Trojans will rely on the ‘next men up’

first_img“It’s going to take some time [to get them healthy],” head coach Clay Helton said. “We’re going to believe in the kids that are out here. Hopefully, we’ll get some back here soon.” The Trojans are in Boulder this weekend to take on Colorado in their second Friday night game of the season.  On defense, the Trojans will certainly feel the loss of freshman defensive lineman Drake Jackson, who leads the team in sacks, and sophomore safety Talanoa Hufanga, who is second on the team in solo tackles with 32. Although there’s been upheaval at quarterback, with Slovis, sophomore JT Daniels and redshirt junior Matt Fink all are taking significant snaps this season, Slovis looks to be “the guy” for the rest of the season, coming in at No. 7 in the country in completion percentage at 73.6%. Despite his strong showings thus far, Slovis said that being more consistent and staying disciplined are two of his focuses heading into Colorado.  The running back void will be filled by freshman Kenan Christon, who lit up Arizona in his college debut Saturday with two touchdowns. Helton said the team is focused on making the most of its opportunity to earn a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game at the end of the season. “I think it’s important for us to run the football because as a quarterback, it’s hard to be on every night,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. “At any position, it’s hard to be on every night. It’s just when you’re the quarterback everyone sees it a lot more … If you ever have a night where the quarterback is struggling a little bit, you can help him settle in and you can take some pressure off of him if you can run the football successfully.” “As a coach, we’re not paid to make excuses,” he said. “We’re paid to find answers, and we’ll find those answers. We’ve got a huge opportunity that stands right there for us. We can write our own story right now.” Freshman running back Kenan Christon will likely have the most carries against Colorado Friday. (Tal Volk / DailyTrojan)center_img USC (4-3, 3-1 in the Pac-12), although undefeated at home this season, has yet to win a road game. The Trojans have won the last 13 games in their series against Colorado (3-4, 1-3 in the Pac-12), and this game is another stepping stone on their quest for a Pac-12 title.  Following the injuries to USC’s three go-to backs, running backs coach Mike Jinks said the team’s mindset is “next man up.” Despite their limited resources at running back, the Trojans will still make an effort to put the ball on the ground to support freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, who struggled to move the ball in the early going against Arizona. “From the beginning with JT going down, your starting quarterback gets hurt, you never want to see that,” he said. “Then to have your first three running backs go down, again you never want to see that happen. But you have to move up and have that ‘next man up’ mentality.” The Trojans are optimistic heading into this matchup against Colorado, despite having many crucial players sidelined. Slovis said spirits on the team are still high. Unlike USC, which just picked up a decisive win, Colorado enters this weekend coming off an ugly loss to Washington State. The Trojans have proven to be quite resilient this season, and despite losing plenty of familiar faces to injury, this game will likely follow tradition and not be the first time the program drops a game to the Buffaloes.  This season has been laden with injuries for the Trojans, testing the team’s depth. This week, USC will feel the absence of tailbacks redshirt freshman Markese Stepp and junior Stephen Carr. This comes after already losing redshirt junior Vavae Malepeai to knee surgery.last_img read more

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first_img 0 Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Players win games in the National Football League, coaches lose them. That’s an axiom that’s been around for a long, long time but one that I generally agree with. Even if Albert Einstein coached the game of football and crafted the most effective, diabolical, genetically superior scheme the world has ever known that made the theory of relativity look pedestrian, he would still need players to execute said scheme correctly. If players don’t execute what coaches know and believe, it remains a theory. The Cardinals are searching for their next head coach and the state is abuzz with the drama in Tempe but the most important hire has already occurred: Michael Bidwill hired Steve Keim as the Cardinals general manager. Keim has much to learn about the administration and nuance of the position, but his ability to recognize personnel has earned a reputation in NFL circles. That reputation has allowed him to interview for GM positions with five other teams over the last two years. Although Keim is only 40, and his age was a concern for many owners, it was only a matter of time before he became the GM of another NFL franchise. When was the last time the Arizona Cardinals had a front office member coveted and respected enough by other teams he would be considered for their GM position? Bob Ferguson? So as the rest of the world falls all over itself or gouges their eyes out over who the next head coach for the Arizona Cardinals will be, remember: players win games in the National Football League, coaches lose them. Give me a great GM any day over a great head coach. Top Stories Players win games. Show me a coach that consistently wins football games that has inferior players? It doesn’t happen. Players are the commodity in the National Football League, the currency of the industry. They come in all shapes and sizes with personalities that vary and souls that are difficult to measure, weigh or appraise. It takes a keen eye and years of experience watching film and reading people to be a good personnel man; it takes conviction, belief and a sturdy, confident hand to survive in the cold, dark realm of wins and losses. Scouts, front office personnel men and general managers earn their reputations and their salaries based on what they said or are saying about players when they came out of college or are making the adjustment to the pro game. As you’re watching Colin Kaepernick take snaps and make plays, Russell Wilson get outside the pocket and throw strikes, Aaron Hernandez catch passes and dismantle coverage and Arian Foster shred defensive fronts, keep in mind these players were never considered great prospects by NFL scouts, personnel men or general managers. Need I mention Tom Brady?But somebody within the organization — somebody with authority — got on the table and said, “Oh Captain! My Captain!” for each one of these players and so many like them. Whether this person was the general manager or not is of little consequence because it is the GM’s duty to make the final decision — despite who it is on the table. center_img Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo San Francisco’s GM, Trent Baalke, took Kaepernick in the second round when many scouts believed he would make a nice receiver in the league; Seattle’s John Schneider showed fortitude by drafting a QB that wasn’t even 5’11”; Bill Belichick saw something in Aaron Hernandez, an undersized tweener without a position, that made him believe he had a chance to be special; And Houston’s Rick Smith assembled a talent-laden team in near obscurity — signing undrafted free-agent players like Arian Foster.And this is why, nine out of ten times, the most important hire an NFL owner will make is the general manager. More times than not, in a gross simplification of the truth, the GM of a football team assembles the talent that will be coached by the staff. Although we all know this process is critical to the success of a franchise (“Players win games, coaches lose them.”), many general managers labor in the shadows of NFL offices. Most fans can tell you the names of every head coach in the league; yet these same fans would struggle to name even a quarter of the general managers in the league. Even most owners don’t seem to place the appropriate price tag on the value of the GM position. Coaches are often paid more than the general manager in most franchises and the GM typically gets two or three coaching hires before the owner starts questioning his ability. Only when teams start winning Super Bowls, plural, does the general manager seem to get his due. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more