The USC injury report coming out of the Arizona game includes bad news for Markese Stepp, Drake Jackson, Talanoa Hufanga and more.
USC will have to find a way to continue their pursuit of the Pac-12 South title against Colorado on Friday and beyond without a number of key players, including running back Markese Stepp, defensive lineman Drake Jackson and safety Talanoa Hufanga.
Stepp tore a ligament in his ankle and will miss three to five weeks after undergoing surgery, Clay Helton said, per Adam Grosbard of the OC Register.
That means, on the hopeful side of things, he could be back for the Trojans trip to Cal. A more pessimistic view could have him missing the rest of the regular season.
Stepp carried the ball 10 times or more in each of the last three games and had increasingly worked his way up to featured status in the Trojan rotation. He had 82 yards against Notre Dame and was on his way to another strong rushing night with 66 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries before his injury.
Fellow running back Stephen Carr suffered a grade-two hamstring strain, per Keely Eure of USCFootball.com, and has not been cleared to practice. His availability for the Colorado game looks unlikely as the severity of his strain usually involves a few weeks of recovery.
Though Helton himself didn’t offer a timetable for starter Vavae Malepeai’s knee issue when surgery was first announced last week, the Pac-12 Network reported before kickoff the head coach revealed he will miss the remainder of the regular season.
That leaves the Trojans with one healthy scholarship running back: Kenan Christon.
The injury crisis prompted USC to move running-back-turned-cornerback-turned-receiver Dominic Davis back to running back for the week, according to Ryan Abraham of USCFootball.com.
The news wasn’t any better on defense.
Safety Talanoa Hufanga, who was knocked out of last season with a broken collarbone, dislocated his shoulder and is expected to miss a couple of weeks, per Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times.
Defensive lineman Drake Jackson, who had been drawing rave reviews for his freshman impact, suffered an ankle sprain and is not cleared to practice either.
The Trojans were also without defensive end Christian Rector, who remains sidelined by his own ankle sprain.
On the plus side, cornerback Olaijah Griffin and Greg Johnson were back on the practice field on Monday, along with tight end Josh Falo, per Eure.
The McClain family was hit hardest on Saturday.
True freshman wide receiver Munir McClain suffered a torn ACL after completing a reception against Arizona, according to USCFootball.com. He will miss the remainder of the season. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a couple of reasons. First, he had a large chunk of his high school football career taken away by a similar knee injury. Second, the Arizona game was his fifth appearance on the season, making him ineligible for a redshirt.
Redshirt freshman Abdul-Malik McClain also went down with injury against the Wildcats. He successfully sacked quarterback Khalil Tate, but dislocated his shoulder during the tackle. That injury is expected to keep him out for a few weeks.
USC football injury report
- OUT FOR THE SEASON:
- LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
- OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
- QB JT Daniels (knee)
- WR Munir McClain (knee)
- DB Talanoa Hufanga (shoulder)
- DL Drake Jackson (ankle)
- DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
- DL Christian Rector (ankle)
- LB Palaie Gaoteote (ankle)
- LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
- LB Abdul-Malik McClain (shoulder)
- RB Vavae Malepeai (knee)
- RB Markese Stepp (foot)
- TE Ethan Rae (knee)
- WR Kyle Ford (knee)
- WR Bru McCoy (illness)
- RB Stephen Carr (hamstring)
- TE Josh Falo (knee)
- DB Greg Johnson (shoulder)
- DB Olaijah Griffin (back)
- DB Isaac Taylor-Stuart (ankle)