Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Los Angeles Times: Jarrett awaits matchup with Cal cornerback

USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett got to know California cornerback Daymeion Hughes last spring when both traveled to Arizona for the annual Playboy All-American preseason photo shoot. "We were chatting it up, just talking about the SC-Cal rivalry," Jarrett said Tuesday. The two players will renew their acquaintance Saturday when the fourth-ranked Trojans play the 17th-ranked Golden Bears for the Pacific 10 Conference title.  Hughes, a former Crenshaw High star who is tied for the national lead with eight interceptions, will try to neutralize flanker Steve Smith and Jarrett, who was slowed by injuries early in the season but appears to be regaining his form.  "I'm pretty sure they're going to put him on me and it's going to be a great battle between us," said Jarrett, who has 42 receptions, six for touchdowns. USC Coach Pete Carroll compared the 6-foot-2, 188-pound Hughes to former USC cornerback Will Poole. "He's covering everybody in the country so far," Carroll said. "He's had a great season and he's going to be a terrific pro. He's got a really instinctive style that he showed in high school too. … He's really matured well now and he's a real playmaker guy."

Taylor Mays is over the fear factor. USC's freshman free safety never was afraid of high-powered passing attacks, but the fear of making a mistake slowed him some. "I think that I was very conscious of making mistakes early just because I was put in a starting situation," said Mays, who replaced Josh Pinkard after the junior suffered a season-ending knee injury in USC's opener at Arkansas. "Now, I'm not OK with making mistakes, but I'm not scared to make one. I'm OK taking shots. I feel more comfortable, which is allowing me to play faster." Mays will be on the spot against Cal. Golden Bears quarterback Nate Longshore leads the Pac-10 in passing. Receiver DeSean Jackson has five receptions of 40 yards or longer and Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan also are deep threats. "They've beat everybody deep consistently," Carroll said. "They've torched our conference so [Mays] has a big role this week to make sure that doesn't happen."

Running back Chauncey Washington (knee) did not practice but said he would play against Cal…. Linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee) and defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis (general soreness) sat out but are expected to practice today…. Receiver Chris McFoy (shoulder) and fullback Stanley Havili were not cleared to play Saturday.

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