After using heavy rotation in Week 1, did USC football throw as many freshman into the fire in Week 2 against Stanford? The redshirt plan is taking form.
USC football’s Week 2 matchup with Stanford didn’t go to plan, but it seems the Trojans plan with the 2018 freshman class remained unchanged.
It would seem the participation of freshman against UNLV was not a “preseason” opportunity as all 10 freshmen who saw action in Week 1 also got in the game in Week 2.
Quarterback JT Daniels, center/H-back Justin Dedich, cornerback Olaijah Griffin, safety Talanoa Hufanga, outside linebacker Kana’i Mauga and receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Devon Williams either have starting jobs or rotational roles which make it clear they won’t be on USC’s redshirt list coming out of the season.
Meanwhile, special teams contributions from a handful of non-rotational players also suggest redshirts may not be on the cards for the likes of linebacker Raymond Scott, cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart and defensive back Chase Williams.
Redshirt Games Played Tracker
As the chart shows, every freshman who played in Week 1 also appeared in Week 2, putting them one step closer to the four-game limit for retaining redshirt eligibility.
The interesting ones to note are those who failed to play.
Again, junior defensive lineman Connor Murphy was a healthy scratch. Since he’s transitioning inside, it would make sense if the coaches plan to give him time to develop before unleashing him in the final four games of the season while leaving his redshirt intact. Two games in, it’s a viable scenario to track.
Two freshman who didn’t take part in Week 1 but could have in Week 2 were linebacker Palaie Gaoteote and running back Markese Stepp. Both traveled with the team after sitting out the UNLV game with injury.
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Returning to practice last week, Gaoteote got run in the two-deep at linebacker, but the Trojans didn’t rotate on the inside nearly as much as they did against UNLV. In Week 1, Levi Jones saw extensive time on the field, while his reps against Stanford were limited. Without a role in a limited rotation at inside linebacker and no reps on special teams, Gaoteote could be a surprise redshirt candidate having four games left to play with.
Stepp missed the first game having just come off of concussion protocol, but it remains to be seen if he’s in the Trojans’ plans for 2018. It may come down to when and where injuries strike. For now, USC’s top three rushers are all healthy, so involving Stepp has not been necessary. Keeping his four games intact for spot duty midseason seems wise.