USC Coaching Staff Update: Steve Sarkisian v. Lane Kiffin


Steve Sarkisian’s coaching staff is close to taking full shape. So how does it compare to this past season’s staff? I’ve listed the new staff with some expected-if-not-official hires and also listed Lane Kiffin’s coaches.

Who has the better staff?

Defensive coordinator

Justin Wilcox (Sarkisian)  Clancy Pendergast (Kiffin)

Defensive line

Joe Salave’a.(offered), Ed Orgeron (K)


Peter Sirmon (S) Mike Ekeler (K)

Defensive backs

Keith Heyward (S), Pendergast (K)

Special teams

Johhny Nansen (S), John Baxter (K)

Offensive coordinator

Clay Helton (Sarkisian), Helton (K)

Running backs

Johnny Nansen (S), Tommie Robinson (K)

Wide receivers

Tee Martin (S), Martin (K)

Offensive line

NFL assistant (S), Mike Summers (K)

Tight ends

Marques Tuiasosopo (S, offered) John Baxter (K)


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  • Independent_George

    This is classic troll bait from Wolf, but I will bite.

    Folks forget that Pendergast gave up a record number of yeards in one game. And that USC was three or four terrible Derek Carr throws from a completely different result at the Vegas Bowl. Hundley still picked apart the defense. So it a probably a wash.

    Other than Orgeron over Salave’a, it’s a lean towards Sark’s staff. Having a dedicated DB coach is better than not having a dedicated DB coach, Sirmon is probably an upgrade over Eckler, USC linebackers have regressed since Monte chased off Joe Barry, though they were a little better this year, so Eckler seems like a decent coach. Tommie Robinson seemed to be a great RB coach, but Chris Polk and Bishop Sankey were no slouches, so hopelfully Nansen = Robinson. Helton = Helton and Martin = Martin. For every great special teams play made, it was cancelled out be an equally bad play, the punting regressed as the year went on, though Soma did become a monster on special teams. Hopefully Nansen = Baxter, but the slight edge goes to Baxter, because of Soma’s development.

    But the reason that Sark’s staff is better is because of the offensive line coach. The corpse of Vince Lombardi was be a monumental upgrade over the living and breathing tag team of Summers & Cregg. The OL did “improve” once Lane was gone and they stopped being over coached, but where was the development? Even with all the injuries and questionable play along the line, no one seemed to get better, outside of Martin.

    • TrojanFan3.0

      “USC was three or four terrible Derek Carr throws from a completely different result at the Vegas Bowl”

      Silly guy, too much sauce can play tricks with your perception!

      • Trogan Fan

        Throw out 59 minutes of the UCLA game and SC might have won that one too.

        • TrojanFan3.0

          Wrong blog! you try way too hard!

      • Independent_George

        Watch the replay. Carr missed three or four wide open receivers, at least two of whom would have walked in to the end zone.

        I never wrote that USC would have lost. It would not have been the lopsided result. The throws Carr whiffed on better QBs would have made.

        But then reading comprehension is not a strong suit of Wolf commenters.

        • gotroy22

          Yes the Frenso quarterback was terrible that game from any impartial viewing. We would have just had to keep scoring instead of coasting in the second half.

          • TrojanFan3.0

            ” We would have just had to keep scoring instead of coasting in the second half “.

            Seems idiot george has trouble comprehending this.

        • gillyking

          When you watched the replay George, did you notice the tremendous pressure that Carr was seeing? One of the biggest fallacies of Carr’s season worth of stats is imho, that in the Fresneck schedule, he saw little if any pressure, compared to what he saw in the Vegas Bowl. Does make a significant difference. I also believe that were it not for Kessler’s perfect pic 6, the game would not have been as close as it ended up being lol.

          • TrojanFan3.0

            Bingo!…They ran the ball six times the whole game, pathetic! The Fresno offense had NO chance

        • rusoviet

          Well maybe but I saw twice where Carr flat out overthrew his receivers and that was due to approaching D men on his back end.

          Post-game no question in that interview the team was all Carr DeRuyter barely said a word and what was really strange is that Carr seemed upbeat – as if he just hadn’t had his back end whupped.

          Carr is a gamer but interesting to see how his pro plans play out – he’s going to need to step it up fr the combines.

      • Golden Trojan

        Why do you think Carr looked so bad, the pressure in his face!

        • TrojanFan3.0

          Exactly!…..His offensive line was on roller skates. They got manhandled at the point of attack. Plus, their secondary could not keep up with the speed of the USC receivers. I was at the game and there were mismatches all over the field. George is clueless!


      I just learned that Clancy doesn’t and won’t recruit. While I like what he’s done, I wont be too upset if we get wilcox.

    • Tom Oday

      I agree with Idiot George…if you throw out the first half USC should have lost that game.

      • TrojanFan3.0

        The game was over after the first half

    • rusoviet

      Good post save the comment about Derek Carr – the D line did not sack him but their constant hounding him is what made him throw the poor passes he did as well as the USC defensive secondary making the Fresno St. receivers hear footsteps.

      Fresno was shut down completely – no running game and the three times they scored were a direct result of a: penalty (onside kick), pick and a fumbled kick return. – that’s what gave Fresno St. field position aside from those three ‘1st and 10’ Carr looked like a deer in the headlamps – he was harrassed as he has/had never been before – I’d say USC dd Carr a favor getting him ready for what the NFL will bring to his game play.

    • FightON

      I see where you are going, but I think every game there is a “well, had that QB hit the open receiver” sort of in the way the Packers could have tied the Steelers last week had Flynn saw his open receiver.

      Carr was lauded for his decision making with a completion percentage average of around 70% before this year (the bowl game saw him at around 55% percent). In his last three years starting, he has average around 8 interceptions (in his worst year, he threw 9).

      The question is more of why didn’t Carr hit those open receivers when he has been pretty consistent throughout the years? I think it’s pretty clear that it is because he was being harassed the entire game. Those 3-4 passes that could have been tell me that the defense was doing their job: they were consistently ensuring that Carr did not have the time he needed. He couldn’t checkdown receivers because he had defenders in his face and was getting knocked after plays (remember him crying on the ground and holding his shoulder?). So, sure, those receivers were open (that’s going to happen in a blitzing system), but the pressure is the reason why Carr never hit them.

  • snarfy

    Great question Wolf. Like a master teacher, you don’t give your students the answer, you make them figure it out for themselves.

    “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”

  • Marv Elapes

    Here we are, three coaches and almost an entire football season removed from Kiffin. But wolf continues to obsessively man-crush on him. Let it go already wolf, he’s not coming back to you.

    • gotroy22

      “Almost an entire football season removed from Kiffin”? Kiffin was fired after the ASU game this season.

      • Jack B

        Hey idiot. You missed the point. “Almost an entire football season” means Kiffin was fired after the ASU game – many games, and wins, ago. As Marv says, Wolfie should let it go. We have a new coach now and he is building a new staff. Why the need to harp on Kiffin any longer? We’re all glad he’s gone, except Wolfie, who seems to bring him up constantly. It’s a waste of time but since you’re as stupid as Wolfie, you don’t get it.

        • gotroy22

          Hey rah rah, you missed the point. 5 games into the season is not many games ago. You should let go of your hatred of reporters that print the truth. You and your other brainless rah rahs are still defending the indefensible Lane Kiffin and ragging on Scott for exposing Kiffin as the terrible coach he was. Let it go, rah rah.

          • Jack B

            Hey wah, wah. I’m not defending Kiffin. Learn how to read stupid.

          • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

            That’s all he ever says, that everyone is defending Kiffin.

          • Cheap seats

            I think gotroy22 isn’t a real person, but an auto reply script that says, “when will you rah rahs admit Scott was right about Kiffin?”

  • RallyMonkeyUSA

    Who’s a better journalist…
    Scott Wolf, or ________?

    • Cheap seats

      Charlie Bucket.

    • gotroy22

      Gary Klein aka Cheap seats

    • gillyking

      Helen Keller

    • rusoviet

      Walter Duranty

    • john wolcott

      At least five posters on this blog

  • Fred Sampson

    Same type of Head Coaches , same type of assistants . Nothing special about either one of these staffs , and this is USC ? Really ? Time will tell….

  • Go Tama

    Both staff’s SUCK

  • Helen

    Actually it seems like the staff situation is more uncertain then any time since Sark’s hiring. The Lupoi thing has cast serious doubts. Orgeron is somewhat back in the picture. Wilcox is very much in doubt given the no-action by USC and Pendergast’s nice game plan against Fresno. The NFL assistant who is rumored to have turned down USC’s offer leaves another hole. Of the top three most important staff positions – OC, DC and OL – only one has been finalized.

    • Mike 70

      CEO is not coming back…

      • Helen

        Agree. But it is a nice PR move by Sark to let everyone know (listening Scottie?) that it was Orgeron’s choice not to return.

  • Cheap seats

    Who has more USC insider information? Wolf or Bucket/ThaiMex?

    I guess that’s like asking if Ron Burgundy is better than Will Farrell.

    • gillyking

      or Valerie Jarrett is better than obananna!

  • FightON

    For those interested: USC and Washington shared eight games on their schedule this year. They were both 5-3 in those games. Both teams lost to UCLA and ASU. Washington lost to Stanford, while USC lost to Wash. St in their third loss. The shared defense stats on those games is below.

    The average breakdown for Washington:

    388.75 yards allowed – 165.375 rushing to 223.375 passing

    25.75 points allowed per game

    3 sacks per game

    2.125 turnovers per game (1.5 forced fumbles with .75 fumbles lost per game, and 1.375 interceptions per game)

    The average breakdown for USC:

    404.875 yards allowed – 152.125 rushing to 252.75 passing

    28.25 points allowed per game

    1.875 sacks per game

    1.5 turnovers per game (1.125 forced fumbles with .375 fumbles lost per game, and 1.125 interceptions per game)

  • Marv Elapes

    Anybody who doesn’t see wolfs man- crush for what it is, is a knuckle head. He’s been spewing the same old nonsense all year. The real Trojan fans have moved on a long time ago. No one is defending Kiffin, but no one cares anymore either.

  • Marv Elapes

    No, wolf is just crushing on Kiffin. No one else cares about Kiff anymore except wolf. He’s the only person who still talks about him.