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USC Football vs. San José State Practice Report: Offense Ready to Shine

Aug 31, 2021

USC's offense is ready to rock with the season opener against San Jose State coming up on Saturday.

  • Receiver and returner Gary Bryant Jr. will likely miss the opener due to health and safety protocols, but USC head coach Clay Helton is confident in the rest of USC's wideouts. "We've got a lot of kids in that room, and a lot of kids with veteran experience," Helton said. "And some young talent — Joseph Manjack IV has had a really good camp. John Jackson III, a really good camp."
  • Helton also mentioned the "big creatures at tight end" factoring into the passing game on Saturday. Tight end Malcolm Epps has taken a step forward in his recovery from turf toe and could be available to play this weekend.
  • USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell was complimentary of Manjack, a freshman wideout who will make his USC debut on Saturday. "He just has a knack for being good at football," Harrell said. "He understands football. He understands running routes. But more than anything, I think he just enjoys playing and plays at a high level every single day."
  • Harrell is also looking forward to WR Tahj Washington's debut on Saturday. "He just runs hard every snap," Harrell said. "He has one speed, and it's fast. Because of that he gives himself a chance to get open every single route."
  • Washington hails from Marshall, Tex., and spent his first season earning Freshman All-American honors at Memphis. Ahead of his first game in the Coliseum, he reflected on his journey to USC. "It's a testament. Just keep going. Keep doing you. Keep working. No matter who's watching, just work," he said. "Pray, work and stay patient. It's all about timing. It might not come when you want it to come, it might not come when your folks want it to come, but it's gonna come when it needs to come."
  • While USC enters the game with the Pac-12's top returning quarterback and a dangerous group of receivers, San Jose State is led by QB Nick Starkel, who had 394 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Spartans' win last weekend. "He's a Sunday quarterback," Helton remarked. "Extremely efficient, ball comes out of his hand, he doesn't hold onto it for very long, doesn't make a lot of mistakes."
  • Helton was also complimentary of SJSU defensive lineman Cade Hall, who was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. "He just plays with a toughness and an effort and a talent," Helton noted. "Reminds me a lot of Nick Figueroa, I'll be honest with you. Really came on the scene last year and obviously is causing havoc in the backfield."
  • Helton hasn't announced the depth chart yet, but it may be two redshirt freshman offensive tackles — Courtland Ford and Jonah Monheim — going up against Hall's strong pass rush. Harrell has been impressed by what he's seen from the pair so far. "Those two guys, for them to just be freshmen playing at the level they're playing is really impressive," he said. "I think they're going to do nothing but grow as the season goes on, as the years go on, because those two guys work really hard and do things right."