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USC's Chris Galippo eager to take responsibility

The middle linebacker will finally get his opportunity to start when the Trojans take on San Jose State in their opener Saturday.

September 05, 2009|Gary Klein

USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo is in his third season with the Trojans, but it seems as if it's been longer.

The former Anaheim Servite High star endured two back surgeries, a bout with mononucleosis and caddying for Rey Maualuga while waiting for his chance to start.

That opportunity finally comes today when the Trojans play their opener against San Jose State at the Coliseum.

"It's the first time in a long time that I've had the responsibility of either making plays or possibly losing a game on my shoulders," Galippo said this week. "That's the way it's been my whole life."

Galippo, a third-year sophomore, did not attend Thursday's practice after having fluid removed from a swollen right elbow. But he attended team meetings and the Trojans' walk-through on Friday and will play and call defensive signals against the Spartans.

Galippo is eager to prove that the departures of Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Kaluka Maiava will not cripple the Trojans' defense.

Galippo will be flanked by juniors Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan.

"It'll be our time to really establish ourselves together," Galippo said.

Let's be Blount

(or maybe not)

Oregon and Boise State didn't exactly get "RESPECT weekend" off to a grand start, a postgame fist-to-chin punch by Ducks running back LeGarrette Blount after he was taunted by Boise State's Byron Hout spoiling what was supposed to be a renewed focus on sportsmanship.

Still, USC and San Jose State players are scheduled to meet at midfield for a pregame handshake, just like Oregon and Boise State.

San Jose State Coach Dick Tomey is the president of the American Football Coaches Assn., which started the RESPECT weekend as a sportsmanship initiative. The program is encouraged but not mandatory.

Two days before the Oregon-Boise State game, Tomey said of the initiative: "I think it's just going to present a better face of college football."

Getting their kicks

USC kickers Jordan Congdon and Jake Harfman and punter Billy O'Malley will make their Trojans debuts today.

Congdon made 19 of 23 field-goal attempts as a freshman at Nebraska in 2005 and was five for seven as a sophomore before transferring to USC.

"I feel real comfortable from 45 yards in," said Congdon, a fifth-year senior. "Anything farther than that, I have the leg strength but not the consistency yet."

Harfman, who played at Chino Hills Ayala High and Mt. San Antonio College, will handle kickoffs.

O'Malley, a junior walk-on from Ohio, isn't worried about kicking on the big stage. Not after having Coach Pete Carroll stationed behind him during practice.

"When Coach Carroll is right there talking in your ear, that's as much pressure as kicking in the Coliseum," O'Malley said.

Quick hits

USC is 3-0 against San Jose State. The Trojans are 28-1 against Western Athletic Conference opponents, the only loss coming against Fresno State in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. . . . The late Ryan Davidson, a Wisconsin teenager who was taken in by the Trojans as he battled cancer, will be honored during a pregame ceremony. . . . Former USC coach John Robinson will be recognized for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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