USC’s defense has shown significant improvement from last season already

USC is preparing to hold tits spring game on April 20 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Fans are welcome to attend as they prep for the upcoming season.

LOS ANGELES — On Thursday afternoon, USC held another spring practice with a new defense led by D’Anton Lynn. Head coach Lincoln Riley mentioned that he is getting more involved with the defense to stay aware of what’s happening. The USC spring game is just a month away and will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 20th.

During spring practice, Lynn talked about the specific things that his defensive group is going through. The team has already installed a lot before the spring. Many have commented on how strong the USC defensive linemen have become, but during practice on Thursday, what stood out was how athletic and big the Trojans are in the secondary and corners. A few months ago, Riley mentioned that this is going to be a priority moving forward as they look towards the 2024 season.

“When you’re obviously trying to increase the physicality of your team, I think when you’re going to more of a professional style defensive scheme, all that fits to have bigger DB’s. So yeah, obviously the freshmen fit that. The transfers obviously add some pretty immediate length and size. Our quarterbacks have certainly been able to notice that the last few days.” said Riley after practice.

Braylan Shelby, one of the defensive linemen at USC, shared some interesting insights about the positive changes happening within the team. He emphasized the exceptional work of Bennie Wylie, who is considered as one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country. Shelby mentioned that the players have been highly committed to Wylie’s program this off-season, and he himself has gained 20 pounds by following a specific meal plan – including five scrambled eggs, waffles, one banana, and a Powerade every morning. According to Shelby, everyone on the team has benefited from Wylie’s program and it is indeed the best. He also expressed his excitement in working with the new defensive line coach, Eric Henderson, and described it as an amazing experience.

“I’ve learned so many new techniques.” said Shelby after practice.

There are a few players who are still recovering from injuries they sustained last season. However, Coach Riley has stated that Zion Branch is expected to be fully fit and ready to participate in the upcoming fall camp. Additionally, Gino Quinones and Lake McRee are both progressing well and are likely to be full participants in the fall camp as well.

Mason Cobb and Jamil Muhammad discussed the difference between last season and the current one, especially under the new defensive scheme. One of the key differences they mentioned was how the team was built bigger this time around. However, the players have been working hard to gain muscle strength, with Muhammad sharing that he has already gained 10 pounds of muscle. He also opened up about how the team was not big enough last season.

“It was still that elephant in the room so to speak. And we definitely knew it. Coach Riley knew it. The coaches knew it. Us as players knew it.” said Muhammad during his open media session.

Mason Cobb has an interesting perspective from how last season went and how this year is going so far. He specifically talked about the strength plan that was installed over the offseason and how he got used to eating the mandatory meals.

“Last year, there was a lot of moving pieces, and I would say being able to play with somebody that you know is gonna make plays on the field, is important.” Cobb said. “So I would say, my lesson for this year is, I want a championship, bruh. And this is my last year, so what other goal could I have?”

Coach Lynn mentioned how he has never coached someone like Eric Gentry before. He explained that it will be up to his staff to determine how to best utilize Gentry’s unique talents on the field. Unfortunately, Gentry struggled with inconsistency last season due to his struggles with staying healthy and mentally preparing for games.

Riley mentioned that they are currently training Elijah Newby, a freshman, for the position of inside linebacker. However, due to his impressive speed, size, and length, it is possible that he may end up playing other positions as well in the near future. Matt Entz has been working with Newby and Riley compared him to former Chargers LB Kenneth Murray in terms of size and athleticism. There is a lot of excitement about Newby’s potential and future with USC.

“You could envision him growing into a few different roles,” said Riley on Newby. “He has rare athleticism and speed for a guy of his size and his length.”

As the first week of practice is just getting started, there are going to be some significant changes in this team as they move onto the Big Ten Conference. With new players joining the team and the coaching staff implementing new strategies, the team’s dynamics will shift, and the players will have to adapt to the new playing style. As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see how these changes affect the team’s performance and how they fare against their opponents.