That’s because freshman tailback Dillon Baxter won’t be playing.
With Baxter suspended for the Sept. 2 season opener at Hawaii, USC won’t have what Coach Lane Kiffin referred to Tuesday as the “Dillon Factor.”
Baxter’s ability to run routes, catch passes and do a variety of other things makes him a Reggie Bush-like X-factor. Baxter won’t be able to showcase those skills until Sept. 11 vs. Virginia after being suspended for the opener for breaking team rules.
“When he’s not there or he’s banged up, there is a difference,” Kiffin said. “There’s things he does that the other guys don’t exactly do. He’s very unique. We’d be running some different plays if he were playing in this game.”
Kiffin said the coaching staff even views Baxter as an emergency quarterback, a subject that came up Tuesday when backup QB Mitch Mustain stopped throwing about halfway through practice because of a sore rib. The injury isn’t considered serious, but with freshman Jesse Scroggins still awaiting academic clearance, USC was down to one available scholarship passer, sophomore Matt Barkley.
Kiffin confirmed that Baxter will not accompany the team to Hawaii.
“Because it’s a Thursday game, he’d basically miss almost that whole week of school. It’s more important for him to stay here,” Kiffin said.
“I hope and think that he’s learned his lesson. I hope that that’s extremely hard on him, that he’s sitting at home while his team’s out playing a game and he’s watching it on TV.”
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