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Thursday practice report

The USC Trojans finished off their week of practice ahead of their first road trip of the season. They’ll head to Provo, Utah tomorrow for a non-conference test against the BYU Cougars, set to kick off at 12:30 on Saturday.

The Trojans are a little big dinged up heading into this game. Obviously they are already missing starting quarterback JT Daniels. But defensive end Christian Rector (photo above) is battling an ankle injury and nickelback Chase Williams is dealing with an AC sprain.

Head coach Clay Helton said Williams practiced on Thursday and “should be ready” to play in the game. The news on Rector was not as positive, as Helton said he would be “questionable at best” and it would likely a game-time decision as to whether he would play. Backup running back Markese Stepp is also nursing a calf injury and did not practice on Thursday, according to Helton. But he will make the trip with the team to face BYU.

As for this being the first road game, Helton said he spoke at length to the Trojans this week about maturity, and how the sign of a mature team is the ability to put things behind them and focus on what is in front.

“Good teams are able to take a game like Stanford–a heated contest, a rivalry game–and put it behind them,” Helton said. “They’ve had a great week of practice. I can’t wait to get them on the plane tomorrow and see what they’re made of.”

If Rector is unable to go, the Trojans will rotate Drake Jackson, Caleb Tremblay, and Connor Murphy at defensive ends, but Helton said they would stay in their normal packages, letting the three players rotate in at the two defensive end positions.

The Trojans will also need to fill the void in the wide receiver depth, caused by Devon Williams putting his name in the NCAA transfer portal. Helton said they’ve worked both John Jackson III and Velus Jones at the X receiver position, and that with eight receivers still in the rotation, USC is still in good position there.

As for Williams seeking a transfer, Helton kept what he said to the sophomore receiver private, only saying, “Great kid. Great player. Wish him nothing but the best.”

This will be the first road start for true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, and Helton’s message to him will sound similar to last week.

“I’d just like to duplicate last Saturday,” Helton said. “You have a ton of playmakers around you. Same message as last week. You don’t have to be Superman; the rest of those guys do. And they’re pretty talented and they’ll be there for you. Just give them opportunities.”

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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