LOS ANGELES-It must be nice to have a chain of stable running backs that can get the job done when their number is called. It’s a good thing that the USC Trojans have that type of luxury. After all, when you think of USC, the Trojans are considered to be Tailback U.
We can go down the list of great USC running backs: Charles White, O.J. Simpson, Mike Garrett, Marcus Allen, Anthony Davis, Reggie Bush, and so on. You get the picture.
That tradition is alive and kicking today. Unlike a lot of other top teams in the country, the Trojans have the benefit of shuffling tailbacks in and out of the lineup whenever the mood swings in their favor. That’s a good benefit to have. One day, it could be Tre Madden using his bruising running style to put the hammer on defenders.
Another day, it just might be Ronald Jones II executing his lightning in a bottle speed to run past folks to the endzone. And then there is Justin Davis, with his shifty trot that can cause a change of pace the opponents have to deal with. Pac-12 Conference South Division rival Arizona got a good look at this changeup Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
One would have to assume the Wildcats were probably none too pleased with having to deal with trying to stop the Trojans’ super cluster of running backs. The Wildcats didn’t have to worry much about Madden. That’s because Jones and Davis picked up the slack for him. Jones was clearly the star of the show on the evening, rushing for 177 yards, including bursting for a 74-touchdown run to carry USC to a 38-30 win against Arizona.
When Jones wasn’t too busy sprinting past people, Davis came in and picked up where his explosive teammate left off. In other words, Davis operated more as the closer against Arizona. Jones rushed for 85 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. His final carry of the night closed the Trojans’ victory when he rushed 18 yards up the middle into the endzone to put the finishing touches on the TKO he and Jones delivered.
That’s the the beauty of the Trojans’ offense these days. Balance, power and running the football. Everybody else, get over it. This is who the Trojans are. Yes, there was a lot of hype in the preseason about quarterback Cody Kessler and his Heisman Trophy aspirations. Yes, USC do have sure-fire offensive wideouts in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Adoree’ Jackson, Steven Mitchell Jr. and Jalen Green that give defensive coordinators nightmares.
But this is the University of Southern California. They run the football. They pound the rock and try to knock you off your feet. That is the lexicon of Trojans football lore. Opponents know what’s coming, but stopping it is another matter. When they run the football, good things, as it did against Arizona, usually happen for the Trojans. USC pretty much dared Arizona to stop their rushing attack.
Yes, Kessler did connect with Smith-Schuster on a 72-yard bomb to give the Trojans their first touchdown of the night in the second quarter. Yes, Kessler did have an efficient game as he completed 22 of 36 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns performance. But, by and large, this night belonged to Jones and Davis and the USC run game. The Trojans ran the ball 40 times for 229 yards. Those numbers will get a team in position to win every day of the week.
Homecoming can be sweet. For the Trojans, it got doubly sweeter with the way Jones and Davis ran the football.