Two personal foul penalties called against USC nose tackle Averell Spicer cost the Trojans dearly in their upset loss against Oregon State.
They also cost Spicer his starting job.
"I'm really paying for it now -- I'm not starting this week because of that," Spicer said Wednesday. "Coach had a talk with me and said that they can't start me having two personal fouls in a game.
"They told me I was supposed to be a better leader, to lead by example, and I definitely wasn't doing it. I understand that."
Spicer was among the defensive linemen who struggled against an Oregon State offensive front that pushed the Trojans off the line of scrimmage and led a 186-yard rushing effort by running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
Spicer, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound junior from Rancho Cucamonga, was flagged late in the first half on a third-and-goal play that had resulted in an incomplete pass. Instead of having to kick a field goal, Oregon State was awarded a first down at the three with less than 10 seconds left.
"I just lost my head," Spicer said of an exchange with a Beavers lineman. "There were a lot of late hits going on. It's always the second guy that gets caught. I learned that first hand."
On the next play, Oregon State took a 21-0 lead when a pass went through the hands of Trojans cornerback Kevin Thomas and into the arms of Beavers receiver James Rodgers. Spicer was flagged again.
"They say I grabbed his face mask -- I didn't think I did," Spicer said.
Sophomore Christian Tupou will start in place of Spicer against No. 23 Oregon on Saturday, but Spicer will rotate in.
Asked what the Trojans' goal was after the 27-21 defeat, Spicer said, "Just show our defense isn't soft. That's what everybody is thinking now after watching that."
Maualuga out, Cushing in
Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga will almost certainly sit out Saturday's game because of a right knee sprain, Coach Pete Carroll said.
"The way it looks, he's not going to make it back," Carroll said. "We need to take care of him and get him well for this long haul."
Junior Brian Cushing took most of the first-team snaps at middle linebacker and will probably start, with redshirt freshman Chris Galippo backing him up. Sophomore Michael Morgan would start in Cushing's spot at strong-side linebacker.
Cushing has been wearing a cast to protect a broken bone in his right hand, but the cast will be replaced with customized protective wrap for the game.
Cushing said he would not try to do more with Maualuga sidelined.
"I wouldn't necessarily say I have to step it up that much because we have great backups, but it's going to be different without [Maualuga] out there," Cushing said.
Receiver Vidal Hazelton, who told The Times on Tuesday he had talked to Carroll about redshirting, said he suffered a left ankle sprain against Oregon State. He had a high right ankle sprain against Virginia. Asked if he would designate players as redshirts before Saturday, Carroll said, "I don't think you can call it necessarily because things can happen and you need guys." . . . Quarterback Mitch Mustain, fourth on the depth chart against Oregon State, took most of the second-team snaps.