Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
As was the case on Wednesday, USC's final practice heading into Saturday's showdown at Autzen Stadium had little to do with on-field performance, and everything to do with key members of the team who sat out...
- WR Robert Woods (pictured below by John McGillen) was held out of practice again due to persisting ankle and shoulder injuries, leaving him as a game-time decision against the Ducks. "I feel good to go, but [Lane Kiffin] is the one with the final say," Woods said on his status for Saturday. "It's not my call to make, [Kiffin] is in charge of the personnel."
- Kiffin on Woods' status: "I don't know either way. I'm going to have to see speed, to see him get in and out of breaks, to see that he can play at a high level for us."
- Along with Woods, OL Aundrey Walker, OT Matt Kalil, S Demetrius Wright, DT Christian Tupou, DT DaJohn Harris and CB Torin Haris were all held out of practice or very limited on Thursday.
- LB Dion Bailey had the only interception of Thursday's practice, but the team's leading tackler (69 tackles) said Saturday night's game will be won or lost based on how well USC's defense wraps up Oregon's big play threats. "Tackling," said Bailey when asked what was the biggest key for the Trojans. "They have guys like LaMichael [James], De'Anthony [Thomas] and Kenjon [Barner] who make people miss. We have to prevent the big plays by doing a great job of tackling."
- Speaking of Thomas, the Trojans starting left guard, Marcus Martin, served as one of his primary blockers at Crenshaw HS, but he insists Saturday's game is not really a reunion. "This game is bigger than just him and I," said Martin. "I didn't give any inside information to the team this week, because for me, my focus is on trying to go up against their defensive line and linebackers. They are very fast and very quick."
- In last year's 53-32 loss to Oregon at the Coliseum, DE Devon Kennard put on a show, recording a season-high 13 tackles. "What I remember from last year is that they are relentless, because they have so many guys who can attack you with their speed and athleticism," said Kennard. "I think our team is better this year from a defensive standpoint. We are faster, stronger, more mature and just ready to handle an environment like this. It all comes down to playing assignment football and playing four quarters."
- Although USC played a complete four quarters of football in its 40-17 victory over Washington last week, the Trojans remain ranked at No. 18 in the country. Going into this weekend's battle with the No. 4 team in the land, Kiffin said he doesn't really pay attention to the voting process. "I actually didn't know how it worked until somebody told me the other day," said Kiffin. "After understanding how it works, I could really care less now. They told me we had one voter who didn't even vote for us at all. So I asked, 'Where is he from?' And go figure, he's from Memphis, TN."
- Here's the coach with more on the stadium atmosphere at Autzen, having potential rivalry games moved up to October and what it means for his team to be double-digit underdogs..