Spring cleaning for football coaching staff

first_imgAfter a less-than-stellar defensive performance during the 2015 USC football campaign, the Trojans have a new man at the helm.Clancy Pendergast, who served as defensive coordinator for USC in 2013, will return to the same role next season.Pendergast was the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015. He has spent 16 of his 24 years of coaching experience in the NFL. From 2010 to 2012, Pendergast was the defensive coordinator at Cal and constructed a defense that was among the best in the Pac-12, ranking first in total defense during his first two seasons.He had similar success with the Trojans, as USC finished in the top 25 nationally in a number of defensive categories, including total and scoring defense.“We are very excited to announce the return of Clancy Pendergast as our defensive coordinator,” head coach Clay Helton said. “I have had the good fortune to watch Clancy lead our defense first hand, and was blown away by his knowledge of the game as well as his teaching abilities. His success at both the NFL and college level makes it easy to see why he is one of the top defensive coaches in the game today.”It seemed change was in the air for the entire season.A wave of uncertainty inundated the program upon Steve Sarkisian’s exit, as Helton took the reins when the Trojans were 3-2 and looking for answers.Helton’s impressive stint as interim head coach earned the respect of players, fans and members of the athletic department alike. With that said, attention now shifts to the 2016 season, which coincidentally begins with a game against national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas.There is a lot to digest as the Trojans turn the page and prepare for spring ball.Helton went with a coaching overhaul on the defensive side of the ball, opting not to retain defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, defensive line coach Chris Wilson and defensive backs coach Keith Heyward.The defense made strides as the season progressed, but a trip to Eugene halted that progress. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw six touchdown passes — and just five incompletions — in a 48-28 rout by the Ducks. Following the loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 title game, Wilcox was dismissed. He did not coach during the Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin.USC was 65th in the FBS in total defense, allowing almost exactly 400 yards per game.Special teams got a new coordinator, as John Baxter made his way back to Troy. He was Michigan’s special teams coordinator this past season, but was with the Trojans as recently as 2013.One of the biggest surprises, though, was tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo’s decision to join the UCLA coaching staff as quarterbacks coach. Tuiasosopo joined Sarkisian in the move from Seattle to Los Angeles for the 2014 season. Tuiasosopo also served as the quarterbacks coach at USC during the latter part of the season.Tuiasosopo was an assistant coach on offense for the Trojans but is now taking his talents across town.Coaches move on. So do players.Cody Kessler’s college career has come to a conclusion, as USC prepares to bid a fond farewell to one of the most efficient quarterbacks this conference has ever seen. The redshirt senior finished with more than 10,000 career passing yards. Tre Madden, a Trojan tailback, is also a fifth-year senior and will no longer be spotted in the Trojans’ backfield.The obvious loss on the defensive side is Su’a Cravens. The junior figures to be a high draft pick this spring, especially given his versatility. He is a monster at both outside linebacker and strong safety and has undoubtedly turned some heads of pro scouts. His impact at the strongside outside linebacker hybrid position was immense game in and game out.Replacing No. 21 will not be easy.There will be plenty of storylines to keep tabs on this offseason. The development of quarterback Max Browne will be a hot topic during spring ball, as will the play of freshman sensation Ronald Jones II at tailback.Inside linebacker Lamar Dawson has wrapped up his career as well, but the youngster Cam Smith showed his brilliance this season and ensured fans that he is more than capable of dominating at the collegiate level. Another spring storyline will be his recovery from an ACL injury he suffered against Colorado.0000000The postseason loss to Wisconsin was agonizing for the Trojan faithful, but there is a tremendous amount of energy as spring practice approaches.It goes without saying that the preparation for national champion Alabama in the 2016 opener starts now.last_img

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