To say USC’s defense struggled on Saturday night is probably an understatement.
UCLA racked up 461 yards of total offense and although this number isn’t horrible, the Trojan defense had many opportunities to get off the field on third downs. Missed assignments and tackles were the two crucial shortcomings this time around, but one bright spot on the defense was the play of freshman defensive back Adoree Jackson. Despite his solid play throughout the night, Jackson still thinks way too many mistakes were made by the defense.
“For us, I think tackling,” Jackson said. “We missed a couple of tackles. We kept their drives going and not finishing on third downs… We had a couple of mistakes, especially on my end. I give myself an average grade and everybody else (in the secondary), I give them a good grade as well… I don’t think we were making adjustments on the fly or anything like that. They were just in their offense. They have the swoops, the motion, the bubbles and the outs and everything they were doing. We just had to execute.”
Though USC’s defense may have been bad, UCLA’s offense was just as good on the opposite side of the spectrum. Jackson didn’t short the Bruins of credit at all.
“The offense that they had, they were getting their points up,” Jackson said. “They were being very efficient. For the defense, we we’re just trying to stay out there and get stops… You just got to stay on your feet and anticipate. Not get out there flat and guess what they’re doing. Just anticipate and not guess.”
If you didn’t watch the game, you probably would have thought that USC got blown out from start to finish last night because of the post game reaction by many fans. That’s not entirely true though as USC entered the halftime break only down 10 points. The Trojans had to make a decision: would they come out fired up in the third quarter or come out downtrodden and let the game get away from them? Well, the latter happened and the rest is history.
Was this because of the poor USC defense or the skill of UCLA’s offense?
“The offense that they had, they were getting their points up,” Jackson said. “They were being very efficient. For the defense, we we’re just trying to stay out there and get stops… He (Hundley) is a great passer. He was fitting in the ball where he needed to. I give him credit for that… I knew he was going to be a good passer, but we just wanted to make sure he didn’t scramble as much as he did against other guys.”
Considering he was playing in his first crosstown rivalry, Jackson performed exceptionally well. His most notable play of the game came in the second quarter when Brett Hundley launched a deep ball intended for one of his wide receivers. It looked as if the intended receiver was wide open, but Adoree Jackson knew the pass wasn’t going to be caught.
“Yeah, I should have got an interception,” Jackson said. “Other than that, I was just trying to make a break on the ball. I saw him throw it. I was looking to see if the safety was over there, the post safety, but he wasn’t so I was just trying to make a play on the ball.”
With the loss to UCLA, Jackson lost his first big rivalry game and the team failed to accomplish their goal of going undefeated in November. Despite the loss, Jackson is ready to move on to next week’s opponent.
“I mean for me, I’m ready to bounce back,” Jackson said. “Get ready against Notre Dame, that’s how I feel about it… It was a big goal to go undefeated in November, but we can’t let this hang over our heads. We got to get ready for Notre Dame.”
Marshall Cherrington will be attending USC and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism beginning in January of 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @MWCherrington.