One of the big concerns heading into the 2015 season has been the usage of three-way superstar Adoree Jackson and the correct number of snaps for Jackson to participate in each game.
In the opener, against Arkansas State that proved not to be an issue. USC won handily, whooping up on the Red Wolves to the tune of 55-6, allowing everyone to see some time and the majority of the starters to take the fourth quarter off. But for Jackson that didn’t matter since he left the game with an abdominal strain in the first quarter and did not return.
In total, Jackson was in for six defensive plays at cornerback as the defense forced a pair of three-and-outs to start the game. He made an appearance on one offensive drive, participating in two plays, though neither time the play came his direction.
Jackson also was the returner for the opening kickoff when he scared everyone by trying to hurdle a defender whilst in traffic. Where he even thought he was going to land had the Arkansas State defender not clipped his legs is a mystery, but luckily his head over heels tumble did not end in an injury. Instead, Jackson’s night came to an end after he pulled up lame on a 31-yard punt return that had the potential to be something more special until Jackson felt a pain in his left side and ran out of bounds. It was his third snap as a punt returner giving him a total of 12 combined snaps in all three phases.
Jackson is expected to be back for the Idaho game this week after being a full-participant on Wednesday. While Jackson’s participation against Arkansas State didn’t need to be studied after his injury sent him out for the game, there were still plenty of things to cull from who was used and when.
The Trojans’ coaching staff has been pushing the concept of “platooning” rather than substitution to the players throughout the fall. But how would they actually implement it in the game? Below you will find the participation of each USC player in the Arkansas State game with their offensive or defensive snaps broken down by quarter. Special teams plays for the entirety of the game were also tallied to give a total snap count.
Some participation notes:
Wheeler here to play -When Steve Sarkisian said that Chad Wheeler was going to be his left tackle unless something unforeseen happened last week, he wasn’t kidding. Wheeler played every offensive snap through the first three quarters. Max Tuerk also played every snap, but also continued at center for the first drive of the fourth quarter after Max Browne took over at quarterback.
Banner vs. Edoga -Zach Banner actually graded out as one of the best offensive linemen in Saturday’s game from the film I’ve studied thus far (through most of the first three quarters). He also is the only player in a platoon with Toa Lobendahn bouncing around to different spots and Wheeler and Tuerk staying in all the time. So how were the snaps split between Banner and Chuma Edoga?
Banner took 38 snaps through the first three quarters while Edoga took 14. Of the Trojans’ first 14 drives, Banner started 10 of them at right tackle. Edoga replaced Banner on the second play from scrimmage after Banner had a shoe come off, but that was the only time there was a mid-series switch.
On the move -Toa Lobendahn moved around to three different positions, spending six of the first nine USC offensive drives at right guard where he started the game. The other three drives saw him replaced by Viane Talamaivao. The duo played the first three drives of the second half together with Lobendahn moving to left guard in place of Damien Mama. After having the final drive of the third quarter off, Lobendahn then moved to left tackle for Max Browne’s first series.
Rodgers plays two -Khaliel Rodgers also played two different spots on the offensive line. With Max Tuerk staying in the game for Max Browne’s initial series, Rodgers slid over to right guard. But the next drive and the final kneel down, Rodgers was the one snapping the ball.
“OR” not -The tight end position was supposed to still be up in the air with Taylor McNamara, Tyler Petite and Connor Spears all listed as “OR” on the depth chart. That’s not how things played out on Saturday night. McNamara took 36 snaps in the first three quarters while Petite and Spears combined to participate on only 15 in the same time.
McNamara started the first seven drives of the game at the tight end spot and only came out when he called to the sideline for a substitution late in the first quarter.
Behind Tre -Tre Madden had 33 snaps in the game — all coming in the first three quarters. He had 12 carries and two catches meaning the ball was going to him more than two-thirds of the time he was in the game. When Madden wasn’t in the game, the first back to come in was Soma Vainuku on a long third down.
When Madden was given the fourth drive of the game off, USC mixed and matched. Dominic Davis began the drive with two snaps. Vainuku got one and then Ronald Jones II saw his first action for three plays before Madden took the final two snaps of the drive. A second quarter drive Madden was out for saw the order reversed: Jones II for three plays, Vainuku for two, Davis for a play and back to Vainuku for two goal-to-go plays.
In the late stages of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, they began giving the backup rushers entire series, but expect them to use particular backups for particular reasons that maximize their skill sets when they are just giving the workhorse a breather going forward.
True fullback -Jahleel Pinner played 13 offensive plays and those were all lined up as a traditional fullback. Vainuku, on the other hand, participated in seven plays and was the only back in the backfield for the first six before the final kneel down.
Playing through the pain -Steven Mitchell Jr. appeared to take a helmet to the back of the hand on the first play of the third series. He later left the game because of the injury, but before departing, he played another 23 snaps. It was only after he landed on the hand again while trying to brace himself in the third quarter after being slung out of bounds that he ended up coming out of the game for good.
Backup slot -Behind Mitchell Jr. is supposed to be Adoree’, but with him sidelined those reps went to Christian Tober and Jalen Greene. Tober got the first opportunity and played one more offensive snap overall than Greene (11 to 10).
The “platoon” movement was much more evident on the defensive side of the ball where unit groups were coming and going with regularity, which actually makes it a little more difficult to find any trends from Saturday night’s performance.
Hmmm…? -One of the most interesting units to watch on the participation chart was the defensive backs. Unlike other position groups, the defensive backs are still shallow in terms of three-deep bodies — especially when you lose a starter like Jackson to an injury early. For example, senior starting cornerback Kevon Seymour played the first three series and then sat the next three series. Seymour took 49 snaps that were balanced over all four quarters: 11, 11, 15 and 12.
The other scholarship defensive backs each got 30+ snaps with starting safety John Plattenburg surprisingly having the fewest with 32. But Plattenburg played only one snap in the fourth quarter while Leon McQuay III saw 11 plays in the quarter and freshman Marvell Tell had 22. Chris Hawkins had only four fourth quarter snaps, but finished just two snaps shy of Jonathan Lockett’s team-high 55 defensive snaps.
With the cornerbacks down to a three-man rotation of Lockett, Seymour and Iman Marshall, Hawkins moved over to cornerback for a handful of snaps in the second half, which pushed him into the 50s, but the safeties were able to keep their reps down with some extra bodies, including walk-on Matt Lopes, who played 16 snaps on defense.
Over 40 club -Outside of the defensive backs, there was only a handful of players that saw more than 40 plays on defense. The indispensable Su’a Cravens played 44 plays in three quarters and didn’t see the field in the fourth. Cameron Smith and Delvon Simmons only saw one fourth quarter play on defense, but both made the over 40 club with 43 and 42 plays, respectively. Porter Gustin also participated in 42 plays, but 23 of those came in the fourth quarter when a lot of younger guys got extensive action.
Next in line -Gustin appeared to be the second man off the bench at the rush end position behind Scott Felix. Does that mean he’s supplanted Jabari Ruffin as the backup? Not necessarily. Gustin and Ruffin both played an equal 19 snaps through the first three quarters (Felix played 28). All three players were given their opportunities with each player getting a series at the position to open the game. Gustin got the next drive after that, but Felix definitely was used for more significant stretches in the second and third quarters.
The rush end as a whole didn’t have a ton of production in the game because the Arkansas State offense ran to the wide side of the field almost exclusively, which is why the linebackers/safeties on that side had more tackles and big plays. Gustin also got in on that action in certain instances because USC used both Gustin and Felix together to rush the quarterback on passing situations.
Line in, line out, line mix -The defensive line groupings appeared clear. Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons and Greg Townsend are the first unit, followed by Cody Temple, Malik Dorton and Kenny Bigelow with a three-string freshman unit of Noah Jefferson, Rasheem Green and Jacob Daniel.
And it started out just that way with units going an entire drive and then switching. Lines shifted in and out and it was an entire line change, but then defensive line coach Chris Wilson started to mix and match with the nose tackles. Temple joined the freshman line for a series. He was with the starters one series. Daniel was with the second group and Woods played some with the freshman line.
The most any grouping went was three plays until Arkansas State put a legitimate drive together on their last possession of the first half. The starting unit stayed in for eight plays in a row then. It was a precursor for the second and third lines as each got a long extended drive where they had to stay on the field and fight through the exhaustion.
While I believe these to be correct, because I am pulling this from the televised game footage, I can not be 100 percent sure that a safety didn't switch in for one single play and switch back out or something of that nature.
|Offensive/Defensive Snaps||ST Snaps||Total Plays|
|1 - Darreus Rogers||17||12||5||0||34||7||41|
|2- Adoree' Jackson||8||0||0||0||8||4||12|
|4 - Max Browne||0||0||0||13||13||13|
|4 - Chris Hawkins||14||13||22||4||53||6||59|
|6 - Cody Kessler||25||14||13||0||52||52|
|7 - Steven Mitchell||20||8||4||0||32||32|
|7 - Marvell Tell||6||6||11||22||45||13||58|
|8 - Iman Marshall||8||16||17||13||54||16||70|
|9 - Juju Smith-Schuster||19||12||4||0||35||2||37|
|10 - Jalen Greene||0||3||4||3||10||10|
|13 - Kevon Seymour||11||11||15||12||49||12||61|
|15 - Isaac Whitney||8||1||9||10||28||28|
|16 - Dominic Davis||2||1||0||4||7||9||16|
|17 - Kris Albarado||6||6|
|19 - Conner Sullivan||8||8|
|19 - Michael Hutchings||3||10||7||15||35||3||38|
|21 - Su'a Cravens||14||14||16||0||44||2||46|
|22 - Leon McQuay III||1||12||12||11||36||14||50|
|23 - Tre Madden||18||6||9||0||33||33|
|23 - Jonathan Lockett||3||18||16||18||55||8||63|
|24 - John Plattenburg||8||13||10||1||32||2||34|
|25 - Ronald Jones II||3||3||4||0||10||10|
|26 - James Toland||1||1|
|28 - Aca'cedric Ware||0||0||0||9||9||3||12|
|29 - Christian Tober||1||3||3||4||11||6||17|
|31- Soma Vainuku||2||4||0||1||7||15||22|
|34 - Olajuwon Tucker||5||10||10||1||26||7||33|
|35 - Cameron Smith||10||13||19||1||43||10||53|
|37 - Matt Lopes||0||5||0||11||16||13||29|
|38 - Jahleel Pinner||2||1||2||8||13||2||15|
|39 - Alex Wood||16||16|
|40 - Jabari Ruffin||3||8||8||0||19||10||29|
|42 - Uchenna Nwosu||0||10||12||12||34||20||54|
|44 - Malik Dorton||5||6||7||7||25||25|
|45 - Porter Gustin||7||6||6||23||42||2||44|
|47 - Scott Felix||5||11||12||0||28||1||29|
|48 - Taylor McNamara||20||7||9||0||36||36|
|50 - Toa Lobendahn||21||9||9||4||43||9||52|
|50 - Grant Moore||0||0||0||11||11||11|
|51 - Damien Mama||17||14||0||4||35||14||49|
|51 - Joel Foy||0||0||0||3||3||5||8|
|52 - Delvon Simmons||9||13||19||1||42||3||45|
|54 - Reuben Peters||0||0||0||7||7||7||14|
|56 - Anthony Sarao||7||11||12||0||30||9||39|
|58 - Osa Masina||2||3||4||19||28||28|
|60 - Viane Talamaivao||4||5||13||9||31||8||39|
|62 - Khaliel Rodgers||0||0||0||13||13||13|
|70 - Chuma Edoga||7||5||2||9||23||23|
|72 - Chad Wheeler||25||14||13||0||52||52|
|73 - Zach Banner||18||9||11||4||42||14||56|
|74 - Nico Falah||0||0||0||9||9||9|
|75 - Max Tuerk||25||14||13||4||56||56|
|77 - Chris Brown||8||0||4||9||21||8||29|
|81 - Connor Spears||3||3||0||8||14||8||22|
|82 - Tyler Petite||1||4||4||5||14||14|
|83 - George Katrib||15||15|
|85 - David Mellstrom||0||0||0||1||1||1|
|86 - Robby Kolanz||0||0||0||2||2||2|
|89 - De'Quan Hampton||6||2||8||9||25||25|
|91 - Noah Jefferson||0||5||0||15||20||20|
|92 - Jacob Daniel||0||3||0||14||17||17|
|92 - Zach Smith||14||14|
|93 - Greg Townsend||8||12||18||1||39||3||42|
|94 - Rasheem Green||0||5||0||15||20||20|
|95 - Kenny Bigelow||5||6||8||7||26||26|
|98 - Cody Temple||5||7||15||6||33||15||48|
|99 - Antwaun Woods||9||14||11||3||37||2||39|
For the defensive players, I also broke down when certain players were on the field, taking a look at the specific downs they played. While these numbers did get slightly skewed in the fourth quarter when the backups played all three downs, it is still interesting to see which players at similar positions were on the field for which downs more frequently.
|2 - Adoree' Jackson||2||2||2|
|4 - Chris Hawkins||22||16||13||2|
|7 - Marvell Tell||19||16||8||2|
|8 - Iman Marshall||20||18||13||3|
|13 - Kevon Seymour||22||15||10||2|
|19 - Michael Hutchings||17||13||4||1|
|21 - Su'a Cravens||18||13||12||1|
|22 - Leon McQuay III||12||12||9||2|
|23 - Jonathan Lockett||22||20||10||3|
|24 - John Plattenburg||11||9||10||2|
|34 - Olajuwon Tucker||9||8||7||2|
|35 - Cameron Smith||16||14||11||2|
|37 - Matt Lopes||8||6||2|
|40 - Jabari Ruffin||10||7||2|
|42 - Uchenna Nwosu||14||13||5||2|
|44 - Malik Dorton||10||8||6||1|
|45 - Porter Gustin||15||14||10||3|
|47 - Scott Felix||10||8||9||1|
|50 - Grant Moore||4||4||2||1|
|51 - Joel Foy||1||1||1|
|52 - Delvon Simmons||17||13||10||2|
|54 - Reuben Peters||2||2||2||1|
|56 - Anthony Sarao||14||9||7|
|58 - Osa Masina||12||11||4||1|
|91 - Noah Jefferson||8||8||3||1|
|92 - Jacob Daniel||7||6||3||1|
|93 - Greg Townsend||16||13||8||2|
|94 - Rasheem Green||8||8||3||1|
|95 - Kenny Bigelow||11||8||6||1|
|98 - Cody Temple||11||12||9||1|
|99 - Antwaun Woods||17||11||7||2|