USC's number of injuries leads to tough assessments

USC is about halfway through spring practice and Lane Kiffin can't wait for summer.

Not that USC's second-year coach isn't looking forward to the remaining eight workouts.

It's just that August will bring two dozen new players to go along with more than a dozen who have been sidelined or limited this spring because of injuries.

"Right now, we would not be a very good team if we were playing," Kiffin said after Tuesday's practice. "We have some really good players but we wouldn't be able to put it together."

T.J. McDonald and his dad Tim McDonald, USC safeties present and past, are studies in perseverance

Kiffin said the Trojans have some "legitimate, NFL, star players," including receiver Robert Woods, quarterback Matt Barkley, tight end Rhett Ellison, defensive end Nick Perry, cornerbacks Nickell Robey and Tony Burnett and safety T.J. McDonald.

He also said that offensive tackle Matt Kalil had more NFL potential than his brother Ryan, a former USC center who plays for the Carolina Panthers.

But Kiffin lamented a gap between those players and other starters.

"Our challenge is to develop those guys," he said.

Tupou scare

Defensive tackle Christian Tupou (knee) and Wes Horton (foot) participated in team drills for the first time, but Tupou's day was cut short after a collision with another player. Tupou sat out the rest of practice and was scheduled to have X-rays, Kiffin said.

Tupou redshirted last season and is expected to help make up for the loss of Jurrell Casey, who made himself available for the NFL draft.

"He spent a year with me last year and was almost a coach on the field," defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said of the fifth-year senior. "He understands the game a little bit better, but you've got to get out there and do it."

Quick hits

Redshirt freshman cornerback Patrick Hall intercepted two passes, including one thrown by Barkley. "Some are his fault, some aren't," Kiffin said of Barkley's interceptions this spring.

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