|USC Legends News|
Patience pays off for USC return man Johnson
In the past three weeks, Johnson has run with the kind of patience that paid off so well for Chauncey Washington in gaining a career-high 220 yards Saturday at Cal.
Take your time -- it's something his coaches, and previous return specialist C. J. Gable, had been telling Johnson to do. And now, in the past three games, he's returned nine kickoffs for 239 yards, a 26.6-yard average that includes 41-yarders the past two games, giving him six of more than 30 yards this season.
"Wait until you see the seam, then hit it," Johnson said.
He said it dawned on him as he was watching film of his returns, and now he's fourth in the Pac-10 with an average of 25 yards a return.
Johnson said he'd like to read the sidelines better, the way he did in high school when he picked a side, checked out the wide guy and just outran him.
The college game is too fast to do that, he said.
The other element of his game he's working on is the deep middle play-action pass from John David Booty that has just seemed to be out of his reach by a step or so all season.
Getting up to speed "coming out of the break" is the thing he has to work on, Johnson said.
Good Experience for Lewis
The work that left offensive tackle Butch Lewis is getting while starting for Sam Baker (pulled hamstring) in three of the past four games has been "invaluable" for Lewis' long-term development, Coach Pete Carroll said.
It's been beneficial for USC in the short term, too, with Lewis fitting in with an offensive line that made it possible for the Trojans to rush for 239 yards Saturday at Cal.
"If Coach said that, I agree with it," Lewis said, adding, "I thought I did pretty good."
Fifth-year senior center Matt Spanos thought so, too. Spanos, credited with making the right calls for whatever adjustments were needed against Cal, said it was the result of a complete week of good preparations for the five-man front.
"It was more of a physical thing than a mental one," Spanos said. "Cal didn't hide what they were going to do most of the time."
With an elastic sleeve on his right knee to limit any swelling, nose tackle Sedrick Ellis was just one of the veteran starters taking advantage of the bye week. He'll get back in action Sunday when the team gets down to game-week work for the Thanksgiving night Pac-10 showdown with Arizona State (5 p.m., ESPN).
Carroll said it "wasn't an injury, just some fluid" that was drained Monday.
Also getting the day off was Fred Davis (flu), allowing sophomore backup Anthony McCoy to run with the first unit all day. Others getting their shot were two wide receivers, redshirt Brandon Carswell and Arkansas transfer Damian Williams. Also out were cornerback Terrell Thomas (class project) and safety Kevin Ellison (test).
Linebackers Keith Rivers (high ankle sprain) and Clay Matthews Jr. (broken hand) were scheduled to see doctors after practice.
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