No Arguing With Johnson Now

HONOLULU - Johnson led the Trojans with seven catches for 59 yards and added a two-point conversion, but it was his no, no, no, yes, yes, yes punt return that had everyone taking notice.

HONOLULU – His Twitter username was "RoJoTheGreat." He said he would win the Heisman Trophy.

After the way USC wide receiver Ronald Johnson performed Thursday night, who can disagree?

"I was out there in the zone," Johnson said.

Establishing himself as the go-to receiver after the departure of Damian Williams, the senior tied a school record with three touchdown receptions. He also led the Trojans with seven catches for 59 yards and added a two-point conversion, but it was his no, no, no, yes, yes, yes punt return that had everyone taking notice.

Standing at his own 11-yard line, Johnson looked as if he was going to call for a fair catch, only to collect the punt with a Hawaii defender right on top of him – Johnson said he had already made contact before he had caught the ball – and turn up field for the touchdown that essentially put the game out of reach.

"The guys were so close to him I don't know why he caught it," running back Marc Tyler said.

Johnson, who hadn't returned punts since his senior year of high school, actually fumbled on his first try.

"Oh man, I was definitely nervous, the first punt," he said.

The only downside of the 89-yard return? It forced the defense to head right back out on the field.

"We had a lot of our guys on that touchdown, our first-string defensive line was out there, so we had to substitute because we were gassed," defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron said.

Punt returns weren't the only source of drama for Johnson on Thursday. Coach Lane Kiffin said he got in a bit of a spat with the wide receiver regarding what color socks he would wear.

"He wasn't very happy because I wouldn't let him wear the black socks he wanted to wear," Kiffin said. "That was a 15 minute ordeal inside the locker room."

Aside from fashion, the biggest development was the rapport between Johnson and quarterback Matt Barkley. The two struggled to get on the same page last year after Johnson broke his collarbone in fall camp and missed the first half of the season.

"I do believe we have a connection and it's only going to get better," Barkley said.

"It all took off during the summer," Johnson said. "We always go out and catch. We'll do something to get ourselves better and that connection has been growing and growing and paid off today."

That was evident when Johnson misunderstood Barkley's audible at the goalline, but still ended up catching a touchdown.

"I guess it was his offhand I was looking at. I ran the wrong route. He threw it to me and I had to make a play," he said.

"I guess that's the connection that we have."


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