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There aren't many guys in the Pac-12 faster than USC's Adoree' Jackson, who was at the conference's media day Thursday after finishing 10th in Olympic track and field qualifying. That's why Utah defensive back Justin Thomas said he was looking forward to getting a chance to match up against the Trojan.
One problem: After splitting time early in his career in Los Angeles as a jack-of-all-trades wideout, kick returner and defensive back, Jackson is planning to specialize this season, according to USC coach Clay Helton.
"Really the primary focus, and we've sat down and visited about it a bunch already, Adoree' and I have, and his primary focus going into training camp will be on defense because you've got to look at the team aspect. And you look at the team aspect right now, what's our weakest point probably going in? It's our defensive front. How do you help a defensive front? You load the box. You play man coverage. … So I really feel for Adoree' to become what I think he is, one of the best DBs in the country. I really want his primary focus going into training camp, to work the defensive back position."
Helton did, however, say that the electric Jackson might be called on "to return a ball or two" or line up for special offensive plays.
Aggies up next
The Trojans take on reigning champ Alabama in their season opener, a Sept. 3 battle at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
But USC doesn't sound like a team overlooking its week two matchup with Utah State, either.
"We've got the next game against Utah State and the next game against Stanford and so on and so on," USC offensive lineman Zach Banner said. "I truly feel like we've got to take it week by week."
Helton counted the Aggies among the match ups he feels will help boost his team's playoff resume later in the year.
"When you look at it and you have the opportunity to play an Alabama, a Notre Dame, a Utah State in the Pac-12 schedule, man, is that awesome, because the fact of the matter is we live in a playoff system world, and everybody is going to be talking about building your résumé. Well, when you have the chance to play Alabama, Notre Dame, that Pac-12 schedule, you're building your résumé. But you know what you're also doing? You're preparing yourself for a playoff game. You're preparing yourself for a National Championship game, because the quality of talent that you're playing throughout the season prepares you when it matters the most, and that's those playoff and championship games."
Max Browne, the quarterback who replaced Jake Heaps at Washington's Skyline High School, has waited a long time for his turn to start at USC. Turns out, he'll have to wait even longer to find out if he'll get the chance.
"We do have a quarterback battle that's going on right now," Helton said. "We're very, very fortunate and thankful to have some really talented guys at the position, and you know, coming out of spring, like I said, after that spring game, if we had to finish that day and played the next week, it probably would have been Max Browne, but the separation between Max and Sam Darnold was not great, and if we talk about competing at every position, it's got to be the quarterback position, also. What will we do? What is the plan? The plan is to go for about 18 practices and see where all our positions are at, and then about two weeks out prior to playing that opening game versus Alabama, we'll go ahead and release our two deep and let every young man know what his role is going into that first game."