Following the impressive opening day win over San Jose State the spirits were high around the Trojan football team but just a few days later there is cause for concern as injuries could keep at least two major contributors off the field for this week's tough matchup with Kansas State.
The knee injury to Frank Strong was considered minor at first but at this point Strong will be held out of practice until Thursday at the earliest. The injury is being called a sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee which was suffered when he got leg whipped late in the 4th quarter on Saturday. Strong will be replaced at SLB by John Cousins who moves over from WLB as Carroll didn't feel comfortable putting true freshman Bobby Otani as the starter against the powerful running offense of Kstate. We could also see Mike Pollard move outside with Graham or Webb taking over in the middle while another factor could be the availability of Chris Prosser who is sitting out due to suspension but is waiting word on his appeal. If Strong can't go it would be a major blow to the defense of the Trojans as we saw what an impact he has made already with his speed and aggressiveness.
Malaefou MacKenzie had hoped to be back for this game but it looks as if he will be held out until the Oregon game to insure that his knee is as healthy as possible. When the injury first occurred in fall camp it didn't appear to be serious but this has been a familiar story throughout MacKenzie's USC career and while it has to be frustrating for him to continue missing games this is a solid strategy by the coaches and trainers. It would be ideal to have Mal when we face the Wildcats but the bye week before the Oregon game would give additional time to heal and have him back in time for conference play.
There might be a linebacker named Simmons coming to the Trojans but it isn't Marvin, it is his older brother Melvin. Melvin played two seasons at Washington State after starring at Dominguez HS but was involved in a beating incident at the school where he suffered head and facial injuries and elected to leave the school. Melvin led the Cougars in sacks last year and is a player who could contribute for the Trojans, he is not as big or fast as his younger brother but he knows how to play Pac 10 football and will have two years eligibility remaining. Normally a transfer within the conference has to sit out two years but since Melvin was released from his WSU scholarship that rule may be waived which would allow Marvin and Melvin to play together for one season when Marvin completes his two year stint at Orange Coast College and joins the Trojans.
Recruit Brandon Hancock from Clovis West HS was rumored to be a verbal to USC several weeks ago but Hancock announced this week that he has not yet decided between USC and Stanford and will evaluate how both teams utilize their fullbacks before making a final choice.