LOS ANGELES — Once you get past quarterback Sam Darnold, there are a few other unique parts of USC’s offense that sometimes get buried in the Heisman hype.
Perhaps an underplayed identity of this team is that the Trojans feature two tailbacks who weigh more than 200 pounds and possess breakaway moves.
Junior Ronald Jones teased fans the past two years but has not put a consistent season together. This could be the year but it is not truly necessary because freshman Stephen Carr already appears game-ready less than two weeks into training camp.
“You’d have to be blind to say wait-and-see with him,” USC running backs coach Deland McCullough said Tuesday. “He started lowering the boom on guys (the first day in pads). He will deliver a blow.”
But Carr is not just a bruising 210-pound back. His changes of direction in the team’s first scrimmage led to two touchdown runs.
If you talk to most USC assistant coaches, they are reluctant to ever signal a freshman might shake things up. But McCullough is not afraid to acknowledge Carr’s impact.
“At the trajectory he is at, he will be an upper end of the rotation guy,” McCullough said.
That is significant for USC because Jones might get 20 carries a game and turn into a Heisman Trophy candidate. Or he might get fewer as the coaches see whether he or Carr has the hot hand each week.
Jones needed eight games to make an impression last season when he gained 223 yards against Cal. He gained 171 against Oregon, 121 against UCLA and 134 against Notre Dame.
None of those was a good team but expectations were high going into the Rose Bowl. However, Jones gained just 55 yards in 20 carries against Penn State.
McCullough, who coached at Indiana last season, said Jones is the type of tailback who does not need a lot of carries but can still influence a game. Especially with Jones 10 pounds heavier (205) than a year ago.
McCullough said the extra weight would have “no impact” on Jones’ speed.
“No doubt, we wanted him to get bigger,” McCullough said. “(He) knows where to run. You’ve got two guys with deceptive speed and (size).”
As a tandem, they get the added advantage of facing defenses worried about Darnold’s arm and legs. If they get just average blocking from the offensive line, they could still be fine in most games.
But Jones and Carr are not the only unique skill players. Redshirt freshman Cary Angeline’s enjoyed a breakout camp, as Darnold frequently finds the 6-foot-7 tight…