Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com

Charts and notes of USC player snap participation in the Utah game

USC substituted more, but still had four players participate in every defensive snap and had season-high snap counts for the entire defensive starting lineup.

Couple of quick notes to go with the USC-Utah participation breakdown chart:

- Players that were out with injuries: Chuma Edoga, Noah Jefferson, Jamel Cook, John Plattenburg, Vavae Malepeai, Toa Lobendahn.

- Players that did not finish the Utah game: Jack Jones, Josh Fatu.

- USC used 55 players in the game with snap counts ranging from Leon McQuay III’s 90 total snaps to Chris Tilbey only punting once.

Lineup Change

USC tried to shake things up in the defensive secondary after giving up too many big plays in the first three games of the season. The chosen remedy for the Trojans was to move Leon McQuay III from the nickel position back to the strong safety slot Chris Hawkins had started at until this week. Hawkins was demoted to second string while cornerback Jonathan Lockett moved into the starting nickel role where the junior earned his third career start on Friday.

On the offensive side, for the third game in a row, USC began the game in a two-tight-end set, meaning a backup tight end earned the start over slot receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. Tyler Petite got the start against Utah State, but the last two weeks, it has been third-string tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe. Imatorbhebhe helped the Trojans gain three yards on the first two plays and then wasn’t seen again until Justin Davis’ 14-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter as USC went to its more popular three-wide-receiver sets for the 19 plays in between.

High-Altitude Substitutions?

The reason is undetermined. Whether it was the high altitude, trying to keep players fresh for 81 defensive plays or just wanting to scream at a player after a mistake, we don’t definitively know, but USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast finally used more substitutions…well…for some players.

Marvell Tell III was replaced by demoted starter Chris Hawkins for two drives at the end of the first quarter and beginning of second quarter. Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall got six and eight plays off, respectively, with Ajene Harris filling in whenever either were off the field and producing a 3.5 yards per play allowed in his 14 snaps.

Jackson got a two-play breather after his kickoff return for a touchdown and four plays off to end Utah’s first fourth quarter touchdown drive after it appeared he was possibly dinged up after a big collision while making a tackle. Marshall’s substitutions were more random with him getting the last four plays of Utah’s second drive of the game, last three plays of the subsequent drive and one play late in the third quarter that the Utes gained 18 yards on and got down to the goal line.

On the defensive line, USC rotated pairings with starters Rasheem Green and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu playing more than twice as much as Malik Dorton. Utah primarily used three-wide-receiver sets, so USC only went with three defensive linemen on 12 plays, which went for 3.50 yards per play versus the 5.99 the Utes gained when USC was in nickel, which was the rest of the game. The Trojans’ top yards per play defender was Dorton. Utah averaged just 2.9 ypp when he was in the game.

Fatu Injured? 

When Dorton checked into while the Trojans were in the nickel, he subbed in with a defensive tackle to give the starters a respite. That meant playing alongside Josh Fatu initially, but after participating in nine plays in the first half, Fatu did not play in the second half and was replaced by Jacob Daniel. Daniel played seven snaps, which is more than he has played combined since the Arizona State blowout last year in the fourth week of the season.

Third-and-Long

The only other player to get in defensively was Quinton Powell. Both Powell and Fatu were third-and-long substitutions to begin the game. Powell for his cover ability and speed at the linebacker position and Fatu for his pass rush from the nose tackle. But after Fatu did not return, it was just Powell coming in whenever USC could back up Utah.

Powell was in for seven third down plays. Utah picked up two, was stopped and had to punt twice and three times (with 4, 12 and 15 yards to go) got one yard shy of the first down marker allowing them to go for it on fourth down, which they successfully accomplished all three times.

Eight is Great, But Let’s Play With 11

After having eight players on the field during an extra-point defense and 10 players on the for a field goal block last week at Stanford, John Baxter demoted several players from the “bomb squad” kick blocking units. No longer to USC do wholesale changes when another team was attempting a kick. 

Gone were Ykili Ross, Ajene Harris and Christian Rector — the eight-man PAT offenders. Gone was special teams superstar Jabari Ruffin. Baxter still used his big man group of Zach Banner, Connor Murphy and Damien Mama in the middle of the block, but the rest of the lineup was just the defensive starters. Rasheem Green, Michael Hutchings, Adoree’ Jackson and Marvell Tell all stayed on the field.

Season/Career Highs

With the defense being on the field for 81 plays, there were several players that participated in season-high snap counts and most of them are defenders, including all 11 starters. At least seven of those starters also set career highs with Leon McQuay III’s 90 plays also being the most he has played in the last two years, but a number we can’t guarantee is a career high since he did play significantly as a freshman in Clancy Pendergast’s last tour with USC.

Redshirt freshman Sam Darnold also set a career high snap count in his first career start.

Steven Mitchell Jr. was on the field for a season-high 36 plays while Malik Dorton and Quinton Powell both tied their season highs. Jacob Daniel’s seven plays surpassed his season high while Keyshawn Young’s eight special teams snaps and Wyatt Schmidt’s five holds both were career highs.

Top Play Counts

The USC offensive line stayed in tact throughout the game for the second week in a row with all five starters playing 59 offensive snaps. Left guard Damien Mama also played 17 special teams snaps, making him the most used offensive player with 76 total snaps, but that was only eighth on the team leaderboard for Friday with so many defensive players getting big workloads

Four defensive players also played every snap on their side of the ball -- Uchenna Nwosu, Porter Gustin, Leon McQuay III and Michael Hutchings. McQuay actually had less special teams duties than normal after being taken off kickoff, but still finished with 90 total snaps.

On special teams, Mama's 17 snaps led the team while John Houston Jr. played 16. Interestingly, Jabari Ruffin only played six snaps on special teams.

Where Was JD?

The biggest question mark after the game wasn’t why Clay Helton punted on fourth-and-3 when his offense was averaging 7.8 yards per play (though that was a good one as well). It was why Justin Davis didn’t carry the ball in the fourth quarter. Sure, the Trojans only had one possession and one last gasp final play, but after shouldering the load for 126 yards on 10 carries, Davis should have been the closer in the fourth quarter.

But you might not have realized that Davis was actually in for three of USC’s seven fourth quarter snaps. He came in on a pair of third downs and on the final play. Why? Because he’s still the better blocker and more complete back than the explosive Ronald Jones II, who still hasn’t got the rocket boosters started this season. Davis helped pick up the blitz on the third-and-9 pass to Tyler Petite that went for 22 yards for an-at-the-time big first down.

The offense was more productive with Davis in the game, averaging 8.7 yards per play to Jones 7.2 and Aca’Cedric Ware’s 4.4. Davis was also the reason that the Trojans were technically most productive when backup receiver De’Quan Hampton was in the game. Davis’ career-long 50-yard run came on one of Hampton’s two plays. The other was a four-yard run allowing him to average 27 ypp in his very brief outing.

Amongst the regulars, USC was at its peak ypp when Steven Mitchell Jr. was in the game. The Trojans gained 310 yards on 33 Mitchell snaps for 9.4 ypp, which may be why Deontay Burnett played a season-low 21 snaps.

Giant Whoopsie!

When you are a deep backup and only get one or two chances each week, you have to make the most of your opportunities. That’s exactly what Reuben Peters and Dominic Davis didn’t do against Utah. Both Peters and Davis got on the field, but neither player participated in an offensive snap. In fact, Davis didn’t even register on the player participation chart.

How could that be? 

Both players committed false starts on the only play they were on the field. A pre-snap penalty means the snap technically never happened, so both get the dubious honor of running on the field only to cost their team five yards.

Tight End Triangle

After having what Clay Helton called “a really breakout game,” Tyler Petite disappeared. At least that’s how it seems. Petite got only eight snaps after having 23 last week and 38 the week before. 

Petite has been the best pass catching option with six catches for 108 yards on the season, but the Trojans staff elected to go away from him even more. Daniel Imatorbhebhe got more offensive reps than Petite for the first time this season while Taylor McNamara played the most he has since the opener against Alabama. Combined Imatorbhebhe and McNamara have four catches for 38 yards.

But on Friday, the offense was most productive when McNamara was on the field, averaging 8.0 ypp compared to 6.8 and 6.5 for Petite and Imatorbhebhe, respectively.

Get in Formation

Speaking of formations, we've got the formation breakdown and how well the Trojans produced in those formations. After using more four-wide-receiver sets than usual last week, USC went back to its normal split with three receivers on the field for 49 of the 59 offensive snaps.

They averaged 10.29 yards per play per dropback when they were in the classic three-receiver, one back, one tight end “11” personnel. They also gained 7.1 yards per rushing play out of the formation for an average of 8.53 ypp. That’s probably why the Trojans stuck with that look for 38 plays. Nine times they split the tight end out in the three receiver set while twice they went with an empty backfield with the tight end and running back both positioned on the outside.

Last week, Clay Helton said “you’ll see more” two-tight-end sets after they were successful with the personnel grouping early against Stanford and then went away from it. They once again began the game with two tight ends, but quickly went away from it and used it only six times, running for 21 yards on five carries and throwing an incompletion on their only pass attempt.

Of the Trojans’ 59 offensive plays, 47 were run out of the shotgun, nine used the pistol and there were only three plays where USC went under center. In the very small sample size, the Trojans were effective when under center, averaging 7.0 yards per play — all runs.

But the Trojans were even better when they were in the shotgun, averaging 8.2 yards, including 9.4 ypp on pass plays out of the shotgun. In the pistol, the Trojans passed even better, gaining 23 yards on two dropbacks, but gained only 4.7 ypp when running out of the pistol.

  • Three receivers, one tight end, one running back: 38 plays, 324 yards (8.5 ypp)
  • Three receivers, one tight end split out, one running back: 9 plays, 64 yards, (7.1 ypp)
  • Two receivers, two tight ends, one running back: 6 plays, 21 yards (3.5 ypp)
  • Four receivers, one running back: 3 plays, 30 yards (10.0 ypp)
  • Three receivers, one tight end split out, one running back split out: 2 plays, 12 yards (6.0 ypp)
  • Two receivers, one tight end, two backs: 1 play, 11 yards 

USC vs. Utah Participation Chart

Off/Def SnapsSTTotal Plays
1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Total
1 - Darreus Rogers 9 25 16 7 57 5 62
1 - Jack Jones 0 5 5
2 - Adoree' Jackson 23 16 14 23 76 13 89
4 - Max Browne 0 0
4 - Chris Hawkins 4 11 15 6 21
6 - Michael Pittman 1 1 11 12
7 - Steven Mitchell Jr. 7 10 15 1 33 3 36
7 - Marvell Tell III 21 5 14 26 66 6 72
8 - Iman Marshall 20 14 13 26 73 5 78
9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster 7 21 15 7 50 6 56
10 - Jalen Greene 2 2 4 4
10 - John Houston Jr. 0 16 16
13 - De'Quan Hampton 2 2 2
14 - Sam Darnold 9 25 18 7 59 59
14 - Isaiah Langley 0 9 9
15 - Isaac Whitney 2 2 2
16 - Dominic Davis 0 0
17 - Keyshawn Young 0 8 8
18 - Quinton Powell 1 3 3 7 9 16
19 - Michael Hutchings 25 16 14 26 81 5 86
22 - Justin Davis 9 15 10 3 37 37
22 - Leon McQuay III 25 16 14 26 81 9 90
23 - Jonathan Lockett 21 11 12 25 69 69
25 - Ronald Jones II 8 3 4 15 15
26 - James Toland IV 0 0
27 - Ajene Harris 7 2 1 4 14 6 20
28 - Aca'Cedric Ware 2 5 7 3 10
30 - Ykili Ross 0 6 6
34 - Olajuwon Tucker 0 6 6
35 - Cameron Smith 24 13 14 23 74 5 79
36 - Chris Tilbey 0 1 1
37 - Matt Lopes 0 3 3
39 - Matt Boermeester 0 11 11
40 - Jabari Ruffin 0 6 6
42 - Uchenna Nwosu 25 16 14 26 81 6 87
44 - Malik Dorton 8 10 3 7 28 28
45 - Porter Gustin 25 16 14 26 81 1 82
46 - Wyatt Schmidt 0 5 5
47 - Reuben Peters 0 9 9
48 - Taylor McNamara 9 14 15 2 40 11 51
50 - Toa Lobendahn 0 0
51 - Damien Mama 9 25 18 7 59 17 76
56 - Jordan Austin 0 0
56 - Jordan Iosefa 0 15 15
60 - Viane Talamaivao 9 25 18 7 59 5 64
62 - Khaliel Rodgers 0 0
64 - Richie Wenzel 0 0
66 - Cole Smith 0 0
68 - Jordan Simmons 0 6 6
70 - Chuma Edoga 0 0
72 - Chad Wheeler 9 25 18 7 59 59
73 - Zach Banner 9 25 18 7 59 10 69
74 - Nico Falah 9 25 18 7 59 59
76 - Clayton Johnston 0 5 5
77 - Chris Brown 0 5 5
80 - Deontay Burnett 16 5 21 21
82 - Tyler Petite 4 2 2 8 8
88 - Daniel Imatorbhebhe 2 6 2 1 11 6 17
89 - Christian Rector 0 0
90 - Connor Murphy 0 11 11
91 - Noah Jefferson 0 0
92 - Jacob Daniel 2 5 7 7
92 - Zach Smith 0 6 6
94 - Rasheem Green 21 11 12 20 64 5 69
96 - Stevie Tu'ikolovatu 21 11 12 21 65 65
98 - Josh Fatu 4 5 9 9

Here's also a tally of the snap counts for all four games so far this season starting with offensive/defensive snaps followed by a chart of each players' total snaps for the season thus far:

Off/Def Snaps
Ala UtSt Stan Utah Season
1 - Darreus Rogers 47 60 57 57 221
1 - Jack Jones 6 8 0 0 14
2 - Adoree' Jackson 54 42 50 76 222
4 - Max Browne 49 58 51 - 158
4 - Chris Hawkins 57 62 49 15 183
6 - Michael Pittman 1 3 0 1 5
7 - Steven Mitchell Jr. 31 33 33 33 130
7 - Marvell Tell III 55 28 62 66 211
8 - Iman Marshall 54 53 44 73 224
9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster 50 59 50 50 209
10 - Jalen Greene 11 18 7 4 40
10 - John Houston Jr. 0 0 13 0 13
13 - De'Quan Hampton 15 19 10 2 46
14 - Sam Darnold 17 23 10 59 109
14 - Isaiah Langley 0 3 0 0 3
15 - Isaac Whitney 8 2 2 2 14
16 - Dominic Davis 4 6 1 - 11
17 - Keyshawn Young - 0 0 0 0
18 - Quinton Powell 6 3 0 7 16
19 - Michael Hutchings 57 62 62 81 262
22 - Justin Davis 36 42 33 37 148
22 - Leon McQuay III 38 45 34 81 198
23 - Jonathan Lockett 6 15 5 69 95
25 - Ronald Jones II 22 10 24 15 71
26 - James Toland IV 1 - - - 1
27 - Ajene Harris 7 15 5 14 41
28 - Aca'Cedric Ware 8 23 2 7 40
30 - Ykili Ross 6 3 0 0 9
34 - Olajuwon Tucker 6 3 0 0 9
35 - Cameron Smith 57 62 57 74 250
36 - Chris Tilbey 0 0 0 0 0
37 - Matt Lopes 8 37 - 0 45
39 - Matt Boermeester 0 0 0 0 0
40 - Jabari Ruffin 0 0 0 0 0
42 - Uchenna Nwosu 56 62 62 81 261
44 - Malik Dorton 22 28 23 28 101
45 - Porter Gustin 63 54 62 81 260
46 - Wyatt Schmidt 0 0 0 0 0
47 - Reuben Peters 0 4 0 0 4
48 - Taylor McNamara 47 23 25 40 135
50 - Toa Lobendahn 55 - - - 55
51 - Damien Mama 39 43 61 59 202
56 - Jordan Austin - 11 - - 11
56 - Jordan Iosefa 0 3 13 0 16
60 - Viane Talamaivao 55 67 61 59 242
62 - Khaliel Rodgers 15 - - - 15
64 - Richie Wenzel - 2 - - 2
66 - Cole Smith - 11 - - 11
68 - Jordan Simmons 11 12 0 0 23
70 - Chuma Edoga 30 4 - - 34
72 - Chad Wheeler 36 66 61 59 222
73 - Zach Banner 66 70 61 59 256
74 - Nico Falah 11 70 61 59 201
76 - Clayton Johnston 0 11 0 0 11
77 - Chris Brown 27 38 0 0 65
80 - Deontay Burnett 31 28 25 21 105
82 - Tyler Petite 8 38 23 8 77
88 - Daniel Imatorbhebhe 4 31 6 11 52
89 - Christian Rector 0 3 0 - 3
90 - Connor Murphy 0 3 0 0 3
91 - Noah Jefferson 21 - - - 21
92 - Jacob Daniel 1 2 0 7 10
92 - Zach Smith 0 0 0 0 0
94 - Rasheem Green 44 47 58 64 213
96 - Stevie Tu'ikolovatu 48 37 52 65 202
98 - Josh Fatu 8 26 32 9 75

Season totals including special teams:

Total Snaps
Ala UtSt Stan Utah Season
1 - Darreus Rogers 52 62 63 62 239
1 - Jack Jones 23 23 11 5 62
2 - Adoree' Jackson 65 49 58 89 261
4 - Max Browne 49 58 51 - 158
4 - Chris Hawkins 57 62 49 21 189
6 - Michael Pittman 24 18 10 12 64
7 - Steven Mitchell Jr. 31 33 33 36 133
7 - Marvell Tell III 67 29 67 72 235
8 - Iman Marshall 73 57 54 78 262
9 - JuJu Smith-Schuster 55 61 56 56 228
10 - Jalen Greene 11 18 7 4 40
10 - John Houston Jr. 14 15 24 16 69
13 - De'Quan Hampton 15 19 10 2 46
14 - Sam Darnold 17 23 10 59 109
14 - Isaiah Langley 0 24 5 9 38
15 - Isaac Whitney 8 2 2 2 14
16 - Dominic Davis 4 6 1 - 11
17 - Keyshawn Young - 7 2 8 17
18 - Quinton Powell 14 16 5 16 51
19 - Michael Hutchings 59 62 62 86 269
22 - Justin Davis 38 42 33 37 150
22 - Leon McQuay III 66 62 49 90 267
23 - Jonathan Lockett 6 15 5 69 95
25 - Ronald Jones II 22 10 24 15 71
26 - James Toland IV 4 - - - 4
27 - Ajene Harris 23 17 10 20 70
28 - Aca'Cedric Ware 19 30 4 10 63
30 - Ykili Ross 14 12 7 6 39
34 - Olajuwon Tucker 15 5 6 6 32
35 - Cameron Smith 65 64 62 79 270
36 - Chris Tilbey 12 2 5 1 20
37 - Matt Lopes 8 37 - 3 48
39 - Matt Boermeester 5 15 5 11 36
40 - Jabari Ruffin 9 8 16 6 39
42 - Uchenna Nwosu 76 64 71 87 298
44 - Malik Dorton 23 28 23 28 102
45 - Porter Gustin 78 56 67 82 283
46 - Wyatt Schmidt 2 - 2 5 9
47 - Reuben Peters 17 15 8 9 49
48 - Taylor McNamara 70 33 33 51 187
50 - Toa Lobendahn 55 - - - 55
51 - Damien Mama 70 57 79 76 282
56 - Jordan Austin 11 - - 11
56 - Jordan Iosefa 23 20 24 15 82
60 - Viane Talamaivao 57 75 63 64 259
62 - Khaliel Rodgers 15 - - - 15
64 - Richie Wenzel - 2 - - 2
66 - Cole Smith - 11 - - 11
68 - Jordan Simmons 13 22 7 6 48
70 - Chuma Edoga 30 4 - - 34
72 - Chad Wheeler 36 66 61 59 222
73 - Zach Banner 76 80 68 69 293
74 - Nico Falah 13 78 61 59 211
76 - Clayton Johnston - 11 2 5 18
77 - Chris Brown 29 46 2 5 82
80 - Deontay Burnett 32 29 25 21 107
82 - Tyler Petite 8 38 23 8 77
88 - Daniel Imatorbhebhe 10 25 6 17 58
89 - Christian Rector 19 7 9 - 35
90 - Connor Murphy 10 13 7 11 41
91 - Noah Jefferson 21 - - - 21
92 - Jacob Daniel 1 2 - 7 10
92 - Zach Smith 14 10 7 6 37
94 - Rasheem Green 44 47 58 69 218
96 - Stevie Tu'ikolovatu 48 37 52 65 202
98 - Josh Fatu 8 26 32 9 75
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