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Trojans Leery of Injured Foes : USC: Oregon loses starting quarterback, but Robinson recalls past and warns against complacency today.

October 01, 1994|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Robinson will coach his 100th USC game at the Coliseum today, against Oregon, in circumstances hauntingly similar to an Oregon-USC matchup here 23 seasons ago.

When Oregon Coach Rich Brooks announced this week that his senior quarterback, Danny O'Neil, had undergone finger surgery and would sit this one out, the 1971 Oregon-USC game came back into focus in Robinsons' memory.

Oregon beat John McKay's USC team, 28-23, on Oct. 9, 1971. Robinson was an Oregon assistant coach that year, then joined McKay's staff the next season.

"Dan Fouts was our quarterback that year and he got hurt the previous week," Robinson recalled.

"We played a little guy named Harvey Winn at quarterback. Harvey was about 5 foot 8. Nobody gave us much of a chance. But Harvey threw three touchdown passes that day and we won.

"I've reminded our team about that this week. This is a very similar situation."

That 1971 Oregon victory was Oregon's last over the Trojans in the Coliseum. In the last 17 USC-Oregon games, USC leads, 15-1-1.

USC (2-1) will play with four offensive starters sidelined by injuries, including two who were hurt in practice this week.

Freshman guard Phalen Pounds underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure Wednesday that will keep him out of at least two games. And sophomore tight end John Allred suffered a broken leg Wednesday and is sidelined for the season.

Senior wide receiver Ed Hervey and junior tailback Leonard Green--a sensation in summer training camp--will also sit out today's game.

Hervey has a knee injury and Green a pulled hamstring.

And still sidelined is freshman tailback Delon Washington. USC announced last week it was withholding him from competition until an admissions matter regarding his eligibility is settled.

Besides O'Neil, a senior from Newport Beach, Oregon will be without cornerback Herman O'Berry and offensive tackle Paul Wiggins. Each has a knee injury. Sophomore Tony Graziani will make his first start at quarterback.

O'Neil came down last week with a staph infection on the ring finger of his passing hand. He was hampered by it against Iowa last Saturday, then underwent surgery Monday.

Even with O'Neil's swollen finger limiting him to a seven-for-17 passing for 74 yards, Oregon (2-2) beat Iowa, 40-18.

Oregon scored 20 points in five minutes of possession in the second quarter, then dominated the second half.

Previously, Oregon had lost to Hawaii and Utah after opening with a 58-16 victory over Portland State.

The Trojans, on a night Shawn Walters seemed to emerge as a big-time tailback with 31 carries for 207 yards, beat Baylor last Saturday, 37-27.

Senior quarterback Rob Johnson, who has a sore back, led an offense that piled up 583 total yards against Baylor, the Trojans' most in five seasons. He completed 27 of 39 passes for 364 yards. For the season, his completion percentage is 68.5%, highest in the conference.

Johnson had one of his best games last season at Oregon, completing 28 of 36 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-13 USC victory.

With Hervey gone, his main targets have been Ken Grace, who has 16 catches; Allred, 10, and tight ends Tyler Cashman and Johnny McWilliams, who have eight each.

Cashman moves up into Allred's spot, with Jeff Diltz becoming the third tight end. Keyshawn Johnson, who returned last week from a thigh injury, has caught five passes for 110 yards.

Today's will be the last Oregon-USC meeting until 1997.

USC TROJANS TODAY'S GAME

* Opponent: Oregon.

* Site: Coliseum.

* Time: 3:30 p.m.

* Records: USC 2-1, Oregon 2-2.

* Radio: KNX (1070).

* TV: Prime Ticket.

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