For much of Saturday’s game against Arizona, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis did not look much like himself. It’s an odd thing to say when you look at Slovis’ stat line for the day: 30 for 43 passing, 325 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 34-30 win.
But Slovis was not throwing with his usual precision, or with tightness on his spirals. In the first quarter, he badly overthrew favorite target Drake London, who was wide open down the field. The ball dropped just out of reach of the diving receiver, and Slovis’ frustration was evident with the look of disgust on his face.
In the second quarter, he had the opposite problem, under throwing a ball to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The next play, his third-down pass was well over the head of his intended receiver, forcing a USC punt. And beyond the inaccuracy, for much of the day Slovis’ throws didn’t seem to travel with the same tightness that he has made USC fans accustomed to.
Slovis has some injury history with his throwing arm, having hurt his right elbow in the Holiday Bowl loss last season to Iowa. But after the win over Arizona, he assured reporters his arm still felt like it was at full strength.
“My arm feels fine. I think at times my mechanics get sloppy,” Slovis said. “I don’t know what it is but I’ll get it fixed next week. We got a lot of time to get it fixed and my arm feels great, so I just need to get it fixed mechanically.”
It was the second week in a row that Slovis has looked out of form with his throwing. In Week 1, you could point to the wet conditions leading to issues. Against Arizona, head coach Clay Helton thought the opposite might have been a contributing factor.
“When you were going towards our locker room there was a little bit of wind in your face and to be honest with you, on a really dry day, that ball can get slick on you a little bit,” Helton suggested. “I know a couple slipped out of his hands. He found ways to execute down the stretch.”
That he certainly did.
Despite the sometimes-rocky start to the game, Slovis finished the game strong, completing his final 12 passes and finishing the fourth quarter 13 of 15 for 143 yards and a go-ahead touchdown pass with 7:49 to play to tight end Erik Krommenhoek, the senior’s first career score.
“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,” Helton said. “That’s what good quarterbacks do and he’s done it two weeks in a row so thank goodness for him.”