Jeremy Galten's going to be nervous starting his first-ever Division I football game on Saturday at the Coliseum, he freely admits.
But he's going to handle it, he said, with the help of two fellow linemen who will be flanking him all game long in left tackle Matt Kalil and center Khaled Holmes.
See, Galten fits right in between the two on the O-line as the Trojans' No. 1 left guard, and he's been using that positioning to his advantage over the last week-plus, calling on the two upperclassmen for advice often and without hesitation.
"Either way," Galten said Thursday, when asked which of his teammates help him out on field. I've got Khaled to my right and Matt Kalil to my left. I'm surrounded by two great football players."
For USC, that's both good and bad. It means the team's biggest potential weak spot will be minimized by having the two best linemen on opposite sides of it, but it also means the team's biggest potential strength will be split up by an inexperienced juco transfer in Galten.
Also, he's not yet officially the starter, as coach Lane Kiffin hasn't made an official announcement and Galten hasn't been told either, but it's almost 100% clear he'll be the guy. The only case in which he wouldn't is if Abe Markowitz can somehow make a miraculous return from a foot injury to be fully healthy Saturday and convince the coaches as such.
Galten, who played left guard at College of San Mateo in the Bay Area for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, said he never envisioned himself starting his college debut.
"I've been here for eight months now and I didn't think so," Galten said. "Talk to me nine months ago and I wouldn't even think I'd be here. But it is what it is and I definitely think I've put myself in the position to be where I'm at."
He began his USC career in the spring as a right tackle, practicing in place of the then-injured Kevin Graf. He also spent time at right guard before moving to left guard midway through camp. But even with all the moving and shaking and injuries on the offensive line, Galten said he feels he's adequately prepared to play a full game for the Trojans.
"Definitely," he said after his final preparatory session Thursday. "I was playing guard earlier in the camp and I've been playing tackle. It's not that much different, so I definitely know enough going into the game."