Frosh Ronald Jones II up to speed in No. 6 USC's backfield

LOS ANGELES (AP) Southern California running back Ronald Jones II is fast, and those wheels are generating big comparisons.

Former USC quarterback Matt Leinart likened the freshman to his Trojans teammate Reggie Bush, while fellow running back Justin Davis went with NFL burners Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson.

Six of Jones' 15 touches have gone for at least 10 yards - including a 44-yard burst in the sixth-ranked Trojans' 59-9 win over Idaho last weekend - as he's flashed the smooth acceleration that's fueled those three standouts.

''His breakaway ability is second to none,'' Davis said. ''He's going to be really big for the Trojans in the future.''

Jones had a game-high 83 yards on eight carries, scoring on a 1-yard run. Davis and Tre Madden each rushed for two touchdowns and the Trojans amassed 284 yards on the ground in their final tuneup before opening Pac-12 play at home against Stanford on Saturday.

''All their running backs looked really good against us,'' Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. ''That means their offensive line was doing a good job of blocking, but their backs got one-on-one and ran through us or broke tackles.''

Davis had 74 rushing yards against Idaho, making his season debut after being limited by hamstring and rib injuries in training camp. Davis could ''count on one hand'' the number of times he was able to practice before the game, and was pleased the coaches had the confidence to put him right back into action.

Davis and Madden, who missed the last two seasons with knee and toe injuries, were expected to be the primary running backs taking over for Javorius Allen, and they've been solid in nonconference games against Sun Belt Conference opponents. Together, they have combined for 216 rushing yards and five touchdowns, averaging nine yards per carry.

But they've had to make room for Jones, a McKinney, Texas native who has impressed with his presence as well as his speed.

''Ronald Jones is going to be special,'' linebacker Su'a Cravens said. ''He's going to be very, very good. I like him because he doesn't know it yet. I could just tell he had a little something to him when he first got on campus, and he's showing it.''

Recent history against the Cardinal hasn't featured much success for USC running the ball. While each of the last five games has been decided by eight points or fewer, only two USC running backs have topped 100 rushing yards against Stanford.

Allen rushed for 154 yards in last season's 13-10 USC win on The Farm, and Curtis McNeal had 145 yards and two touchdowns in the 2011 triple-overtime thriller that Stanford won 56-48 at the Coliseum.

Establishing the ground game will be vital. If Jones can put his speed on display, it would be an added bonus in what USC players expect to be another dramatic game against Stanford.

''We've been going back and forth for a long time,'' Davis said. ''Like last year, it's a good test to see how the season is going to go for us. We know they are going to come with intensity. It's going to be a really physical game, and we got to match it.''

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AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org

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