LOS ANGELES – The first two weeks of spring practice were taxing on the USC football team, to say the least.
As the team left the Coliseum on Saturday to embark on a 10-day recess, it was evident the break comes at the most opportune time.
As head coach Lane Kiffin labored through an exhaustive injury report, he realized there were some names missing – even more injuries following Saturday’s scrimmage.
Of the most significant injuries is a torn meniscus suffered by running back Silas Redd.
The senior, who did not participate in Saturday’s scrimmage, will spend some of his spring break undergoing surgery to correct his injury and will miss the rest of spring drills.
The spring has been physical. It’s a change from the philosophical stance Kiffin stood firm on last fall due to his team’s reduced scholarships but it is a double-edged sword.
“Unfortunately, as you can see we’re really beat up,” Kiffin said. “It’s great because, I think, we’re getting more physical but also you can see why there was a reason last fall we didn’t practice this way. We probably had 10 quality players out today and then lost a couple of more during the practice.
“We’re getting pretty beat up so we’re paying the price for being physical.”
This spring, the injuries have mounted. Freshman wide receiver Darreus Rogers sprained his shoulder during Saturday’s scrimmage and Soma Vainuku suffered a PCL injury. Tight end Xavier Grimble watched practice with an arm in a sling after dealing with a reported broken rib. Running back Justin Davis, another freshman, was noticeably missing on Saturday. Kiffin says he suffered a broken finger at the end of Thursday’s practice.
The list goes doesn’t end there: J.R. Tavai, Devian Shelton, Cody Temple, Su’a Cravens, and Kevon Seymour were all out on Saturday. As were Chad Wheeler (PCL, out for spring), Max Wittek (knee), and Marqise Lee (knee).
Quarterbacks are normally forbidden from being touched during practice, but Wittek suffered a right knee sprain before the start of last Saturday’s scrimmage at the Coliseum during special teams drills. He was the holder on a field goal when an offensive lineman fell into his knee.
“Now with not getting information the last couple of practices with Max, I don’t think so but you never know,” Kiffin said. “Like I’ve said all along, it will answer itself if someone really separates himself.”
Kiffin says he expects Wittek and Biletnikoff Award winner Lee as well as the majority of the 10-plus players that either didn’t participate in Saturday’s scrimmage or were hurt in Saturday’s scrimmage to return once practice resumes following spring break.
As far as his stance on physicality vs. non-physicality in practice, it’s something Kiffin may have to re-evaluate going forward, but for now he won’t make any adjustments.
“Probably not in the spring,” Kiffin said. “We need to keep with (being physical). We got a long time to heal before training camp comes but it’s been good. I think we’re more physical because of it.”
As he’s done in the past, Kiffin scheduled spring practices around spring break. He says he does it for this purpose of allowing guys to heal their injuries and be able to return to the field once practices resume following spring break.
USC returns to the practice field on March 26 for the first of nine remaining practices. The USC spring game will be held on April 13 at the Coliseum at 1 p.m.