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USC quarterback Kedon Slovis says his arm is fine but he’ll fix his throwing mechanics

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis throws a pass during the second half against Arizona on Nov. 14, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona.
USC’s Kedon Slovis passes during Saturday’s 34-30 win at Arizona. “I think at times my mechanics get sloppy,” he said afterward. “ ... I’ll get it fixed next week.”
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Kedon Slovis was in the middle of a dozen consecutive completions Saturday, when he launched a towering, wobbly jump ball deep into a dangerous mess of arms in Arizona territory. Drake London, the 6-foot-4 ascending star sophomore, leaped between defensive backs to retrieve it, putting the Trojans in position to score three plays later.

That fluttering, fourth-quarter deep ball wasn’t an aberration on an afternoon in which even Slovis admitted he wasn’t at his best. The sophomore quarterback still completed a tick under 70% of his passes. He still threw for 325 yards. And he still finished that particular drive with a go-ahead touchdown to tight end Erik Krommenhoek late in the fourth quarter. But it was clear, even as he led USC to a 34-30 victory, that Slovis wasn’t entirely right.

“I think at times my mechanics get sloppy,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’ll get it fixed next week.”

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Slovis injured his elbow last December in the Holiday Bowl and focused all offseason on strengthening his arm. After the game, Slovis said his arm “feels fine.”

In May, Slovis told The Times that he dealt with arm fatigue throughout his freshman season.

“I remember in fall camp last year, two practices in, I felt like my arm was dead, and I never fully got it back,” Slovis said. “The whole season, I was battling to get my arm fresh for games and practices. It was hurting all the time.”

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Key plays from USC’s 34-30 comeback victory at Arizona on Saturday.

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Before the season, Slovis said his arm had never felt better.

Asked whether he thought there was anything off about his quarterback, USC coach Clay Helton noted that there was a “little wind” down on the field, and that, in dry conditions, the ball “can get slick on you a little bit.”

“I know a couple slipped out of his hands,” Helton said. “He found ways to execute down the stretch and I’ve always said, winners win, and he’s a winner, and he found a way to win and execute when it mattered the most.”

Familiar problem

Grant Gunnell isn’t what most would call a dual threat quarterback. Coming into Saturday, he had 14 career rushing yards in 32 career attempts.

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But USC’s leaky run defense made a dual threat out of a pocket passer, missing tackles and completely losing track of Gunnell, who had 41 rushing yards before halftime. His scrambling conjured flashbacks to last week, when Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels ran for 111 and kept the Sun Devils afloat.

This time, USC at least tried to adjust. Gunnell finished with 40 net rush yards.

With UCLA set to play Cal after its game against Utah was canceled because of positive coronavirus tests, the Bruins must make quick adjustments.

“We moved to a different personnel, bringing a bigger guy that we could keep some eyes on [Gunnell] and we just had to trust our personnel in the back end,” safety Talanoa Hufanga said. “We just wanted to definitely bring a little more pressure.”

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Hufanga helped key that turnaround while dealing with a deep bruise in his thigh, Helton said.

He wasn’t the only one working through injuries either. Linebacker Drake Jackson also went to the locker room briefly, before returning to make a sack on the second-to-last play of the game.


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