Starters Turner, Spanos injured at practice

Times Staff Writer

USC’s “Competition Tuesday” practices typically feature contact that often goes beyond the high-intensity norm of most Trojans workouts.

Today, the Trojans might be paying a price.

Starting receiver Patrick Turner and starting center Matt Spanos both suffered injuries that could affect their availability for Saturday’s opener against Idaho.

Linebacker Rey Maualuga hit Turner on a pass play over the middle, leaving the 6-foot-5 junior sprawled on the ground. Team medical personnel attended to Turner and then took him for observation on the sideline before sending him for X-rays after practice.


“That was a vicious hit,” Coach Pete Carroll said.

Turner said his left arm went numb after the collision and that he suspected he sustained a “stinger.” He said he did not see but could hear the collision, and that it sounded like “thunder” in his helmet.

Maualuga apologized to Turner but said the collision was almost predictable.

“Before practice, he was like, ‘I’m going to [Randy] Moss you, Rey. I’m going to Moss you,’ like catch a ball over me and like beat me downfield like in a footrace,” Maualuga said.

“I’m like, ‘Your helmet is going to come off, your helmet is going to come off.’ Swear to God, those were the exact words coming in. For some reason, it was like, boom, he was there, I was there. It just happened.”

Spanos injured his right triceps during a drill, according to offensive line coach Pat Ruel, who said Spanos would have an MRI exam to determine the extent of the injury.

Left guard Jeff Byers would start in place of Spanos if he were unable to play against Idaho, Carroll said.

Alatini Malu, Drew Radovich or Zack Heberer could play left guard in Byers’ place.

Sophomore tailback C.J. Gable appears on track to start USC’s opener for the second consecutive season.


Though he will not name a starting tailback until the eve of Saturday’s game, Carroll said that Gable would start if the Trojans were playing today.

Senior Chauncey Washington, the Trojans’ leading rusher last season, is expected to miss the Idaho game because of a shoulder injury, leaving Gable, sophomores Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford, freshman Broderick Green and senior Desmond Reed in competition for the starting spot.

Gable, who practiced sparingly the last few weeks because of an abdominal strain, started five games and rushed for 434 yards last season. He was the first true freshman to start an opener at tailback for the Trojans, and also started the final four games.

Freshman tailback Joe McKnight went through practice with a new brace to protect a stretched ligament in his right knee. Carroll said he had not counted McKnight out for the opener. However, it is doubtful that USC would risk further injury with an open date before the Sept. 15 Nebraska game.

Carroll said freshman Marc Tyler was cleared to resume practicing as of Saturday.

Tyler, who broke his leg last season while playing at Westlake Village Oaks Christian, missed the first two days of training camp because his academic records had not been certified by the NCAA Clearinghouse, a situation that was later resolved. However, he practiced only once and then was held out because X-rays showed unhealed spaces where surgical screws had been removed.

Carroll said no decision had been made regarding whether Tyler would redshirt this season.