Trojans receiver Nelson Agholor catches a long pass from Cody Kessler on… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
USC receiver Nelson Agholor broke out with a big performance last week against Arizona, which came as no surprise to Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly.
Notre Dame recruited Agholor at Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep.
"He's one of those guys that just runs all day," Kelly told reporters this week. "Plays fast every snap."
Agholor, a sophomore, caught seven passes for 161 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. He is expected to have a large role again Saturday when USC and Notre Dame play at Notre Dame Stadium in the 85th game between the rivals.
USC receiver Marqise Lee, who sat out against Arizona because of a knee injury, practiced this week and has said he will be ready to play against the Fighting Irish. But interim Coach Ed Orgeron has not been definitive about the All-American's status.
"He looked pretty good," Orgeron said Thursday after the Trojans went through a 50-minute workout. "There's still a ways to go. Obviously, not 100%. How much he plays, we don't know. I have a good feeling he'll play."
Regardless of Lee's availability, offensive coordinator Clay Helton will probably provide Agholor with ample opportunity to build on his last performance.
Agholor impressed Kelly with his play away from the ball.
"If you watch that game closely, to close out the game, they needed to convert some third downs running the football late," Kelly said. "He's in there blocking safeties, physical. That's the kind of player he was. That's what we saw. A guy that plays every single play."
This won't be Agholor's first trip to Notre Dame Stadium. He took an official visit to campus when he was in high school. "It's a wonderful university, just like [USC] is a wonderful university," he said. "It has a great history and they have a good coaching staff."
Agholor did not catch a pass against Notre Dame in USC's 22-13 loss at the Coliseum last season. No one anticipates a repeat performance.
"I'm just looking forward to playing the next game in front of us," he said. "And I think it's going to be a good game."
In the days leading up to USC's game against Notre Dame last season, quarterback Max Wittek was preparing for his first career start.
Now he is Cody Kessler's backup.
"I just take every day like I'm needed," Wittek said. "You never know when I'm going to have to come into the game."
Wittek completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, with two passes intercepted, against Notre Dame.
He praised Kessler's play but said he would remain ready every game.
"I'm taking the same mind-set as last year: Stay locked in," Wittek said. "I got an opportunity last year and there's nothing that says it isn't going to happen again."
Tailback Tre Madden, who suffered a hamstring injury against Arizona, and receiver Victor Blackwell (ankle) are doubtful for Saturday's game, Orgeron said…. Orgeron on the team's Friday night plans: "We're going to a nice little Midwestern restaurant, we're going to a movie, relax and have some fun. The team picked it [the movie], something with [Arnold] Schwarzenegger. I just show up, laugh and eat chocolate-covered peanuts."