Stephen Carr | Daily TrojanStanding at 6 feet and weighing 210 pounds, running back Stephen Carr sure doesn’t look like a freshman. As we’ve learned the past two weeks, he doesn’t play like one either. A four-star recruit from Summit High School in Fontana, Calif., Carr turned heads in his first two games in a USC uniform. Carr ran for 188 yards on 18 carries while also picking up 41 yards in the receiving game. “Explosiveness”: That’s the word that comes to head coach Clay Helton’s mind when talking about the freshman running back. When the Trojans held a narrow 35-31 lead over Western Michigan with three minutes to go in the game, USC was looking to move the chains and eat up some time. Carr had other plans, breaking off a 52-yard run that all but ended the game. Carr’s big play ability has been evident, with a 52-yard run in each of the first two games. “Every time he touches the ball, you kind of hold your breath,” Helton said.The transition from high school football to the college game is substantial. Many recruits get lost once they’re forced to learn more concepts and fundamentals. To Carr, the biggest change has been in the speed of the game and the Xs and Os. “It’s much faster up here and you have to make sure you’re on your stuff every play,” Carr said. “It’s not like high school where, because you’re an elite athlete, you get that little room to relax a little bit. Up here, you have to be on every snap.”After arriving on campus, Carr has put in the work, and offensive coordinator Tee Martin believes it’s paying off. Helped by teammates such as junior running back Ronald Jones II, Carr has quickly caught up to the NCAA level of competitive edge. It was a surprise to Martin and the other coaches to see a young player adapt so quickly, but once Carr showed his promise in practice, the coaching staff felt comfortable trusting him in game situations.“He’s doing a real good job as a true freshman to understand our protections, run schemes, footwork and eyes,” Martin said. “It wasn’t a surprise with how he’s playing in games because he’s been doing it consistently in practice.”Carr has made the most of the reps he’s gotten in practice. He bought into the program’s intensity immediately, a mentality that Carr believes is part of the reason he’s been able to contribute so early. The Trojans emphasize attacking at full speed on every play, and that pressure to finish plays and push at a high pace prepared Carr in the offseason to perform at his current level.As other highly touted recruits around the country are working hard to see the field, Carr is already looking like an integral part of USC’s offense. His ability to push through tackles — a theme for this year’s backfield — has paid off as well.“I think some people think of him as kind of a scat back, but when they get up on him and try to hit him they’re bouncing off him,” Martin said. “When you look at his yards after contact, they’re right up there with the best. He’s a complete back.”As far as what Carr’s ceiling is, it’s too early to say. But despite his talent, running backs coach Deland McCullough thinks it is important to keep young athletes levelheaded as their star begins to rise. “He’s pretty doggone good,” McCullough said. “But again, I continue to keep them grounded. I’ve told them ‘I’ve coached guys who have sat in your same seat, I sat in your seat, and we’ve had some success playing the game.’ But as soon as you start hearing how good you are and all these different things like that, you could be setting yourself up for failure.”Carr has had a best-case-scenario start to the 2017 season, but the Trojans have only played two games, and there’s much more work to do. Helton hopes to see him grow in his ability to protect the pass. McCullough wants to build both his confidence and his calmness in big-game situations. But both coaches have one way to describe Carr’s talent: special. For the rest of the season, Carr’s goals are simple: to make the most of every opportunity. He’s made a splash in his first two weeks, but the work is only getting started for No. 7.
Tipperary must scrutinise their performance against Louth, if they’re to gain promotion to Division 1.Corner forward Conor Sweeney says they left a lot of scores behind them last weekend – and can’t afford to do the same in the next two games.The Ballyporeen man believes other opposition could punish them for not taking their chances. Tipp travel to Down on Sunday, for the penultimate game of the league – Conor Sweeney says if they were to progress to Division 1, those issues need to be nailed down…Tipp FM’s live updates of this Sundays game between Tipperary and Down comes in association with Eldons Bar Clonmel and Walsh Barbers shop, Mitchell Street, Clonmel.