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USC NOTES

It's Oregon or Bust for MacKenzie

October 25, 2002|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Only one current USC player knows the joy that comes from defeating Oregon.

Fullback Malaefou MacKenzie, a sixth-year senior, was a true freshman playing for Coach John Robinson in 1997 when he started at tailback in the Trojans' 24-22 victory at the Coliseum. USC has since lost four consecutive games against the Ducks.

"I just remember it was great feeling to win -- and I can't believe I'm the only one," said MacKenzie, who was granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA because of injuries and the death of his father. "I guess we'll have to change that on Saturday."

Though he is the longest tenured player in USC's program, MacKenzie will play at Autzen Stadium for the first time on Saturday when the 15th-ranked Trojans play No. 14 Oregon.

MacKenzie missed the 1998 and 1999 games at Oregon because of injuries. He played against the Ducks in 2000 at the Coliseum, but missed last season's game at Oregon while attending his father's funeral.

"Everyone tells me it's pure pandemonium, like Kansas State, but 10 times louder. That's awesome. When you make a play you can silence their crowd," he said.

MacKenzie began the season in a rotation at tailback with Sultan McCullough and Justin Fargas. With McCullough emerging as the primary ballcarrier, MacKenzie started at fullback last week against Washington. He has rushed for 102 yards, caught 21 passes for 250 yards and scored three touchdowns this season.

"Wherever they need me is fine," he said.

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Receiver D. Hale said he is ready to play despite practicing only two days since breaking a bone in his left ankle during training camp.

Hale took repetitions with the offense and spent extra time catching and returning punts.

"I'm a little out of shape, but I'm not out there huffing and puffing," Hale said. "My speed is coming back. I feel real fluid and mobile."

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Freshman offensive lineman Fred Matua did not practice and, as was expected when he had knee surgery earlier this month, will probably redshirt.... Kicker David Davis, who was bothered Wednesday by pain in his right non-kicking foot, was not scheduled to travel to Oregon. That, however, could change today depending on the condition of receiver Sandy Fletcher, who re-injured his sprained left ankle in practice.... Offensive tackle Jacob Rogers (bruised knee) practiced and will probably start against Oregon.... Wide receiver Kareem Kelly did not practice but will play Saturday. Kelly and Oregon receiver Keenan Howry have caught passes in 42 games in a row. Each needs one catch Saturday for a Pacific 10 Conference reception record.... Sophomore defensive tackle Shaun Cody had knee surgery.

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