Steve Sarkisian returns to the USC Trojans to try and get the program back to the top of the Pac-12 in 2014 with his patented style of up-tempo offensive attack. While the team adjusts to his play-calling style, the team will need to rely on the defense to win some games early on. Luckily for Sark and the Trojans, the USC defense is shaping up to be one of the best in college football in 2014.
Last season, USC boasted the No. 1 total defense in the Pac-12 and No. 13 in the nation allowing just 334.9 yards per game. That strong defensive showing helped the Trojans get to 10 wins in 2013 despite a tumultuous start to the season that included a stagnant offense, a quarterback controversy, and a coaching change midseason. The talent on the defensive side of the ball was evident from the start and blossomed into a premier unit.
And in 2014, the group should be even better. Young contributors, like Su’a Cravens, have another year of experience under their belt and returning veterans like All-American Leonard Williams and four-year starter Hayes Pullard will lead the group. In addition, the team gets healthier and deeper at nearly every position, boasting one of the biggest defensive fronts in the program’s recent history.
In addition, Sarkisian brought along his defensive coordinator from the Washington Huskies, Justin Wilcox, who has distinguished himself as one of the top defensive minds in the game. When Wilcox took over the Huskies’ defense, they were one of the worst units in the country but quickly turned the group around into a respectable group. Now he gets to work with a unit that is already one of the best around.
All of this adds up to a defense that will be as tough as anyone in 2014. Even if the Trojans’ offense struggles to find their footing early on, USC will be in good hands thanks to the strength of their defense.