I am not going to rehash the issues surrounding Dillon Baxter's suspension from the opener against Hawaii but it is clear that now that he is off suspension that Baxter is focused and ready to contribute...
Unlike teammates who got their first-game jitters out of the way at Hawaii, Baxter was home serving a suspension for violating team rules.
So the freshman from San Diego will make his debut before an expectant and curious crowd at the Coliseum.
"That first play in the [Coliseum], I think I'll be a little nervous," Baxter said Tuesday after practice. "But after that first hit, I'll be good."
It will be interesting to see just how he handles the jitters. There is a lot of high expectation being placed on Baxter, his less than stellar performance off the field may not have set him back but he does have some catching up to do, he needs to be a productive part of the team.
Baxter is used to being the center of attention with all the awards and recognition that he has amassed in his young life but he now needs to understand that he is an important pillar to this team and he needs to put the same effort in being a top player on the field as much as he needs to put a lot of effort into keeping his nose clean off the field.
"I wanted to go out and party a little bit but, you know, I've been getting in trouble and what-not, so I stayed in and watched it at home, be mad, sit in my little corner," he said. "But that pumped me up and got me pretty hyped for this week."
It sounds like he got the message.
The first step is always recognizing what might get you into trouble and not acting on it.
Lane Kiffin has high hopes but he is cautious as well...
The versatile Baxter is expected to add even more playmaking ability to a Trojans offense that scored 49 points last week. But USC coach Lane Kiffin wants to make sure Baxter understands his first responsibility: hanging on to the football.
“The first concern always with a freshman in their first game is taking hits, especially him, because he hasn’t really been hit,” Kiffin said. “Take care of the ball, and we’ll see what he can do from there.”
This will be a whole different feel for Baxter.
And ball control will be the key! Not protecting it will get you sent straight to the bench...do not pass GO, do not collect $200...
Baxter has the chance to really make a name for himself. He needs to get on the field against guys looking to make plays...that is what makes a player raise their game, you can only show so much in practice.
It is really going to be neat so see just how well he does...