USC Trojans: Dallas Cowboys

Shortly after USC’s 62-51 loss to Oregon in November -- and four games before the end of the season -- the mastermind of the Trojans’ defense, Monte Kiffin, informed his son he would be stepping down at the end of the season. Lane Kiffin revealed that detail to ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeMonte Kiffin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireAfter the Trojans were torched by Oregon, Monte Kiffin told son Lane he'd be stepping down as defensive coordinator after the season.
“He said, ‘Hey, I just want you to know, you’re not going to have a tough decision to make after the year,' ” Lane Kiffin said. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.’ "

Monte Kiffin, 72, resigned in December and was hired a month later to be the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. Before joining Lane at Tennessee four years ago, Monte Kiffin was credited with creating some of the best defenses in NFL history while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

USC hired former Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, hoping his schemes have better success than Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defenses against spread and multiple-look offenses.

“When you come to this conference now, you see things you don’t see in the NFL. That’s not an easy thing to do,” Lane Kiffin said. “If you’ve gone 25 straight years of playing this certain scheme, now all of a sudden you play someone totally different, those rules and things suddenly don’t necessarily transfer over.”

Lane also said his father never could quite adjust to the NCAA rule limiting players’ contact with coaches to 20 hours.

“He’s an old-school coach now. He sleeps in the office. He doesn’t understand what a vacation means,” Lane Kiffin said. “He needs more time with the players because there are so many little rules in his defense to teach the guy. I don’t think we played really fast on defense, and that’s because we were thinking too much.”

 

Evaluating the Trojans' NFL rookies 

January, 9, 2012
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Tyron SmithAP Photo/Wilfredo LeeTyron Smith had a very good rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys and looks to be a key building block in the team's future.
Tyron Smith (Dallas Cowboys) -- Taken in the first round, Smith became the second highest offensive lineman drafted by the Cowboys since 1966. The last offensive lineman drafted by the Cowboys from USC was Jacob Rodgers in the 2004 draft. Smith started all 16 games for Dallas and was one of the more reliable O-linemen on the team. Rumors have been circulating that because his consistent play, Smith would be moved to left tackle and Doug Free would be moved back over to right tackle.

Jurrell Casey (Tennessee Titans) -- As a rookie, Casey had a solid season for Tennessee. He started 15 out of 16 games this season, with his best game against Houston in the season finale. In that game he registered six total tackles, 1.5 sacks and was nominated for Pepsi’s NFL rookie of the week. Casey finished the season with 52 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Shareece Wright (San Diego Chargers) -- The rookie cornerback was activated for seven games, but only played in two. The best of those two games came against the Denver Broncos, where Wright had three solo tackles.

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