Injuries put USC to test

USC’s spring practices might be winding down, but USC coach Lane Kiffin isn’t letting the Trojans take any breaks down the stretch.

Time off · Senior wide receiver Ronald Johnson did not participate in Thursday’s spring practice, and USC coach Lane Kiffin said the Trojans are considering wrist surgery for the receiver, which would likely end his spring. - Mannat Saini | Daily Trojan

Thursday’s practice roster was again hurt by injuries, including those to senior wide receiver Ronald Johnson and redshirt sophomore tailback Curtis McNeal. However, Kiffin was not worried about the injuries at this point in the practice schedule.

“We’re not concerned if they’re completely exhausted by the end of spring,” Kiffin said. “Maybe if it was the end of fall camp. But they got a long time to recover. We can’t slow down.”

Johnson’s injury to his wrist was severe enough for Kiffin to admit wrist surgery was an option for the wide receiver. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley had a similar operation earlier this year.

“A wrist surgery, compared to Barkley’s, wouldn’t mean he’d be out too long,” Kiffin said. “He was really the star of camp offensively. I feel really good [about] where’s he’s at.”

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brice Butler was featured in practice in Johnson’s absence, and took to the assignment with confidence.

“My mind-set out there every day is that I am No. 1 regardless of what it looks like or what it actually is,” Butler said. “I have to feel like I’m the No. 1 guy.”

USC’s running game continued to thrive behind the Trojan offensive line, which was also hit hard by injuries during Thursday’s practice.

“At one point, we were down to six offensive linemen, so those guys continued to push in there,” Kiffin said.

Despite the injuries, senior fullback Stanley Havili continued to be impressed by the effort put forth by his front line.

“The offensive line has been doing a good job,” Havili said. “[The running backs] do what we do, and the line does what they do.”

Kiffin sees some positive coming from the decimated offensive line — much-needed experience that they need for fall camp and the upcoming season.

“It’s definitely going to pay off for them down the road as we go into fall camp,” Kiffin said. “I can’t imagine anybody in the country who is working harder when you consider the reps they’re taking. They’re basically taking every snap.”