In 2019, Kedon Slovis exploded onto the scene as a freshman quarterback. He threw 30 touchdowns to just nine interceptions, while leading USC to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Holiday Bowl.
Even with the uncertainty surrounding college football during a pandemic, the expectations were still high for Slovis as he entered his sophomore year.
Despite only being able to compete in six games, Slovis led the Pac-12 in passing yards (1921) and passing touchdowns (17). The only knock against him last season was his performance in the Pac-12 Championship game where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns (3 to 2).
During 2021 spring practice, coach Clay Helton and Kedon Slovis have been simulating a lot of high leverage moments to better prepare for the big games. So far, Slovis has displayed "situational mastery" according to Helton. It doesn't matter whether its a two-minute drill, four-minute drill, or a redzone situation - Slovis is straight balling.
And it's not just his play that has caught Helton's attention.
"Sam [Darnold] was the best I've ever been around about one-on-one relationships. He wasn't an extremely vocal guy to a huge bunch but as almighty he can do an unbelievable job of walking up to Juju Smith-Schuster and having that conversation and saying 'Hey, this is what I need.' And I'm starting to see that from Kedon."
If Slovis is able to take another step with his decision making and leadership, there is no doubt he will put USC in contention to be a powerhouse next season.
But Slovis isn't the only quarterback to keep an eye on this season. Jaxson Dart and Miller Moss have been duking it out for the backup job, but right now it's too early for Helton to make a decision on who will be QB2.
He wants this to be the time for the freshman quarterbacks to make mistakes, and to grow their strengths. Helton wants his guys focusing on the system, and not looking over their shoulder wondering if they are getting an equal amount of reps.
Through 15 practices, Helton loves the mentality his QBs have adopted.
"I thought they took the right approach which is - every time I go out there, I'm not competing against the other guy, I'm trying to be the best version of myself. If I'm competing against anybody, I'm trying to live up to the standard of where Kedon's at, and trying to be the best quarterback on this football team. And I thought they took that approach." [Helton]
The nice thing about Dart and Moss is they play two different styles of quarterback.
Dart is more mobile and can make plays outside the pocket. Miller is a great precision thrower with a cannon for an arm.
Depending on whether you want a guy who can escape from pressure, or a guy who can slice you up from the pocket, USC has options Slovis goes down during the season.
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