Freshmen Will Feature Heavily for USC Football vs. Arkansas State


Steve Sarkisian has been hinting for some time now that USC football would make heavy use of substitutions and he confirmed Tuesday that freshmen Trojans would be a notable part of that.

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“We’re going to be platooning defensive players at an alarming rate compared to what we’ve been doing here in recent years,” Sarkisian said.

Specifically, the head coach confirmed that freshman Marvel Tell will be a part of the safety rotation while Cameron Smith will start in place of Lamar Dawson, who is severely limited by a rib injury.

Smith enrolled early for the Trojans and has impressed since spring camp.

“The guy has been making plays for us [since spring],” said Sarkisian, praising Smith’s football IQ. “He’s just a heady guy.”

Smith and Tell are by no means the only freshmen who will be contributing on defense.

Iman Marshall will certainly see time as Kevon Seymour’s back up at cornerback and as a nickelback in the rotation.

Though Porter Gustin is third from the top on the depth chart behind Scott Felix and Jabari Ruffin, the physically domineering rush end will almost certainly see the field.

On offense, Sarkisian revealed that all three freshman running backs will see the field, which means there will be no redshirt for Dominic Davis, Ronald Jones II or Aca’Cedric Ware.

At tight end, the release of the depth chart also indicated that Tyler Petite will make his debut as a co-starter.

That makes it no less than eight freshmen who will play for the Trojans Saturday. The number of first year players seeing the field could conceivably grow even more.

Linemen Noah Jefferson and Jacob Daniel, linebackers Osa Masina and John Houston and cornerback Isaiah Langley made the three-deep on defense.

Chuma Edoga could also find himself in the rotation at right tackle against Arkansas State.

Reinforced by a full class for the first time since scholarship reductions took effect in 2011, the Trojans do not look like being shy about using young players early this season.

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