USC-Arizona State participation breakdown

Arizona State attempted to slow the tempo down. That only gave USC's stars like Adoree' Jackson more time to rest after big plays. See how many snaps each USC player participated against the Sun Devils and what it may mean going forward.

After an explosive 61-yard run on their first offensive play, Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici yelled out instructions, moving chess pieces from side to side. The play clock ran below 15 seconds before the Sun Devils snapped the ball. An incompletion was followed by a huddled up ASU offense. A short run and then another huddle.

It seemed odd.

Arizona State is known for being one of the breakneck tempo offenses that forces defenses to immediately run back to their positions to be ready for the next play. ESPN knew it. They prepared with side-by-side graphics to allow for a replay to be shown adjacent to the live action, so that viewers wouldn’t miss anything. But the Sun Devils shelved their normal offense in exchange for a huddle-filled quagmire.

Whether it was an attempt to take a page from the Stanford playbook that had worked the week before or because of the heat pushing triple digits, Arizona State chose to slow the game down rather than try to force the tempo and make USC substitute more and have to rely on its depth.

“I thought the formula that we needed to win that game was to have 80+ plays on offense and play 65 or less on defense,” Arizona State head coach Todd Graham said in his weekly press conference with local reporters on Monday. “It was just a plan for that game and it had a lot to do with the explosiveness of the players they have on offense as well as we were trying not to kick the ball to the returner.”

Graham almost got his wish with the Sun Devils running 79 offensive plays and USC having just 66. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story since 38 of the Trojans’ offensive plays came in the first half when they built a 35-0 lead. And two of USC’s touchdowns came on three-play drives.

Rather than slowing the USC offense down, the change in tempo seemed to throw off the Sun Devils more than anything. Broadcasters Dave Pasch and Brian Griese both repeatedly pointed out the huddling and the subsequent lack of offensive rhythm.

Sometimes coaches are too smart for their own good.

The change in philosophy allowed USC to move more bodies in and out of the lineup. In theory, the defensive starters would have been fresher in the fourth quarter due to the slower tempo. However, very few starters saw much action in the fourth quarter of the 42-14 blowout.

Here’s some more participation notes from a game that saw 64 USC players get in on the action, including 14 true freshman:

OFFENSE

Just get him the ball

“He’s pretty good. But we’ve known this about Adoree', he’s a phenomenal player.”

Steve Sarkisian’s post-game remarks couldn’t have been more understated after Adoree Jackson once again showed his ridiculous playmaking ability with 184 all-purpose yards and one touchdown on only five touches.

“The hardest thing about dealing with Adoree' is when and how and how many times; it’s a challenge because he’s so good in all three phases,” Sarkisian said. “I think the reality of it was he was a quality player on defense, he was effective on special teams and return game, and then obviously offensively just with the ball in his hands him making plays.”

Sarkisian also talked about finding a rhythm for Jackson on the offensive end, but there was no real rhythm. He participated in three official offensive plays (a fourth was wiped away by a penalty) and all three times the ball came his way. It was a stark contrast to the nine offensive plays he got last week against Stanford without a single target.

Jackson also made some more Adoree’ Being Adoree’ magic with a 45-yard punt return. He participated in 10 special teams plays, four of which came defensively on kick block attempts, but Arizona State learned not to kick the ball to him. On his six potential return attempts, Jackson got his hands on the ball just twice.

Defensively, with Kevon Seymour still on the shelf with a knee injury, Jackson had to play throughout all four quarters. He was on the field for the entirety of the Sun Devils’ final drive, finishing with 48 plays defensively. His participation splits did, however, decline in the second half with him playing 29 defensive plays in the first half and 19 in the second 30 minutes.

Not enough carries to go around - While Jackson got the ball in his hands on offense, another explosive playmaker did not. After averaging six offensive plays each game in the first three contests, dynamic freshman running back Dominic Davis did not play offensively this week.

However, Davis did get a new role. He was one of a handful of players that were given/earned new roles on special teams. With Seymour out and the cornerback crop thin, Davis was thrust into a punt return blocking role as one of players assigned to deter the outside gunners trying to get down field to deliver a big blow on Jackson.

More Madden

Instead of Dominic Davis getting into the running back rotation, it was a three-pronged attack of Tre Madden, Justin Davis and freshman Ronald Jones II. Last week, Madden and J.Davis got an equal 22 offensive reps while Jones II got about two-thirds of the plays each veteran participated in. This week, there was more Madden.

Perhaps it was because of Madden’s ability to block in pass protection against a blitz-happy Arizona State defense, but Madden’s participation rose to 29 offensive plays while J.Davis’ number dipped slightly to 19. Jones II ended up getting the majority of the playing time in the fourth quarter and had the most carries, finishing with 54 yards on 10 carries.

New lineup

Last week, offensive guard Toa Lobendahn played every offensive snap. Even when backup offensive linemen Viane Talamaivao and Chuma Edoga came into the game on the right side, Lobendahn moved to left guard taking over Damien Mama’s spot.

In the second quarter, offensive line coach Bob Connelly went with a new grouping for one drive. During a six-play touchdown drive that ended with Juju Smith-Schuster’s first score of the game, Talamaivao and Edoga manned the right side. Instead of Lobendahn staying in the game and shifting over to left guard, he got a breather and Mama continued to play the left guard spot, putting Mama, Talamaivao, Edoga, on the field with offensive line mainstays Chad Wheeler and Max Tuerk for the first time since the season opener.

Extra opportunities

On the first offensive play, starting wide receiver Darreus Rogers injured his hamstring and was unavailable for the remainder of the night. When Rogers left the game, Jalen Greene, who had been the primary backup to Steven Mitchell Jr. at the slot position, jumped into the outside role and took the lion’s share of Rogers’ snaps. Greene didn’t have a catch, but he participated in 46 plays — 12 more than he had played in the first three games combined.

Rogers’ absence, along with an increase in deep routes for JuJu Smith-Schuster, led to increased reps for Isaac Whitney, who saw his most action since the season opener, and De’Quan Hampton, who participated in 16 plays one week after not playing against Stanford.

With Greene moving out wide, who was going to give Mitchell Jr. a break at the slot position? For the most part, no one. Mitchell Jr. was on pace for a season-high number of plays before USC went with a ton of backups in the fourth quarter. Christian Tober also filled in on four snaps, but for the most part, the Trojans just formationally eliminated the slot receiver when Mitchell Jr. needed a breather, going instead with two-receiver sets.

Formation breakdown

A quickie formation breakdown shows that the Trojans’ abandoned a couple of the looks they used against Stanford last week, but also introduced two new formation looks with the tight end lining up at the fullback position once and most intriguing, a heavy diamond look in the pistol with a fullback to either side of the quarterback.

USC also was very reluctant to use any four-receiver sets (likely due to Rogers’ injury), preferring instead to move the tight end wide when it wanted to spread the field more. Here’s a look at the formations the Trojans used. (Again, this is not an in-depth analysis of the formations, but a basic overview):

29 - Three-wide, tight end, running back
13 - Four-wide with running back (three WR + TE)
10 - Two-receiver, tight end, two backs
8 - Two-receiver, tight end, running back, fullback at H-back
4 - Two-receiver, no tight ends, three backs
1 - Four-wide with running back
1 - Three-wide, tight end in backfield, running back
0 - Three-wide, running back, fullback at H-back
0 - No-back, four-wide with tight end
0 - Three-wide, two backs
0 - Two-receiver, tight end, running back, fullback wide

DEFENSE

When Kevon Seymour went down with his knee injury, the Action Jackson, Adoree’-on-offense well seemed to have dried up. Jackson’s value on the defensive side stopping touchdowns trumped the need to have him attempt to score touchdowns on the other side. But he was able to get in on some offensive touches against Arizona State thanks to the emergence of true freshman Isaiah Langley.

Once believed to be headed for a redshirt, Langley went from being on scout team to a special teamer to rotation cornerback in a three-week span. After getting into the Stanford contest as the gunner on punt coverage, Langley saw his role expanded against the Sun Devils. Not only did Langley’s workload increase on special teams where he joined the kickoff coverage and punt return units, he also got action at both right and left cornerback. He earned 17 snaps on defense to go along with the 16 special teams plays he participated in.

Sun Devils quarterback Mike Bercovici tried to test Langley right away, throwing at him on his second defensive play, but Langley had great coverage on a throw that sailed and was intercepted by John Plattenburg.

Here’s some other defensive participation notes:

Iron Man award

Safety Chris Hawkins earned his first Iron Man award of the season, participating in 71 plays against Arizona State — 68 on defense and three on special teams. Remaining atop the team for cumulative plays this season and highest average snap count per game remains freshman cornerback Iman Marshall. He leads the team with 283 total snaps (more than 70 per game) this season. Hawkins (62.0 snap average) is the only other player on the team averaging more than 57 plays per game.

Platoon system

Speaking of the snap average, have the coaches really bought into the platooning system? We’ve seen that it can go out the window against slow-paced teams, but are the overall reps being distributed? In terms of total snaps, you’d have to say so. There are currently 59 USC players averaging 15+ snaps per game played with 36 of those Trojans averaging 20 or more offensive/defensive plays.

No longer MIA

After not being used against Stanford, Leon McQuay III, Olajuwon Tucker, Matt Lopes and Jacob Daniel all were back in defensive rotations on Saturday while Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings’ value still lies on special teams. One player that has moved completely out of the rotations it appears is Malik Dorton.

Even though Dorton played pretty well against Arkansas State, his reps declined as soon as Claude Pelon returned from minor knee surgery. The emergence of a healthy Rasheem Green has also lessened the need to go deeper in the line rotations.

Signs of the future?

Are the Trojans’ future stars getting closer to becoming the current stars? Some snap counts from the Arizona State game might lead you to believe so. At the rush end position, redshirt junior starter Scott Felix played just 21 defensive snaps while Porter Gustin’s rose to 35 and Jabari Ruffin played a season-high 29 plays defensively. It should be noted that Felix didn’t play in the fourth quarter and his sore shoulder that caused him to miss last week’s Tuesday practice could also be a factor.

Another veteran that saw a “decline” was Anthony Sarao. Though Sarao played 31 defensive snaps, right on par with his 30.7 coming into the game, he got to that number primarily because he was on the nickel and dime defensive formations the Trojans used in the fourth quarter. Unlike most veteran starters, Sarao’s snap count rose in the fourth quarter. He had only 15 defensive snaps in the first three quarters and then had 16 in the final quarter. Osa Masina, on the other hand, saw 10 more defensive plays than he had against Stanford last week. Cameron Smith actually saw his reps decline from 61 to 37, partially due to the inclusion of the defensive back heavy lineups in the fourth quarter.

More athletic up front

With Antwaun Woods injured, USC could have turned the starting role over to backup nose guard Cody Temple, but instead defensive line coach Chris Wilson moved Claude Pelon to the position. Last week, Wilson said the move allowed him to use USC’s “next best guy instead of our next next best nose guard.”

Pelon did some interesting things, spying Mike Bercovici on occasion, and attacking the line at other times. He played a total of 49 defensive plays, which was two more than he had played combined the rest of the season. Temple, on the other hand, actually saw his snap count decrease despite Woods’ absence. Noah Jefferson and Jacob Daniel both saw their lowest snap counts of any game they’ve played in also.

Instead, the more athletic defensive lineman, Rasheem Green and Kenny Bigelow both saw increased reps. Green played a season high 30 snaps and Bigelow saw 18 plays, his most since the Arkansas State blowout.

Back in the rotation

Along with McQuay III getting back in the safety rotation and getting 23 snaps (and subsequently trimming Plattenburg’s snap count from 54 to 34), the defensive backfield saw Jonathan Lockett return for significant snaps. Against Stanford, he played on just two defensive plays. This week, he was on the field all four quarters and earned 40 snaps, including 24 before the fourth quarter.

BREAKDOWN

Again, while I believe these to be 100 percent correct, because I am pulling this from the televised game footage rather than having access to All-22 film (end zone angle), I can not promise 100 percent accuracy, especially because ESPN didn't have their best camera operators or game director working this game and often had to cut to a play already in motion. I will also add that I could not see every member of the "hands team" USC used on its final kickoff return, so rather than guess, there were three players who did not get counted on the play.

OFF/DEF ST Snaps Total Plays
1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Total
1 - Darreus Rogers 1 1 1 2
2 - Adoree' Jackson 15 17 7 12 51 10 61
4 - Max Browne 8 8 8
4 - Chris Hawkins 15 20 20 13 68 3 71
6 - Cody Kessler 19 19 14 6 58 58
7 - Steven Mitchell 16 16 11 1 44 1 45
7 - Marvell Tell 7 11 10 28 15 43
8 - Iman Marshall 15 17 15 12 59 9 68
9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster 13 15 8 3 39 3 42
10 - Jalen Greene 11 20 9 5 45 45
14 - Isaiah Langley 2 6 9 17 16 33
15 - Isaac Whitney 7 8 7 6 28 3 31
16 - Dominic Davis 0 3 3
17 - Kris Albarado 0 5 5
18 - Quinton Powell 0 13 13
19 - Conner Sullivan 0 5 5
19 - Michael Hutchings 0 4 4
21 - Su'a Cravens 15 17 13 3 48 6 54
22 - Justin Davis 6 4 6 3 19 19
22 - Leon McQuay III 5 13 1 4 23 11 34
23 - Tre Madden 10 12 7 29 1 30
23 - Jonathan Lockett 2 9 13 16 40 4 44
24 - John Plattenburg 10 2 9 13 34 7 41
25 - Ronald Jones II 3 3 1 9 16 16
28 - Aca'Cedric Ware 2 2 2
29 - Christian Tober 1 2 1 4 4
31 - Soma Vainuku 4 4 20 24
34 - Olajuwon Tucker 7 8 15 15
35 - Cameron Smith 9 17 9 2 37 7 44
37 - Matt Lopes 5 5 7 12
38 - Jahleel Pinner 2 1 2 12 17 2 19
39 - Alex Wood 0 12 12
40 - Jabari Ruffin 3 7 5 14 29 10 39
42 - Uchenna Nwosu 3 8 18 29 19 48
45 - Porter Gustin 6 10 7 12 35 5 40
47 - Scott Felix 6 5 10 21 1 22
48 - Taylor McNamara 10 8 8 4 30 2 32
50 - Toa Lobendahn 19 13 14 6 52 5 57
51 - Damien Mama 13 19 8 6 46 5 51
52 - Delvon Simmons 10 16 10 9 45 5 50
55 - Lamar Dawson 10 13 12 6 41 2 43
56 - Anthony Sarao 5 7 3 16 31 9 40
58 - Osa Masina 5 7 10 5 27 5 32
60 - Viane Talamaivao 6 6 6 8 26 5 31
62 - Khaliel Rodgers 8 8 8
70 - Chuma Edoga 6 6 6 8 26 26
72 - Chad Wheeler 19 19 14 6 58 58
73 - Zach Banner 13 13 8 6 40 12 52
74 - Nico Falah 8 8 8
75 - Max Tuerk 19 19 14 6 58 58
77 - Chris Brown 8 8 5 13
80 - Deontay Burnett 2 2 2
81 - Connor Spears 5 5 5 10
82 - Tyler Petite 9 10 7 1 27 27
83 - George Katrib 4 4 11 15
86 - Robby Kolanz 5 5 5
89 - De'Quan Hampton 3 5 4 4 16 16
90 - Claude Pelon 11 15 13 10 49 10 59
91 - Noah Jefferson 2 2 4 3 11 11
92 - Jacob Daniel 6 4 10 10
92 - Zach Smith 0 10 10
93 - Greg Townsend 11 17 13 10 51 5 56
94 - Rasheem Green 5 6 10 9 30 30
95 - Kenny Bigelow 2 3 5 8 18 18
98 - Cody Temple 4 7 4 1 16 10 26

Here's also a look at the total numbers for the first four games of the season starting with offensive/defensive snaps followed by a chart of each players' total snaps for the season thus far:

Off/Def Snaps
Arky St Idaho Stan ASU Season
1 - Darreus Rogers 34 38 52 1 125
2 - Adoree' Jackson 8 38 66 51 163
4 - Max Browne 13 18 0 8 39
4 - Chris Hawkins 53 40 69 68 230
6 - Cody Kessler 52 54 60 58 224
7 - Steven Mitchell 32 30 49 44 155
7 - Marvell Tell 45 50 15 28 138
8 - Iman Marshall 54 48 68 59 229
9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster 35 38 44 39 156
10 - Jalen Greene 10 13 11 46 80
13 - Kevon Seymour 49 33 0 0 82
14 - Isaiah Langley 0 0 0 17 17
15 - Isaac Whitney 28 20 11 28 87
15 - Michael Bowman 0 1 0 0 1
16 - Dominic Davis 7 8 3 0 18
17 - Kris Albarado 0 0 0 0 0
18 - Quinton Powell 0 29 0 0 29
19 - Conner Sullivan 0 1 0 0 1
19 - Michael Hutchings 35 14 0 0 49
21 - Su'a Cravens 44 32 73 48 197
22 - Justin Davis 0 9 22 19 50
22 - Leon McQuay III 36 21 0 23 80
23 - Tre Madden 33 16 22 29 100
23 - Jonathan Lockett 55 25 2 40 122
24 - John Plattenburg 32 21 54 34 141
25 - Ronald Jones II 10 24 14 16 64
26 - James Toland 0 4 0 0 4
28 - Aca'Cedric Ware 9 9 0 2 20
29 - Christian Tober 11 2 0 4 17
29 - Kevin Carrasco 0 10 0 0 10
31 - Soma Vainuku 7 10 1 4 22
34 - Yoofi Quansah 0 3 0 0 3
34 - Olajuwon Tucker 26 17 0 15 58
35 - Cameron Smith 43 38 61 37 179
37 - Matt Lopes 16 24 0 5 45
38 - Jahleel Pinner 13 24 10 17 64
38 - Jalen Jones 0 10 0 0 10
39 - Alex Wood 0 0 0 0 0
40 - Jabari Ruffin 19 12 6 29 66
42 - Uchenna Nwosu 34 17 4 29 84
44 - Malik Dorton 25 8 0 0 33
45 - Porter Gustin 42 24 22 35 123
47 - Cyrus Hobbi 0 7 0 0 7
47 - Scott Felix 28 27 48 21 124
48 - Taylor McNamara 36 24 33 30 123
50 - Toa Lobendahn 43 37 60 52 192
50 - Grant Moore 11 0 0 0 11
51 - Damien Mama 35 23 49 46 153
51 - Joel Foy 3 12 0 0 15
52 - Delvon Simmons 42 39 55 45 181
54 - Reuben Peters 7 15 0 0 22
55 - Lamar Dawson 0 0 35 41 76
56 - Jordan Austin 0 4 0 0 4
56 - Anthony Sarao 30 27 35 31 123
58 - Osa Masina 28 31 17 27 103
59 - Don Hill 0 15 0 0 15
60 - Viane Talamaivao 31 44 11 26 112
62 - Khaliel Rodgers 13 20 0 8 41
64 - Richie Wenzel 0 5 0 0 5
65 - Erick Jepsen 0 7 0 0 7
70 - Chuma Edoga 23 48 8 26 105
72 - Chad Wheeler 52 51 60 58 221
73 - Zach Banner 42 23 52 40 157
74 - Nico Falah 9 23 0 8 40
75 - Max Tuerk 56 54 60 58 228
77 - Chris Brown 21 31 0 8 60
80 - Deontay Burnett 0 9 0 2 11
81 - Connor Spears 14 15 10 5 44
82 - Tyler Petite 14 23 6 27 70
83 - George Katrib 0 9 0 4 13
85 - David Mellstrom 1 11 0 0 12
86 - Robby Kolanz 2 7 0 5 14
89 - De'Quan Hampton 25 7 0 16 48
90 - Claude Pelon 0 25 22 49 96
91 - Noah Jefferson 20 18 14 11 63
92 - Jacob Daniel 17 18 0 10 45
92 - Zach Smith 0 0 0 0 0
93 - Greg Townsend 39 39 58 51 187
94 - Rasheem Green 20 17 11 30 78
95 - Kenny Bigelow 26 14 7 18 65
98 - Cody Temple 33 23 19 16 91
99 - Antwaun Woods 37 37 51 0 125

Season totals including special teams:

Total Plays
Arky St Idaho Stan ASU Season
1 - Darreus Rogers 41 48 60 2 151
2 - Adoree' Jackson 12 46 81 61 200
4 - Max Browne 13 18 0 8 39
4 - Chris Hawkins 59 44 74 71 248
6 - Cody Kessler 52 54 60 58 224
7 - Steven Mitchell 32 30 49 45 156
7 - Marvell Tell 58 64 27 43 192
8 - Iman Marshall 70 67 78 68 283
9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster 37 41 59 42 179
10 - Jalen Greene 10 13 11 46 80
13 - Kevon Seymour 61 44 0 0 105
14 - Isaiah Langley 0 0 5 33 38
15 - Isaac Whitney 28 20 11 31 90
15 - Michael Bowman 0 1 0 0 1
16 - Dominic Davis 16 9 3 3 31
17 - Kris Albarado 6 3 3 5 17
18 - Quinton Powell 0 48 16 13 77
19 - Conner Sullivan 8 9 5 5 27
19 - Michael Hutchings 38 19 10 4 71
21 - Su'a Cravens 46 32 84 54 216
22 - Justin Davis 0 9 22 19 50
22 - Leon McQuay III 50 34 10 34 128
23 - Tre Madden 33 16 22 30 101
23 - Jonathan Lockett 63 35 8 44 150
24 - John Plattenburg 34 25 57 31 147
25 - Ronald Jones II 10 24 14 16 64
26 - James Toland 1 6 0 0 7
28 - Aca'Cedric Ware 12 14 1 2 29
29 - Christian Tober 17 10 0 4 31
29 - Kevin Carrasco 0 12 0 0 12
31 - Soma Vainuku 22 27 22 24 95
34 - Yoofi Quansah 0 3 0 0 3
34 - Olajuwon Tucker 33 17 0 15 65
35 - Cameron Smith 53 47 74 44 218
37 - Matt Lopes 29 38 2 12 81
38 - Jahleel Pinner 15 27 18 19 79
38 - Jalen Jones 0 13 0 0 13
39 - Alex Wood 16 19 11 12 58
40 - Jabari Ruffin 29 25 22 39 115
42 - Uchenna Nwosu 54 38 23 48 163
44 - Malik Dorton 25 8 0 0 33
45 - Porter Gustin 44 27 26 40 137
47 - Cyrus Hobbi 0 7 0 0 7
47 - Scott Felix 29 28 51 22 130
48 - Taylor McNamara 36 24 38 32 130
50 - Toa Lobendahn 52 45 65 57 219
50 - Grant Moore 11 2 0 0 13
51 - Damien Mama 49 31 54 51 185
51 - Joel Foy 8 23 0 0 31
52 - Delvon Simmons 45 39 61 50 195
54 - Reuben Peters 14 27 0 0 41
55 - Lamar Dawson 0 0 35 43 78
56 - Jordan Austin 0 4 0 0 4
56 - Anthony Sarao 39 33 50 40 162
58 - Osa Masina 28 35 19 32 114
59 - Don Hill 0 17 0 0 17
60 - Viane Talamaivao 39 52 16 31 138
62 - Khaliel Rodgers 13 20 0 8 41
64 - Richie Wenzel 0 5 0 0 5
65 - Erick Jepsen 0 7 0 0 7
70 - Chuma Edoga 23 48 8 26 105
72 - Chad Wheeler 52 51 60 58 221
73 - Zach Banner 56 35 62 52 205
74 - Nico Falah 9 23 0 8 40
75 - Max Tuerk 56 54 60 58 228
77 - Chris Brown 29 40 5 13 87
80 - Deontay Burnett 0 9 0 2 11
81 - Connor Spears 22 23 15 10 70
82 - Tyler Petite 14 23 6 27 70
83 - George Katrib 15 25 9 15 64
85 - David Mellstrom 1 11 0 0 12
86 - Robby Kolanz 2 9 0 5 16
89 - De'Quan Hampton 25 7 0 16 48
90 - Claude Pelon 0 30 28 59 117
91 - Noah Jefferson 20 20 14 11 65
92 - Jacob Daniel 17 20 0 10 47
92 - Zach Smith 14 12 8 10 44
93 - Greg Townsend 42 40 64 56 202
94 - Rasheem Green 20 19 11 30 80
95 - Kenny Bigelow 26 15 8 18 67
98 - Cody Temple 48 36 28 26 138
99 - Antwaun Woods 39 37 55 0 131

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