August 30, 2007

Thursday Insider: O'Dowd's day

The Kristofer O'Dowd show ended with an official announcement, obvious to anyone paying attention during Thursday's practice: the true freshman will start at center, Saturday against Idaho.

After snapping almost every ball - for both the first and second-team - during Thursday's team drills, O'Dowd is set to become the first USC true freshman ever to start at center. This proclamation came one day after offensive line coach Pat Ruel said the Trojans were "set" with Jeff Byers at center and Alatini Malu at left guard.

Instead, Byers will remain at guard - where he has played throughout the fall - and O'Dowd will play in place of senior Matt Spanos, who tore his right triceps Tuesday.

What changed in a day?

"You know the guy's performed fairly well," Ruel said of O'Dowd. "Rather than move two guys, we decided just to move one."

How did O'Dowd prove his readiness?

"During camp … he (ticked) me off most of the time," Ruel said. "He's (ticking) me off less and less. That's how he got to this point."

For Byers, it has been a strange couple of days. Wednesday, Ruel pulled the junior aside to tell him he would be returning to center - the position USC recruited him to play. During that day's practice, Byers took most of the first-team reps at center.

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