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Booty says the rust will be history against Cal

Times Staff Writer

Quarterback John David Booty is confident the rust that showed against Oregon State will be gone Saturday when the 12th-ranked Trojans play 24th-ranked California at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

“I’m getting a great grip and my velocity and accuracy is where I want it to be,” Booty said Thursday.

Booty said he still feels occasional discomfort in the right middle finger that was fractured in the Trojans’ Oct. 6 loss to Stanford. He sat out three games because of the injury before returning last week and passing for two touchdowns without an interception in the Trojans’ 24-3 victory.

But Booty also missed high or long on several throws in USC’s defense-dominated win, a game in which the Trojans were held scoreless in the second half.

Coach Pete Carroll said Booty’s finger should not affect his play against Cal.

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“It looks like it’s quieted down. . . . That should be no issue anymore,” Carroll said.

After the victory over Oregon State, Carroll said it was clear the Trojans would play off their defense.

Booty did not take that as a knock on the offense.

“To be honest, it’s always been that way here under Coach Carroll,” Booty said. “We’ve had some great offenses so it’s not brought up, but he’s a defensive-minded coach and he expects our guys to play great defense.

“That doesn’t bother me. I love it when those guys are playing that way.”

Sophomore tailback Allen Bradford said he does not consider himself the forgotten man, despite having carried the ball only 14 times for 19 yards this season while Chauncey Washington, Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight have gotten the bulk of the carries.

“I don’t feel that way, I just feel that I haven’t had a chance to really perform and show people what I can do,” he said. “I get in, but I haven’t been in for several plays in a row.”

Bradford, who has caught two touchdown passes this season, came to USC after a stellar career at Colton High where he played linebacker and running back. He initially played safety during training camp in 2006 but was quickly switched to running back.

Bradford and his father met earlier this season with Carroll and Bradford is hoping for a larger role against Cal. But he said whatever workload the coaches give him would not affect his play on special teams, on which he has become a standout.

“He’s taken the approach of ‘I’m going to find a way to help my team and be a contributor as I develop,’ ” running backs coach Todd McNair said. “He’s been very good about it; he’s been very patient and he’s handled it very maturely.”

Bradford said he has thought about transferring “a couple times,” but that he is resolute that his time will come and that he will finish his career with the Trojans.

“If I transfer, it’s like I quit,” he said. “I committed here and I’m going to stick it out.

“It’s like I’m married to it. . . . If next year is my time, I’m going to take it and run with it.”

Butch Lewis will start in place of All-American left tackle Sam Baker (hamstring). . . . McKnight, who returns punts, also could return kickoffs against Cal, Carroll said.

gary.klein@latimes.com


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