A nightmare scenario may have occurred for USC.
Late in the first half of the Trojans’ season-opener against Fresno State, sophomore quarterback JT Daniels suffered a leg injury that appeared to be serious. With USC facing third down at the Fresno 15-yard line, Daniels felt heat on a blitz up the middle and went down awkwardly.
As he went down, Daniels fumbled and immediately grabbed his right knee. He stayed down on the turf for a few minutes before being helped off the field. He was later carted into the locker room and came out for the second half with crutches wearing street clothes. The severity of the injury was not divulged.
When Daniels was injured, the Trojans led Fresno State 17-10 just before halftime. And because of the fumble, they could not tack onto the lead with a field goal try. Before the injury, Daniels completed 25-of-34 passes for 214 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It is the first game for USC with new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell calling plays using his preferred Air Raid offense.
With Daniels out, true freshman backup Kedon Slovis came on in relief and did just enough to get his team a 31-23 win. Slovis, a three-star recruit, was up-and-down in his college debut. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 57 yards, but also threw a bad interception.
With the lack of experience behind him, Daniels is a player the Trojans cannot afford to lose. Slovis beat out Matt Fink and Jack Sears, both of whom have been in the program for several years, for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Sears put his name in the transfer portal but is still with the team.
Daniels was a five-star recruit and became the starter as a true freshman a year ago, the program’s first season with a losing record since 2000.
Because of the team’s lackluster 2018 campaign, plus previous underwhelming seasons under his watch, Trojans head coach Clay Helton entered 2019 with his job status up in the air (AD Lynn Swann’s days could be numbered, too).
USC has a tough schedule with games against Stanford, BYU, Utah and Washington coming in September. If Daniels is sidelined for a significant period of time, things could turn ugly quickly.
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