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Practice Report: USC Football's Defense 'Sick' Over 500+ Yards Allowed in Past Two Games

Nov 2, 2022

Lincoln Riley described No. 9 USC Football's defensive performance against Arizona as "close, but not close enough." While that might be some consolation for the Trojans, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch warned Wednesday the perils of an "almost there" mindset.

"Close is a cancer," Grinch said bluntly. "I mean that in a very dramatic sense. You can kind of hold onto that and say, 'Well, we'll be closer next time, which means we'll inevitably make the play.' That's kind of been the story over the last two weeks."

While riddled with injuries, Grinch's defense has allowed an average of 552 yards in its last two games. 

"The only reason we can sleep at night right now and the only reason we won the game the other night is because we played hard, and that gives you a shot," Grinch said. "Now playing hard is not designed to overcome us, it's to overcome your opponent. There's too much of that going on right now."

So what do adjustments look like for USC's defense as it heads into the final stretch of the regular season? Grinch stressed that the Trojans have to face their issues head on.

"It feels awful. But what you got to do, is you got to look at it through a critiquing eye," Grinch explained. "You've got to be honest. An honest evaluation both on scheme, effort, and then obviously execution…So, major changes? No. You're willing to, but…we've got to play a whole lot better."

Grinch's sense of urgency is amplified by the fact that Cal head coach Justin Wilcox has experience upsetting top-ranked teams. The Trojans' defensive coordinator is cognizant that the Bears could spell trouble for USC in the Coliseum.

"We've got to be honest about their excitement level coming in here on Saturday and have an understanding, in terms of, we're gonna get the best version of them," Grinch explained. "We expect that. We're going to make sure we give them the best version of us and we haven't done that in a long time."

Notes from USC's Wednesday practice of Cal Week

  • Grinch previewed what the Trojans are expecting from the Bears offense:

    • "Very multiple on the offensive side of the ball between the run game, pass game, two tight ends, three tight ends, one tight end - they'll spread you out," Grinch explained. "[They've] got a quarterback with a big arm that found some explosiveness last week against Oregon. That's kind of been the theme for him, in terms of the ability to get the ball downfield."

  • Quarterback Caleb Williams has surpassed his career high of consecutive starts at the college level. He shared what that continuity does for his game:

    • "It builds a lot of confidence in myself," Williams said. "I have a lot of confidence, but I mean it just adds to it. Then being around my teammates, being able to be out there, and being the guy that they see every single time. During game days or during practice running with the ones, it helps us a lot; they have one voice on the field."

Wednesday's media availability