Sensational Jaxson Dart Challenging To Start

Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart to battle for starting QB privileges vs. Oregon State

Ryan Kartje (LA Times)  —  USC quarterback Kedon Slovis isn’t expected to miss any practice time after X-rays and an MRI exam on his injured neck came back negative Saturday. But when he returns to practice this week, his job as USC’s starting quarterback might be in serious jeopardy.

After freshman Jaxson Dart (2) put together a dynamic debut in his place, USC interim coach Donte Williams declared Sunday that the two quarterbacks would battle this week to determine who leads the Trojans’ offense against Oregon State on Saturday night.

“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.”

The notion that Slovis’ place under center isn’t secure might have seemed preposterous just a few weeks ago. Slovis has held USC’s starting quarterback job since the second half of the opening game of the 2019 season, when JT Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury. Since then, Slovis has thrown for 5,910 yards and 50 touchdowns and been named the Pac-12’s best quarterback in consecutive seasons. With a strong campaign in 2021, he seemed bound for the NFL draft next spring.

But the junior quarterback was put on notice Saturday, watching from the sideline in a black parka after a hit to the neck knocked him out on the first drive against Washington State. His freshman backup responded by dissecting the Cougars’ defense to the tune of 391 yards passing and four touchdown throws, the most ever for a Trojan quarterback in their debut.

The fact that Slovis’ job might be in danger is a testament to just how sensational Dart was in USC’s 45-14 road victory over Washington State.

Dart started slowly at first, throwing an interception on his first drive, then fumbling on a scramble a few drives later. But before long, he was rolling, finding wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. on a deep score just before halftime, then hitting Drake London twice for touchdowns in the third quarter.

Williams was so impressed after the bomb to Bryant that he planted a big smooch on Dart’s cheek that was caught on camera.

“He’s out here making plays like that, I’ll make sure I keep kissing him on the cheek,” Williams joked after the game.

Teammates raved about the freshman’s heart and swagger. Williams said he was especially impressed by Dart’s ability to scramble and keep plays alive.

“He 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.”

But is one performance enough to unseat an all-conference quarterback? That question is sure to linger over USC practice all week.

On Sunday, Williams said he believes both quarterbacks are “more than capable.” The staff had already drawn up a limited package for Dart ahead of Saturday’s game, with the hope to play him in third-and-short and red-zone situations “to give a wrinkle here and there,” Williams said.

Williams wouldn’t rule out the possibility that USC could play quarterbacks both going forward.

“You got a chance to see what Jaxson did yesterday, but at the same time you got a chance to see what Kedon has done for two-and-a-half years,” Williams said. “Last year, we went to the Pac-12 championship, and the year before that, he came in as a freshman and right away stepped into those shoes.”

Slovis doesn’t boast quite the same dual-threat ability as Dart, who led USC in rushing Saturday with 32 yards in six carries. But Dart also turned the ball over three times against Washington State and has proved more erratic during practice this season.

Williams will weigh those pros and cons with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell this week. Whatever decision they make could reverberate for much longer.

latimes.com

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Golden Trojan
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September 20, 2021 10:46 pm

The best thing to happen to the NFL since Frank, Dandy Don and Howard, Peyton and Eli on ESPN 2. So fun to watch real football guys just talk football during a game. Check it out.

RialtoTrojan
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September 20, 2021 9:19 pm

I guess we have a ways to go after a good start. I’ve received two emails telling me to get my tickets for “The Big Game”. I don’t know many Trojans that call Oregon State The Big Game. They’ve surprised us a couple of times, but it’s unlikely we should worry too much.
Gotta sell tickets, and another good showing would go a long way towards putting bottoms in seats.

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 8:35 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Amen, brother! 38-0 in the second half, Wazzu gained maybe 100 yards total offense after halftime. What is up with the o-line’s ability to open holes? Need to fix that (fingers crossed) before the domers…and the Utes.

Chris
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September 20, 2021 9:03 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

Also, why keep running that outside zone or stretch play? It went for negative yards every time. At least try to punch up in there. Dart should really help our running game, he can actually keep the ball on the read option. Also, I’ll bet you Donte directs GH to use some moving pockets or bootlegs, stuff Dart will be good at. Assuming he starts anyway.

LawyerJohn
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September 20, 2021 7:04 pm

Response to Rialto Trojan exclaiming how safe he feels on this blog. I recently received this text message: “I am through with you, I will come over and kill your entire family, and then I will kill you.” A garbage threat, but did we go through this in the 1980s or 1990s or currently?

Chris
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September 20, 2021 8:55 pm
Reply to  LawyerJohn

Not sure what this means LJ, but are you OK? Seriously, not being sarcastic, just checking in.

RialtoTrojan
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September 20, 2021 6:35 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I keep saying I want to do that, I’m glad you liked it. I’ve seen the Missouri and squeezed through a submarine. Each time I am in awe at the service our Navy put in on those ships.

Jamaica
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September 20, 2021 6:45 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

And go downstairs without a guide and you may never find your way back up again.

Trojan5
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September 20, 2021 7:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

My dad served on an aircraft carrier in WW2.. I remember him taking me and my brothers to tour a carrier in SF during fleet week. The size was beyond impressive. There was no mistaking why the ship was built. It had one purpose and one purpose only.

ATL D.D.S.
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September 21, 2021 5:14 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I had a patient who was a young boy when Dec. 7th happened. We were in the middle of an appointment and the conversation turned into, “well, my brother and I saw these planes flying really low overhead….”

Amazing story. Not many people alive anymore who were eyewitnesses to the tyranny of the Japanese leadership at Pearl Harbor.

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 7:55 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I took my youngest there in ’15 (he was 8 then), such a moving experience. America really did save the world. As I watched the short video from the 1940s, I couldn’t help but think what would happen today if we didn’t have such a large volunteer military…

volunteerTrojan
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September 21, 2021 12:33 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

That is a great way to spend an afternoon. Thoroughly enjoyed that myself e few years ago.

Chris
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September 20, 2021 2:31 pm

I was wondering why Donte was wearing a suit in post game presser. Forgot that the players doused him with water and Gatorade in locker room.

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 12:20 pm

Just moved here from Scottie’s old blog after Pudly posted the link. Great to see Steveg, Lawyer John, Gabby and Rialto, among others. Congrats to Jaxon Dart, offensive player of the week. I think we’d have to go back to Sam’s days in 2016 for a comparable level of team energy and performance that we saw last Saturday. The kid has those intangibles at the highest level. Thanks Allen and John for hosting this site. Great to join!

Chris
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September 20, 2021 12:31 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

Welcome 67!

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September 20, 2021 12:35 pm
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Welcome to the blog!

Golden Trojan
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September 20, 2021 1:53 pm
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Scottie just go ghost? I see his last post was Monday afternoon, “Clay Helton is finally fired!”, his last line, “I will have more today.” Then nothing. We try to be a little more civil over here.😎

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 7:58 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Scottie is definitely MIA…I am assuming he has another gig in the works, but thus far, not a word, though he continues to tweet. The longer this goes, the more of his audience he will lose, so I am having a hard time figuring out his strategy…

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:37 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

I had to leave with the absolute bullsh!t they would post on there.

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September 20, 2021 2:02 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

Welcome Trojan67,
Ah, you left the cess pool.
What happened, did Mr. Wolf finally get excommunicated from the Journalistic Community?
seldom was there anything “InSide USC” in his repertoire.
All adults here.

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 8:03 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Scottie was indeed on double secret probation from being anywhere near the practice field or Heritage…the last few months have had little in the way of info, much less breaking a story. I recall the genesis of this site when Wolfe was let go from the Register a couple of years ago or so, but then it faded from memory, only to be resuscitated by Pudly and Gabby on Scottie’s last post. Two guys who know a ton about football and USC. Glad to be here, and looking forward to the team realizing its potential.

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:55 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

I liked Pudly, he had some good stuff. Why he didn’t stick around here I am not sure.

Gabby
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September 20, 2021 3:23 pm
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Thanks for mentioning my name. You were a great contributor to wolfman’s blog. I’m sure your comments will be appreciated and respected. What sets this forum apart, Allen and John will not allow bruin trolls to stink up this site

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 3:39 pm
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Good to be here! And I could use a break from the nutty stuff posted by owns, tebow, et. al.

UtahTrojan
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September 20, 2021 6:16 pm
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It has been so long since I have been on wolf’s site I had forgotten all about those losers.

LawyerJohn
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September 20, 2021 3:33 pm
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Well, Trojan1967, you will find this SC site a bit different from Scottie’s. For starters, character assassination is frowned upon, and the posters here usually just ignore each other’s drivel, except their own, anyway. And the posting by AW and John is at a turtle pace whereas Wolfie posts as if he is late to catch a plane…

Hey, why don’t you bring The Maui ex-prosecutor over with you. That Italian boy can take it as well as dish it out, and he is bona fide, certified funny.

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 3:38 pm
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LawyerJohn, I will see if I can get DA Guarino over here. He is indeed a great contributor. And since I was spending more time wading through troll posts than anything else, that will be welcome here at the new site. Thanks for the welcome!

Rock2112
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September 20, 2021 6:10 pm
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Welcome to anyone and everyone porting over from Wolfie’s bog (no typo there!). Actually, if I remember correctly, this blog was born out of an earlier “lights out” moment for the Wolf, between his go-fund me infusions. I think we all enjoyed, and have continued to enjoy, coming over here for some respectful sharing of information about our beloved Trojans. We have our share of fun too, without the trash talk. When we need a trash talk fix or a laugh, I’m sure many like me have have peeked over at the Wolf bog and seen what’s happening there as… Read more »

LawyerJohn
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September 20, 2021 7:40 pm
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The AW/John blog has influenced me to bring out the poet in me, and so gentlemen, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this gift.

Trojan5
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September 20, 2021 7:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I had a laugh out load moment today. I turned on the Mark Packer show & a fan was ranting about his teams horrible performance. He screamed about how far the program had fallen. He blamed the AD for ruining the team, ruining BB, ruining baseball and being an all around bad AD. And he railed about how unqualified the HC was. For a minute I thought he was talking about USC. But, no, he was talking about Miami. I laughed because two weeks ago it could have been an SC fan.

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:41 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

I heard him, it was the rant of the week on Packer. He was right on a lot of points.

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:56 pm
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Allen, you and John are the best, each of us greatly all you guys do to keep this blog going. Thank you.

Gabby
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September 20, 2021 6:00 pm
Reply to  LawyerJohn

MG definitely brings a lot of flavor to the dish. His wit, humor, and storytelling is top-notch

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 8:30 pm
Reply to  Gabby

Fingers crossed…

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:39 pm
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That would be MG. Great guy

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 8:04 pm
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Thank you Allen – great public service that you guys have created!

RialtoTrojan
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September 20, 2021 6:39 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

Hey 67, I’ve been here since Wolf’s last bow out. I went to his site for entertainment, but I find information here. The moderators are knowledgeable and keep up fresh news. (Without griping like Wolf)
But the real beauty is that I have never been threatened on this site, or chased away by trolls.

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 8:05 pm
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

Rialto, good to see you, brother!

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:36 pm
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Hey 67, welcome to sanity and some good taste, great to have you aboard.

Trojan1967
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September 21, 2021 10:07 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Thank you, Steve, glad to be here!

San Diego Trojan
September 20, 2021 11:34 am

Nice to see Darnold play much better last two games, and Pittman is a reliable, very productive, pro receiver. It just goes to show that who you get drafted by can make all the difference in your development.

John Weld
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September 20, 2021 9:29 am

Golden Trojan
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September 20, 2021 9:19 am
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So Fresno’s only loss is to #4 but gets ranked below UCLA. What’s the margin of error in polls, +/-5 spots?

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 8:44 pm
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Fresno is ranked 22 over ucla 24 in the AP poll. The coaches poll to me is quite inaccurate.

Chris
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Chris
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September 20, 2021 9:29 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

If Donte keeps them with 1-0 mentality, I think we will climb fairly high in the polls. The south looks pretty terrible.

Golden Trojan
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September 20, 2021 10:40 am
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Outside of Oregon the whole Pac 12 looks beatable on any given day.

Chris
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September 20, 2021 8:55 am

I rewatched the game yesterday (DVR is awesome) because my kid wanted to watch it. I noticed that Donte pretty much pulled every guy that got a penalty and talked to them.

San Diego Trojan
September 20, 2021 11:37 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hope this lights a fire under Slovis to get him to play like he did as a freshman

RialtoTrojan
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September 20, 2021 6:58 am

This is a two sided coin competition is great and might make the seconds and thirds try harder knowing they have a chance.
On the other side of the coin, the O line is as much responsible for Slovis getting hurt as anyone and if they don’t do their job someone else should. The only problem is the firsts are about as good as it gets for that line.

Steveg
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September 20, 2021 6:29 am

These QB’s have created a competition here in mid season that will be beneficial to the team in general. Now they need to rally no matter who is in the game as offensive leader. Practice will be stepped up as Donte goes into his second week and especially the O line needing to work to improve their fundamentals. Slovis should start, if he shows any hesitantcy then Dart needs to come in. Competition in practice is one thing but performance in game time is a whole different matter. I like mobility (Dart) and I like not turning it over (Slovis).… Read more »

LawyerJohn
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September 20, 2021 6:22 am

Slovis’ health is in jeopardy playing behind this offensive line, whereas Dart’s ability to run gives him a better chance of avoiding injuries. These problems all circle back to SC having poor offensive lines for years now. SC’s inability to run well is why Helton bought into the Air Raid offense in order to save his job. The fact that the Air Raid won’t get a team to the national championship rounds was overriden by Helton’s need to win some games so as to hold onto that $400,000 check every month. Dart is certainly the future for SC, but he… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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September 20, 2021 7:24 am
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LJ, agree completely about how all problems circle back (I hate the phrase, but it applies) to the O-Line problems of the Helton era. Our football team is like a once-great software which has a core glitch in its coding. The software engineers see a problem, but think the way fix things is to pile different additional features onto the software platform so the public keeps buying. The software engineers we have had in our recent past did not want to fix the core problem, or simply did not how to fix the problem. Eventually it cost the CEO of… Read more »

Trojan5
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September 20, 2021 9:49 am
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ATL, if “circle back” bothers you “it is what it is” must drive you crazy.

ATL D.D.S.
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September 20, 2021 10:21 am
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😂

Golden Trojan
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September 20, 2021 1:48 pm
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Well that’s the new normal.😩

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September 20, 2021 2:28 pm
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‘New normal’ is almost as bad as ‘it is what it is’. 🙂

rleeholder1
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September 20, 2021 5:16 am

What I like about Jaxson Dart is he has some legs. He made some good runs out of the pocket this past Saturday that Slowvis could not make. It should be interesting to see what happens this week in practice. I never like to see an incumbent lose his job. Most recently, JT lost his job and he’s much better than Slovis in my opinion. In Slovis’ case, he seems to be unfocused, inaccurate and unprepared this year. I don’t know if it’s the lingering affects of off-season surgery, but he’s not the same guy as he was as a… Read more »

Trojan1967
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September 20, 2021 12:30 pm
Reply to  rleeholder1

Harrell’s offense is designed for a dual threat QB (Dart). That is not Slovis, it never has been the best offense for his skill set. Slovis rarely seems comfortable with the spread, going through all the progressions, and holding the ball way too long. Perhaps the best argument for continuing with Dart is the energy level he brought to the whole team. Both the offense and defense seemed perpetually under a malaise for so long, and then with Dart, both sides look like an entirely different tream.

rleeholder1
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September 21, 2021 3:51 am
Reply to  Trojan1967

Agree with you on the energy level Dart brought to the whole team. Sometimes it’s a good thing to stick with the hot hand and that definitely is Dart.