USC football gets back to practice ahead of Washington State game

USC football took the first step back towards the playing field on Tuesday with the return to training.

The Trojans are taking it slow after being kept off the practice field for seven of the past nine days as a result of four positive COVID-19 tests and the resulting contact tracking. As Friday’s game against Washington State was moved to Sunday, USC approached Tuesday as if it were a Monday, with conditioning and contactless fieldwork.

If there are no setbacks on the field or in the test lab, the USC will return to full-pad training on Wednesday. But other logistical questions linger before the Trojans can meet the Cougars.

The game was postponed for two days in the hope that USC and Washington State would get enough players back from quarantine to play. Both teams canceled their most recent matches because there were not enough student athletes available to play in one position group.

Los Angeles County rules state that someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must be quarantined for 10 days, but those who are sidelined by contact tracking protocols must be quarantined for 14 days from their exposure to a COVID positive person.

So the biggest question is how many players will get USC back and when they will return to practice. Given the timeline, it seems that some of those quarantined for contact tracing should remain so until the morning of the Washington State game.

‘I can’t give you a definitive number [of players that will be back]”Said USC head coach Clay Helton Tuesday,” but I will say this, the number is enough to play. ”

While positive players cannot do any activity during quarantine, Helton says USC medical staff has developed plans to condition the rest from their rooms. The hope is that this will allow the players to be ready on Sunday without participating in a full training session.

Those who can participate in the training throughout the week will see some changes. Helton said the team won’t have enough bodies to have the typical number of full-contact drills that USC usually has in a game week.

Given the Pac-12’s requirements to have a minimum number of players in all positions, USC does not need to move anyone to a new spot on the field to play the game. But the Trojans will likely have to rely on some underclass under the circumstances.

“We will be preparing some young kids during the week as we expect to get some of the experienced players back later this week,” Helton said. So they get the reps based on how they do things and where we are at the end of the week. But you can expect to have one or two young children inside. ”

There’s still a lot in the air, but that was the recurring theme of college football in 2020.


Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote IV remains on concussion protocol, Helton said Tuesday. The junior was injured in the second game of the season and missed USC’s victory over Utah as a result.

“He’s had a lot of improvement from Day 1 to where he is now, but you have to get rid of the symptoms,” Helton said.

Sophomore linebacker Ralen Goforth is also still dealing with a sprained foot, although he was expected to begin some basic change work to test the injury Tuesday.