USC Morning Buzz: What Happened To Linebacker U.?

This is the time when Lincoln Riley is watching USC film over and over, at least when he isn’t offering recruits scholarships or monitoring the transfer portal.

And I’ve heard whispers inside the McKay Center that linebackers are a constant subject as the coaches wonder how to improve the corps for next season. It’s quite a conundrum unless some more linebackers enter the portal.

This isn’t the first time I’ve brought it up but at least Riley is acutely aware of the linebacker dilemma.

But even if he lands quarterback Caleb Williams, Riley needs a defense. Or is USC going to have a lot of 45-42 games next season?

I have to believe that Riley is probably shocked in some ways at the roster he inherits, even if the Trojans were only 4-8 last season.

What happened to the days of Chip Banks, Junior Seau, Chris Claiborne, Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews . . .

  • Offensive lineman Casey Collier entered the transfer portal on Wednesday. He was barely even in the program last season, another one of Graham Harrell’s Texas connections (like Joseph Manjack).

With everyone focused on Lincoln Riley, no one will care to examine how good (or bad) Harrell’s recruiting was the past few years.

39 thoughts on “USC Morning Buzz: What Happened To Linebacker U.?

  1. The linebackers under Helton were a complete disgrace. Under sized under developed and under manned.

    Stop recruiting slow undisciplined thugs out there and start filling the gaps with hardcore smart pure bred men to control the trenches

    What happened to guys like Del Rio Grootegood Cushing Matthews and Bickett. They absolutely dominated the competition and controlled the lines for us

    LR needs to cut the thugs lazy scumbags and Helton losers to bring in some real all American power in the trenches the way the SEC builds their programs


      1. Yes … Big #83 Richard Wood was an amazing athlete !
        Chris Claiborne was called the ‘ best linebacker I have ever seen ‘ by Bobby Bowden !!! ya Bobby Bowden , he knows a little about football.
        SC’s history of linebackers has been incredible. The 1978 team alone had these linebackers:
        Chip Banks
        Larry McGrew
        Riki Gray
        Charlie Moses
        Steve Busick
        Eric Scoggins
        Dennis Johnson
        August Curley

        All played many years in the NFL !

        Liked by 1 person

  2. intresting that he likes to watch movees over and over,so do me and missus ed since they can be confuseing storys,probaly wanted usc couching job so he could be closser to holywood to,wondur what kined of movees he and his missus ed like and if he wanna watch them with me and my missus ed,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ed. G —I hope you smiled as you typed this — it’s a reverse masterpiece.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There are a lot of needs out there. I’m just glad Riley is not just looking to fill those areas with 3 stars but wants to bring in the right guys. This may take longer than we think. He’s got to start getting those 4 and 5 stars. But you can’t judge him by this year. He started too late.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes & no. He won’t get the defense together in time for next season. But, if he gets Caleb, 2022 will be filled with those 45-42 games Scott was talking about.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Generally, you need defense in football to win NC’s. Jerry Tarkanian won one NC in basketball with a fast break team but that’s in basketball.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. need an offense that keeps defense off the field,chews up the other guys defense and the clock…I do believe if the IOD guys return for spring and can be developed thru fall the defense will surprise.

        Liked by 4 people

      1. Yep.
        btw, Remember how we did things in 2006?
        Kaluka Maiva -LB
        Ray Maualuga -LB
        Keith Rivers -LB
        Clay Matthews -LB
        Oscar Lua -LB
        Oh, and Stanley Havili & Brandon Hancock -FULLBACKS..


  4. Being a linebacker became more difficult with the evolving change of the game from run-heavy to pass-crazy. Now these guys have to be big enough to take on heavier offensive lineman on running plays, yet fast enough to keep up with the backs and tight ends on pass plays. Not many college kids are good at both the run containment and the pass defense.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True enough, John…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Riley knows that he is going to get the #1 class in 2023, but that he has a problem – he needs to have a team that wins 10 games in 2022, with the current depleted roster. What can he do?

    So the strategy is to pursue every potential linebacker in the portal that is decent. They will need to really push the current players to develop. That means Raesjon Davis and Julien Simon need to take a big step forward. And they need to get Solomon Tuliapupu healthy and up to speed.

    What Riley is NOT going to do is to recruit a bunch of 3 star linebackers from high school to fill up the linebacker corps and hope they can develop them fast. He knows that when you fill a slot in the roster with a 3 star from high school, you have him for 4 years and he never becomes the athlete you need. Much better to get portal transfers that have 1 or 2 years of eligibility, which allows you to have bigger classes in 2023 and 2024, when you can recruit the 5 star athletes that will be the bread and butter of USC football going forward.

    Look for USC to potentially get ten 5 star athletes in 2023, a third of the 5 stars. They are going to make a big statement in that class. I say they they have five 5 stars for 2023 committed in the next couple months.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wiley Riley “needs” to win 10 games in the 2022 season? I would substitute the word ‘prays’ to win 10 games.

      –Just where are those wins going to come from?–
      Rice probable win
      at Stanford a mediocre 2021 team that sent Helton packing
      Fresno State Pac-12 lost all its bowl games, but FSU won theirs.
      at Oregon St They were up-and-down but slaughtered SC
      Arizona St Tough game
      Washington St probable win
      at Utah probable loss
      at Arizona probable win
      California beat SC convincingly
      Colorado probable win
      at sucla clobbered SC
      ND beat SC

      So 4 probable wins against Rice, Arizona, Washington St and Colorado
      3 probable losses with Arizona St, Utah, and ND
      5 tough games with Stanford, Fresno St, Oregon St, Cal and sucla

      It is difficult to foresee 10 wins in 2022. 6-6 might be more realistic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If we get Caleb, we’ll beat all the Pac 12 teams… especially UCLA (cuz they deserve something special for pouring it on a Donte Williams team)….. and we’ll beat Rice and Fresno State…. the only question will be Notre Dame ….


  6. Scooter,

    SC is a reclamation project for now. Riley essetentially is starting with a team that has to be built from the ground up. If that is the case, then get the defense built up first. Dt’s lbers and db’s. Defense wins championships.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ideally that’s where to start. But that’s not the hand we’ve been dealt. I’m only guessing but I think Riley is gonna go with what he knows –offense [with plans of rebuilding the defense on the FRONT burner]….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. D is an afterthought in college football … even the great Georgia D is a sieve when facing a decent O. Bamer’s D has been blah for years. Make a stop or pick every once in awhile and that will work.
    Every incomplete pass is pass interference in college football now
    Holding is a call from yesteryear
    The game is basically 7 on 7 ( and SC has a great 7 on 7 coach ). Get good qb’s, tall rangy receivers, a bowling ball rb, play a good team every 6 weeks and you will be just fine. Defense doesn’t matter in college football anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. From a USC friend who is now a podiatrist: “Helton is like toenail fungus. It is really tough to eradicate. Can take years no matter what you do.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Big starting linebacker from University of Florida just entered the portal, and Utah grabbed him up quickly, and he will start for Utah next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Repeat comment: Which SC roster players are going to be better suited at LB in the NFL than their current position in college?
    Corey Foreman? LB instead of edge?
    Colin Mobley? LB instead of DL?
    Stanley Taufoou? LB instead of Dl?
    Chris Thompson? LB instead of S?
    Stanley Taufoou? LB instead of DL? was linebacker out of HS

    As for who goes, just identify defensive players that arm tackled in games last year as well as players who malingered on the injury list to avoid playing


    1. Good call on Thompson, I would see if he is able to play LB on every down. A few more pounds on him should do it. He’s already near LB size and our most physical safety. Put him on the edge where he can run and hit.


    Eastern Michigan just offered Caleb a million dollars to play there. For Real.


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