Colorado star safety Shilo Sanders is doubtful for the game against No. 8 USC and not expected to play, per ESPN sources, leaving a struggling Colorado secondary even more vulnerable against the Trojans.
Sanders did not practice this week, per sources, and is slated to be replaced in the starting line-up by Southern Utah transfer Rodrick Ward. Coach Deion Sanders’ described his son’s injury at his radio show this week as a kidney injury causing him to urinate blood.
Sanders is a graduate student who played at both South Carolina and Jackson State before starting at Colorado this season. He’s been one of Colorado’s defensive linchpins, as he’s got 26 tackles, a forced fumble and an 80-yard interception return in the victory over Colorado State.
The expected loss of Sanders leaves Colorado without two of its most valuable players, as both Travis Hunter (333 snaps at WR/DB) and Sanders (312) are among the team’s top three players in total snaps. Coincidentally, both have kidney issues.
Hunter, the lockdown corner who moonlights at receiver, is amid a stretch of multiple weeks out after taking an illegal hit by Colorado State’s Henry Blackburn.
That leaves Colorado shorthanded against returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams and a USC passing offense that ranks No. 3 nationally with 377.2 yards per game. He’ll be squaring off in a quarterback duel with Sanders’ brother, Shedeur, in a game that’s intriguing enough to NFL front offices that 30 scouts from 21 different teams will be in attendance.
Colorado’s pass defense ranks No. 111 nationally, as they’ve yielded 269.2 yards per game. USC’s is No. 68 at 228 yards per game.
The expected start at safety will be a big test for Colorado’s Ward, a back-up who has nine defensive snaps, 57 special teams snaps and three tackles this year behind Shilo Sanders on the depth chart. Shilo Sanders is one of Colorado’s vocal leaders and key figures in the secondary.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Ward has dropped into coverage on three snaps this year and wasn’t targeted as a primary defender.