COLUMN: Big wins bode well for the Trojans

first_imgAfter another dominant victory over a nonconference foe, the USC Trojan football team has wrapped up the easy part of its schedule. After two games — both blowout wins — it’s hard to really tell how USC will fare against quality Pac-12 opponents.So far, there are very few complaints about the team. Against Idaho, the offensive line and special teams performed better than they did in the season opener when they faced Arkansas State. The offensive line opened up gaping holes for all five of USC’s stellar running backs, and the Trojans also blocked an extra point.At 2-0, the 2015 Trojans have done everything they are supposed to, which is a positive sign. There were no close calls against inferior opponents like Auburn and Notre Dame this past Saturday. Additionally, the team has yet to suffer any major injuries that would negatively affect the Trojans’ potential for the rest of the season. The most noteworthy aspect of the season thus far is that it has been entirely predictable, which is a breath of fresh air when it comes to USC football.The highlight so far this season has been the tremendous play of the Trojans’ skill position players. Both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree’ Jackson picked up right where they left off a season ago, with the dynamic duo leading the charge for the Trojans.Smith-Schuster has further refined his route-running abilities, improving his dependability and admirably filling the shoes of departed first-round draft pick Nelson Agholor. Smith-Schuster brings a level of smash mouth physicality to the wideout position that makes him an even more formidable threat than former standouts Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Agholor. Additionally, his speed and catch radius are already at an elite level and will give opposing Pac-12 defensive backs nightmares for the rest of the season.If contending with Smith-Schuster and the rest of USC’s talented wide receivers wasn’t enough, now defenses have to worry about Jackson making a big play whenever he touches the ball, which so far has been much more frequent than last season. Jackson, who is also one of the surest tacklers on defense, had a catch-and-run that was about as close to Reggie Bush’s famous run against Fresno State as anything the Coliseum has seen in the last 10 years.Both Smith-Schuster and Jackson have lived up to their billing as ballyhooed recruits, and USC’s potent and explosive offense is reaping the rewards. The talent extends beyond the receiving corps to the backfield where USC is absolutely loaded at tailback.Junior Justin Davis made his 2015 debut in electrifying style, bouncing his first run outside and taking it to the goal line.  After scoring on the subsequent play, Davis’s uncanny vision and cutback ability was on display on the next drive with impressive runs. Though frequently injured, Davis has natural instincts that just can’t be taught, and if he can somehow stay healthy all season, the Trojans will have the perfect complement to Tre Madden’s running style.Madden had another impressive game, displaying his versatility as a runner, pass-catcher and blocker. Though he has missed a lot of the last two seasons, Madden hasn’t really skipped a beat from his elite performances in the early 2013 season.The real revelations, though, have been the freshmen trio of running backs. Ronald Jones II followed up his terrific debut with another stellar performance against the Vandals. In what was one of the most impressive runs of the game, Jones exploded through the middle for a dynamic 40-plus yard touchdown run. Though it was called back because of holding, this run, in conjunction with his long scamper against Arkansas State, is indicative of Jones’ tremendous big play ability.While Jones has dominated the headlines so far, both Dominic Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware have also made quality impressions. Davis, who is too light to be an every-down back, makes explosive plays every time he touches the ball. With his ability to split out wide, Davis could be a matchup nightmare for opposing linebackers who can’t match his quickness. Ware has only flashed glimpses of his potential, but the brief introduction has exhibited a physical downhill runner who complements the quartet of USC’s other running backs.It’s certainly too early to get overly excited about the Trojans’ postseason potential after only two wins against substandard opponents, but the team definitely has to feel good about their first two victories.Both Stanford and Arizona State have looked suspect so far this season, and if the Trojans can somehow beat both the Cardinal and Sun Devils, then they will enter their early season bye in the best position they have been in since the end of the Pete Carroll era. The team has a long way to go to match the performance of those teams, but so far it is trending in the right direction.Jake Davidson is a junior majoring in accounting. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” runs Mondays.last_img read more

Quentin Hillsman is beating Jim Boeheim and Dino Babers in the social media race

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Merriam-Webster has two definitions for “meme,” both being nouns. One is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture,” while the other is “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media.”The latter definition surely applies to Hillsman’s practices, but the former does, too, because both Grant and redshirt junior guard Isis Young said they follow Hillsman on social media. They see his posts and are more motivated than amused because the messages of Hillsman’s memes are familiar. They’re the same lessons he preaches during practice.“You just see (the memes) and you reinforce,” Young said. “Like, ‘OK coach likes toughness.’ But we know that.” The content of these meme-lessons isn’t on a calculated schedule. It’s “random,” Hillsman said. Still, there are people who don’t even believe he’s tech-savvy enough to do any of this himself.“They’re sleeping on my abilities here, right?” he joked last week.But the people who do believe are the ones who matter the most. They’re the ones who run his plays and follow his rules. They’re the ones who came to Syracuse to play for @CoachQatSU. Comments Recruiting hatched Hillsman’s web presence. If the kids were using it, he figured he ought to as well. From there, it grew into a convenient way to stay in touch with players who have graduated and moved on.“He knows what this generation is all about and he’s a part of it,” junior guard Abby Grant said.Retweeting — essentially the reposting of another account’s original content — is not what sets Hillsman apart from the the likes of Boeheim and Babers. Rather, Hillsman also posts photos of himself and players captioned with large block lettering of an inspirational phrase.They often end up on his Instagram account as well. In a sense, they’re memes.center_img Published on November 14, 2017 at 10:02 pm Contact: jtbloss@syr.edu | @jtbloss Jim Boeheim hasn’t sent out a tweet in the month of November. Neither has Dino Babers, aside from an obligatory Veterans’ Day post with a graphic made by the SU football social media team. As popular as these coaches are — the billboards and TV commercials will show you they are quite popular in central New York — they are not Quentin Hillsman.Hillsman, or “Coach Q” as his Syracuse (1-0) women’s basketball players call him, is instead a man of memes. He inundates the Twittersphere, sharing loads of news from SU Athletics and producing original material of his own. Just as you’ll rarely spot him on the sideline wearing something as standard as Boeheim’s usual blue coat-grey pants combo, you’ll seldom see a day go by where he isn’t active on Twitter.“This new age, you guys don’t talk on the phone anymore,” Hillsman said. “You have to tweet and text and Instagram and all this.”He’s right. Nearly a quarter of teens admit to going online “almost constantly,” according to a 2015 report released by the Pew Research Center. A whopping 92 percent of teens hop online at least once a day, the report said, adding that this mania of internet usage is possible because nearly three-quarters of teens own or have access to smartphones. In a world where those phones are becoming increasingly multidimensional, Hillsman is using his to connect with his players of the past, present and future.last_img read more