USC’s Chris Galippo won’t make excuses

After spending a week answering questions about their confidence, toughness and that embarrassing loss to Stanford, USC’s players welcomed Saturday’s open date.

None, perhaps, more than middle linebacker Chris Galippo.

While others among the Trojans’ struggling front seven have been sidelined because of injuries or sat out plays because of rotations at their positions, Galippo has been on the field for nearly every meaningful snap this season.

That, of course, includes recent blowout losses against Oregon and Stanford, games in which the Trojans gave up a combined 716 rushing yards and 102 points.

So Galippo, a third-year sophomore and first-year starter, has been a focal point for scrutiny in the wake of Stanford’s 55-21 rout at the Coliseum.

“The last thing I want to do is make up an excuse,” he said. “You’ve just got to take it and treat it as a learning experience.”

Nevertheless, Galippo was ready for a respite, both mentally and physically, before the Trojans begin preparations for Saturday night’s game against UCLA at the Coliseum.

“This comes at a perfect time,” said the former Anaheim Servite High star, who has played through back and neck soreness and a knee bruise. “I’m ready to take a break. I’ll be ready to come back on Monday.”

More questions about the defense will await.

A main one: How could a unit that looked so good in the first half of the season play so poorly in the second?

Poor tackling has been an obvious issue, but inexperience, coaching decisions, injuries and a schedule that included six of the first nine games on the road also have taken a toll.

Former linebackers Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Kaluka Maiava, all NFL rookies, are among those who have called or texted Galippo.

“They’re wondering what’s up with us and stuff like that,” said Galippo, who is second on the team with 60 tackles. “I think they know that we’re young and know that we have lessons to learn. And somehow we’ve got to learn them -- whether that’s someone telling you or whether you’ve got to find out for yourself.”

Quick hits

Center Kristofer O’Dowd, who lost his starting job to Jeff Byers before the Oregon State game, has benefited from rest to his knee and shoulder. The junior is hoping for more snaps against UCLA. . . . The Trojans are off today. They return to practice Monday.