The Emerald Bowl will be a new experience for USC, which is accustomed to playing higher-profile games during the bowl season.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the Trojans will throw caution to the wind.
Asked Thursday if the Dec. 26 game against Boston College would provide an opportunity to experiment, offensive play-caller Jeremy Bates was steadfast.
“We’re not going to change and go to the spread offense,” Bates said after practice. “This offense has been successful. We just have to keep improving and execution has to get better and we just need to clean some things up.
“But we’re not going to change who we are. This has been a proven offense. It’s worked over the past seven, eight years and that’s what we’re going to do.”
USC’s offense never got consistently in sync this season.
The Trojans (8-4) averaged 385 yards a game, sixth in the Pacific 10 Conference and 58th among 120 major college teams.
USC averaged 26.7 points, also sixth in the Pac-10 and 64th nationally.
“We’re all disappointed in the season, of course,” Bates said. “The fans are, all the players and coaches, but we’re not going to hang our heads.”
Bates, who worked seven seasons in the NFL before succeeding Steve Sarkisian as the Trojans’ quarterbacks coach and play-caller, acknowledged that the staff experienced “some growing pains,” as he learned the offense last spring.
Bates also tried to work through the change from the pro to the college level.
“It’s a different game,” Bates said. “You’re seeing a lot of different style defenses in college and the [hash marks] are different, so it’s a completely different game.”
Tailback Allen Bradford left practice early after suffering a right knee strain when he was tackled during a drill.
“They said everything was cool — all my ligaments are straight — it’s just a little sore,” Bradford said.
Junior C.J. Gable would move up on the depth chart if Bradford were unable to play, Coach Pete Carroll said.
Injured tailback Stafon Johnson attended practice but declined through a team spokesman to speak with reporters.
Johnson is expected to announce soon that he will make himself available for the NFL draft.
“He’s thinking about coming out,” Carroll said.
Johnson played in four games before suffering near-fatal throat injuries in a September weightlifting accident.
“He’s on film this year,” Carroll said in regard to pro scouts’ ability to evaluate Johnson. “It’s like anybody else that got injured. It’s obviously a more dramatic situation, but he’s almost ready to go.
“His conditioning will tell the story the next month or so.”
Cornerback Shareece Wright will play on special teams and is in contention to start in place of injured Josh Pinkard, Carroll said. Wright was academically ineligible this season but was cleared to play against Boston College. . . . Receiver David Ausberry (leg) continues to increase his workload and is on track to play against Boston College, Carroll said. . . . After today’s practice, the Trojans will be off for two days before returning to practice Monday morning. They’ll leave for San Francisco after Monday’s practice.