Just when it looked like the offensive line had emerged from fall camp in good health, USC took a hit when reverse lineman Abe Markowitz broke his foot in practice Sunday.
Coach Lane Kiffin said the redshirt sophomore is set to undergo surgery.
"Just a freak accident with his foot, he'll be out six to seven weeks," Kiffin said. "It's tough for him, he had played extremely well for us at center and guard."
Recently awarded a scholarship, Markowitz was set to return home for the season opener after playing at Honolulu's Punahou School. Now his absence leaves some uncertainty as to the depth behind starter Kris O'Dowd.
Michael Reardon, who returned to practice Monday after being held out because of an undisclosed injury, will hold the No. 2 spot, Kiffin said. After him would be right guard Khaled Holmes, who has been dealing with stingers.
Quarterback Matt Barkley, fullback Stanley Havili, cornerback Shareece Wright and linebackers Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan have been elected captains for the upcoming season, Kiffin announced.
Barkley is believed to be the first USC true sophomore to be so honored.
Kiffin said it was a testament to Barkley's leadership and work ethic.
"With a bunch of guys to vote for, senior good leaders like Ronald Johnson and Allen Bradford, for him to be named over those guys as a sophomore says a lot about his work ethic," Kiffin said. "They've seen what he has done this offseason, seen how he has changed his body and approach to the game. He wants to be the best and he's working that way."
Morgan said he wasn't surprised Barkley was recognized.
"He has the respect on this team," he said.
Smith and Morgan finished with an equal number of votes, so Kiffin decided to have five captains instead of four.
-WR Kyle Prater could redshirt this season after struggling to overcome a series of nagging injuries in spring and fall camp, Kiffin said.
"After a number of conversations with him and his family, we're going to lean toward not playing him and possibly redshirting him this year," Kiffin said. "His competitive side wants to fight through this and go out there, but he's just not 100 percent. We feel he is going to be so good when he is that we don't want to throw him out there when he is not 100 percent.
"We're fortunate to have enough guys where hopefully we can do that and he can get healthy and stronger and look to a great career here starting next year. He works extremely hard. He's going to be a great player here for us, probably has the best hands on our team and catches everything."
-After making huge investments in special teams, which often including a 45-minute walk-through and 20-minute meetings, Kiffin is hoping to see immediate results.
"I hope so, I hope in the first quarter as much time as we've given towards it," he said. "Our offensive and defensive coaches haven't been excited about that because that's time they lose, but it was too important. It's worth taking time away from the offense and defense. They notice that and know how serious we are about it. They know we're not just giving it lip service. We're going to play well on special teams. We're going to dedicate our time and energy and resources."
-The Trojans will take 71 players to Hawaii. USC will practice tomorrow afternoon, then fly to Honolulu.
-Suspended DB Patrick Hall remains enrolled in school, Kiffin said.
"We're still trying to work with him to get him on the same page as the rest of our team," he said. "If you're put on scholarship here, that's a privilege and you need to continue to earn that."