Kedon Slovis was brilliant for USC in Week 2. The 18-year-old, true freshman quarterback carved up Stanford in a 45-20 victory. It was a hell of a debut start for the unheralded youngster, but he’ll face a stiff test this week in his first road game.
While USC facing BYU should never seem like a tough test, this weekend’s matchup could be. The Trojans travel to Provo to face a battle-tested, veteran Cougars squad. Already this season BYU has fought a tough battle with in-state rival Utah and gone deep into SEC country to beat Tennessee in overtime. Now the Cougars welcome USC, just a week after that huge upset win over the Volunteers.
The crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium should be rocking as it welcomes this BYU squad home. That’ll be a test for Slovis who had a great crowd behind him the whole way during his first start against Stanford.
More importantly, BYU’s defense features eight starters who are redshirt juniors or older. While that group hasn’t exactly torn things up thus far, the defense could be close to a breakthrough after making several key stops against Tennessee.
Slovis and USC will deploy Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense, which lit up Stanford for 377 passing yards. The Trojans also rushed for 115 yards, but will need to get more out of the ground game this week. BYU’s front hasn’t been able to stop the run this far, allowing 504 yards in two games.
While their quarterback deals with crowd noise and a hostile environment for the first time, Harrell and USC will need to lean on their stable of fantastic running backs to help the kid out. Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr should get plenty of opportunities on Saturday.
Make no mistake, Slovis looked ready in his first start. He was calm, composed, decisive with the football and even showed the ability to improvise and make plays. He’s also got a great arm. Slovis was absolutely stellar. But going on the road is a different animal in college football. When things go wrong, how will he react?
If Slovis can survive his first road test — and look good doing it — then we can start discussing him as a transcendent player, and USC as a legitimate threat this season. The Trojans will have more talent than any team on their schedule and if the quarterback position is a strength, the team’s offense will be as well.
USC and its young quarterback can’t look past BYU and need to get the job done Saturday. No. 11 Utah is headed to the Coliseum next week, for what could be a season-defining game. But the Trojans have business to take care of first.