Q&A with Chris Galippo

USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo is excited to work with the new coaching staff and the opportunity to get the defense back on track in 2010. In this exclusive interview, Galippo discusses spring practice, the middle linebacker competition with Devon Kennard and much more.

Question: How is spring practice going so far?

Galippo: I think it is just night and day from what it was last year. It's just that much more serious, the coaches are fired up to be there and everyone cares a lot. It's fresh; the vocabulary is different as far as schematically and play calls, so it's kind of really new and it's really fun to be out there.

Q: How have the practices been different from when Pete Carroll and the old staff were here?

Galippo: I think guys are just down to the business. I think that the competition factor might have faded away a little bit in years past, and it's just back. The first thing that the coaches did when they got here was they eliminated everyone's starting spot as far as the depth chart goes. Everyone is competing for their job. You know, Matt (Barkley) and Mitch (Mustain) are out there competing, and that brings out the best in everybody. The coaches are going to get a real evaluation of how good each player is.

Q: You look to be in the best shape of your career. How were the offseason workouts with Coach Ausmus?

Chris Galippo has competition at middle linebacker.
Galippo: It was awesome. For me, I have never really lifted or trained this hard. Coach Ausmus did a good job because he really worked with the training room and the health guys, so he was able to take care of my back and still get me really strong. That's the most important thing. There are always going to be those certain lifts that I will never be able to do and he does a good job of compensating for them.

Q: Last year, the linebacker got worn down at the end of the season and received a lot of blame for the defense. What specific areas do you need to improve on as a unit?

Galippo: Just being disciplined football players and putting in a lot of time and effort into studying as a unit, and playing as a unit. Obviously last year was what it was, but the one thing that I took out of it was how much of a learning year it was. It was up and down – we were on top, and we were on the very bottom at times. You really can't ask more if you are trying to get better because there were so many different situations that you could learn from.

Q: The big news lately has been Devon Kennard's move to middle linebacker. As the starter at that position, what was your reaction to the move?

Galippo: Bring it on, I guess. Competition is competition and I am going to make him the best football player that he is, just like he is going make me the best football player that I am, by pushing each other. There is no doubt that it was lacking in years past, especially for me. At times I had gotten kind of comfortable with just being the guy.

Q: Last year was your first chance to get extended playing time. What did you learn from getting all that work in 2009?

Galippo: Just that week in and week out it has to consume your life 100 percent. You really just have to be in it and focused. You can't let outside things distract you and you can't really worry about what's going on at home or what is going on with your girlfriend. You just have to put that on hold, and it has to be all about football and going to school for that six months. That's just what we do.

Q: What has been your impression on Monte Kiffin and the whole defensive staff?

Galippo: Monte Kiffin has coached for more than half of his life and he's 70 years old. He's been everywhere and done everything. He has won Super Bowls and national championships. You couldn't ask for more, as far as just a guy to be around. He's such a tough coach and he isn't letting guys get away with mistakes. It's going to bring out the best in everybody.

Chris Galippo has had a solid start to spring practice. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)

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