USC: Rod Smith

Coordinator changes: Pac-12 South

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
11:00
AM PT
So far, only three Pac-12 teams retained their 2013 offensive and defensive coordinators: Arizona, Colorado and Washington State.

Here's a look at who's in, who's out and what it means in the South Division. You can review the North Division here.

Arizona Wildcats

No change: Rich Rodriguez has proven coordinators on both sides of the ball, with the offensive humming under co-coordinators Calvin Magee and Rod Smith and the 2013 defense being the Pac-12's most improved unit under Jeff Casteel.

Arizona State Sun Devils

Out: Cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Joe Lorig left for Utah State, which allowed coach Todd Graham to rejigger his defensive coaching staff. Paul Randolph, a co-defensive coordinator the past two seasons, will serve as senior associate head coach and defensive ends coach.

In: Keith Patterson left West Virginia to co-coordinate the defense with Chris Ball. Patterson will coach linebackers and be the Sun Devils' defensive special teams coach. Ball will continue to serve as the safeties and defensive passing game coach.

Thoughts: A lot of these moves emerged from Graham's concern about special teams, as well as his wish to reunite with an old friend. He and Patterson, according to the press release announcing the hiring, "have a professional and personal relationship that goes back to East Central University where they were college roommates." That same press release noted that "Patterson will oversee the defense, but Graham will be heavily involved in the planning." Graham also will have a "major" role with the special teams coaching and will assist Ball with the cornerbacks. It was also announced that Chip Long, the Sun Devils tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, will become the offensive special teams coach. As for Patterson's track record, it was a lot better at Pittsburgh than at West Virginia, where the Mountaineers allowed 33.3 and 38.0 points per game over the past two seasons.

Colorado Buffaloes

No change: Colorado's second-year coach Mike MacIntyre retained both defensive coordinator Kent Baer and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren. Compared to 2012, the Buffaloes scored 7.6 more points per game and allowed 7.8 points fewer per game last season. The overall numbers weren't good, but it was clearly a step in the right direction on both sides of the ball.

UCLA Bruins

Out: Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos left to become the LBs coach for the Tennessee Titans

In: Jeff Ulbrich was promoted from LBs coach and special teams coordinator.

Thoughts: Ulbrich has coached perhaps the Bruins most improved position over the past two years -- linebackers -- and he deserves credit for players like Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt, Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks developing into stars. He also ensures the Bruins improved defense retains schematic continuity. Named the 2013 FootballScoop Special Teams Coordinator of the Year, Ulbrich has guided the Bruins special teams unit to one of the top rankings in the country in each of the last two seasons. Ulbrich also won't have to work too hard to have credibility with his players as he was a LB San Francisco 49ers from 2000-2009.

USC Trojans

Out: Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast

In: Justin Wilcox, who followed new Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian from Washington to USC

Thoughts: Sarkisian decided to retain USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton, though like his predecessor, Lane Kiffin, Sarkisian will call offensive plays. Pendergast did a great job last year with his hybrid 3-4, which he termed a 5-2. Wilcox is widely seen as one of the nation's top defensive coordinators and a future head coaching candidate. His scheme won't be too much different than what the Trojans ran last year, though the Huskies officially ran a 4-3.

Utah Utes

Out: Co-offensive coordinators Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson were demoted to running backs and quarterbacks coaches, respectively. Johnson then left Utah to become Mississippi State's quarterbacks coach.

In: Former Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen was hired to be the Utes’ single offensive coordinator

Thoughts: Will Christensen bring the Utes offense stability? He's their sixth different play caller in six years. The good news is he's highly regarded, getting hired at Wyoming because of the work he did with Missouri's offense. Johnson's departure probably helps reduce the feeling that there are too many cooks in the kitchen, seeing that he, Erickson and Aaron Roderick, now the Utes QBs coach after coaching receivers since 2005, have each been in the coordinator carousel at Utah. Head coach Kyle Whittingham also hired former Purdue All-American Taylor Stubblefield to coach receivers. Christensen, an offensive line specialist, will oversee tight ends.

Five questions for the New Year, No. 3

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
4:21
PM PT
With the final days of the year approaching, we're taking a look at the five most pressing questions surrounding Lane Kiffin's Trojans in 2012. We'll unveil one each day this week, counting down from No. 5 Monday to No. 1 on Friday.

Question No. 5 covered the Associated Press preseason top 25. Question No. 4 covered NCAA-sanctioned scholarship limits. Question No. 3, then, is this: There are new offensive systems being implemented at four Pac-12 schools this offseason. How will they affect USC going forward?

Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State should all feature totally new offensive schemes next season. USC will play three of those four in 2012 -- all but Mike Leach's Wazzu squad.

In the short term, it probably makes each of the teams a little more beat-able. It takes some time for a new scheme to transfer to a new location and be bought into by the players. But, in the long term, the coaching switches of the 2011 offseason will make the Pac-12 conference much more interesting to watch and much more fast-paced.

What can the Trojans expect from the new-look schools, both in the New Year and the next few new years?

Rodriguez brought with him to Arizona two co-offensive coordinators who held the same posts for him at Michigan and West Virginia, his last two head-coaching stops. Calvin Magee and Rod Smith both have experience injecting energy into offenses, and they'll have a nice prospect to mold into their guy at Arizona in Tom Savage, a two-year starter at Rutgers who transferred after losing his starting spot because of an injury. Rodriguez has been on the job for five weeks and has yet to hire a defensive coordinator.

At UCLA, Jim Mora hired former Arizona State offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to call plays, a move met with praise around the college football world. USC had trouble dealing with the Sun Devils' offense the last two years and could have similar trouble dealing with the Bruins' now.

And, at ASU, former Pitt and Tulsa coach Todd Graham also brought in his right-hand man at his last two stops, Mike Norvell, to work with the offense. Norvell's offensive schemes are designed to be high-octane; of course, they weren't particularly effective at Pitt this season, when the Panthers went just 6-6.

Before the latter half of the 2011 season, most USC fans would have said that the new offenses spelled bad news for Monte Kiffin and the Trojans. But USC's performance against Oregon at Autzen Stadium last month has given a lot of people a lot of hope that the Kiffins' schemes can stop spread offenses with regularity.

We'll see for sure in the next couple years. But it'll definitely be a lot more interesting.

Check back Thursday for question No. 2, which deals with one prominent player leaving for the draft and how the Trojans will replace him.

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2014 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler233162188418
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
J. Allen1509096.18
J. Davis733344.62
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
N. Agholor4853311.17
J. Smith2635013.51
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense189.3273.4462.7
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring35.623.112.4