Rungame success is good sign for Trojans

first_imgCollege football is subject to sudden shifts and changes by nature. In 2010, Auburn stormed its way to an undefeated national championship season on the shoulders of a junior college transfer named Cam Newton. Two years later, the Tigers finished 3-9 and the school fired Gene Chizik, the same head coach who led them to a title just 24 months prior. While not necessarily as extreme as what happened to Auburn, each team looks different from year to year as players leave for the NFL and others fill their roles. For the Trojans, this season’s biggest change is that sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold no longer has to be the focal point of the offense. That distinction belongs to running backs, junior Ronald Jones II and freshman Stephen Carr.  When Carr entered campus as a five-star recruit in August, he started making waves in fall camp almost immediately. Coaches and teammates alike praised his vision and elusiveness as he continuously broke off long touchdown runs in live scrimmages, sometimes flipping the field if his original hole was clogged. Very quickly it became clear: An already solid backfield featuring Jones, junior Aca’Cedric Ware and redshirt freshman Vavae Malepeai was about to get even more crowded. In the first game of the season, Carr needed just seven carries to show the USC faithful what all the hype was about. He raced for 69 yards, including one dazzling 52-yard scamper where he sidestepped a Western Michigan defender straight into their Week 2 matchup with Stanford. Accompanying the star-making performance for Carr, was a bigger and stronger Jones who trucked his way toward 159 yards and three touchdowns, opening the game with a Marshawn Lynch-esque 29-yard rampage where he broke tackle after tackle. Whereas Darnold often struggled to find open receivers against the Broncos, the Trojan running backs seemed to find nothing but open space. Entering Week 2 against No. 14 Stanford, many were worried about how the Trojans would fare given their struggle to put Western Michigan away. The team came out with a clear game plan from the very first drive: Run the ball, and then run it some more. Offensive coordinator Tee Martin fed Jones the ball four times in a row on the Trojans’ first possession, and his ground-pound strategy never relented from that point. Collectively, the running back group rushed 45 times for 300 yards with both Jones and Carr topping over 100 yards. Jones did most of the dirty work, grinding in between holes for 3- to 4-yard gains, while Carr once again was the sparkplug. He ripped off another impressive 52-yard run.USC has featured many talented running backs over the past decade, but this year’s two-headed monster has a chance to be the program’s best tandem since the “thunder and lightning” days of LenDale White and Reggie Bush. If the Trojans continue their string of dominance, it will not be long before they have their own collective nickname. The most important development from Jones and Carr’s success, however, is that Darnold no longer carries all of the weight of the offense on his shoulders.Last year USC’s rushing attack was solid but inconsistent. The team finished fifth in the Pac-12 for rushing yards with 200.7 per game. However, the running game often faded away in big game situations. Against ranked opponents, the Trojans’ rushing yards per game dipped to 150, which meant that the offense tended to rely solely on Darnold’s arm in key situations (such as the Rose Bowl, when he had a season-high 53 pass attempts). While watching Darnold sling around the ball against marquee opponents will never get old, the Trojans need a more balanced attack in order to run the table this year. Jones and Carr’s success does not just alleviate some of the offensive pressure on Darnold; they can also help open up the passing game. With Stanford’s defense keyed in on the run, two of his four passing touchdowns came off the play action. When the running game was established early in the game, Darnold looked more settled than he did in his shaky start against Western Michigan, rattling off his first 10 throws for completions. The emergence of USC’s explosive running game does not necessarily mean that Darnold has to take a back seat in terms of the spotlight — after all, his 316-yard, four-touchdown performance against Stanford earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. It does, however, mean Darnold has a larger margin for error as he develops chemistry with a burgeoning receiving corps and the pressure to win games no longer lies squarely on his shoulder. “I think we realized that in practice [what kind of player Stephen Carr is],” Darnold said after the Stanford game. “When you watch him run, he just has it,whatever it is. RoJo has it too.”Trevor Denton is a sophomore studying journalism. He is also the deputy sports editor for the Daily Trojan. His column, T-Time, runs on Wednesdays.last_img read more

Ex-Golden Eaglets Star, Philip Osondu is Dead

first_imgFormer Nigeria’s Under-17 Golden Eaglets’ star boy, Philip Osondu is dead. The Canada ’87 U17 player was reportedly died in Belgium at the age of 48 after taking self to the hospital to be examined on Thursday.Osondu was said to have felt unwell at work and decided to visit the hospital where he subsequently died.Osondu played regularly for the youth teams of Nigeria, but never featured for the senior team.In 1987 he participated in the World U-16 tournament in Canada in which Nigeria reached the final, but then lost on penalties to the then Soviet Union. He was voted the best player of the tournament of the competition and was awarded the Golden Ball.Osondu was born on 28 November, 1971. He played in Belgium for teams, including RSC Anderlecht and RWDM.Osondu played in his native Nigeria for El Kanemi Warriors when RSC Anderlecht brought him to Belgium in 1988.The attacker was seen as an emerging football talent and was transferred to Anderlecht that was a promising team. A year later, the 18-year-old striker made his debut at the highest level in an away match against Germinal Ekeren in 1989 playing under Coach Aad de Mos.However, there was a lot of competition at Anderlecht with players like Luc Nilis, Luis Oliveira, Marc Van Der Linden and Gert Verheyen which made Osondu appear barely at the games. Between 1990 and 1992 the Nigerian was also loaned to neighbors RWDM.When RWDM got Osondu, Coach Hugo Broos gave him more playing opportunities. For the first time in the First Division, he also found the back of the goal. Osondu scored his first goal in a 4-1 win over Beerschot VAV.A year later Broos left for Club Brugge and was succeeded by Ladislav Novák. This led to fewer opportunities to play for Osondu, which in the summer led to his return to Anderlecht.In 1994, Osondu moved to second division club La Louviere, where the small and technically gifted striker scored five times in 20 matches.A season later he swapped La Louvière during the winter break for Union Saint Gillis, where he completed the rest of the season. Afterwards he played several years for Diegem Sport and FC Merchtem 2000.Osondu, who was regarded in his own country as a great talent and also received high praise as a youth international, could never fulfill his potential in Belgium.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

ICC World Twenty20: Mahendra Singh Dhoni should stay on as India captain, says Ian Chappell

first_imgFormer Australian captain Ian Chappell has heaped praise on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying the Indian captain was in good form both as a player and captain during the ICC World Twenty20.Chappell, an outspoken commentator, said India would be happy to see Dhoni lead them in the shorter formats for now.”Well! I think he was in form in T20. It means as a player and as a captain. He captained pretty well in the T20. We don’t have him as a Test captain but we want him and I think he was too good in World T20,” Chappell said on ESPNcricinfo programme ‘Match Day’.An Australian scribe had asked Dhoni if he was contemplating retirement in the press conference shortly after India were handed a heartbreaking defeat by West Indies in Mumbai last night. Dhoni stepped down the wicket to deal with the question and the reporter with panache and indicated that he was not going anywhere at least until the 2019 World Cup.Chappell said that India’s total of 192/2 should have been good enough for them to defend but he lashed out at Ravindra Jadeja, who leaked 48 runs in his four overs.”I think they would be quite happy about that. Anything above 190 or more than 8 an over, you feel you can win. There are not more games you lose.””Jadeja seem to control the delivery when there is help. When there is no help, he loses control.”Chappell said India tried but could not contain the West Indian batsmen from scoring the bulk of runs (as many as 146) through boundaries.advertisementThe 72-year-old felt the West Indies were not great on the field in the semi-final but made up for that with their ability to produce the big shots.”You think about the things West Indies do. They are not great runners between the wickets. They were not very good in the field today. Without these you cannot make up except hitting those sixes and fours.”Dhoni has had a dream run in 2016, leading India to victories over Australia and Sri Lanka in back-to-back T20I series before lifting the Asia Cup T20 in Bangladesh. Touted as pre-tournament favourites ahead of the World T20, India would have to now reconcile with a semi-final exit in the second ICC tournament in two years.last_img read more