USC needs a little bit of time

USC's first game is in 16 days, and the Trojans will play a tough Stanford team in Palo Alto only 30 days from now.

Clearly, the 2012 season is quickly approaching.

But there are still a lot of unresolved issues for this squad, a lot of things that Lane Kiffin and Co. need to figure out in the short span between now and that first Saturday of September.

Chief among those: Who's actually going to be available to play?

Already in camp, the Trojans have been without No. 1 receiver Robert Woods, left tackle Aundrey Walker and all three of their linebackers for considerable amounts of time, among several key players. Woods is back and raring to go, but Walker's status is unknown, as is that of sophomore middle linebacker Lamar Dawson.

USC's primary issue is depth. And with the team now at just 70 scholarship players given this week's season-ending injury to DeVante Wilson, the Trojans would be ill-prepared if one or more of their expected key players were unable to go and they needed to play a game, say, this weekend.

But all they really need is some time to fully develop their contingency plans. Weakside 'backer Hayes Pullard has been practicing -- and impressing -- at Dawson's middle slot, and, given another week or two of seasoning, he could hold his own there. Redshirt freshman Anthony Sarao has provided no reason to believe he won't be able to handle stepping at Pullard's old spot.

At left tackle, too, the Trojans are counting on true freshman Max Tuerk as the backup if Walker can't go. He's not ready, yet, but based on the daily improvements he's made over the last 10 days of camp, he could be ready in another 10 days. Or Walker could be ready by then, too.

So USC needs a little bit of time, and, luckily, the Trojans have it for now. They have some time to tune up that connection between Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, and some more to find out where exactly Silas Redd fits into the new-and-improved backfield.

Any USC-related worries can be pushed to the side for the next week, maybe two.

Then it'll really be time.