Stepping in on the OL

For the second year in a row, the Trojans have been forced to insert a new starter at left guard early in the season. Last year, it was true freshman Marcus Martin who took over and played a role in solidifying the line for the rest of the season.

Against Cal on Saturday, Martin did not start the game due to an undisclosed injury, so the Trojans went with Abe Markowitz in his place. The result was a good one, as Markowitz helped lead the most dominant run-game performance of the year for USC with 296 yards on the ground.

Markowitz is a redshirt senior -- a former walk-on who has missed two seasons due to foot injuries. He had never started a game for the Trojans and his playing time was minimal, but he had established himself on the practice field as a credible reserve at both center and guard. That kind of versatility made him extremely valuable heading into the Cal game with the uncertain status of both Martin and center Khaled Holmes.

It’s unknown how long Martin may be out or what the role will be for Markowitz when he comes back, but it’s a good feeling for the coaches to know that they have a viable option in Markowitz to use when needed.