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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Maualuga is pushing Lua for Spot

USC REPORT

Maualuga Pushing Lua for Spot

By Gary Klein
Times Staff Writer

August 18, 2006

While USC's offense adapts to a new quarterback calling plays this season, a transition in the defense's huddle also might be completed by the Sept. 2 opener at Arkansas.

Senior Oscar Lua started 11 games at middle linebacker in 2005, sophomore Rey Maualuga none.

But Maualuga continued to work mainly with the first-team defense during Thursday night's scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Coach Pete Carroll said a decision has not been made about a starter.

"We need to find out how much Rey knows, understands, how he adjusts and what we can count on because we pretty much know that about Oscar," Carroll said after Thursday's morning practice.

Lua, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the scrimmage, knows there is nothing he can do but continue to play hard.

"I've done it for the last year so I'm just kind of waiting around, seeing when the coaches tell me, 'Hey, all right, get back in there,' or 'You lost your job' " Lua said recently. "I'm in an awkward position but that's just the way it is."

Asked after the scrimmage about his status, Lua said, "We'll see how it all plays out."

Maualuga, 6 feet 3 and 250 pounds, has been regarded as one of the Trojans' best athletes on defense since his arrival last season. Improved knowledge of the scheme and command in the huddle have fueled his push toward the starting lineup.

"Last year, my goal was to get on the field and just get a feel for the game," Maualuga said. "Now the goal is different. I just want to go out there and dominate."

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