The USC Trojans are kicking off their season against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and Chris Galippo's presence could be the key to improved defensive performance.
The USC Trojans need to step it up defensively, but they need to cover up the middle of the field with solid linebacking play. Fifth year senior middle linebacker Chris Galippo is the guy USC is counting on, but he's struggled to stay healthy during fall camp. Galippo's backup is the talented redshirt freshman Lamar Dawson (and he has proven his worth through fall camp), but he's the polar opposite of Galippo in terms of experience, and the Tampa 2 defense is tough to deal with on the fly.
Monte Kiffin's pass defense will greatly suffer without a solid middle linebacking presence back there, and Galippo and Devon Kennard (moved back to defensive end) are the only two players with any real experience playing the position. Neither was great last season (and USC was anything BUT great guarding the pass), but Galippo with a year under his belt should be better acclimated in his role.
Which is why Galippo's announcement that he's ready for action is so important--USC needs him back there to keep that defense firm against the best pass attacks in the Pac-12, and Minnesota should provide the perfect test for his prowess in those schemes. The Trojans need defensive improvement soon, and Galippo/Dawson will be the central focus of their efforts.