One of the biggest concerns many of have is on defense. More specifically depth...drilled down even more depth at linebacker.
Chris Galippo has not lived up to his billing. It isn't all his fault though, injuries have plagued Galippo almost from the time he got to USC.
No one could have seen the future in the career ending ailment that befell Frankie Telfort or the injury to Jarvis Jones that led to his transferring from USC.
So, while Galippo has played at less than 100%, the question becomes how does the staff get him some help.
That answer is in Lamar Dawson, but he too went down with an injury 3 weeks ago in the against Syracuse.
When Dawson returns will be key...
Dawson's a backup, but he's probably the most valuable backup on this Trojan team. Without him, starter Chris Galippo struggled mightily to keep up with opposing offenses for 80 or 90 snaps a game the last two weeks and the USC defense struggled as a whole as a result.
He did only individual activities Friday and sat out of team drills, but it put him on pace to return in six days against Cal, which would give Galippo a break and allow him to play a more manageable amount of snaps. And after he played 91 snaps against Arizona last Saturday and fell completely apart in the fourth quarter, that'd be a welcome addition.
"I'm not making excuses for him, but a guy can't play 91 snaps of football in one day," linebackers coach Joe Barry said of Galippo's poor play. "A guy can't do that.
"If we ever get in that situation again, there's a big difference between a player to play 60 plays a game and getting 91. So if we can just give him a few breaks here and there, it's going to help him in the long run -- especially in the fourth quarter."
Galippo's back issues really slowed his development down.
Monte Kiffin is running out of options here......
unless he wants to move Devon Kennard back to LB.
I am not sure what to make of Cal's offense, but if Zach Maynard plays a solid game (no guarantee there) we could see more of the same with teams eating up chunks of yards. Of course that won't be all on one player, but the more players 'SC has playing at less than 100% the better the chance of teams exploiting USC's defense all the more.
Should be interesting...
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Linebacker Dion Bailey leads USC in tackles, but the redshirt freshman from Lakewood is not impressed with his performance.
Not even after making 14 tackles against Arizona, the most by a USC freshman since Butkus Award winner Chris Claiborne had 20 against Arizona State in 1996.
"I'm playing well but I feel like I'm not really helping my team like I'm supposed to," Bailey said after practice Sunday. "Like a true linebacker, I need to lead the team in pass breakups or interceptions.
"I really have to step up in my game, have a better nose for the football when it's in the air and get my hands on it."
A little self reflection is a good thing. It can fire other guys up.
Bailey is a talented kid who will be a big part of USC's future, so its good that he sees where he needs to be.
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On a more positive note, USC got some good news at practice this week...
Junior cornerback Isiah Wiley was supposed to enroll early at USC this year as a junior-college transfer from Arizona Western College and compete for a starting cornerback spot.
It turned out he couldn't enroll early because of academic restrictions and, in turn, he couldn't really compete for a staring spot, either. By the time he got to campus for fall camp, Torin Harris and Tony Burnett had already done enough in the spring to distance themselves from the other corners and potential newcomers.
Now, though, Harris is out with a shoulder injury and Burnett is out due to ineffectiveness. Anthony Brown got the start last week against Arizona and didn't perform horribly, but it's clear the USC coaching staff is examining its other options because of the bye week.
Chief among those options: Wiley, the 6-1, 185-pounder who was the star of Sunday's practice for the Trojans, breaking up a number of potential completions throughout the session.
The question is will a good week of practice translate to playing time?
It may sound like a cliche', but its all hands on deck as USC hits the meat of their schedule.