Trojan linebacker/safety Su’a Cravens injured his right knee against Washington State. At the time the noncontact injury looked bad, with Cravens needing help just to get off the field and back to the sideline. He left Pullman on crutches and his status for the rest of the season was in serious doubt.
“When I was on the field I was told my knee was loose, and I didn’t know what was going down," Cravens said this week at practice. "Once I got in there and I got my x-rays, and they were working on my knee again, I didn’t know it could be a bone bruise or a sprain and I was walking more gingerly the next day when I got my MRI. I took a couple days for rehab and then I started running on the underwater treadmill.”
Turns out, the injury wasn't a tear, it was a strain on his MCL.
“Well of course I was scared, I’ve never hurt my MCL before, and it was cold and they say that the nerves in my knee when it’s colder are gonna act a little more funny than a regular temperature game," he said. "So I got a little scared, I thought something was wrong with my knee but there was no major damage to my ligaments.
“I wasn’t worried after I saw my MRI. My knee felt kinda weak at the moment, and I don’t like that. I had that feeling since last spring, my freshman year, but once I found out I was ok I was fine.”
When Cravens went down on the field, he his said his knee "went a bit in" and he had a burning sensation. Cravens actually injured his knee a couple of plays prior to that and at the time he thought he had torn his ACL, which would have instantly ended his season.
Now with his health no longer in doubt, Cravens is looking forward to the challenge of playing a very balanced California offense from a relatively new position.
Against the Cougars the USC coaching staff backed Cravens off the line of scrimmage, moving him from SAM linebacker to nickel cornerback. He is poised to play that same role against the Golden Bears Thursday night.
“It’s a lot more man, more man skills, and guarding slots," he said. "I mean that’s what I came here to do in the first place, so I’m used to it.”
His coverage skills will be put to the test with Cal quarterback Jared Goff slinging it around the Coliseum.
“Jerod’s a beast," he said. "I think he came in in our class, and he’s one of the top passers in the Pac-12 if not the nation last year, so we’re not sleeping on him, he can throw the ball. You can see it on film, there’s plays where he’s on the opposite hash and he’s throwing it out to the field and not a lot of quarterbacks are comfortable with doing that, so he’s a great player.”
Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of USCFootball.com since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .