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Taylor Mays to start against Washington State

USC FOOTBALL FYI

The Trojans' safety is not completely healed from a knee sprain, but Coach Pete Carroll says Mays is "ready to go."

September 25, 2009|Gary Klein

USC quarterback Matt Barkley is not completely healed.

Neither is safety Taylor Mays.

But a day after announcing that Barkley would start Saturday night against Washington State despite a sore shoulder, Coach Pete Carroll on Thursday made a similar call regarding Mays, who is recovering from a knee sprain.

"He's ready to go," Carroll said.

Mays, though, said it was "50-50," and that it might be a game-time decision.

"I think I'm going to play unless something goes wrong," he said.

Just another day with the 12th-ranked Trojans, who are trying to rebound from last week's 16-13 upset loss at Washington and the free-fall in the polls that followed.

Neither Barkley nor Mays played in the defeat at Seattle because of injuries suffered in USC's Sept. 12 victory at Ohio State.

Mays, wearing a brace on his right knee, participated in most drills Thursday after sitting out early in the week.

"I don't feel rusty at all," he said. "I actually feel good, feel refreshed. Like I had a bye week."

Mays said he was "5% from not going full speed," and hoped that additional rest today and most of Saturday would have him at full strength by Saturday's 7:15 p.m. kickoff.

Barkley, nursing a bone bruise in his right shoulder, threw mostly soft passes Thursday, though he did make a few throws downfield and looked stronger and more confident than he did Wednesday.

USC did not make quarterbacks available to reporters Thursday.

Barkley said this week that he was still feeling pain and was not throwing at full velocity.

"He's going to do what he has to do to make his plays," Carroll said. "We tried to hold him back all week and tried to gain every day and not overdo anything.

"We'll find out how well we managed that."

Campbell starts

Linebacker Jordan Campbell will start for the first time in place of Malcolm Smith, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Washington.

Campbell, a third-year sophomore, said this week that he worked diligently to harness his desire to freelance on the field, a flaw that prevented coaches from trusting him to carry out assignments.

"When I first came in to USC, I'd see the ball and just want to go fly and make the play," he said. "You have to realize, at the end of the day, that you have to fall back sometimes.

"I learned to slow down."

Shane Horton will back up Campbell at the weakside spot.

Luthur Brown did not practice because of back soreness, and his status for Saturday's game is questionable, Carroll said.

Harfman punts

Jake Harfman will replace Billy O'Malley as the punter against Washington State, Carroll said.

O'Malley's 37.3-yard average ranks last in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Quarterback Mitch Mustain, who has also been working at punter, will not kick against Washington State, Carroll said.

Flournoy up to speed

Freshman receiver De'Von Flournoy has been doing extra film study to find his way onto the field.

Like many first-year receivers, Flournoy has acknowledged struggling to learn the offense.

The film work is helping.

"They want to use my speed to stretch the field," Flournoy said. "So I'm going up to the office to watch as much as I can."

Quick hits

Defensive end Nick Perry, a redshirt freshman, has four sacks, which ties him for the Pacific 10 Conference lead. . . . Linebacker Michael Morgan is second in the conference with six tackles for losses.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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