No Way He Could Miss This

Times Staff Writer

USC linebacker Collin Ashton will start for only the second time Saturday against UCLA, but he will feel right at home.

On Thursday, as Ashton iced a swollen left eye, the redshirt sophomore walk-on from Mission Viejo said he has attended every Trojan game at the Coliseum since his birth on July 24, 1983. That's a streak of 121 games.

"He's been since he was a baby in a basket," said his mother, Denise.

Ashton's father, Mark, is a USC graduate and longtime season-ticket holder.

"To start at the Coliseum, I don't think there can be anything like it," said Ashton, who got poked in the eye during practice. "I'll be as excited as anyone, but you have to be able to control your emotions."

Ashton, 6 foot 1, 215 pounds, will start at weak-side linebacker in place of senior Melvin Simmons for the second week in a row. Simmons practiced Thursday, but Coach Pete Carroll said he would fill a reserve role against the Bruins, who are seeking their first victory over USC since 1998.

Ashton made eight tackles at Arizona last week as the second-ranked Trojans extended their winning streak to six games with a 45-0 victory.

Now USC returns to Ashton's home away from home, where the Trojans have won 13 games in a row.

Ashton has seen 10 USC-UCLA games at the Coliseum.

"I got to come out of the tunnel and be on the field two years ago, but this is going to be different," he said. "I can't wait."


As the Trojans concluded their final practice of the week, Carroll praised his team for spirited work.

"It's been a week with a lot of energy," he said. "I hope we saved some for the game. We banged it pretty good."


Punt return specialist Greig Carlson injured his right ankle, but X-rays were negative. "At first, I thought it was broken," Carlson said. "It's starting to swell up." ... Carroll said junior Lee Webb and redshirt sophomore David Kirtman would play fullback against UCLA, but he didn't name a starter.... Parking for the USC-UCLA game will be available for $10 at all Staples Center lots except Lot 2. Shuttles to the Coliseum will be available at Exposition and Figueroa starting at 8 a.m. Return shuttles will run until 6 p.m..... At 9-1, USC is off to its best start since the 1988 team began 10-0.... Senior flanker Keary Colbert, who has 194 career receptions, is seven shy of tying Johnnie Morton for second place on the Trojans' all-time list, and 10 away from tying all-time leader Kareem Kelly.

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