deep end).

"We just really try to perfect what we do."

And that seems like the right thing to do.

Quarterback Garrett Green said the Penn State team the Trojans have seen on film might not be the same team the Trojans see on New Year's Day at the Rose Bowl.

"With this much time for them between their last game and the bowl game, they've had plenty of time to kind of add wrinkles and change their scheme some," Green said. "With that in mind, we have to prepare for everything with this much time off."

Green day

Green, in addition to being one of the most versatile Trojans on the roster, might be the best person to talk about Penn State's quarterback Daryll Clark.

Green is running the USC scout offense and mimicking Clark as closely as possible.

"Our goal as the service team offense is to give the best look," Green said. "Obviously, because they have a running quarterbacks, they have me doing a lot of the mobile stuff I used to do in high school. I think we're doing a great job.

"He's a great quarterback. He uses his feet really well, and he still delivers the ball really well."

In addition to running the scout team offense Monday, Green also recovered an onside kick as part of the Trojans' hands team.

"He's just an amazing football player," Carroll said.

Extra Points

• In the final period of practice, a number of players not expected to play in the Rose Bowl scrimmaged.

Defensive end Malik Jackson intercepted a pass, and cornerback Brian Baucham delivered a huge hit on Brandon Carswell to break up a pass.

The offense wasn't as sharp, though, turning the ball over a number of times.

"We had some problems," Carroll said, "but it was a lot of fun."

• Running back Stafon Johnson did not practice after injuring his knee Sunday after being hit by Michael Morgan.

Johnson's kneecap shifted after the hit, Carroll said.

"He's done it before, where it slides a little bit," Carroll said. "We worried about it for a second, but it's OK."

Damian Williams appears ready to return to the practice field soon.

• After practice, Trojans scattered to make flights and head home to visit family. USC will return to practice on Dec. 26.

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