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USC and Cody Kessler are looking to end negative streaks

USC and Cody Kessler are looking to end negative streaks
USC quarterback Cody Kessler throws during the first half of a game against Notre Dame on Oct. 17. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

USC quarterback Cody Kessler hopes to end two streaks Saturday against third-ranked Utah.

The Trojans are in danger of losing three consecutive games for the first time since 2012.

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Kessler also would like to end a personal streak: For the first time since becoming the starter in 2013, he has had passes intercepted in three consecutive games.

Arizona State picked off one pass, and Washington and Notre Dame each intercepted two.

The five interceptions equals Kessler's total in 2014.

"We're playing some very good defenses right now," Kessler said after Tuesday's practice.

Notre Dame's interceptions came during the fourth quarter of the Fighting Irish's 41-31 victory over the Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium.

Kessler accepted blame for both, though the first was made on a spectacular play by cornerback KeiVarae Russell, the second on a pass that Russell appeared to tip into the hands of safety Max Redfield.

"We've got to eliminate those things, especially me," Kessler said. "We've got to finish games."

Last season, Kessler passed for six touchdowns in USC's 49-14 romp over injury-depleted Notre Dame.

"Obviously, a different defense than they were last year," he said, adding, "Those corners are the best we faced all year."

Utah's defense also is formidable. The Utes lead the Pac-12 Conference with 13 interceptions.

Getting offensive

Before and during the first half of the season, USC coaches spoke often about getting Adoree' Jackson more involved on offense.

The problem: Jackson is a starting cornerback and there was a need for balance so he would not become fatigued.

It appears balance might no longer be an issue.

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With receivers Steven Mitchell Jr., Darreus Rogers, Isaac Whitney and Jalen Greene sidelined Tuesday by injuries, Jackson joined other offensive players in a Cardinal-colored jersey and worked at receiver.

"We just want to make sure that Adoree' is totally prepared if and when he has to go in," interim Coach Clay Helton said after practice.

Jackson turned his only reception against Notre Dame into an 83-yard touchdown.

Jackson has 11 catches and has averaged 25.4 yards per catch.

Stepping up

In his first extended playing time, freshman receiver Deontay Burnett came through with three receptions against Notre Dame, including one for 28 yards.

One play after he caught a 19-yard pass in the third quarter, Burnett delivered a key block that sprung tailback Ronald Jones II for a 65-yard gain.

"The moment was not too big for him," receivers coach Tee Martin said.

Martin said he informed Burnett last week that he would have a role against the Fighting Irish.

"You always try to look at the guy's eyes and try to feel their reaction," Martin said. "And not at one moment did he look intimidated. ... That's something to say about a young who comes in and is not scared."

Quick hits

Left tackle Chad Wheeler did not practice after reporting concussive symptoms Sunday, Helton said. Zach Banner worked at left tackle.

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Several players, including tight end Taylor McNamara and safety John Plattenburg, did not practice because of a "stomach bug," Helton said.

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USC's Oct. 31 game at California will kick off at noon or 12:30 p.m. on Fox or FS1. The time will be decided by Tuesday, USC said.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @LATimesKlein

Correspondent Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.

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