The idea that USC needed to "rebuild" their defense for 2009 has always been a false presumption. The idea that USC had to "rebuild" their defensive line from 2008 has also been false.
USC has three linebackers from the 2008 team who now start in the NFL. USC's quarterback from the 2008 team is starting in the NFL.
What's going on? How can USC have players from their 2008 team now start in the NFL and their defense not be rebuilding? Simple. USC has two and three teams during the year.
USC has a unique depth chart. It's rare to see a position that doesn't have two to three starters. The depth chart will read, "First-Team: Smith or Jones or Davis. Second team: Ward or Lewis."
Pete Carroll is often asked how he keeps so many blue-chip athletes happy. His unique depth chart is one reason. The other is playing his entire team each game. Carroll is constantly walking the sidelines and making sure that each player gets meaningful playing-time, at their primary position.
Pete Carroll has a belief that the best players play on special teams. Therefore, the special teams is not used to satisfy the newer players.
During the Fall Camps, Carroll initially has the new recruits run the majority of plays. He wants to see how they can fit into his system from the start. Matt Barkley will tell you that it's a fact.
When many claimed that USC had to rebuild their defense, they must not have heard of linemen like Jurrell Casey (No. 91) or Everson Griffen (No. 93). Each started last year.
Currently, a veteran defensive end is injured, which has given Carroll the opportunity to have three blue-chip recruits sharing the duties.
Thus far, USC has played two home and three away games. They have played three ranked teams, including the current No. 9 team. USC is a college team that only plays FBS teams. USC is only one of four FBS teams who have not padded their schedule with FCS teams. In fact, USC plays the other three on a yearly basis.
Currently, USC will have played five ranked teams on the road. Well over half of their opponents in 2009 will have been ranked teams.
After five games, USC's offense is the leader in the PAC-10 for most Yards Per Game (YPG). Matt Barkley is the PAC-10 leader in quarterback proficiency.
USC's defense is remarkable. Some of their current statistics include:
- They have held all five opponents to under 90 yards rushing per game.
- Opposing teams average only 2.0 yards per rush.
- The defense has allowed only three touchdowns in five games.
- The defense has not allowed a passing touchdown.
- A rotating freshman defensive end for USC is the sack leader (eight) in the PAC-10.
- The defense is third in the nation, allowing only 8.6 points per game.
- Last season USC held CAL's Jahvid Best to only 30 yards rushing. This year, USC held Best to only 47 yards rushing.
- Last season, USC's 17-3 win over CAL marked the first time a Tedford coached CAL team failed to score a touchdown. This season's 30-3 loss to USC marked the second season in a row that CAL hasn't been able to score a touchdown.
- During 2008 and 2009, eight teams have been unable to score a fourth quarter touchdown against USC.
There is little doubt that this will be the most talented defense that Pete Carroll has had at USC.
ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit has said many times, "It doesn't matter how many USC players go into the NFL. Pete Carroll's Trojans never rebuild, they just reload."