There’s no doubt that Nelson Agholor has the ability and skill level of a first round draft pick. He’s an electric playmaker with the ball in his hands and makes plays on the football field that many players can’t. The thing is, he has to secure the ball in his hands to be that kind of playmaker. Saturday night, the junior wide receiver let a punt slip through his hands and dropped a few catchable balls.
“I went away from my fundamentals,” Agholor said about his dropped punt. “I always got to catch it up high, eyes on the ball and look it in. Not worry about contact. I went away from my fundamentals. And also, I didn’t make the right read. I should have fair caught it… I think they (UCLA) did a great job on their end and we just got to continue to progress on our end. Execution, I didn’t execute as well as I should have.”
Throughout the Trojans’ battle against UCLA, it looked as if Cody Kessler might have locked on to Agholor a little too much. There’s no doubt Agholor is currently USC’s best receiver, but locking on to a receiver is a risky thing to do. Agholor recognized that he saw it happening, but admitted there is some blame on his end as well.
“That’s out of my control,” Agholor said. “My job is to get open. Make the plays that come my way. If I make those plays, that’s not the conversation.”
One might think that practice after a tough loss would be terrible. However, Agholor makes sure to keep a positive mindset.
“It was great,” Agholor responded when asked how practice was after the loss. “It’s the game of football. You get to wake up the next day and you get better. If you let something that happened in the past haunt you, you won’t progress.”
In last season’s matchup against Notre Dame, USC fell to the Irish in a low scoring game where both teams were held scoreless in the second half. Agholor recorded 6 catches for 89 yards in one of his better games of the season.
“It was a great game, great atmosphere,” Agholor said. “It’s a wonderful rivalry and I can’t wait to play again… I think it’s a great opportunity for us. We’re going to prepare the same way we always prepare and play a tough football game. We got to make more plays. Catch everything that comes your way and get open."
Prior to committing and eventually signing with USC, Agholor was heavily recruited by Notre Dame. He even took a visit to South Bend and has fond memories of the school. However, he’s a Trojan now and is looking forward to representing his school on the field Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a great university,” Agholor said about Notre Dame. “Just like USC’s a great university. And this is the university that I play for. I’m going to play for my university come Saturday night. I’m not worried about what they think or their expectations, I’m more worried about what we can control over here.”
Saturday might mark the last time Agholor plays a game in the Coliseum. He’s a guy that many NFL teams have scouted over the past few years and projects to be selected in the first few rounds of the NFL Draft next year. Even though he could leave USC early, the junior is still hopeful for this team.
“It’s another growing opportunity,” Agholor said. “I think we’re going to be a very good team because of all the lumps we’ve taken. We just continue to progress and fight through a lot of things.”
Marshall Cherrington will be attending USC and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism beginning in January of 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @MWCherrington.