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Athlon Sports: Big Ten coaches talk anonymously about the USC Trojans

Erik-McKinneyby:Erik McKinney06/07/24


One of the more interesting annual offseason reads comes from Athlon Sports, when they compile quotes from coaching staffs regarding their conference opponents. As the USC Trojans transition into the Big Ten conference ahead of the 2024 season, here’s what opposing coaches had to say about Lincoln Riley’s program:

  • “Lincoln [Riley] screwed up and held on to a bad situation with his DC a season too long, but hiring [D’Anton] Lynn from across town was a smart move. Kind of a can’t beat him, hire him situation.”
  • “Expect improvement schematically overall with the new system, and they’ve upgraded in the secondary. They’ll be better than under [Alex] Grinch.”
  • “Obviously they’re replacing Caleb [Williams], but the bigger question is if they can get both lines playing better. They can ease the new QB in if they’re protecting him, and if they’re getting push on the defensive side. They didn’t look anything like the old USC glory teams in the trenches the last few years.”

It’s a little tough to tell if those quotes come from Big Ten coaches or from the WeAreSC GarryP Trojan Huddle message board. There certainly isn’t much of a hot take in there that hasn’t been discussed at length by Trojan fans. Not to say that’s a bad thing.

There is general consensus from everywhere that defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn is a significant improvement from former coordinator Alex Grinch. And pointing to the secondary as a place where improvement will come is consistent with what we saw during the spring. The Trojans landed five significant players out of the transfer portal in the back end. Safety Kamari Ramsey and cornerback John Humphrey both come over from UCLA with Lynn. Safety Akili Arnold is a likely starter who transferred from Oregon State. Former Mississippi State cornerback DeCarlos Nicholson will be in the mix to start. And former Florida State nickel Greedy Vance has a chance to be impactful this fall as well.

And the focus on both the offensive and defensive lines is something shared by all USC fans. Riley talks a lot about knowing what kind of environment can exist at the Coliseum when USC is among the college football elites. Getting it done along the lines of scrimmage is the way to get there.

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