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USC defense battling injuries heading into Texas game

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The ‘Horns could be able to take advantage offensively.

Stanford v USC Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Injuries could keep multiple starters on the USC Trojans defense from participating in Saturday’s primetime match up against the Texas Longhorns.

Linebacker Porter Gustin, who led the Trojans in tackles for loss last season, suffered a shoulder injury last weekend against Stanford and had two screws surgically inserted into his foot this week to repair what head coach Todd Helton described as a “small crack.” He’s listed as doubtful for the Texas game.

Also doubtful is defensive tackle Marlon Tuipuloti, who sprained a knee ligament against the Cardinal and could miss several weeks. The 6’3, 295-pounder was ranked as the consensus No. 5 defensive tackle in the country this year in the 247Sports Composite rankings and started against Stanford.

If Gustin and Tuipuloti are both unavailable against the Longhorns, it could impact a Trojans rush defense that has struggled at times this season, notably giving up an easy 75-yard touchdown run by the Cardinal’s Bryce Love.

Linebacker John Houston Jr. hasn’t practiced this week, either, due to a stinger, and could also miss the game. The Carson product took over the starting role this year after serving as a back up in 2016.