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USC REPORT

Lewis Moves Up the Chart

September 24, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC's tailback depth for its Pacific 10 Conference opener at California became shallower Tuesday because of injury and, possibly, illness, moving freshman Whitney Lewis closer to significant playing time.

Coach Pete Carroll said freshman Chauncey Washington would not play on Saturday because of a sprained ankle he suffered against Hawaii. Freshman LenDale White, who missed Sunday's workout because of a travel delay, did not practice Tuesday because of flu, Carroll said.

The possible absence of both players could put Lewis in the tailback mix with sophomore Hershel Dennis and freshman Reggie Bush.

Lewis has worked himself into shape and slimmed down significantly since training camp.

Lewis, who was moved from receiver to fullback during camp, has caught one pass for two yards in limited opportunities the last two games. He took snaps at tailback during bye-week practices last week and during workouts on Sunday and Tuesday.

"I basically put it all in [the coaches'] hands and say I trust them," Lewis said.

Lewis said he has benefited from increased repetitions. "It was great just being able to finally say, 'OK, I know this now. I know that now.' I think I'm coming along fine," he said.

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Linebacker Matt Grootegoed is looking forward to returning to Memorial Stadium, where he suffered a broken leg that ended his season in 2001.

"I've got to redeem myself," he said. "It's kind of weird going back."

Grootegoed started all of last season and the first three games this season on the strong side, but has also flipped to the weak side on occasion. Like safety Troy Polamalu last season, Grootegoed will line up in various positions to make plays as the season progresses, Carroll said.

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USC is becoming a hot ticket on the road -- and on the Internet.

USC students began lining up Friday evening for a chance to secure one of 100 tickets that were made available for the Trojans' Oct. 18 game at Notre Dame. A graduate student who attempted to get tickets estimated that 200 people were in line when vouchers were distributed for one ticket each just after midnight on Monday.

Ron Orr, an associate athletic director, said USC receives an allotment of 7,000 tickets for the Notre Dame game. Most are made available for sale to members of the school's athletics support group that contribute at least $2,250, Orr said.

USC's student allotment grew from 50 to just over 100 two years ago because of the expansion of Notre Dame Stadium, Orr said. "There are never going to be enough Notre Dame tickets," Orr said.

Tickets were being offered for between $500-$600 a pair Tuesday on EBay.

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Cornerback Kevin Arbet had foot surgery on Monday.

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