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Football News and Notes

Taking a break from all the intrigue going on across town as a couple of item popped up on the radar in regards to football.

When John David Booty broke his finger SC hopes for playing in the title game were essentially dashed. His continuing to play in the Stanford game and his subsequent layoff to recover from the injury had a damaging effect on the season. Well, it appears that Booty's finger continues to have some swelling though he claims that it isn't really affecting how he handles the ball.

It might seem like forever since USC quarterback John David Booty broke his finger. And even longer to forget the loss to 41-point underdog Stanford.

But Booty's finger still will not forget. Following Thursday's practice, Booty unveiled a still swollen finger on his right hand, 10 weeks after the injury.

"It won't slim down," Booty said. "I'm not sure why, either. It's not changing my grip or my passes but it's still swollen."

USC tried to give Booty a weekend off after the regular season, but it didn't work.

I'm sure his injury was never completely healed when he resumed his duties as a starter so this is a byproduct of that injury. Lets just hope that he performs well like he did in the Rose Bowl Last year.

Speaking of last year's top performers, Brian Cushing suffered a minor knee injury in practice this week. It has been a real downer of a year for Cush after he suffered an ankle sprain in the team's first game against Idaho and he really hasn't been the same since. Sometimes you just snakebit for a season and this year it was Cushing who took the hit.

[C]ushing was selected as the defensive player of the game in last season's Rose Bowl despite a knee injury that had forced him to miss most of the Trojans' final preparations.

The junior linebacker from New Jersey might have inadvertently set himself up for a similar scenario Friday.

Cushing went down in a heap after knocking knees with receiver Brandon Carswell and needed assistance off the practice field at the Home Depot Center. With his knee wrapped in ice, he sat solemnly on a trainer's table for the remainder of the workout and then limped to the locker room.

Cushing said he might have suffered a bone bruise.

"I thought the worst when it happened," he said. "I mean it hurt like hell. "I'm sure it's going to be sore, but I'll play in the game. There's no doubt."

It seems that a lot of guys are banged up, Turner (bruised Quad), Washington (Hip Pointer) but I have no doubt that Cush and the others will be ready to go for the Rose Bowl.

Of more concern is Keith Rivers' sprained ankle, he has been in and out of a boot since the ucla game and it continues to be a big concern on the defense.

On Thursday, it did not take long for the Trojans to see something somewhat out of the ordinary: Senior linebacker Keith Rivers worked with the first-unit defense during an early portion of practice.

Rivers has been slowed by a left ankle sprain and bone bruise suffered Nov. 10 against California. The injuries kept him out of the Arizona State game, limited him against UCLA and have kept him sidelined since bowl practices began.

But Rivers, the Trojans' second-leading tackler, intends to play on New Year's Day against Illinois.

"I'm going to keep taking baby steps," Rivers said. "Hopefully, I can get some significant reps in the next couple days and hopefully plunge into it full-go next week."

Coach Pete Carroll was encouraged by Rivers' work but is preparing for junior Kaluka Maiava to play in his spot. Maiava started against Arizona State and made 10 tackles.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am concerned about his availability but we also should be comforted in knowing that we have some depth and we have had to move guys around at linebaker all season long so this might be another one of those times. Lets hope Rivers is ready to go next week.

Rey Rey may be having some second thoughts about the NFL draft, as he will file paperwork to be evaluated NFL's College Advisory Committee to see where he might go in the draft.

Maualuga previously said he would return for his senior season, but now he wants feedback from the NFL.

"Eventually, I'll do it," Maualuga said. "As soon as the season's done and everything is over."

USC coach Pete Carroll said he was not surprised Maualuga would seek an evaluation.

"It's good for guys to get information," Carroll said.

Maualuga is considered the junior with the most draft potential, but as recently as two weeks ago said he would come back, "even if I had a great game in the Rose Bowl."

I think he'll stay but he is in a good position to see where he would end up so the information will be good to have.

I will have some news on the basketball team al little later today.