Zach Banner knows that one of his collegiate goals will never materialize. Part of the reason the Tacoma, Wash. native came to USC was because he felt it was his best opportunity to win a national championship.
For the redshirt senior that dream has all but died.
“As of right now, I can't go to a national championship. I'm never going to be a national championship winner at USC. To be honest with you, that kind of hurt,” Banner said. “But I got over it and I realized on the type of thing that I can do and the legacy that I and the rest of the senior class can leave.”
Now Banner has turned his attention to creating the momentum that could help future USC teams fulfill the dream that never materialized for Banner.
“We can start this wave for Coach [Clay] Helton. That's when the recruiting comes in. That's when these young guys who become older guys and then you start these waves,” Banner said. “Then you have a deep roster. Then you can start talking about being a playoff team.
“That's what a win this weekend would mean to me. I'm worried about the future, but worrying about the future, you have to take care of the now.”
Taking care of now in order to set up the future begins with looking at the past, starting with the last time USC and UCLA faced off. The Trojans pounded the run game for 235 yards in 59 carries for a 40-21 win over the Bruins. That included two dominant drives in the fourth quarter.
UCLA possessed the ball for just 33 seconds of the final 13:04 as USC ran the ball over and over and over, using Justin Davis and the right side of the offensive line to completely demoralize the UCLA defensive front.
On one play of the final drive, Banner drove UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley six yards back and then another five yards wide of the play. McKinley could do nothing but throw his hands up in disbelief.
“When you think of USC football and you think about versus UCLA, you know there's going to be chaos,” Banner said. “There's going to be a lot of drama. There's going to be a lot of emotion.
“That feeling that we had in the last drive against UCLA…a lot of those guys are the same guys, so we're going to expect to get their best and we're going to play our best this weekend.”
Watch Zach Banner, above, talk about the Trojans' upcoming rivalry game with UCLA, its implications and where the USC offensive line has improved since the beginning of the year.
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