LOS ANGELES- It’s no secret that Adoree’ Jackson is one of the most spectacular players in college football. He’s fast. He’s shifty. He is one big play waiting to happen. A twitch here, a jiggle there and he’s gone.
USC fans have not seen such electricity being interjected on a football since the heyday of another guy who used to razzle and dazzle folks the same way.
Watching Jackson play catch and run while teams try chasing him and his world-class speed down is like watching Wile E. Coyote figuring out a way to catch the Road Runner. They always come up empty-handed.
It is a well-known fact that Jackson has this little habit of returning kicks and punts for touchdowns like peanut butter going with jelly. Apparently, Notre Dame never took the time to read their college football memo.
At the very least, the Fighting Irish appear they never sat down and watched enough game film of Jackson going lit against other teams in the special teams department. Before the annual USC-Notre Dame Rivalry Week matchup, Jackson had already accumulated 2, 3831 yards in punt and kickoff returns during his three-year collegiate stint with the Trojans.
Jackson pushed those numbers to 2,610 yards after gouging Notre Dame for 227 yards and two return touchdowns in the Trojans’ 45-27 home win.
“It’s just great blocks by everybody,” Jackson said. “They made it easier than what it was. So with those guys blocking, I knew something special was going to happen. I trusted them and when I get the ball in my hands, I’m just following my blocks…we always talk about make the blocks good, just running towards them, make sure I set everything up and it makes a highlight play. So I’m thankful for them, those guys for doing what they do.”
For kickers, Jackson added a third score when he took a simple flair pass out of the backfield from quarterback Sam Darnold and turned it into a 52-yard touchdown as USC recorded its eighth straight win.
Considering the windy and rainy conditions, it was a remarkable home climax for the Trojans, who wound up with a second-place finish in the Pac-12 Conference South Division behind Colorado, a team they beat earlier this season.
“Keys to the game for us, obviously, in this type of weather, you’re hoping and praying for some non-offensive touchdowns and all of sudden you get three of them in a game. That’s like an early Christmas present,” USC head coach Clay Helton said. “I thought the ability to run the ball, again, 200 yards plus rushing on an ugly, sloppy day, weather-wise, it was important. And then you have this creature here (Jackson) to the right of me, do a kick return, a punt return and a catch for a touchdown-that just look like something…he’s a superhero figure. Unbelievable.”
If the Fighting Irish had done their due diligence they would have known that it is not nice to yell fire in a crowded movie theater. Coach Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame team didn’t yell fire at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but they might as well have when they kicked to Jackson repeatedly and basically dared the junior All-American candidate to do something about it.
Well, Jackson did something about it. He added the Fighting Irish to his highlight clippings with a 55-yard punt return and a 97-yard kickoff return for touchdowns. Kicking the ball to Jackson is like playing football roulette. Sooner or later you’re going to get burned by the triple-threat standout. It’s just a matter of time.
What’s remarkable about Jackson’s scores was not all about how he did it, but when he did it. Timing is everything.
USC was treading water against Notre Dame late in the first half, holding on to a 10-7 lead when Jackson crushed the Fighting Irish when he scored on his 55-yard jaunt to the endzone to give the Trojans a 17-7 lead with less than two minutes to go in the second quarter.
In a matter of seconds, USC turned that advantage into a 24-7 lead after Ajene Harris took a pick six to the house for a touchdown. But it was Jackson’s punt return that rattled the cages for Notre Dame, a team that put up 41 points and posted a victory against USC last year in South Bend.
Jackson was not going to let that happen again, especially on Senior Day. His kickoff return at the end of the third quarter, which juiced just about everyone in the stadium except for Notre Dame players and their faithful, punctuated the Trojan’s win. It is a play that will likely be talked about for quite some time thanks to Jackson’s impromptu hurdling of Notre Dame kicker John Chereson on his way to that 97-yard touchdown.
“I was thinking that I was overdue for a kick return…I just got scored on so I needed to make up for it as quick as possible. It just happened to be on that kickoff return,” Jackson said.
Editor’s note: Lead photo appear courtesy of George Laase