But there they were Tuesday as the newly named Pac-12 Offensive Player of Week, Cody Kessler, made a late entry to an early morning practice that he barely participated in. And then just as it was almost time to talk to Cody to find out what the deal was with him (a "minor" medical "procedure" on his toe before practice, we were told), two other USC stars went down.
The injury to freshman guard Damien Mama was much more dramatic, as he grabbed his right knee in a pile on what would become the day's final play. As he'd done three weeks ago when he rolled an ankle, Mama lay there for a while before getting up. Trojans can only hope it works out the same way as then when he was back full-go the next day.
"Damien was more scared than anything," Sark said. As to Williams rolled ankle after a very active practice by the All-American D-lineman, "Nothing serious," according to Sark.
As for Kessler, he seemed almost incredulous that anyone would question his availability this week. Or even for Wednesday's practice, even if he did miss much of the full-pads Tuesday work, arriving an hour and 10 minutes after it started, and limiting himself to soft tosses as he tested out his left toe.I'm golden," he said as he approached the media scrum. "I'm fine . . . I didn't practice," he said. Then later, finishing up with "It's really minor, nothing bad."
But could you describe the "procedure?" Cody was asked. "Ask Coach Sark about that," he said. Those are the rules. He did say the toe issue got him a new pair of shoes, for whatever that's worth.
"He got it cleaned up, and we expect him to be ready to go for the ballgame," is the way Sarkisian summed it up.
The toe problem wasn't something new. Cody played on it Saturday, throwing for a career-high 394 yards on 25 of 37 passing with four touchdowns, no interceptions while also running for a TD. Had it not been Labor Day weekend and unable to be done until Tuesday morning before practice, no one might have ever known.
No Cody meant Max Browne got his chance to take over the one's and Jalen Greene moved up to the two's Tuesday. And Max thinks he'd be ready to start if it comes to that. "I do," Brown said. "I've been prepared since I got here."
Quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Clay Helton said Browne did fine with no need to change the offense. "We tailor the system to them," he said noting the strong-armed similarities between Kessler and Browne. "Max did like he always does -- he did fine."
Sark said he "wouldn't say it was our best practice," but without Kessler, that pretty much goes without saying.
Revenge for who?
Some observers are suggesting this is a double-revenge game Saturday (12:30 p.m., ABC) between the 11th/10th-ranked Cardinal and No. 14 USC with Stanford's David Shaw looking to revenge last year's 20-17 upset at the Coliseum while answering the postgame charges by Sark after Stanford beat his Huskies 31-28 that the Cardinal players and coaches were faking injuries to slow the game down.
"We never talked about it again. It was over. It was in the past," ESPN reported Shaw saying Tuesday. "[Sarkisian] and I sat together at lunch and breakfast a couple times and talked about a bunch of other things. Our wives are getting to become good friends; they know each other well. There’s no animosity whatsoever."Sark sounded the same theme, saying it was a "competitors' thing then but talking of their families' time together in the offseason.
"I think, first of all, I have a great deal of respect for David as a coach and as a person . . . We had a disagreement in the heat of the moment and I think both of us have moved on. We’ve seen each other on different occasions since then. We were in Hawaii together at an event. We haven’t spoken on it and I think our relationship is fine. We’ve moved on."
Sark spent some time with placekicker Andre Heidari at practice and explained how that went. "I wish he'd mde that field goal," Sark said of the 39-yarder Andre missed right before the end of the first half Saturday, "because he's had a good camp." But after halftime, Andre came out and kicked off out of bounds. "What I visited with him about ws that after the miss," Sark said was to handle it the way Kessler and others are asked to: have short memories. "Don't let it bother you." . . . With all the attention on Kessler's health Tuesday, not to mention that of Mama and Williams, that wasn't the extent of the injur/rehab/helath issues playing out . . . Tre Madden is not 100 percent, Sark said, but much iproved although still out of pads and not prcticing with his turf toe . . . Ryan Dillard is back and healthy at backup corner . . . Khaliel Rodgers is back in the rotation at offensive guard and Jordan Simmons is running more and getting closer at offensive guard while Aundrey Walker took the reps at second team offensive left tackle . . . Trojans are back at it Wednesday morning at 8:15.
For a complete wrapup of Tuesday morning's practice, check out TUESDAY GHOST NOTES.You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at email@example.com.