The USC Trojans will travel to Washington State with a couple of banged up players being unavailable.
The Trojans will still be without their junior fullback Soma Vainuku, who will miss his third straight game with a pulled hamstring. USC will also miss true freshman Ajene Harris. Harris still is struggling with a hamstring injury as well.
Without Vainuku, it will again be Jahleel Pinner taking the reps at fullback. Pinner has two carries for six yards this season (both carries coming in the Fresno State game).
He also has one reception for three yards -- that coming last Saturday at Utah. Of course, if he had a second reception on the third-and-1 play of the drive that gave Utah the ball back, maybe USC would have won. Instead, Cody Kessler couldn't get a grip on the ball and threw it short.
Where Soma Vainuku's presence is most felt is on special teams. The reigning All-Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Year is solid on coverage and also has three career blocked kicks. The Trojans are already thin on bodies overall and that means more starters have to play special teams. That's actually how Vainuku was injured -- while covering a kickoff.
This will be the fifth game in a row that Ajene Harris will miss after having a breakout game in the slot receiver position against Oregon State. Following his three-catch, 30-yard performance, Harris pulled his hamstring in practice and hasn't been able to get full strength yet.
In Harris' absence, USC has used a combination of players in the slot. Star wideout Nelson Agholor has slid inside sometimes while redshirt freshman Steven Mitchell has also seen a number of reps at the spot. The Trojans have also split out freshman tight end Bryce Dixon throughout the season since he poses such a dynamic matchup issue for opposing teams.
USC head coach Steve Sarkisian said Vainuku and Harris would accompany the team on the trip..
"If nothing else that's two more days of rehab," Sarkisian said after Thursday's practice. We get the bye next week. I think the worst case scenario is by Cal that they're 100 percent ready to go."