The depth on USC’s offensive line has really been tested in recent weeks. First, it was Courtland Ford missing time with an injury. Then, last week against Arizona State, USC tried to buy some rest time for Justin Dedich. The right guard and team captain has, according to coach Lincoln Riley, been “a little banged up” recently.

In holding him out, USC threw redshirt junior Gino Quinones to the fire. After fewer than 20 offensive snaps in the first four weeks, he played 70 against Arizona State — with a group of interior defenders Riley thought was as stout as any in the league.

But against Washington State this week, USC needs all hands on deck.

“He’s better,” Riley said of Dedich this week. “It was good that we were able to hold him. Where that leaves us, we’ll see. We’ll keep evaluating him throughout the week. We’re trying to be smart. Obviously, we’d love for him to be able to play, but the flip side of it is we’ve got a lot of the season left and you’ve got to be smart with them.”

Ford returned from a two-game absence last week, but didn’t play much after a holding call negated an 82-yard touchdown from wideout Mario Williams. The Trojans still don’t technically have an out-and-out starter at the position, but Riley expects Ford to remain in the mix with Bobby Haskins.

“Courtland’s played a lot and is a good player,” Riley said. “He’s getting healthier and better and better as he gets back, so he’ll continue to be a big part of it.”

Brett Neilon said the Trojan line was uncharacteristically poor with its communication against the Sun Devils. “Sometimes, it got sloppy,” he said, via Inside Troy. “We’ll get it fixed.” Be that with or without Dedich this week, USC needs to. Washington State presents the stiffest defensive front USC will have faced thus far.

The Cougars have the third-most tackles for loss of any team in the country so far this season (44) and they ranked 15th in sack rate.

Said Riley, “Your mistakes are going to be TFLs against these guys.”