The USC Trojans have been beat up the last couple of games. Not only did USC lose left tackle Chad Wheeler for the season last night, the Trojans also lost starting outside linebacker/rush end J.R. Tavai for an extended period.
In his weekly Sunday night media phone call, head coach Steve Sarkisian said that Tavai would be out "a few weeks." Sarkisian said Tavai suffered a knee sprain.
The injury occurred in the second quarter when J.R. Tavai was trying to make a tackle on the tight end. Linebacker Hayes Pullard dove in to try to assist, but instead hit the side of Tavai's knee when Tavai was spun while grabbing the offensive player. It is not likely Tavai will be back any time soon.
We won't speculate on what the injury exactly is, but this seems like a pretty logical thought process from Reign of Troy:
Not exactly a doctor and Sark will never tell exactly what Tavai's injury was, but FWIW, 3 to 4 weeks is the timetable for an MCL sprain.— Reign of Troy (@ReignofTroy) October 27, 2014
The way Tavai's knee buckled, if it wasn't the ACL, seems likely it was one of the other ligaments that was sprained/strained/twisted.— Reign of Troy (@ReignofTroy) October 27, 2014
Without J.R. Tavai available, Scott Felix took over at the primary rush end role and he will get the first opportunity to replace Tavai. Felix has already been moved up to the starter's role on the depth chart.
Tavai's injury could also lead to an expanded role for redshirt junior Charles Burks. Outside linebackers sophomore Quinton Powell and freshman Uchenna Nwosu would be next in line behind Burks.
J.R. Tavai is fifth on the team with 41 tackles and third on the team with 3.5 sacks this season, including this one Saturday night: