Needless to say USC fans have been anxious to see when McKnight would flash the big play ability that he showed on nearly every play while at John Curtis Christian High School.
In the Trojans first five games the USC coaches struggled to find the right situation to display McKnight's special talents but on Saturday the Trojans fans were finally introduced to the real Joe McKnight. "You saw him finally, you got to see what we have been talking about and thinking about," said Pete Carroll.
The electric freshman from Louisiana came alive Saturday and led the Trojans to a 20-13 win over Arizona at the Coliseum. "Joe is really starting to show what he is capable of. He took a big step today and I know he will keep showing what he's got," said Carroll after the win.
Mc Knight sparked the Trojans and got the Coliseum crowd rocking with a 45-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter. "I was just thinking, catch the ball and follow my blocks," said McKnight.
The punt return re-energized the sluggish USC offense and proved to be the turning point of the game. "That punt return was exciting and just what we needed," said Pete Carroll.
Mc Knight added a 59-yard run late in the fourth quarter to help seal the hard fought victory for the Trojans. The 59-yard run by McKnight was his career best and the longest run from scrimmage by a Trojan this season. On the day McKnight rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries and had a game high 128 all-purpose yards.
Pete Carroll was giddy thinking about the big play ability that McKnight could add to the Trojans offense. "He's just got magic in him. Right now he's a big play waiting to happen," said Carroll. "If he can continue to give us those big plays, he is going to be big for us in the second half."
After his breakout performance, the always humble McKnight sat in front of the national media, uncomfortable with all the attention he was receiving, and explained that his goal is to just prove himself to his teammates. "Since I got here I've been trying to prove what I can do, especially to the seniors," said McKnight.
On Saturday, McKnight not only proved himself to the USC seniors but to the 84,671 delighted Trojan fans at the Coliseum.