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Practice Report: Alex Grinch Says USC Football's Defense Has 'Got To Be Better'

Sep 14, 2022

It has been well established that Fresno State is going to test USC's secondary when the two teams face each other in the Coliseum on Saturday (Sept. 17).

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch made sure to note, however, that there are other ways the Bulldogs could attack.

"They immediately jump off the video in terms of ability to move the ball, and then the efficiency in the run game," Grinch explained. "So it's not not as simple as just saying, 'Okay, just defend the pass.' And then a quarterback that can not only make the throw, but extend plays, and put it on the money."

Grinch's defense is just in its infancy at USC, which means the defensive coordinator has the challenging task of simultaneously installing a scheme and building a culture.

"I've caught myself talking to Coach [Lincoln] Riley saying, 'to our standard,'" Grinch said. "Well, what is our standard? We're trying to establish that, and the brand of USC determines, by and large, what that standard is. And it's a lot higher than what we've done so far."

As a result, the goals for the USC's defensive staff have been very clear each week.

"Whether it's points, yards… we've got to be better," Grinch said. "We know that and we tackle the work week with that in mind as we try to establish what that standard is for us. We've got two [favorable] outcomes up until this point and we're going to fight like all heck to get a third one."

Notes from USC's Wednesday's practice of Fresno State Week:

  • Grinch was blunt when asked about the improvements his defense needs to make:

    • "You look at it and is it a mental error? Is it a missed assignment? Is that a combination thereof? Is it a miscommunication? What all those things are — one, they're excuses if you allow them to be, and they're symptoms of what bad defense's do.

    • "We're not fans. We can't be in a position where we'll be fine as long as the offense scores. So we've got to be better, much better in the run game and in the pass game."

  • The defensive coordinator also evaluated redshirt senior defensive lineman Solomon Byrd's performance against Stanford:

    • "You earn reps on the practice field — Solomon has. [He] had a major impact, had a couple of sacks for us. And he'll have an impact this week as well."

  • Quarterback Caleb Williams weighed in on USC's second half performance offensively against Stanford.

    • "We kind of stalled a little bit and it wasn't necessarily because of anything that the defense was doing…It was just us as a team, our energy, our effort, our execution, trusting what the coach is calling, trusting your checks, trusting your blocking keys that we've practiced throughout the whole week. So this whole week, we've been preaching trust."

  • Redshirt senior Andrew Vorhees shared the mindset of the Trojans' offensive line heading into Saturday's game.

    • "Coach Henson has challenged us, specifically this week, saying that the best offensive line in the country really will improve drastically from week two to week four. So we're looking forward to going out this week and competing and seeing how well we're taking coaching, and individual work, and teamwork and applying that to the real game settings."

Wednesday's media availability: