USC’s Receivers Picking Up Slack…

USC WRs Gary Bryant, Kyle Ford making most of opportunities

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  LOS ANGELES — One of the big questions facing USC entering the 2021 season was who in the receiving corps was ready to step up next to Drake London?

Through two weeks, there weren’t any clear answers. Memphis transfer Tahj Washington had been a steady-if-unspectacular presence, but none of the younger receivers had stepped up in any meaningful way.

But Saturday’s victory over Washington State might have offered something of a glimpse at who will emerge as a reliable option for whoever USC’s quarterback is moving forward, with both Gary Bryant Jr. and Kyle Ford catching their first touchdown passes against the Cougars.

Kyle Ford, left, and Gary Bryant Jr.

Bryant, a second-year sophomore, didn’t look quite like himself to start the season. A hamstring injury and later quarantining due to COVID-19 limited what he could do during training camp and kept him out of the opener against San Jose State. The following week against Stanford, his speed wasn’t quite there and he couldn’t get to a potential touchdown pass in the end zone.

But Bryant was back at full speed against Washington State, catching three passes for 56 yards, including his 38-yard touchdown reception on fourth down when he ran past the safety for a clear path to the end zone.

With a 3-yard touchdown run added to the mix, it was a nice bit of redemption for Bryant after his start to the year.

“I’m hard on myself so I had to drop that (Stanford) game,” Bryant said. “I look forward to the game but I don’t think ahead to the game. Just what I gotta do now at practice, make my plays at practice and I know anything will turn over to the game.”

Ford’s road to his first collegiate touchdown was a longer one. The redshirt sophomore had to battle through two ACL tears, including one from his senior season at Orange Lutheran. After participating in four games in 2019, he missed the entire 2020 season after summer surgery.

After being a healthy scratch against San Jose State, Ford made his first three career catches in Week 2. Then he made a 36-yard touchdown reception against Washington State, beating his man and turning at the right time to catch the ball from Jaxson Dart.

“Obviously it’s good to get back and obviously like I said it’s just building confidence every time I do something like that,” Ford said. “But honestly the biggest thing for me, like, I was happy about it but I’m past that so I can just keep progressing and build off that.”

And, Ford and Bryant both hope, build off of last week’s success to carve out larger roles in the passing game moving forward.

“When I’m out there I try to make the most of my opportunities so I can get more of them,” Ford said, “and I feel like I’ve been doing a good job of that and I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing and see how it plays out.”

INJURY REPORT

Quarterback Jaxson Dart (knee) was again absent from practice on Wednesday, marking the second straight day of practice that he’s missed since his breakout performance against Washington State last weekend.

But receiver Drake London and defensive end Nick Figueroa (AC sprain) were back and full participants Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday. Offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie, who left practice late Tuesday with an undisclosed injury, was not present on Wednesday.

ocregister.com

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rleeholder1
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September 24, 2021 5:45 am

I just like Bryant’s speed. Haven’t seen his kind of speed since Adoree Jackson. It was Bryant’s kick return against the Little Gutties last year that fueled the victory IMHO.

Steveg
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September 24, 2021 2:40 pm
Reply to  rleeholder1

If only USC had more speed players. An area they are lacking in.

Chris
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September 23, 2021 6:01 pm

Sam looks like an entirely new QB in Carolina. The Jets are a horrible horrible anchor.

John Weld
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September 23, 2021 6:41 pm
Reply to  Chris

His replacement threw 4 interceptions in the last game, 3 of which came in the first quarter. Has to make someone think that the problem is much bigger than any one qb.
Interesting side note: the record for most interceptions in a game for the New Jets is 5 and the QB: Mark Sanchez.

Chris
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September 23, 2021 6:42 pm
Reply to  Chris

Spoke too soon. Come on, Sam. After all this time you would think he would learn to protect the ball.

volunteerTrojan
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September 23, 2021 7:43 pm
Reply to  Chris

Yeah, he’s having a decent night. After the Jets burn through their 4th QB in 8 years, you’d think the owner would realize it isn’t the QB, but rather a completely dysfunctional organization, which may in fact start with himself.

Chris
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September 23, 2021 5:27 pm

Not that I can do this, but put me down for Slovis having a huge game for 5000 units. Bet he goes back to gunslinger attitude he had 2 years ago.

HOF19
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September 23, 2021 5:30 pm
Reply to  Chris

Some say when a QB gets a taste of possibly being replaced they pick it up another level …..We will see …….FIGHT ON !!!!!

Steveg
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September 23, 2021 7:52 pm
Reply to  Chris

Chris, if he doesn’t, the USC fans will be heard loud and clear, bring back Dart. That is after he heals. I am inclined to believe Slovis is going to turn himself around now that he knows he isn’t as secure as he thought he was. I do think Donte has the juevos to pull him and put in the other freshman, unlike Helton.

UtahTrojan
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September 23, 2021 5:26 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hopefully Slovis remembered that he used to play the way Dart did and goes back to his old self.

Trojan1967
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September 23, 2021 8:02 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I believe that our resident orthopedic surgeon is Golden Trojan so he can correct me, but given that Jaxon had the tear repaired, my guess is that he will be out at least 12 weeks?

Golden Trojan
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September 23, 2021 9:54 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

Again, I am a retired physical therapist with 30+ years of orthopedic manual therapy experience. Till we know if he had a simple meniscectomy or meniscal repair we won’t know how long he will be out. When he does come back I hope it is 100% until then we are in good hands with Slovis. O Line do you job and step up your game!

Trojan1967
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September 23, 2021 10:07 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

GT, it was a repair. No timeline given yet for his return. Coincidentally, I read today that the Warriors’ James Wiseman, who had a meniscal repair in April, might be ready to play in November (7 months of recovery time). Obviously we can’t compare the two cases, but I worry Jaxon will be out for quite some time.

Golden Trojan
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September 23, 2021 10:53 pm
Reply to  Trojan1967

If that is the case I would not expect him back till November.

Chris
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September 24, 2021 6:48 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

He actually hurt himself early in the game on a read option. After that play he was messing with his leg then rest of the game.

HOF19
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September 23, 2021 4:35 pm

Seeing reports on internet that Jaxson Dart had surgery for his meniscus injury………….Kedon Slovis ….(From Lets Make a Deal )Come on Down !!!!!!!!! ………FIGHT ON !!!!!

TrojanRJJ
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September 23, 2021 11:57 am

When I saw Kyle Ford go it against Stanford, I wondered why he was not playing more. He seemed like a beast. As Allen’s article below explains, SC simply cannot run the ball this year. Thus, any success this year must come through the air (and via D). And, it will have to come on one on one coverages medium to deep as all Ds will take away the short routes and the minimal run game. If WSU could stuff the SC short game (runs and passes), any opponent we face can do the same. Notice both the SJS and… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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September 23, 2021 11:47 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Thanks for the info. This shows why Donte cannot take over the team in the long run. You need a tough personality (who does not seek to or want to be your friend) to be a HC and an engaging one (who is your friend) to be a head recruiter – totally different skill sets. Clay wanted to be liked and it destroyed the team. Donte must be liked to do his job. I really think the head recruiter should be a separate job and the coaches answer to him about their recruiting rather than the HC. Just a thought.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:30 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

In spite of LJ’s love affair with Donte, I believe it’s premature to invoke the “Hail Donte“ chant. Donte as an individual is a rising commodity, does he have the knowledge and “Chops” to run a successful program, create a proper culture and development process(as Saban would say) deal with staff, players and navigate the institutional pitfalls…I, personally believe he needs more maturing.

Keep in mind…we just beat one of the four proverbial floor mats of the PAC12…Elevating Donte to head coach is as absurd a proposing USC should be number 10 in national rankings…

just some random thoughts.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:57 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Cowherd says USC is looking at 6-7 people right now, two from the NFL.
That could be a very factual statement on his part!

I would never question his connection with SC Athletics.


ATL D.D.S.
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September 24, 2021 4:53 am
Reply to  alfa1

Giving the HC job to Donte at this point in his interim tenure would be very Swann-like, dontcha think?

Chris
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September 24, 2021 6:17 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Maybe worse. He’s won a single game. I think the only way you give it to him is if you swing and miss on the 2 or 3 names at the top of the list and he takes the team to 10+ wins. But we better swing at those top names. It could get real easy to see us win 4 or 5 in a row and then wait it out.

Jamaica
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September 23, 2021 6:01 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Absolutely RJJ. Recruiting has never been more important as the main ingredient to a winning football program. If Mike Bohn can hire the right HC, Donte needs to be freed up in recruiting year around. You talk to the other top HC’s and tell you a day doesn’t go by without them calling recruits. Its doing business today.

Golden Trojan
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September 23, 2021 12:10 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Makes me think recruiting, and developing physical skilled O Linemen is going to take 2-3 years. What say you all?

Chris
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September 23, 2021 12:27 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Free agency (portal) can fix things pretty quickly. But I think that would have to come with a college coach, players would follow. Not sure an NFL guy could be as much help with portal. Either way I’m with you, I think it will be at least 2-3 years before it can be a really good team.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:01 pm
Reply to  Chris

Chris, The Portal/Free Agency is one of the components of the recruiting staff, a prime responsibility. There is much research and analysis in choosing a candidate required…it’s not just some quick fix…many here and elsewhere misunderstand it’s use, kinda like the guy with an engine knock, that runs to jiffy Lube for an oil change hoping that will fix his problem. The Player, his star rating coming out of Prep football, his University, his class, grades, WHO HIS COACH IS….good/great players are generally coached by good/great coaches. His attitude, why is he, transferring. All of this needs to be analyzed,… Read more »

Chris
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September 23, 2021 3:33 pm
Reply to  alfa1

I was thinking more about a college coach coming our way and bringing a few lineman with him. I think trying to pluck random guys out of the portal is a sure fire way to have a whole bunch of unknowns. If we do end up with a Fickell type guy, I would think a few kids might follow.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 4:46 pm
Reply to  Chris

Very possible they would follow their coach.
chris i was addressing the overall paradigm of Portal.transfers.

Chris
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September 23, 2021 4:54 pm
Reply to  alfa1

I’m with you on that. Portal is pretty shaky. Rare when a real contributor on a good program decides to transfer.

Jamaica
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September 23, 2021 5:32 pm
Reply to  Chris

Recruit high school seniors, redshirt them, develop them through 3rd string, then 2nd string and to starter. You are fooling yourself believing you can cut corners building up a program and maintaining a high proficiency of winning any other way.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:10 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I believe, most if not all College football fans have a misplaced trust in what Cowherd has to say. based solely on the hearsay you’ve posted from the Athletic, I, would tend to believe the providers of the comments more than Cowherd. Considering where we are, poor OL performance, substandard coaching, and level of OL players AND a OC that is pass happy…I would support Golden Trojans comment, 2-3 years, 2 at the minimum. As I recall, it took Pete 2 years to get a decent offense with better coaches and players 2001-2 teams. So, not knowing who our next… Read more »

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:42 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I understand your diplomatic re-comments, however, whether it was in jest or sarcasm, or heat of the moment or just attempting to create discussion, it is an ill advised assumption on Cowherds part especially on a National program.

it seems to me this situation is taken in some what of a light hearted, meaningless conversation devoid of any serious dialogue.

What happens with this hire, will determine the future of the USC BRAND nationally.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’m not trying to be diplomatic. Just trying to be accurate in how I represent another person.

Thats admirable and respected by all here.

He is very attuned to SC football, sometime he gets it right, sometime he guesses, like most of us.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 2:02 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I totally agree with your comments

Chris
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September 23, 2021 3:48 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think Colin is on the money for USC apart from one thing. I think he oversells LA. The weather is amazing, and there is lots to do, but if I had young kids I would not choose to live in Southern California. Born and raised there, but it’s just too big for me. I think the main draw will be coaching a true blue blood. The right guy will know and accept if he gets it right, he will become a household name.

John Weld
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September 23, 2021 12:40 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

My timetable
In 2022 we can get 2 very good linemen and 2 serviceable linemen
In 2023 we should be able to pick up 3-4 very good linemen. Two of the 2022 recruits should be starters and one of the other two recruits should be an excellent backup.
In 2024 we should be able to get 2 excellent prospects and 3 very good linemen. This is the year we should have a dominant line plus have the necessary depth.

TrojanRJJ
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September 23, 2021 2:52 pm
Reply to  John Weld

John, This is a brand new world. I think Allen got it right. If SC hires a big name HC and an elite head recruiter (like Donte) who can figure out how to use NILs to play stars large salaries (like six figures for quality OL), you can see SC recover in two years. Look what happened at AL, they cherry picked an all conference LB from TN and one other star player. The present rules hugely favor SC. All that needs to be done is to bring in a quality HC. It must be a HC, not a Coordinator.… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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September 23, 2021 3:00 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Good point TrojanRJJ. Remember last weeks story, Gary Danielson pleading for AM boosters and Ft Worth business leaders to start putting up the money for NIL. If not the SEC will gut his team! USC can play that game as well as the SEC. It is almost like the NFL without a draft just go offer great players enough dough to transfer or commit. That is what it will be in a year or less.

Steveg
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September 23, 2021 6:17 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Patterson

volunteerTrojan
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September 23, 2021 1:15 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

It’s an interesting question to ponder, but regardless of whether it’s 1 or 3 years, it will be exciting to finally see the team improve game to game and year to year.

TrojanRJJ
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September 23, 2021 2:53 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Totally agree. See my above post in response to John. SC can be competing for NCs in Year 2. Certainly by Year 3. And, the Coliseum will be rocking again.

UtahTrojan
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September 23, 2021 12:58 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Nothing new that we haven’t been saying for years.

alfa1
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September 23, 2021 1:06 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You are absolutely correct Allen, it’s what coaches and people in the pit have to say that counts, not we board warriors.

UtahTrojan
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September 23, 2021 1:07 pm
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I always figured if we were seeing it then so we’re the other coaches no matter what they said to the press after the game. I believe every coach in the PAC loved watching USC keep Helton year after year.

Steveg
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September 23, 2021 6:25 pm
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No question they did, and they all used the same defensive schemes to shut down both the gumbo and the air raid. My opinion is that is they bring in a quality HC, the staff and some players will follow. Specifically O linemen. They can pick one or two from the portal with more than a year of eligibility, a couple of top line recruits, and the development of at least one existing lineman and we could have a playable run game in a season and a half, if not one season. One thing I am not worried about is… Read more »

Jamaica
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September 23, 2021 5:17 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

This article should surprise no one who truly follows USC football.

RialtoTrojan
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September 23, 2021 10:24 am

Fourth game of the season and Bru hasn’t been let out of Title IX hell. Has anyone heard anything? Every once in a while I wonder why USC shoots itself in the foot so often.

Steveg
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September 23, 2021 7:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

After the Boormeister fiasco USC has a long way to go in regard to fairness with Title IX. I say if there were no charges then it was a nothing burger. There is no reason to keep him off the field. Time to move on.

RialtoTrojan
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September 23, 2021 10:21 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think he’s using the Knute Rockne’s wife story to embellish his thoughts. After all if the wife hadn’t wanted to come to California, the home and home against the Irish might not have ever happened.

Chris
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Chris
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September 23, 2021 10:44 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Now the TDB regulars are scrambling to try and see which coaches have young wives to figure out the mystery candidates. Thanks Colin and Allen

UtahTrojan
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September 23, 2021 1:02 pm
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Lol. Watch your search history if you are looking up “young wives”.

Chris
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September 23, 2021 9:43 am

Bryant is a fast and can change a game on one play but Ford is a different dude. It’s been a shame he has had two big injuries, but he is coming around. If you lined up all of our WR’s and chose them playground style, Drake and Kyle would be 1 and 2. They are just significantly bigger athletes. I think by the end of the year Ford will clearly be our number 2 guy and will be our number one next year. He reminds me of Juju and Pittman, hang it up there and he will rip it… Read more »

Trojan1967
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September 23, 2021 10:28 am
Reply to  Chris

Chris, about a year ago, there was some video on the internet of Kyle Ford on the treadmill, training with one of the USC staff, and he was well into the 20s MPH range. No wonder he was a 5-star coming out of HS. It is great that both he and Bryant are getting time on the field and delivering.

Trojan1967
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September 23, 2021 10:31 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

About a decade ago, JK McKay and I were neighbors, we got to know each other, and I recall JK saying “With my dad, what you see is what you get. His personality won’t let him be anybody but himself, and luckily, USC at that time was ok with that. And so were all the sportswriters.”

TrojanKnight
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September 23, 2021 12:32 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hi Allen, long time lurker, new member. Thanks for this great, adult forum. I noted that Pete C always advised other coaches, specifically Sark, to be your own guy, and to have a specific philosophy about your own coaching / leadership (Win Forever). What would you say is emerging in your read as McKay’s coaching / leadership philosophy?

volunteerTrojan
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September 23, 2021 1:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Sounds like it should be required reading for any prospective USC coach.