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Darreus Rogers proves the Trojans have another weapon on offense

USC receiver Darreus Rogers picks up yards against Utah State defensive back Welsey Bailey during the game Saturday.
(Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images)

Just as Max Browne’s pass slipped through Darreus Rogers’ hands in the first quarter, the senior wide receiver felt his margin for error shrink.

“I tried to make a statement and let them know, don’t go away from me,” Rogers said half an hour after the most productive day of his career. “Then I had a little great game.”

Rogers’ statement got through to two parties: USC’s offense and, more importantly, Utah State’s defense. In the Trojans’ 45-7 win over the Aggies on Saturday, Rogers caught a career-high seven passes for 82 yards and showed USC has a complement to star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.

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After his early drop, which incited a collective groan from the Coliseum crowd, Rogers’ dependability helped three Trojans receivers catch touchdown passes. Smith-Schuster, who received special attention from Utah State’s secondary, caught two.

“When you have great receivers on the other side of the ball, it opens up the package not only for me but for others too,” Smith-Schuster said after the win. “And with Darreus going for seven catches for 82 yards, it makes an impact. Not only that they have to cover me, but the other receivers.”

Against Alabama in Week 1, the Crimson Tide held Smith-Schuster to one catch by doubling him throughout. Rogers only had two catches in that game, doing little to ease the pressure off USC’s top option.

That changed against the Aggies — albeit it a far worse defensive team — as Rogers turned short passes into sizable gains with his shiftiness and field vision. That led Browne to consistently work the ball to him, which set Smith-Schuster and Deontay Burnett up to make big plays.

Smith-Schuster finished with seven catches for 56 yards. Burnett went for three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. USC quarterbacks completed passes to 10 different players in the game.

“I love Darreus. I love getting him the ball,” Browne said. “I made the comment during the week to some of you guys over there, ‘If they’re going to double JuJu, whatever, I’m going to make Darreus a household name,’ because he deserves it.

“I don’t know how many catches he had but I felt like I was getting the ball to him a lot, but you have two deadly weapons.”

Rogers says he’s known for having the best hands on the team and, with games at Stanford and Utah coming up, it was a good time for him to prove it.

USC put him on their official program for the Utah State game — which reminded him of how far he’s come — and Rogers walked out of the Coliseum with six copies under his right arm.

“I have a lot of them,” Rogers said, a big smile spreading across his face. “Have to give them to my family, man, have to take some home.”

This was after he took pressure off Smith-Schuster, provided Browne with a steady option and ultimately helped USC cruise past Utah State.

On Saturday, Rogers was in a giving mood.

jesse.dougherty@latimes.com

Twitter: @dougherty_jesse


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