It’s been a strange start of the season for Pac-12 starting quarterbacks. The Beavers named Sam Noyer the game one starter and quickly made the switch to Chance Nolan. Utah’s starter Charlie Brewer decided to move on from the program today. Washington State named Jarrett Guarantano the game one starter but he was hurt in the first game and replaced by last year’s starter Jayden De Laura. Arizona’s quarterback situation has been fluid and despite Oregon’s hot start their’s a subset of Duck fans that prefer Ty Thompson be playing over Anthony Brown. USC is involved in the most intriguing quarterback controversy of this young season though. Will it be the incumbent, Kedon Slovis or the up-and-comer in Jaxson Dart against Oregon State?
Last weekend Kedon Slovis, after attempting just two passes against Washington State, was hit hard and shaken up. He obviously didn’t land right and tweaked his neck, USC pulled him out for the game and he received X-Rays/MRIs after the game. Thankfully he appears to have avoided any serious injuries and is back at practice this week.
Kedon Slovis appears done for the day. pic.twitter.com/6t9fiueldA— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 18, 2021
True Freshman Jaxson Dart came into the game down 14-0 to WSU and was absolutely electric. He finished with 392 yards and 4 TDs (also he was USC’s leading rusher). USC won the road game 45-14. USC announced soon after the game that they would be evaluating their QB position this week and wouldn’t name a starter anytime soon.
It's "quarterback battle" week at USC.— Adam Grosbard (@AdamGrosbard) September 20, 2021
Jaxson Dart will be given the opportunity to unseat Kedon Slovis after his eye-opening debut against Washington State. Here's what Donte Williams is saying entering the latest pivotal moment for the programhttps://t.co/rwf3JVzmda
Having a highly recruited true freshman QB enter the game and look better than your future NFL quarterback is compelling enough, but USC always seems to keep it extra interesting. This QB controversy comes on the heels of Clay Helton’s abrupt firing just a week ago.
The question remains, who will Oregon State face this weekend?
Well here’s what we know:
- Kedon Slovis is back at practice this week and looks like he’s 100%.
- Despite replacing an injured QB, it’s Jaxson Dart’s availability that is in question. Dart took a knee to the helmet against WSU and still was dominate despite limping around most of the 2nd half.
- Jaxson Dart looked better than Kedon Slovis. Despite his limited game time Dart is beating Slovis in almost every statistical category.
- This is potentially Kedon Slovis’ last year in college football. As a freshman Slovis burst on the scene taking the job from an injured JT Daniels. And this past offseason he was getting first round pick NFL hype. It wouldn’t be great for Kedon’s draft stock if Dart won the starting quarterback job and finished off the season, but regardless I would guess an NFL team still drafts Slovis in the 2022 NFL draft (if he declares).
- Was Jaxson Dart’s performance against WSU a flash in the pan or is he the team’s best option? Is USC willing to potentially lose an established veteran like Slovis by making a change?
USC interim coach Donte Williams said after the Washington State game “Me personally, being the head coach, I approach everything as a battle, I think part of why people don’t succeed and develop is because they get complacent. That’s not just at quarterback, that’s at every position. I want to make sure guys are never complacent.”
Here’s how I think the USC quarterback situation is going to play out. Kedon Slovis will start and play the whole game against Oregon State. The line opened at about USC -13 and has since moved down. Jaxson Dart’s knee injury is bad enough that they are holding him out of practice this week. After Jaxson Dart gets his legs underneath him (literally and figuratively) I think he takes over as starting quarterback for USC, just don’t expect it to happen this Saturday against the Beavers.