Tape It Up: Pac-10 In Pain

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Pac-10 In Pain

Headlining the Pac-10's long list of injury news is USC head coach Pete Carroll's official announcement on Thursday that backup Mark Sanchez will be starting at quarterback when USC takes on Arizona on Saturday. USC may be ailing more than most, but that does not make them the only team dealing with injuries as this week's conference matchups inch closer.

USC starting QB John David Booty threw 50 passes in practice on Tuesday, but after his broken middle finger swelled up again, he did not throw on Wednesday or Thursday, making him doubtful for any playing time at all this weekend. Walk-on Michael McDonald will back up Sanchez on an increasingly thin Trojan roster.

In USC's latest injury epidemic, the offensive line definitely took the biggest hit. Starters Kristofer O'Dowd and Chilo Rachal will miss the game with knee injuries, backups Charles Brown and Thomas Herring are questionable with ailments of their own, Jeff Byers will step in either at guard or center, despite his jammed thumb, and senior Matt Spanos will take one for the team and play with the seven stitches recently put into his right hand.

That's not the end of the line, either. Tailback Stafon Johnson was hoping to have his sprained left foot back up to 90 percent by Saturday, but said on Thursday he is not close enough to that level to be able to contribute.

Mining Miller
Brent Miller, Arizona State's starting tight end, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday to determine whether he had sustained any cartilage or ligament damage to his right knee. Miller, the Sun Devils' most experienced player as the only man on the roster to compete in all 37 games through his first three seasons on the team, has missed two of the last four games after suffering a grade 1 MCL strain against Colorado on Sept. 8. He took a different hit on the same knee in the waning seconds of the Oregon State matchup on Sept. 22. Miller had reconstructive ACL surgery on that right knee in 2003, redshirting his freshman season, so the arthroscopic surgery will make sure that nothing has been permanently damaged.

Through four games, the redshirt senior has nine receptions for 88 yards.

Brady Conrad, Tyrice Thompson, Andrew Pettes and Jovon Williams will all fight it out for the right to replace Miller in Saturday's game against Washington.

Unsure on Longshore
Cal quarterback Nate Longshore took his first reps during Thursday's practice since spraining his right ankle against Cal on Sept. 29, but head coach Jeff Tedford is still unsure whether or not the junior will be ready to take the field on Saturday against Oregon State. Longshore's pain tolerance and ability to be mobile will both be taken into account in making the game-time decision, but the injured right ankle can cause a host of problems for the right-handed passer, most glaringly in the signal-caller's ability to plant and push off in his throwing motion.

Longshore looked hesitant in some of his drops during Thursday's practice, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported that all of his passes were crisp. Backup Kevin Riley took about three-quarters of the reps with the first-team offense, as Tedford has no desire to overwork Longshore before he is ready. Last week's bye was a blessing for the QB, as he had seven extra days to work his ankle up to speed before running the risk of missing any game time. Although he may not start, he certianly is closer to being productive this week than he was last week at this time.

Through five games, Longshore has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards, an average of 227.4 yards per game, with seven touchdowns and two picks.

Also questionable to play this week is starting rover Marcus Ezeff, who has missed practices all week with a strained quadriceps. Junior Bernard Hicks will step into his starting role if Ezeff cannot go. Stating fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou is also questionable with a partially-torn MCL. He has participated in full-contact drills all week, but he is not certain to play on Saturday.

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