During the whirlwind 2013 season, one constant that remained for USC was strong defensive play, particularly up front.
Then defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast had his unit playing fast and aggressive, and the defense demonstrated its ability to defend the various offensive attacks the Pac-12 presents.
The Trojans yielded an average of 344.9 yards per game last season, which was best in the conference. The 4.98 yards per play allowed was third-best in the Pac-12 and 34 sacks was fifth-highest in the conference.Losing Kenny Bigelow to an ACL injury was a considerable blow to the Trojans, but head coach Steve Sarkisian remains confident in the defense.
“I love our front seven. I think our front seven is the strength of our
football team. Leonard Williams, Antwaun Woods, Scott Starr, Hayes Pullard, Anthony Sarao, J.R. Tavai, Claude Pelon.”
Sarkisian also highlighted the experience the secondary gained last season and believes the Trojans are capable of having another strong defense this season.
As for new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox replacing Pendergast, Sarkisian isn’t concerned with a potential drop off.
“Scheme-wise, I’m not worried. Justin [Wilcox] is a tremendous defensive coach,” Sarkisian said. He’ll do a great job and have our guys ready to play.”
The Trojan defense will again be tested this season as 10 of 12 Pac-12 schools have returning quarterbacks.