Bring on the noise.
USC players say they welcome the chance to play today at Oregon’s Autzen Stadium, which will be sold out for the 39th consecutive game and is regarded as one of the loudest venues in college sports.
“I heard that it’s loud and the fans are almost right on top of you,” junior running back Reggie Bush said. “I’m ready for it. I’m ready to get there and play in their loud stadium and possibly shut them up early.”
Offensive tackle Winston Justice is the only USC player who has played extensively in the stadium, which has a capacity of 54,000. The fourth-year junior started as a freshman in 2002, when the Trojans defeated the Ducks, 44-33.
“It was louder than the Coliseum,” Justice said. “For a young offensive player it’s kind of hard because you can’t hear the cadence. So you have to learn how to look at the ball.”
Third-year sophomore Thomas Williams will start for the first time at strongside linebacker in place of senior Dallas Sartz.
Williams moved up the depth chart after Brian Cushing suffered a dislocated shoulder in practice two weeks ago. He jumped to the top when Sartz suffered the same injury against Arkansas.
“I’m like a little kid in a candy store,” Williams said of the opportunity to start. “I don’t want to look into it too much because I’ll start getting nervous and play back on my heels. I want to take it for what it’s worth, enjoy the ride and go out and win a football game.”
Redshirt freshman Clay Matthews will back up Williams, but Coach Pete Carroll said senior Collin Ashton would fill the role if the situation called for extensive snaps.
Kicker Mario Danelo is not expecting another record-setting performance but said he would be happy to oblige if the Trojan offense continued at its current pace.
Danelo tied a school record by kicking nine extra points in his first game against Hawaii. Last week, he broke the record with 10 PATs against Arkansas.
“That just shows how good our offense is doing,” Danelo said. “But it’s pretty exciting and a lot of fun for me.”
Danelo is eager to kick his first field goal. He missed a 42-yard attempt against Hawaii.
“If our offense keeps marching down and scoring every time, I can’t do anything about that,” he said.