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Friday, November 28, 2008

USC's Rey Maualuga knows he'll battle emotions

The Trojans' senior linebacker is unsure how he'll react at the start of his final home game at the Coliseum, Saturday against Notre Dame.
By Gary Klein
November 28, 2008
Rey Maualuga did not wait until Saturday to get emotional about playing his last game for USC at the Coliseum.

After the Trojans' victory over California on Nov. 8, the senior linebacker's eyes welled as he stammered through a postgame interview. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Maualuga apologized, citing the fact that he had just completed his second-to-last Coliseum appearance.

"I was just thinking of freshman year, knowing how fast it's all gone," Maualuga said Thursday after a morning practice.

So when the fifth-ranked Trojans gather tonight for team meetings and walk down the Coliseum tunnel on Saturday before playing Notre Dame, Maualuga isn't quite sure how he will react.

Coach Pete Carroll has warned players to avoid letting emotion get the best of them, as former quarterback Matt Leinart did before the Trojans played UCLA in 2005.

"We've handled it really well over the years," Carroll said. "I use Matt's example because I don't want them to create such a frenzy that they can't perform the way they want to."

Maualuga acknowledged that might be easier said than done.

"It's easy for Coach to say because he returns every year with a great team," said Maualuga, a Butkus Award finalist. "I'm saying now I'm not going to be emotional, but it's going to be hard."

Defensive tackle Fili Moala and receiver Patrick Turner are among the seniors who will be introduced before the game.

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