USC Sports

USC linebacker Porter Gustin’s return from toe surgery is short-lived

Porter Gustin tore off the left edge of USC’s defense late in the first half on Saturday, blew past his blocker and crunched Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger.

Then he lined up for second down and did it again — another sack. He nearly did it a third time in a row on third down, but a teammate beat him to it.

As Texas’ punt team came out, Gustin retreated to the bench, quickly untied his shoe and wiggled his toes.

Gustin, just days removed from surgery to repair a small fracture in his big toe, ended up with more sacks (three) than screws surgically inserted into his toe in the first half. But at halftime, Gustin came out with a boot on his right foot and did not return, and Connor Murphy played in his place.


After Gustin’s surgery on Wednesday, coach Clay Helton was not optimistic Gustin would be able to play at all.

“I think he’ll definitely be ready for next week but he’ll be very close for this week, just being a realist,” Helton said.

Helton added that Gustin is “ one of the toughest kids in my 23 years I’ve ever been around.” .

By Saturday, Gustin walked onto the field without crutches or a limp and came out for warmups without limitations. He ultimately played a majority of USC’s defensive snaps.


He appeared to be in discomfort. After a stop, he’d sit on the bench to fiddle with his shoe. Often, he’d take it off and grimace.

When he returned after halftime, he walked with a noticeable limp.

Cravens’ return

Former USC safety Su’a Cravens spent Saturday’s game on the sideline near the Trojans’ bench. Cravens, a second-round draft pick to the Washington Redskins two season ago, was placed on the exempt/left squad list before the NFL season started as he reportedly mulled retirement.

Cravens had told teammates with the Redskins that he planned to retire but management was able to delay his decision.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this week is that Cravens was “dealing with personal issues” and said the team hopes “that he figures out what he wants to do in life.”

The Redskins will play the Rams at the Coliseum on Sunday. Cravens will not be on the active roster.

Texas to Pac-12?

There was a time not long ago when the Pac-12 Conference and Texas were the hottest on-again, off-again couple. Conference realignment was in full swing, and Texas made sense as an addition, if the conference could make it happen.

Such talk has cooled. But with Texas visiting USC, would sparks rekindle?


Probably not.

“That’s right, I forgot, it’s the Texas game,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said at halftime. “No discussions going on in our conference office about it.”

He added: “I don’t think you’ll see much discussion about it for a while.”


Defensive end Rasheem Green limped off the field in his third quarter and soon was ushered toward USC’s locker room. He appeared to be favoring his left ankle.

USC was without two other regulars on the defense to start the game. Linebacker John Houston Jr., who sustained a stinger last week, and defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu, who suffered a knee sprain, both did not play.

Jordan Iosefa played in place of Houston.

Both started against Stanford, but Tuipulotu was unlikely to in USC’s nickel defense against Texas.


Right tackle Chuma Edoga, who sprained his right wrist and had it wrapped in a club, also left the game in the third quarter.

Quick hits

USC sold out the Coliseum for the first time since 2013. The announced attendance was 84,714. … USC honored former quarterback Matt Leinart in a ceremony after the first quarter. Leinart will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 5. ... Texas brought a stable of celebrities to the game, including former quarterback Vince Young, actor Matthew McConaughey and former major-league pitcher Roger Clemens.

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand

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