Freshman QB Slovis has record debut in USC win

ByKyle Bonagura ESPN logo
Sunday, September 8, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Late in the fourth quarter of USC's45-20 win over No. 23 Stanford, the Trojans' student section broke out in a chant: "We love Slovis! We love Slovis!"

Seconds later, their man, true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, fired his third and final touchdown pass of the night to put the finishing touches on USC's rout. He was so in tune with the play that he was oblivious to the admiration his fellow students rained down on him.

"I didn't hear them chant my name," Slovis said, "but that's pretty cool, I guess."

Slovis' debut as the Trojans' starter, a week after sophomore JT Daniels was lost for the season with a torn ACL, couldn't have gone much better. He completed 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards without an interception and was particularly good as the Trojans ended the game on a 42-3 run.

The 377 passing yards broke a school record by a true freshman in his first career start.

New USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell wasn't surprised in the least.

"That's what I expected him to do," Harrell said. "I've told you since the beginning, he's special, and we have a lot of confidence in him. And we put him in there. That's what we expected him to do. He did his job and did it well.

"From the beginning, I've said he's a special kid."

Slovis enrolled at USC in the spring after a solid, if unspectacular, high school career at Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was coached by Kurt Warner but didn't play with any future Division I players on a team that went 3-7 last year. During spring practice and fall camp, Slovis did enough to pass redshirt junior Matt Fink and redshirt sophomore Jack Sears to earn the backup job.

USC coach Clay Helton's message for Harrell was simple.

"Even though he's young, we named him the No. 2 for a reason," Helton said. "Let's go cut him loose."

Slovis' performance breathes life into a USC season that didn't generate much buzz during the offseason. The Trojans (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) head to BYU next week before returning to Los Angeles to host conference favorite Utah on Sept. 20.

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