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Justin Davis is all smiles about Clay Helton and USC's running game

Justin Davis is all smiles about Clay Helton and USC's running game
USC running back Justin Davis picks up big yards against UCLA on Saturday. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

USC’s Justin Davis generally appears to be a happy young man.

But this week, as the Trojans prepare to play Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game, the junior tailback is beaming.

Davis rushed for 130 yards in a victory over rival UCLA last Saturday and on Monday, USC lifted the interim tag from Coach Clay Helton.

"I might have been as happy as he was," Davis said, when asked about his reaction to Helton's hiring. "I have always loved Coach Helton since he was recruiting me."

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Davis said he also loved Helton's style of run-first football.

USC tailback Justin Davis discusses Clay Helton as head coach and the Trojans' upcoming trip to the Pac-12 Championship game.

"With all the physicalness that we're bringing, I'm having a great time now," Davis said. "The one thing he preaches to us is downhill running the ball. We're going to come right at you and you guys are going to have to stop us."

Stanford defeated USC, 41-31, in a conference opener in September, but Davis insisted that it's a different team that the Cardinal will face Saturday.

"Earlier in the season we didn't know what our identity was, what didn't know what we were doing," he said. "We established an identity with the stuff that [Helton] is preaching and I think we have a lot more confidence."

USC and Stanford kick off at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

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