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Thursday, March 14, 2013
Roundtable: Spring questions

By WeAreSC staff

There were many questions coming into spring ball. Based on what you've seen so far, how have the Trojans answered those questions?

What's the biggest question that has been answered?

Garry Paskwietz: There was a lot of hope from USC fans for the new defensive scheme to make a positive impact, and so far there are a lot of signs pointing in that direction. The players all talk about Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 scheme as one that allows them to attack more and take advantage of their athleticism rather than reading and reacting.

Clancy Pendergast
Early on in spring, Clancy Pendergast's new defense has answered a lot of questions.
Johnny Curren: Of all of the questions heading into the start of practice, the one regarding whether USC could make a successful switch to a 5-2 defensive scheme under Pendergast seems to have been most soundly answered. While it is only the spring, the entire unit has been playing with a renewed burst, and with a focus on moving forward and attacking the offense at all times. In particular, Morgan Breslin and Devon Kennard have looked stellar in their new roles at outside linebacker, and the entire front seven seems to have benefited from the change, compiling five sacks in last Saturday’s scrimmage. In the defensive backfield, I’ve really liked what I’ve seen out of the safeties, even if there isn’t a ton of depth. Josh Shaw, Demetrius Wright and Su’a Cravens have all shined under the tutelage of their new position coach -- Pendergast.

Greg Katz: The question that is being answered best right now is the new 5-2 defensive scheme of Pendergast. All the defensive pieces seem to be falling into place in the front seven, and when the back four gets worked out, the Trojans should be much improved. Of course, as promising as it looks, some of it has to do with the offense going through some growing pains. And you’ll never really know how effective the new defense will be until the Trojans play in the fall.

What question remains unanswered?

Paskwietz: The situation at left tackle still needs to be resolved. Aundrey Walker is the clear leader for the position, and Lane Kiffin will do what he can to keep him in that spot, but so far Walker hasn’t finalized things. He’s in good shape, he’s getting a lot of personal attention from James Cregg in the film room and it’s his third year in the system (second as a starter). All the pieces are in place for him to make that step to a dependable option at such an important spot. Now it’s just a matter of seeing it happen.

Curren: The biggest unknown just might be at the quarterback position -- the most publicized question mark heading into the spring. Just who are the Trojans going have lined up behind center in 2013? It honestly doesn’t look like we’re anywhere close to finding out, and it seems more than likely that the competition will go into the fall. Cody Kessler has certainly started off strong, completing 12 of 15 passes for 192 yards this past Saturday, but so has Max Wittek. Even freshman Max Browne has had his moments. It’s definitely too close to call, and the sprained MCL suffered by Wittek only complicates matters.

Katz: The question that is the most unanswered is the quarterback spot. It would appear that Kessler has a leg up on the currently injured Wittek. Browne is proving to be a quarterback rookie like all freshmen, highly touted or not. A close second to the unanswered quarterback question would be the offensive line, a group that is slowly trying to make a transition to a more physical unit. Against the new defensive system, the offense line has struggled.