LOS ANGELES -- USC cornerback T.J. Bryant underwent surgery on his cheekbone Thursday as a result of a fight with fullback Stanley Havili.
The fight broke out near the end of a players-only workout last Friday, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said. The players were finishing a relay drill when an argument escalated into a physical confrontation. Bryant, who was competing for a starting job this fall, is expected to miss three to four weeks. The Trojans open their season in Hawaii on Sept. 2.
Havili, a fifth-year senior, was USC's fourth-leading rusher and No. 4 receiver last season.
"It's very out of character. Sometimes, people show leadership in the wrong ways," Kiffin said. "This was a situation where Stanley tried to step in to get guys to finish without the coaches being there. He was showing leadership to get guys to finish at a level he's used to. My understanding is there was a back-and-forth and some pushing. Obviously, it didn't end well."
The incident is reminiscent of a 2005 fight at USC between receiver Steve Smith and tight end Dominique Byrd that ended in Byrd's missing spring practice because of a broken jaw. That fight erupted while the two were playing a video game.
Kiffin said he's still gathering facts about the incident, which he did not witness. Havili practiced Thursday, USC's second day of fall camp, but Kiffin said he could still be punished for the incident.
"We were all fired up. It was the last workout of the year, emotions were high. You know when emotions are high, intelligence is down," Havili said. "I let it get the best of me and I feel bad about it."
Havili wouldn't comment on whether he threw a punch. He said he and Bryant will address the incident together after Bryant recovers from surgery.
It has been a long string of bad news for USC's program since January, when coach Pete Carroll announced he was bolting for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. The Trojans are playing this season under severe sanctions by the NCAA, including a two-year bowl ban.
"We stay strong," quarterback Matt Barkley said. "You guys didn't even know about [the fight] and wouldn't even have noticed anything with our team. It's just a little thing and nothing's going to get in the way of our goals."
Mark Saxon covers USC football for ESPNLosAngeles.com.