Reload, not rebuild, for USC defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

LOS ANGELES -- A no-name defense at USC? Not possible.

But that's exactly what middle linebacker Chris Whatshisname, er, Galippo believes the Trojans are this year.

"We were walking through the Trojan huddle [before the game] and people were like, 'Who are you? Who are you?'" he said. "We're starters! But no one really knows. Taylor [Mays] has a little bit of that, but for the first time in a while the front seven doesn't have a guy who is like the guy."

At least for now. If the Trojans defense keeps holding opponents to just 121 total yards as it did in a 56-3 victory over San Jose State, Mays won't be the only one with his name in lights.

The Spartans had 67 yards in the first quarter, but after that Galippo and company shut things down, giving up just nine yard rushing, forcing two fumbles and recording five sacks and 16 tackles for a loss. Galippo led the way with nine tackles, including three for a loss.

That's not the sort of effort that keeps a guy anonymous for long.

Coach Pete Carroll laughed when asked how the defense played, pointing at the stats. The Trojans have now held opponents to less than 200 yards of total offense in seven of their last nine games.

Said coordinator Rocky Seto, who was promoted from secondary coach after Nick Holt bolted for Washington, "The defense looked really fast. I was really pleased with the way they performed today."

The Trojans only welcomed back three starters from 2008's dominant crew, only one of whom -- nose tackle Christian Tupou -- played on the front seven.

With the loss of four linebackers -- both Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews were hybrid linebacker/ends -- Seto said the Trojans are more "defensive-line focused." He said the Trojans, more of a 3-4 look last year, are now look more like a true 4-3.

But that doesn't necessarily mean there will be a big step back.

"I don't think there is going to be much drop-off," Galippo said.

How does Galippo describe the new-look Trojans?

"Fast, smart and disciplined," he said. "Obviously young. But I really don't think we have a big ego."

Mays, the senior and two-time All-American, didn't think the performance was perfect, but he was already thinking ahead to the visit to Ohio State on Saturday.

"We didn't tackle well," Mays said. "A big quarterback like Terrelle Pryor can breaks some tackles."