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USC Football

Spring Forecast: The Linebackers

March 5, 2020
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USC is once again stacked at the linebacker position.  Just as they were heading into last spring.  

The linebackers have also been the most underwhelming unit on defense that last couple of seasons.  Sure, injuries played a role...so did the scheme...as did the execution which at times was...horrible.   In other words, plenty of blame to go around.

Not only was the linebacker production on the field hemorrhaging, so was recruiting.

In order for USC’s defense to improve the Trojans would need make a big change...so Helton went out and bought a new defensive coordinator  loaded with all the bells and whistles.   This new coach is loud...He’s in your face...he goes fast and hard!   The coach also coaches the linebackers.  

Perfect!  This is how Trojan fans want their linebackers to run and play.

Todd Orlando is the new defensive coordinator and he’ll take a hands on approach with the linebackers assisted by graduate assitant, Michael Hutchings.  There was no need for a separate position coach.   If two coaches couldn’t figure out the group, then let the defensive coordinator take a crack at it, right?

The bottom line is it’s time for the linebackers from the last three recruiting classes to take a huge step forward starting this spring.  There is no depth chart so let the competition and “fight” begin.

On paper Orlando is inheriting a veteran group so hopefully Todd’s energy and philosophical impact is felt immediately.   And if there is one player who should get along perfectly with, Orlando, it should be [Solo]Solomon Tuliaupupu.   After being forced away from the field for two years with a foot injury, Solo, appears ready to finally play and “...just be Solo.”   How much he’ll participate this spring is still unkown, however, both he and Jordan Iosefa’s return to the middle will not only make the Trojan’s defense bigger...but more importantly...meaner.  #VIOLENT

Will this spring show us the potential Palaie Gaoteote brought with him when he arrived as a freshman?  Gaoteote plays with the right type of fire and emotion, so the question is...can Orlando,  get Gaoteote pointed in the right direction and make him a consistent player?

What about the edge containment from the outside linebackers?   How will they be held accountable this spring?   Is it finally time for Hunter Echols?   Where will the versatile Kanai Mauga line up?    Juliano Faliniko needs discipline in a big way.   Abdul Malik-McClain and Eli’Jah Winston need to stay healthy because when they are, they add MORE veteran leadrship.  

See where I’m going with this diatribe?

The linebackers are the key to the Trojans defensive success in 2020 and with the group headed by upperclassmen, Coach Orlando, should be able to count on these guys to be the leaders so he can focus on the defense as a whole.

The 2019 class of linebackers of Maninoa Tufono, Ralen Goforth, Tuasivi Nomura, and early enrollee Stanley Taufoou round out a crowded linebacker room, and Goforth is opening eyes this off season with his workouts.  What about Raymond Scott will he move back from the safety position?  We’ll keep an eye out for him this spring.

Trojan fans have been promised lots of physicality and tackling once the pads come on, and they’ll be able to see it for themselves, because spring camp is open to all  who want to come out watch.

 
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