USC football is likely to be without starting linebacker Palaie Gaoteote against Arizona, while cornerbacks Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Olaijah Griffin are also in doubt.
USC football’s defense has seen better days.
After giving up 308 rushing yards to Notre Dame in a loss, the Trojans face even more potential troubles thanks to injury questions throughout the defensive lineup.
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On Tuesday, head coach Clay Helton confirmed starting nickelback Greg Johnson will not be medically cleared to play on Saturday after suffering a shoulder dislocation against Notre Dame. He will need time to rehab that injury.
The prognosis for linebacker Palaie Gaoteote is less clear, but still worrisome. The sophomore has a high ankle sprain and appeared at practice with a boot on his left foot.
“It’ll be doubtful,” Helton said of Gaoteote’s chances to play against Arizona.
If Gaoteote is unable to go, the Trojans will turn to back ups Kana’i Mauga and Ralen Goforth, a freshman who impressed in offseason practices, to fill the gap.
There is more hope for cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart, who also sustained a high ankle sprain in South Bend. He is further ahead of Gaoteote in terms of getting back to action, but still faces an uphill battle. The Trojans are hoping to get him some “light running” on Wednesday to see where he is at.
Cornerback Olaijah Griffin is also in doubt. He has been dealing with a bulging disc in his lower back causing tightness. That tightness forced him out of the Notre Dame game and limited him from practicing on Tuesday. It’s a wait-and-see game for the sophomore to play this weekend.
If Johnson, Taylor-Stuart and Griffin are all unavailable, USC could have just one of their four primary cornerback options suit up for Saturday’s action. That would be Chris Steele, a true freshman who will have to carry the load along with fellow first year players like Max Williams and Jayden Williams.
USC football injury report
- OUT FOR THE SEASON:
- LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
- OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
- QB JT Daniels (knee)
- DB Greg Johnson (shoulder)
- DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
- LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
- RB Vavae Malepeai (knee)
- TE Ethan Rae (knee)
- WR Kyle Ford (knee)
- WR Bru McCoy (illness)
- LB Palaie Gaoteote (ankle)
- DB Olaijah Griffin (back)
- DB Isaac Taylor-Stuart (ankle)