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USC REPORT

Smith Gets the Job He Wanted

August 17, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Freshman Steve Smith came to training camp intent on filling the No. 3 receiver slot for a pass-catching corps led by senior Keary Colbert and sophomore Mike Williams.

Smith made his case throughout the first two weeks of training camp with precise routes, sure hands and almost daily highlight-type plays.

After a scrimmage on Saturday, Coach Pete Carroll acknowledged Smith's effort by naming him the third receiver.

"I have no question that he's the No. 3 guy," Carroll said. "There is no doubt."

Smith caught six passes for 61 yards during the 75-play scrimmage.

Colbert had eight receptions for 108 yards with two touchdowns. Williams did not play because of a sore knee.

"All that summer work and everything paid off," Smith said. "I know there are lot of other guys trying to get that spot still, so it's time to keep working hard, keep learning things and keep everything going forward."

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Citing improved accuracy on field-goal attempts and distance on kickoffs, Carroll said junior Ryan Killeen would be the kicker when the Trojans open the season Aug. 30 at Auburn.

Killeen, who kicked a 37-yard field goal Saturday, overcame a challenge from walk-on Mario Danelo, who made a 23-yard attempt.

"[Killeen] is starting to nail all his kicks so I feel confident about him going into the first game kicking for us, and we'll just take it from there," Carroll said.

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Freshman tailback Reggie Bush had a rough day, fumbling twice and drawing a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after losing a ball near the goal line.

"It's all kind of like a blessing in disguise because I'm going to learn from it," said Bush, who gained 31 yards in eight carries.

"I'd rather have it happen now than in a game."

So would Carroll.

"I love his competitiveness -- he just went about it the wrong way and got a big penalty," Carroll said. "It was a great teachable moment for us as a team."

Bush still has plenty of confidence in his ability as a breakaway threat.

"I feel like I'm a home run hitter," he said. "I'm going to have singles, but there [are] going to be home runs and when I hit them they are going to be big."

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USC is ranked eighth in the Associated Press poll, its highest preseason ranking since it opened the 1996 season No. 7.

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Quarterback Matt Leinart completed 16 of 22 passes for 168 yards with three touchdowns. In two scrimmages, working mainly against reserves, he is 27 for 37 for 358 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.... Senior Lenny Vandermade, the starting left guard, worked at center for much of the day to spell freshman Ryan Kalil. Carroll said starting center Norm Katnik (knee) would be back in a day or two, but starting left tackle Jacob Rogers (foot) would not resume practice until the week of the opener.... Weakside linebacker Melvin Simmons (hip soreness) was the only starting defensive player who did not participate.

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