The Trojans got back on the field for a long Tuesday practice, although the majority of players practicing weren’t the ones the Trojan faithful are used to seeing on game day.
With the injuries racking up for USC, it’s very likely that we will see more walk-ons on the field on Saturday against Utah.
Cody Kessler had the walk-on wide receivers stay after practice to throw around and further build chemistry.
“It doesn’t matter where you are on the depth chart, you are going to have to play in this game,” Kessler said. “I really wanted to work on getting our timing down.”
On Tuesday, when USC lined up their 11 offensive positions two-deep, seven of the 22 players were walk-ons, with only two scholarship wide receivers and three running backs.
An Injured Team
USC received more bad news on Tuesday when walk-on sophomore running back Taylor Ross was carted off the field by paramedics after suffering a bad knee injury.
By the end of Tuesday’s practice, USC was down to 39 healthy players who participated in the Notre Dame game.
Injuries have plagued the team at all positions this season, especially at wide receiver. This was apparent on Saturday night against Notre Dame when walk-on redshirt freshman Robby Kolanz was a part of Kessler’s two-minute-drill to try to win the game in the fourth quarter.
Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee remains day-to-day after not practicing on Tuesday.
“It’s been tough being injured,” Lee said. “It’s the first major injury of my career.”
No scholarship tight ends were available on Tuesday, as redshirt juniors Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer and sophomore Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick all sat out with injuries. While Grimble and Telfer have both already been ruled out, Cope-Fitzpatrick remains day-to-day.
“It’s unfortunate, but we got to keep rolling,” Grimble said. “We got some guys to do do the job and get it done, so we need to coach them up and get healthy as soon as we can.”
For now, offensive coordinator Helton moved redshirt senior defensive end Kevin Greene to tight end, where he played a little during fall camp.
“We’re planning for all scenarios, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to put the best 11 out there on the field,” Helton said.
Orgeron also confirmed Tuesday that redshirt freshman offensive guard Jordan Simmons will be out for the season after suffering a knee injury.
Back to Fundamentals
A big goal for USC this week is to clean up the 11 penalties that hurt them badly against Notre Dame.
“We have really been preaching fundamentals out here,” Helton said. “We are going to do a better job of doing that and bring the same fire that we have had for the past couple weeks.”
Junior offensive lineman Marcus Martin says that they have been working on keeping their hands inside rather than outside their opponent’s frame, which causes all the penalties.
“We are addressing the penalty problem and I feel that we are going to improve on that this week,” Orgeron said.
As for the ongoing kicking competition, special teams coordinator John Baxter will be holding competitive drills for the kickers throughout this week, and a decision will be made between him and Orgeron on Friday.
Reactions To Miami Sanctions
After the NCAA docked the University of Miami nine scholarships over three years for booster Nevin Shapiro’s involvement in providing benefits to Hurricane players, USC athletic director Pat Haden expressed his discontent with the verdict, almost three years after the NCAA took away 30 scholarships from the Trojans and banned them from postseason play for two years.
“We have always felt our penalties were too harsh,” Haden said. “This decision only bolsters that view.”
With the verdict, USC has officially lost more scholarships than Ohio State, Miami and Oregon combined.
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