- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
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With the hiring of Clancy Pendergast as the USC Trojans' defensive coordinator, there are several players who could be affected by a 3-4 scheme, which Pendergast has run in the past as part of his multiple sets.
Here's a look at some players who could see their roles change:
DE Devon Kennard to OLB: After sitting out last season with an injury, Kennard could benefit from moving to an outside linebacker spot that would likely be his NFL position. Kennard had been tried at middle linebacker early in his USC career with limited success but a stand-up end role could be more to his liking.
DE Morgan Breslin to OLB: One of Breslin’s strengths in 2012 was his ability to rush the passer with his non-stop motor, and that kind of athleticism would seem to translate well to an OLB role.
DT Leonard Williams to DE: There really isn’t a limit to where Williams could star in this system, as his skill set could really translate to any of the line spots. But the initial thought is he would be a natural at end.
DT Antwaun Woods to NT: One of the keys to a good 3-4 is the nose tackle and Woods has the type of frame that would seem to fit well. He worked himself in a role last year, but there is still another level he would need to reach in order to be that kind of elite player in the middle.
DT George Uko to DE: This one is interesting. Uko has the frame to be an interior player and the athleticism to play on the outside. He gives Ed Orgeron another versatile option to use along the line.
LB/DE Jabari Ruffin to OLB: The coaches took a look at Ruffin at both outside linebacker and defensive end last fall, so it would seem natural that he would be a fit at the OLB role in the 3-4.
MLB Scott Starr to OLB: His high school coach has long said that Starr would be a good pass rushing end/OLB in a Clay Matthews-type role. This scheme could give him that opportunity.
OLB Hayes Pullard to MLB: This could be one of the most important fits, as Pullard would more of a free-flow opportunity to get to the ball, something that should fit his game well.
OLB Dion Bailey to S: The Trojans lose both starting safeties from last year and Bailey has made it clear that his preference would be to move back to his original position in the secondary. He did a tremendous job in two years at linebacker but his frame doesn’t fit the needs of an OLB in this scheme.
5dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell