Will Utah be able to play USC? Clay Helton stays optimistic



Days after more than two dozen players were put in quarantine, forcing Utah to cancel its game with UCLA, USC coach Clay Helton said Sunday that this week’s scheduled road trip to face the Utes is “trending in the right direction.”

Utah has yet to play a game this season because of positive coronavirus cases or contact tracing protocols. Elsewhere in the Pac-12, one matchup has already been canceled for Saturday as Arizona State continues to deal with an outbreak that’s now wiped out two of their six scheduled games.

Helton offered no assurances that USC’s second-consecutive road game would remain intact through the week. But he tried to stay optimistic.

“I’m hoping we get the opportunity to have a chance to compete with Utah,” Helton said. “It looks like it’s headed in that direction. Let’s say our prayers and hopefully both teams will stay safe and stay trending toward the same direction.”

USC has yet to consider any specific contingency plans, if its game against Utah were to fall through. Notre Dame has an open week upcoming, but the Pac-12 has stood firm on its conference-only schedule since September.

Colorado could also be an option, considering the Buffaloes have already had their game Saturday with Arizona State canceled. USC is currently scheduled to face Colorado a week later at the Coliseum, but it’s not impossible to think the two games could be switched, if circumstances called for such a change.

The Pac-12 has already proven a willingness to be nimble in its scheduling, throwing together a Sunday matchup this week between UCLA and California, after each lost their games due to positive cases or contact tracing.

Helton praised the Pac-12 for its flexibility in that regard, adding that he’d have no problem with USC playing a hastily scheduled game.

“If something doesn’t work out and it’s postponed or canceled and there’s another opportunity, our kids just want to play,” Helton said. “And it doesn’t matter how much time it is before the game, as long as the pads can get there, and we can get a plane to go some place, I think we would go anywhere to have the opportunity to play.”

That flexibility could be tested — either this week or in the weeks to come.

Etc.

Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote left Saturday’s game with a lower leg contusion and eventually entered the concussion protocol. … Defensive tackle Caleb Tremblay traveled with the team, but did not play Saturday as he dealt with stingers. … Mo Hasan, USC’s third-string quarterback, developed compartment syndrome late last week and underwent surgery. Helton said his recovery will take three to four weeks. … Tight end Jude Wolfe aggravated an ankle injury he suffered a week prior.





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