USC interim head coach Donte Williams said during his appearance on the Trojans Live radio show Monday night that junior quarterback Kedon Slovis is not yet able to practice due to a lower leg injury and that freshman Jaxson Dart will make his first career start.
“Right now, Kedon, we still don’t like where he’s at right now just from a health standpoint, so he’s not truly able to go right now. So Jaxson’s going to be our starter, and just like everyone else he’ll continue to fight for that until Kedon is back and fully into that competition,” Williams said. “We’ll move forward right now with Miller [Moss] backing him up and that’s what we’re going to do going forward.”
Dart had rotated in pretty evenly with Slovis the last two games since returning from minor knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
There was plenty of criticism about the effectiveness of the rotation, so Slovis’ injury makes Williams’ decision easy for the time being.
For the season, Dart has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 589 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, while Slovis has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,153 yards, 11 TDs and 8 INTs while starting all nine games.
While this will be Dart’s first career start, he played most of the Trojans’ win over Washington State, after Slovis was forced out in the opening series with a neck injury, and completed 30 of 46 passes for for 391 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs.
That game spurred significant interest from fans to see more from Dart, the highly-rated four-star freshman from Utah, but he tore his meniscus in the first half of that performance, had surgery that following Tuesday and then didn’t play until six weeks later, when Williams instituted the QB rotation.
“The offense won’t change much — it’s more about what that individual person does with the offense, maybe how it can change. But as far as the play-calling with Graham [Harrell] and the things that we do and the things that we like to do, those things won’t change,” Williams said Monday night.
He was asked about explaining the change to the rest of the team.
“It’s not really hard to explain to the guys because we’ve had multiple guys step in that huddle and lead the guys this year. At the same time, guys go to practice every day, they see the guys that’s kind of out there going with the first group or the second group, so they already have a general idea. And then also, like I say, Kedon right now is still dealing with that lower leg injury and he hasn’t been able to practice, so I think they have a clear idea right now who’s going to lead us in that huddle,” Williams said.
Williams also said right guard Liam Jimmons, running back Keaontay Ingram and freshman tight end Michael Trigg are back practicing, along with left tackle Courtland Ford, who had already returned to practice last week after missing the game at Arizona State with an undisclosed injury.
Jimmons was injured during the Arizona State game, Ingram rolled his ankle during that game and Trigg has been out since injury his knee Oct. 9 at Utah.
“Courtland’s back out there contributing, we’ve got Liam who is back out there, he was a little dinged up, Keaontay Ingram looked great today in practice, Trigg is back out there practicing, moving around, so a lot of guys that we’ve out for a little bit or have been dealing with different type of injuries are back for us,” Williams said.