Will Depth Suffer Without Christian Heyward?

With Christian Heyward not on USC’s spring roster, is it a concern that the Trojans have five defensive tackles on their current roster, including freshman Kenny Bigelow?

By comparison, the 2005 Trojans had seven defensive tackles on scholarship. So is it really that big a deal? It all depends on injuries.

21 thoughts on “Will Depth Suffer Without Christian Heyward?

  1. On this one, I would like to have seen Scott call Kiffin or Orgeron for comment.

    I believe Kiffin is concerned about depth at DT. If you ask him the worst things to happen to the team in 2013, I woundn’t be surprised if he said the worst thing was not getting Jalen Ramsey, and the second worst, not getting Varnderdoes.

    It is pretty established that injuries will be critical–and not just at DT.

    • Ditto…
      Don’t remember how good Heyward is, but he is another body for a very important position that gets beat up physically. This defense that Pendergast wants to run, being agressive, will need player rotation to keep the defense fresh for the 4th quarter where games are decided.

    • Time to start turning Christian Thomas and Giovanni Di Paolo into 2-way players. “Necessity is the mother of all invention” – I think SpedJones or ThaiMex said that.

        • Came in as an OT, but they were starting Smith and Kalil his frosh year. Then Graf came in as a highly ranked prospect, and Di Paolo got hurt as well. Now they bring in Banner and Tuerk, he got lost in the mix it seems. I heard they were trying him at left and right guard. But if there’s a shortage on the D-Line, maybe he can try and break into the rotation there. I’m sure he’s talented enough.

      • Actually it’s the opposite. Lane Kiffin treats reporters like the Obama adminstration: be a booster or get frozen out. That’s why Kiffin tried to ban Scott last season until ESPN picked up the story and shamed Pat Haden into relenting. Kiffin didn’t want anyone to ask why the preseason #1 team was collapsing and the head coach was behaving so bizarrely. He knew most fans like you would support his actions.

        • Actually both are true. Kiffin is as secretive as the Nixon Administration (and makes me miss the transparency of Carroll). But I beg to differ that it is Wolf’s snarky “observations” that caused any fear in Kiffin. He singled out Scott because he thought Wolf was an easy target and thought he could prove a point. He figured none of Wolf’s colleagues would come to his defense because of the low regard in which they hold Wolf. But they did rally to his defense because of the principles of the issues involved (no coach should be able to ban a journalist for reporting what e sees). Kiffin miscalculated. He was wrong to shut Wolf out. But Wolf’s attempts to portray himself as a crusader against Kiffin betray the lack of any depth in his criticisms because, quite frankly, Wolf is not up to the task. The program and its fans would be quite well served for both Kiffin and Wolf to be reassigned.

          • Do you think the LA Times writer rallied to Scott’s defense? He’s as bold as the White House press corps is to Obama. It was ESPN that intimidated Pat Haden.

      • Rick may well be right. All Scott can do, and should do, is follow up on his thoughts with a phone call. If no one would return his call, neither could anyone blame him for his “shoot from the hip” approach.

      • You are quite wrong. Some said he’d be a bust bc he didn’t play real competition in HS. Some compared him to McCarthy, said they were both duds. Sour grapes, sure, but please don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Lol.

        • Understood, on second thought I think I remember now – THAT contingent of Trojan fans who didn’t want EV (or MR, or KF or anybody that didn’t come to USC). No need to hyperlink, I remember. Thanks for reminding me. But also – and this is really good – there’s also a group, just as dumb, that was hoping he WOULD come and look like morons now that he’s at ND. Oh it’s too rich. Go fight somebody Trojans!

  2. Injuries are an issue every year, so the real issue is can all be counted on to make meaningful contrbutions?

    The 2005 DT’s, on roster were”

    49 Sedrick Ellis
    63 Travis Draper
    64 Mike Davis
    75 Fili Moala
    93 Lawrence Miles
    94 Jermyah Graves
    95 Travis Tofi
    98 LaJuan Ramsey
    99 Avrill Spicer

    The 2013 Trojans will have on roster:

    90 George Uko
    98 Cody Temple
    94 Leonard Williams
    99 Antwan Woods
    ?? Kenny Bigelow

    That’s nine so one or two of the Davis-Graves-Tofi triumvirate never started the season on roster, and probably existed only as scout team fodder, if that. Miles was a 4 or 5 star and either was highly overrated, flunked out or was injured, but he didn’t contribute in 2005 or beyond. . Or maybe they contributed on special times but they sure didn’t see much PT during the down and distance part of the game. Spicer always injured and never saw time in 2005, not much in the subsequent years.

    So really, you were looking at a rotation of three: Ellis, Moala and Ramsey, and I am not sure how much Moala played. I think Draper played here and there. And Lawrence Jackson and Kyle Moore, DEs, were asked, at times, to play inside.

    Ellis and Moala became stars and Ramsey played himself into a second or third round draft pick, but Ellis did not start the season with any significant playing time and would not become a star until next year, 2006 and blow everything up in 2007. With Fili, increase by one year, 2007 and 2008.

    in 2013 Uko, Woods and Williams will enter the year with much more playing time than Ramsey, Ellis and Moala, and Wiiliams and Uko are poised to dominate this year, while Woods can the the Ramsey of the three. If Wheeler and Bigelow can contribute then SC will be fine, or at least no worse off than 2005.

    Besides, it’s a 3-4 or “5-2”, and Travai or Townsend and even Kennard can slide inside from time to time against the smaller, spreadier teams like Arizona.

    The defense will not be worse than last year. They may not be the top D in the conference, but they will make more plays, because the scheme is designed that way.

    The real question is whether the USC offense win the time of possession game. It’s why Lane has all those offensive coaches. Barkley ain’t here to force throws into coverage, but he also isn’t here to quickly get you back into the game, which is what he did at Utah and Syracuse. For USC to win, and for Lane to keep his job, he has to show that USC can run the ball and slow the game down.

    • Thanks for the excellent rundown. What do you think of our defensive backfield? Won’t it be worse this year?

      • They will be inexperienced, but the modified 46 defense Pendergast runs is designed to protect the backfield by disrupting the offense. It was Buddy Ryan reason for “inventing” it. He had great D-Linemen and LB’s but his DB’s couldn’t cover.

        It will be worse, but it wasn’t like the DB’s were the strong suit of the D.

    • An excellent post George. I wonder if the de-emphasis on DTs is a function of the more spread offenses. With such an emphasis on speed, I would think you’d want speedier DEs rather than run-stuffing DTs. I keep thinking of that hideous Oregon game where it just seemed lie every plat slipped around the edge of the D Line and left me wanting quicker DEs to counter it. I’m not aim liar with Pendergast’s defense. How well suited do you think it is to counter that quick slant to the edge that so killed SC last year?

      • I think part of the de-emphasis on DT’s is the lack of elite 4-3 gap players on the West Coast. That’s why Vanderdoes was a big loss for both SC and UCLA, the West Coast produces maybe one or two of those caliber players a year. Yes, Vanderdoes is going to a 3-4 scheme, but the talent pool for the stout, gap-playing DTs seems to be in SEC Country (Yes, Bama plays a 3-4). It’s why the SEC is such a defensive conference.

        It’s also why I think losing Hatcher hurt. USC needs quick DE’s in the new scheme. The Wes Horton/Kyle Moore type DE’s are a thing of ther past. As will be 210 lbs linebackers, which is why Bailey is going back to safety.

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