1,318 Total yards
54% Third down conversion rate
177 offensive plays
These are just some of the numbers allowed by the USC defense in the last two weeks. Both losses. The first at Arizona and the second at home to Oregon who by some estimates may be the second best football team in the country.
How did such a legendary program like USC give up such numbers? More importantly, how did it do it with the father of the vaunted Tampa 2 defense at the controls?
The Tampa 2 defense was developed by Monte Kiffin who is the current Defensive Coordinator at USC and father to the Head Coach Lane Kiffin. Monte has been in football coaching profession at the collegiate and professional level since 1966. He was Defensive Coordinator of back to back National Championship teams at Nebraska in the early ’70s and won a Super Bowl as Defensive Coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. So why can’t someone with credentials like this stop a spread offense?
The Tampa 2 defense on paper would seem to be the one defense that would be perfect to stop a spread offense like the one run at Oregon. It’s really a cover 3 zone defense that relies on the front seven to be aggressive. The corner backs are suppose to be able to stop a sweep by the running back by having a better angle. This defense is the classic ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ defense for back to back weeks it has been destroyed.
There are can be several causes for this. The first being, can you really implement a system like this when you do not have the ‘best of the best’ like you do in the NFL? Second, USC is still operating under reduced scholarships due to previous NCAA rules violations. They’re thin. In fact they are so thin that they apparently rarely scrimmage fearing that someone will get injured.
Being thin or lacking depth if you will means players get tired trying to run around and catch the speedy Oregon Ducks. When guys get tired they make mistakes which can cost them.
Depth isn’t the only issue. Football is really about two things, 1) having more people at the point of attack or 2) having better angles. If you don’t have one of these two you better have better personnel to make up for it. USC’s defense failed on all three of these. Oregon, and Arizona for that matter, had at times more people at the point of attack, better angles most of the time, and at least in Oregon’s case, better personnel.
Has the game passed Monte by? Possibly. But if it has would his son fire his dad?
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