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Five things we learned in Week 1, No. 5

3/17/2012

USC is out on spring break this week and not practicing, but each weekday through Friday, we’ll bring you one thing we learned from the first three days of practice last week and what it might mean for the future.



Our first item covered Marqise Lee‘s continued progress, our second the new-look Aundrey Walker and third the situation at backup QB.
Fourth covered the interior of the defensive line.

Fifth is this: George Farmer's biggest challenge for the No. 3 receiver spot is probably going to be staying healthy.

You can't have a better first day of spring practice than Farmer a week ago Tuesday, the Trojans' first day of 2012 spring. He caught everything thrown in his direction, including the tough throws, and earned himself the day MVP award from Lane Kiffin afterward.

But then he got hurt. The next day, Farmer came up lame during a drill and pulled his hamstring. It kept him out of the rest of the week's proceedings and could keep him from being 100 percent for the next couple practices.

And the truth is that's the sophomore receiver's biggest battle at this point. Victor Blackwell will provide competition, but Farmer has the talent and, now, the maturity to be the Trojans' No. 3 pass-catcher. What will set him back is injuries like this one, the same sort of thing that limited him at running back last year during the experiment that moved him there.

What can he do? Obviously a hamstring injury is natural, and so is a sprained ankle, which he sustained early on last season. Things like that happen. But what he can do is learn from his own mistakes and the mistakes of Kyle Prater and even Robert Woods and not try to push himself back too early. If he has to miss two weeks in the spring, then so be it. Missing two weeks in the spring is far better than being even slightly limited for two months.

And that's what happened last year with his ankle injury. He had to exit practice at least four times over the first seven weeks of the season with an ankle issue, and then it culminated before the Stanford game when he had to get carted off the field and then missed the next three games.

We may not have realized it right away, but Farmer is the clear favorite to be the No. 3. He's the best athlete among the competitors and he has the most big-play potential, which the Trojan coaches have always emphasized over the past two years. But if this hamstring injury stays a nagging injury or something else comes along, Blackwell could be the guy too.

It looks like Farmer's job to lose. The hope is that outside forces don't cause him to lose it.

Practice coverage resumes Tuesday.