USC offseason storylines: defensive backs

With spring ball officially in the books, and the Trojans now fully immersed in their offseason training schedule, here’s a look at some of the major storylines heading into the fall for USC’s defensive backs group.

New coaches, new system -- new level of play?

After a less-than-stellar 2012 campaign, the USC defense showed renewed life in 2013 under the command of Clancy Pendergast, thanks in large part to a dominating effort by the front seven. Still there were times in games against Arizona State, Arizona and Notre Dame when the secondary, and in particular, the cornerbacks, struggled in pass coverage.

With Pendergast gone, it’s up to new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive backs coach Keith Heyward to get this unit to produce on a more consistent basis. And while the group did show promise in Wilcox’s system this spring, with a number of key contributors sidelined due to injury, and some big-time freshmen having not yet arrived, it was hard to accurately gauge just what kind of group Heyward will ultimately have at his disposal.

In the end, it’s how all of the pieces of the puzzle adapt to the new scheme and mesh together throughout the summer and during fall camp, that will play a pivotal part in how the USC secondary performs when the season starts.