March 19, 2007

Spring Ball Preview: Linebackers

The Trojans lose only one starter on defense heading into 2007. Ironically, even though that starter was linebacker Dallas Sartz, USC still has the top group of backers in the country.

The trio of Brian Cushing, Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga are all Butkus Award candidates and will lead the Trojan defense this season.

Last year Rivers and Maualuga were No.1 and No. 2 on the team in tackles, with Cushing coming in at No. 6. Now that the team appears to be using more of their traditional 4-3 defense it allows Cushing to move back to strongside linebacker. With this powerful group on the field at the same time, they could finish 1-2-3 in tackles.

Rivers is the senior of the group and a playmaker on the weakside. He was an All-Pac-10 first team selection with a couple of sacks, a fumble recovery, three forced fumbles and two pass deflections.

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