USC Football focusing on collective effort for 2018

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Too often in 2017, USC Football’s offense and defense weren’t on the same page. This spring, the Trojans are looking to find a more even level.

For the USC Football coaching staff, one of the main focuses this spring is the idea of collective effort.

Head coach Clay Helton has made a habit of pointing out how the Trojans don’t have any superstars. But they do have talent and putting it all together in a cohesive force will be key to success.

“We have to play great team football,” Helton said. “Part of team football is being able to play great defense, great special teams and don’t make the critical errors offensively. When you end up running the ball, stopping the run, don’t turn it over, play great special teams, you’re going to win a lot of football games.”

The trouble for USC in 2017 was how rarely all aspects of the game came together. Helton acknowledged that, noting how often the offense would play well but then the defense would he off. Or the defense would be on and the offense would struggle.

Luckily the Trojans were able to win more than their fair share of games last year, but they did so in unimpressive fashion largely because they couldn’t put it all together at the same time.

And two of USC’s losses featured truly damning Jekyll and Hyde performances. The Notre Dame game featured a horrendous defensive outing no amount of offense could have overcome while the loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl included a gutsy defensive performance, but dismal offensive output.

The quickest way for the Trojans to raise their level in 2018 will be to even out the contributions from all three facets of the game.

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“This team is going to have to play extremely well together,” Helton said. “This is going to be a collective effort between this group to get to where we want to go.”

That’s a refrain repeated by defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, on a smaller scale.

Too often in 2017, USC’s defense had nine guys playing it right and two playing it wrong, Pendergast said.

The task this offseason is getting everyone up to speed. With much better depth and a core group of contributors coming into their own, the hope is that the kind of miscues which broke USC’s back so often will be a thing of the past.

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“All 11 guys have to trust and be on the same page,” Pendergast said.

That’s what spring ball is for.