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ORANGE BOWL * USC vs. IOWA | ORANGE BOWL REPORT

Final Practice Windy Situation

January 01, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

DAVIE, Fla. — USC turned on the lights, and Mother Nature provided the wind Tuesday night as the Trojans went through their final workout before the Orange Bowl.

Fifth-ranked USC, which had been practicing in the morning since arriving from Los Angeles last week, switched to evening for its last practice before Thursday night's game against third-ranked Iowa at Pro Player Stadium.

Scattered showers and gusty winds are forecast for today with a chance of showers Thursday.

"This is a real classic kind of wind for down here," USC Coach Pete Carroll said after his team left the field. "We went in both directions to give quarterbacks a chance to see it and we threw a lot of deep balls to make sure receivers had a chance to see how the ball moves.

"The only other thing we could have done is turn on the sprinklers. Other than that we pretty much covered it."

USC quarterback Carson Palmer said adverse conditions could alter the passing game, but not enough to keep the Trojans from running their offense effectively.

"We know how to make adjustments," Palmer said. "I don't think it will cause any major problems."

USC will have a walk through and visit Pro Player Stadium today.

Carroll said he was pleased with the Trojans' preparation.

"Everything looked just right," he said. "We finished up on a good high note. I can't wait for game time now."

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Iowa running back Fred Russell, averaging 121.9 rushing yards a game, is listed at 5 feet 8 and 177 pounds.

Russell runs behind one of the tallest offensive lines, but USC defensive end Omar Nazel said the Trojans will track him down and leave an impression.

"He's going to be hard to find. But when we do, hopefully he realizes that we found him," Nazel said.

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USC will try to salvage a poor bowl season for the Pacific 10 Conference, which is 1-4 so far.

"We've got to hold up our end," Carroll said.

UCLA defeated New Mexico, 27-13, in the Las Vegas Bowl. But Oregon State lost to Pittsburgh, 38-13, in the Insight Bowl; Arizona State lost to Kansas State, 34-27, in the Holiday Bowl; Oregon lost to Wake Forest, 38-17, in the Seattle Bowl; and Washington lost to Purdue, 34-24, in the Sun Bowl.

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Carroll said Norm Katnik will start at center. Derek Graf started against Notre Dame after Katnik suffered a high ankle sprain against UCLA. The players alternated during the Notre Dame game and had been sharing repetitions with the first-unit offense during bowl preparations.... Carroll said freshman tight end Dominique Byrd took advantage of the month-long bowl practice opportunity, "to the point where he is a regular player for us.".... After practice, USC players participated in a pep rally with the Trojan band, cheerleaders and fans around the pool at the team hotel.

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The Iowa players were asked if they had heard of "Huggy Bear," the television character on "Starsky and Hutch" played by Antonio Fargas, father of USC running back Justin Fargas.

"Yogi Bear?" asked guard Eric Steinbach. "Sure, I've heard of him."

Added quarterback Brad Banks: "Everybody's heard of him. Who hasn't heard of Yogi Bear?"

When they were given the correct name, their faces went blank.

When asked the name of their team's most famous father, they laughed.

Lineman Brian Ferentz's father is their head coach, Kirk Ferentz.

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Banks, from nearby Belle Glade, was especially thrilled to play in the Orange Bowl.

His father Charles, a farm-labor contractor, does not fly.

"They wouldn't have gone to the Rose Bowl," Brad Banks said. "This is really a dream come true."

Now, dozens of family members and friends will attend the game, all of them perhaps trying to avoid one certain relative.

"Anybody tries to do something that might distract me, my cousin bops them on the head," he said.

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Staff Writer Bill Plaschke contributed to this report.

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