|USC's Stafon Johnson emerges as running threat for Trojans|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 September 2007 10:06|
Due in part to a bad attitude, Johnson carried the ball three times for 17 yards as a freshman after being one of the most heavily recruited running backs in the country.
The 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore came to camp last month determined to make a fresh start, and if his effort in No. 1 USC's 38-10 season-opening victory over Idaho is any indication, he's on his way.
Johnson gained 64 yards on 12 carries and scored the first two touchdowns of his college career.
``I don't really rate it that high,'' Johnson said of his performance. ``It's a process of improvement. I did the best I could and we'll go from there. The line did a great job of opening holes. We had a couple mishaps, but we fought through it.''
Johnson shared playing time with four tailbacks against the Vandals, and senior Chauncey Washington, normally the starter, didn't play because of a sprained right shoulder.
``You've got to take control of all the opportunities you get,'' Johnson said. ``I had to take advantage of everything I could and show everybody what I can do.''
Johnson acknowledged before the start of camp that he didn't show much on the practice field last season, and that's the main reason he seldom played.
``It was very humbling,'' he said. ``In college, you've got to come prepared every day. I just wasn't being consistent, wasn't living up to expectations day in and day out. That's what got me in the predicament I was in.''
And now, it appears he's out of that predicament.
``I think it was really a good game for Stafon Johnson,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said. ``He's played very well in camp. He's made guys miss and made guys bounce off him, just as he did tonight.''
Johnson gained 2,197 yards on 247 carries with 22 touchdowns as a senior at Dorsey High in Los Angeles two years ago.
Sophomore C.J. Gable started against Idaho, and senior Desmond Reed, sophomore Allen Bradford and freshman Joe McKnight also got some playing time at tailback against the Vandals. Gable led the way with 68 yards on eight carries.
``I'm extremely proud of their effort, down after down,'' Trojans quarterback John David Booty said. ``Sometimes it wasn't there, but they kept hitting the holes. The great thing was their pass blocking, picking up the corner blitzes and crashes.''
Johnson scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, and a 1-yarder in the third period. Gable caught one of Booty's three touchdown passes - an 8-yarder in the opening period.
Favored by 46 points, USC didn't perform very impressively against the outmanned Vandals, but Carroll didn't sound concerned.
``It was an opportunity to get lots of guys in, get information, see how they do and put the first game behind us,'' he said. ``There are a lot of areas we can do better in. I was really disappointed we turned the ball over three times. It's a bad start for us in that regard.
``I'm happy that we won a game, and let's get to work for the next one. We know we have a very difficult matchup in two weeks.''
After taking next weekend off, the Trojans visit No. 20 Nebraska on Sept. 15. The Cornhuskers opened with a 52-10 win over Nevada on Saturday.
The Trojans beat the Cornhuskers 28-10 at the Coliseum last September.
``I'm thrilled to get ready for a big challenge like Nebraska,'' Carroll said.
The win over Idaho before a crowd of 90,917 at the Los Angeles Coliseum was USC's 34th straight at home dating back to 2001.