Justin Davis Aims to Improve on Sloppy First Day of Fall Camp

October 24, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Justin Davis (22) runs the ball against the Utah Utes during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
October 24, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Justin Davis (22) runs the ball against the Utah Utes during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Justin Davis and USC football’s particularly deep and talented running back group aim to improve on a sloppy first day of fall camp.

The first day of USC football fall camp was exactly as you’d expect. In jerseys and shorts, the focus was on settling in for the long haul towards September.

It wasn’t always pretty.

“On the first day of camp you’re going to try and get the jitters out, and the mistakes out, because the first day of camp is always going to be sloppy,” said Davis.

Head coach Clay Helton noted the same, pointing out fumbles and miss handoffs by the running backs, which are typical of the first day back.

“It’s just going to make you come back and detail your work that much more,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of good stuff today that I’ve seen, and a lot bad stuff that we can work on.”

There were mistakes, but there were also bright moments, with Davis and the other running backs cutting through the defense with impressive bursts of agility and speed.

SEE ALSO: Justin Davis, Ronald Jones II Named to Doak Walker Watch List

Throughout fall camp, Davis and the Trojans running backs will work on eliminating the sloppiness and showing even more of what they can do to a defense.

For Davis, this is the last chance to write his name in USC lore after slowly rising to the top of the running back depth chart. For the Trojans, the progression of the running backs will be essential in a back-to-basics offense.

Davis lacks the flash of a Buck Allen, who became USC’s primary back in the second half of the 2013 season after a coaching change and injuries, much like Davis himself emerged as the No. 1 running back in 2015.

He also trails behind teammate Ronald Jones II in terms of homerun hitting ability.

Still, Su’a Cravens didn’t hold back his praise of his former teammate this summer, calling him USC’s best running back on Twitter in July.

RELATED: Su’a Cravens Praises Justin Davis On Twitter

“It’s always nice to get support like that,” said Davis in response. “It gives you a sense to go out there and work that much harder, so I can prove him right and back up his statement.”

What would it take to back up his statement, or that of Cody Kessler last year around this time when he called Davis one of the best backs he’d ever played with?

Davis’ two goals for the season are simple: Rush for 1,000 yards. Make the All-Pac-12 team.

The senior running back is poised to make a run at both after starting the final eight games of the 2015 season, amassing 902 yards and seven touchdowns in the process.

SEE ALSO: Could USC Have Two 1,000-yard Rushers in 2016?

Phil Steele listed Davis on his All-Pac-12 third team last year, while he was named an All-Pac-12 honorable mention as well.

As is the case with most awards, however, individual production only counts for so much. Davis know that his personal goals will only be attainable if the Trojans as a whole succeed.

“I know that’s not going to come unless the team comes together. If we win, that’s going to come,” Davis said after practice Thursday. “The main focus right now is just winning the games and all of the other stuff is going to come along with it.”

The question marks surrounding the USC program this season are many, but when it comes to running backs, the Trojans are in a particularly strong position.

As USC’s most complete back, Davis showed no signs of relinquishing his grip on the starting job on the first day of camp. But “starter” will be a relative term this season with the Trojan running back corps boasting strong options all around.

“This is the best group that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Davis said. “I think that we have a lot of talent, a great O-line in front of us that will allow us to use our God-given abilities and run.”

More from Reign of Troy

Jones, who broke USC’s freshman rushing record in 2015, is perhaps the most talented of that group, but the emergence of Aca’Cedric Ware during spring camp, the unique skillset of Dominic Davis and the power of newcomer Vavae Malepeai mean the Trojans have intriguing weapons from the top of the rotation to the bottom.

“All of us running backs can do the same job as the man in front of us can,” said Davis. “It’s going to be good going forward, because we’ve got the most depth.”

The man who will be charged with getting the most out of that depth is familiar. He’s the same man who helped the Trojan rushers thrive during Davis’ abbreviated freshman season.

“Coach T-Rob coming back put a very big smile on my face. I know he’s going to get me where I need to be,” Davis said. “If it’s just working me harder, pushing me. He’s always going to be right there in my ear, making sure I’m never slacking.”

That approach worked in 2013 and Davis is confident this year will yield even more.