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USC's Joe McKnight is not ready for rest

The Trojans tailback says he wasn't tired after carrying the ball a career-high 20 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns against California.

October 06, 2009|Gary Klein

While most Trojans players and coaches welcome a free Saturday this week, tailback Joe McKnight probably would like to just keep rolling.

McKnight reached a milestone in the seventh-ranked Trojans' victory over California, carrying the ball a career-high 20 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

No Trojans tailback had 20 or more carries in a game since 2007, when Chauncey Washington did it four times, including a 29-carry, 220-yard performance in the rain at Cal.

"I wasn't getting tired," McKnight said Monday after a team meeting. "I'll take it as long as they keep giving it to me."

McKnight's previous high for carries was 16 against Ohio State on Sept. 12.

The junior had expected a heavier workload against Cal after senior Stafon Johnson suffered a serious throat injury in a weightlifting accident last Monday.

McKnight earned more touches by scoring on a 38-yard run on the Trojans' first possession.

"After he got out on the first one, you're kind of itching -- you want some more of that and hoping that he does it again," running backs coach Todd McNair said Monday.

McKnight's 29-yard run in the fourth quarter helped set up his four-yard touchdown run.

So while junior Allen Bradford turned a career-high 12 carries into 53 yards against Cal, McKnight remains the starter heading into an Oct. 17 game at Notre Dame.

"You want the home run available," McNair said. "With the way the offense is developing, you want that weapon on the field as much as possible."

Speed game

All-American safety Taylor Mays was named Pacific 10 Conference defensive player of the week, and receiver Damian Williams was honored as the special teams player of the week for their performances in the 30-3 victory over Cal.

Mays' end-zone interception on the opening drive changed the momentum and started the Trojans toward victory.

But if the interception was Mays' top play, his chasing down Cal tailback Jahvid Best on a third-and-one play in the second quarter was almost as impressive. Best took a pitch, ran to his right and tried to turn the corner, but Mays came across the field and forced him out of bounds for one of his team-high 10 tackles.

"It was about as classic a head-to-head, mano-a-mano situation as you could get," Coach Pete Carroll said Sunday.

Williams all but sealed the victory when he returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown, punctuating the play with a spectacular dive to the left pylon. Williams also had eight catches for 101 yards.

It was the first time this season that Williams had more than five catches in a game.

Quick hits

Receiver Ronald Johnson hopes to participate in limited drills when the Trojans resume practice today but said he might not be cleared to participate in contact drills until he sees the team doctor tonight. . . . The Trojans will also practice Wednesday and Thursday. They are scheduled to have a short morning workout on Friday before coaches depart on recruiting trips. . . . A contingent of Trojans players is scheduled to visit USC Women's and Children's Hospital today.


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