Drew McAllister is going to start Friday at free safety for the suspended T.J. McDonald.
That much we know for sure.
But the Trojans could be starting two new safeties against Colorado, as starting strong safety Jawanza Starling has missed both practices this week because of an unspecified injury. Senior Marshall Jones has been practicing in that spot and figures to get the start there if Starling isn't ready to come Friday.
"Very easily that could be the case, with Jawanza having not practiced today and obviously the league deciding T.J can't play," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday.
McAllister has started one previous game at USC, a September 2009 loss to Washington. Jones has started four, the final four of last season when Starling was hurt. Both have been second-stringers throughout spring practice and fall camp this season, so this would represent quite the opportunity.
"They're good stories when things like this happen, when guys that have played a bunch before, get another shot," Kiffin said, comparing their situations to other veteran players who have subbed in for injured players in the past. "We've had guys really step up in those situations, like a year ago when Chris Galippo came in a backup role for Devon Kennard and started playing better actually, a year ago.
"And so hopefully this will be one of those cases."
McAllister, Kiffin pointed out Tuesday, has consistently made more interceptions in practice than anybody else in USC's secondary. He'll get his first legitimate chance to prove he can do that as a starter on Friday in what could end up being an audition for next season's starting job.
McDonald could leave for the NFL. If he does, McAllister, who'll be a senior, makes sense as the starter. But there's other options that make sense, too.
McAllister gets a half to show that he should be the No. 1 choice.