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Practice Report: USC DC Alex Grinch Expects Challenging Matchup Against Stanford

Sep 7, 2022

Between his days at Washington State and now at USC, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch knows what to expect when facing David Shaw's Stanford team.

"I think the DNA hasn't hasn't changed much at all," Grinch said following the Trojans' Wednesday (Sept. 7) practice. "I think they have an expectation to play a physical brand of football and it's on each defense each week to try to match that. And they make it very difficult to do that."

Stanford has a physical run game this year, which is to be expected, but the maturity of junior quarterback Tanner McKee adds another wrinkle to the fold.

"It's very difficult to surprise him from a coverage standpoint," Grinch explained. "I think part of that is just [his] experience level, and it's also the knowledge that you've got to be so sound in the run game, which creates some matchups on the second level."

In some ways, USC's second game of the season is a rematch of the first. Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren was the former offensive coordinator for Stanford, so there will be similar concepts for the Trojans to defend against. Grinch wisely pointed out, however, that Stanford will be able to see how the Trojans' defended those concepts from Saturday's game tape.

"That's a unique opportunity for us, but it's also a unique opportunity for them because they see alignments and some of those things," Grinch explained. "What I tell the guys is, 'Any issue that we have on a Saturday, we just bought that play for the remainder of the season.' We're cognizant of [the similar concepts] but I don't know if it's an advantage for either side."

Notes from USC's Wednesday practice of Stanford Week:

  • Stanford transfer Austin Jones is the first of many transfers on USC's roster to play at his school of origin. The running back admitted that his former teammates have started to talk some trash this week, but he's taken a diplomatic approach. 

    • "Yeah, I've heard from them … I don't really do the back and forth, you know what I'm saying? I'll give them all the same response, 'See you this weekend!'"

  • Left tackle Courtland Ford shared his mindset this fall while he is competing with tackle transfer Bobby Haskins.

    • "I've tried to bring my best every day. Just trying to work the details and just make sure I'm locked in, keyed in on what I'm supposed to do every day. There's always gonna be things to improve on and I'm always going to seek perfection."

  • Inside linebacker Eric Gentry was asked what it was like to play alongside fellow transfer Shane Lee in Saturday's season opener.

    • "Playing alongside any [of my teammates] is amazing. We are a really, really tight group. Joke all the time, laugh all the time. I mean, we're around each other 24/7. You would think after fall camp, we have some time off, but we're still around each other all the time. So it's great. I really was happy to see them get a pick-six, but not just them, just the whole team in general. When we play with confidence and we play well, it's really hard to stop."

Wednesday's media availability: