Hobbi stepping in at center for Trojans

Freshman Cyrus Hobbi doesn't score touchdowns, but he's suddenly become very important to USC's offense.

LOS ANGELES -- His name isn't Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, or Marqise Lee, but he may be called on to touch the ball on every single play for No. 2 USC (2-0) in their conference opener at No. 21 Stanford (2-0) on Saturday.


He is redshirt freshman offensive lineman Cyrus Hobbi.


USC center Khaled Holmes was carted off of the field at MetLife Stadium in the Trojans win against Syracuse last Saturday with an apparent leg injury.


USC doesn't discuss injuries and head coach Lane Kiffin had no update on Holmes' status.


When Holmes left the game last Saturday, it was Hobbi who came in to replace him. If Holmes is unavailable to play at Stanford, it will be Hobbi who's number is called to start at center for the Trojans.


Hobbi played center at Saguaro High School in Arizona but was primarily a tackle. He's studied at center behind Holmes since he stepped on campus. Last season he won USC's Offensive Service Team Player of the Year Award. The Trojans' coaching staff has "confidence" in him being able to anchor the offensive line in Holmes' absence.


"He's good. He's been the backup for two years now," said USC offensive line coach James Cregg. "I feel real comfortable with him knowing his assignments and what's going on. He studies the game and he's been real adequate as far as camp goes and knowing what to do, so we're excited about him."


If Hobbi, who wasn't available for comment during practice this week, is in the starting lineup, he'll be making his first career start in USC's first conference road game of the season.  It won't be an easy task going up against a Stanford defense with a deceptive front seven led by senior linebacker Shayne Skov

"With the odd look that they have you never know really who's coming but they're very sound in what they do," said Matt Barkley. "They don't really make a lot of mistakes."


While Barkley will be under center trying to dissect the Cardinal defense, the plan isn't for him to do any more than he normally would if it's Hobbi who's lined up in front of him. Like Holmes, Hobbi will be responsible for making all of the line calls at the line of scrimmage.


"We ask our guys to make calls whether you're first team center, backup center or third team center. You got to be able to control the line and make your calls," Cregg said. "We put that responsibility on all of our centers."


Kiffin says he liked what he saw from Hobbi in practice this week.


"He's done some good things," Kiffin said.


Guard John Martinez is also an option to slide over and play center for the Trojans. Martinez saw plenty of reps there during the spring.  


"We always try to have ample amount of guys playing and snapping the ball," Cregg said.