By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com
The Obvious: If the USC Trojans are going to make a strong run at a 2017 Pac-12 title and a College Football Playoff spot, they’ll need to present a stout defensive line, and one of those stalwarts in the trenches will be veteran junior defensive lineman Rasheem Green (photo above).
The Not So Obvious: With so much attention being paid to replacing Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Stevie Tu’ikolovatu at nose tackle, returning starter Rasheem Green (6-5, 282) almost seems like a forgotten lineman. On the contrary, especially if you’re Trojans’ defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. There are big 2017 expectations for Green, who had a very respectable 2016 season, which included 55 tackles, six sacks (a team high), four deflections, and two important blocked field goal attempts on special teams.
The Obvious: Rasheem Green was a 2016 All-Pac-12 honorable mention, and he should be one of the best in the Pac-12 this upcoming season.
The Not So Obvious: Asked about what he is working on during spring and where he is at, Rasheem says, “I am not where I want to be or where I need to be. There are some things like I have to work on like my technique, being consistent, and I am trying to study more.”
The Obvious: Rasheem Green, the former Gardena (Calif.) Serra High star, says he learned a lot from last season that he can build upon for the 2017 campaign.
The Not So Obvious: Green says, “I learned to try to make things slower because when things are slower, it’s easier to make plays and deal with hand placement and get off (the snap). It helps you play more relaxed and when you play more relaxed, you play better.”
The Obvious: Trojans Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast says he see good progress with Rasheem Green and the entire D-line as a unit.
The Not So Obvious: Pendergast says, “You know, Rasheem is a lot further along, our whole defensive line is a lot further along than they were at this time last year just from a technique standpoint.”
The Obvious: Despite the praise, Clancy Pendergast sees areas where he would like to see improvement from Rasheem Green.
The Not So Obvious: Pendergast says, “We really want to focus on him (Green) not playing as tight on blockers being more on the edge. I think at times last year when you go look at his snaps, he did do that and there were times when he didn’t play very well and was too thick. We’ve been really focused on him getting on the tip of the edge of players and trying to get him consistently doing that. He’s focusing on that. I think when you don’t have think about the defense and you hear the call, you can focus on your alignment, and I think it’s really going to help him.”
The Obvious: Also impressed with the ongoing development of Rasheem Green has been Trojans head coach Clay Helton.
The Obvious: Referring back to the injury before last season to Kenny Bigelow that triggered the development of Rasheem Green, Helton says, “Rasheem to be able to learn that 3-technique and he was a little lighter at the time, and you look at him now and, man, he has added some great muscle weight. He’s really doing a great job at that 3-technique.”
The Obvious: As one of the older players, Rasheem Green is impressed by some of the younger players, especially true freshman Marlon Tuipolotu (6-3, 295) from Independence, Oregon (Central High).
The Not So Obvious: Evaluating Tuipolotu, Green says, “He’s doing great, real good. He’s got good technique and plays really hard. He’s a fast learner.”
The Obvious: Last season, there was a lot of concern going into the season regarding the defensive line. Should Trojan fans be concerned with the 2017 defensive line?
The Not So Obvious: Green says, “The fans have nothing to worry about. We will do our job. I can’t look into the future, but I can promise that we will be the best D-line that we can possibly be.”
The Obvious: As a complete defensive line unit, Rasheem Green has a unit goal for his teammates.
The Not So Obvious: Green says, “We want to be better technicians, have a better effort, and to do it all the time.”
The Obvious: And finally, for the Trojans to live up to what figures to be a lofty 2017 preseason ranking, they’ll have to present a dominating defensive line.
The Not So Obvious: And given the attitude and the desire of defensive linemen like Rasheem Green, just maybe the 2017 D-line can outshine last season’s productive unit.