Growing up in Illinois, the USC-UCLA rivalry didn't have much of an impact on Adoree' Jackson. He got a small taste of it while he was at Gardena (Calif.) Serra where the Cavaliers have been pumping players into both schools.
But Jackson has said in the past the rivalry doesn't have the effect on him that outsiders might expect. He talks about what the rivalry means to him now in his junior year, which could be his final year at USC if he chooses to enter the NFL Draft early as many expect. He also discusses the win over Washington and the impact of last year's win over UCLA had on the team and Clay Helton:
Question: Has the USC/UCLA rivalry grown at all for you?
Adoree' Jackson: Uhhh...nah. I feel like it's pretty much the same. I feel like every game will be pretty much like a rival because everybody is going to give you their best shot. You just got to go out there and perform no matter what.
Q: Did it change at all after losing or winning the last two years?
AJ: I think just throughout the high school process when I was there a lot of those guys were around the same grade or going into their first two years, so now still being there. I don't think nothing has changed. Just now being out here more obviously I'm going to know more things about them. Obviously, I went to school with a couple of them, so we all hang out -- Jaleel Wadood, Jordan Lasley, Dwight Williams was there, Caleb Wilson was just over there, he's over there, so a lot of those guys I really know, so that's pretty much how I know them all.
Q: Do you get to talk to Caleb Wilson much?
AJ: We talk every now and then, every few. A lot of the Serra boys just to check up on each other, say good game, congrats and that's pretty much how we get down.
Q: How do you look to carry your win streak into this weekend?
AJ: Just about staying focused and not being complacent. Understanding what we did to get there to this point. Making sure we're still doing our jobs, staying fundamentally sound and just trusting each other and not worrying about looking forward, looking ahead. Just worrying about this game right now.
Q: What are some keys for this six-game win streak?
AJ: I think the confidence we all have and then I give credit to the d-linemen and the linebackers for putting pressure up there, make a tackle, wrapping up, making the job easy for us out there in the secondary. I give credit to them guys up there making our job a way lot easier.
Q: What have you seen from the UCLA offense? Has it changed since Josh Rosen's injury?
AJ: They pretty much do the same things. They can light you up with the pass and they still have two great running backs. At the end of the day, whatever may be going on, the statistical things everybody may be looking at, they are still a great team. They still have great receivers. Quarterback can sling the ball and get it out there. They've got great o-linemen and got great running backs. They do a lot of things well. Last week, you seen that they tore it up in the run game and they could tear it up in the pass game. It's just one of those things where everybody want to be focused on the pass and they hit you with the run. They're one of those teams where they're balanced out and can do either one well.
Q: How are you able to put the John Ross touchdown behind you in the Washington game?
AJ: It's just all about having short-term memory at the end of the day. You've just got to go out there and perform no matter what happens. There's going to be ups and downs throughout the game. You just want to limit them as much as possible. That's what we talk about as a team. Just how we're going to battle and face adversity. That's the person that I am, just always keep fighting, keep going. I know there's always more in store.
Q: How has the defense evolved since the Alabama game?
AJ: Just coming together and trusting each other. Knowing that if you do your assignment, the guy next to you is going to do his. So we trust in ourselves and the person next to us and that's how we've been able to come together and click.
Q: Any worries about a let down after the win over Washington?
AJ: No. We're pretty much just focused on each other and trying to make sure we're doing our job and not getting complacent. That's the only thing that would be a worry. Just making sure that we're all humble and that the task at hand, we have a great team going in front of us. Don't look forward in the near future. Make sure we focus on this game.
Q: Do you want to know the scores of the Utah and Colorado games before you play?
AJ: I'll probably hear it afterwards. I mean I really don't, I want to say, care or mind about what's going on. I just want to make sure I'm focusing on us and make sure we're doing everything as well as possible. I wish we wasn't in that position where we wouldn't have to worry about nobody else and what may be going on throughout the season. But at the end of the day, I'm just trying to focus on what we have to do and if we do our job, I can be happy with that and knowing we did well.
Q: How important do you think it was to win last year's game to help Clay Helton win the permanent head coaching job?
AJ: I think it was getting justice for the seniors. Those guys that hadn't beat them that were hear for a while and finally get to leave on a great note. It was one of those things where we're excited for them to get that win and get that feeling. It was senior day, last game in the Coliseum and they went out with a bang, so I really felt good for that for doing it for our seniors.
Q: But how do you think it factored in as far as Clay's job is concerned?
AJ: Probably factored in a big deal. We came out strong. We started off not where we wanted to last year and ended up going to the Pac-12 championship. I think that gave justice to how we came together and played together as a team. I guess they seen what he was doing to get us in this culture.
Q: How much has Clay's leadership helped lead to this year's turnaround?
AJ: It's just about believing the process and everything that he's saying and then having older guys and other leaders on the team making sure that we keep everybody that is younger on the same page, on the same route. We just all came together as a family to make sure that we stayed patient and know that it's a process.
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Publisher Ryan Abraham contributed to this story.
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