Sophomore spur Damario Jeffery, the former Columbia High standout, has started in place of the injured Antonio Allen both games. He’s comfortable with how he has played.
“I always feel like I have to step up when I get my chance. I want to go in there and I don’t want to make mistakes,” Jeffery said. “With Antonio out, I just feel like the one thing I needed to do was help the guys behind me get better because I knew a little more than they did.”
USC assistant coach Shane Beamer was impressed by Jeffery’s steady play, but he’s eager to get both players on the field when Allen’s hamstring injury heals.
“(Damario) was good out there Saturday, making checks and communicating with everyone else out there. He was in on a lot of plays and doing a good job,” Beamer said. “Antonio’s a playmaker, and we need get Antonio on the field for sure. But Damario was a guy that, before Antonio got hurt, was going to play a lot, and with Antonio coming back is still going to play a lot.”
Jeffery said his production so far has been average.
"I didn't stand out. It was average," he said. "If [coach Beamer] doesn't say anything, I know I did good. But if he's on me I know I messed up pretty bad."
Jeffery was credited for six total tackles against Southern Miss and two vs. Georgia, but Beamer was just as pleased with the effort against the Bulldogs.
"He was a lot better against Georgia than he was against Southern Miss, and he wasn’t bad against Southern Miss," Beamer said. "He was good out there Saturday, making checks and communicating with everyone else out there. He was in on a lot of plays and doing a good job."
Beating Georgia on Saturday were special to Jeffery for several reasons.
It was his second career start, he was playing in his hometown in front of family and friends, and Georgia used to be one of Jeffery's favorite teams.
"Coming out of high school I was a big-time Georgia fan. I wanted to go there. So beating Georgia was a big thing for me," he said.
Allen is expected to return to action soon, and he and Jeffery will both be looking to contribute.
"Whoever starts will be the better man. We're going to push each other," said Jeffery, who said Allen has been an encouragement to him during the first two games on the sidelines.
Jeffery said the first two games have been "a great opportunity for me to show the coaches what I can do as a full-time starter. I pretty much played all the snaps. We got two good wins, so I felt like I contributed to that."