Havili leading Trojans with experience

first_imgIf you were listening really hard, you might have been able to hear a collective groan ring throughout Los Angeles on Saturday as Washington State scored the first touchdown of the game against USC. It was as if Trojan fans knew exactly what they were in for over the next three hours — inconsistent USC play allowing a much weaker opponent to stay in the game for much longer than it should.Though it took the Cougars all of three and a half minutes to score, senior fullback Stanley Havili needed just a fraction of that to make everything right once again in Troy.Havili took a handoff from sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley on the Trojans’ first offensive snap and proceeded to embarrass the entire Washington State defense, breaking tackles and juking players en route to a 59-yard score.And he didn’t stop there.Havili, apparently unsatisfied with just leading the Trojans’ ground attack, went on to post a team-high 107 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches.The 187-yard day might be dampened by the fact that it came against a Cougar defense that would fit in better in the Pullman high school system than the Football Bowl Subdivision, but the benefit of his work remains every bit as important. On the whole, the Trojans have looked anemic this season, and Havili’s offense provided the fastest possible cure to their disease.Although this isn’t the first instance, it was certainly the most obvious example of the veteran running back showing that he has no intentions of letting this new squad fall short of the bar that previous USC teams have set so high.The senior’s contributions to USC expectedly flew under the radar — fullbacks usually are not given the credit they deserve in football, as their primary job is to block — but Havili is being noticed week in and week out as a leader of not just the offense but the entire team. And because USC’s roster is saturated in inexperience, Havili has the opportunity to take on a patriarchal role of sorts and provide a base of consistency from which the offense can build upon. Without the senior, the growing pains that have been seen thus far this season would be substantially greater.Havili did not get to this point in his career without first having to undergo some change of his own. The fullback capped a disappointing sophomore season by being ruled academically ineligible to play in the 2009 Rose Bowl, which USC won 38-24 over Penn State. Earlier this season, he punched teammate T.J. Bryant during an altercation, injuring the junior cornerback severely enough to warrant cheekbone surgery.Yet, Havili dealt with his problems in the best way possible — by learning his lesson and moving on. He improved his grades and now seems to have improved his relationship with Bryant, telling the Los Angeles Times that the two are “on good terms.”And if his work on the field isn’t enough to convince you of his renewed devotion to the team, keep this in mind: Havili is spending his last year of eligibility in college at a school that can’t even go to a bowl game. He had the chance to transfer and use his talents elsewhere, but he decided to stay and contribute to the same team that he has been with his entire career.USC might not have needed every yard from Havili in its stomping of Washington State on Saturday, but the team won’t have the luxury of playing the Cougars every week. If the Trojans are going to continue to win this season, they will need the bruising fullback that was all over your television screen Saturday — not only for his football talents, but his leadership as well.“One-Two Punch” runs Mondays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail James at [email protected]last_img

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