Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Trojans could use a little more balance
By Kevin Gemmell
It's rare for one team to be completely dominant on both sides of the ball. Usually, one side is weaker than the other. More often than not, it's the teams that can strike a balance that find themselves in the national championship discussion.
Brian Fremeau at Football Outsiders examined this very idea to determine which teams in college football were the most "unbalanced."
Cracking his top five were the USC Trojans, who Fremeau says could use a little shoring up on defense to match what expects to be a high-powered offense.
The Trojans forced three-and-outs on 33 percent of opponent drives last year, the 70th-best rate nationally and the worst rate in their past five seasons. USC had one of the most inconsistent defenses too and have been plagued by inopportune gaffes at crunch time on several occasions under Lane Kiffin. The Trojans might be Pac-12 favorites heading into the fall and their offense could carry them there regardless, but they won't be national champions without improving on defense.
As Fremeau also points out in the article, USC's few losses of late can usually be aimed at the defense. But this isn't exactly a shocking revelation for Kiffin. Despite returning his entire back seven next season (plus cornerback Torin Harris returning from injury makes eight), Kiffin recently said that his team has to do better at stopping the pass.
"We've got to get better at pass defense," Kiffin said last month in a Q&A. "You look at our numbers two years ago, they were terrible. We've improved a little bit. But we still have a long ways to go in pass defense. We were good against the run last year. We improved in the red zone. But we've got to do a better job against the pass."
Last season the Trojans ranked fourth in the conference in total defense (374.8 yards per game), second in rush defense (111.4) and ninth in pass defense (263.3).