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USC REPORT

Simmons Is Hoping to Respond

September 13, 2002|Gary Klein

Bobby Otani made one tackle in five games last season as a backup linebacker and special teams player for USC.

The 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore could play a much more prominent role Saturday against Colorado if starting weakside linebacker Melvin Simmons cannot play or is slowed from the effects of an infection in his left leg.

"I just want to be ready and we'll see what happens," Otani said Thursday after working with the first-unit defense.

Simmons did not practice after being released from USC University Hospital earlier in the day but said he would be ready to play.

"You have to trust your body to know that what you have done so far has prepared you," Simmons said.

Simmons was hospitalized for two days and was treated with intravenous antibiotics for flu-like symptoms he said first appeared last weekend during the Trojans' bye week. Simmons practiced Monday and Tuesday before he had fluid drained from an infection near his left knee and was admitted to the hospital. Coach Pete Carroll said Otani and Lee Webb would play if Simmons is unable to play or tires. Carroll also said that middle linebacker Mike Pollard could play the weakside spot and freshman Oscar Lua could play in the middle.

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The Trojans spent considerable time reviewing special teams and making sure players knew their assignments.

In the second quarter of the opener against Auburn, the Trojans were penalized for having 12 men on the field on a punt return. The penalty kept alive a drive that resulted in a game-tying touchdown.

USC also was short a player on an earlier punt return.

"It was something we made a mistake on, so we really went overboard today and should be very well-situated now," Carroll said.

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Kicker David Davis said he would gauge the impact of kicking at a higher altitude when the Trojans do a walk-through today at Folsom Field.

"We won't really know until Saturday during warmups," he said. "I'll take all the extra distance I can get."

Davis kicked a career-long 47-yard field goal last season against Arizona at Tucson.

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Freshman Winston Justice will start at right tackle and redshirt junior Eric Torres will start at right guard against Colorado.... Running back Justin Fargas will suit up but is not expected to play. Fargas is still nursing a strained right hamstring.... USC won all four previous games against Colorado, the most recent a 17-14 victory at the Coliseum in 2000.... Kennedy Pola, who coaches running backs and special teams, was the running backs coach at Colorado in 1997 and 1998.... Kyle Wright, a quarterback from Danville Monte Vista High who is regarded as one of the top recruits in the nation, announced that he would attend Miami rather than USC or Tennessee.

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