Ware to pose challenge for Longhorn defense

Robert Larkin

Following two ugly games against Maryland and Tulsa, the Longhorns will now prepare for their most important test to date in the form of the No. 22 USC Trojans.  

The Trojans’ roster is outfitted with some of the best athletes the Longhorns will see all season, but here are four USC players Texas fans should keep an eye out for on Saturday night:

Amon-Ra St. Brown, No. 8 — Wide receiver 

Few freshmen arrived at their respective campus with the amount of hype St. Brown did. A consensus five-star prospect according to 247Sports composite rankings, many believed St. Brown to be one of the best wide receivers in the country. So far, the Anaheim Hills, California, native has lived up to the billing — leading the Trojans in yards receiving (137) and receiving touchdowns (one) through his first two games.   

St. Brown’s electric speed and elusive moves separate him from other college wide receivers, and the USC coaches love to make use of those traits by utilizing him in a variety of ways. Whether it’s in the form of deep vertical routes, quick screens or jet sweeps in the run game, expect St. Brown to receive plenty of touches on Saturday.   

Aca’Cedric Ware, No. 28 — Running back 

For three years, senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware watched other players receive carries ahead of him, patiently awaiting his turn to take over the USC backfield. Now, thanks to the graduation of current NFL running back Ronald Jones II, Ware is finally receiving his shot. Through two games, Ware has shown he’s fully capable of handling the lead role, accounting for 159 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. 

Sophomore running backs Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai will also receive playing time, but the USC coaches will likely rely on Ware to establish the running game for the Trojan offense. Saturday’s contest will also carry a bit more meaning for Ware, as the Cedar Hill High School alumnus returns to the Lone Star State.

Cameron Smith, No. 35 — Linebacker 

Smith surprised some NFL scouts when he announced he would return to USC after a stellar junior season that featured 112 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. However, his unexpected decision elated the entire USC coaching staff, as the senior linebacker’s return to Los Angeles not only gives the Trojans a formidable run stopper, but also an incredibly valuable senior leader. Through two games this season, the senior captain shows no signs of slacking on last year’s pace — leading the Trojans in tackles and tackles for loss. 

That said, the Longhorns should already be familiar with Smith’s abilities. In Texas’ 27-24 loss to the Trojans last season, the Roseville, California, native tallied nine tackles. 

Marvell Tell III, No. 7 — Safety 

NFL talent scatters the USC roster, but no player appears more ready for the professional level than senior safety Marvell Tell III. After earning All-Pac 12 first team honors last season, Tell III entered 2018 with a litany of preseason accolades, including appearances on the watch lists for the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) and Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player).

Despite the hype, Tell III is focused on elevating his game even further. The senior captain anchors the back end of a Trojan secondary loaded with talent, using his impressive sideline-to-sideline speed to assist in pass coverage and run support. Like Smith, Tell III also starred in last season’s victory over Texas, intercepting a Sam Ehlinger pass in the fourth quarter.