Coming into the season, the linebacker unit was one of the thinnest spots on the team, and Joe Barry's group took another hit on Wednesday, with the news that freshman Hayes Pullard will have arthroscopic knee surgery.
"Unfortunately that is a position that is not very deep with us," Kiffin said. "We were looking for (Pullard) to be a backup linebacker and play on our special teams."
The 6-2, 225-pound linebacker injured his knee while participating in special teams drills earlier in fall camp, but tried to work through the pain.
After undergoing an MRI, Pullard will have to have arthroscopic knee surgery and will likely redshirt this season. He is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks.
"It will probably be tough to get him back, physically and mentally prepared," Kiffin said.
Pullard is the second linebacker to need surgery since the start of fall practice. Marquis Simmons underwent surgery earlier this month to have his appendix removed.
"We will continue to develop our other guys and hopefully Marquis Simmons gets back at some point from his surgery," Kiffin said.
The mounting injuries have caused the coaches to limit contact in practices.
"It's frustrating," Kiffin said. "We can't change what happens, we can just continue to try to find ways to manage it."
With Pullard and Simmons unavailbale, Ross Cumming and Shane Horton could receive more playing time early in the season.
Bradford Stays Tough
The bruising back entered fall camp as the favorite to win the starting job, but just over a week away from the opener, it appears that Bradford won't be the guy.
Lane Kiffin has always insisted that the competition was open, but most observers felt Bradford was a lock to win the job because of his experience and ability.
That all changed when Marc Tyler suddenly displayed the explosiveness and power that made him the No.2 rated back in the 2007 class, while Bradford remained limited because of a bruised knee.
Bradford suffered the injury during last Friday's practice. In his absence, Marc Tyler rushed for a team-high 84 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 111-play scrimmage.
Tyler, who is finally healthy, has been one of the surprises of fall camp and is on track to start in the opener at Hawaii, after receiving the bulk of the carries this week in practice.
Kiffin said he met with Bradford on Monday to explain the situation.
"I did talk to him two days ago because the reps had started to shift a little bit," Kiffin said. "I wanted him to know that before he came out here, so there weren't any surprises.
"Tell him what we were doing, the competition was still open, but we were going to give Marc some more reps."
Bradford, who is one of the most respected players on the team, vowed that he will continue to compete and work his way back from injury.
"I know I have been through a lot and it's just another challenge that I have to embrace," Bradford said. "I just have to be the best that I can be. I just can't let the injuries get to me."
"I will be back tomorrow," Kalil said. "I just have to rehab a little bit tonight and tomorrow morning."
- Senior offensive lineman Butch Lewis return to practice and worked at both guard and tackle.
"He's so valuable because he can play all four spots," Kiffin said.
- The Trojans' will hold their final scrimmage of the offseason on Thursday at the Coliseum.
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