The USC Trojans struggled mightily on defense for stretches in 2012, and part of the problem was the rash of injuries that ripped through their depth chart. One of their biggest losses came before the season even started when Devon Kennard went down with a knee injury. Lane Kiffin must have Kennard on his feet and healthy next fall if the defense has any shot of keeping up in Pac 12 play in 2013.
Kennard hasn’t been on the field since 2011 after losing his entire 2012 season, but what he showed back then was excellent flashes of athleticism from the defensive end position. He recorded 29 tackles, including four for loss and a pair of sacks as a part of the defensive line rotation. USC was counting on him to step up and be a leader last season and take his game to the next level, but that plan had to be put on hold when he injured himself last summer.
He has made his return to the team, however, and is looking to be even stronger than before he got hurt. Kennard will have to learn on the fly as he makes the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in Clancy Pendergrast’s new hybrid 3-4 defensive alignment. Much like fellow former-defensive-lineman-turned-linebacker Morgan Breslin, Kennard will be key to the defensive philosophy, coming off the edge to create havoc in the backfield.
If he can bounce back and be 100 percent healthy, Kennard will bring incredible balance to the USC defensive attack. With him on one side and Breslin on the other, the Trojans will be able to bring pressure from all angles and be a disruptive force against opposing offenses.