USC football injury report: Secondary depth to impact contact periods (3/5)

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /
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Spring Camp opened with a number of players sidelined, including cornerback Olaijah Griffin. Here’s the USC football injury report from March 5.

NFL COMBINE. How'd the Trojans Do?

Injuries have been a constant for USC football in recent times and Spring Camp isn’t set up to be any different.

The issue for the Trojans isn’t necessarily the injuries themselves. Every team contends with unavailability due to injury. The trouble for USC is how injuries have a habit of hitting all at once in particular positions.

SPRING CAMP PRACTICE NOTES: Change takes center stage on Day 1

The injury bug hit USC’s secondary in the fall and it hasn’t loosened its grip for the spring.

On Tuesday, after the Trojans’ first Spring Camp practice, head coach Clay Helton confirmed that a trio of key defensive backs will be out or limited with injury for the entirety of camp.

Chief among those is Olaijah Griffin, who will not be cleared to practice until after spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery. He will only be able to participate in walkthroughs and meetings.

CHECK OUT: Helton has the right four priorities for Spring Camp

As a result, the Trojans leaned heavily on early enrollee Briton Allen, who took first team reps opposite Isaac Taylor-Stuart on Tuesday. Dominic Davis is the only other scholarship corner available with newcomer Max Williams recovering from a high school knee injury.

USC’s safety position is also very thin, but the impact of injuries wasn’t felt as sorely on Tuesday as it will be on later dates. That’s because safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Isaiah Pola-Mao were able to participate in non-contact segments of practices. The presumptive starters at strong and free safety, however, are not expected to be cleared for contact this spring, according to Helton.

That will be a concern as USC shifts towards full pads and contact practices, leaning on walk-ons like Jordan McMillan and Richard Hagestad.

MORE: Predicting USC’s starting lineup in 2019

Redshirt junior safety C.J. Pollard wasn’t present for the first practice, though no reason was given for his absence.

Helton conceded that injuries and depth in the secondary could impact USC’s ability to practice full speed this spring, as there is barely a two-deep across the five secondary positions. That means a lot of reps for a few players.

“The full pad days are where we’re going to have to be very selective, maybe even stop practice for a second and let them catch their breath and then go right back in,” Helton said.

The good news is Griffin, Hufanga and Pola-Mao are “all on pace” to be recovered completely in time for Fall Camp.

Other positions were also missing players on Day 1. Defensive lineman Caleb Tremblay did not practice, nor did offensive tackle Bernard Schirmer.

As expected kicker Chase McGrath is still held back as he rehabs the ACL injury he suffered in the fall. There was also no sign of tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe.

USC football injury report

  • OUT:
    • CB Olaijah Griffin (shoulder)
    • CB Max Williams (knee)
    • DL Caleb Tremblay (back)
    • K Chase McGrath (knee)
    • OT Bernard Schirmer (undisclosed)
    • QB Holden Thomas (elbow)
    • S C.J. Pollard (undisclosed)
    • TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe (hip/groin)
  • LIMITED:
    • DT Trevor Trout (back)
    • OT Clayton Bradley (back)
    • RB Ben Easington (shoulder)
    • S Talanoa Hufanga (collarbone)
    • S Isaiah Pola-Mao (shoulder)
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