8 min Read

Todd Orlando stresses recruiting, physical play, during introductory press conference

Todd Orlando took the podium on Tuesday morning to address the media for the first time since he was announced as USC’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Orlando spent plenty of time talking about the physical nature that he requires from his defense, and how putting together a staff full of recruiting aces was a priority for him.

Here is a sampling of what Orlando had to say in response to questions.

“We’re going to practice physical. I can promise you that.”

“The veterans have really, really accepted me from Day 1. I think they’re really excited about this thing.”

On his defensive fronts:
“Everything is done in a manner based on personnel. In an ideal world, you’d like to see this thing about 50/50 down the line, from 4-down to 3-down. We’re going to stay consistent with these because some of the older guys we have on the edge… There’s some things that we have in this package that they have done in the past, which makes the transitional period a little bit easier for those guys.”

“Every day that they come into a meeting, every day that they go out and compete. We’re trying to get guys to get more, every day, and it’s a process. Coaches included now. You come into this building, you better do A+ work. And if you’re not doing that, then you’re cheating the organization.”

“We take that approach, whether it’s academics, whether it’s AA (Aaron Ausmus) in the weight room, you name it, is to compete against your best self and take this thing to being elite, where it belongs. But it’s not roll out USC’s helmet and say go get it. It’s what you put on film. That’s your resume is what you put on film.”

“The stuff that we’re doing, the training that we’re doing right now—and it’s not the exterior stuff, like the athlete running around. He’s 6-foot-5, he can do this—I’m talking about the insides. Wiring the brain, the heart, you name it, going down the line, to say you can give more. That’s the expectation, and that’s everybody in the building. It’s not us and the kids. That’s the expectation that I come in and we have the best unit meeting in the country. We have the most organized walk-through in the country. This guy’s on point. He does the things he’s preaching to us 24/7. That takes a little bit of time. It does.”

“I’m sure that it’ll be a little bit different playing football on Tuesday and Thursday, but the Saturday practice, when we’re knocking the living heck out of each other, that’s when we’re going to find out what we’re all about. To me, it’s easy to go in here when it’s peaceful and non-chaotic. We want to create chaos and see if these guys can respond to it.”

“You’re going to that dark place where all the championships are at and all the hard wins are going to be at, and you have to live in there. You’re going to get knocked around, get back up.”

“Let’s make strides at it during spring, let’s get bigger, faster, stronger during summertime, and then let’s see what type of ballclub we have. Normally you know about the third week of fall camp, what you’re going to be.”

On his defense typically finding success in Year 1:
“I think it is multiple and can be installed rather quickly. When you have a little bit of inexperience, if you have some youth to it, it can be a little bit less. You kind of do what you have to do with some younger guys to make sure that we can get lined up. But I think initially when we come in I think it’s hard to prepare for, especially because there’s some uncertainty to it. I’ve always taken the approach of Year 1 is probably not necessarily stay the course. There’s always a couple wrinkles here and there, a little bit different, and I think it’s a lot to prepare for, especially if you’re a team that we play early in the season. But the package itself, if you were to get on a computer here, it’s Install 1, Install 2, Install 3, Install 4 and it probably goes to about 5 and it’s over. And then you kind of pick and choose what you want to do for that game, or you pick and choose what you can get done based on your personnel. And that’s how it kind of rolls. A lot of the places in the first year that I’ve shown up it was a change from a different coordinator and I think a lot of the times you see some improvements just based on mentality, too, and the way the training is, more than less than it’s actually the scheme. I’ll be real with you. I think we come in and it’s kind of like this is the way we’re going to be fundamental, we’re going to be technical, and we’re going to run as hard as we can at somebody and try to blast them. Try to keep it that simple to kids, and as we go into it, it’s multiple enough to be able to confuse some guys, or, at the end of the day, make somebody on the offensive side of the football really have to work hard.”

On assembling his defensive staff:
“Craig is, probably when he got announced here, not a household name, but he’s as good as there is in the country. All of a sudden, Donte shows up on the radar, and to me that’s like getting the first pick of the draft. Honestly, it really was, the way that it set up. Him having the ability to recruit here. And where Vic came into play was I really wanted some presence up there. We catch him really early on in his career. Honestly I think he’s going to be a superstar. I really do. He can recruit, too. He can relate and recruit. So you’re catching a guy early on in his career, whose best years are probably right now, to go along with recruiting. And we all get along, too. We’re all kind of aggressive, Type A personalities, and I got no problem with that. I want as many people in there who are competitive. But they’re all very genuine, big-hearted guys, and that’s unique when you get a room full of those people that are really good at their job, but are humble enough to be able to work with each other, but also really understand the importance of recruiting.”

On recruiting Southern California:
“You take this area right now and draw a ring around an hour radius, maybe two-hour radius, and you keep the best players and get them to come here, you’re going to be in great shape. That was really, really important to us that we put that together – top of their field, but more importantly, recruiters, and then alpha dogs too.”

“We’re going to make our mistakes, but if we can train to run as hard as we can for the ball and then eventually when the pads get on, be physical, we can fix everything else. Taking a bad step is going to happen, but straining for your teammate and hitting somebody, that’s the stuff that goes outside of human nature. Where human nature might say, the ball’s all the way over there and I can get my air, or do I really have to cover up my teammate, he’s one-on-one in space ready to make a tackle. Do I really have to run that hard to try to help him out? Yeah, you do. That’s part of being a brotherhood and that’s part of being elite. Those are the things we’re going to be working on.”

“The administration has been unbelievable. We’ve pinpointed a lot of these guys – coach Helton and myself – to say we need these guys, to win a national championship. And there was zero hesitation. They’ve been unbelievable.”

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

More Articles By Erik