It's not a surprise now. Tuesday when Adoree Jackson wore his Cardinal jersey and lined up with the offense, the pass-happy practice went the offense's way. Two pass reception TD's for Adoree certainly helped.
Then on Thursday, when Adoree was back at in White at corner, well, the scales were tipped in the favor of a pressing, man-to-man covering defense.
"I'm just happy to be on the side that won," Adoree said, not taking credit for anything here. But even though he was part of an offense that won the day Tuesday, he was part of the defense trying to get back at those guys Thursday -- even if he was one of "those guys."
It just makes sense when you think of it. Not only does the group that gets Adoree have the benefit of his presence, the unit that loses him is down a man. So that's a difference of two players, actually -- two very good players. This should not be a surprise.
And sure, "it makes it a lot harder" on the offense, Steve Sarkisian said with the way the defense was "flying around" through most of Spring Practice No. 14. And it only made sense, he said, for "the defense, that -- one -- they got Adoree back and -- two -- the pride factor."
That pride factor, Sark said, "is the sign of a good team . . . they didn't like it," he said of the big offensive plays Tuesday, and in addition to getting Adoree back, they got a "phenomenal day" from Su'a Cravens, whose leaping, one-handed, lefthanded inerception grab against Cody Kessler may have been the singlemost spectacular play of the spring.
Long after most players had vacated the field, Adoree was catching punts from the Juggs gun. No big deal, he said. He expects to return both kickoffs and punts in the fall. And he promises to let Sark know "if it's too much," he said with a wink acknowledging that it won't be.
New kicks for the kickers
No way you couldn't notice their new soccer shoes. All the kickers had the $220 electric green/yellow cleats and were trying them out for the first time Thursday. Punter Kris Albarado, who normally wears a 9 1/2 or 10 wears a Size 8 on his right kicking foot. And today was for getting used to them.
It's been a different sort of spring for the kickers in the cramped quarters of Cromwell Field. Instead of punting off to the side like he could on Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Field, Albarado would do things like walk the track working on dropping the ball and locking in his muscle memory. "That's the most important part of the punt," Albarado says. And while there's no team punting in the spring, they video all the individual prepractice punting to the return guys "and I study it every day," he says. And as a senior, "you know it's your last go-round playing for a great university . . . you're more meticulous about it."
Kickoff man Alex Wood, part of the two-man competition for field goals and kickoffs with Matt Boermeester that isn't anywhere close to being settled, Sark said, agreed that "we may have lost a little focus," at the finish Thursday. "We were told we wouldn't be kicking" and then the script changed and they were hustled into 11-on-11 to quickly kick under game conditions. "That's good for us, putting us into situations we weren't used to," Wood said. Just as they weren't used to the new shoes.
The best thing the offense had going for itself Thursday was Steven Mitchell making plays, getting the ball in space, often just on quick, short stuff and then . . . and then he'd plant, stop, let the defender fly by and explode in a different direction. Twice for TDs.
"That's what he was," Sark said before Mitchell's ACL surgery before his freshman year. "He's got his confidence back now. It's electric when he does that. He's hard for a defensive back to cover much less a linebacker."
USC finishes up with the 15th spring practice session Saturday at 3 p.m. with the Spring Game at the Coliseum . . . Tickets are $10 . . . Game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks . . . you can start the day with the USCFootball.com Tailgate Party at noon in lot 6 . Don't miss it . . . We'll get the depth chart and way the team will be divided up Friday with the game scoring rules for what will be more like a practice than a game . . . still not enough players for that, Sark says . . . Despite some reports to the contrary, DT Claude Pelon was available for the entire practice Thursday and said he'd just had a bruise on his left shoulder that had a bit of extra padding . . . Tre Madden got the chance to try one Wildcat play and almost surely would have had more had he been able to go all spring . . . Khaliel Rodgers was back for the second day from his shoulder problem that had him out last week and took over second team center duties allowing Toa Lobendahn to stay with the first team left tackle again . . .CHECK THIS OUT: More details on Thursday's workout at THURSDAY SPRING DAY 14 GHOST NOTES.
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