Smith battles through thumb injury, celebrates first career TD in Trojans’ win

JuJu Smith was so excited he didn’t know what to do. Literally.

He’d just scored on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Cody Kessler in the first quarter to give USC a 21-0 lead over Colorado. It was the first time he reached the endzone in a USC uniform.  

To celebrate the moment, he knew he wanted to do something. But what?

"I always wanted to jump in the crowd," Smith said.

He knew that probably wouldn’t have been a good idea, so he was much more understated.

"I just thought about the team," Smith said.

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And, so, he celebrated with his teammates and USC fought on to defeat Colorado on Homecoming, 56-28. For Smith, it was another 100-yard performance — his second of the season, and his first since the season-opener against Fresno State.

Smith was efficient in his contributions. He needed just four catches to break the 100-yard barrier, aided by a 45-yard catch in the first quarter that set up his touchdown.

His most impressive play in the game,however, was a diving, left-handed grab in the first half. Making it even more impressive is the fact that he had been bothered by a thumb injury all week and was wearing a soft cast underneath his gloves.

The catch wasn’t done purely on instinct, either. Smith knew he wouldn’t be able to get to the ball with his right hand, and any play that would be made would have to be done with his left hand and  ailing thumb.

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"I couldn’t reach over and grab with my right hand, my dominant hand," Smith said. "All I saw was in order for me to make this play, try. And it happened."

Smith’s cast is molded to the way he catches the ball. Even if he’s blocking, his left hand is in the catching position with the cast. He’s been wearing the cast all week. While t was tough to get adjusted to originally, he became more comfortable wearing the cast as the week went on.

Unfortunately, when Smith remembers his first touchdown, the lasting memory will be the soft cast, not jumping into the stands to celebrate with the Trojan faithful. 

"Hopefully, Coach Sark will let me do it one day," Smith said.