January 6, 2009

Carroll may look to his staff for DC

In more ways than one, the USC football team is in a period of transition after taking care of Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

The teeth of USC's dominant defense won't ever suit up for the Trojans again, with Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Kevin Ellison, Fili Moala, Kyle Moore, Cary Harris, Kaluka Maiava, Josh Pinkard and Clay Matthews will all be moving because of graduation. Taylor Mays could leave for the NFL Draft.

Patrick Turner will be gone, and Mark Sanchez's future is unclear.

While the roster will be in flux, the coaching staff will have a different look too.

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will not be back on the Trojan sidelines, as he's headed to Pac-10 rival Washington. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt won't be there either. He'll be off to Washington to be Sarkisian's defensive coordinator.

With all that transition, Pete Carroll might look to simply move up the next in line to fill Holt's role, something he did when he named receivers coach and passing game coordinator John Morton Sarkisian's replacement.

"I'm always in tune with continuity first. I'm not looking for a bunch of big changes," Carroll said at the time. "I like that we have great background and history with our style. It's been very successful for us."

And Morton seems to be just fine with that.

He said he wasn't planning on shaking things up after getting the promotion.

"There's a certain blueprint and philosophy they've had here for years, and they've been successful doing it. I've learned it. There's no reason to change anything," Morton said. "My philosophy is to make sure the quarterback gets into rhythm. You always want to establish the run game and have a well-balanced attack.

"We'd do what we've been doing here for years. It's worked. There's no reason to change it."'

It'd be logical to think Carroll and the Trojan program could take the same approach in filling the defensive coordinator position.

Clearly, the next person in line on the Trojan staff is secondary coach and assistant head coach for defense Rocky Seto.

Seto seriously considered joining Sarkisian at Washington as the Huskies' defensive coordinator before turning the job down.

At the time, he said he'd embrace the challenge of being a coordinator.

"That's something that's intriguing to me. I think (I'd make a good coordinator). I think I could teach. I have the ability to bring people together and organize it," Seto said. "There's more to it than the X's and O's. You have to be able to lead grown men, grown coaches, so they'll be able to lead the players."

At the peak of the recruiting season, it's important for Carroll to fill the position in a timely manner.

Before USC hosted a number of top recruits for an official visit weekend, Carroll announced Morton's hire.

The timing, it turns out, wasn't coincidental.

"There is some interest in that. Guys want to know what's going on," Carroll said. "I don't blame them for that. I don't have all the answers for them yet. At least we have that piece in place."

Now with National Signing Day looming on Feb. 4, there's pressure for Carroll and the Trojan staff to put the next piece in place.

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