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USC Football

A Pair Of Takes: Coaching Impact

November 17, 2020

Josh An

Before I start, let me give a huge shoutout to Coach Vic So’oto. For the last few years, I’ve felt as though USC’s talented defensive lineman, particularly Tuipulotu and Tufele, have flashed greatness at times, but failed to put it together consistently. While we may never see what Tufele could have done, Marlon is showing that So’oto’s coaching is already paying dividends. He’s been all over the field and been a menace for offensive lines. Additionally, Nick Figueroa, who was playing JUCO football two years ago, has always looked great, and So’oto’s development with him has had a huge role in that. Shoutout to Coach So’oto.

With that being said, I’m going with Coach Donte Williams. Now, my great respect for Coach Williams isn’t a secret. Just look at my Twitter!

There’s no doubt that Coach is an outstanding recruiter. He’s put together one of, if not the best 2021 cornerback class in the nation, and has proven to be as good as advertised on that end. But he’s definitely not JUST a recruiter and that’s been seen through Chris Steele and Olaijah Griffin. Now, they haven’t been perfect, particularly Steele, but the growth has been there. Quarterbacks frequently have to pull the ball down because of the outstanding coverage down the field, and the separation in man coverage is tough to come by. It’s been so good that one of the nation’s premier defensive backs, 2022 5-Star Domani Jackson, had an interesting statement that he shared with Scott Schrader: 

“ The DBs were dominating. Personally, I’ve seen a big change with OG and Chris a lot. They’re more physical, they know what they’re doing.”

We’re off to a good start, but the best may be yet to come for Coach Donte at USC.

Marc Kulkin

There is one assistant coach whose impact has been the highlight of the Trojan's success through the first two games of the season.  Defensive line coach Vic So'oto brought two things with him to USC, which endeared him to me right off the bat.  He is related to the late Junior Seau, and he uses the word violence with a huge Joker-like smile describing how he wants his players to have a certain mindset  

During his introductory press conference early this spring, Coach So'oto was a quote machine! With every word and the way he was describing what, why, and how...I was sold.  "There's guys that try to go out there and do things, but then they end up on their back. So my job is to give them the tools to go out there and be violent and physical."  The professor of violence described his job in two sentences.

For the second consecutive year during the off-season, USC’s coaching staff went through an overhaul.  2018 saw the ball's offensive side get the attention it needed with fresh new faces and ideas to maximize the talent on the Trojan's roster.  In 2019, the other side of the ball, the side that takes the ball away, searched for an attitude, and Clay Helton addressed the problem with someone who preaches violence.

Coach Todd Orlando was brought in to take the USC defense to a level where the fans can be proud, while the opposition shows fear of violence.  "T.O" assembled the new defensive staff quickly, starting with safety coach Craig Naivar; the two have a long working history together, so Naivar understands what Orlando wants and can act as the co-coordinator, so to speak.

As it turns out, Coach So'oto sought out the job when it became available, so to make a medium-sized story short, So'oto's probably said the words, “violence or violent” at least 10 times or more when he interviewed for the position. If I recall correctly, he used those same two words at least that many times during his introduction to the media!

Perhaps the one area on defense where the most development has shown itself would be along the defensive front.  Everyone knows Drake Jackson and Marlon Tuipulotu and anticipated big results; both guys were the head of the respective recruiting classes.  The results through the first two games have been significant!  The Dline has been the best unit on the field, producing quarterback pressures and multiple sacks per game, and the numbers would be even better had penalties and undisciplined mistakes not gotten in the way.  One player who has really gravitated to Coach So'oto's violent style is Nick Figueroa.  The trio of Jackson, Marlon, and Nick has been nothing short of brilliant.

The other important area where Coach Vic's passion for football is paying dividends is recruiting.  These results will be slower to appear for obvious reasons. However, where USC had recently been considered a no-go for the elite defensive linemen, the Trojans now find themselves back in the thick of these same guys' recruitment.  And a lot of this success is due to Coach So'oto.

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A Pair Of Takes: Coaching Impact

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