USC football injury update: Brett Neilon and Brandon Pili in doubt

USC football center Brett Neilon. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football center Brett Neilon. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

USC football could be without two big men with the Arizona game approaching as center Brett Neilon and nose tackle Brandon Pili contend with injuries.

USC football may have to plug some holes on the offensive and defensive lines in Week 2 of the 2020 season.

The Trojans went into the ASU game without Brandon Pili, who had surgery to put pins in his broken middle finger on Friday. He is now week-to-week, according to head coach Clay Helton.

Center Brett Neilon had to come out late in the game because of an ankle sprain. His status for Saturday is also in question.

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Meanwhile, kicker Chase McGrath is dealing with a bout of knee tendonitis, which is part of the reason USC started freshman Parker Lewis in Week 1.

USC football survived without Brandon Pili, but Brett Neilon is another concern

It was a surprise when Pili announced just before the game began that he wouldn’t be participating. The broken finger was a late development in the week.

No two players are alike, but wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was able to play through a broken bone in his hand. The hope is Pili can go with a club over the injured hand, but that will remain to be seen.

At the very least, Marlon Tuipulotu had a monster game at nose tackle against ASU. Pili’s absence would be more keenly felt if the starter wasn’t available.

Linemen are often able to play soon after suffering ankle injuries since they aren’t required to make cuts like skill position players. That would lend some hope to the idea of Neilon making the trip to Tucson.

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If he can’t, USC will turn to Justin Dedich, who replaced Neilon for the final drives of the Trojans’ late victory. Additional backups include redshirt sophomore guard Liam Douglass and true freshman Andrew Milek.

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