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College Football / Week 4 | NOTES

Morton Injured but Gets Strong Support

September 27, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — USC tailback Chad Morton walked gingerly off the field after his strained back was aggravated on his seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

"I think somebody put a helmet on my back or something," said Morton, who was handed medication as he sat against his stall in the locker room. "I've got to get a lot of treatment and get ready to practice for the Arizona State game."

Morton ran for more than 100 yards in each of his last two games, but was held to 64 yards in 15 carries against Florida State, including a 21-yard run.

Freshman Frank Strong stepped in and carried six times for 82 yards--including the 73-yard run that set up Morton's touchdown--but he also fumbled twice.

"We didn't want to take any chances [with Morton] so we let Frank play and Jabari Jackson," USC Coach Paul Hackett said.

He liked what he saw from Strong--except for the fumbles.

"Frank has to hold on to the ball," Hackett said.

Strong wasn't highly touted coming out of Stockton's Franklin High, but he has outshined sprinter Sultan McCullough from Pasadena Muir High, who is now expected to redshirt.

Morton is far and away USC's best running back, and Hackett was concerned about him reaggravating the back strain he suffered two weeks ago lifting weights. Morton practiced lightly that week and didn't start against Oregon State but ran for more than 100 yards.

"It feels like when it first got hurt. I've just got to treat it," Morton said.

*

The two-game series between USC and Florida State ended Saturday, but the schools plan to discuss another home-and-home series, USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett said--though it probably wouldn't be until the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

"I would love to play them again," Garrett said.

*

Normally, USC defensive back Daylon McCutcheon uses his speed to close in on receivers before the ball arrives. When McCutcheon tried to close on Florida State's Peter Warrick, he had too much ground to cover. Because there's speed, and then there's Warrick's speed.

Warrick caught six passes for 112 yards, including a five-yard touchdown reception against McCutcheon.

"He's a good receiver," McCutcheon said. "He came up with the plays that we knew he was capable of. He's that type of receiver that's always a deep threat. Maybe you play a little more off him. He's able to catch the short stuff and turn it into big plays."

Which is what he did against Ken Haslip. He broke a Haslip tackle to turn a simple catch into a 41-yard gain.

*

R. Jay Soward was held to 50 total yards--a far cry from his 256-yard performance against San Diego State.

"Our containment of Soward was a shock," Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden said. "If you saw him in the films the last two weeks, you wouldn't predict it. Our defense did a great job."

*

USC receiver Billy Miller's streak of 14 consecutive games with at least one reception was halted. . . . The Trojans weren't the only team with penalty problems. Florida State was penalized 11 times for 96 yards. . . . Despite the rain and a hurricane watch or warning on parts of the Florida coast, the crowd of 79,815 was the eighth largest in Doak Campbell Stadium history.

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