Romello Height, the edge rusher who transferred from Auburn to USC to stabilize the Trojans' pass rush, is likely to miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery on his injured shoulder this week.
Height played only briefly through the Trojans' first two games while dealing with the lingering injury. He sat out last Saturday's meeting with Fresno State, in the hope that his shoulder might improve with rest, coach Lincoln Riley said at the time.
A few days later, Height had surgery, which Riley said Thursday will require "a long-term recovery." He then clarified that the redshirt sophomore is likely to miss the rest of the season.
"We'll see how it progresses," Riley said.
With Height out, the sudden emergence of another transfer pass rusher, Solomon Byrd, couldn't come at a more fortunate time for USC. The Trojans have been depleted at rush end since the spring, when Height separated himself as one of the few early standouts at the position.
Byrd didn't arrive until fall camp, and he received just five snaps in USC's opener. But ever since, he's been a force off the edge for the Trojans' defense, with three sacks and a fumble in two games.
His rise has left Riley feeling "fine" about the state of the position without Height.
"Obviously we've talked a lot about Solomon and him stepping up," Riley said. "Korey [Foreman] is improving and does a lot of really good things, and I think he'll get more consistent. And then we've worked hard to develop some depth. Having some of those guys out at times has allowed us to shuffle the lineup and we've got some different skill sets on that defense that we can make work. And then also, that's where having a creative defensive staff is important. Because sometimes when you lose guys, you've got to think outside the box."