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USC FOOTBALL FYI

Trojans feeling effects of a thinner roster

The decisions by defensive end Malik Jackson and fullback D.J. Shoemate to transfer in the wake of NCAA sanctions have left the Trojans lacking depth at key positions.

September 15, 2010|By Gary Klein

USC won't feel the most obvious effect of its two-year bowl ban until December, when the Trojans will be idle while other teams prepare for a postseason reward.

But 18th-ranked USC already is suffering from a byproduct of the ban as it prepares to play at Minnesota on Saturday.

The exemption that allowed juniors and seniors to transfer without penalty enabled defensive end Malik Jackson to leave for Tennessee and fullback D.J. Shoemate to go to Connecticut.

Both would have been backups for the Trojans — and both have been missed.

An apparent lack of confidence in the available reserves at those positions and others has Coach Lane Kiffin's staff playing starters for nearly the entire game. The Trojans' fatigue was evident in the fourth quarter at Hawaii and against Virginia.

"It's hurt us, not being able to rotate people," Kiffin said Wednesday. "You know, we go to try and rest a defensive end and our defensive end is starting at Tennessee. We go to rest a fullback and he's playing for UConn."

Jackson has three tackles and two quarterback hurries at Tennessee. Shoemate has rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries at Connecticut.

Jackson's departure, coupled with injuries that have limited end Nick Perry and tackle Armond Armstead, has left USC scrambling this week to shore up depth on the defensive line.

Meantime, Kiffin said fullback Stanley Havili has been limited by the staff because there is no scholarship fullback to spell him.

Havili, one of the Trojans' most dynamic offensive threats, has caught four passes and carried the ball once.

"I do want the ball — I think every player does — but when we're winning I'm happy; nothing else matters," Havili said. "I respect our coaches and I know they know what they're doing."

On the positive side, Kiffin said, the Trojans are "getting a lot of practice" for the future, when they will be limited to 75 scholarship players.

Punching it up.

Featuring a photograph of Muhammad Ali, fliers taped to the doors of Heritage Hall on Wednesday billed the Trojans' season as a "13-Round Heavyweight Fight!"

"As of today only 43 teams in the nation are 2-0!" they read.

But after practice, Kiffin said the Trojans were still in search of an identity.

"I hope that we'll be very tough and we'll be really disciplined," he said. "We're not disciplined right now. I think we're tough but I don't think that we're disciplined at all."

White reacts to Bush situation

Former USC tailback Charles White, the 1979 Heisman Trophy winner, said he never thought the situation involving Reggie Bush would lead to Bush forfeiting the 2005 award.

"He's a grown man and he made his decision," said White, one of seven USC players who won college football's most prestigious award. "Maybe it was just the guilt or whatever."

The Heisman Trophy Trust announced Wednesday that there would be no Heisman winner for 2005.

Regardless of the NCAA's mandate that USC erase images of Bush from campus, the Coliseum and the school record book, White said Bush earned the award with his performance on the field and that he was still part of the Heisman fraternity.

"Everyone knows who won that Heisman no matter who has it now or wherever it goes," he said. "That man won the trophy. When people say, 'Hey, do you remember who won the Heisman in '05? Everyone knows it was Reggie Bush."

Quick hits

Tight end Jordan Cameron, who caught a touchdown pass against Virginia before suffering a concussion, was limited. … The Trojans are scheduled to leave for Minneapolis after practice Thursday.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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