USC Football

USC freshmen defenders setting high standards

November 7, 2018
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USC's had its share of issues this season with four tough losses, a significant number of injuries and some uncertainty with the future of the coaching staff, but the Trojans have played a large number of freshmen this season and that bodes well for the future of the program.

What also bodes well for the USC football program is several young players are hoping to set a work-ethic standard among their teammates. 

Three weeks ago Johnny Nansen told me how excited he is about the young talent the Trojans have on defense and how bright the future is for the Trojans.

Nansen said he was blown away with how much time DE Elijah Winston, LB Palaie Gaoteote, DB Talanoa Hufanga and OLB Kana'i Mauga were spending in the film room together....on their own time.

After practice Wednesday Mauga told us how often they meet and how they got started with their routine.

"We meet our place in the Village most of the time," he said. "The older guys on the team explained the importance of studying film and we've realized more and more how valuable it was during Fall Camp. We realized how much we could help each other when we didn't understand something. It's really helped to practice and prepare for the games better."

Although Mauga couldn't think off hand how much time they spend breaking down film, he did say it's a considerable amount.

"We put a lot of time into watching film," said Mauga. "We take it very seriously."

LB Palaie Gaoteote said they often get together early in the morning before class.

"Coach Nansen preaches we're one play away from starting and there can't be a huge fall off between us and those guys," Gaoteote said. "There can't be a big fall off with me and Cam (Smith). I either need to emulate him or study what he's doing."

All four of the guys were stars on their teams in high school and the players the younger teammates looked up to, but those roles changed when they arrived at USC.

"Being the young guy is somewhat new to us, because we haven't been a young guy on the team for a while," said Gaoteote. "We're now looking for encouragement and if we're not getting it, we know we can get it from each other. I know I can it from those guys and they'll always have my back. He may know something I don't and being able to work together will not only help now, it will help us in the future."

The area Gaoteote has seen most improvement since arriving at USC is the game's slowed down.

'I'm able to analyze what I'm seeing faster, which slows the plays down," he said. "I'm able to see things and analyze them before the play even starts. I can get pre-snap reads and I'm able to communicate much better. All of that slows the game down. All of those film sessions at 7am are always helping us and that's how we get better aas a defense.

TrojanInsider.com spoke with DE Elijah Winston after practice Wednesday. He detailed what he's getting from the film sessions and where he's seen the most improvement since the Fall. Watch the video below.

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USC freshmen defenders setting high standards

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