After nearly a month of workouts and hitting only one another, USC players finally began looking forward on Thursday.
The Trojans completed their last practice before Saturday's opener against San Jose State, and veterans and newcomers said they could not wait to get to the Coliseum.
"I'm ready," said Wes Horton, a redshirt freshman who will start at defensive end. "I don't have any game experience, so it's going to be a little overwhelming at first, but I can't let that get to me."
Horton is one of several young players who will play for the Trojans for the first time, none more noteworthy than freshman quarterback Matt Barkley.
In advising veteran players to help the newcomers, Coach Pete Carroll said he told them, "It's like taking your little brother to the circus."
Barkley will be in the center ring when he becomes the first true freshman to start an opener at quarterback for the Trojans.
"It's hard for a first-time freshman to play a lot, and here we're looking at a quarterback," Carroll said. "It's just new. It's just a different setting because the game is on the line and all of that.
"So, hopefully, he'll handle it and the rest of them as well."
Galippo absent, Brown reinstated
Starting middle linebacker Chris Galippo did not attend practice after being treated for an inflamed right elbow, but will return for today's walk-through and start Saturday, Carroll said.
Sophomore Uona Kaveinga and senior Nick Garratt will back up Galippo on Saturday.
Meantime, senior linebacker Luthur Brown practiced for the first time after being cleared academically. Brown, a fifth-year senior, will not play against San Jose State, but he is expected to provide the Trojans with needed depth as the season progresses.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Brown was a standout at Lakewood High but has been plagued by back and shoulder injuries and academic issues throughout his career. He is regarded as a potentially valuable player because he can play all three linebacker spots.
"This is my last go-round -- this is it," Brown said, adding, "I'm just going to try and give my all and hopefully produce this year."
Brown said he would wear a shoulder brace and would be ready to play when called upon.
Backup quarterback Aaron Corp, who is recovering from a broken left fibula, has said he is ready to play and looking forward to an opportunity against San Jose State.
The situation in the game, Carroll said, would dictate whether the third-year sophomore plays or is given another week to fully heal.
"We'll just see how the game goes and see what's happening," Carroll said. "But it would be better for him if he waited longer. If we're able to do that, we will. I know he doesn't want to do that -- he wants to play and he's capable of playing."
Cornerback Brian Baucham was absent again because of illness, so Marshall Jones and T.J. Bryant will play in nickel situations. . . . San Jose State offensive coordinator Steve Morton and defensive coordinator Keith Burns are former USC assistants. Morton coached the offensive line in 1999 and 2000. Burns coached from 1993 to 1997. He was defensive coordinator the last four seasons.