Junior outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu helped the Trojan defense turn things around against Utah State.
“I know we had a statement to make,” Nwosu said. “The Alabama game, that wasn’t us, that’s not the way we prepared. So we knew in that game we had to come out, we had to really focus up, and have everybody come together. I think it overall showed.”
Nwosu accounted for four tackles in the game and more importantly he batted down two Aggie passes at the line of scrimmage. As a team the Trojans defensed seven total passes, and that was by design.
“Yeah. Especially with this quarterback being so short, we knew getting our hands up was going to be a big key,” Nwosu said. “Clancy [Pendergast] continued to press us, Coach Helton continued to press us, ‘Get your hands up on quick passes,’ because you know in college most quarterbacks run quick sets and passes. Getting your hands up was a big emphasis.”
Against Utah State Nwosu tied Cameron Smith with 64 totals plays, the most of the Trojan defense. While this team has more depth on defense than in the past, Pendergast’s system keeps the starters in the game the majority of the time.
“I’m cool with it. It’s my first year finally getting to show what I can do,” he said. “The more opportunities for me the better.”
Outside linebacker is actually a new position for Nwosu, but he feels comfortable in his role.
“I feel good. It’s my first year playing this position so practicing it, getting the calls in, I feel good. The more reps the better.”
His position is different but so is the entire defense with Pendergast at the helm.
“Coach Clancy, he’s telling us to build something special with the culture this defense has, swarming to the ball, and being physical. He really preaches that,” Nwosu said. “He tells us on the next level it’s no joke so you’ve got to learn it now. If you don’t learn it now you’ll never get it.
“I like hitting and being physical so that’s my type of game.”
Stopping Utah State is one thing, trying to limit the production of Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey is another.
“Yeah he’s a great athlete, all the credit to him, all the credit to the Stanford team coaches. He’s a good athlete so we really have to contain him and get after him.”
If the Trojans do slow down McCaffrey, it will be in large part to the play of Nwosu and his partner on the other side of the line, Porter Gustin.
“Me and Porter, we’re always talking to each other giving each other little hints and tips to help each other out, get better, and get sacks,” he said. “Also just making switches when we need to.So me and him have got a great communication going on.”
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates on the Trojans as they prepare to take on the Stanford Cardinal.