The USC Trojans finished up their final practice of the week with media accessibility Thursday morning. Though the practice at Howard Jones Field was closed, the media did talk to USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, who provided some updates on injured Trojans.
It looks like a hamstring injury will keep junior fullback Soma Vainuku off the field in Saturday's matchup with Colorado. That's unfortunate for Vainuku after he had the best game of his career against Colorado last year rushing for 70 yards on five carries, including a 52-yard touchdown run. He also caught two passes for 11 yards.
While Vainuku has carried the ball only six times this season and none in the last two weeks, the running game has really seemed to have performed better when he's leading the way for Javorius Allen and Justin Davis. It's also a big blow to special teams because Vainuku is known to blow up blockers and returners as he bowls down the field. He actually was injured while covering a second-half kick on Saturday.
Sarkisian said the Trojans will also likely be without freshman slot receiver Ajene Harris, who is also recovering from a hamstring injury that he suffered at the beginning of practice last week. No word was given on the status of junior receiver George Farmer, who pulled up with an apparent hamstring issue Wednesday morning as well.
One positive was the return of Adoree' Jackson on Wednesday. After missing Tuesday, Jackson was dressed out Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, he didn't have his usual full workload of defense, special teams and a sprinkle of offense, but it was good to see Jackson back on the field.
USC junior cornerback Kevon Seymour was back in action on Tuesday after missing the end of Saturday's game, so it looks like the USC secondary will not be missing anyone. Senior safety Gerald Bowman did practice with a non-contact yellow jersey and his arm wrapped on Wednesday, but he should be good to go for the Colorado game.
USC's All-American defensive lineman Leonard Williams missed two days in a row for a nagging shoulder issue. USC head coach Steve Sarkisian did say on Wednesday he expects Williams to play on Saturday and Williams had his helmet with him on Thursday. It could just be the Trojans giving Big Leo some extra rest after he's been on the field a whole heap of a lot this season
Maybe Sarkisian is taking a page from former Buffalo Bills' head coach Marv Levy? Levy is said to have told his star players to take it easy during practice because he needed their body's allotment of full-effort snaps during the game on Sunday.
Another player that returned on Wednesday was senior kicker Andre Heidari. After not being able to go after pre-game warmups, Heidari sat out the Arizona game and was replaced by redshirt sophomore walk-on Alex Wood. Wood was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points, but made his biggest impact on kickoffs, forcing Arizona to start from the 25-yard line or worse after each of his five kickoffs. It's quite possible that Wood takes over the kickoff duties while Heidari returns for any field goal attempts.
Two players on the long-term injury report, senior linebacker Lamar Dawson and redshirt junior Tre Madden, are looking more and more like redshirt candidates (err...potential medical hardship waiver for Madden to have a sixth year after next season). Sarkisian said on Wednesday that he will be speaking with Madden's family today to discuss the situation.
Here's Steve Sarkisian's Thursday post-practice media scrum: