DAN GREENSPAN / Associated Press
Looking ahead to the present and the future, Southern California could use two quarterbacks against Arizona on Saturday.
Freshman Jaxson darts could be playing for the Trojans for the first time since his knee injury on his college debut last month.
“We’ll do what we have to do to win this particular ball game, whether it’s two quarterbacks, just one playing the whole game, or whatever the case,” said interim coach Donte Williams.
USC (3-4, 2-3 Pac-12) had prepared a package of games for darts to play Washington State in the first game after head coach Clay Helton was fired on September 18. But starter Kedon Slovis suffered a neck injury on first possession, forcing Dart to steer the offense to a 45-14 win.
Dart threw 391 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions, and stormed for 32 yards, but sustained a knee injury that required surgery, negating Williams’ desire to compete as quarterback.
After dart returned to limited training last week, dart worked on the second session this week and seems to be on track to play at home for the first time.
“I’m just happy to be back now,” said Dart.
Darts mobility could help an offensive line struggling to keep a clean pocket for Slovis, a junior. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell did not specify whether darts would intervene for certain situations, such as short distances or at the goal line, or whether darts would remain on the field for a full drive.
For the Wildcats (0-7, 0-4), they’re sure to use multiple quarterbacks to end a 19-game bust, the longest in school history. Wide receiver Jamarye Joiner was an effective move for newcomer Will Plummer in a heavy loss to Washington last week. Joiner stormed for 25 yards four times, scoring Arizona’s only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter and not ending his lone pass attempt.
“He will have another week of repetitions,” said trainer Jedd Fisch. “So I think there will be more opportunities to expand your package.”
USC wide receiver Drake London’s big numbers were perhaps the only bright spot in an unforgettable season as he ranks second on the FBS at receptions (79) and yards (1,003). London is 156 yards more than the second most productive Power 5 receiver, Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks (847).
But even in those stats, there is evidence of the Trojans’ struggles in passing, as Pro Football Focus London attributes 19 controversial catches. “I think when Drake is covered he’s still open,” said Harrell. “No matter what they’re doing over there, you have to give this guy a chance to do plays and he’ll do something.”
FLUMMOXED IN THE FOURTH
The Wildcats were beaten 48-0 in the fourth quarter of their last four games, which Fisch said was all the more disappointing given that they led Washington and had only one possession after three quarters against Oregon and UCLA.
“We have to play football for 60 minutes. We play about 47 minutes and just choose which 47 we want to play, ”said Fisch.
USC outperformed their opponents by 88:13 in the fourth quarter of this season, but much of that was empty production in losses because the Trojans were so bleak in the second and third quarters.
USC has little margin for error in avoiding the shame of its second losing season in four years and London insists the Trojans will do whatever it takes to save at least one bowl game. And London backs it, although drafting and viewed as a possible first-round pick, and insists that it will play “100%” in the postseason should USC get it.
“I think that’s just our role as upper-class people to lead them and lead them in ways that are better for the program and better for them as individuals,” he said.
Arizona expects running backs Drake Anderson and Michael Wiley to be available for their sophomore year after missing the Huskies loss due to injuries. Anderson leads the team with 238 yards of rushing and Wiley ranks second with 185 yards.