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September 11, 2008

Trojans want Wells on the field

News made its away the Trojan circle Tuesday that Ohio State running back Chris Wells was probably going to play.

Trojan players didn't act surprised. They didn't act worried.

"That's good for them," Pete Carroll said. "He's a great player. I'm sure it pumps them up."

If anything, a few of Carroll's players were happy.

Could they possibly want a 6-foot-1, 237-pound bulldozer, future first rounder, all-Big Ten, all-American running back on the field?

"Definitely," safety Kevin Ellison said. "No question."

It's not the USC defense is full of gluttons for punishment; they just want Ohio State at its best with its best.

No excuses.

"You want to play against the best," Ellison said. "They're a great team. It's great competition."

Even with Wells, Ellison's confident the Trojan defense can do its job.

"He's big, fast and strong," Ellison said. "It's everything you're looking for.

"But if you're on your game, that's that."

After waxing Virginia 52-7 in their opener, the Trojans are hungrier for a greater test. No disrespect to the Cavilers, but this weekend is different.

"I mean, it is Ohio State," defensive end Kyle Moore said.

And, almost everyone will be watching. With an incredibly bright stage, running back Joe McKnight said he's ready to make some noise.

"It's a nationally televised game. Everyone's excited. Your parents and everyone back at home gets to see the game," McKnight said.

McKnight helped steal the show in the Trojans' last "big" game, a 49-17 win over Illinois in the Rose Bowl. McKnight scampered for 206 all-purpose yards in front of a national audience.

Against Ohio State, he'll be taking on a solid defensive line flanked by a prestigious linebacking corps with the likes of Butkus Award winner James Laurinaitis.

"I like the challenge," McKnight said. "I like to raise my game up for a big game and give it my all."

Competition has been a key part of Carroll's mantra since arriving at USC, and his players more than buy in.

Moore lined up against Virginia stud tackle Eugene Monroe in the opener, and he and Everson Griffen will take on just as big of a test against the No. 5 Buckeyes.

"You want to go against guys like Alex Boone and the guard who is supposed to go in the first round (Steve Rehring)," Moore said. "You want to show your talent against guys like that. You want to tackle Chris Wells. You want to get at those quarterbacks."

Before heading to Virginia, Moore compared his team a shaken soda bottle. It had been shaken throughout the spring, in summer workouts and during fall camp.

It got opened up at Virginia, exploding all over the field.

This week, Moore's got the same feeling.

"We had a bye week so there's a lot of energy. We want to get out there against a competitive team," Moore said. "We're still shaking right now.

"We're waiting for Saturday to pop."


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