USC coach Lane Kiffin announced on Sunday’s weekly conference call that freshman linebacker Scott Starr and junior offensive lineman David Garness have suffered season-ending injuries.
After mostly playing on special teams to begin the season, Starr will apply for a medical redshirt because of recurring neck pains.
The NCAA only grants a medical redshirt if the player in question does not play in more than 30 percent of the team’s games. This shouldn’t be an issue for Starr, since he will have only competed in three of USC’s 12 scheduled games.
The freshman from Norco, Calif. was listed as sophomore Lamar Dawson’s backup at middle linebacker on the depth chart, but when Dawson missed the season opener against Hawai’i, sophomore Hayes Pullard assumed Dawson’s vacated spot and redshirt freshman Anthony Sarao moved into the starting lineup.
Garness, a junior college transfer in USC’s 2011 recruiting class, has yet to appear in a game at USC after redshirting last season. The Alaska native will undergo back surgery.
With these additional injuries, USC will, in all likelihood, play minus five scholarship players for the rest of the season. In addition to Starr and Garness, senior defensive end Devon Kennard (torn pectoral muscle), sophomore running back Tre Madden (torn ACL) and freshman defensive end DeVante Wilson (torn ACL) are all expected to miss 2012, although Kennard is holding out hope he can return late in the season.
In other injury news, Kiffin indicated that sophomore wide receiver George Farmer was not medically cleared to compete in last Saturday’s game against Cal, but declined to disclose the injury or its severity.
Though the 2012 season is barely a quarter of the way complete, USC is already busy finalizing future seasons’ schedules.
On Tuesday, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden announced that USC will play Fresno State on Aug. 29, 2014, in the Coliseum.
“We are excited to add Fresno State to our 2014 schedule,” Kiffin said in a statement. “It’s a quality in-state opponent with a traditionally strong program. The games between the teams in the past have been very competitive and have attracted lots of fans from both sides.”
Both matchups between USC and Fresno State have been notable. In 2005, No. 1 USC barely edged out upstart No. 16 Fresno State, 50-42.
Thirteen years prior to that classic showdown, an unranked Fresno State squad upset No. 23 USC, 24-7, in the 1992 Freedom Bowl in Anaheim, Calif.
Kiffin is intimately familiar with the Bulldogs’ program, as he was a backup quarterback for the university from 1994-96. In his senior season, he elected not to play and instead accepted a position as a student assistant coach for the team under coach Jeff Tedford, who is now at Cal.
The addition of Fresno State to the 2014 schedule now cements the Trojans’ out-of-conference slate. In addition to the annual rivalry game against Notre Dame, they will also play Boston College in a rematch of the 2009 Emerald Bowl, in which USC prevailed 24-13.