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USC Football vs. Washington State Practice Report: Donte Williams’ First Practice

Sep 14, 2021

After practice, AD Mike Bohn, interim head coach Donte Williams and three of the captains spoke with the media.

  • While many of the questions were about events in the past, Williams is focused on the present. "Everybody has embraced the opportunity that we have set for us," the interim head coach said. "The biggest thing is about going 1-0 today."
  • Williams is focused on cleaning up the mistakes that cost USC the game against Stanford, many of which were self-inflicted. He plans to take a disciplinary approach, sitting guys for a play, a quarter or even a game if they do not master the details. "We're going to make sure we clean up every little thing that we see," he said.
  • Bohn picked Williams to be the interim because "he's a leader" and a "relationship guy." He also wants the offensive and defensive coordinators to not be distracted by head coaching duties and instead focus on their important roles within the team.
  • For Williams, a career-long defensive coach, the biggest adjustment is coaching the whole team and not just his unit. He already had a working knowledge of the offense, but he is taking time to better understand the verbiage, so he can contribute on that side of the ball as well. And while it may take some time to get used to, he knows he has to get as much joy from a great catch in practice as an interception. "To come out here and cheer on the offense when they make a big time play, that's a little different," he joked.
  • The team was understandably shaken up by the news and an emotional farewell with Clay Helton, but they have turned their eyes forward. "This is the nature of college sport," captain Ben Griffiths said. "We understand that. As players, we've got a job to do and that's finish off this season and that starts this week in our preparation and really locking in against a tough Washington State side."
  • Williams has the full support of the locker room. "He's a real genuine guy," captain Isaiah Pola-Mao said. "He's going to tell you how it is. He's not going to sugarcoat it."
  • The season is only two games old and despite a rough game against Stanford, the Trojans have high expectations for what remains this season. "I've got a lot of belief in my teammates. We've got a lot of belief in the coaches," Griffiths said. "It starts with accountability, but I'm pretty damn excited about what this team can do."
  • On Saturday, Williams will become the first Black head coach to lead USC football onto the field. He described the feeling as "humbling" and explained, "It's about making sure I do what's best for this team, for this university, for this community, and that's what I'm going to do."
  • Going forward, Bohn described the head coaching search as "wide open," saying, "We will go through an exhaustive national search. The good news is we have time to do that and we'll take full advantage of that time."