The news didn't get any better Tuesday for USC.
The Trojans announced that linebacker Rex Moore underwent surgery at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and probably will miss the remainder of the season. Moore suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle in Monday night's 27-13 loss to Michigan State at East Lansing, Mich.
Moore, the Trojans' defensive signal-caller, ranked second in the Pacific 10 Conference and led USC last season with 206 tackles.
The fifth-year senior from Orange will be replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Delmar Chesley, whose backup will be a freshman, Scott Ross.
Coach Larry Smith said the Trojans played a "very, very poor" game against Michigan State, which took advantage of five USC turnovers.
"Our effort was very good," Smith told USC sports information director Tim Tessalone, "but not our performance. We're a long way off from being a good football team. . . .
"We need a lot of time to get things back together."
Smith said he was most disappointed in his team's lack of an effective running game against Michigan State and in its inability to contain the Spartans' ground attack.
USC ran for only 61 yards in 33 carries, an average of 1.8 yards a carry, while Michigan State ran for 238 yards in 56 carries, an average of 4.2 yards.
"We have definite personnel problems in our backfield at tailback and at linebacker," Smith said.
Senior Ryan Knight, who carried 19 times for 53 yards as a fill-in starter at tailback for the injured Steven Webster, was so ineffective that Smith tried freshmen Marcus Hopkins and Scott Lockwood.
Hopkins lost a fumble at the Michigan State 13-yard line with 8:20 left in the third quarter and USC trailing, 17-6. In the fourth quarter, Lockwood's halfback option pass was intercepted in the end zone.
Smith said he thought that the linebacking unit was the strength of the team, but noting the loss of Moore and the substandard play against Michigan State, he said, "now it's one of our biggest weaknesses."
Summing up the opening-night loss, Smith said: "We played a very, very poor first game. The lack of execution on offense led to our demise. The defense did not stop the run and our perimeter play was extremely poor. Our kicking game was average at best."
The Trojans are off this week before meeting Boston College in a nationally televised game Sept. 19 at the Coliseum. Boston College opened its season with a 38-20 victory over Texas Christian last Saturday and plays Temple this week.