LOS ANGELES, CA (News4usonline) – The USC Trojans won their first football game of the season against Fresno State. The 31-23 victory at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday night, however, came at a cost to the Trojans. Quarterback JT Daniels, the key to the USC’s offensive engine, is out for the rest of the season after suffering a leg injury in the second half of the ballgame.
The good news is that the Trojans didn’t fold under pressure after seeing their offensive leader being helped off the field. When Daniels went down with a reportedly ACL injury, the Trojans stood together and came up with some big plays from players who don’t get rattled.
Wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. took back a kick 100 yards for a touchdown shortly after Daniel’s injury. and stated after the game. The play kept the momentum going in the Trojan’s favor.
“I think about running it back every time I touch it,” Jones said. “That’s the confidence I have in myself and my abilities. So every time I touch it, I expect to run it back. As a player you have to give hope, I felt like that’s what I did. I gave my team hope and the energy we needed and I’ll do anything to make sure we are successful at the end of the day.”
Before he sustained his season-ending injury, Daniels played pretty well in his season debut, completing 25 of 34 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown. But it was the USC playmakers that made the difference in this contest. The Trojans received great offensive production from Jones, running backs Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai, and wide receiver Tyler Vaughns.
Malepeai rushed for a game-high 134 yards on 23 carries. He also produced a touchdown for the Trojans. As for Carr, he was pretty much the do-everything guy for the Trojans. Carr rushed for 56 yards and a score. Besides his rushing duties, Carr also caught six passes for 43 yards and another score.
The Trojans believe their success this season will depend on each other.
“It’s a good vibe. I know you all can see the love on the field,” said Carr. “We respect each other as players. [It] doesn’t matter who has the ball. We’re going to try and get it in the end zone. We’re all talented players. As long as I’m in tune with the offensive line, they in tune with me, quarterbacks, and receivers, the sky’s the limit.”
When it came to production, perhaps no player stood out more than Vaughns. Vaughns caught 11 passes for 150 yards against the Bulldogs. Vaughns’ mercurial play against Fresno State caught the attention of his teammates.
“He did his thing,” Carr said. “He’s going to continue to do his thing. He’s a leader out here.”
Carr said his approach to the game was to mentally lock in and try to take control of the game.
“Focus, controlled anger,” Vaughns said. “Go out there and dominate. With that, really just wanted to control myself. It’s ’s repetition. How many plays we run in practice. We run like 80 plays a day in practice. When it comes to the games. It’s repetition, we done did it before.”
When asked about Daniels injury, Vaughns showed nothing but respect for his fallen quarterback.
“We had to make sure our brother was alright at the end of the day.” said Vaughns. “Go to our next brother and make sure he’s prepared for the game. JT came back, even though he was on crutches, came in there, talked to the guys and making sure were keeping our heads up high.”