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NOTES

Pinkard and Lua Suffer Injuries

September 03, 2006|Gary Klein and Bill Plaschke | Times Staff Writers

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — USC left Arkansas with an impressive 50-14 victory on Saturday night, but it might have come with a cost.

Junior safety Josh Pinkard injured his right knee in the fourth quarter while covering a punt. Pinkard was on crutches after the game and said he would have an MRI exam.

"I was running down the field and I tried to plant and I heard it crack," said Pinkard, who made six tackles.

Oscar Lua, who started at middle linebacker, lasted only one play. Lua said his right hamstring "popped" in the first series.

"I've been nursing it the last two weeks and thought I was ready to go," he said. "The first time I put real pressure on it, it goes out.

"It's a good thing we have two weeks to get ready for our next game."

Sophomore Rey Maualuga replaced Lua and made six tackles.

Linebacker Keith Rivers led the Trojans with eight tackles.

*

Arkansas students began lining up days in advance to get into the stadium first with their $1 tickets.

Brent Barron, an Arkansas freshman from Joplin, Mo., said he was among those who slept for two nights in a line that stretched for about half a mile by noon Saturday.

"I've had five hours sleep since Wednesday," he said.

Barron, who had never been to a college football game, said he planned to paint his body red and white but would quietly root for the Trojans.

"I've always liked Pete Carroll," he said. "Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart made it official."

Barron, however, said he would keep his USC allegiance to himself. Asked what would happen if he openly rooted for the Trojans in the Razorback student section, he said, "I'd get murdered."

*

Arkansas has a funny rule during training camp -- nobody is allowed to level a solid hit on a running back.

This rule backfired Saturday when starter Felix Jones fumbled twice in the first half after hard hits by USC's Dallas Sartz and Sedrick Ellis.

The fumbles led to 10 USC points.

"Felix is distraught," said Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt. "He had a tough game. Felix is not a fumbler. We are going to have to tell him, 'We believe in Felix Jones.' "

The Trojans, meanwhile, encourage their defenders to smash their running backs in practice, On Saturday, only one Trojans running back fumbled, and Desmond Reed dropped the ball without contact, and quickly recovered it.

*

All week, Arkansas folks talked about how much they would miss leading rusher Darren McFadden, who was out with a dislocated toe.

McFadden showed up though, gaining 44 yards in nine carries.

"He surprised me how quickly he recovered," Nutt said.

*

Even in being beaten by 36 points, Arkansas improved from last year's performance against USC.

Last year, after eight offensive plays, the Trojans had gained 246 yards and scored four touchdowns.

This year, after eight offensive plays, the Trojans had gained 28 yards and not scored.

Of course, USC blew out Arkansas at the start of a second half in which the Trojans scored on four of their first five possessions.

"We've got to grow up in a hurry," Nutt said.

*

Nine of Troy Van Blarcom's 10 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.... USC's record against Arkansas is 4-1. The schools met in a three-game series in 1972-74. Saturday night's game was the first in Fayetteville. The previous two in Arkansas were played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.... USC is 17-10-1 against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is 4-6-1 against Pacific 10 Conference schools.... USC has won its last nine openers. The Trojans are 26-7-1 in season openers on the road.

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