Trojans get ducks in a row up front

Times Staff Writer

EUGENE, Ore. -- Five offensive linemen who were on track to start USC's season opener will line up together for the first time in a game today when the ninth-ranked Trojans play fifth-ranked Oregon.

All-American left tackle Sam Baker, junior left guard Jeff Byers, senior center Matt Spanos, junior right guard Chilo Rachal and senior right tackle Drew Radovich are expected to start for a unit that has been wracked by injuries.

The Trojans utilized five starting combinations in the first seven games.

"Everybody is coming back to full strength," Coach Pete Carroll said Friday after the team's walk-through at Autzen Stadium.

Carroll said the back soreness that kept Radovich out of practice for two days this week had dissipated and that he would start.

Baker, who had sat out most of the last two games because of a hamstring injury, has been moving well since taking an anti-inflammatory injection on Wednesday.

Rachal is recovered from a knee injury that forced him to sit out more than three games.

"We have had some young, inexperienced guys, they did what they had to do and we came away with victories," tailback Chauncey Washington said Thursday. "We're going to be OK this week because everybody's back."

Freshman Kris O'Dowd (knee), who started the first four games at center after Spanos had suffered a torn triceps a few days before the opener, will practice next week, Carroll said.

USC linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive lineman Christian Tupou and fullback Alfred Rowe have brothers who play for Oregon.

Casey Matthews is a linebacker for the Ducks, Kenny Rowe is a defensive lineman and Fenuki Tupou is an offensive lineman.

Clay Matthews said he hoped to meet up with his younger brother on the punt return team.

"I was trying to get it worked out so that I could go up against him," Matthews said. "He's usually lined up on the other side of where I'm at. If I can do it, it will be fun."

Carroll said players were happy to breathe the crisp air in Eugene after practicing in Southern California, where fires had made for smoky conditions. . . . The weather forecast calls for sunny skies today with temperatures in the mid-60s. . . . USC is 36-15-2 against Oregon. . . . The Ducks have 57 players from California. USC has no players from Oregon.


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