LOS ANGELES (AP) - For No. 13 Southern California, all these injuries are becoming a pain.
One week, two starting offensive lineman get hurt on the same play, and leading rusher Stafon Johnson goes down as well. The next, quarterback John David Booty breaks his finger. Finally, left tackle Sam Baker and linebacker Rey Maualuga get knocked out of action.
There have been several other injuries as well, so it's understandable the Trojans are just happy to win these days, no matter who they're playing. That was clear last weekend, when they celebrated with vigor after rallying with 10 fourth-quarter points to beat 21-point underdog Arizona 20-13 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
``It's just part of the football season,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. ``Everybody has issues. It's not about style points. We have a lot of games left.''
USC (5-1, 3-1 Pac-10) takes a break from conference action this weekend, traveling to face offensively challenged Notre Dame (1-6).
Carroll is uncertain about the availability of several players, including: Johnson, who has missed the last two games because of a sprained left foot; Booty, who broke the middle finger on his throwing hand during a shocking 24-23 loss to Stanford; Chilo Rachal and Kristofer O'Dowd, the two offensive linemen injured at Washington, and Baker and Maualuga.
But Carroll did say: ``I anticipate we are going to get stronger from this point forward.''
The coach said there was no hurry to make a decision on the starting quarterback for Saturday's game. Mark Sanchez filled in for Booty against Arizona, and completed 19 of 30 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
``He could,'' Carroll replied when asked if Booty will start. ``That's the whole idea of evaluating. We'll have to see how he responds. He's obviously getting better.''
Johnson (foot) and Baker (hamstring) have both said they expect to play against Notre Dame, while Maualuga (hip) wasn't nearly as optimistic. Linebacker Brian Cushing, who has been sidelined most of the season with a sprained ankle, also hopes to return.
``In my mind, there's a lot of reason to be real positive about what might come out of this,'' Carroll said. ``We're really not the same guys we were when we started.''
Regarding the offensive line, Carroll said: ``We'll see who can emerge out of the ashes. We have no depth. We came into the season with 14 linemen which is a couple under where you want to start. It caught up with us. We're scrambling right now.''
Baker, Rachal, O'Dowd, tackle Charles Brown and guard Zack Heberer are all listed as possible for this weekend. Center-guard Nick Howell and tackle Martin Coleman definitely won't play.
USC dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 after beating Washington 27-24; fell to No. 10 after losing to Stanford, and fell three more slots following the Arizona game.
``The concerns are warranted,'' Carroll said. ``Where are we right now? We're just trying to win a football game. Maybe the expectations here have changed a little bit. I can't do anything about the expectations.
``I think we're fortunate to be in a position where such high expectations are surrounding our program. This is a good, challenging time for us.''
The game will be USC's first at Notre Dame since the Trojans rallied for a 34-31 victory two years ago, when Matt Leinart scored the winning touchdown with 3 seconds remaining and a big assist from Reggie Bush's shove.
``You don't forget games like that,'' said USC cornerback Cary Harris, a seldom-used freshman at that time who's now a starter. ``It's a big rivalry - you don't want to lose to a team like that.
``We have a lot to prove as a team. We haven't been playing the way we want to play.''
Regarding all the injuries, Harris said: ``It's been a tough go. Luckily, we're stacked at a lot of positions.''

NCAAF Headlines

More inNCAAF News  
Advertisement

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Cal vs. Hawaii College Football Pick California and Hawaii kick off the 2016 college football season from Sydney, Australia tonight. Will the Rainbow Warriors cover as huge...
Thumbnail Cal, Hawaii can put up points Will tonight’s College Football Kickoff between Hawaiiand Californiaprovided plenty of offensive fireworks? Here’s our take on the total.
Thumbnail Bettors backing Cal vs. Hawaii Despite the majority of public bettors backing California for Friday’s college football kickoff contest, the line has moved in favor of Hawaii.
Thumbnail Clemson Season Win Total Prediction   Few would argue that the best player in college football resides in Death Valley. After narrowly missing out on the ultimate prize this past January, will...
Thumbnail Western Kentucky Season Win Total Prediction In Conference USA country, one school’s offensive attack stands a cut above the rest. We’re talking about a crew so brilliant that even video-game...
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages