Nearly a month into spring practice, only one thing has remained constant for the USC football team — a long list of injured players, especially senior quarterback Matt Barkley’s favorite targets.
With junior Robert Woods and sophomore George Farmer already sitting out, sophomore Marqise Lee once again emerged as the top receiving threat for the banged up USC offense on Thursday. He dominated drills, bulldozing past fellow receivers attempting to bump him off the line of scrimmage. He did, however, appear to be favoring an ankle at various points during practice, but continued to participate and didn’t seem to have sustained anything serious.
“Marqise is doing great,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “We’re so hurt, and we’ve moved him around so much that he’s been playing every position because of Robert and George not being there. But it’s good for him.”
The tight end position — already a spot of concern for the Trojans — took another hit. Redshirt freshman Junior Pomee left on a cart with an apparent foot injury. He will likely join redshirt sophomores Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer on the sidelines, although the severity of his injury is unknown.
“We can’t seem to keep a tight end healthy,” Kiffin said. “I’m a little disappointed in the hamstrings taking so long with a bunch of guys we’d really like to be looking at.”
Other injured players for the Trojans on Thursday included redshirt freshman cornerback Ryan Henderson, senior center Khaled Holmes and senior safety Drew McAllister. USC’s roster is so depleted that Kiffin is considering turning Saturday’s scheduled scrimmage at the Coliseum into a regular practice.
“There are so many guys in question, we may just practice like we did last Saturday,” Kiffin said.
With the offense missing several key parts, the Trojans shined on the defensive side of the ball when the two faced off. Other than a long run by redshirt sophomore tailback D.J. Morgan on a designed draw, Monte Kiffin’s defensive unit allowed few positive plays. Barkley threw his seventh interception of spring practice, this time to junior safety Demetrius Wright. Despite Barkley’s surprisingly high interception rate, his coach remains unfazed and completely confident in what the senior quarterback has to offer moving forward.
“It is abnormal for him,” Kiffin said. “I think it’s part of him getting a little bit bored. You know, he scrambles out and gets frustrated because he doesn’t have his normal guys in there and throws the ball downfield. So we’ll get him back out of it. We don’t like it but it’s not the end of the world. As we get closer to game time, we’ll get him back.”