Starting safety Bubba Bolden unavailable for USC vs. UNLV

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Newly-minted starter Bubba Bolden will not be available for USC vs. UNLV on Saturday, head coach Clay Helton announced on Thursday.

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Thursday’s post-practice presser with head coach Clay Helton did not bring good news for USC vs. UNLV. The Trojans will be without starting safety Bubba Bolden for undisclosed reasons.

Bolden did not practice on Thursday and will miss Saturday’s season opener because of a personal matter.

“There’s no timetable for his return and I cannot comment further,” Helton said via Joey Kaufman of the OC Register.

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The timing of Bolden’s absence is particularly troublesome because the Trojans just lost the services of veteran safety Ykili Ross. Ross was expected to nail down a starting job this season, but he had an incident at practice last week and opted to seek a graduate transfer after spending the fall focusing on academics.

Bolden ultimately won the starting job after a competition with redshirt freshman Isaiah Pola-Mao. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said he elevated himself by connecting well with senior starter Marvell Tell. That gig only lasted two practices.

On Wednesday, Pendergast noted Pola-Mao would serve as a backup at both safety spots behind Marvell Tell and Bolden. He’ll move up into the starting lineup for Game 1.

Coaches are high on Pola-Mao at least.

“I think Isaiah’s got a really bright future ahead of him,” Pendergast said, taking care to praise Pola-Mao alongside Bolden in his assessment of the competition.

USC can also turn to backups CJ Pollard and Talanoa Hufanga, who could be in line for action with the changes ahead of them.

Depth at defensive back was also hurt this week by the transfer decision of redshirt freshman cornerback Je’Quari Godfrey.

The Trojans will look to minimize the impact of those absences and departures on Saturday when they welcome UNLV to the Coliseum for the season opener. The personnel losses could be amplified in the coming weeks, however. USC faces two tough road tests against Stanford and Texas in Week 2 and 3.