I worked on a piece for the Daily Trojan about the struggles of the USC defense in 2010 and how the coaching staff plans to improve that side of the ball. To read the full story, click here.
"We gave up too many big plays, runs or passes. You want to be so good and you start pressing and you try to make too many plays and then you give up the big play."
"The name of the game is tackling the guy with the football. You don’t have to be a scientist to figure that out. We were so banged up last year that we couldn’t [tackle]. And as we practice tackling, we are going to be a better tackling team."
"[Familiarity] will help us. It’s important just to be back in the system. We lost some guys, but we have some good young players coming in as well. Being the second year in the system the guys understand things a little bit better. They are playing faster. At times last year, we were thinking too much instead of reacting. Defense is really just about getting to the football, making plays and not giving up too many explosion plays."
"[The defense] has to be better and it’s going to be. I think they understand the effort and the commitment it takes."
On the changes made to spark improvement:
"[None of the schemes] are new. We simplified things on defense, so where there shouldn’t be as much thinking and we can play faster. That should help us this year."
"It’s pretty good to see three of your secondary positions filled and to feel this good about them this early on."
It’s hard to imagine the defense not being better in 2011. They gave up 400 yards per game, the worst mark in school history dating back to 1955 which is as far back as the media guide goes. The defense also gave up 26.7 points per game, the second worst mark since 1955. The Trojans also need to figure out how to come up with stops at the end of games. Washington, Stanford, and Notre Dame all used late drives to beat USC. All in all, USC was outscored 118-72 in the fourth quarter by their opponents. If the Trojans want to return to the glory days, the defense needs to come around because the offense and special teams held up their end of the bargain most of the time.