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Center Katnik Says He's Ready to Play

November 29, 2002|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC center Norm Katnik on Thursday pronounced himself fit to play against seventh-ranked Notre Dame after participating in contact drills for the first time this week.

Katnik, a junior who has started every game this season, suffered a high ankle sprain during the fourth quarter against UCLA on Saturday. He did not practice Monday and only performed agility drills Tuesday and Wednesday while senior Derek Graf worked with the first-team offense.

Katnik alternated with Graf on Thursday during a one-hour workout.

"There is a little hurt in there, but with two days to go before game time, I'll get a couple more treatments in and I should be feeling good," Katnik said. "I never really lost much flexibility. It just felt a little weak when I pushed off on it."

USC Coach Pete Carroll said the starter would not be determined until game time.

"We have to get through warmups and see how it works out," Carroll said. "Derek had a real good week so we feel comfortable with him playing. If between the two of them we can roll through, we'll be fine."


Wide receiver D. Hale is eager to catch a pass after making a key block that helped flanker Keary Colbert score on a 34-yard reverse against UCLA.

Hale was sidelined for most of the season after breaking a bone in his left ankle during training camp. He played for the first time Nov. 9 against Stanford.

"I just have to work myself back in wherever they allow me to," said Hale, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship last spring. "There is always a play to be made whether it's blocking, catching a pass or returning a kick.

"It just felt good to contribute."


Practice was closed, but the sideline at Howard Jones Field was filled with more family members than usual because of the Thanksgiving holiday and Notre Dame game.

Freshman wide receiver Mike Williams, from Tampa, Fla., and freshman tight end Dominique Byrd, from Minneapolis, were among the out-of-state players with relatives in town.

"It's nice because I haven't seen my Mom since our first game against Auburn," Byrd said.


Carroll said he was pleased with the Trojans' concentration this week. The team will have a walk-through today. "We really put together the week we needed. Now it's go clean up a couple things and go play," Carroll said.... Freshman offensive lineman Fred Matua was not at practice because of an illness in his family.... Notre Dame arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

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