October 20, 2008

Practice Insider: Howell moving up

Monday's at Heritage Hall are all about the truth, and after studying film from the Trojans' 69-0 win at Washington State Saturday, most of the Trojans were lining up to hear it.

Junior right tackle Nick Howell had to have been on the right side of the postgame breakdown, as he recorded 22 knockdowns.

"It was the classic opportunity that we talk about. It's a guy elevating his game and playing up," USC head coach Pete Carroll said. "Gosh, he was so effective. It just gives us that much more confidence in our depth and our rotations.

"I think I was surprised with just how consistent he was. With all the knockdowns he had and the giant blocks he had, it just jumped out on film."

Howell made his first career start against the Cougars and helped the USC offense give its quarterbacks seemingly unending time and give its running backs seemingly unending holes.

"It was an experience being out there, not just running the game out," Howell said. "We were trying to put points on the board. Everything was clicking.

"We didn't change anything up. We just did what we knew how to do, and it worked out."

Howell and Alex Parsons have stepped in for Butch Lewis and Zack Heberer, and both Lewis and Heberer returned to practice Monday, ready to compete for their starting spots.

"All this did was create some good competition now. We'll see based on practice and effort who starts," offensive line coach Pat Ruel said. "I really think Nick and Alex have an edge right now because they played so well last game."

Carroll entered the film room for the first time, and he said he was most excited to evaluate Howell. The news, apparently, was good.

"He's going to play, no question. He deserves to play," Carroll said. "How much? We'll figure that out.

"He made a real statement for playtime. He did a lot to help himself, really. He couldn't have done better, really."

Quarterback Mark Sanchez said there was not a drop in the level of play with two reserves on the right side of the offensive line.

"It was a great addition," Sanchez said. "Really, it's what this team is all about - a guy goes down and guy's competing, steps in and plays like that. It doesn't matter who's up front; I think they'll do a great job.

"That means a lot as a quarterback and I know the running backs love it. It means a lot to have reliable guys and that kind of depth. It's good for us. We're in a great situation."

Still Green?

Broderick Green looked unstoppable against Washington State, and Monday, he said, he's ready for more if his name is called at Arizona.

"I'm not sure, but I hope it carries over a whole lot," Green said. "I'm ready for whatever opportunity they give me. We'll just have to wait and see."

Carroll said Green certainly got his attention, and he could see meaningful time Saturday at Arizona.

"He made a great statement for himself," Carroll said. "We haven't had any trouble playing four backs in a game. He's right in there right now. The opportunity is there."

Green enjoyed his weekend - especially when watching film.

"It was cool to finally get to see myself out there in uniform, running our plays," Green said. "I was like, 'Yeah. That's me. I'm actually running.'

"It was cool."

Extra Points

• A "busload" of Trojans returned to the practice field Monday. In addition to Lewis and Heberer, Carroll said Jordan Cameron, Jimmy Miller, Vidal Hazelton, Everson Griffen, Brian Cushing, Kaluka Maiava and Chris Pousson all practiced.

"it feels different," Carroll said. "There was an energy about it. Those guys all wanted to get back out. It should help us keep things competitive.

• Cornerback Cary Harris (hamstring), defensive end Gerald Washington (ankle) and running back Marc Tyler (quadriceps) were the notables who did not practice Monday.

• Even after throwing five touchdown passes, Sanchez said he wishes he had a few of those throws back.

"Even as good as people thought it was, I'm never satisfied," he said.

Joe McKnight was a limited participant Monday, but he was sporting a new, tinted visor on his helmet. McKnight said the visor will be for practice only.

McKnight made the trip to Washington State, but he did not dress.

"I felt good watching all the other running backs rush for over 100 yards," he said. "I wanted to be out there on the field, but I was happy to be there supporting my team."

• Ruel said the Trojans do not follow the philosophy that a player shouldn't lose his starting job because of an injury.

• Carroll called Arizona the "best-quipped offense" his team has seen so far this season.

• Carroll said one indicator of the Trojans' consistent effort came when after seven touchbacks, the kickoff coverage team stopped Washington State inside the 15 on the Cougars first return.

"Those guys were still bringing it," he said. "That's a statement about their consistency and intensity. It was really cool to see that."

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