Everything USC's Lincoln Riley said Tuesday to preview Arizona
Lincoln Riley was not concerned about USC’s linebacker depth when asked about mounting injuries on Tuesday.
The USC head coach met with reporters to preview this week’s game against Arizona (4 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network), update the status of several injured Trojans, and talk a bit about how they’re developing at a few defensive spots.
Jordan Addison (leg), Eric Gentry (ankle), and Ralen Goforth (hand) are all considered “day-to-day” for Saturday’s game. They all sustained injuries in USC’s 43-42 loss to Utah on Oct. 15. The Trojans are coming off their bye week, and Riley said he thinks “everybody’s going to be fine.”
Here’s everything else Riley said, with video of the availability below:
On whether there’s concern about their linebacker depth this week
“No. No. We’ve practiced well. Guys have been able to take a lot of reps. I feel good.”
On the status of injured players in general
“I think everybody’s going to be fine. We’ve got a couple guys who were limited last week, several that are day-to-day and we’ll see how they progress throughout the week, but, yeah, I think if everybody’s there we’ll play with those guys. If not, next man up like we’ve been all year.
On whether he’d categorize WR Jordan Addison and LB Eric Gentry as day-to-day
“Yeah. Day-to-day right now.”
On Arizona WR Tetairoa McMillan
“He’s a good player. He’s got really nice skills for his size. He’s a guy that impressed us early on there in our time. Seems like a good kid, and they’re obviously doing a good job of featuring him and getting him the ball. Especially here as of late. He’s a playmaker and a tough matchup on the outside.”
On whether Arizona’s group of receivers is the best they’ve seen yet
“It’s definitely up there. No question. We’ve played a couple of other good sets, but these guys are definitely right there, if not the best. The transfer kid (Jacob Cowing) is playing really well for them. He’s a good player. Obviously, T-Mac’s playing really well for them. I think the quarterback really makes it all go. He’s dynamic. I enjoyed watching him at Washington State, watching him kind of fly around and make plays. He’s pretty good within the scheme but then when he gets out, a little bit different than (Cameron) Ward from Washington State (now), but similar challenge. They just go about it in a different way. He (de Laura) makes a lot of on-schedule plays but he’s obviously very, very dangerous off-schedule.”
On their depth at receiver
“It’s developed well. It was good to get (Terrell) Bynum back after he was down for a couple of weeks. It’s been good to see some guys rise up. Mike (Jackson III), getting him back healthy and him rising up has certainly been key for us. It was obviously a big factor the other night. We’re happy getting Kyle Ford back healthy. He wasn’t healthy during camp. To have him back, and then to see guys like Kyron (Hudson), John Jackson, CJ Williams rise up and make more plays, that’s been a big part of it.
“It’s a good group of guys. They work hard, they push one another, and we have some good competitive depth.”
On WR Michael Jackson III
“You just appreciate mentally that he hung in there (through injuries). It wasn’t easy to. He had just such a string of nagging injuries, I know his frustration level was about at a boiling point. Again, another great example that if you hang in there, good things can happen. I think he realizes he’s in a place with a system and quarterbacks and all those things where if you get healthy and do well, you’re gonna have as good an opportunity as anywhere in the country.
“It’s been good to see him battle back. We haven’t seen a lot of him on the field. He’s an impressive player. He runs well with the ball. He’s an aggressive, tough, physical, competitive player.”
On RB Austin Jones’ role this week
“I think he certainly has a chance to be a big part of our offense like he has all season. He’s played well for us. Obviously, he’s had some big moments, some big games. He’s had a few games where we haven’t used him as much. Ran well for us the other night. Practicing well. Right in the mix, as always.”
On whether there’s a reason for his lessened role in recent weeks
“Travis Dye has played pretty well. We rode the hot hand a little bit. More of the nature of a guy getting hot and playing well.”
On LB Tuasivi Nomura
“He’s been really good. He’s one of our toughest, most physical players on the football team. You feel his physicality and his speed and his decisiveness on the field. Another guy whose emergence both on special teams and defense has been very important. He’s been a guy who’s played through some pretty tough stuff that not a lot of people would play through earlier in the season, which was pretty impressive. He’s about as tough as they come.
“I can’t remember what game that was, maybe Fresno, he broke his finger in the middle of a play. Actually like a compound (break), like a bone sticking out. Didn’t tell anybody. Played three more plays with a bone sticking out of his finger. He did, it was unbelievable. And played well! He had two tackles, then finally comes over and tells somebody. We obviously couldn’t tell from the sideline. I mean… He stayed out there and played. It tells you about his toughness and how much he wants to do well for this team. It’s pretty cool.”
On LB Raesjon Davis
“Doing well. Been really pleased. He’s done some really nice things for us on special teams. He’s been a special teams impact player for us a couple of weeks now. Really progressing defensively. I think he’s one of those guys that’s kind of right on the cusp of playing significant reps and earning time there.
“We’ve been pleased with his progress. He’s worked hard. He’s really changed his body, which was a big challenge from us after spring. On a very upward trajectory right now.”
On Arizona’s defense
“They mix it up enough that it’s tough to get a beat on, but it’s not so much that it gets janky and they can’t execute it. Like, you can tell they’ve got a very nice feel for change-ups and things they can throw at you to try to keep you off your game, but they kind of do it within the context of their system, which I think really good coordinators and staffs do. They’re doing a nice job. They’re a good group. Some pretty good players. Some players we’re pretty familiar with. They’ve got some real experience in a couple of areas that shows up for them. From a backend perspective, it’ll be one of the biggest backends we’ve played.”
On Nick Figueroa at rush end and the competition at the spot
“We’re continuing to look for the most productive and experienced players there. Nick is one of those guys who, as games were going on and he was playing in more of a role situation, he was able to make plays and be very productive and we wanted to find ways to get him on the field a little bit more. Solomon (Byrd)’s done some nice things. Korey (Foreman)’s done some nice things. They all have.
“We’re going to continue to give them opportunities as they earn them, but certainly looking for somebody to really just come in and take that over. We definitely want to get more production out of that position. You look historically in this defensive system, that rush position has always been a very, very productive player. So, the combination of those guys — whether it’s all three, whether it’s one that steps up and separates himself — we feel like we have three good players that need to go take off and really play well for us.”