QB Slovis makes encore as No. 24 USC treks to BYU

Field Level Media

September 10, 2019 at 10:43 pm.

USC coach Clay Helton cautioned true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis against trying to be Superman in this first college start last week. But he kind of was.

Slovis burst onto the national stage with a 377-yard, three-touchdown passing performance in a 45-20 victory over then-No. 23 Stanford last week, raising the question of what he will do for an encore when the No. 24 Trojans visit BYU on Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah.

The teams have met only twice, with USC winning in 2003 and 2004 when powered by back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

Slovis played like a Heisman Trophy candidate while helping the Trojans (2-0) overcome a 14-point deficit in his first start in place of JT Daniels, who suffered a season-ending right knee injury in an opening-week victory over Fresno State.

“As good a win as it was, it doesn’t mean anything,” Slovis said. “We have to build off that. As good as we think we can be, it doesn’t mean anything unless we do it week in and week out.”

BYU (1-1) also was propelled by key quarterback play last week and will look to rev up an offense that has struggled.

Zach Wilson completed a 64-yard pass to set up a game-tying field goal with one second left in regulation in a 29-26 double-overtime victory at Tennessee last week, but the Cougars have neither run nor stopped the run well and have a minus-10 minute time of possession this season.

BYU has allowed 504 rushing yards while gaining 199 on the ground.

The Cougars are a four-point underdog in the nationally televised game.

“Oh, I love the national exposure,” BYU offensive lineman Brady Christensen told reporters. “They are a great, great team. I love the opportunity we have to play in a nationally televised game in front of thousands of people and everyone watching around the world.”

Slovis completed 28 of 33 passes and set USC true freshman records for passing yards and completion percentage in a first start, and he was 3 yards short of Matt Barkley’s true freshman record set against Notre Dame in 2009. Barkley tweeted a photo of Slovis, sword in hand, on the stepladder leading the USC band after the Stanford game.

“He’s an impressive kid with good composure,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “He has some really good weapons around him, but I think he showed some really good maturity and poise in the pocket.”

Wilson, a sophomore, threw for 232 yards and a touchdown at Tennessee and is 40 of 62 for 440 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions this season. Leading rusher Ty’Son Williams has 137 yards and three touchdowns in two games.

Junior Tyler Vaughns has been USC’s main receiving threat, with 16 catches for 256 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown has 13 catches for 135 yards and two scores. Junior halfback Vavae Malepeai has 176 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

“We can be really good,” St. Brown told reporters. “We just have to keep executing, keep playing with heart and discipline, and be the team we know we can be.”