Ronald Jones II twice had what appeared to be long touchdown runs against Idaho end without six points on the board. The first touchdown that wasn’t came on a 31-yard second quarter scamper that was called back when center Max Tuerk was called for a holding penalty. On Jones II’s second not-to-be-touchdown, he was ruled down on the 1-yard line after a 44-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Luckily, he was able to dig into the end zone on the next play for the second career touchdown for the true freshman from Texas. Jones II has shown his explosive playmaking ability in the first two weeks and that has resulted in him getting more and more opportunities from the beginning of fall camp through the first two games.
In the season-opening 55-6 win against Arkansas State, Jones II ran for 86 yards despite being in the game on only 10 offensive plays. Six of those plays, Jones II ended up toting the rock. His participation numbers were similar to the other two freshmen rushers with Aca’Cedric Ware getting nine plays and Dominic Davis being in seven times on offense.
A week later in a second blowout, Ware got the same number of plays while Davis got one more. However, Jones II was in on 24 plays and not just to carry the ball every time. Rather than the 60 percent carry rate he had in Week 1, Jones II’s percentage dropped to 33 percent, which shows the coaches are trusting him to do more than just carry the ball (something defenses will start to key on very quickly if it had continued). And yet, Jones II still led the team in rushing with 83 yards on eight carries.
Jones II wasn’t the only player to see his number of opportunities change from the first to second game. Here’s some more participation notes from a game that saw USC use 81 different players, including 19 current or former walk-ons:
Kicking the feet up -
Part of the reason that Jones II was able to get such an increase in playing time is because he was the lead back in the second half. Tre Madden played 33 snaps in the opener while junior Justin Davis was held out with a rib cartilage injury. Against Idaho, the duo did damage in the first half, combining to rush for four scores and 114 yards on 12 carries, but they could have showered at halftime and changed back into their street clothes. Neither was needed and neither saw the field in the second half.
Leading the way -
Whether it was something Idaho presented or something the Trojans want to do more of in the future is undetermined, but there was a lot of fullback on Saturday. Jahleel Pinner produced some crushing lead blocks that set the tone and pathway for some of USC’s big runs. Both he and backup Soma Vainuku saw increased time, combining for 34 offensive plays after just 20 in the season opener. The Trojans used a lot of two wide receiver sets with a tight end and a fullback. With the way Pinner was blocking, it’s something you might see more of this weekend when trying to run against Stanford.
Missing reps -
The increase in two wide receiver sets is partially to blame for a decrease in participation from the second-tier of receivers. Isaac Whitney, Christian Tober and De’Quan Hampton all saw their chances shrink. Tober went from 11 offensive plays to just two, which you would think would partially be attributed to Steven Mitchell Jr. being healthy for the entire game, but Mitchell Jr. actually played two plays less this week than the opener as well. Hampton’s drop was nearly as precipitous going from 25 snaps to just seven. Another factor, of course, is that a number of walk-ons got opportunities during the fourth quarter over the scholarship players. David Mellstrom, George Katrib, Robby Kolanz and Yoofi Quansah combined for 30 fourth quarter snaps.
Where’d they go? -
On USC’s final offensive play of the first quarter, Cody Kessler launched a 50-yard deep ball to Juju Smith-Schuster for a touchdown. The Trojans’ starting offensive line unit gave Kessler plenty of time to deliver a beautiful pass for the score.
That was the last time in the first half that the starting o-line unit would be seen. Max Tuerk and Chad Wheeler remained in the game, but the other three spots saw changes. Zach Banner and Damien Mama didn’t see a single offensive snap in the second half while Toa Lobendahn continued to trampoline around, bouncing to left guard for USC’s 9-play, 65-yard drive to open the second quarter. On the next drive, he came in to give Chris Brown a blow after Jones II’s called back touchdown run and threw a key block on a big screen pass to Madden on the next play.
But the bigger question is what is going to happen to Banner and Mama in the rotation going forward. Both came back in after halftime and played the entire offensive third quarter — all nine plays — before taking a seat for the remainder of the game on offense. Was this an audition of sorts for Chuma Edoga and/or the guard duo of Viane Talamaivao and Brown? Or possibly it was a chance to rest up Mama and Banner, the two biggest Trojans on a hot and muggy evening? After playing a combined 77 plays in the opener, Banner and Mama both had 23 offensive snaps each.
We expect to see Edoga and Talamaivao get opportunities, but it was surprising to see them get the entire second quarter. Their play totals, obviously, took an uptick. The experienced sophomore, Talamaivao, went from 31 offensive snaps against Arkansas State to 43 on Saturday. Brown’s grew from 21 to 31, but Edoga was the biggest beneficiary gaining 25 snaps (23 to 48).
Sticking with -
While there has been plenty of real-life application of the platoon system, when it comes to the offensive line, we’ve seen very little real-time application in the regard of mid-drive switches. Offensive line coach Bob Connelly has allowed who starts a drive to get in a rhythm and work the entire drive unless they need a sub. Other than Lobendahn relieving Brown on Jones II’s called-back run, in-drive subs have been rare on the offensive line.
Formation breakdown -
Someone asked for formation breakdowns last week, so I took a really, quick simplistic look this week, which means I may have miscategorized a couple, but this gives a general feel of how the Trojan offense lined up against Idaho:
24 - Two-receiver, tight end, running back, fullback at H-back
23 - Three-wide, tight end, running back
12 - Four-wide with running back (three WR + TE)
6 - Two-receiver, tight end, two backs
3 - Three-wide, running back, fullback at H-back
2 - Four-wide with running back
1- No-back, four-wide with tight end
1 - Three-wide, two backs
1 - Two-receiver, tight end, running back, fullback wide
DEFENSEThe difference in quality defensive depth has been stunning this season. There are actually viable options for the position coaches to rotate in and out at will. That may not be any more evident than on the defensive line where coach Chris Wilson has rotated through 10 bodies rather than having to rely on Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods for seemingly every play. Thus far this season, Delvon Simmons leads the defensive line with 81 plays, but that’s over two games whereas Big Leonard racked up that many a couple of Saturdays last year.
Here’s some other defensive participation notes:
100-play club -
There are only eight players that have surpassed the 100-play threshold thus far this season. Half of those players are defensive backs. Iman Marshall leads all Trojans with 137 plays this season thanks to him contributing on 35 plays for various special teams units so far. Marshall is joined by Marvell Tell III, who led the team in defensive plays (50) against Idaho, Chris Hawkins and Kevon Seymour.
There are three offensive guys in the 100-play club — three guys that don’t leave the field until the game is no longer in doubt. Quarterback Cody Kessler is joined by roommate Max Tuerk and his blindside protector, Chad Wheeler.
It is a bit surprising that the final member of the 100-play club is another freshman. Middle linebacker Cameron Smith’s 19 plays on special teams have him sitting squarely on the century mark. Smith’s playing time might decrease this week with senior Lamar Dawson possibly coming back from his rib injury.
PT shifts -
A couple of other returns changed the defensive rotations and the dynamics of the play counts from the first game. With Claude Pelon back from his arthroscopic knee surgery, the defensive line units got a shift. Malik Dorton and Kenny Bigelow were the ends beside nose tackle Cody Temple on the second defensive line against Arkansas State, but that got a facelift. Along with Pelon, highly touted freshman Rasheem Green, who is also coming off a knee surgery, joined the second line.
Bigelow and Dorton both made some plays in Week 1, but saw the field for only 23 combined plays this week. Dorton took the biggest hit with his snap count being reduced from 25 to eight plays — one drive in the third quarter and one drive in the fourth quarter. Bigelow dropped from 26 snaps down to 14, but still saw some action in the first half as well as in the third and fourth quarters.
Outside linebacker Quinton Powell was another player that returned Week 2 after missing the opener. He was thrust right into the rotation in the first quarter as the third SAM linebacker behind Su’a Cravens and Uchenna Nwosu. Powell got some good run, participating in 29 defensive plays (15 of those coming in the fourth quarter) and 48 overall. The addition of Powell cut Nwosu’s time exactly in half from 34 defensive plays to 17.
Half time -
Jabari Ruffin also saw half, but his half was losing half his plays. Ruffin saw half the action as the two rush ends in front of him. But what’s interesting is that each of the three players started the same number of drives (if you exclude Felix taking the final snap before halftime right after USC kicked a field goal). That means Ruffin helped his defensive unit get off the field in half the time it took Scott Felix and Porter Gustin.
Drop off -
Gustin also saw a drastic drop in number of plays (42 to 24), but that’s because he didn’t play the entire fourth quarter like he did against Arkansas State. Instead, Don Hill got his first opportunity as a Trojan and played well during his 15 defensive plays.
Another player that saw a precipitous reduction in snap count was Jonathan Lockett. Even though Lockett started at cornerback, he fell 30 plays shy of his 55-play participation against the Red Wolves in the first game. This can be attributed partially to him playing only one snap in the fourth quarter with a pair of walk-ons getting a chance to play. That cost him up to 14 plays and there was an expected decline for each of the cornerbacks with Adoree’ Jackson returning for a full game
Paired up? -
Lockett starting over Kevon Seymour definitely raised some eyebrows, but could it be possible that USC wants to pair its four cornerbacks up to have two balanced pairings that can be subbed in and out together. There is little questioning that Seymour and Jackson are the two best corners, so separating them makes each unit a little more equal. Potentially, they could use the pairings through the first three quarters and then go with the two top guys when it matters most in the fourth quarter or something of that nature. Not sure that’s actually the plan, but just a theory.
Nickel for your thoughts -
Twice in the game, USC actually went to a nickel package, something they’ve been reluctant to show or use thus far. On the first defensive series of the game, Marshall came on for a third-and-6 play in place of Cam Smith. Late in the third quarter, Seymour entered for Osa Masina to give the Trojans another defensive back. Nickel and dime packages might be a little more scarce than normal years with the depth concerns the secondary still has, but when a team has to throw the ball to catch up, USC has something to go to.
30 spuds -
In the third quarter, the USC offense ran only nine plays (on two touchdown drives) because Idaho ran a whopping 30 plays in the quarter. That is just shy of half the Trojans’ overall total against Arkansas State.
Part of the reason Cody Kessler and company didn’t have many plays is because of how efficient they were with the ball. There was one stretch where the USC offense had nine consecutive plays that were first-and-10! Hard to have a lot of third down conversions when you don’t even get to second down.
Again, 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||15||16||7||-||38||10||48|
|2 - Adoree' Jackson||10||11||17||-||38||8||46|
|4 - Max Browne||-||-||-||18||18||-||18|
|4 - Chris Hawkins||9||11||20||-||40||4||44|
|6 - Cody Kessler||17||28||9||-||54||-||54|
|7 - Steven Mitchell||7||18||5||-||30||1||31|
|7 - Marvell Tell||12||3||20||15||50||14||64|
|8 - Iman Marshall||14||5||24||5||48||19||67|
|9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster||13||17||8||-||38||3||41|
|10 - Jalen Greene||-||9||-||4||13||-||13|
|13 - Kevon Seymour||13||5||11||4||33||11||44|
|15 - Isaac Whitney||4||10||2||4||20||-||20|
|15 - Michael Bowman||-||-||-||1||1||-||1|
|16 - Dominic Davis||-||4||-||4||8||1||9|
|17 - Kris Albarado||-||-||-||-||0||3||3|
|18- Quinton Powell||6||1||7||15||29||19||48|
|19 - Conner Sullivan||-||-||-||1||1||8||9|
|19 - Michael Hutchings||3||5||6||-||14||5||19|
|21 - Su'a Cravens||12||7||13||-||32||-||32|
|22 - Justin Davis||4||5||-||-||9||-||9|
|22 - Leon McQuay III||8||1||12||-||21||13||34|
|23 - Tre Madden||9||7||-||-||16||-||16|
|23 - Jonathan Lockett||8||7||9||1||25||10||35|
|24 - John Plattenburg||8||9||4||-||21||4||25|
|25 - Ronald Jones II||3||7||9||5||24||-||24|
|26 - James Toland||-||-||-||4||4||2||6|
|28 - Aca'cedric Ware||-||5||-||4||9||5||14|
|29 - Christian Tober||-||1||-||1||2||8||10|
|29 - Kevin Carrasco||-||-||-||10||10||2||12|
|31- Soma Vainuku||-||-||-||10||10||17||27|
|34 - Yoofi Quansah||-||-||-||3||3||-||3|
|34 - Olajuwon Tucker||8||1||8||-||17||-||17|
|35 - Cameron Smith||9||7||22||-||38||9||47|
|37 - Matt Lopes||5||-||4||15||24||14||38|
|38 - Jahleel Pinner||9||11||4||-||24||3||27|
|38 - Jalen Jones||-||-||-||10||10||3||13|
|39 - Alex Wood||-||-||-||-||0||19||19|
|40 - Jabari Ruffin||3||4||5||-||12||13||25|
|42 - Uchenna Nwosu||3||4||10||-||17||21||38|
|44 - Malik Dorton||-||-||3||5||8||-||8|
|45 - Porter Gustin||5||7||12||-||24||3||27|
|47 - Cyrus Hobbi||-||-||-||7||7||-||7|
|47 - Scott Felix||13||1||13||27||1||28|
|48 - Taylor McNamara||11||8||5||-||24||-||24|
|50 - Toa Lobendahn||17||11||9||-||37||8||45|
|50 - Grant Moore||-||-||-||-||0||2||2|
|51 - Damien Mama||14||-||9||-||23||8||31|
|51 - Joel Foy||-||-||-||12||12||11||23|
|52 - Delvon Simmons||16||8||15||-||39||-||39|
|54 - Reuben Peters||-||-||-||15||15||12||27|
|56 - Jordan Austin||-||-||-||4||4||-||4|
|56 - Anthony Sarao||7||7||13||-||27||6||33|
|58 - Osa Masina||14||4||10||3||31||4||35|
|59 - Don Hill||-||-||-||15||15||2||17|
|60 - Viane Talamaivao||3||28||13||44||8||52|
|62 - Khaliel Rodgers||-||-||-||20||20||-||20|
|64 - Richie Wenzel||-||-||-||5||5||-||5|
|65 - Erick Jepsen||-||-||-||7||7||-||7|
|70 - Chuma Edoga||3||28||-||17||48||-||48|
|72 - Chad Wheeler||17||28||6||-||51||-||51|
|73 - Zach Banner||14||-||9||-||23||12||35|
|74 - Nico Falah||-||-||3||20||23||-||23|
|75 - Max Tuerk||17||28||9||54||-||54|
|77 - Chris Brown||-||17||-||14||31||9||40|
|80 - Deontay Burnett||-||-||-||9||9||-||9|
|81 - Connor Spears||2||8||1||4||15||8||23|
|82 - Tyler Petite||4||7||3||9||23||-||23|
|83 - George Katrib||-||-||-||9||9||16||25|
|85 - David Mellstrom||-||-||-||11||11||-||11|
|86 - Robby Kolanz||-||-||-||7||7||2||9|
|89 - De'Quan Hampton||2||2||1||2||7||-||7|
|90 - Claude Pelon||5||4||16||-||25||5||30|
|91 - Noah Jefferson||-||-||3||15||18||2||20|
|92 - Jacob Daniel||-||-||3||15||18||2||20|
|92 - Zach Smith||-||-||-||-||0||12||12|
|93 - Greg Townsend||16||8||15||-||39||1||40|
|94 - Rasheem Green||5||1||6||5||17||2||19|
|95 - Kenny Bigelow||-||3||6||5||14||1||15|
|98 - Cody Temple||7||4||12||-||23||13||36|
|99 - Antwaun Woods||14||8||15||-||37||37|
Here's also a look at the numbers for the first two games of the season:
|Offensive/Defensive Snaps||Total Plays|
|Arky St||Idaho||Season||Arky St||Idaho||Season|
|1 - Darreus Rogers||34||38||72||1 - Darreus Rogers||41||48||89|
|2 - Adoree' Jackson||8||38||46||2 - Adoree' Jackson||12||46||58|
|4 - Max Browne||13||18||31||4 - Max Browne||13||18||31|
|4 - Chris Hawkins||53||40||93||4 - Chris Hawkins||59||44||103|
|6 - Cody Kessler||52||54||106||6 - Cody Kessler||52||54||106|
|7 - Steven Mitchell||32||30||62||7 - Steven Mitchell||32||30||62|
|7 - Marvell Tell||45||50||95||7 - Marvell Tell||58||64||122|
|8 - Iman Marshall||54||48||102||8 - Iman Marshall||70||67||137|
|9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster||35||38||73||9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster||37||41||78|
|10 - Jalen Greene||10||13||23||10 - Jalen Greene||10||13||23|
|13 - Kevon Seymour||49||33||82||13 - Kevon Seymour||61||44||105|
|15 - Isaac Whitney||28||20||48||15 - Isaac Whitney||28||20||48|
|15 - Michael Bowman||-||1||1||15 - Michael Bowman||-||1||1|
|16 - Dominic Davis||7||8||15||16 - Dominic Davis||16||9||25|
|17 - Kris Albarado||-||-||0||17 - Kris Albarado||6||3||9|
|18- Quinton Powell||-||29||29||18- Quinton Powell||-||48||48|
|19 - Conner Sullivan||-||1||1||19 - Conner Sullivan||8||9||17|
|19 - Michael Hutchings||35||14||49||19 - Michael Hutchings||38||19||57|
|21 - Su'a Cravens||44||32||76||21 - Su'a Cravens||46||32||78|
|22 - Justin Davis||-||9||9||22 - Justin Davis||-||9||9|
|22 - Leon McQuay III||36||21||57||22 - Leon McQuay III||50||34||84|
|23 - Tre Madden||33||16||49||23 - Tre Madden||33||16||49|
|23 - Jonathan Lockett||55||25||80||23 - Jonathan Lockett||63||35||98|
|24 - John Plattenburg||32||21||53||24 - John Plattenburg||34||25||59|
|25 - Ronald Jones II||10||24||34||25 - Ronald Jones II||10||24||34|
|26 - James Toland||-||4||4||26 - James Toland||1||6||7|
|28 - Aca'Cedric Ware||9||9||18||28 - Aca'Cedric Ware||12||14||26|
|29 - Christian Tober||11||2||13||29 - Christian Tober||17||10||27|
|29 - Kevin Carrasco||-||10||10||29 - Kevin Carrasco||-||12||12|
|31 - Soma Vainuku||7||10||17||31 - Soma Vainuku||22||27||49|
|34 - Yoofi Quansah||-||3||3||34 - Yoofi Quansah||-||3||3|
|34 - Olajuwon Tucker||26||17||43||34 - Olajuwon Tucker||33||17||50|
|35 - Cameron Smith||43||38||81||35 - Cameron Smith||53||47||100|
|37 - Matt Lopes||16||24||40||37 - Matt Lopes||29||38||67|
|38 - Jahleel Pinner||13||24||37||38 - Jahleel Pinner||15||27||42|
|38 - Jalen Jones||-||10||10||38 - Jalen Jones||-||13||13|
|39 - Alex Wood||-||-||0||39 - Alex Wood||16||19||35|
|40 - Jabari Ruffin||19||12||31||40 - Jabari Ruffin||29||25||54|
|42 - Uchenna Nwosu||34||17||51||42 - Uchenna Nwosu||54||38||92|
|44 - Malik Dorton||25||8||33||44 - Malik Dorton||25||8||33|
|45 - Porter Gustin||42||24||66||45 - Porter Gustin||44||27||71|
|47 - Cyrus Hobbi||-||7||7||47 - Cyrus Hobbi||-||7||7|
|47 - Scott Felix||28||27||55||47 - Scott Felix||29||28||57|
|48 - Taylor McNamara||36||24||60||48 - Taylor McNamara||36||24||60|
|50 - Toa Lobendahn||43||37||80||50 - Toa Lobendahn||52||45||97|
|50 - Grant Moore||11||-||11||50 - Grant Moore||11||2||13|
|51 - Damien Mama||35||23||58||51 - Damien Mama||49||31||80|
|51 - Joel Foy||3||12||15||51 - Joel Foy||8||23||31|
|52 - Delvon Simmons||42||39||81||52 - Delvon Simmons||45||39||84|
|54 - Reuben Peters||7||15||22||54 - Reuben Peters||14||27||41|
|56 - Jordan Austin||-||4||4||56 - Jordan Austin||-||4||4|
|56 - Anthony Sarao||30||27||57||56 - Anthony Sarao||39||33||72|
|58 - Osa Masina||28||31||59||58 - Osa Masina||28||35||63|
|59 - Don Hill||-||15||15||59 - Don Hill||-||17||17|
|60 - Viane Talamaivao||31||44||75||60 - Viane Talamaivao||39||52||91|
|62 - Khaliel Rodgers||13||20||33||62 - Khaliel Rodgers||13||20||33|
|64 - Richie Wenzel||-||5||5||64 - Richie Wenzel||-||5||5|
|65 - Erick Jepsen||-||7||7||65 - Erick Jepsen||-||7||7|
|70 - Chuma Edoga||23||48||71||70 - Chuma Edoga||23||48||71|
|72 - Chad Wheeler||52||51||103||72 - Chad Wheeler||52||51||103|
|73 - Zach Banner||42||23||65||73 - Zach Banner||56||35||91|
|74 - Nico Falah||9||23||32||74 - Nico Falah||9||23||32|
|75 - Max Tuerk||56||54||110||75 - Max Tuerk||56||54||110|
|77 - Chris Brown||21||31||52||77 - Chris Brown||29||40||69|
|80 - Deontay Burnett||-||9||9||80 - Deontay Burnett||-||9||9|
|81 - Connor Spears||14||15||29||81 - Connor Spears||22||23||45|
|82 - Tyler Petite||14||23||37||82 - Tyler Petite||14||23||37|
|83 - George Katrib||-||9||9||83 - George Katrib||15||25||40|
|85 - David Mellstrom||1||11||12||85 - David Mellstrom||1||11||12|
|86 - Robby Kolanz||2||7||9||86 - Robby Kolanz||2||9||11|
|89 - De'Quan Hampton||25||7||32||89 - De'Quan Hampton||25||7||32|
|90 - Claude Pelon||-||25||25||90 - Claude Pelon||-||30||30|
|91 - Noah Jefferson||20||18||38||91 - Noah Jefferson||20||20||40|
|92 - Jacob Daniel||17||18||35||92 - Jacob Daniel||17||20||37|
|92 - Zach Smith||-||-||0||92 - Zach Smith||14||12||26|
|93 - Greg Townsend||39||39||78||93 - Greg Townsend||42||40||82|
|94 - Rasheem Green||20||17||37||94 - Rasheem Green||20||19||39|
|95 - Kenny Bigelow||26||14||40||95 - Kenny Bigelow||26||15||41|
|98 - Cody Temple||33||23||56||98 - Cody Temple||48||36||84|
|99 - Antwaun Woods||37||37||74||99 - Antwaun Woods||39||37||76|