No. 10 USC’s talented trio of runners has more to show

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — No. 10 Southern California has a three-headed monster at running back that showed its face in the season opener.

Former Stanford rusher Austin Jones had two touchdown scampers, ex-Oregon tailback Travis Dye thrived at pass protection, and freshman Raleek Brown showed off his athleticism. Together, they combined for 186 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries and six receptions in their debut.

“We all have our part to do in this offense, and it speaks volumes on the coaches on actually put into places where the pieces fit,” Dye said. “For one game, it just worked perfectly. We were meshing really well.”

USC coach Lincoln Riley acknowledged the trio’s workload was deflated by three interceptions that were returned for touchdowns by USC (1-0) in its 66-14 win over Rice.

“It wasn’t as we planned,” Riley said. “I mean, love it. I’d take it every week.”

More touches are likely to come at Stanford (1-0), a Pac-12 opener.

While Jones downplayed the significance of facing a team that he spent three seasons with before transferring, Dye said he can already sense a different level of intensity from the senior.

“Oh, he’s definitely antsy this week,” Dye said. “Definitely antsy and he wants to get after it, and I can’t wait to watch him play against his own guys.”

After facing stacked boxes in Stanford’s power run game, Jones showed he could make the most of the space created by Riley’s spread offense on a 28-yard touchdown run. He finished with 48 yards on four carries and had one catch for 21 yards.

“It was definitely a lot more daylight,” Jones said.

Dye was held out of the end zone but more than made up for it with two punishing hits as a blocker. He put a defensive end on roller skates to allow Caleb Williams to step up in the pocket and complete a 29-yard pass on third down, and Dye followed it up by leveling that same defender on a chip block as he went out on his route.

“He’s showing all these ribs, you know, and I had to get me some baby back ribs real quick,” Dye said. “Slap some barbecue sauce on that real quick, but, yeah, just all my might right into his side.”

Dye, who had 21 yards receiving and 20 yards rushing, credits his growth in pass protection to working with assistant coach Kiel McDonald.

“You got to protect our team if you want to stay on the field, and that’s just what the job is,” Dye said.

The most exhilarating showing came from Brown, who pulled away from a defender for his first collegiate touchdown in addition to a slippery 40-yard catch-and-run.

Brown practiced with his ankle wrapped, but Riley does not believe the injury will keep Brown from playing.

Riley first took note of the 5-foot-8, 185-pound dynamo at a summer camp when he was coaching at Oklahoma. Jalen Hurts was the Sooners quarterback at the time, and he and Riley had the same reaction watching Brown.

“Jalen was hoping we could sign him then, and Jalen was disappointed when I told him he was a freshman in high school, and to this day Jalen still asks me about him. So, yeah, we got a pretty early introduction, and he just put on a show,” Riley said. “You could tell, athletically, he was a little bit different.”

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.