DALLAS -- The USC Trojans may enter the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday night without two key defensive players.
Coach Clay Helton said Thursday that linebacker Porter Gustin is unlikely to play as No. 8 USC meets No. 5Ohio Stateat AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Helton said cornerback Jack Joneswould be a game-time decision for the first of the New Year's Six bowl games.
Jones, a third-team AP All-American who leads USC with four interceptions, suffered an ankle injury in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 1. The sophomore has received limited work in practice this week.
Junior Isaiah Langley, who has taken Jones' place in practices this month, has played in every game this season and filled in as a starter midway through the year for Iman Marshall. Helton said the USC staff would assess Jones' status after Thursday's walk-through practice at Coppell High School and again Friday in warm-ups.
The situation looks more bleak for Gustin, who led USC in tackles for loss a year ago. The junior suffereda fractured toe in Week 2, had surgery and returned to play against Arizona State on Oct. 28. However, he reinjured the toe and missed the final three games of the regular season and the Pac-12 title game rematch with the Cardinal.
"I don't think Porter is going to be able to go in this game," Helton said Thursday.
Gustin recently began running but did not progress quickly enough to make strides in practice toward a return.
USC LB Porter Gustin, CB Jack Jones in doubt for Cotton Bowl