March 12, 2008

Returning from injury

Spring practice is just around the corner and, more than anything, it's a time for the unproven player - whether this is because of youth, injury or otherwise - to show that he can play the game. Kristofer O'Dowd is one of those players. Josh Pinkard is another. O'Dowd will go into spring ball with a his name penciled in as the opening day starting center, while Pinkard goes in with only hopes of testing his surgically repaired knee.

"Two series," O'Dowd, referring to how close he was to retaining his medical redshirt last season, said. "Those four games helped, because now I know what to expect. I know the level of intensity and what I'm going to go up against.

"That's helped me get mentally prepared, but that being said I play against the best everyday here. So (my teammates) get me ready as much as I need to before games. I'm not holding a grudge that I didn't get to redshirt and I'm happy going into my sophomore year, and now I have experience under my belt and that will be key heading into next year."

Even though O'Dowd is the overwhelming favorite to start at center for the Trojans, he is taking nothing for granted.

"We're all pretty much looking for an opportunity and a position," he said about the offensive linemen. "Jeff (Byers) is pretty much the only guy who has got his position locked up. Spring ball will be a good opportunity for me.

"It's a fun group of guys who really mesh well together, but there's definitely a competitiveness about us."

Using his experience and familiarity with the offense, O'Dowd believes that his ceiling has been raised from last season.

"Now I know the form of the offense and now all I need to do is know it in detail," he said. "Once you know the form, you can start to work on techniques and moves, and I focus more on the defense now."

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