USC’s defense is looking for further improvement against Notre Dame
USC has been preaching improvement from day one Lincoln Riley era after years of mediocre play under former coaches.
One of the biggest signs of this improvement on the defensive side of the ball has been the Trojans’ ability to limit running backs to less than 100 yards and force teams to beat them through the air.
Defensive coordinator Alex the Grinch said the group must learn from their mistakes to succeed in the next games.
“We say we protect the run like the first pass defenders in the back five when you look at the secondary. But we also need you in the running game, he said. “Hopefully in Week 12, you’ll take examples over time and some of the headaches we’ve had.”
UCLA’s rushing attack, led by one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, Zach Charbonnet, was expected to put up a lot of yards and tackle the Trojans with ease. But the defense handled the 6-foot bruiser well.
“I think we did a pretty good job of stopping the run against UCLA, keeping Charbonnet under 100 [rushing yards]”, defensive lineman Call Tuiplut said. “That was one of our goals, just to stop him. Just getting to him before he tried to break tackles and all that because we knew he was a tough runner and just trying to get to him before he could break out.”
But for now they contained Charbonnet, the defender Dorian Thompson-Robinson played for the Bruins with 390 yards. The Trojans rushed for 513 yards, including 204 rushing yards, but had four tackles, including a sack, three interceptions and a forced fumble.
“We’ve got to work the QB better, keep him in the pocket — not let him scramble,” Tuipulotu continued. “We just have to go out there and execute — just try to do what we do.”
In 12 games this season, the Trojans have given up 100 yards rushing to just three players, while three quarterbacks have rushed for at least 50 yards
By keeping defenders in the pocket, they were able to force mistakes and get into the backfield. USC leads the nation with 18 interceptions, including three touchdowns, and 8 forced fumbles. They also accumulated 68 tackles for loss, including 33 sacks.
“The [defensive] the line did a great job of penetrating and getting into the backfield and disrupting guys,” the midfielder Shane Lee said of the UCLA game. “It helped a lot and just being together, playing defense together. Just being physical in the running game.”
USC will be challenged on the ground again this week. He’ll face a Notre Dame team (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. PST; ABC) that runs the ball well between three backs but can beat you through the air with perhaps the best tight end in college football. Michael Mayer. Meyer is averaging 64.6 yards per game and 12.1 yards per reception this season, and has accounted for 46 of Drew Pine’s 141 rushing yards this season.
USC was burned by the 6-foot-4 tight end earlier in Utah Dalton Kincaid, who had 234 receiving yards on 16 receptions in mid-October. Saturday will show how well they’ve made adjustments since that match.
As the Grinch has said many times before, he still doesn’t believe the defense is up to expectations, but he does believe they’re headed in the right direction developmentally.
“There are good and bad, and the disappointments are real,” he said. “We’re not sugarcoating it. There aren’t many days where we sit around and talk about how good we are, because Saturday’s movie shows us that we’re not. We understand what is expected of you, but until you come to them, it is [a] dream”.
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