LOS ANGELES — USC had enough offensive linemen return from quarantine to play Washington State on Sunday, but still had enough absences that the Trojans had to turn to a true freshman for his first career start.

USC was down three offensive linemen for the 38-13 win: Starting left guard Andrew Vorhees, his backup Liam Douglass and second-string center Justin Dedich.

With the two-deep at left guard depleted, true freshman Courtland Ford made his first career start. The hulking 6-foot-5 Texan was mostly reliable, though he did allow a third-quarter sack of Slovis.

Offensive line was the position group that suffered a COVID-19 outbreak and caused USC’s game last weekend against Colorado to be canceled. By delaying the USC-Washington State game from Friday to Sunday, several Trojans were able to return from quarantine and play.

But there was always the chance that not everyone would be able to play, which would give USC’s young linemen an opportunity to play, something head coach Clay Helton expressed excitement for.

And it turned out that Ford wouldn’t be the only freshman to get extensive playing time on the offensive line on Sunday.

Starting right guard Liam Jimmons left the game in the second quarter and did not return. As Ford is the backup right guard, USC moved backup right tackle Jonah Monheim, another true freshman, inside to guard to complete the game.

INJURY REPORT

Quarterback Kedon Slovis briefly exited the game due to an apparent injury to his left, non-throwing arm.

Slovis suffered the injury, which he described as a weird hit to his “funny bone”, in the third quarter as he fumbled the ball and extended himself to recover the ball. He stood at midfield as trainers looked at his left arm before slowly walking off to the injury tent. Backup Matt Fink entered the game for two plays before USC was forced to punt.

Slovis exited the tent a few minutes later and worked on receiving snaps on the sidelines for a few moments before returning to watching the game.

On USC’s next offensive drive, Slovis returned, completing a pass to running back Markese Stepp before being driven into the ground by the Cougar pass rush on the next play. Fink would return to the field for USC’s final offensive drive.

It was a quick break from an otherwise stellar game in which Slovis completed 78.1% of his passes for 287 yards and five touchdowns.

Starting nickel back Greg Johnson left the game with a leg injury and was on crutches with a brace around his left knee during the second half. He initially injured the leg while blocking on a Talanoa Hufanga interception return, but was able to get back on the field briefly in the first half.

###

By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *