Trojans still dealing with injuries, depth

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
8:45
AM PT
As the Trojans continue game week preparations for Hawaii, here is a look at some of the key topics from fall camp.

QB battle: So it appears as if the Trojans will be splitting time at the quarterback spot against Hawaii. Lane Kiffin is playing his cards so close to the vest on this one that he won’t even decide who will start the game until the team lands in Hawaii on Tuesday night. The good news is that all the hoopla will come to an end on Thursday night, once the actual game begins. Either Cody Kessler or Max Wittek will jog onto the field for the opening possession, and that will be that. How things progress from there depends on Kiffin, who eventually either will pick a starter or continue with the two-headed role.

[+] EnlargeJustin Davis
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsTrue freshman Justin Davis could get a lot of work against Hawaii as the Trojans deal with injuries.
Depth issue at tailback: The Trojans came into camp with six tailbacks, but injuries limited five of those backs at various points. Kiffin already has said Silas Redd -- the projected starter -- might not play against Hawaii as he continues to rehab from a spring knee injury. If Tre Madden is healthy, don’t be surprised if he gets a lot of work, along with Justin Davis and Buck Allen. Madden and Davis did some good things in camp, while Allen stayed healthy and got a lot of work. Ty Isaac could be in that mix, as well. D.J. Morgan did not play in camp due to injury.

Big 3 at receiver: There has been a lot of discussion about the lack of depth for the Trojans at the wide receiver spot. With offseason injuries to George Farmer and Steven Mitchell, the Trojans suited up only five scholarship receivers for fall camp, where it seemed like all five took turns getting banged up. The good news is that the season is starting with the top three players available in the rotation in Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers. Even if that is the extent of depth at the position for the opener, you would be hard pressed to find a better trio of receivers lining up for any team in the nation.

Wheeler takes over: There wasn’t a more surprising development in spring than to see Chad Wheeler take over at left tackle when Aundrey Walker went out for a few days due to injury. Wheeler, who had seen limited practice time in his USC career due to shoulder and knee issues, settled in quickly, and by time Walker returned, Wheeler had shown enough to stay, so Walker was put at right guard.

Hope Abe is able to play: If there is any football karma out there for Abe Markowitz, it stands to reason he will get a chance for some extended playing time against Hawaii. Markowitz played at Punahou High School in Honululu and would love nothing more than to play in Aloha Stadium in front of the home crowd after being forced to miss the Trojans' trip to Hawaii in 2010 due to an injury suffered the week of the game. Markowitz, who returned to the team as a walk-on this fall after missing spring ball, is a reserve center and guard in his sixth-year of eligibility.

Dominant pair: It has been a long time since the Trojans had a duo of interior defensive linemen as good as Leonard Williams and George Uko. Remember the days of Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson? Those two formed a pretty impressive wall in the middle of the USC line, and the current pair has a chance to do some special things of their own. Kiffin has said Williams is the kind of player normally found in the middle of top-flight SEC lines, while he also said Uko -- and Devon Kennard -- were two players who brought consistent championship work ethic to fall camp.

[+] EnlargeMorgan Breslin
AP Photo/Chris SzagolaMorgan Breslin hasn't dressed for practice since suffering an ankle injury more than two weeks ago.
Missing Morgan: The Trojans suffered a lot of injuries during fall camp, with as many as 23 players sitting out of a given practice. Most of the injuries were relatively minor, but one that has lasted is the injury to outside linebacker Morgan Breslin. When Morgan first went out more than two weeks ago, it was an apparent ankle injury that didn’t look to be a problem. However, that Breslin hasn’t suited up since. He is a critical weapon for the USC pass rush, and the Trojans will be looking to get him back in action as soon as possible.

Rotation in secondary: Judging by the depth chart released by Kiffin over the weekend, there doesn’t seem to be much settled in the way of a rotation in the secondary. All four spots had “OR” designations to indicate that no starter had been selected yet. This might not be a bad thing at the two safety spots, as the Trojans appear to go three-deep at both spots. Kiffin said the corner position will have Kevon Seymour, Anthony Brown and Torin Harris as the top three in that rotation.

Solid addition: The Trojans got a verbal commitment last Friday from ESPN 300 DE/OLB Malik Dorton from St. John Bosco of Bellflower (Calif). Dorton (6-foot-2, 235) is known as a run-stopping defensive end who likely will play outside linebacker in the USC 5-2 defensive scheme. He becomes the eighth verbal commit for the Trojans in the class of 2014.

Garry Paskwietz | email

Publisher, WeAreSC.com

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