There was more frustrating news for Tre Madden this week with the update that the senior tailback would not be suiting up for the game on Friday against Colorado.
Madden has been struggling with a lingering knee issue in recent weeks that has forced him to sit out two of the last three games, and his status remains unclear for any participation in the final two regular season games against Oregon and UCLA as well.
It’s not the way Madden would have scripted the tail end of his USC career after having missed two of the previous three years with knee and turf toe injuries. Madden was expected to be the bell-cow of a deep tailback rotation for the Trojans this year, a 225-pound workhorse who had long shown promise whenever he was healthy enough to be on the field.
There have certainly been flashes, a pair of 100-yard games against Arkansas State and Washington along with key runs against Cal for a touchdown and a first down on the final game-sealing drive. But those moments haven’t come as often as Madden would have liked, especially as the Trojans have been showing more of a commitment to the power run game under interim coach Clay Helton, a style of play which would seem to fit Madden well.
Instead, it has been true freshman Ronald Jones II and junior Justin Davis who have been leading the way with the ground attack and all Madden can do at this point is watch from the sideline and be the best teammate he can be until he returns to action.
Helton was quick to praise Madden for the leadership role he has taken, and will continue to take on the road this week against Colorado.
“Tre is that calm presence for the running back group,” Helton said. “He keeps me sane because he’s right there with Ronald Jones, Ced Ware and Dominic Davis, he’s always in the ear of Justin Davis. He provides that real senior leadership so I may sit him right next to me on the plane ride, he will be an assistant head coach this week.”
Jones needs 148 yards to break the USC freshman season record currently held by Charles White in 1976. Jones set the USC single-game freshman mark last week with 177 yards against Arizona, and the Colorado defense is ranked last in the Pac-12 in rush yards allowed per game.
When you are playing a November night game in Boulder there is always a weather factor to consider, and that will be no different on Friday night when game temperature is expected to be in the 30-degree range. Things could be worse, as no snow is expected and the Trojans did play a night game earlier this year at Notre Dame which was chilly so it’s shouldn’t be anything they can’t handle.
One of the interesting preparations that has gone on this week is the recent tradition passed down from Matt Barkley to Cody Kessler of sticking their throwing hand in a bag of ice before each practice snap, in an effort to get used to their hand being cold on passing attempts.
“It’s a little ritual around here, Matt started it and Cody has continued with it,” Helton said. “The weather shouldn’t be an impact. We’ve operated in these conditions before, and we should be able to do it again.”
Houston, we have a back problem
Helton confirmed this week that true freshman linebacker John Houston would be redshirting with a back injury that will not require surgery. Houston, who has been practicing as a reserve strong side linebacker, had not taken part in a game for the Trojans this year.
“John is in a situation where we need to get his back healthy,” Helton said. “It’s a pre-existing issue going back to high school that carried over here. For his safety, we’re going to commit totally to rehab in order to get him back 100 percent.”
Veteran’s Day recruit visits
With local high schools having the day off for the Veteran’s Day holiday, the Trojans received visits at practice from two ESPN 300 recruits in Jackie Jones and Oluwole Betiku.
Jones was in attendance with several of his Long Beach Poly teammates as he watched former Jackrabbits JuJu Smith-Schuster and Iman Marshall going through practice with the Trojans. Jones is being recruited both as a corner and a slot receiver.
Betiku recently de-committed from UCLA and is projected as a defensive end with rare athletic skills. Betiku, who was there with Serra teammate and current USC verbal safety C.J. Pollard, saw a pipeline on the practice field from their school as well with former Cavaliers such as Adoree’ Jackson, Jalen Greene and Deontay Burnett all in action for the Trojans.