USC's run D answers questions as soon as Eric Gentry gets healthier
Everyone and their mother outside of Southern California went on and on about how USC Football wasn't going to be able to stop Notre Dame's running game in Week 13. It is unclear as to why, as the Fighting Irish came into the game just 44th nationally in yards per carry at 4.57.
To put it in perspective; a real running game--like USC's--came into the game 14th in the country in yards per carry at 5.34. Regardless, SC's defense was certainly not buying it. That was proven with ND struggling mightily in the run game in the Coliseum. They ran it 26 times, and only got 90 yards out of it. SC made them look rather pathetic in the running game--resulting in SC coasting to a 38-27 win against their arch rivals.
Lots of it was due to how elite of a performer USC's No. 1 Mike Linebacker Eric Gentry was in his return. He played last week, but his ankle injury prevented him from playing very many snaps at all. He was out there much more on Saturday, and even though he didn't look like he was moving at 100%, he still racked up NINE tackles in the contest.
Gentry is now at 61 tackles on the year, despite him missing three full games to his ankle injury that he suffered against Utah, and parts of two other games. And again, he wasn't even at 100% in this game. It's no wonder why this defense looked incredible against the run as soon as he got healthier this past week.
And USC Football should be even better against the run next week, when Eric Gentry will likely be back at 100%.
There's no guarantee that Eric Gentry will be at 100% for USC Football next week, but with how much progress he made this week, it's inferable. He looked much better and now has another week to get healthier. Gentry's 6-6 presence in the middle of the field makes a massive difference in general, too, and not just in regards to the rush D.
To have someone with a 7-1 wingspan roaming the middle of the field makes life impossible for a quarterback, who has to find a way to see over that skyscraper. Even with him looking like he wasn't moving at full strength; he still made a major impact and was arguably the best player on this defense. All he needs to do next week is play like he did this week, and he'll have done his part.
He doesn't even need to be at that 100% level. That's how outstanding of a player he's been this year, and how outstanding of a player he was on Saturday, where he reminded the college football world that he's still here.