LOS ANGELES — There were signs of incremental progress for USC quarterback Jackson Dart, who was injured during practice on Tuesday.
Dart, the Trojan backup who had meniscus surgery following his breakout performance in Week 3 against Washington State, returned to practice last week with some light throwing drills. On Tuesday, Dart participated in skeletal exercises and throwing receivers on running routes.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury, Dart said he felt improvement every day in his right knee, which was still wrapped in a large brace.
“I feel good. Every day is getting a lot better, just trying to stay on top of rehab,” Dart said. “Every day it’s going to be a little different. I visit doctors and all that and once or twice every day I will keep progressing and getting more freedom. “
Dart said there is no hard date he is aiming to return, but he wants to be back at full speed as soon as possible. And that has been the hardest part of rehab so far, he says: keeping up your patience and not rushing yourself too much.
Interim head coach Donnett Williams said USC is trying to take things slow as the team is in its goodbye week, but he thinks darts would be a full participant in practice if it were a game week.
“Just working him there and making sure he’s all set to go,” Williams said of the approach this week.
The real freshman quarterback has posed for the audience again since his first match against Washington State. After starter Caydon Slovis hurt his neck on the game’s opening drive, Dart went in to rock some early turnovers, throwing 391 yards and four touchdowns and leading a 45-point run to defeat the Cougar.
But that joy was soon replaced by the pain of a shot on his knee in the second quarter.
“I was like super amped, there was still a lot of adrenaline after the game,” Dart said. “And then that weekend I woke up like, I was like, ‘Man, my knee really hurts.'”
Before his surgery, Williams hyped the prospect of a quarterback contest between Dart, a third-year starter and Slovis, who has completed 64% of his passes for 1,519 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
Williams still wants to see the competition be fully approved for dart contact and sporting activity, whenever that date arrives.
“I would say the biggest thing for me right now is trying to control what I can,” Dart said of his approach to potential competition. “So just being on top of my rehab, staying on top of the film, so I feel like when I come back, I won’t have a beat and I’ll put myself in the best shape I can. Our team will keep going and we’re good.” Will keep working.”
Williams said after practice on Tuesday that USC tight end Michael Trigg would not require surgery for a lower leg injury against Washington State. Williams described it as a pain-tolerance issue for Trig, with the hope that the goodbye week would give him the opportunity not to miss next week’s game at Notre Dame.