Originally posted on Fox Sports West
By RAHSHAUN HAYLOCK  |  Last updated 8/26/13
Monte Kiffin being a great defensive coordinator was never a question. Supporters of his questioned if the former USC defensive coordinator had enough time with players throughout the week for them to really grasp concepts of his system. Per NCAA rules, student athletes are only allowed to spend 20 hours per week on football-related activities. There was a sophistication about Kiffin's defensive concepts that made it tough to translate to the collegiate level. Clancy Pendergast's 5-2 scheme is a 180 of that. Safety Dion Bailey, who missed all of spring practice, said he had the defense down before he even took his first reps in fall camp. Countless defensive players have talked about being able to play faster defensively because they're not thinking as much. So far, so good. Going back to the spring, USC's defense has been fast, tough, physical, and very aggressive. Hayes Pullard and Devon Kennard have led the charge as emotional leaders. In a new role, Kennard seems primed to have his best season ever as a Trojan at a more natural position for him as a standup endlinebacker. USC coach Lane Kiffin has raved about defensive lineman George Uko, as well. "This whole group's been very diligent about what we've asked them to do and they've all gotten better with the techniques," Pendergast said. Simplicity has made the transition smooth. Importance of Pendergast The game of college football has changed with the advancement of spread offenses. Not only did USC have issues trying to slow down such offenses but most times didn't stand a fighting chance with the scheme played under Monte Kiffin. In Pendergast, they have at least that much. His defense gives plenty of flexibility with multiple interchangeable parts. At Cal, he led the conference's No. 1 defense in two of the last three seasons. Pendergast also doubles as the secondary coach and cornerback is the biggest question mark in this unit. Number of note: 730 The Trojans scored 51 points last season at home against Oregon and lost -- the Ducks netted 62 points and racked up 730 yards. That seemed to be the end for the elder Kiffin as defensive coordinator. It was the most points, yards, touchdowns (9), and PATs (8) USC had ever given up, ever. The elder Kiffin famously said at the time he "never heard of that many yards" and it was "mindboggling." 2012 recap USC ranked 60th in the country defensively last season. The Trojans have yet to finish higher than 54th nationally in the Kiffin era -- they were 69th in the country last season against the run and 52nd against the pass, allowing opposing teams to complete 60.4 percent of their passes. Quoteables "We're actually pretty fortunate that we changed to a scheme that actually fits our personnel," Kiffin said. "We're not going to play slow," Pendergast said. "We're going to let those guys loose a little bit." 2013 outlook The pieces seem to be in place for the USC defense to have quite a turnaround from a season ago when they finished seventh in the conference in total defense and gave up over 5,000 yards. If what Kennard has shown in fall camp is any indication of the type of year he could have, it wouldn't be a surprise if he's in conversations for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year by season's end. Pendergast may not be able to turn this group into the No. 1 defense in the conference like he did at Cal but they should make a considerable jump finishing the season as a top-five defense in the conference and a top-45 defense nationally.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Manfred blames MLBPA for no significant rule changes in 2017

Report: Zach Britton has potential oblique injury

The Rock returns to WWE, leaves CM Punk a voicemail after 'Raw'

After outfield collision, Ichiro pranks teammate and claims he’s been cut

Simeon Rice gets vulgar with radio host over HOF debate

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ronda Rousey to be guest star on NBC’s ‘Blindspot’

Lakers replace Jim Buss with Magic Johnson, fire Kupchak

Report: James Harrison, Steelers share mutual interest in 2017 return

Jimmy Garoppolo’s mom keeping him up to speed on his trade rumors

Report: Clippers intent on keeping both Blake Griffin, Chris Paul

Slam dunks and startups: How all-star technology took over the NBA in The Big Easy

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 100 games with two different teams

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker