USC Tries To Find a Lead Horse…

USC committed to moving away from running back by committee

USC is hoping a more focused run game leads to more success

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  The past few seasons, the USC run game has had too many cooks in the backfield. Since the end of Ronald Jones II’s junior year in 2017, the Trojans have employed a by-committee approach at running back only to finish in the bottom-quarter of Pac-12 rushing attacks each time.

After bottoming out in 2020, averaging the fewest ground yds per game in the conference, USC is looking for a different approach in 2021, searching this spring and during the summer for a pair of leading backs. Or, as position coach Mike Jinks puts it, 1A and 1B.

“It’s exciting,” senior back Vavae Malepeai said of the opportunity. “We all just focus on what’s in front of us and where our feet is. It’s a matter of enjoying the process and making sure we trust the process.”

So far at spring camp, there have been four contenders for the two jobs. Malepeai and fellow senior Stephen Carr are the two returners, while Texas transfer Keaontay Ingram and freshman Brandon Campbell have entered the fray.

Of the four, Carr had the best performance at the spring game two weeks ago. He had eight carries for 53 yds and a TD and a catch for an extra 13 yds. Overall, Carr has looked healthy for the first time in years, with an explosive burst at the line of scrimmage.

“I feel like I understand more of what I’m doing on the football field,” Carr said. “I’m playing more comfortable, not thinking as much, making full-speed decisions.”

Ingram (above) comes to USC after averaging 4.7 ypc as a JR at Texas, rushing 53 times for 250 yds.

The senior has been one of the breakout players of the spring as he transitions to USC’s offense. He’s a physical back who has proven difficult to tackle at first contact and bursts through holes with surprising agility.

“He’s a talented kid and what I appreciate more is the way he conducts, goes about his business,” Jinks said. “Because we have a very strong room, it’s full of men of tremendous character and he’s only added to that.”

The Trojans are short one candidate this spring. Junior running back Kenan Christon isn’t participating in camp as he sprints for the USC track and field team.

Jinks said that in his conversations with Christon, the back is eager to return to the practice field. He can provide a level of speed that no one else in the position group can match. But he will have ground to make up once he rejoins the team over the summer.

“It’s not easy,” Jinks admitted. “The thing about Kenan, he’s got great aptitude. He processes things relatively quickly.”

ocregister.com

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TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 28, 2021 6:24 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Love it; the Bruins wasted the most talent in the Pac. I always thought Jim Mora had the most most talented teams in the Pac. Turns out my intuition was correct!

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 29, 2021 11:45 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Same with Toledo; he should have won a national championship with Cade and then disappeared without him. Same with the coach as Louisville (forgot his name). He was top 10 with Lamar Jackson and a zero without him. Sam also made Helton look competent. I agree with the posts about Same. NY Jets were awful and the media in NYC area decided Sam was the reason. I would love to see him take the Panthers to the playoffs next year.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 29, 2021 11:45 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Opps,meant “Sam” not “Same”.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 28, 2021 3:11 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

If it happens (and I will believe only when I see it), that would make Clay Helton’s OL coaching picks the worst in SC history. This OL is the least talented of the last 3 years. If it turns out to be the best, then it rests entirely on Clay.

TMC4USC
Active Member
TMC4USC (@tmc4usc)
April 28, 2021 6:11 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Exactly. If LeVeon Bell is struggling to get 50 yards per game then your OL is crap. Couple that with with the fact that Darnold had no one reliable to throw to every play. Sam getting out of New Jersey/York is the best thing to happen to him.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 28, 2021 6:25 pm
Reply to  TMC4USC

Agree totally. The sports media in the NY area is brutal and it decided that Sam was the problem. Hope he proves them wrong.