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Inside College Football | USC REPORT

Revolving Door at Linebacker

November 10, 2005|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC's linebacker shuffle continued Wednesday as freshman Rey Maualuga returned from Northern California, freshman Brian Cushing sat out for precautionary reasons and sophomore Keith Rivers practiced for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Starting middle linebacker Oscar Lua strained a knee ligament last week against Stanford, so Thomas Williams probably will start in his place on Saturday against California.

Maualuga, who was arrested last week on suspicion of misdemeanor battery after allegedly punching a man at a Halloween party, missed Tuesday's workout to see his father, Talatonu, who is gravely ill with cancer.

"Family comes first," Maualuga said.

Maualuga said he visited his father in the hospital.

"He can't talk, but this morning, before I left, I went up to my dad and said, 'Dad, I'm leaving. Goodbye.' He said, 'Son, I'm going with you.' "

Coach Pete Carroll said Maualuga would play extensively.

Maualuga, however, said he would return home to Eureka if his father's condition worsened.

For now, he is motivated by his father's wishes.

"His dream was for me to go to SC and play and get that starting spot," Maualuga said.

Cushing was on track to possibly start at the strong-side spot, but he is scheduled to have a bone scan today on his neck.

"It's a little bit sore, but I'm sore with my neck after every game," Cushing said. "They just want to be careful."

Rivers played sparingly against Washington and Washington State and sat out the Stanford game because of a hamstring injury. But he is expected to regain his starting position at the weak-side spot if he gets through today and Friday without a setback.

*

The Los Angeles City Attorney's office is still awaiting a report from the Los Angeles Police Department regarding the incident involving Maualuga, who is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 22.... Defensive end Frostee Rucker has participated in limited drills this week because of a sore back. Sophomore Jeff Schweiger and freshman Kyle Moore have worked in Rucker's spot, but the senior is expected to play against Cal.... Tight end Dominique Byrd, who did not play against Stanford because of a hip injury, appears on track to start against Cal.... Running backs LenDale White and Reggie Bush, who had been limited this week because of general soreness, participated in all drills.... Carroll said freshman safety Will Harris will sit out the rest of the season because of a knee injury suffered against Stanford.

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