Not all the Trojans' best defenders are out. Cornerback Olaijah Griffin is back, and just in time to face off with Colorado standout wide receiver Laviska Shenault. It's an opportunity the sophomore relishes.
USC's best cornerback is back, again. After siting out for the second time in three games, Olaijah Griffin is back on the practice field and will play Friday versus Colorado. He's particularly looking forward to lining up in front of Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault.
"I think that's going to be a great matchup," Griffin said. "That's a real first-rounder. He's a big, physical guy. Shoot, I'm just going to have to show him what I got. I'm going to show him I'm a real DB. When you see a real DB, you're going to have to compete against him."
Griffin has been sidelined by back spasms and will likely be on some type of pitch count, though it might not be a small one. Isaac Taylor-Stuart is also healthier after impressively playing the bulk of the Arizona game despite an ankle injury. Chris Steele sat out Wednesday’s practice after tweaking his knee the previous day. The trio will likely rotate anyway. The question is how much will Griffin shadow Shenault. It's not a common tactic for Clancy Pendergast, although Griffin did frequently match up with Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson in Week 2. His defense was crucial to USC holding the Cardinal to a pair of first-half field goals after building a double-digit lead.
All three USC cornerbacks have been strong this season, with Griffin rating out slightly ahead. But will he have the strength to contain Shenault. His numbers this year (25 receptions, 342 yards, two touchdowns) are nothing to write home about, though they're seen more as a byproduct of Colorado's offensive struggles. Everyone knows, as Griffin himself alluded, Shenault can ball. And at some point he's bound to break out.
-- Adam Maya is a USC graduate and has been covering the Trojans since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJMaya.