Redshirt senior Devon Kennard is back in action for USC this spring, having been sidelined all of 2012 with a torn right pectoral muscle. He is since healed, and is ready to begin a new campaign in Troy, with a new defensive coordinator, a new position, and new responsibilities. Kennard sat down with Reign of Troy on Monday, to talk about the first week of Spring Camp, the new additions in Troy, and what he hopes to accomplish this season.
Reign of Troy:You just wrapped up the first week of Spring Ball, and for you, your first week of practice in a year. How was it?
Devon Kennard:It was really exciting. Every day we got a little better and we’re putting more things into the defense. It’s fun to learn the new defense and learn new responsibilities. I got to fly around and make some plays, so it’s been a good first week.
RoT:Let’s talk about Clancy Pendergast and his new system. Some people call it a 3-4, while others a 5-2, but what is it really? Are you working a lot with him now that your role has changed?
DK:He calls it a 5-2 but it’s the same thing as a 3-4. He looks at as we have five guys on the line of scrimmage but I think it’s the principle that we are gonna stop the run, attack people off the edge and play in the back field. Me and Morgan [Breslin] still mainly work with Coach O, but we do go to 7-on-7 practices and practice dropping back into pass coverage.
RoT:Do you see this new scheme as effective towards helping USC be more competitive against the spread?
DK:Its early and we have a lot of work to do. I don’t think it matters what scheme we are in; the players just need to make plays. We have the personel for this defense and to make plays, but when the fall comes we have to go and do it.
RoT: With these new system, what is your position now?
DK: We are true outside linebackers. [Jabari] Ruffin, Kevin Greene, Morgan Breslin and all the guys that were athletic 4-3 ends are now outside linebackers. The two true defensive ends are now Leonard Williams and George Uko, with Antwaun Woods playing nose guard.
RoT: Last year, some that were critical of Monte Kiffin’s defense felt that it had many players playing out of position. How is it different with this new scheme?
DK: I don’t think anyone was playing out of position, but this one puts in a better position to make plays. With this scheme, we do have a roster that can run what Coach P has implemented and that can make us really competitive.
RoT: Have you been able to look at any of the new guys, like Kenny Bigelow, Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay?
DK: He’s [Bigelow] practicing every day; I think he’s gonna be a good player for us. This kid is supposed to be in high school still so he’s getting a good jump on the other players. I’ve seen Su’a and McQuay make plays, so it looks like they are being productive and looking really good so far as well. They will definitely be competitive.
RoT: Now that you’re back, what are you looking to most improve on this spring?
DK: I just wanna help my team win games. I wanna bring whatever leadership I can to this team to help us win. I didn’t play all last year so I need to improve every aspect of my game, and be ready to go come the fall.
RoT:In your tenure at USC, you have changed positions multiple times and have been relatively successful in doing so. How do you feel this new change helps you in the long run?
DK: I definitely feel like I’m in a defense that many people say can help me succeed at the next level. So it’s a privelege to learn under Coach P and too just get better and show what I can do. So I’m just taking it one day at a time and hopefully I get there.
USC’s spring camp resumes today at Howard Jones field, at 4 p.m. The practice is closed to the public due to USC Baseball’s 6:00 p.m. clash with Pepperdine at Dedeaux Field.