LOS ANGELES (AP) If it did not look like Adoree Jackson was running at full speed during his 80-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown at Arizona State last weekend, that's because Southern California's three-way standout wasn't using his top gear.
''I try to make sure I don't use my speed as much so I can lull you to sleep,'' Jackson said Wednesday. ''When you think you got it, then I turn it on and get gone. That's how I use it.''
If the Sun Devils' defensive backs were sleeping on Jackson, he left them with nightmares after catching three passes for 131 yards. It was an overdue reminder of how explosive the sophomore cornerback/wide receiver/return specialist can be with the ball in his hands.
Coach Steve Sarkisian went as far as comparing Jackson's presence in the open field to that of former USC running back Reggie Bush.
''There's about one guy I can compare him to, and I'm not allowed to say his name,'' said Sarkisian, referring to the NCAA sanctions forcing the school to disassociate from Bush. ''He just has a stride about him, it's unique.''
After lighting up his teammates in the Trojans secondary with his limited reps on offense during training camp, Jackson was not much of a factor there during the first three weeks of the season.
He suffered a strained abdominal muscle early in the season opener against Arkansas State before catching four balls for 62 yards in a romp over Idaho. Jackson did not touch the ball on offense in the 41-31 loss to Stanford, and a 97-yard kick return for a touchdown was negated by a penalty.
The Cardinal's domination of time of possession and the absence of starting cornerback Kevon Seymour because of a knee injury forced Jackson to concentrate his efforts on defense. However, the rapid development of freshmen Iman Marshall and Isaiah Langley allowed Jackson to see a handful of reps on offense against Arizona State, and he made them count.
The long touchdown came when Jackson was running a wheel route into an Arizona State blitz, leaving him one-on-one with a safety. Jackson knew the defender had taken a bad angle, and the only question left was whether to explode down the sideline or let receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. take care of the only other Sun Devil with any hope of keeping him out of the end zone.
''I knew I was going slow, and I might as well have Steven block him,'' Jackson said. ''He had a great block, which was amazing.''
Jackson played a total of 61 snaps against Arizona State, touching the ball all three times he lined up on offense to go along with a 45-yard punt return. That distribution was exactly ''how I would like to have it,'' Jackson said, and Sarkisian added that self-scouting during the bye week reinforced to the coaching staff how important it is to get the ball in Jackson's hands.
With Seymour doing more work in practice and looking likely to return for USC's next game against Washington and continued improvement from the freshmen, there could be more opportunities for Jackson on offense going forward.
''Once the offense is up and he's in the offense, he is doing his own thing,'' Langley said. ''He is a hell of a player, hell of a player.''