After a strong first college game, USC Trojans quarterback JT Daniels suffered a major setback last week against No. 10 ranked Stanford Cardinal. Daniels now looks to bounce-back at this week’s game against the unranked Texas Longhorns, a team that almost beat the Trojans in a double overtime thriller last year.
Analyzing JT Daniels
After a fantastic high school career, where JT Daniels threw for 12,014 yards and 152 touchdowns, he showed that he indeed is human last week against the Cardinal. Daniels had a dismal performance against the Cardinal, throwing for only 215 yards, two interceptions, and one fumble, all with a passer rating of 20.3. Daniels will have to change up to his play, as he goes to play on the road for the second consecutive week. It will not get any easy, as Daniels will be playing against a hungry Texas Longhorns team in what will be the raucous Darrell K Royal—Texas Memorial Stadium.
Daniels’ focus this week will be to connect with his fellow high school teammate, Amon-Ra St. Brown, on a more consistent level, improve his pocket presence, and not turn the ball over. Last week against the Cardinal, St. Brown did not have a reception until the fourth quarter of the game, after setting a Trojans true freshman record for the most receptions in the season opener just the week before. Daniels will also look to rely on his offensive line, after suffering four sacks against the Cardinal and rushing for negative 20 yards. As a result, Daniels will look to take advantage of the Longhorns defense, as the Longhorns only have one sack this season. Also, Daniels’ largest responsibility is to protect the football. After not turning the ball over in week one, the young quarterback suffered two interceptions and one fumble against the Cardinal defense. He will have to be more alert downfield, and be more aware of his surroundings. To get his second college win, Daniels will have to revert back to his old high school glory days, as the Longhorn defense will not be a walk in the park.
Analyzing Sam Ehlinger
Last week, the true sophomore quarterback had an impactful game where he led the Longhorns to a 28-21 win against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. In the Longhorns’ first win of the season, Sam Ehlinger had a successful day throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 51 yards and one touchdown. After a full off-season, Ehlinger is a much more matured and composed quarterback, compared to last season where he threw 11 interceptions and completed only 57.5% of his passes. Last season, when Ehlinger led an unranked Longhorn team to double overtime against the No. 4 Trojans, it opened eyes all across the nation. Since then, the native Texan proved that he can match up with just about any team.
For Ehlinger to have a successful game against this season’s Trojans, he will have to work on maneuvering around the pocket as Trojan defenders Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith will be looking to pounce on the 19-year-old quarterback. Ehlinger will definitely have his hands full, but he hopes to rely on his favorite target, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, to have another outstanding day. If USC is going to win this game, they will definitely have to shut down Ehlinger’s running game, as his legs have rushed for over 80 yards this season; especially in short yardage situations where Ehlinger is most dangerous. At the end of the day, Ehlinger is one dual-threat quarterback that the Trojans definitely cannot play around with if they look to extend their record to 2-1.