Culver City— One question was definitively answered at the Pac-12 Media Day on July 26. Head coach Lane Kiffin will be calling the plays.
"It's in the best interests of our team for me to continue to call plays," he told the media at Sony Studios Lot, Stage 8. He also said that "we didn't coach very well" last year.
Kiffin had been a little evasive in answering the question of who would be calling the plays. The consensus opinion was that unless an offensive coordinator was hired, Kiffin would probably call the plays. No coordinator had been hired as of last week so he basically tipped his visor a little early.
Kiffin knows there has been criticism over his play calling, clock management and general sense of disconnect on the sidelines. It's hard to engage with the team when your face is buried behind a laminated play call sheet.
The 2012 season has affected Kiffin's recruiting as well.
Lane Kiffin said that the way last season ended and job security questions did have an impact on the last recruiting class— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 26, 2013
The play calling issues isn't the only thing hanging over Kiffin's head.
The Trojans' 2012 defense was at times, awful. Against Oregon, USC gave up 425 yards on the ground in its 62-51 loss to the Ducks. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was the man on the hot seat due to his defensive schemes' inability to stop spread offenses.
The senior Kiffin resigned at the end of the Trojans' 7-6 season.
Clancy Pendergast is the new defensive coordinator. Pendergast has NFL experience (Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs) and was at Cal in 2010-12. If Pendergast shores up the defense, then a major problem will have been resolved.
If Pendergast fails, the blame will fall entirely on Kiffin. Two defensive coordinators will have failed to right a sinking ship that was once known for its defensive prowess.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard traveled with Kiffin to the media session and said the defense will continue to grow and get better. He looks like he means it.
Kiffin seems focused. He must know that 2013 is likely Rose Bowl or bust. He's calm, collected and ready to start fall camp on August 3.
If Kiffin calls the right plays at the right time and the defense returns to its nasty self, this team could be a BCS title contender.
If nothing changes from last year, Kiffin will have no one to blame but himself.
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.