When head coach Clay Helton announced Sunday that true freshman JT Daniels would be taking over the helm as the Trojans’ starting quarterback for Saturday’s season opener against UNLV, he was taking a risk — albeit a calculated one. With a total of three collegiate games played — not started, but played — among the three rostered quarterbacks, the competition for the starting job among redshirt sophomore Matt Fink, redshirt freshman Jack Sears and Daniels started on a rather even playing field. The one wrinkle thrown into that situation was the fact that only a year ago, Daniels was supposed to be entering his senior year of high school while Fink and Sears began fall camp.For Daniels, just about all the tangibles and intangibles of a Power Five starting quarterback are there. Throwing for over 4,100 yards with 52 touchdowns in his final season at Mater Dei? Check. Collecting the best possible personal and team accolades possible in winning a state and national championship while being honored as the 2017-18 Gatorade High School Male Athlete of the Year? Check. Showing, by all accounts, wisdom well beyond his years and a capacity for the limelight that has become a necessity as the USC signal caller? Check.Yet, the inherent risk lies in a player who has only formally practiced with the team for a few months. Learning the playbook, creating chemistry with upperclassmen wideouts such as redshirt sophomore Tyler Vaughns and junior Michael Pittman: These are skills that can only come with time. In his eyes, however, Helton feels that Daniels’ time has come. His maturity is the quality that shines through more than any other.“As you can imagine JT was excited when we let him know,” Helton said. “But his uncanny maturity kept him focused on what is next.”As is with the theme of Daniels’ college career so far, the quarterback enters rarified territory becoming just the second true freshman to start a USC season opener since Matt Barkley in 2009. In fact, Daniels is just one of four to ever do so at USC, joining Barkley, Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer and Cotton Bowl champion Rob Johnson.The biggest lingering question about Daniels is his ability to come in and ease the pain of transitioning from an all-time USC great in Sam Darnold to, well, anyone else. If anything, Daniels is a barometer of what kind of program the Trojans are at the moment. In the early 2000s, USC was able to replace Palmer with Matt Leinart, a Heisman trophy winner and two-time national champion. John David Booty, who won two Rose Bowls, would follow Leinart. Compare this to the years that would follow in which many talented, highly touted quarterbacks would fail to maintain the same level of excellence, and it leaves the Trojans in a state of flux.As much as Daniels will be interesting to watch for his own growth as a player, it will be even more appealing to watch what he does to continue Darnold’s legacy of success. Who knows? Maybe after all the fire Helton has come under since being hired two years ago, it turns out he’s just as great a quarterback whisperer as Pete Carroll. Certainly, it will take a few national championships with some Heisman trophies sprinkled in before we can properly compare the two, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.In terms of what will be seen from Daniels now, it is unreasonable to have the same expectations for him that fans and media alike had of Darnold a year ago. Daniels, as good as he may be, is unlikely to be playing for a national championship this year. He may not even play for a Rose Bowl; currently the sights are set on taking the season one week at a time. Unlike Darnold, Daniels is in a situation where he can truly grow. First, while he has just come out of a quarterback competition in camp, he doesn’t have a five-star junior like Max Browne breathing down his neck. Second, Daniels gets real game action and plenty of practice reps to work with the first team offense, luxuries not truly afforded to Darnold until Week 4 of his magical 2016 campaign. Lastly, Daniels is a true freshman. At the very least, he will have a full three years to work in the USC system, establish his play style, and, even, bring USC back to the level it was at heading into 2017.For now, Daniels and Helton are just worried about UNLV, and they’ll let the rest of their bright future together fall into place.Jimmy Goodman is a junior majoring in communication. His column, “The Point After,” runs every other Tuesday.
The third matchweek of the Ghana Premier League season had its share of excitement on and off the pitch.As always, there are lots of numbers to pore over and lots of stats to unearthAway day bluesAll 18 teams were in action again this weekend, in nine matches across the country. It wasn’t the best of weekends for the away sides as only one managed to pick up three points. Berekum Chelsea’s 1-0 win at the Baba Yara Stadium against Asante Kotoko was the only away win of the weekend.Three matches ended in draws with five home sides – Hearts of Oak, Aduana, Bechem United, Ashgold and Karela – picking up three points from their respective matches. This is the lowest winning tally for away sides this season as three sides won away from home in the opening week, with four earning three points a week later.Where are the goals?17 goals were scored across all the nine match centres in the country. This total is the lowest so far this season as 25 goals were bagged in the first week and 19 in the second. 10 goals were scored home sides this weekend (one more than the previous weekend) with five scored by away sides (three fewer than Matchweek 2).Seven of the 18 teams in the Premier League failed to score a goal this weekend, with two matches – Dreams FC vs Legon Cities and Elmina Sharks and WAFA – ending goalless. Only four sides – Hearts, Aduana, Karela and Ashgold- scored more than one goal this weekend.Card happy23 yellow cards were flashed in Matchweek Three. Kotoko’s game with Berekum Chelsea saw the most with six yellow cards shown, along with a red card for defender Ampem Dacosta. Only one other red card was shown this weekend, with Kwodwo Addae sent-off for Karela against Inter Allies. Aduana and King Faisal were however on their best behaviour this weekend as theirs was the only game without a single card being shown.From 12 yardsThree penalties were awarded this weekend, with two of them finding the back of the net. Victorien Adebayor scored from the spot for Inter Allies against Karela while Elvis Kyei Baffour also netted his penalty for Liberty in their 1-1 draw with Medeama. Only Eleven Wonders’ Kwadwo Seth Osei missed from the spot this weekend in their loss to Ashgold.At both endsMedeama and Aduana have the league’s most potent frontlines with seven goals from the three games so far. Eleven Wonders and Accra Great Olympics however, are yet to find the back of the net this season. King Faisal, Ebusua Dwarfs and Inter Allies have the league’s most porous defences, conceding seven goals in the three league games. Ashgold, WAFA and Berekum Chelsea are yet to concede a goal this season.Golden Boy returnsYahaya Mohammed’s one-game goal drought came to an unsurprising end this weekend as he bagged two goals for Aduana. He leads the goalscorers chart with five goals. Medeama’s Prince Opoku Agyemang is next on the list with three goals.