USC football injury report: Vavae Malepeai to have surgery

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

After USC’s loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, running back Vavae Malepeai will have surgery to clean out his swollen knee.

Studs and Duds. USC-Notre Dame

USC is likely to be without starting running back Vavae Malepeai for the foreseeable future as the redshirt junior is set to have surgery on his knee, Clay Helton revealed during his post-Notre Dame conference call.

Malepeai has been dealing with a sore knee for weeks and Saturday it finally reached the tipping point. With swelling still an issue, the Trojans have decided to take the back out of rotation so he can have doctor’s clean up his knee for good.

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The timetable for Malepeai’s return to action is unknown, though Helton did not indicate the surgery is season-ending.

His absence will mean the Trojans have extremely limited depth at running back. Fortunately, that depth is extremely quality. Stephen Carr remains a home-run talent, as he proved against Washington. Meanwhile, Markese Stepp has moved into potential star territory with a stellar performance against Notre Dame.

Losing Malepeai is tough from an all-around perspective, but more carries for Stepp could be a blessing in disguise.

The Trojans could also take the opportunity to give Kenan Christon a debut. The freshman with track speed is on track for a redshirt, but offensive coordinator Graham Harrell had already indicated he is a potential weapon to use during his four-game redshirt window. The time may have come to give his unique skill set as a speedster in the backfield a look.

The defensive side of the ball had its own injury woes coming out of the Notre Dame game.

Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote and cornerback Isaac Taylor Stuart both suffered ankle sprains on Saturday. The two were able to be taped up and return to action, but their status for the coming week is now in doubt.

Cornerback Olaijah Griffin is also a worry after his back tightness returned in South Bend and he was pulled from the game.

Nickelback Greg Johnson was similarly unable to finish the evening because of a shoulder injury.

A prognosis for either is unclear.

USC football injury report

    • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
    • OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
    • QB JT Daniels (knee)
  • OUT:
    • DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
    • LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
    • LB Elijah Winston (turf toe)
    • RB Vavae Malepeai (knee)
    • TE Ethan Rae (knee)
    • WR Kyle Ford (knee)
    • WR Bru McCoy (illness)
    • DB Olaijah Griffin (back)
    • DB Greg Johnson (shoulder)
    • DB Isaac Taylor-Stuart (ankle)
    • LB Palaie Gaoteote (ankle)

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