Tape It Up: USC: Injured Trojan Army

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USC: Injured Trojan Army

USC escaped what would have been a disastrous loss by slipping through the clutches of Washington last week, and with down-and-out Stanford on tap for this week, the Trojans probably picked the best possible time to be hit with a list of injuries thicker than their depth chart. But this lineup is just ridiculous.

Freshman center Kris O'Dowd dislocated his kneecap in last week's game and has decided to have arthroscopic surgery this week to repair the damage. He will be out for three to four weeks, which would schedule his return for the week of the Oregon game.

On the same play in which O'Dowd went down, guard Chilo Rachal sprained a knee ligament and is currently listed as day-to-day, but head coach Pete Carroll has said he could miss as much as three weeks. As if by some sick joke, Alatini Malu, who came in when Rachal left the game, strained a hamstring, but hopes to be back in time to play agaist the Cardinal. Just in case none of the experienced players is healthy enough to start, redshirt freshman Zack Heberer has been taking snaps with the first-team offense.

Sophomore tailback Stafon Johnson has been watching practices from a cart while his deeply bruised left foot rests in a protective boot. Johnson sustained the injuries during the last two carries he had against Washington. Johnson leads the team in all-purpose yardage, averaging 96 yards per game on the ground and through the air.

With sophomore C.J. Gable opting to have season-ending abdominal surgery to take care of his bothersome sports hernia, the Trojans' laundry list of tailbacks vying for playing time have suddenly been released from their supporting roles and are being given a chance at the limelight.

Gable's sports hernia has been bothering him since last season, even though through three games in 2007, he was averaging a team-best 11 yards per cary. He was held out of the Washington game in anticipation of applying for a medical redshirt, and has chosen to do so after being examined by doctors who advised im to have the surgery now instead of waiting until the end of the season. The surgery should require an eight-week recovery, which will give Gable more than enough time to be ready for spring 2008 practices.

Remember that absurd amount of depth the Trojans have had at tailback all season? It's time to cash in.

With Gable gone and Johnson unlikely to go on Saturday, the remaining four backs inter into a replace-Johnson competition in which all should see some time on Saturday. Seniors Hershel Dennis and Desmond Reed, sophomore Allen Bradford and freshman Joe McKnight will all split time in the alternate position alongside senior Chauncey Washington. Most likely, they will not split the time evenly.

McKnight's speed seems to have made him the frontrunner in this race, although he had no carries last week.

On the defensive side, junior corner Cary Harris is practicing with a shoulder injury and hopes to be ready to play on Saturday, although he has yet to be cleared for contact by team doctors. His replacement, sophomore Shareece Wright, has a hamstring strain that could also keep him out of the lineup. Senior Mozique McCurtis is ready to step in if Nos. 1 and 2 are both unable to play, although he spent much of Wednesday's practice icing his left knee.

Defensive end Kyle Moore has missed practice time this week due to illness, and his return was not speculated.

If the Trojans sustain any more injuries, the coaches may soon be accused of sabotage.

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