Coach Lane Kiffin has moved to make USC's spring practice more physical… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
After his team's embarrassing finish to the 2012 season, USC Coach Lane Kiffin began spring practice determined to implement a more physical style to workouts.
The switch has generally resulted in spirited, hard-hitting practices.
But the approach comes with a cost.
Kiffin announced Thursday that highly regarded freshman safety Su'a Cravens would have knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus Friday.
Cravens, USA Today's 2012 defensive player of the year at Vista Murrieta High, had worked extensively with USC's first-team defense and appeared on track for a large role in the fall. He did not practice Tuesday and said he was scheduled to have an MRI exam Wednesday because of knee discomfort he had experienced for about a week.
Like tailback Silas Redd, who had a similar surgery a few weeks ago, Cravens is expected to recover in time for summer workouts.
The news about Cravens came a day after receiver George Farmer learned that he had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee during practice on Tuesday. The junior will have surgery when swelling subsides and will redshirt this season.
"George was having one of the best springs of any receiver," receivers coach Tee Martin said.
All-American receiver Marqise Lee, who practiced Thursday for the first time since suffering a knee injury last month, said Farmer was in good spirits and determined to return strong in 2014.
"His mind-set is amazing," Lee said.
After struggling through an array of injuries his first two seasons, Farmer was making a push to be the third receiver behind Lee and sophomore Nelson Agholor.
"You really feel bad for him because it seems like something happens every time that he's starting to make a turn," Kiffin said. "Unfortunately, this one is very serious."
Kiffin said 22 players did not practice or could not finish Thursday's workout because of injuries.
But the Trojans will maintain a similar style when training camp opens in August.
"Any time that you have a season like you did last year, you can't do the same thing," Kiffin said, adding, "If we were to do that again and protect these guys and not practice as physical as we are, and come out and not play physical in the first part of the season, the only person to blame is me.
"We've got to maintain this."
Athletic Director Pat Haden just completed the hiring of basketball Coach Andy Enfield. Now it's on to appearing in a USC production of the musical "The Most Happy Fella."
Haden was scheduled to make his stage debut Thursday night.
"I keep talking to our kids about getting out … and experiencing everything they can on a college campus, even if it's uncomfortable and outside the box," Haden said. "So I said, 'Hey, I should do something like that myself.'
"The most uncomfortable thing I could do is sing and dance and act in front of a live crowd. I can completely fail and I'm extremely nervous, but I'm going to try and break a leg."