Chris Galippo sat out of spring practice in order to conserve energy and attempt to stay healthy for the fall.
And at first, when he came out at the start of the fall and looked sharper than ever, that plan looked like a success. But now that he's been hurt for roughly two weeks now and still not back on the field, it doesn't look too great.
Galippo simply hasn't played very much since last season's USC-UCLA game, fewer than 10 total practices at full strength. He told reporters this week he felt he needed roughly a full week's worth of practices to tune up for the season opener.
Now, the most he'll get is four, and that's if he returns Sunday and is able to practice fully. So the question is this: At what point does it become a necessity to start Galippo's understudy, Lamar Dawson, who's actually played on the first team more than Galippo has this fall and has looked quite good doing it?
Soon -- very soon.
“It would be scary putting him out there having not done anything for a couple of weeks now," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Friday of Galippo. "He’s going to have to practice next week and be able to show us he can go out there and play."
And Dawson? How would Kiffin feel about starting the true freshman with four weeks of practice under his belt in the season opener against Minnesota?
"I'd feel good," Kiffin said. "He's had a lot of reps because of Chris being out, and he's done a great job with our one defense, obviously. There's a lot that goes into playing middle linebacker at any age, but, as a true freshman that wasn't a mid-year transfer, that's a lot on him.
"But we feel very comfortable with him."
One thing's clear: Even if Galippo does end up starting, his shoulder issues will probably mean that Dawson will play more than the occasional snap in reserve. A rotation between the two might work out best for the both of them and help the Trojans incorporate Dawson long-term.