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.
Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 29, 2020 at 3:17 pm Contact Tim: firstname.lastname@example.org The stage was set for Syracuse to play its final game in the Carrier Dome against Maryland. It was 29 degrees and mostly cloudy in central New York around game time. Only the Orange were riding a bus down to College Park, Maryland instead. On Thursday night, it was announced both SU’s senior day and alumni weekend were being canceled due to “weather and travel concerns” from the Terrapins. Over the next two days, no snow accumulated in Syracuse. Still, Maryland chose not to travel. “We want to apologize for the inconvenience this causes our loyal fans, including the parents of our student-athletes and women’s lacrosse alumni,” Syracuse Athletic Director John Wildhack said in a statement on Feb. 27. So, No. 4 Syracuse (6-1) played No. 9 Maryland (1-3), 365 miles away from home. Syracuse won, 10-5, defeating the defending national champions for the first time since 2012 and the second time in school history. Senior Emily Hawryschuk led the way with five goals, including the 200th score of her career. At the start of the game, it was 34 degrees and cloudy with a wind chill that made it feel like the lower 20s. There were no broadcasters available to call the game on such short notice for the Big Ten Network. On the broadcast, the audio featured commentary provided by fans and players, with the PA announcer occasionally interjecting. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn the field in the first half, it was all Orange. Meaghan Tyrrell opened the scoring with an assist from Hawryschuk just over two minutes into the game. The goal was set up by what was the first of 13 successful clears on 13 attempts in the first period. Then it was Hawryschuk, taking a pass at the left block and then working her way closer to the crease. She faked before bouncing a shot in as she was shoved to the turf, giving SU a 2-0 lead nine minutes in. Sierra Cockerille added her 11th of the season to put the Orange up 3-0 midway through the first. Then, with just under 10 minutes to play, Hawryschuk deposited her second on the man-advantage to give Syracuse a 4-0 lead going into halftime.In the second, the Terrapins began to show signs of life, aided by unforced turnovers by the Orange. Hannah Warther scored to make it 4-1, but Tyrrell recorded her second of the game on a free-position shot to bring the lead back to four a minute later. Cockerille lost the ball on SU’s ensuing attack, and Maryland took it back to their end to set up the first of three-straight goals over the next seven minutes. After the goal, SU goalie Asa Goldstock — who had turned the ball over twice with errant passes during this UMD run — gathered her teammates together and tried to find the words to get her defensive unit to refocus. Evidently, it worked, as Syracuse allowed just one more goal over the final 19 minutes of the game. Goldstock finished with eight saves, giving her 507 for her career. She is just the second SU goalie to eclipse the 500-mark. On offense, SU was patient, keeping possession and time on their side. Hawryschuk earned a hat trick with a free-position shot then netted her 200th 2 1/2 minutes later to put SU ahead 7-5. Megan Carney provided some insurance with seven minutes to play, then junior Sam Swart knifed right through the Maryland defense to deliver the dagger and put Syracuse up 9-5 with four minutes left. Hawryschuk capped the Orange’s scoring with her fifth score to make it 10-5, and the celebration was on. A swarm of navy jerseys poured onto the field as the final whistle sounded, congratulating their teammates and their senior leaders in particular, the ones who should’ve been honored yesterday. In the first week of the season, SU senior midfielder Mary Rahal knew this senior day game was going to be “electric.” As the Orange handed Maryland its first three-game losing streak since 2006, it still was. Even though they weren’t in the Dome.
One minute and 16 seconds into the Los Angeles Kings’ game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, rookie Gabe Vilardi took to the ice for his first NHL shift. He skated away from the bench and into the Panthers’ zone, where his teammate Kurtis MacDermid was holding up the puck.Vilardi collected the puck, took one look at the Panthers’ net and fired a shot that beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on his glove side. Ten seconds had passed and Vilardi had already scored his first NHL goal. Kingston, Ont. native Gabe Vilardi scores less than 10 seconds into his first NHL shift! pic.twitter.com/MFk28K21mX— Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) February 21, 2020It was a dream start to an NHL career that at times looked to be in serious jeopardy.The Kingston, Ont., native has long been a highly touted prospect. Once ranked as the No. 4 skater in North America, Vilardi was selected 11th overall by the Kings in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Injury problems kept him from playing for the team’s AHL affiliate for over a year and a half, however. The exact nature of the ailment is unknown, but it has been described on several occasions as a “chronic back injury.” “You could bend down wrong one day and tie your shoe and have it flare up,” Kings general manager Rob Blake told The Athletic in 2018. “There was no specific item or specific thing that led to it. He just got up one day and was sore.”The condition was serious enough that the 20-year-old Vilardi spent much of last summer doing rehab work to resolve the issue. After going almost a year without playing a game, Vilardi returned to the ice for the Ontario Reign in November. In 32 games in the AHL, he racked up 25 points (nine goals,16 assists). That was enough to earn him his first NHL call-up on Thursday. MORE: See where Kings fall in latest NHL power rankingsNot satisfied with just a goal in his debut, Vilardi also registered an assist, setting up Marty Frk in front of the net late in the second period. His two points ended up being crucial in a hard-fought 5-4 LA win. At the end of the night, he was rightfully chosen the game’s first star. After waiting almost 18 months to watch him for the first time, Kings fans can’t wait to see him again. Luckily for them, they’ll have to wait less than 48 hours, when the team takes on the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at Staples Center.