Notebook: Injuries pile up for Trojans

Freshman wide receiver-turned-running back George Farmer was as surprised as anyone at his goal line carry early in the first quarter.

SAN FRANCISCO – Aside from the usual bumps and bruises, USC had been fortunate in regards to injuries through its first five games. But that luck ran out against California on Thursday night at AT&T Park, as so many Trojans suffered injuries, head coach Lane Kiffin couldn't keep them straight in his post-game press conference.

"There was a bunch of guys out," he said. "We were getting banged up there. Obviously just wanted that clock to run out there in the fourth quarter and get ready to go to South Bend."

The most serious was cornerback Anthony Brown, who suffered a broken left ankle, leaving USC incredibly thin in the secondary.

Already without starter Torin Harris (shoulder), Brown was replaced by junior college transfer Isiah Wiley, who finished with five tackles and one pass breakup.

Safety Demetrius Wright suffered what he termed a lower leg contusion and left on crutches.

Running back Marc Tyler dislocated his shoulder, but trainers were able to pop it back into place on the field.

Tyler's absence gave redshirt junior Curtis McNeal more carries, and he delivered, rushing 17 times for 86 yards and a touchdown.

"He's worked his butt off," running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. "He got an opportunity and is doing a great job."

Asked if he would be available against Notre Dame, Tyler said after a long pause, "I don't know. This has never really happened to me before.

"We took X-rays and nothing was wrong," he added.

More confident was freshman wide receiver Marqise Lee, who sprained the AC joint in his shoulder on a 31-yard reception on USC's first offensive play. He aggravated the injury diving into the end zone for a touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Lee, who finished with four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, was certain he would be available to practice as soon as Sunday afternoon.

"I'm all right now," he said. "I'll be out there Sunday then (practicing)."

Farmer's First Time
Just two weeks after moving from wide receiver to running back, George Farmer found himself in a game lined up in the backfield.

But no one, not even the freshman from Gardena (Calif.) Serra could have imagined that his first carry would come at the goal line. Kiffin dialed up a toss sweep for Farmer, who was immediately swallowed up for a loss of four yards by multiple Cal defenders.

"I was actually surprised to go in like in the first series on the goal line. But I was ready for it," Farmer said. "Everything that was given to me I appreciated. I just did everything I could."

Farmer finished with four carries for four yards, with a long of eight. He also returned a kick 21 yards and caught a pass for 14 yards.

It looked as if Farmer was about to break that swing pass from quarterback Matt Barkley for a touchdown.

"Man, all I saw was just green grass, and then I felt my foot get tipped and my feet got tangled up," Farmer said. "I was really mad."

Farmer, who hadn't played running back since Pop Warner, also lost a fumble late in the game when coaches were trying to get him comfortable with the position.

"It's needed," he said. "My first game, I got the jitters out. Now I'm good.

"I'm ready to rock and roll."

Polamalu wasn't thrilled with the turnover, but understands it will be a process to turn Farmer into a full-time tailback.

"It happened. We'll just try to make the best out of it," Polamalu said, before adding, "He's going to be pretty good."

By the Numbers
USC has now won eight consecutive games against Cal, but Thursday marked the first time the Trojans and Golden Bears met in San Francisco.

USC had five takeaways in its first five games, but came up with three interceptions and two fumbles against Cal.

Woods Watch
Sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods had a team-high five receptions, but for only 36 yards.

It was his lowest output since catching three passes for 15 yards at Oregon State last November.

Woods now has 60 receptions for 783 yards and six touchdowns in six games. He had 65 receptions for 792 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games last season.

However, Cal receiver Keenan Allen capitalized on Woods' slow night, totaling 160 yards on 13 receptions to pass his fellow sophomore in receiving yards.

Allen now has 828 yards on 52 catches in six games.


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