Injuries continue to pile up at USC football practice
If football season began Thursday, the Trojans would be in dire straits. At the start of practice, 20 players were sidelined with injuries. By the end, that list had grown to 22 after redshirt sophomore guard Cyrus Hobbi and senior cornerback Torin Harris went down with injuries as well.Beat up secondary · Senior cornerback Torin Harris (above) was injured during practice on Thursday attempting to defend a pass. The Trojans are already without injured freshman safety Su’a Cravens. – Joseph Chen | Daily TrojanThis comes after the USC Trojans Twitter account announced Thursday that junior wide receiver George Farmer will miss the entire 2013 season while recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, and head coach Lane Kiffin announced that freshman safety Su’a Cravens suffered a torn meniscus and will be out until summer.The injuries come at an inopportune time for the Trojans, especially considering a secondary that was already in urgent need of further development with the departure of senior safety T.J. McDonald and junior cornerback Nickell Robey to the NFL draft. This need has been further compounded by new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 defensive scheme, which employs a high number of man-coverage packages and leans heavily on effective technique, speed and talent at the cornerback position.With the injuries to key players, the onus is on players such as redshirt sophomore cornerback Ryan Henderson to mature and grow into the system to make an impact right away.“It’s definitely a challenge, but with the great coach we have in Coach Clancy, with the adjustment he made it simple,” Henderson said. “He taught us a lot of things that we haven’t been taught before when it comes to reading quarterbacks and reading receivers’ releases, which makes things easier.”Though Henderson did what he could in his reps, the player he was assigned to cover was on a mission. Sophomore wide receiver Nelson Agholor looked like a man possessed in practice reps Thursday, as he took two completions to the endzone for a touchdown.His first was a thrilling run following a short completion from redshirt sophomore quarterback Max Wittek. After hauling in the short completion, Agholor eluded three defenders by exploiting a gaping seam in the secondary and ran toward the left sideline for the touchdown. The second was higher in terms of degree of difficulty — Wittek fired a laser between the outstretched arms of redshirt junior cornerback Anthony Brown, and Agholor came down with a dazzling one-handed grab in the endzone. The catch caused hysteria on the sidelines and ended a tough practice on a high note. After practice, head coach Lane Kiffin lauded Agholor’s natural gifts.“I really believe Nelson could have done similar things to what [junior wide receiver] Marqise [Lee] did his freshman year and [former Trojans wide receiver] Robert [Woods] did his freshman year,” Kiffin said. “If he had been our number two receiver [last season], I think he would have had the same type of numbers.”Conventional wisdom says that Agholor’s success may have come at least partially as a result of the thinning out of the secondary, and there is an amount of truth to the observation. Kiffin stressed the urgent need for his players to recover to full health.“With our reductions already, we would not be able to keep up this pace during the season,” Kiffin said. “We’ll start fall camp this way, but I don’t think we’ll be able to end fall camp this way.”Meanwhile, the Trojans’ full contact practices look as if they will continue throughout spring. One can only hope that the team sustains no further injuries, as spring ball wraps up with an exhibition scrimmage next Saturday, April 13 at the Coliseum.