As Stanford’s lead again final season, Austin Jones grew accustomed to operating into crowded containers.
Nobody within the Cardinal backfield may discover a lot room to run a yr in the past. A soccer program recognized for its bodily entrance and imposing floor recreation fell to final within the Pac-12 and 126th nationally, unable to scrounge greater than 86 speeding yards per outing. The offense floor to a halt due to it — Jones, in his third season, led the group in carries (107), however managed a mere 3.5 yards per tote. He entered the NCAA switch portal quickly after the season ended looking for a brand new begin.
He discovered it with Lincoln Riley at USC, the place Jones has already established himself as an important member of a committee backfield with the Trojans. Whereas he acquired simply 4 carries in his USC debut final week towards Rice, two went for touchdowns. The 48 speeding yards he tallied in that temporary cameo have been greater than he managed in all however two video games final yr.
“You come to a new spot, there’s definitely a bunch of new opportunities, new stuff like that,” Jones mentioned. “I just take it upon myself to maximize the opportunities I get.”
He ought to get much more of these probabilities this Saturday, when Jones travels to his outdated stomping grounds for USC’s Pac-12 opener at Stanford. Simply don’t count on him to chew on options his return to Palo Alto carries any added significance.
“Just another game for me, really,” Jones insisted.
When his former teammates texted him this week, he mentioned he supplied every the identical, boilerplate response: “See you this weekend.”
“I don’t really do the back and forth,” he mentioned.
His new Trojans teammates, nonetheless, have sensed a special type of power from the senior this week.
“He’s definitely antsy,” Travis Dye mentioned. “He wants to get after it, and I can’t wait to watch him play against his old guys.”
Jones and Dye needs to be essential elements of USC’s offensive recreation plan Saturday, whereas dynamic freshman Raleek Brown may additionally think about if he’s cleared to return. Brown practiced in restricted trend this week, and Riley expressed optimism Thursday, saying he “wouldn’t be close” to ruling out Brown or every other participant thought of questionable for Saturday.
Not one of the three received greater than a style of the motion final weekend. But when Stanford strives to manage the clock on Saturday, because it usually does, Riley mentioned he’s ready for the opportunity of a low-possession recreation determined on the line of scrimmage and on the bottom.
“Stanford certainly has tried to do that at times in the past and done a really good job of it,” Riley mentioned. “Obviously, it puts a premium on how well we play defensively, it puts a premium on how well we can control the line of scrimmage offensively. To make the most of those possessions, you’re certainly going to have to be able to run the football.”
That’s the reliable function Riley hoped Jones would fill when he reached out quickly after the operating again entered the switch portal. Despite Jones’ declining manufacturing as a junior, Riley noticed on tape a flexible beginning again able to taking part in on all three downs. He was impressed by Jones’ work within the passing recreation and his delight in go safety.
“We thought the opportunities he got to run the ball, he had good vision, explosion, ran hard and again just the combination of all that and bringing some experience and some game reps to a backfield where we felt that was important, it made it a no-brainer for us,” Riley mentioned.
The match has been seamless since. Final Saturday, within the afterglow of his first win at USC, Jones remarked on how totally different his circumstances have been now carrying the ball at USC.
“Definitely a lot more daylight,” he mentioned with a smile.