The USC Trojans are not ruling out senior running back Marc Tyler for Saturday's game against Notre Dame in South Bend, although Tyler himself didn't seem all that confident in the likelihood he could recover in time from a dislocated left shoulder.
"I feel like if they needed me, I could play," Tyler said Sunday. "I don't know how safe that would be, but I could play."
Tyler, USC's starter at running back in five of the first six games, stood on the sidelines at practice with a sling over his shoulder. He suffered the injury during the first play of the second half of the Cal game Thursday, when he was stuffed two yards behind the line of scrimmage by a Cal defensive lineman.
Two of Tyler's first three games in 2011 were 100-yard performances, but he has combined to carry the ball 22 times for just 65 yards in the Trojans' last two games. Over that time, backup Curtis McNeal has gained 160 yards in 24 carries.
Immediately after the game, Tyler said he was in a lot of pain, but that has since subsided substantially, he said. He says he will visit with USC's team doctors Tuesday and expects to get a projection on when he could be cleared to return, but he said he doesn't think it will be the entire 2-3 weeks usually prescribed for dislocated shoulders.
"I don't think it'll take that long with the way this has been healing," Tyler said. "I've got a lot of motion in it. It feels good."
Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin said only that he "hoped" that Tyler would be able to play against Notre Dame. If he does end up playing, it appears the opponent would play a role in the decision.
Tyler just doesn't want to miss his last chance to play in South Bend.
"Obviously I've never really got any action there at Notre Dame and I know it's going to be crazy there for a night game," Tyler said Sunday. "If it keeps going like it is, I feel like I can at least suit up and go in if they need me on Saturday."