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USC makes coaching changes official

Clay Helton announced Monday the addition of two new coaches and the departures of three others.

Officially joining the Trojans for the 2020 season is Craig Naivar, who will coach the safeties.

Naivar is very familiar to new USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, as the two coaches together at Texas and Houston. He’s a 26-year veteran who has been a defensive coordinator or special teams coordinator for 24 of those. At Texas, Naivar coached Caden Sterns to Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 2018 and DeShon Elliot was a 2017 Thorpe Award finalist and unanimous All American. Naivar also took over defensive coordinator duties for the Longhorns when Orlando was dismissed early this past December. Under Naivar, Texas held Utah to 254 yards and just 10 points in a convincing victory.

Orlando’s defense calls for a lot of moving parts between the linebackers and the safeties with his pressure packages, so having someone he’s familiar with in Naivar should speed the Trojans up in acclimating your the new defense.

The addition on the offensive side of the ball has a lot to do with familiarity as well, as John David Baker officially takes over the tight end position. Baker served as an offensive quality control analyst for the Trojans last year after coming to USC from North Texas, along with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. Baker and Harrell worked together for three years at North Texas, so the comfort level that both are seeing the same things offensively is certainly there.

USC’s tight ends did not see Many passes thrown their way last season as the Trojans wide receivers dominated the ball, but there are several talented tight ends on the roster. Josh Falo and Erik Krommenhoek are veteran options, but Jude Wolfe and Ethan Rae are coming off injury-plagued freshmen seasons and should be ready to make impacts this season.

While the expected addition of Naivar looked as though it would finish off USC’s coaching roster, the Trojans suddenly have plenty of work to do to fill the staff, as Helton also officially announced that three defensive coaches would not be retained.

Defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a and defensive backs coach Greg Burns are out after one season (Burns was in his second stint with the Trojans) and Johnny Nansen, who was brought to USC when Steve Sarkisian took over as head coach, will not return.

That leaves USC with just Orlando and Naivar as defensive coaches, and a clear sense that Orlando will be able to address that side of the ball as he sees fit. The Trojans are also still without a special teams coach.

Offensively, USC seems set to bring back Just about the entire staff intact, with Tim Drevno coaching the offensive line, Mike Jinks the running backs, Keary Colbert the wide receivers, and Baker moving from analyst to coach, taking over for the departed John Baxter, who handled tight ends in addition to special teams.



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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.


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