With just two games remaining in the regular season, USC football is hurting on the injury front as several key players missed Tuesday’s practice.
In addition to missing linebackers Cameron Smith and Lamar Dawson, both of whom sustained season-ending injuries against Colorado, the Trojans continue to go without Leon McQuay III at safety and Tre Madden at running back. The two, who both are dealing with knee injuries, missed the Colorado game and are in doubt for the upcoming match up with Oregon.
With McQuay out, on top of Marvel Tell and Matt Lopes, USC has been trimmed down to just two scholarship safeties available at the moment.
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Madden’s continued absence meant more reps for true freshman Aca’Cedric Ware, according to Neon Tommy’s Paolo Uggetti, though Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis have carried the load as of late in games.
Adding to the injury report, right guard Viane Talamaivao sat out on Tuesday. He tore his meniscus against the Buffaloes, though there is a possibility he could play through the injury. In his place, Chris Brown took first team reps, according to USCFootball.com’s Keely Eure.
If Talamaivao is not set to go on Saturday, he would be the third starting offensive lineman lost to the Trojans this season. Brown has never started a game for USC, though he has been a regular in the rotation all year.
Tuesday practice was also very concerned with figuring out what to do in light of the aforementioned injuries to Smith and Dawson. Interim head coach Clay Helton praised Uchenna Nwosu who was used inside alongside Anthony Sarao, while the combination of Olajuwon Tucker and Osa Masina was also used.
Tucker and former third-stringer Michael Hutchings are listed as co-starters on USC’s depth chart, but Nwosu has seen more regular use on defense this season, even earning a start against Arizona. The trust factor may see the Trojans lean on him more than their designated “Mike.”