Pendergast’s “relentless” defense could be a quick fix

first_imgAfter arguably the worst performance ever by a team ranked No. 1 in the preseason, there were bound to be major changes to the program after USC’s shockingly mediocre 2012 season.Many of the Trojan faithful were calling for USC head coach Lane Kiffin to be fired after overseeing a campaign that yielded the most losses by a preseason No. 1 in NCAA history, but had to settle for the resignation of his father Monte.The hiring of new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast away from California didn’t exactly quell the concerns of USC fans, given the fact that the Golden Bears’ defense actually gave up more points per game (33.1) than the Trojans (24.3) last year.But look further into the numbers and study the personnel on USC’s roster and there’s reason to believe that Pendergast’s 5-2 scheme might slow the roll of spread offenses currently in wide usage across the Pac-12.For starters, California allowed the fewest yards per game in the conference under Pendergast in both 2010 and 2011.“When I looked at all the candidates and saw what [Pendergast] did in a very short time, I thought that was a very big part of the hire,” Kiffin said. “We obviously didn’t want something that took years to develop; we wanted something that would work now.”And even though the Bears regressed in their third year under Pendergast, there were flashes of greatness that suggested that his scheme could trigger major headaches for opponents, even when facing more talented offenses. The same UCLA squad that put up 38 points on USC last year turned the ball over six times against the Bears in a 43-17 rout.”We want to be a turnover-oriented defense,” Pendergast said. “That’s something we harp on every day, something we’re trying to create a lot of.”USC fans will be happy to hear Pendergast has already shown he can quickly install a defense that can stop the vaunted attack of Oregon.In 2010, Pendergast’s first year on the job in the Bay Area, California held the Ducks to 15 points, and only one offensive touchdown, in a narrow 2-point loss. That’s one of only three times in the past three years the Ducks have been held to less than 27 points.The other two teams that pulled off the feat? Last year’s Rose Bowl champions (Stanford) and 2010’s BCS champions (Auburn).The Trojans are confident that they can become a defense with a similar pedigree this year.“I feel like we have the personnel that if we can give tenacity and get after the ball, it doesn’t matter what offense we play,” redshirt senior Devon Kennard, who now plays as an outside linebacker after playing at defensive end before Pendergast’s arrival, said. “I think one of the best things about this [scheme] is that it reignited every player on the defense. It puts everyone in position to make plays.”Pendergast’s scheme aims to rack up turnovers by incorporating a hefty amount of blitzing from linebackers combined with tight man coverage in the secondary, as opposed to the more conservative, predominantly zone-coverage system previously incorporated by the elder Kiffin.“[Pendergast] is a lot more aggressive [as a] playcaller, and we just try to dictate what the offense can do to us,” junior linebacker Lamar Dawson said. “When we go man coverage, that means the ball is coming out fast, because we’re putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so that gives us more opportunities for interceptions.”Players on USC’s offense quickly took notice of the hectic pace Pendergast has instilled in the defense.“We see them every day in practice. They’ve been relentless,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Max Wittek said. “They’ve been like that all summer and even in the spring, so that was good to see.”Kiffin and Pendergast have been reluctant to name starters, insisting that all 11 spots on defense are up for grabs.Several previously unheralded players, such as redshirt sophomore linebacker Anthony Sarao and senior safety Demetrius Wright, have unexpectedly shined and made these decisions tougher for the coaching staff.“It’s been a great transition,” redshirt junior linebacker Hayes Pullard said. “They’ve simplified this defense for us guys to go out there and play fast and play to the best of our ability.”If Pendergast’s 5-2 system is indeed the catalyst that brings out the talent littered across USC’s defense, it might not make much of a difference which of USC’s many 4- and 5-star recruits claim the starting gigs.For the first time since Kiffin took over at Troy, USC’s defense might be more of a sure thing than its offense. And Trojan fans who witnessed last season know that this is not necessarily a bad thing.Follow Will Laws on Twitter @WillLawslast_img read more

British Open field 2019: Who is playing? Complete lineup, pairings and more

first_imgMORE: Who will win the British Open? Betting favorites and sleeper picksOpen Championship tee times, pairings for Round 2All times are Eastern. Royal Portrush is located five time zones ahead of the East Coast.Friday, Round 2Round 1Round 2Group1:35 a.m.6:36 a.m.Darren Clarke, James Sugrue, Charley Hoffman1:46 a.m.6:47 a.m.Emiliano Grillo, Sung Kang, Thomas Thurloway1:57 a.m.6:58 a.m.Andy Sullivan, C. Bezuidenhout, Alex Levy2:08 a.m.7:09 a.m.Chan Kim, Zander Lombard, Brandon Wu (a)2:19 a.m.7:20 a.m.Richard Sterne, Romain Langasque, Mattias Schmid (a)2:30 a.m.7:31 a.m.Padraig Harrington, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andrew Putnam2:41 a.m.7:42 a.m.Bubba Watson, Eddie Pepperell, Rafa Cabrera Bello2:52 a.m.7:53 a.m.Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Branden Grace3:03 a.m.8:04 a.m.Alex Noren, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Sam Locke3:14 a.m.8:15 a.m.Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, C.T. Pan3:25 a.m.8:26 a.m.Ryan Palmer, Andrea Pavan, Dylan Frittelli3:36 a.m.8:37 a.m.Kyle Stanley, Bob MacIntyre, Andrew Johnston3:47 a.m.8:48 a.m.Mikko Korhonen, Oliver Wilson, Curtis Knipes (a)4:03 a.m.9:04 a.m.Ian Poulter, Sungjae Im, Kiradech Aphibarnrat4:14 a.m.9:15 a.m.Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele, Graeme McDowell4:25 a.m.9:26 a.m.Haotong Li, Russell Knox, Bernd Wiesberger4:36 a.m.9:37 a.m.Jason Kokrak, Connor Syme, Austin Connelly4:47 a.m.9:48 a.m.Zach Johnson, David Duval, Corey Conners4:58 a.m.9:59 a.m.Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott5:09 a.m.10:10 a.m.Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey5:20 a.m.10:21 a.m.Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Hideki Matsuyama5:31 a.m.10:32 a.m.Jim Furyk, Si Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker5:42 a.m.10:43 a.m.Luke List, Alexander Bjork , Paul Waring5:53 a.m.10:54 a.m.Shugo Imahira, Nate Lashley, Benjamin Hebert5:04 a.m.11:05 a.m.Mikumu Horikawa, Callum Shinkwin, Garrick Porteous5:15 a.m.11:16 a.m.Prom Messawat, Matthew Baldwin, Jack Senior5:46 a.m.1:35 a.m.Tom Lehman, Joaquin Niemann, M.A. Jimenez5:58 a.m.1:46 a.m.Byeong Hun An, Jorge Campillo, Chris Wood7:09 a.m.2:08 a.m.Joel Dahmen, Adri Arnaus, Dimitrios Papadatos7:20 a.m.2:19 a.m.Erik van Rooyen, Kurt Kitayama, Jake McLeod7:31 a.m.2:30 a.m.Ryan Fox, Shaun Norris, Dongkyu Jang7:42 a.m.2:41 a.m.Tyrrell Hatton, Keith Mitchell, Thomas Pieters7:53 a.m.2:52 a.m.Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen8:04 a.m.3:03 a.m.Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Shubhankar Sharma8:15 a.m.3:14 a.m.Billy Horschel, J. Janewattananond, Aaron Wise8:26 a.m.3:25 a.m.Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Danny Willett8:37 a.m.3:36 a.m.Cameron Smith, Adam Hadwin, David Lipsky8:48 a.m.3:47 a.m.Paul Lawrie, Chez Reavie, Justin Harding9:04 a.m.4:03 a.m.Takumi Kanaya (a), Tom Lewis, Brandon Stone9:15 a.m.4:14 a.m.Lucas Glover, Joost Luiten, Nino Bertasio9:26 a.m.4:25 a.m.Ernie Els, J.B. Holmes, Abraham Ancer9:37 a.m.4:36 a.m.Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood, Brian Harman9:48 a.m.4:47 a.m.Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Lucas Bjerregaard9:49 a.m.4:58 a.m.Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley10:10 a.m.5:09 a.m.Tiger Woods, Matthew Wallace, Patrick Reed10:21 a.m.5:20 a.m.Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar10:32 a.m.5:31 a.m.Kevin Streelman, Doc Redman, Robert Rock10:43 a.m.5:42 a.m.Adrian Otaegui, Yuta Ikeda, Isidro Benitez10:54 a.m.5:53 a.m.Patton Kizziren, Sang Hyun Park, Yuki Inamori11:05 a.m.5:04 a.m.Yoshinori Fujimoto, Doyeob Mun, Andrew Wilson11:16 a.m.5:15 a..m.Gunn Charoenkul, Yosuke Asaji, Ashton Turner Woods, who said he has been waking up at 1 a.m. ET for several days to acclimate himself to the time difference in Northern Ireland, has been grouped with fellow American Patrick Reed and Englishman Matt Wallace for the first two rounds of the British Open. Their tee times are below.RoundTimePairing110:10 a.m. ETPatrick Reed, Matt Wallace25:09 a.m. ETPatrick Reed, Matt Wallace3TBD 4TBD Francesco Molinari is the defending British Open champion and finished fifth at the Masters but has just a lone win on the PGA Tour this year. He would become the first golfer to hoist the Claret Jug in consecutive years since Padraig Harrington did so in 2008.Brooks Koepka, who always brings his best game at majors, has yet to add a British Open victory to his resume despite winning four of the last five majors he has played in. Should Koepka cross the British Open win off his to-do list, he would become just the fourth golfer to ever finish in the top 10 of every major in the same calendar year that they won the Claret Jug.MORE: Watch the British Open live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)British Open field: Who is playing in 2019?As one might expect at a major tournament, the field is stacked. All 33 of the top golfers in the World Golf Rankings will be competing, including the likes of Koepka, McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Nineteen of the top-20 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings will also be teeing off at Royal Portrush, including Matt Kuchar and Xander Schauffele. 2017 champion Jordan Spieth and 2016 winner Henrik Stenson are also in the field.Is Tiger Woods playing in the British Open 2019?Tiger Woods is indeed back in action. This is his first tournament since he tied for 21st in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach one month ago. The last time Woods skipped all tournaments between majors, it didn’t turn out too well for the three-time British Open champ. After taking a complete break from competition between winning his fifth Masters and the PGA Championship, Woods failed to make the cut. It may only be July, but the PGA Tour’s fourth and final major has already arrived with the 2019 British Open.For just the second time in the history of the British Open, the tournament will be played outside of England and Scotland, returning to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951. “Local” favorite Rory McIlroy owns the course record of 61, a score he totaled when he was just 16 years old.last_img read more