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Trojans' starting spot in AP poll is 25th

Ineligible for the BCS and Pac-12 titles because of NCAA sanctions, USC can at least contend for a consolation prize — the Associated Press national championship. But they face a long, hard climb.

August 20, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC is No. 25 in the AP preseason poll, but Coach Lane Kiffin says he is more concerned with things like determining a starting lineup for the Trojans' Sept. 3 season opener against Minnesota.
USC is No. 25 in the AP preseason poll, but Coach Lane Kiffin says he is more… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

USC cannot play for the Bowl Championship Series title.

The Pacific 12 Conference title also is out of the Trojans' reach.

NCAA sanctions, however, do not preclude USC from appearing in the Associated Press media poll and contending for a No. 1 ranking by season's end.

On Saturday, the Trojans were ranked 25th in the AP preseason poll.

"We don't even know who's going to be at right and left guard right now," Coach Lane Kiffin said, "so the last thing we're ever worried about is 14 weeks from now where we are in a poll."

USC is two weeks away from its Sept. 3 season opener against Minnesota.

The Trojans will be at the Coliseum on Sunday for their third scrimmage, which will go a long way toward determining the remaining starters. They have one more workout at the Coliseum on Aug. 27, but that will be more of a final run-through than a scrimmage.

Coaches are trying to determine starters at the guard spots and to solidify a rotation at safety, cornerback and among receivers.

T.J. McDonald and Demetrius Wright appear on track to start at safety, with Jawanza Starling, Drew McAllister and injured Marshall Jones competing for playing time.

Torin Harris, Tony Burnett and Anthony Brown are in the mix to start opposite Nickell Robey at cornerback.

Receivers Brandon Carswell, Marqise Lee, Kyle Prater and Brice Butler are competing to start with Robert Woods.

Junior tailback Curtis McNeal started the last scrimmage but suffered a knee bruise on his third carry.

McNeal is hoping to make a bigger impression Sunday.

"I just want to put my resume on film," he said. "It's time to make an impact."

Sophomore tailback Dillon Baxter has had two solid scrimmages and freshman Amir Carlisle continues to impress coaches and teammates with his toughness.

"They go after him and he just gets up and keeps going," Kiffin said of the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Carlisle. "He's done a surprisingly [good] job for a small guy in short-yardage situations."

Quick hits

The Trojans were scheduled to stay at a hotel Saturday night to go through their regular pregame routine in preparation for the scrimmage. . . . Tailback D.J. Morgan (knee) will not play in the scrimmage. Freshman receiver George Farmer is not expected to participate because of a concussion suffered Friday. . . . Middle linebacker Chris Galippo (shoulder) participated in Saturday's no-pads practice and is expected to play in the scrimmage. . . . USC's 1961 and 1986 teams will be recognized Sunday night at the annual "Salute to Troy" event on campus.

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