Plattenburg stepped up

A year ago, John Plattenburg was making plays on a high school football field in Texas. A year later, and Plattenburg finds himself starting for the USC Trojans on a sun drenched afternoon in Los Angeles.

John Plattenburg is a true freshman who made his first career start against Colorado on Saturday and saw plenty of time on the field throughout the game. He even led the Trojans with eight solo tackles in the game.

“It was pretty good,” Plattenburg said. “Just going over what I went over in the week, just having the eye discipline, being able to do my job, taking care of what I can do myself. Of course I had simple mistakes and there’s always things to improve, but it was a great experience.”

The label of ‘starter’ was placed on Plattenburg this week, but he hasn’t been a stranger to the field in recent games. Even though he’s been getting some solid playing time, there’s still an adjustment from coming off of the bench to starting on the field for the first series of the game.

“It’s a big adjustment,” Plattenburg said. “Of course it’s division one football. It’s a different type of speed, but it’s really just calming yourself down and being able to do what you’re supposed to do out there.”

Starting for the first time in a college game is a big deal to lots of players, especially to those who are true freshmen. It seems like nerves might get in the way, but it didn’t seem like a problem for Plattenburg.

“Not really,” Plattenburg said when asked if he was nervous. “I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course Gerald Bowman and Su’a Cravens were telling me how it was and stuff. Just calming my nerves down and just being able to focus on the things I need to do.”

With the abundance of playing time and the starting nod on his hands, the true freshman was bound to face challenges out on the field. There were no shortcoming of challenges for Plattenburg, but those didn’t come as unexpected. So what was the biggest challenge for him on Saturday?

“Really just being able to deal with the fast paced offense,” Plattenburg said. “Just doing my job consistently. We played today average as a defense. I could have done way better. I did do some things good, some tackles, but I did miss some tackles. I did mix up some coverages so there’s always things to improve and that’s why we got the next week to move on, keep fighting for first place.”

It was Homecoming week in the USC community and the football team decided to spice it up a little for the game on the weekend. The Trojans debuted their new shiny helmets with chrome facemasks on Saturday afternoon and it was a big hit with the fans and the players. The uniforms of the Trojans haven’t deviated from traditional looks in awhile, but the new look was welcomed by Plattenburg and others on a special weekend.

“It was nice,” Plattenburg said. “Of course with the nice shiny helmets and the gloves and stuff like that. It was great to see people like Lynn Swann come back and support us and that just gives us even more drive to do something great as a team… I love the helmets. I love them. I really think, despite our tradition, it’d be nice to have all the time.”

So would Plattenburg like to see even more changes to their uniforms after the success of the helmets?

“Eh, to a certain extent,” Plattenburg said. “We’re not Oregon. You can’t go crazy. Little changes wouldn’t be that bad.”

Marshall Cherrington will be attending USC and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism beginning in January of 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @MWCherrington.


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