Off the field, the USC Trojans find themselves searching for a new head coach after the firing of Clay Helton, but another intriguing battle is raging on the field as well.
Interim head coach Donte Williams now has a quarterback controversy on his hands, thanks to the stellar play from backup Jaxson Dart, who subbed in for the injured starter, Kedon Slovis.
Dart didn’t just play well in a convincing 45-14 win over Washington State. He set a coveted passing record at a school with a rich QB tradition: 391 yards in a debut game, the most in school history for a first-time starter at USC.
And since Slovis’ X-rays came back negative after a neck injury, the two QBs face a mid-season, open competition for the next start, a home contest versus Oregon State this Saturday. Coach Williams said the two players will compete all week to determine who gets the starting nod.
“Me personally, being the head coach, I approach everything as a battle,” Williams said. “I think part of why people don’t succeed and develop is because they get complacent. That’s not just at quarterback, that’s at every position. I want to make sure guys are never complacent.”
Williams also said that while Slovis earned the starting job this summer, Dart’s performance was too impressive to ignore.
“[Dart] definitely made some plays with his legs, just buying time,” Williams said. “And even when he got dinged up for a second, just for him to stay in that game and continue to battle, that shows what kind of warrior he is. He made some throws that in my point of view were great throws down the field.”
Williams also said he hasn’t ruled out a scenario in which both quarterbacks play in certain situations.
The Trojans currently sit as (-11.5) favorites against the visiting Beavers, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Oregon State has looked solid this season, starting off 2-1 with two convincing victories against Hawaii and Idaho, with their one loss being the opener at Purdue, 30-21. The Trojans, like the loaded teams of the SEC, should always outmatch opponents from a raw talent perspective, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will cover big numbers. With the QB uncertainty, this game seems primed for a 6-point tease to (+17.5) for Oregon State. The extra points will cover an additional three key numbers and create a massive opportunity for backdoor cover potential.