Skip to main content

USC Football: Trojans HC Details Team's Most Evident Improvements In 2023

The Trojans are steadily progressing.

Your USC Trojans obliterated the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of yesterday's matchup, entering the locker room up 49-3, eliminating the need for quarterback Caleb Williams to take a single snap in the second half.

A defense that has at times struggled to dominate opposing offenses did just that, holding Stanford to 10 points and creating three turnovers. The Trojans made their presence felt in the running game, holding Stanford to 209 yards and tallying up nine tackles for loss.

The USC offense is, rightfully so, the star of the show at the Coliseum. Williams and a loaded roster of receivers and running backs are averaging almost 60 points per game, against admittedly substandard competition.

But it is their defense that could really elevate the program and shape it into an elite, playoff-contending team. Last year, despite creating turnovers at one of the highest rates in college football, USC's defense allowed 29.2 points per game. Each playoff team (Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and TCU) allowed an average of 20.1 points per game in 2022, although TCU allowed 29 points per game.

Head Coach Lincoln Riley attributed a renewed physicality as the reason behind USC's comparative success on the defensive side of the ball.

“I feel like we’ve been pretty physical,” Riley said. “We’ve had some errors. We’ve had some things that we’ve had to clean up, but I have not seen a moment this year where we’re getting overpowered by any stretch."

(Via the Whittier Daily News)

USC is expected to overpower teams like San Jose State, Nevada and Stanford, as the Trojans were heavy favorites in each matchup. However, once the Trojans face better offenses, namely Colorado, Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington and Utah, their true defensive identity could be challenged.

But, with last year's defense the scapegoat of every USC loss, perhaps the only way to go is up.

“We are a thicker, stronger football team. We are a deeper football team than we were a year ago and I feel a significant difference there.”

(Via the Whittier Daily News)