Today’s assignment: Compare and contrast quarterbacks Kedon Slovis and Sam Noyer.
Slovis hasn’t lived up to expectations for undefeated USC, but Noyer has exceeded them for undefeated Colorado. The Trojans have won three consecutive to start the season in spite of Slovis and Colorado has won two in a row because of Noyer.
That’s the conventional wisdom, anyway.
As ever, the truth can be harder to discern.
Slovis, a sophomore, called himself out after USC’s defensive aggression triggered a victory Saturday over Utah.
“I don’t think I played very well as a whole,” he said. “I have to execute better. We left a lot of points on the board, and that’s mostly because of my play and not being disciplined.”
Slovis threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and one fumble.
Noyer also sounded a note of concern heading into Saturday’s scheduled clash of the lone Pac-12 South unbeaten teams at the Coliseum, telling our sister paper, the Boudler Daily Camera: “I can’t get comfortable. If I get too comfortable, then some things can happen and I don’t want that to happen.”
The senior passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns, running for an additional 36 yards and two scores, in Colorado’s victory Nov. 14 over Stanford. The Buffaloes’ game Saturday against Arizona State was canceled because of coronavirus concerns in Tempe, Arizona.
If the Trojans were disappointed in Slovis’ play, they weren’t saying so publicly after they were ranked 18th in the first College Football Playoffs rankings of the season. They also are ranked 19th in the latest Associated Press poll. Colorado (2-0) is unranked.
In fact, USC coach Clay Helton was pleased to hear Slovis’ harsh critique of his play. Well, maybe not pleased exactly, but Helton was glad to learn Slovis believed he could have done better in the Trojans’ 33-17 victory over the Utes in Salt Lake City.
“You heard him in the postgame,” Helton said. “He owns it. He says, ‘You know what? That’s good for most people, but we’ve got a high standard here and I can do better.’ That’s neat. That’s what you want to see from your leader. He’s always looking for perfection.
“He’s always looking to get better.”
Slovis and Noyer have each shown an ability to pull out a victory in a nerve-jangling game. USC’s first two victories required some serious sleight of hand, which cheered Helton when he spoke of Slovis’ play under pressure in the closing minutes of wins over ASU and Arizona.
The victory over Utah was a rout by comparison.
“What I’m proud about is when you walking into a game, that quarterback provides hope, and that’s what he does,” Helton said of Slovis. “When we have him starting in a game, we always have a chance against anybody in the country because he’s the trigger man.”
Helton said he sees similar traits in Noyer, who originally planned to depart Colorado and enter the transfer portal after graduating, but instead returned to the school for his senior season of eligibility. He had played 20 games at quarterback and safety at various points in his career entering this season.
Noyer played 11 games last season a junior, including four as a safety.
“You can tell he’s a winner,” Helton said. “He’s been in two close games and found a way to win. He’s producing in the passing game, and credit to him. To see his journey and his story and to have the success he’s having right now, you’ve got to be a really mentally tough kid and must be self-driven.
“He does have arm talent, but he does have athleticism. They’re using him in the run game. They’ve done a good job in short yardage and (near the) goal line of being able to use him as a weapon. But also creating offense on his own. He’s creating in the pocket. They’re doing a wonderful job with him.”
No matter how you define them, Slovis and Noyer figure to be Saturday’s marquee players.
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