Grinch not surprised by defense’s strong performance

At Wednesday’s football practice, the Trojans prepare to head to Salt Lake City for a top-20 matchup.

Caleb Williams is throwing a football. He is wearing a yellow jersey, yellow pants and a cardinal helmet.

The second half of USC’s season begins this Saturday, as the No. 7 Trojans travel to Salt Lake City to take on No. 20 Utah.

The game figures to be the Trojans’ toughest test yet, as Utah was picked by many during the preseason to win the Pac-12. The Utes also boast one of the best home field advantages in the Pac-12, which USC is trying to prepare for by putting its speakers on full volume during this week’s practices. In short, a win this Saturday will take a team effort.

The national narrative around USC is that the team has an elite offense with a subpar defense. However, so far this season, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s defense has played better than expected. The defense leads the nation in sacks, while allowing only 18.67 points per game. But none of this comes as a surprise to Grinch.

“It’s surprising when we don’t get [the quarterback] on the ground,” Grinch said when asked if the sacks have been a surprise.

It has been the USC mantra all year to get to home on the defensive side of the ball, and it has been working.

“It doesn’t take a whole lot of ability to get the guy on the ground,” Grinch said.

To win this weekend, though, the team recognizes that all three phases of the game must be on point. The special teams are headlined by redshirt freshman kicker Denis Lynch, who has gone viral for his pregame outfits this season.

“I liked the way they looked on TV,” Lynch said when asked for his inspiration.

Regardless of whether the outfits are helping Lynch’s kicking game, Lynch has still had a successful season so far, making 80% of his kicks and remaining perfect on PATs.

USC’s scoring flurry has caught national attention as the Trojans are putting up north of 40 points per game. Despite this success on the field, sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams doesn’t think the offense has played its best yet.

“I played alright,” Williams said of his performance against Washington State. “I felt like I can play a lot better. I don’t feel like I’ve unlocked everything that I can do.”

Williams also spoke on the way that defenses have been attacking him and the USC offense this year.

“There have been a bunch of varied looks,” Williams said. “Sometimes they’ve been showing things that we didn’t go over or see on film.”

Against an elite Utah secondary, Williams and Co will have to be ready for the varied looks that will surely be thrown at them.

The Trojans, though, are confident heading into Saturday’s showdown. Williams summed up the team’s mentality best when asked what he wants his legacy to be at USC.

“I want to win,” Williams said.

There is no better opportunity to do just that than on the road against Utah this week.