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Max Borghi set to miss third consecutive game for Washington State; four members of secondary also out

Washington State's Max Borghi, left, straight-arms California's Evan Weaver (89) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif.   (Associated Press)

Max Borghi has made significant progress since suffering a back injury during preseason camp, and even if a return is on the horizon, the Washington State running back didn’t travel with the team to USC and will miss his third consecutive game.

The junior recently returned to practice for the Cougars and recently indicated on social media he’d play at some point this season, but Borghi apparently didn’t clear the necessary hurdles to play in today’s game against the Trojans.

Offensive coordinator Brian Smith hinted that may be the case when he told reporters earlier in the week, “I do anticipate both those kids getting opportunities to touch the ball in the future,” speaking of Borghi and senior Deon McIntosh, who’s impressed in two games as WSU’s primary tailback.

WSU is also missing a handful of key players in the defensive secondary, including four of the starting/backup cornerbacks and safeties: starting corner Jaylen Watson, backup corner Chau Smith-Wade and backup safeties Chad Davis Jr. and Armauni Archie. Davis Jr. has missed the first three games of the season with an injury, but it’s unclear why the others are absent.

To make matters worse, the Cougars will be thin at the edge position, without two players that were part of the rotation when WSU last played against Oregon. Junior Willie Taylor III didn’t travel to Los Angeles after suffering an injury against the Ducks on Dec. 14, and Will Rodgers III, who started in the season opener against Oregon State, announced he was entering the transfer portal two days after the Oregon game.

Without Taylor III and Rodgers III, WSU’s defensive line will rely heavily on starters Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson, along with a trio of true freshmen who are certain to see an uptick in playing time: Moon Asby, Justin Lohrenz and Gabriel Lopez.

As expected, “X” wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr. will miss his second game with an injury, meaning walk-on and Spokane native Lucas Bacon will be starting for the third time in as many games.