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WeAreSC Mailbag

Questions this week include thoughts on the USC offense affecting the defense, progression of both lines, and the rehab efforts of Max Williams.


Q: What Is the impact of the new air raid offense on our defense? I can see some some significant benefits, but I also can see some concerns, both in practice and in games. I appreciate your thoughts.

A: I think there are positives and negatives, but I don’t know yet if it will have a massive impact either way. It’s definitely a good thing that this offense is getting the defense used to going up against a truly fast-paced offense. It’s making the defense get organized and set in a hurry, which helps communication and conditioning. Obviously the pass defense is getting tested a bunch and the offense isn’t something the Trojans will see from teams like Utah and Washington, but it’s not as if this defense was being tested by a prolific running attack the past few seasons either. Couple that with the facts that this defense will go up against plenty of teams that are going to spread it out and throw, and the Trojans don’t do a ton of full-contact game situations, and I don’t think the new offense changes things much for the defense.


Q: Have you spoken with DR or Kevin Bruce about switching the linebackers — putting the light guy inside and the heavy guy outside — and do they like the idea?

A: I haven’t spoken with Darrell or Kevin specifically about the linebacker switch, but it’s fair to say that will be something that is watched very closely at the start of the season if those two are still at these positions.


Q: Erik, can you share some additional insights on Quincy Jountti? Seems he is getting a lot of touches in Spring ball and doing well with them. Thanks

A: Jountti transfered to USC from Sacramento State and had to sit out last season, when he won USC’s Service Team Co-Offensive Player of the Year Award. He’s a terrific athlete and truly looks capable of pitching in if needed this fall. I’ve been very impressed with him this spring, especially how tough he runs.


Q: Would SC consider bringing in Norm Chow as a consultant, especially since he ran an “air raid” type offensive during the 80’s and 90’s and was able to transition and effectively utilize a power back? He was also a master of setting up plays and in game adjustments, and two sets of eyes are better than one.
How is the progression of the offensive and defensive lines?

A: I don’t believe Norm Chow is a potential addition to this staff as an analyst.

I’ve been impressed with the progress the defensive line has made this spring. We’ve seen some really nice performances from the veterans there and I’ll be surprised if there isn’t a noticeable uptick in the play from that position this fall. The offensive line is still a work in progress, though there are signs that it will wind up being an upgrade from last year as well. I want to wait and see what it looks like closer to the start of the season.


Q: Coach CH again emphasized that the Coach Harrell’s offense is simpler for the players. I can surmise to a degree what “simpler” means, but I’d be interested to get a more specific take on it. For example, maybe the simplicity lies more in how the base offense is defined, such that deviations from it are easier to understand (branching off like a tree, verses lacking that wholistic view). Thanks

A: The simplicity pretty much comes in every aspect of an offense. It’s the size of the playbook, the responsibilities of each player, the play call terminology. Everything. The entire offense was installed after three practices. It reminds me a bit of that cliche of playing HORSE in the driveway with your dad, where you are shooting from everywhere and he has like two spots where he can hit 100% of his shots and he takes you down in five turns. Harrell literally chuckles at every media scrum when we ask questions that make it seem like there’s a secret to this offense and he’s been consistent in saying that it’s pretty straightforward and it’s just about doing the few plays over and over until you understand every nuance of each one.


Q: The season may depend on finding a reliable secondary.
What is the health of Max Williams and will he be ready for fall?

A: It’s been great to see Max (photo above) working during practices and I (as well as everybody else, it seems) continue to be impressed by how quickly he seems to be recovering from his injury. At the pace he’s on now, it certainly seems likely that he’ll be ready to go this fall. That would be a big addition to the secondary, as he is a real talent.

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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