When Travis Dye went down and out for the season due to a leg injury in Friday's USC Football game against Colorado, Austin Jones went on a mission. That mission was to play for Dye, and play hard for him. His mission was to do everything he could to replicate his presence and production on the field. He, and the whole team knows how important Dye is to this program.
He certainly did complete his mission, running for 74 yards on 11 carries, and catching four passes for 39 receiving yards. One of those catches resulted in a touchdown, off of a beautiful no-look shuffle pass from QB Caleb Williams. Jones had been completing his mission in his performance on the field, but made sure to take it a step further by shouting out his injured teammate after his TD:
To see Jones take his opportunity for more playing time and run with it was impressive. To see him take time out of it to give his brother a shoutout meant even more. It shows that this team's culture is strong, and that Dye's imprint on this team and culture is absolutely still there. If this team is thinking of Dye and playing for him, plenty of great things could still happen for this squad.
They truly must have been playing for him, because it wasn't just Jones who turned in a great performance after Dye went down. RB3 Raleek Brown also ran wild; gaining 52 ground yards on seven carries. He caught two passes for 38 receiving yards and a touchdown.
RB4 Darwin Barlow also chipped in 41 rushing yards on five carries and scored a rushing touchdown. He caught two passes for 31 yards too.
USC Football has the running backs to withstand a Travis Dye injury with Austin Jones, Brown, and Barlow.
Austin Jones and Travis Dye were a great 1-2 punch for USC Football in the beginning of the year. Jones saw his workload lessened as the year went on, though, going from 10 touches per game in Games 1 through 3 to 3.2 touches per game from Games 4 through 9. He certainly made the most of his 15 touches in Game No. 10 this past week, though.
Jones has led the PAC-12 in touchdowns in a single season before. He's experienced, he's capable, he's efficient, and he knows how important he's going to be without Dye in the fold. Expect him to continue his strong season in an expanded role.