USC Football Fall Notebook: Trojans Go For Depth
The USC Trojans have wrapped up another week of practice, and will look to improve to 3-0 Saturday as they face Syracuse at the Coliseum.
IT'S ALL ABOUT US: The Trojans had a noticeable increase in intensity and focus during practice this week. On Thursday, Lane Kiffin explained why.
"This week's theme has been 'It's All About Us,' it's not about who we're playing," Kiffin said. "We have to improve, and we did improve from week one to week two, and the key to being a really good team is to continue to improve as we go into week three.'
ON GUARD: In the opener against Minnesota, Jeremy Galten got the start at the left guard position. In week two, it was Martin Coleman, who left the game with a shoulder injury. This week the starter is a mystery, but Trojan fans can expect to see some new faces playing the position. Freshman Marcus Martin took a healthy number of reps with the first team offense this week at LG. Kiffin, who said a number of guys will play in the game Saturday, also noted that Abe Markowitz could make his return from injury to be one of the guys that get in that rotation.
SAFETY FIRST: The offensive line isn't the only position that will play some new faces on Saturday. The secondary will as well. Fan favorite and interception machine Drew McAllister will see time at safety against Syracuse. McAllister will spell T.J. McDonald, who has played every defensive play so far this season. Kiffin said they want to try and work McAllister in by the 3rd or 4th defensive series on Saturday. McAllister had previously been limited as he battled injuries.
Also expected to see more time in the defensive backfield is cornerback Anthony Brown. Brown had a solid spring, and fall camp, and has been praised by the coaching staff. He is a sure tackler, and has good instincts for the ball. Kiffin said they expect to use Brown in Nickel packages (5-DB sets), but that Brown could also see time at CB in other scenarios.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Through two games, USC currently sits tied for last in the Pac-12 conference in turnover ratio. This is a deviation from years past when USC often ranked in the top 10 nationally in the same category, but LB Chris Galippo said the Trojans days of forcing turnovers again are just around the corner. Galippo pointed out Thursday that with all the Trojans defensive woes last season, their concentration has been on playing fundamentally and securing tackles. Now that those things are starting to become second nature to the defensive unit, fans can expect to see more turnovers forced in the coming weeks.
TAILBACK WHO?: Although the Trojans have yet to name a starter at tailback, all signs point to Marc Tyler getting the start on Saturday. Tyler got a large workload this week, and was an obvious spark to the USC running game last Saturday against Utah. It's likely a number of guys continue to see carries at the position, however.
GETTING TO KNOW THE ORANGE: Syracuse is a team who Trojan fans might not know a whole lot about, particularly given the lack of history between the two schools. Kiffin was kind enough to elaborate on how USC matches up with the Orange.
"On offense they have a really good passing game. Their quarterback is [throwing] 75% completions. Over 80% in the second half of games. They're playing extremely well in the passing game, it's a timing passing, they're coached really well, and run a lot of NFL schemes," Kiffin said. "Regardless of what people think, any time you have a quarterback that's playing extremely well, that's experienced, as an opponent, you better be ready to go."
"On defense they were 7th in the country last in year in total defense, and 7th in the country in pass defense, so we're gonna have our hands full," Kiffin added.
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