LOS ANGELES — When USC takes the field against Arizona State on Saturday, we think we know Caydon Slovis will still be the Trojans’ starting quarterback in his home state. Perhaps.
And it’s safe to assume that USC will split time between Slovis and new player Jackson Dart. Perhaps.
But Trojans are keeping a close watch on this information.
“We will continue to assess this as it gets closer and closer to game time,” said interim head coach Donat Williams. “I mean, the state of Arizona provides some of the issues that we’ve got to make sure we’re able to handle it.”
This week in practice, the two quarterbacks split first-team reps more evenly than the week before, before the Darts began to get some of the Slovis’ play time in their win over Arizona.
But the goal of this two-quarterback position is also being hidden by Williams, who won’t commit to the idea of narrowing it down to one quarterback at some point this season.
And what does it take for a quarterback to claim a full-time job?
“You know, just in case a guy has a hot hand and too much our offense is clicking and riding with that hot hand too much,” Williams said.
Clearly, Slovis completed his first eight passes and led two touchdown drives in the first three series against Arizona, which wasn’t enough to keep Dart on edge. Nor were Dart’s two long scoring drives to catch the ball enough to start the second quarter, with Slovis coming out for the final drive before half.
Both quarterbacks were equally skilled against Arizona. Slovis completed 15 of 21 attempts for 204 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that were returned for a score. Dart attempted and completed two touchdowns and three low passes for 109 yards. The freshman was confined to a screen pass in his first game back from meniscus surgery and did not make a hasty attempt.
What this means for the state of Arizona is a guessing game. Dart and Slovis were also not aware of Saturday’s plan after Monday’s practice. But it is believed that there may be a rift between the two again.
“Maybe,” said Slovis. “I haven’t talked specifically about it with the coach this week. But again, I go out here and try to do as well as I can. The way you practice, it’s on the game.” Depends, so if I go out of here and practice well, it will go further in the game.”
When USC Has the Ball
It will be the first game the Trojans will play without leading receiver Drake London, who broke his ankle in the first half against Arizona. USC will need to rely more on receivers like Gary Bryant Jr. and Tahaj Washington, but also those who got fewer reps in the first eight games of the season, such as Kyle Ford and Joseph Manjack IV.
If the pass game is a success without London, it will take the pressure off Keonte Ingram, who scored 204 yards on 27 carries against the Wildcats.
“It’s always going to be a goal to try to touch our best people with space. Obviously Keonte has a big part of it right now,” said offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. “He is one of the best football players on this team. One, maybe in this league, if not the whole country, then he has the ball in his hand.”
It will make Saturday a strength versus strength battle, as Arizona State limits opponents to 134.2 rushing yards per game and 3.69 runs per carry.
When is the ball in the state of Arizona
It’s no secret that USC struggles against dual-threat quarterbacks, and Arizona State’s Jaden Daniels may face the Trojans best of all season.
Daniels ran 11 times for 111 yards against USC last year. The Trojans also worry about Daniel’s ability to defend with his feet on the outside and then leave a receiver open as a result.
USC’s run defense will be tested with Daniels along with three running backs who can move the ball.
Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said, “You can roll people in and out of a system that can get people into space and when you have that luxury, not just competition but planning, you get really dynamic. can.”
USC in the state of Arizona
When: 7:30 p.m. PT Saturdays
where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
TV/Radio: ESPN/AM 790