An open date for USC this week means a possible lighter practice load for players needing a break after eight games in eight weeks.
But injured senior safety Kevin Ellison plans to increase intensity as he works toward returning for the sixth-ranked Trojans' game against Notre Dame on Nov. 29.
Ellison, a team captain, has not practiced or played since suffering torn cartilage in his right knee a few days before the Trojans' Nov. 1 game against Washington. He had surgery Nov. 3 and sat out victories over Washington, California and Stanford.
Will Harris has played well in his place, but Ellison was the team's leading tackler before he was injured and he is determined to return for the final home game of his USC career.
The Trojans resume workouts today after having Monday off.
"Kevin has done everything he can do, mentally and physically, to return and get back as soon as possible," Coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "We have to guard a little bit against his nature to make sure he's not pushing too hard, too far, too fast."
USC tailback C.J. Gable was selected special teams co-player of the week in the Pacific 10 Conference.
Gable, a third-year sophomore from Sylmar, returned a second-quarter kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the Trojans' 45-23 victory at Stanford. He also rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown in 14 carries as the Trojans amassed 282 yards on the ground.
Gable's touchdown return was his first in 24 career kick returns. Gable's longest return before Saturday went for 55 yards against Washington State in 2006.
Rank and file
Despite giving 24 points against Stanford, USC remains No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (8.3 points a game) and pass defense (132.3 yards per game).
The Trojans fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in total defense (222.5 yards per game) and from No. 3 to No. 6 in rushing defense (90.2 yards per game).
Quarterback Mark Sanchez expressed sorrow over the loss of Garenn Figueroa, a 15-year-old-boy from Palmdale who died over the weekend from bone cancer. Sanchez wrote Figueroa's name on his eye-black earlier this season.
"I was so, so sad to hear about Garenn's passing," Sanchez said in a statement released by the school. "My heart goes out to his family. He was such a neat kid and a real Trojan fan. It was a privilege to get to know him.
"My teammates, Coach Carroll and I all cherished the opportunity we had to play a small part in his life and to help him deal with his situation. The time we had with him was as valuable to us as we hope it was for him."