Some USC coaches are saying that sophomore defensive tackle Matt Keneley is the team's most improved returning player.
A soft spot on last year's 8-5 Trojan team was its defensive line, which was often unable to stop rushers. Six teams rushed for 200 or more yards against USC last season, including Notre Dame for 305.
"He's had a great camp," offensive line coach Mike Barry said of Keneley, who started nine games at defensive tackle or nose guard last season.
Said Keneley: "I wasn't happy with how I played last year. I sat down after school was out last May and asked myself what kind of player I wanted to be. If I continued the way I was going, I'd be an average player, maybe start some games. I decided I wanted to be a dominant Pac-10 player."
Keneley, from Mission Viejo High, worked this summer with a running coach, Jim Walsh, and increased his upper body, shoulder and arm strength.
He is 6-5 1/2 and 280 pounds, and has increased his bench press from 330 to 350 pounds. He said his 40-yard sprint time is down from 5.0 to 4.8 seconds.
Wide receiver Ed Hervey took part in Monday's limited practice despite a bruised shoulder. Coach John Robinson said he has a chance to play Saturday against Washington at the Coliseum.
Center Robert Loya (foot) worked out for the first time in two weeks; tailback Leonard Green (hamstring) also practiced, but tight end Jeff Diltz (knee) and linebacker Gerald Caruthers (foot) did not.
Ten preseason publications have USC ranked in the top 20. The range: Fifth to 20th. . . . In their last 33 meetings since 1960, the USC-Washington winner has advanced to the Rose Bowl 23 times, 15 by USC. . . . Robinson is 40-6-1 as a coach in Coliseum college games. . . . Washington has 36 California players, USC two from Washington.
Center Jeremy Hogue was involved in a serious accident while driving from his parents' home in Oklahoma City to Los Angeles last June.
"It was midnight, and I had the cruise control on when all of a sudden there was a dead elk on the road," he said.
"I couldn't avoid it. The car hit the elk, flew up in the air, flipped twice and I ended up upside down, hanging by my seatbelt.
"I (got) a small cut on my head. It was a miracle I wasn't seriously injured or killed."