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USC FOOTBALL FYI : Williams sidelined, McCoy returning

November 13, 2009|Gary Klein

Wide receiver Damian Williams is out. Tight end Anthony McCoy is in.

And backup tight end Blake Ayles is doubtful.

So it goes for USC's struggling offense as the 11th-ranked Trojans prepare to play No. 25 Stanford.

Williams, who suffered an ankle sprain last week against Arizona State, on Thursday officially was ruled out of Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

Williams leads the Trojans with 43 receptions and four touchdowns. He also has returned two punts for touchdowns and ranks fifth nationally in punt-return average.

"He's made plays in almost every game that were significant, so we'll miss his production and leadership and all he brings," Coach Pete Carroll said.

Williams' absence against Stanford was anticipated after the junior spent the entire week sidelined with his right foot encased in a protective plastic boot.

Redshirt freshman Brice Butler will start in Williams' place.

"This is what I've been working for," said Butler, who has nine receptions, one for a touchdown.

Joe McKnight will return punts.

With Williams sidelined, quarterback Matt Barkley welcomes the return of McCoy, who did not play against Oregon and Arizona State because of an ankle sprain.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound McCoy remains the Trojans' third-leading receiver with 16 receptions, many of which came on third down.

"It feels good to be back in the groove of things," McCoy said.

McCoy was at his best on Oct. 17 at Notre Dame when he caught five passes for 153 yards and set up two touchdowns and a field goal. His yardage total was the most by a tight end in USC history.

"I'm just glad I had [a big game] before I hurt the ankle," said McCoy, who was injured Oct. 24 against Oregon State. "I was expecting to continue on where I left off."

McCoy's cutting ability remains limited because of lingering soreness. But his presence on the field should bolster an offense that was outgained in each of the last three games.

"Some [teammates] have told me they missed me, and that's helped a lot and kind of pushed me to hit this rehab a lot harder than I probably would have," McCoy said. "That helps me feel better that the team wants me back in there."

The Trojans' tight end depth, however, is expected to be thinned for the third straight game.

Ayles was absent from practice after suffering knee and ankle injuries when a teammate rolled into his leg on Wednesday.

Ayles had said that he was fine, but he underwent an MRI exam Thursday.

Seeking redemption

Offensive tackle Charles Brown is focused on producing a better performance against Stanford after struggling against Arizona State.

Sun Devils end Dexter Davis frustrated the senior, repeatedly pressuring Barkley. Brown also was penalized twice for holding.

"I've got to make up for last week," Brown said. "I just have to play better."

Quick hits

Linebacker Michael Morgan (wrist) practiced, but Carroll said he had not determined if the junior or freshman Devon Kennard would start at strongside linebacker. . . . Reserve cornerback Brian Baucham is questionable because of a foot injury that forced him to miss practice, defensive coordinator Rocky Seto said. . . . Pro football Hall of Famer Jim Brown attended practice and briefly addressed the team.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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