Drake Jackson and Talanoa Hufanga are set to return, but questions still remain about the status of running back Stephen Carr as USC vs. ASU nears.
UPDATE: ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels may not be available for the Sun Devils on Saturday, according to The Arizona Republic.
The report cites ASU Senior Associate Athletic Director Mark Brand, who described Daniels as a “game-time decision” because of an injury he sustained against UCLA. In that loss, freshman Joey Yellen came in for Daniels for one snap and he would be in line to replace him if the starter can’t go.
That’s potentially huge news for the matchup, as Daniels’ scrambling ability has been a concern for the Trojans.
As always seems to be the case with the Trojan injury report, just as you get some back, you lose some more.
With USC vs. ASU approaching in Tempe, the Trojans will get a couple of major boosts with the expected returns of defensive end Drake Jackson and safety Talanoa Hufanga.
Jackson has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain. His absence has been noticeable too, particularly when it comes to impact plays in the opposing backfield. Even with the time off, he still leads USC with 8.5 tackles for loss.
Hufanga, USC’s second-leading tackler, has also missed two games with a shoulder injury. Arguably the most talented player in the secondary, his ability to fly around and attack the ball will have him welcomed back with great relief.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, the rest of the injury report is less hopeful.
Running back Stephen Carr practiced on Thursday as he works to get through the hamstring injury which has sidelined him for two weeks.
However, head coach Clay Helton was certainly using caution when considering the prospect of Carr helping out the extraordinarily thin running back unit.
“I think that’s going to be a game-time decision. I think he’s 50-50 at best,” Helton said. “He may be one more week away. We’ll see.”
Carr’s straight-line running was fine on Thursday, Helton said, but he needs to be able to show more confidence when cutting for the Trojans to throw him back in.
“I won’t put him in a bad position if he’s not comfortable,” Helton said.
That’ll leave USC to lean on Kenan Christon as the starter for the third-straight game, with Vavae Malepeai and Markese Stepp still out. And the Trojans could be without auxiliary running back Dominic Davis, who remains in concussion protocol.
There’s also a question around wide receiver Michael Pittman, who left Tuesday’s practice on a cart and didn’t practice on Wednesday with a heavily taped ankle. Helton didn’t include the wide receiver in his injury report on Thursday.
On defense, the Trojans are preparing for the possibility of being without starting nickelback Greg Johnson, who is in concussion protocol himself. Since backup Max Williams has been shut down for the season with a foot injury (he appeared at Wednesday’s practice wearing a boot), third-stringer Kaulana Makaula may be in line to start. USC has also prepped freshman cornerback Adonis Otey in that spot while safety Chase Williams could be moved over in an emergency.
There is more certainty around outside linebacker Hunter Echols, who is set to undergo shoulder surgery, ending his season early. The redshirt sophomore has been playing through the problem for several weeks, but the pain has reached a point where he doesn’t feel “productive or confident,” Helton explained.
It’s a good thing that Abdul-Malik McClain, who dislocated his shoulder against Arizona, was able to make his return against Oregon and is now ready to take over Echols’ spot.
USC football injury report
- OUT FOR THE SEASON:
- DB Max Williams (foot)
- DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
- LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
- OLB Hunter Echols (shoulder)
- OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
- QB JT Daniels (knee)
- WR Munir McClain (knee)
- WR Bru McCoy (illness)
- LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
- OL Liam Jimmons (elbow)
- RB Vavae Malepeai (knee)
- RB Markese Stepp (foot)
- TE Ethan Rae (knee)
- DB Greg Johnson (concussion)
- RB Stephen Carr (hamstring)
- RB Dominic Davis (concussion)
- WR Michael Pittman (ankle)
- DB Talanoa Hufanga (shoulder)
- DL Drake Jackson (ankle)
- LB Abdul-Malik McClain (shoulder)