USC now has eight spring practices under their belt this offseason and have participated in a full contact scrimmage, but their start to spring ball didn’t come without some injuries. These injuries led to head coach Lincoln Riley rescheduling a recent practice, moving it back towards the end of the originally planned spring practice schedule.
“Just too many nicks, right now we had a couple before spring break but they only practice once every two days,” Riley said. “Now we would lift and do walk-throughs and stuff in between so they’re still busy. But no I don’t think we’ve worn them down.”
Trojan fans should not worry, as Riley explained how his decision has more to do with injuries to specific position groups versus injuries to the entire team as a whole.
“But what happens is you get a couple guys out at a key position, well now all of a sudden one you miss those guys but now you’ve got other guys that are having to take all of the reps. Which is good for their development, but then you also don’t want to put them in a position where they’re taking more reps than you want,” Riley explained.
Riley was faced with a challenge that many coaches across the country have to deal with during spring practice regarding injuries, balance. Nobody likes when injuries do present themselves in athletics, but they also present an opportunity to a team’s less proven talent. But at the same time, those players don’t need to be overworked either.
“But then you’ve got groups like the o-line and d-line right now and running backs and I’d say linebackers, like our front seven we stayed pretty healthy through spring, we’ve got pretty good depth,” Riley said. “But you start cutting reps to save for some of the skill guys but you’re doing it at the disservice of those guys, the bigs, and now you’re not getting those guys reps. And so I think more than anything it was just looking at the current situation, a couple of guys that are nicked up that we feel like we’ll get back in the next couple of days.”
Riley’s move of prioritizing his players’ health and the quality of practice will likely work out for the Trojans in the long run, as they prepare for their spring game that’s right around the corner on April 15.
“And it’s like alright, we can probably practice now and kind of trudge through it or could put this practice back on the backhand when it’s likely that we’re gonna have five, maybe even more bodies at some key spots, but I can get more out of the practice. So we just took advantage of the time, obviously couldn’t have done it during the season, but just taking advantage of the time we have right now,” Riley said.