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USC REPORT

Pinkard Injury May Be Serious

September 04, 2006|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC safety Josh Pinkard could be lost for an extended period, and possibly the season, because of a knee injury suffered during the Trojans' season-opening victory over Arkansas, Coach Pete Carroll said Sunday.

Pinkard, a junior who is the most experienced member of USC's secondary, will have an MRI exam on Tuesday. Carroll said team doctors suspect Pinkard might have damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

"If he can't play, that's a huge loss," Carroll said. "He is one of our best football players."

USC was leading, 44-14, when Pinkard was hurt while covering a punt. After the game, Pinkard said he heard his knee "crack" as he tried to stop his momentum. He was called for interference on the play.

Asked if he regretted having Pinkard in the game at such a late stage of a blowout, Carroll said, "Sure, we had already substituted tons of guys and we were taking guys in and out. It was such a freak deal, an unusual situation.... I would love to have gotten him out of there."

Freshman Taylor Mays has been working behind Pinkard, but Carroll said he would not automatically be elevated into a starter's role.

The sixth-ranked Trojans do not play again until their Sept. 16 home opener against Nebraska, so coaches will use this week to encourage competition for the spot and experiment with possible solutions.

Freshman Allen Bradford, who switched from safety to running back during training camp and scored a touchdown against Arkansas, would not immediately move back to defense, Carroll said.

Freshmen Antwine Perez and Garrett Green will get long looks, and Carroll said linebacker Dallas Sartz also could figure in the scenario. Kicker David Buehler, who is 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds, also plays safety and will work at the position this week.

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Carroll said he watched a replay of the game and was excited most by the way junior tailback Chauncey Washington ran the ball.

Washington entered training camp at the top of the depth chart but was hampered by a left hamstring injury. He did not start the opener, but rushed for 55 yards in eight carries.

"He made it through and we have two weeks to get ready for the game," Carroll said. "That could really solidify things."

After the game, Washington said he could do better. "It felt good, I'm just frustrated," he said. "I can't wait to get back to 100%."

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The Arkansas game was Carroll's first at USC without responsibilities as the defensive coordinator.

Carroll hired Nick Holt for the job in February.

"It reminded me of the NFL," Carroll said of the opener. "I had a little more freedom to run around and do stuff because you're not on call for every play and the next adjustment. I had a lot of fun."

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USC will take today off and return to practice on Tuesday. The Trojans also will be off Saturday and Sunday.... Nebraska defeated Louisiana Tech, 49-10, in its opener and will play Nicholls State on Saturday.

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