USC spring football game: New-look defense picks up speed

After a spring intended to guarantee development, the new parts on USC’s revamped protection took their areas, all set to get started anew.

Anthony Lucas, the Trojans’ new five-star lineman who transferred from Texas A&M, towered over the line of scrimmage, as intimidating as promised. Mason Cobb, who was an All-Massive 12 Conference linebacker at Oklahoma Condition, crouched in the middle, working to each gap with reckless abandon. In front of him was Kyon Barrs, who was an All-Pac-12 Meeting defensive tackle at Arizona, holding down the inside with the kind of size USC sorely lacked.

So much of the Trojans’ defense seemed various from the group that unraveled at the close of final year, and for the last 4 weeks ahead of the spring match, optimism experienced been the overriding narrative. But as quarterback Caleb Williams dropped back again on the opening snap Saturday, lacing a 45-garden pass confidently across the industry, it was fair to question how substantially a several players plucked from the transfer portal could be envisioned to flip around a protection on their personal.

That problem couldn’t be solved with a single spring match. But the opening push didn’t give considerably solace. It took just three plays for Williams to direct the Trojans down the subject and find vast receiver Mario Williams in the corner of the conclusion zone for a landing, punctuating an early intestine punch for USC’s defense.

“We understood what we experienced to resolve,” protection Calen Bullock said. “We received to the sideline and was like, ‘Let’s quiet down and just engage in football.’ ”

USC running back Austin Jones (6), right, celebrates with wide receiver Mario Williams after Williams made a touchdown catch.

USC running back again Austin Jones (6), correct, celebrates with extensive receiver Mario Williams right after Williams built a very first-quarter touchdown catch.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Moments)

USC’s defense did certainly calm down. It got just after the quarterback at periods. It clamped down somewhat in the secondary. It even came absent with a spring victory above the Trojans’ offense, 42-34, for what which is well worth.

But it by no means faced Williams yet again after that very first drive, as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner sat soon after people original 3 plays. 3 of the defense’s 4 compelled turnovers arrived in opposition to freshman quarterback Malachi Nelson, who struggled to find his footing in his Coliseum debut. Not to point out the protection still experienced issues from the run, as many functioning backs, which includes a pair of outstanding freshmen, blew as a result of the Trojans’ front.

However, afterward, USC mentor Lincoln Riley remained sunny about the outlook of his protection. He pointed to a bulkier front 7 specifically as proof.

“We all knew deep down that we experienced some holes there very last 12 months,” Riley said. “I indicate, it is what it is right? You understood. And even when we’re successful online games and actively playing, playing properly defensively, like, you know, at some issue this has received to be dealt with. It was going to be a focal stage no matter if we won five online games last year, we received 11, or we received 15 games past year. Like, it was likely to occur. And so I’m fired up about what that appears to be like like.”

Some changes unquestionably experienced been made due to the fact final year. That substantially was obvious Saturday. But wheth˜er they’re sufficient, that will not be identified for a whilst.