Tape It Up: USC: What About The Line?

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USC: What About The Line?

As the days tick by leading up to Saturday's USC-Arizona showdown, it's becoming more and more clear that Mark Sanchez will be the man under center for the Trojans. But regardless of who steps up in the pocket, USC has got to do something about the men assigned to protect him, since right now, it looks like there may not be enough healthy bodies to keep that QB on his feet, and that's an issue bigger than a broken finger.

The list of injured linemen now includes sophomore Charles Brown, sophomore Thomas Herring, freshman Kris O'Dowd, senior Matt Spanos and junior Chilo Rachal. Brown and Herring both suffered ankle sprains on Tuesday that make them doubtful for Saturday's game, while O'Dowd and Rachal are out with knee injuries and Spanos has a couple of lacerated fingers.

The injury epidemic has the line looking paper thin, which is terrible timing for Sanchez, who will most likely be making his first start as a Trojan. Undoubtedly, the sophomore would far prefer to have a line in front of him with some chemistry among them, but that does not seem to be in the cards.

Wednesday's practice featured a wholly revamped offesive line made up of seniors Sam Baker and Drew Radovich at tackle, redshirt freshman Zach Heberer and senior Alantini Malu at guard and junior Jeff Byers at center. As for the backups, redshirt freshman Butch Lewis is giving former defensive linemen Alex Parsons and Michael Reardon a crash course in the duties of an offensive lineman, but O-line coach Pat Ruel is not worried.

"I've got tough guys, they'll be fine," Ruel said.

If ever there was a time for USC to prove that the famed Trojan depth at every position is more reality than myth, this week is it, and the most important place to display it may not be at quarterback, but rather O-line.

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