The most significant development for USC on Thursday happened about 365 miles north of campus. Stanford coach David Shaw announced K.J. Costello will not play Saturday, leaving redshirt sophomore Davis Mills to make his first career start.
The USC defensive staff wouldn't offer much on their impressions of Mills, but Coach Clay Helton did raise a good point about how Stanford responded to the quarterback change midway through its season opener last week.
"They'll stick to their system," Helton said after practice. "It was evident that you go from one quarterback to the next, nothing stopped. Matter of fact, it went faster."
It's about the opposite of what the Trojans did upon inserting Kedon Slovis for JT Daniels. And yet, Helton insisted USC's offense will be "wide open" with Slovis in his first start. (I just wouldn't expect 34 pass attempts in the first half.) Stanford, meanwhile, can be expected to lean more on its run game and offer a heavy dose of Cameron Scarlett unless forced otherwise.
"This game against Stanford has always been one where whoever controls the front usually wins the game," Helton said.
He's said that before about the Cardinal, several times. And it's true. Helton was asked for two areas that he'd like to see improvement and he cited the execution of his offensive and defensive lines despite praising the play of each one. The game inside decides the game.
Linebacker Jordan Iosefa is still rehabbing his dislocated kneecap and will not return to practice for at least another two weeks. Helton said he isn't able to work in water yet as he strengthens his knee and recovers from surgery four weeks ago.
Guard Andrew Vorhees, who's been limited by a foot injury this week, returned to practice and will be available Saturday versus Stanford. Jalen McKenzie is slated to start again there.
Helton was also asked about the rotation among the wide receivers and said to expect more of the to play in this game and moving forward. The irony is USC will likely run fewer plays, perhaps by a good margin.
Walk-on quarterback Brandon Perdue has been leading the scout team this week and would be the No. 3 option if needed. Perdue spent all of spring practice filling in at safety. That was back when Jack Sears was USC's backup QB.