Can Lincoln Riley Teams Ever Play Great Defense?

What if USC’s defense doesn’t get significantly better and is just a feature of Lincoln Riley teams?

Here’s an excerpt from The Athletic: “Among teams that have made the CFP since it started in 2014, Riley-coached Oklahoma teams had the three worst defenses in terms of yards per play allowed. (The Bob Stoops-coached 2015 Oklahoma team, meanwhile, ended that season ranked No. 15 in the nation in fewest yards per play allowed.)”

“It would be easy to blame the players, but since it keeps happening, it’s more appropriate to blame the eight-figure employee who dictates the entire program’s philosophy. This keeps happening in programs Riley coaches.”

“The only difference between Riley’s Oklahoma teams and 2022 USC was that USC’s defense was exposed before it could reach the CFP and get truly battered. If the Trojans had played Georgia, the Bulldogs might have been able to beat them without even attempting a pass.”

You get the picture. Riley’s an offensive guy. He cares about the offense. His defenses are never great. So if he wants a high-quality, he needs to change his philosophy.

39 thoughts on “Can Lincoln Riley Teams Ever Play Great Defense?

  1. I can’t imagine that Riley just doesn’t care about the defense! Obviously he is a great offensive mind, but I’m sure he is and will do everything possible to get a strong defense to go along with the offense. I can’t imagine that he thinks he can do it with only offense. He knows he can’t. Give him time to get the right players on defense. Defense wins championships. He knows that he must get better in that area. Let’s be real! I don’t think a coach of his caliber is happy with getting close.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Riley obviously understands the defense has to get better. So does Grinch. Everybody does. Must be a slow news day. If there isn’t significant improvement next year, Grinch will probably be gone. Pete was a defensive-minded coach, and he f’d up the program when he fired Chow because of competing egos. The offense was never the same after Chow left. Pete’s biggest mistake IMO. Who knows how many more natties USC would have won if Nahm had been retained.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. “What if “Inside USC” doesn’t get significantly better, and is just a feature of Scott Wolf’s perpetual complaining and negativity?”

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  3. If ever there was a coach that knows what needs to be done to achieve a national championship I am sure it is Riley. What is your point Wolf. Are you now giving Riley advice on how to run a football program? This blog at times is disgusting because of what you lead with. Disgusting to the point of leaving…again. When are you ever going to lose this schtick and do some real reporting?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scottie’s days of real reporting are over, I’m afraid. The posters are the only reason to come here every day. Otherwise, Fridays are the only day to tune in.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. When did Lincoln Riley win a national championship at Oklahoma? You sound like your typical Trojans Ass lick self. When has Riley’s teams ever play defense, it certainly wasn’t at Oklahoma?

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    3. It’s become so ridiculous, wolf thinks we are naive enough to actually believe he has a connection with some Pac12 Coach critiquing the USC games…..I laugh every time he claims a coach gave him the time of the day

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  4. Wow so after that monstrosity of a decade+ Of USC football, Lincoln Riley going 11-2 is not high quality? I guess Alabama doesn’t play high quality ball either? 😂
    #onlyinL.A.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s the system– it stresses the defense. High number of plays, quick drives and lots of delivering the ball back to the other team’s offense with a quick turnaround. The issues on converting 3rd downs and for that matter 4th downs against stout defenses because the run game is predictable is part of that too. The offense does really good on 3rd against weaker teams.

    There is a lot of continuity from the Helton-Harrell era in that way, as it is with Oklahoma. Otoh, the turnovers and penalties are down from the previous coaches.

    If Caleb can develop his passing in the pocket and on schedule to complement his brilliant scrambling, and become better at not taking the big loss (though that may be the price of so much scrambling) there may be more upside to be had out of the offense, or at least it will counter teams realizing the weakness and exploiting it. It is what it is.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m close to Global….& I know he’s too modest to brag …so let me say it for him: He went to the Pro Bowl 3 years in a row…

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  6. All they need to do is hire a great DC. SC has the money to do that. It wouldn’t cost them that much more money since they are already paying this guy a lot. Why would Riley be against that. Hiring a great DC will not hinder Riley from still having his usual great offenses.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When you’re right, you’re right…
      #TimeToBringOrlandoBack….
      [Seriously, when was the last time USC had a great defensive coordinator — Monty? Pendergast? ]…..

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  7. “If the Trojans had played Georgia, the Bulldogs might have been able to beat them without even attempting a pass.” That’s a hyperbolic piece of trash writing. Andy Staples, as my dad would used to say, Go soak your head!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As long as we’re speculating, what if the defense does get better and is a just a feature of Lincoln Riley teams? Or, what if the offense and defense stay the same, or one gets better and the other gets worse, or they both get worse, or they both get better? Gee, Wolfboy, this is such a wonderfully productive thought experiment that it should be immediately shared with Lincoln.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The defense had some great moments but obviously it’s an area to work on. We’re going to need a lot more depth because with the amazing offense we have the defense is going to be on the field a lot. We should stress to recruits and transfers that there’s going to be plenty of snaps to go around because of the playing time we have to cover on defense.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. We have to remember we probably have one year of Caleb left to enjoy. Granted the incoming replacement is a lot like Caleb, some emphasis has to be placed on getting each phase of the game up to national championship caliber. We don’t have to have the best offense or defense, but effective on both sides to compete. As soon as that happens Wolf will still be asking “Do we need a ST coach”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To your point I loved it when, after the Holiday Bowl loss [er, blowout], Helton said “We have to get better in all phases of the game —Offense, Defense and Special Teams.”
      #DidHeHaveToGetSoTechnical?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s just possible that Caleb takes a powder on Clown U FB and spends the next year allowing his Vegas injury to heal, and train exclusively for 2023 Pro Day workout and the 2024 NFL Draft.

      I mean would Caleb waste another year at SUCC. He’s won the H/T and I’m sure his advisors have mentioned Matt “Square Dance” Leinart’s major drop in draft status following his H/T year and then the ugly NC loss vs Tixas in his senior year. And don’t forget ’49, Div. 1 defenses have a year to design better tactics to contain Caleb’s effectiveness.

      Lest you forget ’49, the Piglet and Slovis’ bozo second year stats were no where near as good as their first year performance. Don’t forget ’49, sh*t rolls down hill.

      #Just saying for a friend.

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      1. I’m pretty sure this is gonna be another one of my friend’s predictions that don’t come true….

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  11. I’m OK with replacing Grinch who finished #80 in points allowed, but I don’t think he has as much talent to work with as Riley did on offense. At Oklahoma, Grinch #64, 29, and 60 so reason to think he might improve.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Charles,
      Really nothing to “think” about —all the star power was on offense. But it worked. We were 11-2. And Riley will get some talent on the other side of the ball before opening kickoff in September.

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      1. Quoting Scott Wolf: “Among teams that have made the CFP since it started in 2014, Riley-coached Oklahoma teams had the three worst defenses in terms of yards per play allowed.” I hope you’re right.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Scott left out the part about how many points those teams scored….
        #Let’sJustLeaveItAt”MoreThanMichiganOrNotreDame”

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  12. Mr. Wolf, shouldn’t you ask about the entirety of that question? Can Riley get better players at USC than what he could get at Oklahoma? Then ask yourself Mr. Wolf, can this staff coach these players to a national championship?

    Nobody knows, but let’s see how they build on both sides of the ball because they have playmakers but not haymakers on the LOS. Tuli counts but he’s gone for next year.

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  13. Our prayers go out to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin who collapsed on the field and was administered CPR before being driven away in an ambulance during Monday night’s game against the Bengals, which was halted after the injury.

    Like

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