Tape It Up: USC: Booty Not Better, O-Line Decidedly Worse

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USC: Booty Not Better, O-Line Decidedly Worse

Things simply do not look good for USC. Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez played just well enough to get by on Saturday, as the Trojans avoided a second-straight upset loss by topping Arizona, 20-13, but USC would certainly like its starter back starting. Unfortunately, it does not look like John David Booty will be healthy in time to take the field against Notre Dame next week, and even if he is, the continued plague of injuries to the offensive line should make him all the more wary about returning to the field, and a collapsing pocket, ahead of schedule.

Booty's broken finger may hamper the QB's throwing ability for the next two or three weeks, according to head coach Pete Carroll. Booty's finger was again swollen on Saturday, but the senior expects to be testing the finger with some throws in Tuesday's practice. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said it might be "difficult" for Booty to return to the lineup on Saturday against Notre Dame, no matter how healthy Booty thinks he feels.

On the protection side, USC's offensive linemen are dropping like flies. The unit was already missing two starters heading into Saturday's game, and it looks as though they will be missing two more for next week, not to mention a linebacker and a safety. All-American tackle Sam Baker left the game with a hamstring strain and freshman guard Zack Heberer sustained a shoulder bruise in the game, adding two more names to USC's never-ending list of broken linemen.

When asked about the status of his offensive line, Carroll said that "we've never been like this before." That's certainly an understatement. The line was already depleted coming into the contest as starting guard Chilo Rachal was out with a knee, starting center Kris O'Dowd has missed a couple of games with a knee injury, and backup tackle Charles Brown is out with an ankle. And those are just the most recent additions to the injured list.

Baker is questionable for next week's game at Notre Dame. Redshirt freshman Butch Lewis filled his shoes after Baker left the game on Saturday, but Rachal might be back in time to help, which is good news for a line that is reportedly now down to one reserve, a converted defensive lineman in Alex Parsons.

On the defensive side, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga injured his hip and safety Kevin Ellison may have broken his nose during Saturday's game. Maualuga sustained an injury in the second quarter on a play against running back Chris Jennings. He left the field with help, but was able to return at the start of the third quarter. He participated in one play in that quarter but said he doubts he will be able to take the field against the Irish.

"It felt like I tore something out of there," Maualuga said.

Luther Brown came in for Maualuga and made six tackles, but Maualuga is not someone the ailing Trojans can afford to be without, especially now, as they must show that they are better than their last three performances if they are going to make some moves in the BCS.

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