UCLA USC football preview Trojans defense lot prove
USC's interim co-defensive coordinator Brian Odom couldn't remember the day of the week amidst a staff overhaul and uncertain future.
Brian Odom, USC's interim co-defensive coordinator, was thrown into the position with little time to adjust. He and Shaun Nua were promoted to co-defensive coordinators after the firing of Alex Grinch. They had to quickly adapt to Grinch's established defensive scheme and prepare for a crosstown matchup with UCLA.
Head coach Lincoln Riley's message to his staff was simple: Attack for two weeks. Figure the rest out later. However, it's clear that the coaching staff will need to evaluate USC's defensive coordinator search after the game against UCLA.
There are several potential candidates for the position, each with their own unique coaching styles. This means there will be little immediate overlap with anyone on the current defensive staff. The staff will need to galvanize the dysfunctional unit for their final showing against UCLA.
Riley's goal for the game is for the USC defense to take a step forward. Players have pointed out that Nua and Odom's ability to simplify concepts has been helpful, but they need to focus on playing hard and violent football.
However, the defense struggled in a recent loss to Oregon, and the secondary was visibly frustrated after big-play Duck touchdowns. Riley and his staff have laid out clear expectations for the players, and they are pushing for an improved performance this week.
If USC's defense fails to improve and UCLA's offense succeeds, it could lead to widespread staff shake-up. The Bruins' run game is particularly strong, and the Trojans' linebackers need to find ways to stop their effective one-two punch in the backfield.
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly has high praise for USC's quarterback, Caleb Williams, and believes he is one of the best players in the country. He compares Williams to Andrew Luck and is excited to see him play in his potential final game of collegiate football against UCLA. This game will be a chance to see a generational prospect at work against his program's greatest rival.