Football practice on Tuesday continued the trend of physical and full-contact intensity, and it concluded with a serious injury. According to Scott Wolf at Inside USC, the Trojans will be without junior wide receiver George Farmer for the foreseeable future, as he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a non-contact drill.
With 19 players already out for Tuesday’s practice, Farmer and senior safety Demetrius Wright both left practice early because of injury. Farmer is expected to miss nine months with the tear.
The coaches have placed a heavy emphasis on physicality in recent practices and the risk of injuries has mounted accordingly, but the defense has been responding well.
“We love it. Coach [Lane Kiffin] is holding everybody accountable,” redshirt junior defensive tackle George Uko said. “We have great coaching and great energy.”
During a goal-line drill at the end of practice, a pushing match broke out between redshirt sophomore running back Javorious “Buck” Allen, senior defensive end Morgan Breslin and Uko.
“It was nothing at all,” Uko said. “It’s just what happens on the field. Buck pushed Morgan, and as a defensive linemen your natural reaction is to push back.”
After tensions cooled, the linemen forced a fumble, sparking a raucous celebration by the defense. By the time practice was over, both assistant coach Ed Orgeron and Uko had bloody noses after getting accidentally clocked during the drill.
“Practice was very physical,” Kiffin said. “I’m really excited about the goal-line mentality that the defense had. They really changed the line of scrimmage by how they got after the offense.”
The defensive line has been solid behind the likes of Breslin, Uko and sophomore defensive end Leonard Williams, but concerns of an inexperienced secondary remain.
But though the cornerback position is thin after the departure of veteran Nickell Robey to the NFL draft, USC’s new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast believes the Trojans have enough bodies to contend.
“I like the flexibility with the guys that we have,” Pendergast said. “We’re still working to get the technique there.”
Pendergast is also pleased to have early enrollees in freshmen defensive backs Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay III practicing with the team.
“The good thing is that they’re here,” Pendergast said. “They have the benefit to be here and learn the system and learn the different techniques. I’m just glad they’re on campus so they can move more quickly when fall comes.”
On the offensive side of the field, freshman quarterback Max Browne has also been settling in and continues to take reps with redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek in contact drills.
“At this point, I’m just taking whatever I can get and making the most of it,” Browne said. “The biggest thing is that I’m running out there with Cody and Max and that’s all I could ask for.”
Wittek missed several spring practices with a knee injury but returned last week.
With the injuries piling up, the Trojans may have to dial back on the intensity for the rest of spring, but they certainly aspire to bring this fire when the beginning of the season comes around.