USC Football

Mike Jinks looking for THE GUY at USC

March 13, 2019
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In 2005, USC RBs Coach Mike Jinks became the head coach for Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas, eight months before the school was initially opened. Jinks led the new football program at Steele to a win in the 2010 Class 5A Division II Texas state championship. 

In 2011, Jinks' team made it to the finals of the Class 5A Division II state championship before losing to Spring Dekaney HS. In 2012, another powerhouse Steele team made it to the state semifinals, only to fall to eventual state champion Katy High School. 

Following the conclusion of the 2012 season, Jinks was named the head coach for the West-team of the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was a finalist for the 2013 Xenith National High School Coach of the Year Award. 

Jinks left Steele to become the RBs coach for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech with a win-loss record of 76–18. In his last three seasons there, Jinks, compiled a record of 43–4.

A week after USC Hired Kliff Kingsbury as Offensive Coordinator, the Trojans hired Jinks to become running backs coach Dec. 11. Although Kingsbury departed as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals a month later, Jinks, remained at USC.

We were able to meet Jinks and speak with him for the first time since his hiring after Spring Practice No. 2 last week.

Q&A:

SS: Was it your connection with Kingsbury that led you to USC?

Jinks: “That initially started the dialogue between Coach (Clay) Helton and myself. Once we had a chance to sit down and visit, it seemed like a great fit. At the end of the day, it’s USC. The same thing that got Kliff here is the same thing that got Graham here. This is an elite program and to get the opportunity to be a part of it, to be a part of the Trojan family, is something you wouldn’t dare say no to. They told me it didn’t rain here, though.”

SS: At one time, at least this is how it was told to me, Kliff (Kingsbury), Lincoln Riley and Graham (Harrell) were all at Texas Tech with Mike Leach. We’re you a part of that?

Jinks: “No I wasn’t, but Seth Doege who’s here as a quality control coach, was a redshirt freshman and he was my WRs coach at Bowling Green. At one point they were all there together. Lincoln was a GA. It’s kind of crazy and neat to see how everyone has taken it and made it something of their own.”

SS: Are there huge differences between Kingsbury’s philosophy and Graham’s?

Jinks: “The menu is similar when you talk about pass concepts. What you’re going to see is the simplicity of the offense. We don’t really believe in a ton of schemes. We believe in what we do and we do it the better than anyone in the country.”

SS: What are you hoping to accomplish off the bat here in the first week of Spring Practices?

Jinks: “Take care of the QB and take care of the ball. That will be our focus throughout the Spring. These are talented kids and the one thing I noticed is they all have a great aptitude. Probably because they were in a Pro-Style Offense. The way they’ve picked it up and processed the information we’ve given them has been very, very impressive. We also want them to buy in. It’s one thing for us to say it works, but buying in comes from them trusting us and, Graham, and us position coaches being consistent. And I feel there’s been a buy in, because since the day we got here, the message hasn’t changed. We’re by no means where we want to be, but I do feel they’re liking the scheme.”

SS: How much will the running Backs be used as pass catchers?

Jinks: “We’re going to use the Running Backs a lot more and they ought to be pretty excited. We’re going to ask them to do everything.  At the end of the day, there will be GMs or Scouts from NFL teams seeing our guys coming out of the backfield, picking up blitzes and you’re seeing a lot of fluff right now, but we will come down hill at you. We believe we’ll be a physical football team and we do run power.”

SS: The Running back stable isn’t very big right now at USC.

Jinks: “We need to be careful when looking at reps. I need to make sure I’m spreading the reps around with all of our backs. There’s enough tape on they guys who’ve played here to know what they can do. We’ve got to get them in shape,  are sure they understand the system, but at the same time, I need to see what Markese (Stepp), Quincy (Jounti), Chris (Edmondson) and Ben (Easington) can do. We don’t have a starter, and that’s what this system is about. It’s constant competition every day and it will be that way until the day they run us out of here.”

SS: When you’re looking for running backs, what qualities are you searching for?

Jinks: “We want a complete back. I’m not looking for a third back, I’m not looking for a big back, I’m looking for a back who can do everything for us. Our sub packages in our offense are huge for us. When we get personnel on the field, we want to keep that personnel on the field and that allows us to play with great tempo. If you’re going to do that, I can’t be rotating in a 2nd down or 3rd down back. That slows us down and allows the defense to substitute. So all that stuff is key to us. We need to have guys who can play all three downs for us. If I take a guy out, it’s because he’s tired and I’m afraid he might fumble. So when the backs get in there, they’re going to roll and they’re going to stay.”

SS: What have you seen from Stephen Carr?

Jinks: “I went back and looked at his freshman tape and there’s a lot to be excited about. He had a pretty significant injury last year and rolled an ankle pretty bad, so now it’s about him getting his confidence back. I like what I’ve seen so far.”

SS: Markes Stepp is a guy who didn’t play much last year, but he looks like someone who could do a lot of damage.

Jinks: “Kese is a big, strong and physical kid. There was a question whether he would fit in our system. I’ve been impressed with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield the last couple of days and I know that’s something he worked very hard on the last couple of months. He knew what we’re going to run offensively. If we can get a big guy like that in space, he can cause a lot of problems. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but he’s definitely trending in the right direction.”

NOTE: Last season North Texas ran the ball 35.5 times per game for a anaverage of 154 yards and 4.3 YPC. The Mean Green threw the ball 38.8 times per game for 307 yards per game.

Spring Practice No. 4 is Tuesday March 18 at 3pm.

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Mike Jinks looking for THE GUY at USC

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