The Trojans returned to the field Tuesday for the first time since their 55-21 loss to Stanford on Saturday.
There, they got some more bad news.
It looks as if redshirt junior receiver Damian Williams will miss practice for at least the rest of the week with an ankle injury.
Williams originally suffered the injury on a 75-yard touchdown catch against Arizona State earlier this month.
It was initially determined to be a high ankle sprain; now, Williams says it might be worse — a stress reaction, or even a stress fracture.
“It’s almost like a real bad bruise,” he said on his way out of practice Tuesday. “It’s just always sore.”
Williams, who wouldn’t rule himself out of playing against UCLA on Nov. 28, still requires a boot to walk.
“The sooner I get out of the boot, the closer I am to playing,” Williams said. “While I’m in this thing, the worse my chances look.”
In other injury news, redshirt junior running back Allen Bradford and redshirt freshman receiver Brice Butler both left practice early.
Bradford has a bone bruise in his foot, while Butler’s back injury that sidelined him briefly last month is bothering him again.
Butler said he wouldn’t be sidelined for an extended period of time.
Sophomore safety Drew McAllister took part in most full-speed drills in his return to Howard Jones Field after missing the last three games with a hip flexor.
The Trojans have managed to stick together in the aftermath of Saturday’s 55-21 loss, and they say they’re using it as a learning experience.
“We learned that if we don’t play as a team, then any team in our conference can beat us and any team in the nation can beat us,” said junior running back Joe McKnight, who rushed for 142 yards against the Cardinal. “And as long as we have that focus as a team, we can do anything in front of us.”
Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley said the road to recovery starts with the team’s veterans, who are already taking on a positive attitude.
“The leaders are and the starters are and it’s trickling on down,” Barkley said. “It was pretty down over the weekend and even a little bit [Monday], but you can tell things are up today.”
Junior center Kristofer O’Dowd added that each of the team’s players has to take equal responsibility for the loss.
“You can’t really put the blame on somebody,” O’Dowd said. “It takes all 11 on both sides of the ball. If one guy has a mistake, then the whole team falters.”
Bye weeks are — for the Trojans, at least — known as a time for young players to stand out, as coaches tend to give more repetitions to backups with less pressure to prepare for an opponent.
USC coach Pete Carroll spotlighted a number of players likely to see the field more in practice this week, including freshmen safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald and freshman offensive lineman Kevin Graf.
“I think it’s really important for our program to present our guys with competitive situations as much as possible,” Carroll said. “To give them an opportunity to see where they are, and so they can learn and so that we can learn and we can make progress with them.”
Carroll also said that backup quarterbacks redshirt junior Mitch Mustain and redshirt sophomore Aaron Corp are receiving more snaps than usual this week.
“Practice, for me, has been kinda fun,” Corp said. “You get to play free and just run around and have a good time.”