Kedon Slovis to start at quarterback for USC vs. Notre Dame

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Kedon Slovis is back. A couple weeks after a concussion ruled him out for two games, he’s set to start for USC against arch-rival Notre Dame.

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True freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis is officially back. He will get the start for the Trojans on Saturday night, when they take on No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend. Head Clay Helton announced the move on Tuesday after practice.

Slovis, who started twice following JT Daniels’ season-ending knee injury, was knocked out of the Utah game in Week 4 with a concussion. He wasn’t cleared for the following week’s trip to Seattle, essentially missing two whole games.

While USC beat Utah without him, they lost 28-14 at Washington with third-string quarterback Matt Fink.

Both Slovis and Fink have turned in polarizing performances to date. Each began with historic nights at the Coliseum in wins over then-ranked teams, only to have three-interception disasters in their first career road start a week later.

Nonetheless, Slovis getting the call for yet another treacherous game away from Los Angeles is a good thing for the Trojans. He’s been USC’s most reliable quarterback thus far, excluding the small sample size of Daniels.

Slovis has completed 77.9 percent of his passes in essentially two and a half games leading the offense, amassing 732 yards and five touchdowns to go with four interceptions. His 168.8 passer rating would stand as a USC single season record.

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The key is whether or not he can overcome the struggles of the BYU game, in which the Cougars repeatedly dropped eight defenders to stifle the Trojans’ Air Raid attack. To Slovis’s credit, despite an overall unsatisfactory performance, he showed poise in leading a touchdown drive in fourth quarter of that game.

But Notre Dame is a completely different animal. The Fighting Irish defense can do it all, ranking third nationally in forced turnovers and 12th in defensive passer rating.

“Defensively, [they have] probably two of the more dynamic defensive ends that we’ll face all year,” Helton said. “They cause havoc in the backfield. The biggest thing for us will be protecting the quarterback.”

If Slovis is going to have success running the offense as intended, he’ll need to protect the football and get a supportive outing from his offensive line. Otherwise, it won’t matter who started for the Trojans.

Saturday’s rivalry game will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. Pacific / 7:30 p.m. Eastern in South Bend, and be aired on NBC.