Tape It Up: USC: Time To Hit Someone Else

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USC: Time To Hit Someone Else

High-intensity pre-game workouts are one thing, but knocking out your teammates days before the season opener is quite another. USC would do well to learn the difference, as two key players were injured in Tuesday's practice, shining the haze of doubt on their ability to take the field on Saturday against Idaho. In Southern California, it's definitely time for the Trojans to start hitting someone else, so that they can stop hitting each other.

Starting wide receiver Patrick Turner should watch what he wishes for. On Monday afternoon, he told reporters that the team is ready for some different competition, "someone you really want to hit in the mouth." Turns out linebacker Rey Maualuga didn't get the entirety of the message, and only heard the "someone to hit in the mouth" part. In Tuesday's practice, Maualuga knocked Turner to the turf on a pass over the middle, laying out the 6-foot-5, 220-pound receiver with a hard helmet-to-helmet hit. Turner's arm went numb and the collision, which coach Pete Carroll called "a vicious hit," sounded like thunder in the junior's helmet. He was down for the count, surrounded by trainers as he laid sprawled on the turf.

The injury was most likely a stinger to the neck, but Turner was sent for X-rays after practice and his status for this weekend will be determined after looking at the pictures. Maualuga apologized for the hit, but said it was almost predictable. That's all well and good, but make it predictable on the other team's wideouts, not your own. With the number of tailbacks already scaled back considerably, there's no need for USC to take out any more of its own players as the countdown to kickoff continues to dwindle.

Maybe USC is already too good to practice against itself, as Turner wasn't the only injury of the day. Senior center Matt Spanos also sustained an injury in Tuesday's practice, injuring his right triceps while attempting to block All-American nose tackle Sedrick Ellis. He'll need an MRI to figure out if he is healthy enough to play, and if the injury is a torn muscle, as offensive line coach Pat Ruel fears, a fire drill of sorts will ensue to fill the gap for the weeks that Spanos will miss - left guard Jeff Byers will move over to center and either Alantini Malu, Drew Radovich or Zach Heberer would move to the left guard slot.

Gable Gets the Green Light
Tailback Chauncey Washington is definitely out for this Saturday with a Grade 3 shoulder sprain, but sophomore C. J. Gable will be ready to go, despite a lingering abdominal strain, as will true freshman Joe McNight, after being fitted for a more protective brace to wear over his sprained right knee. By not pushing Washington, last season's leading rusher, in what should be a gimme game for the Trojans, Carroll hopes to have his tailback rotation back and rotating by Sept. 15's showdown with Nebraska.

Carroll announced Tuesday that if Gable remains healthy, he will get the start over sophomores Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford, who both had better camps, but lack experience. Gable started five games for the Trojans last season, including the final four games of the year, and led USC in rushing in those final contests, tallying 434 yards on 111 carries. Bradford ran for ran for 42 yards on 13 carries last season, while Johnson appeared only in three games, logging just 17 yards on 3 carries against Stanford.

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