Trojan DePo: Tailback Report

Chauncey Washington may miss the season opener against Idaho due to a sprained shoulder. Image from

Frequently touted as “Tailback-U” for the blue-chip crowded backfield, USC has taken yet another hit at the position with leading rusher Chauncey Washington side-lined with a sprained shoulder. A fifth-year senior, Washington lead the Trojans with 744 yards rushing last season. The injury occurred during the Trojans’ final summer scrimmage, in which Washington rushed for 74 yards and 1 TD on only three carries.

Top of the depth chart, this injury puts him in question for the season opener against Idaho. Multiple sources are already reporting that Washington will have to sit out the first game. Chauncey Washington, however, is more optimistic. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

…after watching the Trojans’ one-hour workout with his right arm in a sling, Washington said, “I’m thinking a week. I’m day to day.”

Of missing the opener, he said, “I won’t believe it till it happens.”

Washington’s injury puts another kink in what the media has championed as an everlasting pipeline of blue-chip recruits. Couple the Washington sprain with the transfer of USC’s second leading rusher Emanuel Moody, and the (temporary?) injury related side-linings of CJ Gable, Hershel Dennis and Allen Bradford, and it’s starting to look like USC’s depth at tailback isn’t as infallible as everyone had predicted.

But what does this mean for the season opener?


With any luck, Washington, Gable, Dennis and Bradford will be at 100%. If they’re not ready, Desmond Reed (4th on the chart) and Stafon Johnson (6th), will have their chance to step up. Although on the bottom half of the depth chart, Johnson has impressed coaches during the off-season. The greatest indication that he’s ready for the “big stage” occurred last Wednesday during the final scrimmage, in which Johnson had four carries for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns. And then there’s freshman Joe McKnight waiting in the wings. The top RB recruit in the country, Louisiana born McKnight has been called the second coming of Reggie Bush. So either way, come August 1st the Trojans seem to be covered.

But fret not Trojan worry-warts. The season hasn’t ended before it has begun. Don’t think of all of the injuries as a sign of physical weakness, but rather as a testament to the power of the Trojan defense. What has been heralded as one of the top squads in the country, USC returns ten of the most feared starters on defense; guys that include Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers and Sedrick Ellis. Guys that are on watch lists for national and Pac-10 awards and honors. Guys that will go top in the 2008 draft…Guys that hit hard and play the game for keeps.

Unfortunately it was USC’s offense that had to first feel the pain of its own top defensive squad. But now the Trojan tailbacks can recuperate with peace of mind.

This note I have for USC’s tailbacks:

Rest easy gentlemen, you don’t have to play your own guys any more. You don’t have to worry about Sedrick Ellis flooring you with his 300 plus pounds. You don’t have to get nervous around Maualuga. He doesn’t want to hit you any more. He wants to help. These guys are now again your friends. And I bet after these summer practices and scrimmages, any defensive squad you play against during the regular season will be a walk in the park.

A park where 250 pound men constantly try to mow you down.

But worry not. All you have to do is run faster than they do.

Are you up to it?



0 thoughts on “Trojan DePo: Tailback Report

  1. I say let Stafon and McKnight loose. Let them run all over Idaho. If they’re not going to redshirt McKnight, Idaho is a great first team to go up against. It’s better let the new guys go against Idaho than say…Notre Dame or Cal. Give the world to see the future of USC tailbacks!

    Fight ON!

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