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Trojans want to get Robert Woods back on the field

Receiver has been sidelined by a high ankle sprain. Matt Barkley misses him.

August 18, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • A freshman All-American last season, Robert Woods has been sidelined for about a week because of a high right-ankle sprain.
A freshman All-American last season, Robert Woods has been sidelined for… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

As a USC assistant in 2006, Lane Kiffin memorably called out Trojans receiver Dwayne Jarrett, saying that the All-American "might be living in the past" after he struggled in the season opener.

Kiffin later assumed part of the blame for Jarrett's performance because the receiver had nursed a leg injury throughout training camp, and Kiffin had asked him to execute certain plays in the opener without the benefit of full participation in practice.

On Thursday, USC's second-year coach referred to Jarrett when asked about receiver Robert Woods' status as the Trojans prepare for their Sept. 3 opener against Minnesota.

A freshman All-American last season, Woods has been sidelined for about a week because of a high right-ankle sprain. It's the same ankle he injured in April playing basketball, which kept him from participating in the spring scrimmage.

"He's got to get back out here," Kiffin said. "We need him back out here to get the timing down and get himself right."

Woods went through individual drills but stayed out of competitive team situations. The sophomore said he was "pretty close to 100%."

USC's offense, especially the passing game, has been inconsistent in his absence.

"I'm trying to take it day by day and when the [next scrimmage] comes, pick up where I left off and make plays for the offense," Woods said.

Quarterback Matt Barkley eagerly awaits his return.

"The trust that I have with Robert is more than anyone I have with this team," he said. "Because of that … I feel like I know exactly what he's doing on every route.

"There have been a lot of drops. I don't think that would be the same if he was out here."

Scroggins in roster shuffle

The competition to be Barkley's backup might have taken another turn as quarterback Jesse Scroggins was not at practice for the second consecutive day.

NCAA rules allow for only 105 players on training camp rosters. Scroggins, a redshirt freshman who had thumb surgery last week, cannot practice, so he was replaced by walk-on cornerback Allen Noble, Kiffin said. Scroggins cannot participate in workouts or team meetings until Monday, when the fall semester begins and the roster can be expanded.

"He's just missing a couple days," Kiffin said.

Still, coaches talk often about the need for players, especially quarterbacks, to take "mental reps" on the field. Scroggins' absence from meetings and practices would seem to put him at a disadvantage in his competition with freshmen Max Wittek and Cody Kessler.

Quick hits

Middle linebacker Chris Galippo (shoulder) and tailback Curtis McNeal (knee) were limited. Freshman Lamar Dawson has taken first-team snaps in place of Galippo. … Tackle Matt Kalil (knee), safety T.J. McDonald (ankle) and tailback D.J. Morgan (knee) remain sidelined.

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