USC’s starting left tackle Chad Wheeler is out for the season after tearing his ACL in the Trojans’ loss to Utah, Steve Sarkisian revealed during his Sunday night conference call. Defensive end J.R. Tavai is also expected to be out for an extended period with a knee injury.
Sarkisian told reports on his conference call that Wheeler tried to play through the injury, but couldn’t continue after several plays.
The sophomore left tackle has started for USC in that position for two years and his loss is a major blow. Senior Aundrey Walker stepped in to replace Wheeler and did an admirable job, but his presence in that position leaves the Trojans with less substitution options on the right side of the line. On the other side of the line, Tavai is also a major loss. The senior rush end was having an outstanding game against Utah before hurting his knee in the first half. Sarkisian told reporters that he is expected to miss significant time.
Tavai is fifth among Trojans with 41 tackles this season and third on the team in sacks. His replacement, Scott Felix, also stepped up in the loss, leading the team in tackles.
Tavai’s injury leaves USC with even more limited options on the defensive line.
In the secondary there was some good news, as Sarkisian said Gerald Bowman might be back in time for Washington State.
Wheeler joins Kenny Bigelow, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, Jabari Ruffin, Jordan Austin, Chris Willson, Christian Tober, Tre Madden and Lamar Dawson on the Trojans’ list of players who are out for the season.
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