Baxter won't be Bush 2.0 but can be special
He's got the San Diego roots, the wiggle and shake to make defenders look ridiculous, the ability to make both sidelines shut up and take notice whenever he touches the ball and his last name starts with a "B".
Dillon Baxter has everything necessary to be compared to and judged against Reggie Bush, the transcendent and jaw-dropping and controversial running back who defied convention and occasionally the laws of physics in a three-year USC career. Baxter showed it Saturday in the first spring scrimmage with a 50-yard touchdown run that has set the Internet on fire and will bring back the issue of the next Bush, the mantel – and often anchor – previously placed on the shoulders of Joe McKnight.
There might never be another Bush. Of the two most similar tailbacks in the post-Bush era, Jahvid Best was limited by injuries and C.J. Spiller's tremendous production never translated into championships. Bush put up the numbers and the wins and the moments.
McKnight was often asked to do everything. Baxter won't have that burden.
Of course, the biggest difference between Baxter and McKnight was displayed in that one run. For all his athletic gifts, McKnight lacked that innate ability to make opponents miss.
Baxter isn't as fast as Bush, or McKnight, for that matter, but he can set people up. A spin here, a juke there and somebody is left tackling air.
Whether it is as a complimentary runner, return man, receiver out of the backfield or even quarterback in the Wildcat, Baxter will have an impact this season. And every time he does, there will almost certainly be references to you know who.
Above The Fold
Concern at cornerback?
T.J. Bryant was roasted, toasted and burned to a crisp by Ronald Johnson on a 70-yard touchdown in the scrimmage's other other big play. Given that Bryant was briefly shaken up in drills, it can be written off, especially against one of the team's best offensive weapons.
That he was left out there with the first team with a visible limp was more disconcerting. Then again, walk-ons worked with the second unit.
For all the concern at linebacker and offensive line, the depth at corner isn't much better. Torin Harris was out with a hamstring pull, Brian Baucham isn't expected to work this spring and Byron Moore is filling out the ranks at safety.
Things will be better in the fall – Moore might move back with a healthy Drew McAllister – but it's just one more potential headache for Lane Kiffin.
Below The Fold
Back against the wall
I know first-hand what back pain can do, so I shouldn't be surprised Chris Galippo still doesn't look like the standout linebacker he was at Servite. But seeing him get left behind on a crossing route or laying on the ground by a juke makes me think the middle linebacker position will at least be a timeshare, if not won outright by Devon Kennard.
Galippo is an unquestioned team leader, but respect doesn't make plays. A healthy back can and will.
Quote of the Week
"I've never met him before. Maybe one day I can meet him."
-Running back Dillon Baxter on Reggie Bush
My starting lineup based on how available players have performed
Offense: Barkley, Havili, Bradford, Johnson, Cameron, Kaili, Graf, O'Dowd, Holmes, Smith, Prater
Defense: Armstead, Casey, Harris, Perry, Smith, Kennard, Morgan, Wright, McDonald, Starling, Harris
Can Kyle Prater crack the starting lineup in 2010?
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