With camp over, USC hopes health holds in Hawaii
After one last preseason workout at Southern California, the
Trojans headed to Hawaii on Tuesday night.
And it wasn’t for a restful vacation, no matter how much they
The Trojans realize reinforcements for their depleted program
aren’t arriving any time soon, so their fate rests in their ability
to stay on the field through every bump and bruise. Several of
coach Lane Kiffin’s players are nursing minor injuries, and a
handful are out – including their backup center and their most
talented freshman receiver.
But Kiffin finally has his preferred offensive line together
just a few days before the 14th-ranked Trojans open at Aloha
Stadium on Thursday night, and he’s cautiously optimistic he can
keep a healthy, competitive team on the field beyond the
USC has been careful to avoid using injuries and personnel
shortages as excuses this month, even if they might turn out to be
legitimate reasons for any struggles.
”We don’t make excuses, because we’ve got the ability to be
successful with whatever guys are out there,” starting tailback
Marc Tyler said.
Still, Kiffin says he ran a lighter camp after realizing he
couldn’t afford many injuries on a team fighting through
significant scholarship cuts and several transfers by reserve
players after crippling NCAA sanctions.
USC held full-contact drills only once, and it was back in the
opening week of camp. The scrimmages were about safety first, and
some units – such as the offensive line – have avoided full-speed
drills whenever possible.
”Once we realized where our numbers were at, this wasn’t like
what we put our kids through last year (at Tennessee),” Kiffin
said. ”We spent more time in the weight room, more time in the
Yet several veteran players believe the camp was more physical
than anything they endured during the tenure of coach Pete Carroll,
who got remarkable results from practices packed with hundreds of
observers and featuring unorthdox drills built into high-intensity
”This is probably the hardest camp we’ve all been through since
I got here,” said Tyler, named the first-string tailback just a
few days ago. ”The coaching staff is the best. When they came
here, everybody bought in, and we’ve been practicing for a long
time. Everybody is committed to showing that SC is still SC.”
With a little bit of NFL injury management thrown in, at least
when dealing with the media, Kiffin has been deliberately vague
about many injuries, usually just saying whether his players
participated in practice.
Sophomore offensive guard Khaled Holmes has been hobbled, but
Kiffin said he’ll attempt to start against the Warriors. So will
defensive lineman Nick Perry, while backup quarterback Mitch
Mustain plans to be available after being limited in practice
throughout the week.
The news wasn’t as good on backup center Abe Markowitz, who had
surgery Tuesday on a foot injury and will be out for several weeks.
USC also is planning to redshirt receiver Kyle Prater, one of the
top prospects in last season’s high school class, after lower-body
injuries hampered his development.
The Trojans tromped through LAX en masse Tuesday to make a
commercial flight they bought out in its entirety since they were
unable to use their usual charter company. They’re still staying at
a posh resort on Oahu’s west side, and they plan to hang out Friday
for a little relaxation before coming home to prepare for next
weekend’s home opener against Virginia.
”In our preparation and in guys’ mindsets, we’re ready,”
quarterback Matt Barkley said. ”When we’re in the locker room, I’m
hearing talk about how ready we are to play, and how we can’t wait
to get on the field. We know we’ve prapared hard and well.”