For 35 solid minutes, freshman defensive backs Isaiah Langley and Iman Marshall worked against one another in the far corner of Brian Kennedy Field. That was 35 minutes after their teammates had mostly departed Wednesday.
They worked on "a little tackling, soft press [coverage], inside jam, outside jam and hand techniques" for hard press coverage, Langley would say later. Working on their hands and feet in redirecting receivers and then running with them -- hands and feet together. Again and again, they went through one technique, then another.
Maybe not so surprising for Biggie Marshall, who at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and the top cover guy in the country coming in from Long Beach Poly, hasn't shocked anyone by racking up the most plays of any Trojan defender in the first four games.
But Langley, back when he opened fall camp as No. 17, seemed headed for a redshirt. And then "I had to grow up fast," says the 6-footer from Hayward who literally did just that as he increased his playing time from special teams only against Stanford to 33 snaps -- 17 on defense -- against Arizona State.
Langley was 163 pounds when fall camp started. He's 180 pounds now just two months later. "They really know how to put weight on you," Langley says with a smile noting how he's "bigger, faster and stronger" at his new weight.
Not that he had any choice, he says, "when Kevon Seymour went down" three weeks ago. That's when he "had to grow up fast," as well. "I'm playing a lot . . . seeing improvement every day of the week."
Even without Kevon out there, Isaiah has someone to watch at corner in Adoree', he says. "I don't try to mimic him," he says of Adoree', you really can't, "but I see what he's doing right and try to do it."
With two tackles and great underneath coverage on John Plattenburg's interception forcing ASU QB Mike Bercovici's overthrow, Langley got off to a good start as part of the cornerback rotation.
"He knows his role," Adoree' says. "That was awesome."
And Langley is loving it that by some sort of fate, he's gotten his favorite number, 14, the one he requested this summer, back. Quarterback Sam Darnold had also requested 14 and got it as a natural quarterback number with Langley ending up with No. 17. But then punter Kris Albarado had to change his No. 35 since that was going to freshman linebacker starter Cameron Smith to Langley's 17.
And with Langley then coming in as a punt team gunner the next week, his number had to change since both would be on the field for punts. So he asked for No. 14 again with Darnold redshirting. And he got it this time.
"I said OK now," after getting it back. "I'm very superstitious and this is way, way better . . . it's a whole new life."
It's also one of those number deals that work out in life. When he got on the field in Week 2, Langley became the 14th USC freshmen to see action and he was wearing No. 14.
"I didn't even think of that," says Langley, who tells you his birthday is coming up this month on, he says -- you guessed it -- the 14th of October. Although the USC roster has it listed as the 13th.
But Langley wasn't alone in his extra work. Biggie Marshall was there all the way, doing what he's done since high school. And doing what he's doing on game days as USC's workhorse with 283 plays total in four games, an average of more than 70, he's the lone Trojan above 70.
"It's all a process," Biggie says, "nobody is going to play a perfect game. What I try to do is improve every play as much as I can." And every day.
"I have to stay balanced," Biggie says of what he's working on, "sometimes my feet get lazy."
Which is why he was out there with Langley going one on one. "You learn better that way," Biggie said. And he'd better learn fast, much as Langley says he is.
Because as the starter opposite Adoree', Biggie knows "they're calling my number and coming my way," he says. "I have to be prepared."
Adoree' looks ahead
No Leonard Fournette is Adoree' Jackson. No need to head off to the NFL right away as the LSU Heisman Trophy leading candidate has indicated he' have been willing to pursue.
"I don't think much about it," the multitalented USC sophomore was saying the other day when asked about whether he'd like an early window open to the NFL.
"Some people like school," Adoree' said. "If I'd get drafted high [maybe] . . . after three years or four . . . but I want to get my degree."
And here is what Adoree' hopes to do with that degree: "Real estate development . . . owning franchises . . . giving back to my community, be a hometown hero." Not a bad list.
WEEKEND QUICK HITS
According to a source who talked to Juju Smith-Schuster this week after he'd missed practices Tuesday and Wednesday for "personal reasons," his situation is not an especially big deal nor one that should impact JuJu going forward. In fact, JuJu said he was planning to get together with teammates Friday to get back in the swing of things . . . USC returns to the practice field Saturday at 3:30 for the start of Washington game week that will run through Thursday night's game at the Coliseum (ESPN, 6) with four days of prep work -- an extra day -- with practice Sunday at 11:15 a.m., then back to early mornings for Monday and Tuesday. The typical game week has just Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices for a Saturday game . . . More odds to win the Pac-12 from the Sportsbook with USC on top at 2-1, Stanford at 2.75-1, UCLA 3-1, Oregon 5-1, Utah 6.5-1, Cal 10-1, Arizona St 20-1, Arizona 28-1, Colorado 100-1, Washington 100-1, Washington St 300-1 and Oregon St 500-1.
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