USC elects to retain defensive coordinator Alex Grinch

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Southern California defensive coordinator Alex Grinch will return to the coaching staff under head coach Lincoln Riley in 2023, despite the Trojans’ issues stopping the ball this past season.

A multitude of miscues, including some on defense, prevented USC from preserving a late 15-point lead in the Cotton Bowl as Tulane rallied for a 46-45 victory at Dallas. But the Trojans’ issues stopping the ball were well known by then.

USC (11-3) advanced to the Pac-12 title game in a season when they gave up 27.9 points per game, which was seventh in the conference. The defense’s 415.1 yards allowed per game also was seventh.

“I know what he’s made of, I just do,” Riley said in explaining his decision Tuesday to retain Grinch. “I know what’s getting ready to happen defensively. And so, I just have a confidence and a belief there, not just in Alex, but the other guys in the room.”

Utah scored 90 total points in two games against USC, defeating the Trojans twice, including a 47-24 victory in the conference title game to earn a spot in the Rose Bowl. In USC’s three defeats, it gave up an average of 45.3 points, and that total does not include the 45 it allowed to rival UCLA in an eventual victory.

Grinch, 42, also was the defensive coordinator with Riley at Oklahoma before making the move to Los Angeles in 2022. He previously served as defensive coordinator at Ohio State (2018) and Washington State (2015-17).

“I’ve been through it enough with that guy to know, don’t bet against him,” Riley said of Grinch. “Anybody in a situation like that, where we know we need to take a big jump in all areas … (and) we need to own and fix the things we didn’t do well.”

Riley will not make any changes from the 2022 coaching staff outside of making Luke Huard the full-time inside receivers coach after he was in the position on an interim basis last season.

–Field Level Media

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