LOS ANGELES — USC wide receiver Jordan Addison has not been his consistently splashy self of late.
Addison, last year’s winner of the Biletnikoff Award at Pittsburgh, was targeted six times in Saturday’s win over Washington State. He was held to three catches for 37 yards, 25 of which came on a single reception.
While he hit triple-digit receiving yards the previous week against Arizona State, it was the second time in three weeks that Addison has been limited to three receptions after having at least five in each of USC’s first three games this season.
Following practice Tuesday, Addison said he has seen a difference in how defenses are playing him now that there is some film of him in the USC offense.
“What I notice is the leverages they play against me. Most of the time they play a lot more outside leverage to keep me from getting outside,” Addison said. “That’s one of the big things I’ve been noticing, it’s been a little bit harder to get outside. But just the receiver that I am, I have to make it work.”
Addison says this is something new for him, and not something he experienced at Pitt, where he played exclusively in the slot. At USC, he’s lined up outside more often, allowing him to take advantage of his elite speed.
So far, it’s produced 32 receptions for 479 yards and six touchdowns. But defenses are trying to adjust.
Head coach Lincoln Riley pointed out that defenses have not been able to divert players to double up Addison due to the other matchups they have to pay attention to across the USC offense.
“At times, he’s seen a little extra attention, but it’s not like he’s being double-covered every single play,” Riley said. “He’s obviously had a good first half of the season, but I think he’s primed really well for us here.”
Addison’s two dips in production have coincided with down performances from the USC passing game as a whole. Quarterback Caleb Williams completed 47.7% of his passes in the two games in which Addison was limited to three receptions, as opposed to 74% in the other four contests.
Against Washington State, USC was held to 188 passing yards. Addison noticed that not everything was properly aligned as the Trojans went through the offense.
“Probably just the timing of everything. The timing of the routes with the QB. We gotta just clean stuff up throughout this week of practice and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Addison said. “We just gotta stay focused a little bit more, be a little bit more detailed within our releases and our routes. I feel like everything will turn around.”
That will start this week against Utah. Addison will likely find himself matched up with corner Clark Phillips III, the former La Habra standout who led the Pac-12 in pass breakups last season and is tied for the FBS lead with four interceptions this season.
“He’s a solid corner, he’s got great feet, good speed and challenges like this, this is what I look up to and this is where I rise the most,” Addison said.
Left tackle shuffle
When starting left tackle Bobby Haskins left Saturday’s game briefly with a shoulder injury, USC opted to put Mason Murphy in rather than Courtland Ford.
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Ford started the first two games of the season at left tackle and eight games at the position last year. But Murphy got the nod against the Cougars over Ford, who hasn’t played since a holding call against him eliminated an 82-yard touchdown pass against Arizona State.
“Just felt like it was the right decision at that point,” Riley said. “We got guys that have been practicing well. We’ve got some tough decisions to make there. We felt like in that situation it was the right time to give Mason a shot.”