Sarao, 'the chemistry is good right now'

Now a redshirt sophomore, Anthony Sarao is happy to leave the 2012 season behind as the Trojans begin to learn a new defense and get back on the field for offseason workouts.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Anthony Sarao was happy to get back to his native New Jersey following USC's 7-6 season and disappointing loss to Georgia Tech at the Sun Bowl.

But he's even happier to be back on the field with his teammates at Troy.

The redshirt sophomore says there is a new energy surrounding the Trojans as they take the field for offseason players-only throwing sessions and much of it has to do with their new defensive coordinator, Clancy Pendergast.

"I like this new defense and the aggressiveness," the linebacker said after Tuesday afternoon's workout. "Everybody on the [defense] already likes it. You can see how much fun we're having out there."

Indeed, I could. Players showed an enthusiasm that was rarely -- if ever -- seen during last season's practices as they went through 7-on-7, 11-on-11, and one-on-one drills Tuesday.

Pendergast met with his new defensive players before National Signing Day for an introductory session and then again a week before offseason sessions started to begin teaching the Trojans their new scheme. Sarao says they'll be running a 5-2 defense, which also can be taken for a 3-4.

"We are just trying to get everything down as fast as possible because we are going to start all over," he said. "We are going to start from the beginning again."

Everybody loves it," Sarao continued. "The chemistry on the team right now is really good."

Sarao, who started the first game of the 2012 season with starter Lamar Dawson unavailable, says he'll continue to work on the "little things" during winter workouts and continue into spring practices. He expects to continue to work as a weakside linebacker in the Trojans' new defense.

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