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Smith back within the Trojans’ grasp

USC Coach Pete Carroll on Saturday all but made official what has been evident since offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian became head coach at Washington:

Carl Smith appears set to rejoin the Trojans staff as quarterbacks coach.

Smith, who held the same position in 2004, is observing practices this week and has been a presence around the program since the Notre Dame game last month. For the last two days, Smith has worn a USC sweat shirt and cap.

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Asked if Smith would officially be in place by the end of the weekend, Carroll said, “Carl’s here and sitting with us and working with us -- it looks good. We’ve got some stuff we’ve got to work out. If we can get that thing all ironed out, I’ll be really happy about that.”

Sarkisian will remain with the Trojans and call plays in the Rose Bowl against Penn State.

Receivers coach John Morton will succeed Sarkisian as offensive coordinator, but Carroll has not yet determined who will call plays next season.

Morton has said he would remain in the coaching booth in the press box. Smith, the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator in 2005 and 2006, would be on the field.

Earlier this week, Smith declined to comment about the possibility of rejoining the staff, saying only “I love watching this team practice.”

Next generation

With the entire starting linebacker corps moving on after the Rose Bowl, younger players have taken a preponderance of first-team snaps throughout early bowl practices.

Redshirt freshman Chris Galippo has manned the middle, flanked by sophomores Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith.

The trio is expected to step in next season for Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Kaluka Maiava.

“It’s good for me, Mike and Malcolm getting used to playing next to each other,” said Galippo, who sat out the first three games this season while recovering from back surgery.

“I was so far behind when I first started, but now I think I’ve pretty much caught up.”

Galippo intends to increase his strength and fitness before spring practice as he prepares to step in for Maualuga, an All-American who was the defensive most valuable player in the 2008 Rose Bowl.

Morgan and Smith also are expected to be bigger and stronger.

“We’re going to be so young [next season] it will take us a few games, but I think once we get rolling we can be some pretty scary dudes,” Galippo said.

The three linebackers will be part of a defense that could have eight or nine new starters.

“It’s going to be a lot of new faces,” Galippo said. “SC fans can just look forward to a bunch of different guys that play with different styles.”

Quick kicks

Carroll, speaking of the balance in Penn State’s offense, said the Trojans have played against strong skill-position players on other teams, “but never a collection of guys this season of all of them together. They’re loaded in the right spots.”. . . . Former USC graduate assistant Demetrice Martin, who was hired by Sarkisian to coach defensive backs at Washington, attended practice. . . . The Trojans practice today and Monday at 1 p.m. and 11 a.m. on Tuesday before breaking for Christmas.

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gary.klein@latimes.com


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