As the bodies heal, the focus shifts to Arizona.
- Ronald Johnson returned to practice and looked good, but he had a disconcerting wrap around his hamstring. RoJo and Robert Woods are expected to be good to go for Saturday. Lane Kiffin commented again that he could feel a difference in the offense without the threat of Woods against ASU.
- Kiffin has not named a starting running back for Saturday. He is waiting to see how Marc Tyler progresses, which leads me to believe that he is the favorite. Allen Bradford seems to be stuck in no man's land. "It's been tough for him," Kiffin said about Bradford. "He's battled through some injuries and he's not had much success as of late in the limited carries that he's had and he's put the ball on the ground."
- Kiffin was extremely complimentary of Juron Criner, Arizona's best receiver. "He's just special with the ball in his hands," Kiffin praised. "He's just one of those NFL-type guys, who gets the ball in his hands and is dangerous with it." Criner has been banged up, so the Trojans might catch a break there.
- Freshman corner Nickell Robey was the target of much early criticism this season from the media and fans, but Kiffin is happy with his recent play. "He's settled down," Kiffin said. "As a true freshman, we probably tried to do too much with him initially. We've rotated him in over the last five games, so he's not out there every play and I think he's done really well."
- Yesterday, we ran a great photo spread of Shane and Wes Horton with their father Michael, who was "Gemini" on the original American Gladiators. "I remember running around and it just being really loud," said Shane Horton, who is two years older than his brother. "When the show was over, I would go on the last event and play on all the mats."
- Horton did not know at the time that most babysitters are not named "Nitro" and "Malibu." "Those guys were rough man. They were big old dudes and they were always roughhousing. I got good memories with those guys."
- USC's defense has struggled tackling this season, but Horton always stands out as the exception from the linebacking corps. "I have good experience with it playing safety. You have to make more open field tackles," Horton explained. "Some dudes are fast, some dudes can jump high, I feel like one of my good attributes is tackling."
- Monte Kiffin was one of the first defensive minds to emphasize speed over size at linebacker and Pete Carroll borrowed that philosophy when he converted Trojan great Matt Grootegoed from a safety into a backer. He did the same thing with Horton. "The first thing I thought of when Coach Carroll moved me down was, 'Man, I don't think I'm big enough for this.'" Kiffin and Joe Barry have given him examples of undersized linebackers like Bucs' legend Derrick Brooks. "Coach Monte is the guy I want to do it under; he's the guy that knows it."
- As we mentioned yesterday, Joe Houston is laboring again. "100% mental," he said of his struggles.
- Houston feels a little snake-bitten by some good kicks that have missed by the narrowest margins. "If you were to watch all my kicks throughout the season, the total feet that I have missed by has to be one of the best in the country," said the bewildered kicker. "It's hard to swallow, but I've got to live with it."
- The Trojans schedule is not going to let up anytime soon, so Houston will likely be back in the cauldron. "We're going to be in some ball games this year and it's going to come down to me again," he said. "You've just got to be mentally tough and I am willing for the challenge."
- Here is Lane Kiffin on the coldest night yet...