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USC loses two more players to season-ending injuries

Starting linebacker Lamar Dawson suffered a knee injury in practice Tuesday and will require surgery. Freshman tailback Justin Davis underwent surgery after injuring an ankle against Notre Dame.

October 23, 2013|By Gary Klein

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USC's already depleted roster sustained two more major hits.

Starting linebacker Lamar Dawson and freshman tailback Justin Davis will miss the rest of the season because of injuries that required surgery, interim Coach Ed Orgeron said Wednesday.

Dawson suffered a knee injury during practice on Tuesday. He said Wednesday that he sensed immediately that it was serious.

"I kind of knew it, but I was hoping for the best at the same time," Dawson said as he limped, without crutches, away from the locker room. Dawson said he would have surgery after swelling subsides.

Davis, the Trojans' second-leading rusher, suffered an ankle injury during USC's 14-10 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday. The Stockton native had to be carried up the stadium tunnel after the game.

Orgeron said Davis has already undergone surgery, as did walk-on running back Taylor Ross, who suffered a leg injury Tuesday.

"Our team responded well to all of that," Orgeron said. "We're going to press on and move forward."

Third-year sophomore Anthony Sarao will start in place of Dawson on Saturday against Utah. Freshmen Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings also will play.

Tailback Tre Madden, who sat out against Notre Dame because of a hamstring injury, has participated in some drills this week, and Orgeron said he hoped the third-year sophomore he would be ready for Saturday.

USC might have had at least a few more players available had the Trojans used all of their available scholarships in February.

NCAA sanctions have limited the Trojans to signing a maximum of 15 new players the last two seasons. USC will have 19 scholarships available in 2014 because it did not sign its maximum in the 2013 recruiting class.

Asked, in hindsight, if he would have liked to have signed more players, Orgeron said, "Yeah. We should have had a better backup plan — and I'm the recruiting coordinator, so I take the responsibility."

Several players who committed to the Trojans backed out on or just before signing day and went elsewhere.

Orgeron said the Trojans could have taken other players but instead decided to "wait till next year and get some better players."

Shaw back at cornerback

Junior Josh Shaw is on track to start at cornerback against Utah.

Shaw started the opener at safety, the next four games at cornerback and the last two at safety.

"We've really struggled at the cornerback position," Orgeron said. "When he was there, we weren't struggling, so we feel with some offenses he may have to play cornerback, some he may have to play safety.

"It all depends. It's a week-to-week thing."

Shaw will do anything necessary to help the team, but he acknowledged that finding a rhythm at either position has been difficult.

"Those types of things happen sometimes in football," he said. "So I've just got to play corner. That's just what I've got to do."

Quick hits

Reserve safety Gerald Bowman will have shoulder surgery and redshirt, and junior running back D.J. Morgan (knee), a fourth-year junior, will not play this season, Orgeron said. ... Freshman quarterback Max Browne was absent from practice because of a stomach virus.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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