The most improved aspect of USC's defense may not be what you'd think

Eric Gentry, USC Football, USC Trojans
Eric Gentry, USC Football, USC Trojans / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever people talk USC football on defense, they bring up how they've forced four turnovers per contest. That's the one glaring area of improvement that the team has put forth on D this year. The team forced 19 turnovers TOTAL in 2021, and now they've forced four in each of their first two contests.

And sure, that has been wildly impressive, and the reason the defense has only allowed 42 points in total this season, and scored 21 themselves in interception run-backs for touchdowns. But, is this type of pace sustainable? Probably not to the fullest extent. One area of improvement USC has put forth this year, though, that is sustainable is their improvement in the tackling department:

Therefore, USC takes 2.7 times as many plays to miss a tackle on average, compared to last season. That's a remarkable improvement in an area that people have been begging for change from for many years. It wasn't only a problem under Todd Orlando. There were also games under Clancy Pendergast where missed tackles were happening on seemingly every other play as well.

USC football's tackling charge has been led by Mike Linebacker Eric Gentry.

Eric Gentry has 17 tackles so far this year for USC football. That leads the team. He also has half a sack, and seems to always be around the ball. His presence as a 6-6 LINEBACKER has disrupted so many plays. It's evidently hard for the quarterbacks to see on passes they have to look through Gentry to make.

Also very responsible for the difference is the continued development of star Defensive End Tuli Tuipulotu. He's been very productive despite taking many snaps as an end this year instead of only taking snaps at tackle.

Tuipulotu leads the team with four tackles for loss. He's also posted a sack this year, and has once again been the best player for USC's defense this season, even with all the transfer additions SC had this offseason. It's been a blend of both the old AND the new to set the tone on this improvement on the defense.

Alex Grinch is clearly doing a very good job in this department, as all of these players are new to him, with him being the DC for Oklahoma last year. And the best part about the tackling is that when the tackles are made, they're violent.

To prove it, USC forced two fumbles from Stanford Running Back E.J. Smith in their last game. Both Tuipulotu and Safety Max Williams absolutely LIT him up, and forced Stanford to take him out of the game because this defense was just too much to handle for him.

Next. Game-by-game predictions for USC in 2022. dark

This was even against a team in the Cardinal that prides itself on a hard-hat, physical mindset and brand of football. USC still had five sacks. They finish plays, and they're significantly more physical than they were last season. While the turnovers is the most notable aspect of this defense, the improved tackling is at least up there and very important to be paying attention to.