USC Football News: Defensive Line Needs More than Flashes, More Notes from Spring Camp


USC football news out of spring practice No. 5 focused in on the defensive line as Steve Sarkisian called out key linemen who need to show greater consistency.

Claude Pelon and Delvon Simmons are expected to shoulder the load of replacing Leonard Williams in 2015, but the head coach says he has only seen flashes of what he needs from them this year.

“Our expectations are we need them to be really good players if we want to be the type of defense we think we can be,” Sarkisian said.

Both players need to be physical and disciplined in order to help USC thrive in the trenches, and they have both shown the ability to be just that. However, Sarkisian said he is looking for a greater level of consistency from the two, rather than the flashes they have produced thus far.

More Aggressive Defensive Backs

The Trojans are experimenting with cornerbacks like Chris Hawkins and Jonathan Lockett at safety this spring, not just because of the depth concerns at the position, but because they want to employ a more aggressive defense in 2015.

The cornerbacks have the skills to play man-to-man from the safety spot, which is necessary in the Pac-12 with so many spread teams utilizing four-wide receiver sets.

Sarkisian said that was the idea behind targeting players like Marvell Tell and Ykili Ross, who will arrive in the fall to help at the position as well.

“I’d like to be able to be more aggressive but I don’t want to be stubborn in doing it if we’re not good at it,” Sarkisian said.

Kevon Seymour has emerged as an example of a player who has taken the increased aggression to heart.

Sarkisian praised him for preventing passes in front of him by being more aggressive. He also noted an increasing emphasis for Seymour in terms of defending the run more physically. Still, Sarkisian maintained that Seymour “should be and can be a better tackler.”

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Offense Hits a Wall

As the defense works on its aggressiveness, the offense still has plenty of wrinkles to smooth out.

“Offensively we ran into to a little bit of a wall today. Just slowing down, guys thinking a lot,” Sarkisian said. “We need to clean it up for Saturday.”

Still, Sarkisian was confident that the offense can pick things up.

“We’re going to have some growing pains. The beauty of spring is we don’t play every Saturday in spring,” Sarkisian said. “We can struggle through some things on a Tuesday or a Thursday but improve it onto the next practice.”

If something can’t be improved, Sarkisian continued, then they can scrap it and move on.

Other Notes:

  • Adoree’ Jackson has unique control of his body according to Sarkisian. That could help him achieve his goal of winning the Heisman.
  • Jordan Simmons received extra reps at left guard because he missed practice on Tuesday with illness.
  • Ricky Town had one of his best passes of the spring, hitting Steven Mitchell for a touchdown.
  • Connor Spears saw a lot of time with the first-teamers.
  • Linebacker Cameron Smith had a one-handed interception over the middle.
  • Leonard Williams attended practice again, while injured linebacker Anthony Sarao also appeared on a cart trailing the linebackers.