The USC Trojans did not only lose a heartbreaker at Utah. They also lost quarterback Cody Kessler's blindside protector. Redshirt sophomore left tackle Chad Wheeler went down early in the ball game and had to be carted away from the field.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian revealed in his weekly Sunday night media phone call that Wheeler tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.
According to Sarkisian, Chad Wheeler tore his ACL on the third play of the game, but continued to play another seven or eight snaps before he had to take himself out of the game and take a cart ride back to the locker room.
"That is what we lose when Chad Wheeler comes out. It's that sheer mental and physical toughness, that mentality he posses, the way he plays the game. But I wanted the team to see that so they could learn and understand how this guy plays the game. We didn't know, we weren't aware he was injured but he fought through it until he couldn't anymore. That's the biggest thing we lose without him out there." -- Steve Sarkisian
Fortunately, USC does have a bit of depth on the offensive line and has a veteran in senior Aundrey Walker that will take over the role. Walker has dealt with injuries this season, but Sarkisian was impressed with his performance when he took over for Wheeler on Saturday night.
With Walker taking over the left tackle position, USC's unique offensive line rotation will get a man shorter or redshirt senior Nathan Guertler could be thrust back into the rotation. Guertler was subbing in at right tackle for Zach Banner before Aundrey Walker returned to full strength.
For Wheeler, Sarkisian said he will attempt to have surgery as soon as possible and be back for Fall Camp.