USC running back Ronald Jones II only needed one yard to pick up the first down.
Offensive coordinator Tee Martin called an inside zone run up the middle, figuring the USC offensive line could open a small sliver of space. That's all that is necessary because of Jones' acceleration. He is able to knife through small openings that close before other running backs get to the hole.
"With Ronald, the hole is going to be really, really small and you know he's going to get past it," senior Justin Davis said recently. "The thing about holes with him, no matter how little, how small, how fast it's closing, he's going to get through it. That's the thing about Ronald, his acceleration is just out of this world."
Jones could have put his head down and got a yard or two in the middle of the line to pick up the first down. Instead, Jones chose differently. He saw UCLA crashing down on the middle with safety Randall Goforth flying up to stop the middle run and out of his peripheral vision he saw right tackle Zach Banner blocking Takkarist McKinley.
"I saw Zach wall his guy inside and I saw that butt cheek."
Jones had put his left foot in the ground and popped to his right, abandoning the instructions of the called run. Banner's bottom provided the indicator for an opening outside and it gave Jones the reference point for when the turn upfield. Less than a step beyond Banner, Jones put his foot down, pivoted and showed his out-of-this-world acceleration. Instead of the one yard needed for a first down, he rushed for a 60-yard touchdown, avoiding any contact with the defense until he was inside the 5-yard line.
”I cut in between De'Quan [Hampton]'s block and then that corner [Fabian Moreau], he was kind of catching me, but I looked up at the [in-stadium video] screen. I probably shouldn't have done that cause it slowed me down and he was coming up on me, so I won't do that again."
Watch Ronald Jones II, above, talk about his 60-yard touchdown against UCLA, the rivalry with Notre Dame and his progression as a running back, including his maturity as a sophomore to realize the areas he still needs to improve.
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