USC Football Spring Camp Review: Defensive Line


USC football wrapped up spring camp Saturday with questions still swirling along the defensive line, which remains in the process of replacing Leonard Williams for 2015.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, key players in the unit were unavailable for the bulk of camp. Most notably, starting nose tackle Antwaun Woods missed the entirety of spring. Kenny Bigelow and Greg Townsend Jr. also sat out.

The missed time is particularly harsh on Bigelow and Townsend who are in pursuit of more featured roles on the line this season.

Oct 11, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. (93) against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bigelow tore his ACL before the start of the 2014 season and remains the No. 2 defensive tackle for USC behind Delvon Simmons. Rasheem Green and Noah Jefferson’s arrival at the position in the fall will complicate his progress towards playing time, especially as he works to shake off the rust this fall.

Townsend’s situation is hindered even more by the lack of practice time. The redshirt senior, who backed up Williams last year, has one last chance to make an impact as a Trojan.

Despite missing camp with a foot injury, he is currently listed as the back up to Claude Pelon in the defensive end spot. That may not be the case going forward as Malik Dorton and new fall arrivals Kevin Scott and Christian Rector will be gunning for his spot.

With such limited numbers on the line, Cody Temple, Simmons and Pelon carried the weight of keeping the line moving this spring.

Temple filled in admirably in the middle, furthering his case for an increased role in the rotation. Even then, incoming freshman Jacob Daniel could offer immediate help at the position.

Simmons and Pelon remain the big questions heading out of spring, however.

Both appear to have progressed from marginally successful seasons in 2014, but it will take more than just slight improvement to make up for the loss of Williams’ presence on the line.

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For Pelon there are even more concerns. The redshirt senior missed the Spring Game because of academic ineligibility. Any steps forward he may have taken this spring would be rendered moot if he falls behind in the classroom again this fall.

All in all, spring could only offer so much for the defensive line. The group exits camp in much the same way it entered.

There were no major standouts in a unit so depleted by injury it would be unfair to ask for one.

Until the line returns to full strength, aided by the squadron of reinforcements due to join over the summer, the answers to the big questions surrounding the defensive front will be unattainable.

Who will USC rely on the most to replace Leonard Williams?

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