Martin: Daniels can't get caught up in the moment
Tee Martin has been in JT Daniels’ place before.
Martin’s situation wasn’t nearly as extreme. He wasn’t a true freshman when he stepped up to fill Peyton Manning’s shoes at Tennessee. In fact, he was a junior. But nonetheless, he had to replace a superstar college quarterback, exactly what Daniels is doing right now.
Back in 1998, Martin entered the Carrier Dome to take on a top 25 Syracuse squad. He played in front of 50,000 people and in the late 1990’s, that was an intimidating stadium. Syracuse was known for strong football teams and a loud fanbase. Martin entered the game with only 16 collegiate passes under his belt. He and his Volunteers left with a 34-33 win.
The next week, Martin played in a sold out Knoxville Stadium in front of more than 100,000 fans. He now had 42 collegiate passes under his belt. The Volunteers went up against Florida, who was considered the second best team in the country at the time. Martin led his team to a 20-17 overtime victory.
Flash forward 20 years and JT Daniels will travel to Palo Alto, Calif to play #10 Stanford (5:30 PST, Fox). Even the hours between the two campuses can’t get him away from all the expectations he has, nor can it get him away from the shadow of Sam Darnold.
So what advice would USC’s offense coordinator give his young quarterback this week?
“Managing the elements,” Martin said directly after USC’s Tuesday practice. “Being on the road, the preparation and not getting caught up in the moment of a Pac-12 game, it’s Stanford. So on and so forth. Just focus on the system and operate in the system.”
Daniels was able to get past any nerves last Saturday against UNLV. He finished that game 22 of 35 for 282 yards with a touchdown. His completion percentage, however, did hover around 50-percent for the first three quarters of the game. That was before a 24-7 USC explosion in the fourth quarter changed the boxscore drastically. Daniels face a tougher test against a Stanford team that only allowed 113 passing yards in its season opener.