LOS ANGELES -- As the Trojans enter the final week of spring ball practices, it’s clear that the spring was impacted by the number of injuries, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
There was only one major injury -- the knee ligament tear for Tre Madden that will sideline him for the year -- while the rest were a series of seemingly minor problems that popped up.
George Farmer, Randall Telfer and Buck Allen have all missed time with hamstrings, Xavier Grimble and Junior Pomee had foot issues, Soma Vainuku had a bad back and Robert Woods (ankle) and Christian Thomas (hip) both missed the entire spring. All are expected back by the time fall camp arrives.
The lack of depth at the skill positions forced the coaches to alter plans for every scrimmage so far. The first scheduled scrimmage was canceled altogether in favor of a normal practice schedule, the second scrimmage was so limited that Lane Kiffin turned over the play-calling to other coaches, while the third scrimmage was a non-tackling session.
Is this a major issue for the offense for the 2012 season? Probably not. This is a pretty veteran group and it stands to reason that they will be able to pick things right back up with summer workouts and fall camp. Still, it would have been nice to get in a little more work with the full complement of available players.
There is also an impact on the defense. With the USC offense not at full strength, the defense didn’t get to work against the best possible competition they could face. As far as the defensive health, the only real issue from spring was the loss of Cody Temple to an ankle injury. Temple had played well after being moved to nose guard, and that should be a nice competition to watch when he returns in the fall to compete with J.R. Tavai and Antwaun Woods.
If one wants to look at the bright side of what happened with the offensive injuries this spring, you can look to some players who got more work than expected and took advantage of it. Two big examples of that would have to be De’Von Flournoy and Victor Blackwell. Both receivers were looking for a chance to show the coaches that they deserved consideration in a deep receiver rotation and they both showed well.
Then there was the effort we saw all spring from Curtis McNeal. With such a depleted running back group there was no rest for a returning senior starter this spring. McNeal went out there every day and looked every bit ready for his role as “the man” for the Trojans running game.
One area of the offense that didn’t seem to really be impacted by injuries was the offensive line. Khaled Holmes missed a few practices with a sore calf but, other than that, the o-line pretty much stayed intact all spring.