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USC FOOTBALL FYI

Marcus Allen visits Trojans' final regular-season practice

The Heisman-winning tailback returns to encourage players as they prepare for the regular-season finale against UCLA.

November 28, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • Former USC and NFL great Marcus Allen takes part in a youth fitness day in New Orleans this fall.
Former USC and NFL great Marcus Allen takes part in a youth fitness day in… (Erika Goldring / Getty Images…)

Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen addressed USC players seven weeks ago, before they played for the first time under interim Coach Ed Orgeron.

Since then, the Trojans have compiled a 6-1 record and they are riding a five-game winning streak.

Allen returned to USC on Thursday and spoke to the Trojans on the practice field as they continued final preparations for Saturday's regular-season finale against UCLA at the Coliseum.

"He's been instrumental ever since we've taken over here as interim coach," Orgeron said. "He's helped me out a bunch.

"I really appreciate him as a friend and a Trojan. It means a lot to our team."

This week, Allen told The Times' Sam Farmer that Orgeron had proved he should be the Trojans full-time head coach, and that if he were part of the selection committee he would hire Orgeron.

Players gathered around Allen before they began stretching exercises. Afterward, the record-setting tailback circulated among players, saying hello and offering encouragement.

First impressions

USC's roster is full of players who have experienced the USC-UCLA rivalry one or more times.

Freshman safety Su'a Cravens and freshman receiver Darreus Rogers will get their first taste on Saturday.

Cravens has started all but one game. The former standout at Vista Murrieta High has intercepted four passes.

"My parents always told me, 'You're never going to UCLA, no matter what,'" Cravens said, laughing. "I grew up a USC fan and know how big this rivalry is. It's going to be exciting to actually play in it."

Rogers, who played at Carson High, has come on in the second half of the season. He caught a season-best six passes at Notre Dame and five against Utah.

Last week at Colorado, he had three receptions, increasing his season total to 19.

"Each and every game there are going to be opportunities out there for me," he said. "I'm just trying to take advantage of those."

Quick hits

The Coliseum was sold out for four of the last six games between the Trojans and the Bruins. The crowds were less than capacity in 2001 and 2009. Early this week, a school official said Saturday's game was approaching a sellout. … The Trojans practiced in the morning so they could spend the afternoon and evening with their families. Orgeron said players from out of town would have Thanksgiving dinner with local players' families…. Seniors ran through a tunnel formed by players as they exited the practice facility after the final practice of the regular season.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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