USC Football: 16 Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by Switch to 5-2 Defense

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USC Football: 16 Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by Switch to 5-2 Defense
Clancy Pendergast (USC Defensive Coordinator; photo from

After years of struggling against the many uptempo offenses found in the Pac-12, head coach Lane Kiffin turned to a former foe to address USC's inability to contain them.

When Kiffin hired former Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to overhaul the Trojan defense, it signaled a change not only with the philosophy but also the formation itself.

Gone was the 4-3 defense with its three linebackers that USC ran for years. Instead, it has now been replaced with a 3-4 scheme that most often takes on a 5-2 alignment with only two linebackers behind the defensive line.

Designed to be more responsive to spread offenses, the 5-2 defense features an interior line that consists of a nose tackle over the offensive center and has two ends, one on either side of him.

On either side of the interior line reside the outside linebackers, which make up the "5" portion of the 5-2 defense. The "2" part of the formation? Those are the middle and inside linebackers.

So far, so good, but how does this affect the personnel USC has on defense?

This slideshow will look at those players most affected by the switch to this alignment.

Will Trojan studs like Morgan Breslin and Leonard Williams thrive in this new-look D?

Yes, and here is how they will do it...


Note: Thanks to Topher Doll of SB Nation for explaining some of the nuances of the 5-2 defense

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