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U of I merchandise selling well ahead of Rose Bowl

As USC prepares for Illinois, everything points toward containing quarterback Juice Williams, who passed for nearly 1,500 yards and ran for almost 800.

However, USC linebacker Rey Maualuga seemed more impressed with his backup, freshman Eddie McGee, following Saturday's practice.

"His backup, (McGee), has more option runs and is faster than (Williams)," Maualuga said.

And Maualuga bristled at comparisons between Williams and Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon.

"Dennis Dixon is special," he said. "You can't really compare him with that."

Williams, however, will be the Trojans' top priority going into the Rose Bowl, something even Maualuga acknowledged.

"We'll feed off the Washington and Oregon games," he said. "Oregon really ripped us throwing out of the pocket. We'll feed off the Oregon loss. It's not like we haven't faced an option quarterback."

Maualuga, who is a junior, reiterated he would not turn pro even if he had a "remarkable" Rose Bowl.

"I don't think I'm going to have a remarkable game to change my mind," Maualuga said. "I'm not going to change my mind."

Last chance

Quarterback Mitch Mustain said he does view bowl practices as a significant final step before competing for the starting job in the spring.

"This is my last chance before going into spring," Mustain said. "It can change impressions and I hope it does. I hope I've improved a lot."

Mustain said he felt better Saturday than Friday, as he took a healthy amount of snaps with starter John David Booty off to attend a class field trip.

"Today I played a lot faster and better," Mustain said.

USC coach Pete Carroll said the quarterbacks, including Mustain, looked good in this weekend's workouts although Mustain did force a pass and was intercepted.

"I just tried to force it," Mustain said. "I tried to make a play."

Carroll said Mustain and freshman Aaron Corp can benefit the most during December.

"This is a great chance for the quarterbacks," Carroll said.

Carroll comparison

Asked about Illinois, Carroll made the following analysis: "Offensively, they're like Oregon. Defensively, like Cal, style wise."

Youthful look

With more freshmen and sophomores getting a chance in the first two bowl practices, Carroll said several stood out so far.

"(Wide receiver) Ronald Johnson got some good reps with the first group. (Linebacker) Malcolm Smith jumps out," he said. "(Center) Alex Parsons looks like a different guy."








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