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Trojans hope to use bye week to recover from injuries

first_imgBenjamin Dunn | Daily TrojanStep it up · Sophomore wide receiver Deontay Burnett is expected to take the role of junior wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. who tore his ACL.The Trojans took practice at a relaxed pace on Tuesday, taking full advantage of their bye week to rest up a set of battered players still recovering from injuries. On the offensive side, senior running back Justin Davis is sitting out with an ankle injury and junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is nursing a back injury. Redshirt senior offensive tackle Jordan Simmons is also suffering from knee tendonitis, and senior defensive back Leon McQuay III is struggling with injuries to his hip and groin.All four of these players will be back, but need this week to recuperate. The same is not true, however, for redshirt junior wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr., who roped in 24 receptions for 226 yards and one touchdown this season. Mitchell is out for the season with a torn ACL, leaving sophomore wide receiver Deontay Burnett to step up into his starting position. “I told him that I’m gonna play for him,” Burnett said. “I told him every time I’m on the field, it’s gonna be for him. He just told me to be who I am.”With several seasoned players sitting out on Tuesday, head coach Clay Helton mixed in a younger squad of athletes for a practice that barely lasted over an hour. Helton praised many of the younger offensive players, including freshman quarterback Matt Fink and freshman wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, for their performance.“I look at those two groups there at the end in that last period, and you say, ‘Gosh dang, there’s the future of your football team,’” Helton said of the players who got extra opportunities Tuesday. “There’s some talented young kids here, and this is quality reps for them to try to grow.”Helton also offered up praise for senior leaders who have stepped into the spotlight this year. With Davis remaining on the sidelines, sophomore Ronald Jones II is getting more touches on the ball — and it’s paying off for the young running back. Jones started against Arizona and rushed 77 yards, scoring one touchdown. Teammates also recognized the continued success that Sam Darnold has had for the program, notching a 3-1 record as a quarterback. Jones described Darnold’s play in the pocket as “electrifying” and offered steep praise for the quarterback’s ability to scramble.“That one play he had against Colorado, when the ball fumbled and he threw it back, it kind of reminded me of Johnny Manziel,” Jones said.The team will need to stay in form throughout the next week, as they ready to face Cal for a Thursday game at home after a bye week break.last_img read more