If USC's passing game didn't already have enough to worry about with the announcement that a true freshman is the starting quarterback this season for the first time in the program's storied history, the worrying became even louder after Saturday's game-like scrimmage at the Coliseum.
Ronald Johnson, USC's current second leading receiver and biggest deep threat, broke his collarbone during the scrimmage and will miss six to eight weeks.
This is a huge blow for an offense already vulnerable due to inexperienced quarterbacks. True freshman quarterback Matt Barkley is undeniably a great quarterback and is the future of the USC program; however, at this point in his young career he is going to need all of the help at wide out that he can get.
Johnson, originally from Michigan, caught over 40 passes last season while also scoring eight touchdowns. He is by far and away the fastest receiver on the Trojan's roster and there is no doubt Damian Williams, the number one receiver, will miss Johnson's deep threat patterns.
USC has a stacked sideline full of four and five star recruits, but hardly anyone has the experience and speed that Johnson brought to the table. The replacement for Johnson, as of now, is junior David Ausberry who is virtually the Taylor Mays of the offense. In other words, he is 6'4 and 235 pounds. His speed is decent and should make some plays, but if Head Coach Pete Carroll describes the injury as a "crusher," then you know it is a big deal.
If Ausberry is unable to impress and help the Trojans, then it will be up to redshirt freshman Brice Butler to step up. Butler is a gifted receiver with probably the best hands in the program so the Trojans certainly have options, but with such a front loaded schedule, this can lower expectations for this year's team.
USC has a loaded offensive line with probably one of the three best o-lines in the country, along with six running backs that would start for any other program with ease. USC has a long and storied history of throwing the ball around the field and having huge numbers through the air, yet the 2009 Trojan's may be smart to keep the ball on the ground and use the strengths it has.
Ronald Johnson is expected back around the middle of October...maybe just in time for a redemption game vs. Oregon State.