Doing the 'D' . . . by the numbers

Better buy a program and sharpen up your speed reading to keep up with Saturday's all-out substituting for USC's Trojans.

The big talk Wednesday was about that moment in the first quarter Saturday when USC fans realize they've seen more defensive substitutions than in a typical game for last year's scholarship-deprived Trojans team.

Justin Wilcox will be the ringmaster here although the Trojans defensive coordinator says he hopes the Arkansas State game at the Coliseum (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) doesn't come off like "a three-ring circus."

But there will be lots going on according to USC's substitution scenario -- although "it can't be a rigid one," Wilcox says. The Trojans will be subbing entire position groups, subbing by numbers of plays, subbing one player at a time, subbing for need or necessity or depth in a certain situation, going for a "friendly substitution" where the ball is right in front of the USC bench and just in general, subbing a whole lot.

Could he actually go through his entire available-for-gameday list of players by the end of the first quarter? Wilcox isn't saying. But he's not saying he won't.

"That's a tough question to answer," he says.

But to a series of possible sub scenario questions, his answers are consistent: "It's possible . . . it could happen . . . could be . . . that could happen" and finally, "it's possible, it is possible."

Not that the calls will all go through Wilcox. His position coaches will be charged with getting the right guys in and out of the game according to the plan.

And according to the game. "It's not like offense where you can sub in a wide receiver and call a play for him," Wilcox says. "You could sub a corner in and they immediately throw a fade [on him]." So he'd better be ready because the other team is calling the plays.

One thing Wilcox notes is how the Trojans players have gone so far as to study both the rules for subbing and "the mechanics of the referees" since "the guy in the white hat" controls the personnel flow to the field.

One player Wilcox will have the chance to sub -- some of the time anyway -- is Adoree' Jackson, who has been going in his white defensive jersey this week. A player so special, Wilcox says, Adoree' "could cover himself."

Although on this day, Steve Sarkisian had to do a little calming of Adoree' himself after a dropped deep ball the obviously frustrated sophomore normally catches with ease.

"You'll see that Saturday," Sark said of Adoree swinging back and forth. As to the frustration on the drop, Sark said that shouldn't be a surprise. "Adoree holds himself to another standard -- he makes it look routine." And when it doesn't happen, he's not happy.

One thing Sark did was walk over to Adoree' and tell him: "I'm not worried about it. You're going to catch it Saturday -- and we're going to call it."

But another special, not to mention young, player came on line Wednesday for his first serious contact team work -- defensive end Rasheem Green. The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Serra product was fully cleared after a senior season knee injury and good to go.

"He's done a great job getting back," Wilcox said. "And he's doing great. We'll see." As to his health/injury situation, "Coach Sark will talk about that," he said.

"Rasheem's cleared to play," Steve Sarkisian said of his addition to a D-line that had a "much better pad level" and made it noticeably tougher for the offense to run on when they were going "goods against goods" Wednesday.

One of those goods, with "the long arms" and an athletic frame that fits well in Leonard Williams' old No. 94, was Rasheem. He's one of those guys who looks great in his stance -- but it doesn't stop there.

"He's looked really good the last two days," Sark said of the explosive Green in his first team contact work. "He will play Saturday."

And he will be on Wilcox' list.


Freshman tight end Tyler Petite just keeps catching everything that hits his hands including on the play to end the day as he was heading out of bounds under coverage when he extended his left hand to softly cup a 20-yard toss from Cody and bring it back to his right hand before he went out of bounds . . . that's beginning to be the norm for Tyler . . . three of the four players Sark described as "very limited" Tuesday were pretty much taken off the board for Saturday by the coach: Lamar Dawson, Justin Davis, Claude Pelon although Pelon's scoped knee was a little more definitive than the rib cartilage and fracture issues for Davis and Dawson . . . best hope for those three is to be ready for Game 2 against Idaho, Sark said . . . USC alums Al Cowlings and Public Storage founder and billionaire donor Wayne Hughes were here for the start of Wednesday's practice and stayed all the way . . . neat little prepractice detail has the up guys for kickoff returns -- tight ends Connor Spears, Taylor McNamara and Petite along with fullback Soma Vainuku -- work on catching pooch kicks. Not sure if that's an Arkansas State thing or just a season prep thing for a USC team with Adoree' as the return guy . . . Also squib kicks and onside kicks and the whole gamut of prep work you didn't see a year ago . . . freshmen Marvell Tell and Biggie Marshall are next to one another on the first kickoff coverage team with another freshman, Cameron Smith, bracketed on the other side around Tre Madden . . . no word on Jordan Simmons whose knee doesn't look like it's going to let him go hard right now . . . Ykili Ross out there and active in team again but in a noncontact yellow jersey for a second straight day.

CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Wednesday's workout, check out WEDNESDAY ARKANSAS STATE WEEK GHOST NOTES.

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