Pelon was a junior college recruit who nearly committed to Steve Sarkisian and his staff at Washington. When most of the staff moved over to USC, Pelon’s interest’s followed. The defensive lineman committed soon after Sark made the move and he hasn’t looked back since. In his first year with the Trojans, Pelon has found himself in the middle of the defensive line rotation and he’s just trying to pull his part.
“I feel like playing time, it doesn’t really matter to me,” Pelon said. “I’m just here to do my job. As the season keeps going on, I’m just trying to keep getting better. Understanding the playbook, understanding what I’m doing and know why I’m doing it.”
Pelon was going to have to learn a new defensive scheme at USC no matter who the coach was going to be and he feels like he’s grasped Justin Wilcox’s playbook very well. In fact, it’s made the transition even easier for him.
“Definitely feel comfortable,” Pelon said. “It’s very understandable. It’s very put down so where you understand the defense. You’re not doing a lot of thinking, you’re just playing.”
As a junior college recruit, you go through a long period of moving from place to place. You move from high school to junior college, and then junior college to a division one school. That’s an array of different coaching styles, play books and schemes. So what’s been different about learning defense at USC compared to other places?
“Nothing necessarily,” Pelon said. “Just understanding the tempo and understanding what’s actually going on. Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing on the field at certain times… I definitely feel comfortable. You have got to be versatile on this defense that we run. The guys that we have and the guys that we recruit, that’s what they bring to the table.”
Similarly to Pelon, USC defensive line coach Chris Wilson is a newcomer this year. Pelon has been impressed with Wilson’s coaching so far and really thinks he’s helped with the defense’s run stopping ability.
“Everything is good,” Pelon said about Wilson. “Everything is great actually. It’s just understanding coaching. Some players just got to understand coaching and that’s what we’re doing. He brings a lot of the run stop to the table that other conferences don’t think the Pac-12 has, the capability to stop the run. That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve been able to do for the past game and we want to continue to keep doing that. He brings everything to the table actually. He just focuses on stopping the run and making them pass the ball.”
Pelon had a chance to watch some film of Arizona State this past week and one thing sticks out to him: the Sun Devils will be the best team USC has faced thus far in the season.
“By far the best team we’ve played thus far,” Pelon said. “I really can’t narrow it down, but overall they’re a pretty good team, a pretty good team.”
Arizona State’s offense is prolific. However, one key player will be missing from that offense, that one player being quarterback Taylor Kelly. Last week, Mike Bercovici, ASU’s backup quarterback, stepped in against UCLA and threw for 488-yards. Not bad for a backup quarterback, but Pelon insists it doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback for the Sun Devils.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Pelon said. “I’m head huntin’.”