Sun, 17 Oct 2021

USC hosts Oregon State, looks for second win in Donte Williams era

Field Level Media
23 Sep 2021, 01:19 GMT+10

After a coaching change, Southern Cal returns home to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday for a Pac-12 Conference matchup with Oregon State. Now, there's the potential for a quarterback controversy.

The Trojans (2-1, 1-1 Pac-12) rallied from a 14-0 deficit in the first half last Saturday at Washington State to score the next 45 points. The USC comeback began after quarterback Jaxson Dart stepped in for starter Kedon Slovis, who sustained at neck injury. X-rays were negative, and Slovis returned to practice Tuesday.

"Shoot, he was ripping the ball around," said interim coach Donte Williams, who was tabbed to fill in for the fired Clay Helton on Sept. 13.. "All I can go by is what he did today on the practice field, and what I saw today, he looked pretty good."

Dart was unable to practice Tuesday, but Williams said he was day-to-day with a knee injury.

USC's initial depth chart released Sunday for the Oregon State game had Slovis slotted as the starting quarterback, but Williams' mention of a "quarterback battle" and emphasis on players not becoming "complacent" looms after Dart's performance.

The freshman reserve went 30-of-46 for 391 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for 32 yards while leading the Trojans' comeback. In the previous two weeks, the USC offense sputtered and only scored 13 points through the first three quarters of both a Week 1 win over San Jose State and Week 2 loss to Stanford.

Both Slovis and Dart leaned heavily on wide receiver Drake London, who caught 13 passes for 170 yards at Washington State. London entered into concussion protocol, but Williams said he anticipates the receiver being available.

Oregon State (2-1, 0-0) comes into USC for its conference opener on a two-game winning streak. The Beavers lost their season opener at Purdue, 30-21, but scored 45 and 42 points in routs of Hawaii and Idaho.

"There was a jump Week 1 to Week 2, especially on the offensive side, running the ball more explosively, less assignment errors," Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith said in his weekly news conference.

Running back B.J. Baylor has rushed for multiple touchdowns in all three games, totaling seven on the young season. His production climbed from just 24 yards at Purdue to 171 in the 45-27 win over Hawaii, and 69 on only 11 carries in the 42-0 shutout of Idaho.

Quarterback Chance Nolan passed for five combined touchdowns in the two wins with no interceptions, and has completed more than 70 percent of his attempts since replacing struggling Sam Noyer in Week 1.

"There's going to be way less room for error when you start playing better opponents, which we've got this week," Smith said.

--Field Level Media

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