You didn't have to guess whether the head coach was on the field at Thursday's closed practice. You could hear Clay Helton getting ready for his first-ever Coliseum game in his third start as USC's interim coach over two seasons.
"What a great opportunity," Helton said of getting to head up a USC team in the Coliseum. I'm having the greatest time on earth . . . my hair will be standing up on the back of my neck."
You could still hear Helton coaching when the Goux Gate opened and the media was allowed in. Practice may have ended but that didn't mean he'd stopped coaching.
Then there were moments with the likes of Adoree' Jackson, who will be much more an offensive threat in this game with USC down four wide receivers who started out in the fall. And Dominic Davis -- "pure speed," Helton said later of the freshman.
Then it was time to talk No. 3 Utah (6-0, 3-0 in the Pac-12) -- and his favored USC Trojans (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) in a game that means just about everything for the future of this USC team in the Pac-12 South.
One item that will affect how Saturday goes is the move of Adoree' to much more of a primary offensive role. "He will definitely play on defense," Helton said. "But we'll monitor his reps . . . and there will be an 80-rep max game" for Adoree'.
Said Banner's move to left tackle reflects the fact that "he's a very experienced guy" and "a better pass blocker" and "working on getting his run game better."
As to Edoga's start at right tackle, it was just a case of going with what he knows since that's the position he played all through high school. That he's "a future left tackle" with "as good a feet as I've seen," Helton said, "comparable to Ryan Kalil and Tyron Smith."
And finally, after a week of hearing USC players talking about how physical Utah will be, with the thought that USC must be physical as well, Helton assured: "We don't hope we're physical, we know we're physical.
"And if you've watched us practice the last two weeks, you know that," Helton said. And that as tough as Utah's eight-deep front four will be, "We will do a great job up front . . . there's no 'hope' to it."
THURSDAY QUICK HITS: Steven Mitchell (ankle) and Darreus Rogers (hamstring) "look like they're not going to make it," Helton said, "unless something dramatic happens." . . . Chad Wheeler didn't have his helmet for the shorts, jerseys and helmets practice and hasn't been cleared of the concussion syndrome symptoms yet . . . that means Zach Banner's move from right tackle to left tackle will remain in place for the Utah game and freshman Chuma Edoga will start at right tackle . . . Tre Madden still has a "very sore knee," Helton said and he's "a gametime decision" . . . No Claude Pelon (knee) . . . Fox's Joel Klatt and Molly McGrath at practice. They'll do Saturday's game . . . Extra work for Banner, Cody Temple and Noah Jefferson, USC's punt block shield, with special teams coach Johnny Nansen.CHECK THIS OUT: For Thursday's practice report, check out THURSDAY UTES WEEK GHOST NOTES.
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