Injury bug strikes USC defense
LOS ANGELES -- It was certainly something to see.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard walked onto Howard Jones Field towards the end of USC practice. He looked like the rest of his teammates in shoulder pads and shorts. However, he did away with the cleats for running shoes instead and wore a wrap on his left ankle.
Shortly after Pullard walked in, linebacker Dion Bailey strolled into practice with a USC baseball cap, jersey, shorts and his left arm in a sling.
Middle linebacker Lamar Dawson made an appearance earlier in the day with a boot on his right foot.
So as head coach Lane Kiffin put the team through late game situations at the end of Monday's practice, the Trojans had to do so without any first team linebackers.
The defense was asked to come up with a stop on 1st and 10 with two timeouts remaining. After fullback Soma Vainuku converted a 3rd and 1, the Trojans offense practiced their victory formation.
They looked good doing it, but if they're going to have a chance to do it during the season, the Trojans are going to have to sure up some things defensively.
"It is what it is," Kiffin said. "You look at the bright side, those other guys get reps.
"A lot of times those things happen and they end of being the best thing in the long run as long as they're not long term (injuries)."
Bailey says he's "not at all" concerned about missing the season opener against Hawaii on Sept. 1. Pullard says he missed practice because he was doing "extra conditioning" so that he can play both the "Mike" and "Will" linebacker spots. When asked about Pullard, Kiffin intimated he was injured.
"We don't discuss injuries," Kiffin said.
Anthony Sarao, Scott Starr, and Tony Burnett lined up at linebacker with the first group on Monday.
Josh Shaw continued to line up at cornerback and was opposite walk-on William Tober with the first team, while Morgan Breslin lined up as the first team defensive end. Cornerbacks Anthony Brown, Nickell Robey, and defensive ends J.R. Tavai and Greg Townsend were out with undisclosed injuries. Cornerback Torin Harris is out with a reported hamstring injury.
Kiffin contends injuries are just a part of camp.
"It's going to happen," he said of the injuries. "I don't think there's any teams around the country that are fully healthy in training camp. (The NCAA doesn't) let you practice in the summer so regardless of how much conditioning you do, it's not football. It's not the same change of direction. It's not the same hitting.
"You just gotta hope that it's not long term stuff and that by the time you get to the preparation for the first game, you hope that you're full strength then."
Monday was originally scheduled to be the Trojans' second day of two-a-days but the morning session was cancelled. It was on the heels of Sunday's full pad practice which ended in a team scuffle.
Kiffin says no one missed practice time on Monday as a result of the skirmish.
The Trojans will return to the practice field Tuesday afternoon.