USC’s Chris Galippo knows that his third consecutive start at middle linebacker will be his toughest.
Oregon State junior Jacquizz Rodgers is the Pacific 10 Conference’s third-leading rusher.
“Being the middle linebacker, you take it upon yourself to really shut down the run game,” Galippo said Thursday.
USC failed to slow Rodgers in two previous games.
As a freshman in 2008, Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns in 37 carries as the Beavers upset the top-ranked Trojans, 27-21, at Corvallis, Ore. Last season, he gained 113 yards and scored twice in a 42-36 USC victory at the Coliseum.
Galippo played against Rodgers in 2009, but Saturday’s game will be his first at Reser Stadium, where the Trojans have lost or struggled in each of their last three trips.
Rodgers has scored 13 touchdowns and averaged 99.2 yards a game while running behind a patchwork offensive line. He rushed for a season-high 140 yards against Washington on Oct. 16 and has eclipsed 100 yards four times.
The key to controlling him?
“Gang tackling — and having the entire defense running and tackling,” Galippo said. "[He’s] one of the best backs in the country and he’s going to get his yards. I’m sure he’s going to break a couple of plays but … we can’t give up explosion plays.”
Freshman running back Dillon Baxter was hospitalized Thursday because of an unspecified illness, Coach Lane Kiffin said.
Baxter arrived at the practice facility midway through the late-afternoon workout. He met afterward with running backs coach Kennedy Pola and was escorted off the field by a team trainer.
Kiffin said he was hopeful that Baxter would make the trip and play Saturday.
“We’re going to hydrate him up,” Kiffin said, adding that Baxter had already received intravenous fluids. “We’ll keep working on him through the night and then [Friday] morning.”
Don’t expect USC to follow Washington’s example of wearing all-black uniforms.
“I don’t see that ever happening here at SC,” Kiffin said.
Last season at Tennessee, the Volunteers wore black jerseys against South Carolina on Halloween night.
“There were 100,000 people [at Neyland Stadium] and I think 10,000 walked out when we came running out of the tunnel,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin, who usually refrains from naming a starting tailback, changed course by saying Marc Tyler had earned the spot and that “it’s his job to lose.” Tyler rushed for 160 yards in 31 carries last week against Arizona…. Cornerbacks Torin Harris and T.J. Bryant remained sidelined because of shoulder injuries. Both had MRI exams on Wednesday and are expected to be available Saturday, Kiffin said.