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USC's Robert Woods looks to catch a bit of redemption

Receiver dropped two passes in a the Trojans' triple-overtime loss to Stanford, which he hopes to put behind Friday night at Colorado.

November 02, 2011|By Gary Klein
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USC receiver Robert Woods can't wait for Friday night's game at Colorado, which should allow him to finally put behind the Trojans' triple-overtime loss to Stanford.

The usually sure-handed Woods, who leads the Pacific 12 Conference in receptions and receiving yards per game, dropped two passes against the Cardinal. He also ran toward the sideline on the final play of regulation instead of dropping to the ground and calling for a timeout after a reception.

Before the play, Coach Lane Kiffin did not instruct players specifically about what to do.

"We didn't think the play was going to take that long," Woods said Wednesday. "We knew we had a timeout so maybe you're going to get tackled, pick up the first down and the clock was going to stop."

Instead, Woods said, "the defense played it well and made me bounce back behind my blocking. The only thing I was thinking in my head was, 'Get out of bounds fast.' "

Officials ruled that time had expired, denying the Trojans a chance to kick a possible game-winning field goal.

Woods caught nine passes — one for a touchdown — against Stanford, but he has been hampered by a balky right ankle he injured while playing basketball last spring. Woods won't use that as an excuse, saying all players deal with injuries at this time of the season.

But Kiffin noted that a change in Woods' stride was evident even during a long touchdown pass play against Arizona on Oct. 1.

"He's flashed at times early in the year but still, for whatever reason, that ankle just won't get right," Kiffin said. "Some days it's really bad and sometimes it just hampers him a little bit."

Woods lamented his first-quarter drop against Stanford on a play that appeared as if it might result in a touchdown.

"I was about to catch it with my body and then I restyled my hands at the last minute and end up bobbling it and dropping it," he said. "That hurt me a lot."

Curtis McNeal will start

Curtis McNeal will start at tailback against Colorado regardless of whether senior Marc Tyler is cleared to play, Kiffin said.

McNeal, a junior who will make his first start, rushed for a career-best 145 yards and two touchdowns in 20 carries against Stanford before fumbling on the final play of the third overtime.

Tyler suffered a dislocated left shoulder against California on Oct. 13. He aggravated the injury on his first carry against Stanford and has not practiced this week.

Dion Bailey is limited

Linebacker Dion Bailey, who suffered a concussion against Stanford, participated in limited drills but remains questionable for Friday's game.

Bailey said he broke his chinstrap while tackling a running back in the second quarter.

"That's when my head started ringing," he said. "I just tried to play through it the rest of the game."

In the second overtime, Bailey was kneed in the head while making a tackle and was knocked unconscious. After regaining consciousness, he said "I couldn't really talk. My head was hurting so bad."

Bailey said he also suffered a concussion during his senior season at Lakewood High and last season at USC.

"It's part of the game," he said. "People get concussions all the time playing football out here. You've just got to try and take care of yourself as much as possible. But it's bound to happen."

Quick hits

Safety Jawanza Starling did not practice because of an unspecified injury, meaning senior Marshall Jones is likely to start opposite Drew McAllister, who will replace suspended T.J. McDonald in the first half against Colorado. … The Trojans will practice today and then depart for Colorado.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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