USC head coach Lane Kiffin announced 19 players were unavailable to participate during Tuesday's day 11 practice.
Needless to say, the injuries are mounting.
Kiffin hasn't announced any season ending injuries, so that in itself is a good thing for the Trojans. However, only 11 days in and there are so many players unable to practice that Tuesday's session ended early based on the number of reps.
"We have had a very physical camp and obviously that at times will take a toll," Kiffin. "So we got to make sure at the same time we aren't out here too long because that will take its toll because 19 guys go out, what we need to remember is that increases everyone's reps when it goes to special teams, offense, and defense – because obviously you're losing guys and unable to rotate as much."
Receiver Marqise Lee was one of the 19 players out Tuesday. Lee has now missed four days and six practices due to a bone bruise. The star receiver was joined by familiar company – also known as the next two receivers behind him on the depth chart. Joining him on the injured list is No. 2 receiver Nelson Agholor and No. 3 receiver Darreus Rogers. With Lee, Agholor and Rogers out the reps at the position belonged to Victor Blackwell, Devon Flournoy, as well as walkon Robby Kolanz.
The tailbacks are also a formidable crowd on the sideline. The only backs available during Tuesday's workout were Buck Allen and Tre Madden. Silas Redd, D.J. Morgan, Ty Isaac, and Justin Davis remain sidelined.
Williams was injured the same day as Lee – four days ago, six practices ago – when he was lit up on a block by Zach Banner. Kiffin says he's not too concerned over Williams injury, "He's limited, he's doing some individual stuff, just isn't doing the full team stuff – he should be back very soon," Kiffin said.
What about the right side of the offensive line?
Following practice I asked Kiffin about the offensive line. His answer may be rather telling. The head coach spoke in depth about how well the left side of the line is coming together with sophomore Max Tuerk at left guard and redshirt freshman Chad Wheeler at left tackle, "I think those two kids are playing great together," Kiffin said. "I think they have a great mentality about the game and about toughness, so I'm really excited about the way that side is playing."
He then spoke about the progress of center Marcus Martin, saying Martin is "playing well".
Then, in a different move, Kiffin looked around for the next question, all while a scrum of reporters had to be thinking "does the right side of the line exist?"
So I asked about the right side of the line. All Kiffin said was, "The right side is doing some good things. We need to continue to improve everywhere."
It's up for speculation as to why Kiffin didn't have much to say about the right side of the line. It will be a close study during day 12 practices.
Kiffin, who admittedly gave a tongue-in-cheek report on the QBs just a few days ago, said both played well. "I thought they took care of the ball well, managed the huddle well and we're really excited about that competition."
Only a few blemishes marked the Tuesday resume of each quarterback. Kessler took a lap after having the ball stripped before he could get it off. Wittek took a lap after a backwards pass that was grabbed by the defense.
Asked if he's seen any separation between the two, Kiffin said "I know we obviously joked about the company line with them but they really are taking care of the football."
During 11on11 drills Kessler found tailback Tre Madden on the right sideline who picked up yards after the catch to find his way to the end zone. Wittek squeezed a pass into the end zone – what looked like would be picked by cornerback Ryan Henderson – was instead somehow grabbed by Victor Blackwell for a touchdown.
"You don't see many turnovers out here versus a defense that is extremely multiple and does a lot of stuff, so I do believe they are completely buying into taking care of the football."
Still no timetable is set to name a starter, though the second fall scrimmage scheduled to be play Thursday will be a big test.
"When it shows it will show, and obviously the sooner the better for the team, but at the same time we've got to make sure we are making the right decision and picking who we believe is the right guy," Kiffin said.
Tight end sightings
The tight ends at times seem like an afterthought – both in the playbook and in the media.
Perhaps it's because the players in the position group are solid performers who always seem to be doing their job.
Cope-Fitzpatrick has not only handled his blocking duties, but has proven to be a reliable target downfield.
Asked about his two NFL-caliber tight ends, Kiffin deferred to the player whose been responsible for making plays through the first 11 days of camp. "I think first off I would talk about Jalen," he said, "because he's the guy in there everyday performing in there, getting better, and improving and practicing… Jalen is coming along really well and those other two are potentially premier players."
Xavier Grimble, who has missed time during fall camp due to his summer class schedule, continues to impress with his ability to catch the ball. He's even made a few deep catches throughout camp, including a grab on Tuesday in which he nearly broke for the end zone but was taken down just short by safety Su'a Cravens.
"I think it is going to be a really good position group with those three guys," Kiffin said.
Walkon ends it
It certainly isn't everyday a walk-on makes the walk-off catch and is named MVP of the day, but Tuesday was redshirt freshman Robby Kolanz's day.
The 5-foot-11 175-pound Kolanz made the most of his reps Tuesday as injured receivers Lee, Agholor, and Rogers looked on.
During the final series of the day, Kolanz caught a big third down pass from Wittek for the first down and then the very next play Kolanz ran a corner route to the end zone, leaped and came down with the ball over cornerback Chris Hawkins and safety Gerald Bowman. A team pile ensued in the end zone, celebrating the touchdown.
Three horns sounded, and like that, Kiffin called practice. The early horn is usually reserved for a defensive play to end practice.
Practice was held for the second consecutive day on the outfield grass of Dedeaux Field…Shoulder pads only…The next scrimmage is Thursday in the Coliseum.