The University of Southern California Trojans have had to continually do without their great receiver Robert Woods through spring and now during summer workouts. The Trojan staff had expected his ankle to recover from surgery last winter; however, the injury is slow to heal and now there's a possibility he may not be ready for the 2012 season-opener … or maybe longer.
Woods played on a bad ankle all last year and still made All-American plus anyone who knows Woods realizes he's as tough as they come. But we all were assured that he would be fine if he took off from spring practice. Then they said Woods would be getting his timing back and physically be sharper during the summer workouts. Now it's being determined he'll be ready for fall practice at the beginning of August. Maybe these ongoing delays are preventative measures but it sure makes a fan worry with the season fast-approaching.
The 6'1" 190 pound junior wide-out not only played on a bad ankle all year but also had an elbow injury early in the year and then a shoulder injury that would go limp at times during games. However, the key now is inflammation of the ankle bone - the results from when he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right leg. But what if the bone situation doesn't heal in time; can USC led by quarterback Matt Barkley continue to be as effective as originally thought? The Trojan offense has many weapons but surely taking an All-American out of the lineup won't help.
USC was to come into 2012 with potentially two All-American receivers - Woods and Marqise Lee - and a possible Heisman Trophy quarterback in Barkley. But what, how and who can fill-in … if that's possible?
Aside from Lee who exploded onto the scene during last season, who else can perform?
George Farmer, the much ballyhooed receiver who came out of high school as one of the most celebrated prep players in the country last year has had nagging injuries and some of those injuries have been bizarre. Yes, his back and hamstring have been troubling but then a week or so ago, he was bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider (source - Sporting News). His arm needed treated and he missed some workouts. An opportunity like this may be just what Farmer needs. The talent is there if he can just stay healthy.
Fourth-year junior De'Von Flournoy will see action and is a solid receiver who had a good spring practice but doesn't have the big play ability of Woods or Lee. Redshirt freshman Victor Blackwell is another receiver who can produce quality play but he too, doesn't have the big moves or speed to create trouble for defenses. There are incoming freshmen like Darreus Rogers who is a wildcard and has the skills to make big plays but isn't a Woods/Lee type and also Nelson Agholor who's multi-talented and can play running back or receiver. But to rely on incoming freshmen is an iffy proposition.
What could make the offense work better is if the running game was efficient like the second half of last year when Curtis McNeal came on strong. Barkley can sit back there and throw all day but unless he has the running attack to keep teams honest, a Woods-less Trojan offense isn't as dynamic without a good ground game.
Yes, USC has a couple of tight ends in Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer that can flat out play and they will be fun to watch, but there's nothing like the speed, quickness, hands and toughness of Woods.
At the end of the day, the Trojans are talented enough and no one player will make or break their season but if I had to put money on it, Mr. Woods will play come September 1 versus Hawaii for the opener.
Said Woods regarding the lingering problem (source - NBC Sports): "I thought about it, the possibility of not being healthy for the season, of still being sore. But then I remembered I was sore all last year and I did OK, so I think I'll be all right."
Sources - USC, Sporting News
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!