USC: Cody Temple

Injuries mount heading into spring game

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
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The Trojans hit Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field one last time on Thursday before they take part in the team’s spring game on Saturday in the Coliseum. Donning shorts and helmets, the practice was the least physical of the last four and a half weeks -- a fact not surprising considering a total of 20 players have been ruled out for Saturday’s contest including Randall Telfer, Antwaun Woods, De’Von Flournoy and Jabari Ruffin -- all suffering injuries within the last week.

“There are some good parts about it,” said Kiffin in looking at the pros and cons of the physical way the team has practiced this spring. “I think that our guys that are still healthy are playing more physical than they were at the end of last year, and our front seven on defense is better because of it. But at the same time, obviously, we have a lot of players out.”

Jalen Cope-Fitzgerald
Courtesy of Erik McKinney, WeAreSC.comJalen Cope-Fitzpatrick will be the Trojans' only tight end in Saturday's spring game.
With Woods sidelined, it was Cody Temple who saw action with the first unit at nose tackle when the defense went to its base 5-2 look, but it’s the injury suffered by Telfer that will make perhaps the biggest impact in regards to Saturday’s game. Suffering a torn meniscus in his knee during Tuesday’s workout, he underwent surgery on Thursday and figures to be back in action in 4-6 weeks. But with Xavier Grimble already out with a chest fracture, the USC offense will have just one tight end at its disposal for the scrimmage in Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick.

“It’s been kind of the theme of the spring -- very physical -- as we come down to one practice left here,” Kiffin said. “I think you’ll still see the stars out there making plays. We’re just going to have to be creative because we’re not going to be able to go at the same speed in between series, and obviously we can’t have two teams with only one tight end, and all of our formations use a tight end, so we’ll figure it out -- probably just a little more time in between [each] series.”

Agholor and Lee at corner?

(Read full post)

Week Three: Spring depth chart 

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
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After a week away from action, the Trojans hit Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field on Tuesday as the spring slate of practices officially picked back up again. With a number of players coming off injuries trickling back into the rotation, not to mention some interesting position changes, there was plenty of movement up and down the lineup.

Quarterback
Max Wittek (6-foot-4, 235 pounds, RS So.) OR Cody Kessler (6-1, 215, RS So.) OR Max Browne (6-5, 215, Fr.)

Wittek stepped back into the rotation on Tuesday after missing three practices due to a sprained MCL, and while he showed some rust, USC coach Lane Kiffin is optimistic he’ll soon return to his old form, making this competition one to watch once again. Of the trio, Kessler continued to be the most consistent this week, with Browne showing promise at times.

Injuries raise questions, provide chances

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
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The Trojans are navigating through their share of injuries this spring. But at this time of year, as long as the injuries are not serious, they can offer a mixed blessing of sorts.

When one player is forced to sit on the sideline, it gives another player the chance for extended reps with the hope of showing the coaches he is ready for a bigger role. For the injured player, there is still plenty of time to return either in spring or in fall camp before the season begins. As quarterback Max Wittek noted after a recent knee injury, “you never want this to happen, but if it’s going to happen, better to have it happen now.”

[+] EnlargeRedd_Silas
AP Photo/Grant HindsleySilas Redd's knee injury opens the door for other USC tailbacks to impress this spring.
Wittek is perhaps the most notable USC injury right now, primarily because he is engaged in a battle for the starting quarterback spot. Wittek suffered the knee sprain on March 9 prior to a scrimmage at the Coliseum and has been out ever since. He is expected to return when the Trojans practice on March 26. Cody Kessler has played well with Wittek out and any small gains by either player can end up meaning a lot in a competition that is so close.

On the same day that Wittek got hurt, Marqise Lee also went down with a “minor” knee injury and has been held out as well. There isn’t as much of an impact here as Lee certainly isn’t in any competition for his starting job. If anything, his absence gave the other receivers a chance to step up and the overall group is doing well from top to bottom. Right now, Nelson Agholor appears to be the clear leader for the starting spot opposite Lee.

A recent loss came with the news that Silas Redd would undergo surgery this week for a torn meniscus. Redd is the established senior starter at tailback, but he has only been on the USC campus for eight months, so any time spent on the field was beneficial. Instead, Redd will be out until fall camp and the Trojans are further limited at tailback with Tre Madden still not cleared for full contact due to his knee rehab. That means the remaining spring practices will be huge for guys like D.J. Morgan, Buck Allen and maybe even Justin Davis, although it remains to be seen how much a recent broken finger will hamper him.

The offensive line had been fairly healthy until the news that Chad Wheeler will miss the rest of spring with a knee injury. Wheeler had added bulk and was progressing nicely as the No. 2 left tackle.

On the defensive side of the ball, injuries are really impacting the interior depth on the line and the safety positions.

There are three linemen who have missed all of spring: J.R. Tavai, Greg Townsend and Cody Temple. All three figure to provide important depth at the three interior spots of the 5-2 defense, so it’s vital to get them back on the field. Right now, the Trojans have Kenny Bigelow as a legit reserve at nose tackle, but the other spots are being manned by players out of position such as Charles Burks. Scott Starr is also out of action until fall, and he is expected to be a key reserve behind Morgan Breslin.

[+] EnlargeDion Bailey
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesAs Dion Bailey recovers from shoulder surgery, the question of whether he'll play safety or linebacker in 2013 remains unanswered.
In the secondary, the Trojans have a lot of talent but not much is going to be settled until the coaches figure out where to put Dion Bailey. Most speculation centers around Bailey ending up at safety rather than linebacker, but he won’t be available for spring after recent shoulder surgery. So Josh Shaw, Demetrius Wright and Su’a Cravens are auditioning for starting spots. Gerald Bowman could also be in that mix, but he is also out this spring. This means it’s likely the safety rotation won’t be determined until well into fall camp.

At corner, the top player through the early part of spring was Kevon Seymour, but he has missed the last couple of days with an ankle injury. Devian Shelton is also out with a foot injury. That means extended reps for Torin Harris, Anthony Brown and Ryan Henderson, as well as the freshman Chris Hawkins.

USC coach Lane Kiffin said after Saturday’s scrimmage that the time off for spring break this week was coming at a good time for a team looking to get a few bodies back. The Trojans return to the practice field next Tuesday and having some of those injured players on the field will go a long way toward helping to determine starting spots.

Kiffin also acknowledged that the extra hitting in practices so far this spring -- done to achieve his goal of returning to a more physical style of play -- has played a part in having so many injuries. He said the team will continue to practice with full hitting for the rest of spring but gave no word on if there will be any changes in philosophy beyond that point.

Kiffin: Revisiting Colorado

October, 21, 2012
10/21/12
11:04
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LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin addressed the media in his normal day-after game conference call Sunday night, talking about his team's 50-6 win over Colorado and briefly looking ahead at the remaining five regular-season games.

Here are notes and quotes from the call:

Injury updates

Defensive end Devon Kennard (torn pec) will sit out the rest of the season and redshirt, Kiffin said.
Kennard will be a redshirt senior in 2013. He tore his pec in a July weight-lifting accident and previously said he had hopes of returning in November for a final NFL trial run.

Kiffin also provided updates on two other players, cornerback Brian Baucham and defensive tackle Cody Temple. Both players are out for the 2012 season, Baucham with a unspecified issue and Temple with an ankle injury.

Left tackle Aundrey Walker, who appeared to suffer a neck injury in the third quarter of Saturday's game, was released from the hospital Sunday after spending the night there.

Kiffin said Walker was back in meetings with the team Sunday. "Things seemed to be very positive," Kiffin said. "That's about all I'd be allowed to say."

Special-teams trickery

So the holder wearing No. 35 who took off running on the two-point play after USC's second touchdown in the first quarter?

That wasn't Kyle Negrete, USC's punter, who normally wears No. 35. That was Cody Kessler, third-string quarterback and recent new holder. Kiffin had Kessler sport No. 35 for the first half of Saturday's game -- presumably to run the fake kick -- and then switch back to No. 6 for the second half, when he came in the game in garbage time at quarterback and completed the first throws of his college career.

It's a legal move, but an ethically dubious one. Kessler was listed as the ballcarrier on the play in the postgame statistics, but he was not announced as such in the press box or over the PA.

It also opens the floodgates for many more potential shenanigans. If Kiffin tried that against Colorado, what might he try against Oregon? So much is suddenly in play.

Sunday, Kiffin deflected a question about who was the holder in the first half, saying, "I'd really rather not get into that at this time for certain reasons."

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Wednesday practice quick hits

August, 22, 2012
8/22/12
8:28
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LOS ANGELES -- Here are news and notes from Wednesday's no-pads two-hour practice session that won't make it into our other coverage from the day.

Talking about tiers

Coach Lane Kiffin was all about defining the depth chart Wednesday, referring to his players strictly in terms of tiers during his post-practice session with the media.

First-tier players are starters, second-tier guys are key reserves, and third-tier ones might be needed depth. Whether it goes down to a fourth tier is unknown.

But Kiffin spotlighted four so-called second-tier players for their preparation and playbook knowledge this camp: receiver Nelson Agholor, running backs Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan and left tackle Max Tuerk.

None of the four are starters, but all four figure to play this year. And, interestingly, three of the four haven't been with the team before this summer.

The tier-by-tier description is fitting, Kiffin said, because of the varying amount of readiness the Trojans have displayed in fall camp. Some have proved ready for the season opener; some have proved they won't even be ready by the time it comes around.

"We have some guys who could go play today and some guys who aren’t close," Kiffin said. "So you have all different levels. I think they are in the time of dragging because you’re not really in game week yet but you’ve been going against each other for so long.

"So we kinda change things up."

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Fall camp position preview: D-linemen

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
11:04
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To prepare for the start of the 2012 USC campaign, we’re doing position-by-position previews of the Trojans’ roster all this week. We began Monday with quarterbacks and continued Tuesday with running backs, Wednesday with receivers and tight ends and Thursday with offensive linemen.

Today, we look at the defensive line.

For each position, we’re starting with a projected current depth chart, going off the end-of-spring depth chart as released by Lane Kiffin, and discussing what needs to be resolved by Sept. 1.

Defensive end

1. Devon Kennard, senior*
2a. Morgan Breslin, junior
2b. Leonard Williams, freshman
2c. Greg Townsend Jr., redshirt freshman

Nose tackle

1. J.R. Tavai, sophomore
2. Antwaun Woods, redshirt freshman
3. Cody Temple, redshirt freshman

Defensive tackle

1. George Uko, redshirt sophomore
2. Christian Heyward, redshirt freshman
3. Zack Kusnir, redshirt senior

Defensive end

1. Wes Horton, redshirt senior
2. Kevin Greene, redshirt junior
3. Charles Burks, redshirt freshman
4. DeVante Wilson, freshman

*Will miss most of the 2012 regular season, if not all

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Update on the Trojans' injury situation

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
4:00
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After USC's 2012 spring game had concluded, at the end of his post-scrimmage meeting with reporters, coach Lane Kiffin was asked about his star receiver Robert Woods, who sat out the entire spring while recovering from an ankle injury originally suffered a year ago.

Would Woods, Kiffin was asked, be ready to go by fall? After all, he was supposed to be fully healed in February after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the ankle in December. Missing the entire spring wasn't even an option until midway through it.

"That's what we believe," Kiffin said.

USC is hoping -- or believing -- a lot of its other players will be ready for the 2012 season, too. Truthfully, the Trojans need most of them back for depth reasons.

"We couldn't have something like what has happened this offseason to us in the fall," Kiffin said after the spring game. "We wouldn't be very good. So we need to make sure we keep our guys healthy."

Here's an overview of who's been out and when they are expected back, going position-by-position:

(Read full post)

The defensive line rotation

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
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USC already has its starting defensive ends identified in Devon Kennard and Wes Horton, and its top three tackles organized too.

But that's not enough. The Trojans need more linemen capable of logging 10-20 snaps a game to provide breathers for the starters. Who will back those five guys up against the fast-paced offenses of the Pac-12?

"That's the big question," USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said last week.

Orgeron has dedicated this spring to cultivating some playable backups for the 2012 season. And as of right now, he says, he has four potential players: redshirt freshman Greg Townsend Jr., junior Morgan Breslin, redshirt junior Kevin Greene and incoming freshman Leonard Williams.

Realistically, those four are competing -- or will be competing, in Williams' case -- for two slots behind Kennard and Horton.

"There's gonna be a third and a fourth end," Orgeron said on Saturday after the Trojans' scrimmage at the Coliseum. "But there is a big difference between the first team and the second team right now.

"Those guys have to rise and I have to do a better job of coaching them to get ready."

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Temple out for the spring

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
7:31
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USC defensive tackle Cody Temple is out for the rest of the Trojans' spring practice schedule after undergoing surgery on his right ankle over the weekend, Lane Kiffin announced Tuesday.

Temple, a redshirt freshman who moved over to defense from the offensive line in the winter, had been bothered by the ankle for some time but tried to practice through it for USC's first two weeks of spring practice.

The Trojans expect him back by August, meaning he should be able to take part in fall camp.

Kiffin said the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Temple was proving to be "strong on the point of attack" before the injury and "kind of a run-plugger." He had been playing on the second-team line behind George Uko and J.R. Tavai.

"He was doing well," Kiffin said.

The two Mike Pattersons

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
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USC defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron and head coach Lane Kiffin both compared a current USC defensive linemen to former Trojans defensive tackle Mike Patterson on Thursday, but they were different players.

Orgeron said sophomore J.R. Tavai resembled Patterson in his ability to play nose tackle despite his light weight; Kiffin said redshirt freshman Antwaun Woods resembled him because of his precipitous weight loss since arriving on campus last August.

The funny thing: Tavai and Woods are competing against each other this spring for the only truly open starting spot on the USC team. Every other position everywhere else has either a returning starter or a clear-cut leader. Nose guard is totally up for grabs between Tavai and Woods with Christian Tupou graduating and pursuing an NFL career.

They're totally different, too. Tavai is the over-achieving type, a 6-2, 271-pounder who doesn't show a ton of physical potential but proved enough to get on the field as a true freshman last season. Woods has been an underachiever thus far, seriously underwhelming the USC coaches in fall camp last year when he showed up weighing 340 pounds on his 6-1 frame.

More than likely, the two are going to split time at nose tackle in 2012. If both players can't be counted on to play at least 20 or 30 snaps a game this season, USC's defensive line is going to be in trouble. Former defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. has been working at tackle so far this spring and former offensive guard Cody Temple is too, but there are no other healthy defensive tackles on the roster besides George Uko, will start at three-technique.

Patterson, of course, was a stout 6-foot, 290-pound tackle who found success at nose guard at USC after coming in weighing considerably more than that. Orgeron fell in love with Patterson's potential as a high-schooler and convinced then-coach Pete Carroll he could turn into something.

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Five questions for the spring

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
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Lane Kiffin and Matt BarkleyKirby Lee/US PresswireCoach Lane Kiffin has challenged Matt Barkley in previous seasons, but what more can Barkley do?
Since last season ended, we've looked at the top 10 performers from last year, the top 10 moments and the top five questions for the new year.

And, lately, we've done previews for every position group at USC: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties and special teams.

Now, with spring practice officially beginning for the Trojans on Tuesday at 4 p.m., let's take a look at five remaining questions for the month-long spring session.

1. Can Matt Barkley keep improving?

After his first two seasons at USC, there were clear areas where quarterback Matt Barkley could improve his game.

At the end of his freshman year, he had to cut down on his interceptions, among other things. At the end of his sophomore year, he had to develop a more consistent throw downfield -- again, among other things.

But this year? Barkley's stats were flat-out fantastic in 2011, easily reaching two of the three goals coach Lane Kiffin set for him and coming very close to the other.

The three: connect on 30 or more touchdowns, throw 10 or fewer interceptions and achieve a 70 percent completion percentage. He threw for 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a completion percentage of 69.1.

Sure, the one he didn't meet is a good carry-over goal for 2012. But what else can he even do?

We should find out this spring.

2. Will alternative ball-carrying sources emerge?

It's not as if this topic hasn't yet been broached -- on this blog and others. But it's still worthy of examination. Who is the Trojans' No. 3 ball carrier going to be behind Curtis McNeal and D.J. Morgan?

Amir Carlisle's transfer in January made this an issue. But fullback Soma Vainuku might be an option for a couple of carries a game, and so might Jahleel Pinner when he gets to USC in the summer.

One last possibility: A player from another position could always be moved -- temporarily or for good. The Trojans just fixed some depth issues at defensive tackle by moving Cody Temple there from the offensive line.

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Cody Temple switches from OG to DT

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
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USC's Cody Temple was all set to commit to Nevada as a defensive tackle back in November 2010, planning to call the Wolf Pack after school one day at Liberty High in Bakersfield and inform them of his plans.

Then his father picked him up and told him he had a phone call to make. And so he did, and found USC associate head coach John Baxter on the other end of the line. On the other end, in Los Angeles, Baxter soon passed the phone to Lane Kiffin, who offered the 6-2, 280-pounder a scholarship as an offensive lineman.

Temple, raised a USC fan, accepted immediately, signed in February of last year and served quietly on the scout-team interior offensive line throughout the 2011 season while using his redshirt year.

Then, Thursday, Kiffin called Temple into his upstairs office at Heritage Hall. He and Ed Orgeron had talked, Kiffin told Temple, and they decided that they wanted him on the defensive line again. There was less depth there than there was on the O-line, Kiffin said, so it made more sense for the team and the player.

Temple obliged, again immediately, beginning his new adventure in a Thursday conditioning session with his teammates as members of the USC coaching staff observed.

"It doesn't really matter where they put me," Temple said afterward. "Whether I was offense or defense I was gonna make sure I was on the field one way or another."

With Temple as a center/guard, there would have been 15 offensive linemen on the USC roster for five starting spots compared to four defensive tackles for two starting spots. The move makes sense, and he realizes that.

He'll compete with Antwaun Woods and J.R. Tavai for time at nose guard while Christian Heyward backs up George Uko at the three-technique.

"We were looking at nose guard because it looks a little bit light and seeing what I can do to help out," Temple said. "We discussed it -- getting on the field the earliest I could and helping out the guys."

Where USC's 2012 recruiting class stands (Offense)

January, 21, 2012
1/21/12
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USC can sign 15 players this year as part of its 2012 recruiting class. It's likely the Trojans will ink all 15 of those players on Signing Day, although there is a possibility they could hold off on a player or two to save space for a last-second top prospect.

Position by position, let's delve into who will make up that 15-man list, including the eight prospects already committed, with assistance from ESPN Recruiting, Rivals and Scout. We'll do the offense Saturday and the defense Sunday.

Quarterback

USC is not seriously recruiting any signal-callers. The Trojans have three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster with three or more years of eligibility remaining.

Running back

This is probably the Trojans' biggest position of need after Amir Carlisle left to Notre Dame and George Farmer switched back to receiver.

Curtis McNeal is the clear-cut No. 1 and D.J. Morgan will back him up, but Javorious Allen is the only other scholarship player on the roster. Jahleel Pinner (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) is committed and expected to sign, but he's more of a fullback than a running back.

It's a near-guarantee USC will sign another running back in the 15. Arizona prep athlete D.J. Foster, who dropped USC during his senior season but is now reconsidering, could be the player the Trojans pick up.

Fullback

Pinner is likely to start his USC career as a fullback, so he'll fill the need here. Plus, the Trojans already have redshirt freshman Soma Vainuku and Simione Vehikite also available.

(Read full post)

Offensive line still struggling

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
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Lane Kiffin thought he was starting to get his offensive line figured out when he penciled in Kevin Graf at right tackle to join Matt Kalil and Khaled Holmes and moved mammoth freshman Aundrey Walker over to right guard last week.

Not so fast, coach.

The Trojans' offensive line, the team's biggest weakness, struggled mightily in Sunday's three-hour scrimmage at the Coliseum -- even Graf, who Kiffin had previously complimented earlier in camp. They allowed sacks, they failed to create significant room for running backs to roam and altogether hardly ever dominated, even when going as a first-string unit head-to-head against second-stringers.

“Same story,” Kiffin said when asked about his line. ”The center and left tackle are playing well. The right tackle was a little shaky today, as you saw out there. He gave up a sack and one or two false starts.”

The guards were the weakest link, Kiffin said. Walker started at right guard and didn't do particularly well, and the next player to earn a shot at left guard, Abe Markowitz, didn't either. And backups John Martinez and Martin Coleman also weren't on top of their games.

“It didn’t feel or look like anybody played well at guard,” Kiffin said. "They’re just not performing consistent. It’s kind of expected from Aundrey (Walker) for a guy that’s not only a true freshman but just moved positions five days ago.

"We just have to continue to improve.”

This isn't a surprise, of course. Kiffin has long known picking his guards would be an issue, especially when Michael Reardon retired early this offseason and Tyron Smith left early for the draft, forcing Graf to play right tackle. But did he anticipate it being this difficult?

We don't know, but we do know this: the Trojans have fewer than 20 days left before their season opener against Minnesota on Sept. 3. At this point, it appears like it will be two of four players who win those spots -- the same four, Markowitz, Walker, Coleman and Martinez, who played extensively in Sunday's scrimmage.

Juco transfer Jeremy Galten may also still have a shot, but that's about it. Freshmen Cyrus Hobbi, Marcus Martin and Cody Temple, who's been out with a back injury, never got any sort of look in camp at the guard spots, and neither did David Garness, the other juco lineman.

16 players miss practice with injuries

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
7:45
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Injuries started to mount Wednesday, but Thursday they just took control.

It was the biggest story of the Trojans' practice on Howard Jones Field. It took coach Lane Kiffin 40 seconds in meeting with the media afterward just to list all the various ailments and injuries and then another couple of minutes to detail some of them.

In total, 16 scholarship players sat out practice Thursday because of injuries -- of which four were new injuries or things that hadn't yet caused the players to miss practice this fall.

"We're seeing the price that you pay for doing what we're doing," Kiffin said. "And it's a decision we made to go this direction, to tackle and have physical practices the way that we are, because we think it's too critical to prepare our guys for game-like situations.

"And so this is the downside to it."

The list of 16 players: defensive tackles J.R. Tavai (hamstring) and Christian Tupou (knee), cornerbacks Brian Baucham (hamstring), Tony Burnett (ankle), Torin Harris (concussion) and Patrick Hall (knee), safeties Demetrius Wright (hip), T.J. McDonald (ankle) and Jawanza Starling (undisclosed), linebacker Chris Galippo (shoulder) and Dion Bailey (foot), offensive guard Giovanni Di Poalo (shoulder), center Cody Temple (back), quarterback Jesse Scroggins (thumb), tight end Christian Thomas (hip) and receiver Robert Woods (ankle).

The most serious of those is Scroggins', with his injured right thumb requiring surgery that will sideline him for an unidentified amount of time. We'll go over the implications to the rest of the injuries Friday.

With 79 scholarship players in camp for the Trojans, that means more than 20 percent of the team was out of commission Thursday. And that's not counting running back Marc Tyler, who's suspended.

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