It is now or never for Galippo

LOS ANGELES CA - NOVEMBER 27: Running back Robert Hughes #33 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish carries the ball against linebacker Chris Galippo #54 of the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 27 2010 in Los Angeles California. Notre Dame won 20-16. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Chris Gallippo has had an up and down career at USC.

Galippo was next big thing, he was supposed to be the next Maualga plugging up the middle, but injuries have plagued his time at USC.

Such is the case now...

USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo watched from afar — about 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage — as freshman Lamar Dawson took most of the snaps during full-contact drills the last two weeks.

Now, with the opener against Minnesota a week away, Galippo knows that he must prove his injured right shoulder is sound.

"It's getting down to the nitty-gritty," Galippo said Friday. "I've got to be able get a good week of full-contact practice."

Galippo, a fifth-year senior, suffered a sprained shoulder early in training camp and was limited for two weeks. He participated in a scrimmage at the Coliseum last Sunday but has mostly shadowed Dawson since.

For all the promise Galippo has been sporadic. Even with some of Galippo's great play when he has been healthy we needed more of it over the years.

Kiffin has said that if Galippo doesn't practice next week then he won't start against Minnesota. I hate to see Galippo's final year at USC start off with him being injured.

If Galippo can't go then it looks like freshman Lamar Dawson will get the call...

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Dawson has performed well in Galippo's absence, even intercepting a Matt Barkley pass this week.

But the Kentucky native lacks college game experience.

"There's a lot that goes into playing middle linebacker at any age," Kiffin said. "As a true freshman that wasn't a midyear [enrollee], that's a lot on him. But we feel very confident."

We have had freshman start before.

We find out next Saturday...

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