Devon Kennard being starting middle linebacker is the latest roster change that shows Exactly what Lane Kiffin meant when he said he was starting with a clean slate when he arrived back in January.
Kennard is a converted defensive lineman who played outside linebacker last season but with the arrival of Monte Kiffin things are changing.
Here is a little more on Kennard...
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Kennard displaces junior Chris Galippo, who started every game last season. Galippo, however, is expected to play multiple snaps in a linebacker corps that also includes senior outside linebackers Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan.
Kennard and Galippo had alternated with the first-unit defense throughout training camp, but Kennard this week began working almost exclusively at the spot.
"I'm just going with the flow, trying to get ready for [the opener]," Kennard said Thursday after the Trojans' mock game at the Coliseum. "It's game time now."
There were some that have complained about Galippo's effectiveness at middle linebacker. Whether he was seen as too small, too slow or ineffective at tackling at times not everyone was happy with his performance there.
Kennard on the other hand has played well no matter where he was place on the defense. After tearing his ACL in his senior season in high school Kennard rehabbed his way back into playing shape and hasn't looked back (maybe Patrick Hall could take some notes from Kennard).
Here is what Monte has to say about Kennard...
"He's a good middle linebacker," Kiffin said Sunday. "It's like being a quarterback and when I talked to him about the move (from strongside linebacker) he did a good job answering the questions I asked. Playing strongside isn't anything like middle linebacker. But he's very smart."
Kiffin said his son, USC coach Lane Kiffin, initially identified Kennard.
"We were watching the team during the offseason (conditioning) program and Lane mentioned Kennard looks pretty quick," Monte Kiffin said. "So we decided to give him a try."
If anyone knows Monte Kiffin knows.
Rest assured, Galippo is going to get plenty of opportunity to play. It is virtually impossible to not have injuries so its not like Galippo will languish on the bench. He will see plenty of action.
The defensive line and the linebackers seem to be pretty solid and those units should have a pretty productive season but the secondary is still a big question mark with a lot of inexperience.
Wright and Robe are set but who will play safety?
From Wolf's article it would appear that Tim McDonald and Jawanza Starling will get the call...both are sophomores so we are pretty inexperienced in the secondary.
You play the hand you're dealt...
Lane Kiffin is concerned about containing Hawaii's QB Bryant Moniz, so the front seven have to do their job because you know with Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense they will try to take advantage of USC's inexperience in the secondary.
Moniz, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, played high school football in Hawaii and passed for 18 touchdowns at Fresno City College in 2007. He sat out the 2008 season, enrolling at Hawaii in January 2009.
After starter Greg Alexander suffered a knee injury in the fourth game last season, Moniz moved into the lineup and passed for 2,396 yards and 14 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
"It's hard to get to him," Kiffin said Sunday . "It's hard to get a lot of sacks on these guys for as much as they throw the ball.
"You get so spread out too that once a guy starts to move around there's a lot of space there. So we're going to have to do a phenomenal job of tackling in space."
That might prove difficult for a Trojans team that has not tackled for weeks in trying to avoid injuries.
We have some questions no doubt. That is why I am not convinced of USC being dominant this season. They will have some great wins and a few ugly losses...but they will be challenged by youth/inexperience and the lack of depth on the roster.