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Inside College Football | USC REPORT

Torres Puts Ankle to the Test in Drills

September 18, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Young players are not the only ones using USC's bye-week practices to show coaches they are ready to play.

On Wednesday, senior offensive lineman Eric Torres said he took another step in his comeback from a broken ankle suffered last season in the Orange Bowl against Iowa by participating in contact drills for the second day in a row. He had no major discomfort.

Torres, 6 feet 5 and 300 pounds, started seven games and played every position on the line except center in 2002. He spent the last seven months rehabilitating after surgery.

"I kind of feel like a freshman out there," Torres said. "I know the offense, but I'm basically nervous as far as trusting my ankle."

He said he hoped to take part in team drills Sunday when the Trojans begin preparations for their Pacific 10 Conference opener at California on Sept. 27. Torres said he is not necessarily targeting the game for his return. "It depends how quickly I can dust the rust off and how quickly I get confidence in my ankle," he said.

Tim Davis, USC's offensive line coach, said Torres' return would be "a bonus. With his demeanor and experience, he's going to add a lot to what we're doing."

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Freshman quarterback John David Booty, who is sharing the majority of snaps with starter Matt Leinart, described his performance as "not quite as strong," as the day before.

Booty, however, will have a featured role again today when the Trojans conduct a scrimmage. Coach Pete Carroll said Booty would continue to battle with junior Brandon Hance and redshirt junior Matt Cassel to become Leinart's backup.

"It's been kind of hard on the other guys because they're not getting a real shot to prove themselves, but there's not enough snaps to do this right now," Carroll said. "We'll just see where it sits and make a decision in the next week or two."

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Carroll said sophomore linebacker Oscar Lua will redshirt this season after having surgery on his left knee Tuesday. Lua, who had surgery on his right knee in December, was scheduled for an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee, but doctors found more damage and repaired a torn anterior cruciate ligament.... Center Norm Katnik (knee) and offensive tackle Jacob Rogers (ankle) did not practice to aid in their recuperation from last Saturday's game against Hawaii.... More than a dozen players visited with patients and staff during the Trojans' annual visit to County-USC Women's and Children's Hospital.... Booty's brother Josh, a quarterback released Wednesday by the Cleveland Browns, was headed to his Hermosa Beach home. "He called a few hours ago and asked me if I could pick him up at LAX, but I had to tell him I couldn't because I have to go to study hall," Booty said.

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