The more I watch USC’s defense and listen to defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, I actually think he’s done a pretty good job this season.
The shortcomings are more talent related and maybe there is some question if Lincoln Riley was able or willing to go as hard after defensive talent as his offensive stars. Linebacker Shane Lee is a leader but his struggles in pass coverage make it clear why Alabama stopped playing him. Linebacker Chris Thompson from Auburn was hurt for most of the season but has he made a play the past two games? The other Auburn transfer, Romello Height, got hurt before he could make an impact.
It tells you something about the linebacker position that Eric Gentry is not 100 percent and the coaches are immediately decrying the depth.
“Guys have got to step up and the guys around them have to step up as well,” Grinch said Wednesday.
Instead of all the wide receivers and other skill players, USC needs more linebackers and defensive ends this season. Plus, there’s not been great player development. Solomon Byrd comes from Wyoming and seizes a rush-end spot earmarked for five-star Korey Foreman. Does any coach ever mention four-star linebacker Julien Simon? This week was the first time anyone mentioned Raesjon Davis. How has cornerback Joshua Jackson disappeared?
Grinch hasn’t been perfect. The coverage of the tight end in the Utah game was a disaster. But by-and-large, USC’s defensive problems are talent issues more than scheme issues.