He’s Baaaackk!

Thrilling USC freshman QB Jaxson Dart returns to practice

Ryan Kartje (LA Times)  —  Just two weeks after undergoing surgery for an injured meniscus in his right knee, USC freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart returned to practice Tuesday, warming up and throwing passes in full pads and a helmet.

“Still week to week, still got to get doctor clearance,” said USC interim coach Donte Williams, “but you see right now he’s able to throw.”

A bulky brace on the freshman’s right knee still remained as a reminder of the injury he suffered in his unexpected debut last month at Washington State. But the fact that he was able to return to practice this quickly suggests he could be healthy and ready in the coming weeks — maybe even as soon as the Trojans’ trip to Notre Dame following the bye.

“It could be tomorrow. It could be next week, or it could be two, three weeks from now,” Williams said of the timeline for Dart’s return. “He’s an athletic guy with a big strong arm, so there’s a lot of things that have to be cleared for him to be able to come and play full speed.”

Dart was nowhere near full speed on Tuesday. In spite of being fully dressed, the freshman threw only a handful of passes, none of which involved dropping back or testing his knee in any way.

The injury was initially expected to keep him out for an extended period. But Dart told coaches upon receiving his prognosis that he was determined to return earlier than doctors predicted.

“I think that’s just kind of the mentality he’s taken into the whole process,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. “So to see him back this quickly, out there getting some throws is encouraging, and it’s a testament to him and his work ethic and how he’s attacked the situation.”

When Dart does return, it’s unclear if he’ll have the same shot to supplant starter Kedon Slovis that he would have had two weeks earlier, when he put together one of the most electric debuts in USC football history.

Slovis had his strongest showing of the season last week at Colorado, throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-14 victory. His 9.5 yards per attempt against the Buffaloes marked his most explosive passing output since the final stretch of his freshman season.

“Right now, I like what I see from Kedon,” Williams said. “The look in his eyes right here — the eyes never lie — and the look in his eyes right now are really good.”

Speaking of stunning recoveries …

USC defensive back Max Williams, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in April, was dressed in pads on Tuesday, marking a major point in what’s so far been a miraculously fast recovery. “To be honest, [it’s] remarkable,” Williams said. “We have GPS numbers every day in practice, it’s crazy but his is always the highest. What the strength staff has done with him to get him already at least this far is remarkable. He’s out here, I want to say, they said one day at practice last week he ran 20.8 miles per hour. He wasn’t running 20.8 miles per hour before he got hurt, so that tells you where he’s going.”

latimes.com

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Chris
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Chris (@chris)
October 7, 2021 12:02 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

The commitment to it is better. The adjustments last week were better as well. I suspect that Utah will play lots of man and put 7 near line of scrimmage, that’s what they do. We probably won’t run for big yardage, but we should throw for a bunch. Put Kedon at 350 or more if they go man.

Jamaica
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Jamaica (@jamaica)
October 7, 2021 3:22 pm
Reply to  Chris

The Trojan rushing game has a long way to go in being respectable. Having some rushing success against a poorish Colorado defense? I wouldn’t be patting myself on the back over that accomplishment.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
October 7, 2021 4:08 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Donte is clearly an improvement over Clay. First, which the article omits, it sure looked like a different scheme on O last week. So, Donte forced, encouraged or allowed a scheme change. Second, per Ryan’s Board, they were in full pads for the second day in a row (never happened under Clay to the best of my knowledge). Third, per Ryan’s Board, Donte forced the team and the coaches to run gassers due to the number of penalties. Fourth, again per Ryan’s Board, Donte stopped practice at its beginning and really read the team the “riot act” because of the… Read more »

LawyerJohn
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LawyerJohn (@lawyerjohn)
October 7, 2021 7:59 am

This is worrisome that Dart has returned earlier than expected. Players are their own worst enemies in protecting their long-term health, and they will lie so they can play. Besides, at this point, it seems Mr. Slovis is more than adequate, and let him play for that $10 million NFL contract awaiting him. You know the kid is motivated, and he wants to go out a’slingin’…. The 1974 SC football team’s last-minute comeback to take away and to win the national championship from Ohio State’s grasp was the No. 1 sports excitement of my life. Not sure where last night’s… Read more »

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
October 7, 2021 6:41 am

There’s still plenty of games left for the season and having a good backup quarterback means a lot, but save him until you need him. It makes little sense to risk further injury for the sake of a few games. Unless the line has suddenly improved he’s a sitting duck out there.
Going with the hot hand is good, but unless Slovis is tossing picks, he is hot enough.
And for the record I called it during the Dodgers game. I told my wife they’d save the winning run for the ninth inning, because there’s no recovery for the visitors.

Jamaica
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Jamaica (@jamaica)
October 7, 2021 3:47 pm
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

Absolutely, don’t throw him into a lion’s den situation (this Trojan OL pocket) until he’s actually needed like the WSU game. You know he won’t hold anything back trying to make a pass or get an extra rushing yard. And that means he can become a defender’s delight in nailing the QB on any given play.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
October 7, 2021 5:17 am

Slovis has to give the coaches a good reason to be taken out to be replaced with Dart. Once it happens they know it is over for Slovis and all he has achieved. 3 weeks with a new interim HC does not erase 3 years with CH. If USC is winning with Slovis why put in Dart? If Slovis fails miserably then of course take him out.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
October 7, 2021 5:12 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Good read, but I always wonder what is the criteria for the top 10 coaching jobs.

alfa1
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alfa1 (@alfa1)
October 7, 2021 7:18 am
Reply to  Steveg

Exactly my thought. This written by a LSU wire scribe, denotes to me, it’s just his opinion, like you state Steveg, without criteria it’s meaningless.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
October 7, 2021 7:27 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I am always interested in setting a list like this, but along with Steveg, I am interested in what criteria the author is using. I would think that one criterion would be size and strength of brand. SC still has a top brand, but the “brand managers” (ADs) and the top management (the School Administration and BOT) have horribly mismanaged that brand for well over a decade. In fact, both Haden and Swann were incompetent at the job of brand manager and hired an incompetent (The Cat) to run the brand. The issue is who will be hired to run… Read more »

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
October 7, 2021 6:14 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Well said RJJ, I also think Deboer is an excellent coach and would work out well at USC.

alfa1
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alfa1 (@alfa1)
October 8, 2021 8:02 am
Reply to  Steveg

Deboer is an excellent coach, his win percentage, though at NAIA and FCS schools is 74-8 he’s been very competitive everywhere he’s been not saying he should be hired, only he should be in our peripheral awareness.

San Diego Trojan
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San Diego Trojan (@san-diego-trojan)
October 7, 2021 9:37 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think USC is always a top 3 job no matter the decade. When the culture is right, and you are on a roll, you can build a recruiting fence around the west and still pluck 5 stars out of Florida, Texas, and everywhere else. You can be a rock star in the entertainment capital of the world, like Pete was. The academics have become more respected than ever, worldwide, and offer such diverse degrees as the renowned Journalism, Business, Cinema, and Music Management and Production, that help attract the young Student Athlete. The newer McKay center and of course… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica (@jamaica)
October 7, 2021 3:58 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Yes but again, rank these same programs by what they pay their HC’s and I think those rankings would change. If USC has a Achilles heel, it’s that they have a long history of being cheap, at least in the beginning of a contract. PC got paid extremely well but only after he won championships. In today’s coaching business, the better coaches want that top money in the beginning or they don’t show up.

Chris
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Chris (@chris)
October 6, 2021 9:33 pm

Let’s go Dodgers!

San Diego Trojan
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San Diego Trojan (@san-diego-trojan)
October 6, 2021 11:02 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Right up there with the most dramatic wins in Dodger’s history, especially in a win or go home wild card. I must be getting old because I have to walk out of the room during these kind of intense games, and sneak peaks on my ESPN app during the madness. What a wuss I’ve become! There has to be a change to a best two out of three wild card at the home park of the team with the better record. Too much can go wrong or right in a one and done. I was surprised to learn that the… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
October 7, 2021 7:35 am

San Diego, it was a great game. I rarely watch baseball anymore. The only hit that I can remember on the level of Taylor’s home run was Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series. I took my kids to that Series, but could only afford one game. I chose the next game when Orel Hershiser was pitching. That was also a great game. But, it would have been something to be at the stadium when Gibson hit that one out. Granted, that was a bigger stage and one of the most dramatic HRs of all time. But, this… Read more »

San Diego Trojan
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San Diego Trojan (@san-diego-trojan)
October 7, 2021 9:10 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Rjj, I know everyone claims they were at the Kirk Gibson game, and fortunately, I was lucky enough to choose that game as the only one I could get tickets for. My best friend and I were sitting midway between first base and the foul pole, and like most Angelenos, contemplated leaving after the eighth inning to beat the traffic. My friend talked me out of it. When the ball left the bat, it seemed to float in slow motion as it went by us on the way out. The adrenaline, and pure joy that coursing through your body at… Read more »

San Diego Trojan
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San Diego Trojan (@san-diego-trojan)
October 7, 2021 1:19 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

That must have felt so unreal to see and hear all that transpire literally across the street. I was sixteen, and just got home in time for the second half kickoff of that game. I remember being just so amazed at how different the team looked after AD’s kickoff return. That’s how crazy sports can be, when just one break, or play, can give you the momentum to steamroll the rest of the way, like USC did that day.
Allen, do you have a top three or five of your most favorite in person sporting events over the years?

San Diego Trojan
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San Diego Trojan (@san-diego-trojan)
October 7, 2021 5:01 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

All good choices, Allen. Happy you got to enjoy some of the fruits of your hard labor keeping the well respected Super Prep Enterprise going for many years. Can’t imagine the hours you and your staff put into making it so good. During recruiting periods, it was one of the few voices whose opinions I respected, when I couldn’t get enough of it all. Thank You. That 75 Rose Bowl had it all and was right up there for me also. My dad and I were seated near the end zone where J.K. Caught the 38 yard pass, and Shelton… Read more »

Chris
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Chris (@chris)
October 6, 2021 7:43 pm

I hope we get him completely healed before he plays. With this team and line he needs all the mobility he has.