Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel caught up with USC coach Clay Helton to talk about a wide array of topics for SI's Q&A series. They touched on what Helton's first full season will look like, the playcalling of offensive coordinator Tee Martin and fishing.
It's a wide-ranging Q&A that provides good overview of Helton and the Trojans right now, and one of the most interesting parts of the piece is how the coaching staff decides to break down Adoree' Jackson's snaps between offense, defense and special teams.
Helton said Jackson would likely play 68 defensive snaps (which he explained is the average in college football) and then "you get 12 extra plays. Now, is that six returns and six touches on offense? We held it to about a six- to eight-play series last year, a package we took into every game. And four were designed plays for him, and two or three were decoys. So, if we can get eight or 10 plays out of him a game offensively and let him be a punt returner, I think it would be advantageous."
Last season Jackson started 14 games for the Trojans -- 13 on defense and one on offense. On defense, he finished the season with 35 tackles, one interception, eight pass breakups and nine passes defended. On offense, he had 27 catches for 414 yards and three touchdowns. And on special teams, Jackson returned 24 punts for 251 yards and two touchdowns.
Jackson took this spring off to focus on track and field. This season he has jumped 25 feet, 8 inches in the long jump (21st-best in NCAA) and won the Pac-12 long jump title last weekend. Jackson has spoken about his dreams of competing in the Olympics in the long jump, but he'd have to improve considerably, as there are 26 American long jumpers who've jumped better already this season.
But one thing is for sure when it comes to football: Opponents -- on both offense and defense -- will see Jackson plenty next year. And even if he's only getting six to eight offensive plays a game, Pac-12 defensive players had better get ready because he can turn any (or all) of those plays into huge gains for the Trojans.
"The ball in his hands is a special thing, and we'll continue to do that," Helton said.