USC Defense Deserves Better Than Kiffin’s Offense


Aug 29, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams (94) sacks Hawaii Rainbow Warriors quarterback Taylor Graham (8) at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks into the season, the USC Trojans have a balance problem.

The Trojan offense and defense are two kids sitting on a very tilted seesaw in the park, but neither is having any fun because a seesaw doesn’t function unless both sides pull their weight.

Consider this, in total offense the Trojans rank 113th in the nation. In total defense they rank 11th. Out of 123 teams in the FBS, USC’s offense has produced more than just ten teams, among them: FIU, Miami (OH), Florida Atlantic. On the flip side, USC’s defense has been out performed by just ten teams in college football.

In scoring offense they rank 97th. In scoring defense they rank 19th. Here’s more perspective on that: the Trojan defense has scored as many touchdowns as they have allowed. Meanwhile, the offense has a total of three touchdowns to their name.

The numbers highlight the discrepancy that is readily apparent on the field. And the numbers go deeper than that.

The USC defense leads the nation in sacks and rushing defense. They are 17th in passing efficiency defense, 3rd in tackles for loss and 3rd in turnovers forced.

The USC offense is 113th in third down conversion percentage, 116th in pass yards per completion, 116 in passing efficiency, 107 in tackles for loss allowed and 81st in turnovers lost.

Yet they’re both 1-1.

They both lost to Washington State on Saturday. They both have to face Boston College this weekend.

Lane Kiffin has talked about wanting his offense to limit mistakes, to not screw up. That’s not enough.

Yes, had Cody Kessler protected the ball and not gifted the Cougars a defensive touchdown, USC probably would have won the game. Limiting mistakes is key. Not screwing up is key. But it isn’t the key.

The key is rewarding the defense for their interception, fumble recovery or big third down stop by marching down the field and putting points on the board. The key is efficiency.

The fact is, USC is in the easiest part of the schedule for both the offense and defense. Clancy Pendergast has found great success with his new scheme, but it will be tested more and more as the season progresses. What they have done so far is impressive, but it isn’t fair to expect the same level production every play, every quarter, every game.

It is the offense’s responsibility to close the gap and provide a worthy counterweight for the Trojan defense.

Then we can all have fun.