Notre Dame Opponent Preview: USC Trojans Defense


November 17, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) is stopped by USC Trojans safety T.J. McDonald (7) in the first half of the game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Southern California Trojans

November 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm


Last Meeting: USC 31-Notre Dame 17

Line: Notre Dame (-6.5)

The USC Trojans Defense is allowing 24.8 points per game and 20.8 points per game at home. The Trojans are allowing 150.45 yards on the ground to opponents. Also, Southern California allows 241.7 yards through the air. This total adds up to 392.2, which ranks the Trojans 59th in the country. When USC plays an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25, they are allowing 40.3 points per game. Despite the bad publicity that USC gets about its defense or lack there of, they actually have a few playmakers to keep an eye on Saturday. These gentlemen could be the difference in the game:

T.J. McDonald, S, Senior

The 6’3” 205 lbs Senior Safety from Fresno, California decided to return to Southern California for his Senior season to lead the Trojan Defense and he has definitely done that. According to, T.J. McDonald would be selected in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. Regardless of position in the NFL Draft, McDonald is one of the top Safeties in the nation. He has recorded 87 tackles this season (46 solo and 41 assisted). McDonald has also recorded 2 interceptions this season. He has made 6 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 1 sack this season. McDonald is a solid safety that will clean up play on the back end. He is big and physical Safety who can stop the run and is good in coverage.

Nickell Robey, CB, Junior

Robey is another USC Defensive Back that is likely to go high in the NFL Draft. projects Robey to be selected in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. Robey is an excellent cover Cornerback who can make big plays. For example, against Andrew Luck and Stanford last year, he returned an interception for a touchdown. This year, Robey intercepted a pass against Utah and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown. This season, Robey has recorded 45 tackles. Robey is a Cornerback that should be schemed around.

Hayes Pollard, LB, Sophomore

Pollard checks in at 6’1” 235. He is from Inglewood, California. Despite being slightly undersized at the Linebacker position, Pollard makes plenty of tackles. He has recorded 78 tackles so far this season (48 solo, 30 assisted). He has also tallied 6.5 tackles for loss and 1 interception return for a touchdown. Basically, Pollard is an oversized Safety playing an Outside Linebacker position. This means two things. One, he is probably not physical enough to take on blockers in many run formations. Two, he is athletic enough to make negative plays such as tackles for loss and interceptions.

Notre Dame should be able to move the ball effectively if they stay physical. The Fighting Irish should run the ball in power formations and challenge the Trojans to play their style. It seems like Notre Dame will be very successful in doing that.

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