USC continues preparation despite injuries

first_imgThe USC football team, which recently dropped out of the national rankings following a close loss at Utah, is gearing up for its second straight road game this Saturday. The Trojans will head to Washington State in front of a hostile crowd in Pullman, Washington.Kill the Cougs · Sophomore safety Su’a Cravens, who has been playing linebacker recently, will be crucial in slowing down Washington State. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanThe Spirit of TroyAfter suffering their second last-minute loss of the season, the Trojans approached Tuesday’s practice as they would any other. The team has without a doubt shown great fortitude through a challenging season.“This is a different feeling than I’ve felt with any other team, and the reason I say that is because the people in this locker room care about each other,” redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Zach Banner said. “It’s a great feeling.”USC head coach Steve Sarkisian also praised his team for its continued dedication and ability to bounce back.“There are quite a few teams who could lose a ball game the way we did Saturday and mope around and feel sorry for themselves,” Sarkisian said. “This group is the furthest thing from that.”Sarkisian took the blame for the loss Saturday, stating that he had not done a good enough job of developing this team’s killer instinct following its earlier last-second loss to Arizona State.“We should be undefeated in conference play,” Sarkisian said. “We are good enough to win.”The key to winning is to play all 60 minutes of the football game, something the Trojans have struggled with in conference play so far this year. Both of their conference losses, to Arizona State and Utah, came in the last 10 seconds of play.“Pouting about it or having a bad attitude isn’t going to change it,” redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler said. “We’ve got to come out here and keep working.”Taking on the CougarsWashington State (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12) is ranked last in the Pac-12 North division heading into Saturday. The Cougars are not a team to be taken lightly, however. Sarkisian spoke of how the Cougars’ record doesn’t necessarily reflect their talent.“They’ve played a lot of people very tough,” Sarkisian said.Indeed, three of the Cougars’ losses have been by fewer than 10 points.“They throw the ball all over the place,” Sarkisian said. “They have a strong defensive front that likes to get out after the quarterback and stop the run game, so we have our work cut out for us.”Kessler discussed the offense’s responsibility to put up as many points as possible and give the defense something to work with.“We got to put up a lot of points,” Kessler said. “We are going to have a lot of opportunities.”Washington State’s only conference win this season came against Utah, something the Trojans will most certainly take personally considering last week’s effort against the Utes.Injury ReportRedshirt sophomore left tackle Chad Wheeler tore his ACL during the game against Utah. He will be out for the rest of the season as he undergoes extensive surgery and rehabilitation that will take six to eight months.Sarkisian did not name a replacement for Wheeler following practice.Freshman offensive guard Damien Mama reaggravated his knee injury during Tuesday’s practice, and Sarkisian listed Mama as day-to-day. Mama’s availability is expected to influence the choice of starter in place of Wheeler.A blow to the Trojan defense came when senior outside linebacker J.R. Tavai suffered an unspecified knee injury that is expected to keep him off the field for several weeks.Soma Vainuku, a redshirt junior fullback, was very limited in practice Tuesday.last_img read more