Alex Grinch has had a tumultuous tenure as the defensive coordinator for USC. Across his first 22 games, spanning from the 2022 season to the present 2023 season, Grinch has experienced his fair share of disappointments. While he was given another season to prove himself in 2023, things have not gone according to plan, leaving Grinch without much leverage or time to turn things around.
His future with USC, especially as the school prepares to move to the Big Ten in 2024, is uncertain. The walls seem to be closing in on Grinch, and his worst moments as defensive coordinator highlight the challenges he has faced. Let’s take a closer look at these moments, ranking them in order of significance.
1. USC vs. Colorado (2023): In this game, USC had a significant lead, but the Buffs managed to score 27 points in the second half. Although the Trojans ultimately won the game, the second-half collapse was a major cause for concern.
2. USC vs. Arizona (2023): On paper, this game looks terrible for Grinch. USC barely scraped by with a win and allowed 41 points to Arizona’s backup quarterback, Noah Fifita. However, it’s worth noting that Fifita has been performing exceptionally well and appears to be a promising talent.
3. USC vs. Arizona (2022): While USC secured a victory in this game, it was a close call. The defense allowed a staggering 543 yards to Arizona, which raised doubts about their ability to perform against strong opponents.
4. USC vs. Utah, Regular Season (2022): The USC-Utah rivalry has seen its fair share of disappointments for the Trojans, and this game was no exception. USC gave up 562 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, with Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid proving to be a significant threat.
5. 2022 Pac-12 Title Game vs. Utah: This game could have ranked higher, but it’s challenging to prioritize given the circumstances. USC allowed 533 yards and 23 fourth-quarter points to Utah. However, the team was also dealing with the heartbreaking injury to Caleb Williams, which undoubtedly affected their performance.
6. USC vs. Cal (2022): Despite having a lackluster season, Cal managed to put up 469 yards against USC. Quarterback Jack Plummer threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, exposing weaknesses in USC’s defense.
7. Cotton Bowl vs. Tulane (2023): Tulane’s offense had been strong throughout the season, but USC’s inability to contain them was concerning. The Trojans gave up 46 points in the last three quarters, including a last-second touchdown that cost them the game.
8. USC vs. Utah (2023): This game stands out not because of recency bias, but because of the performance of Utah’s backup quarterback, Bryson Barnes. Despite lacking their starting quarterback, Utah managed to amass 482 yards against USC, showcasing the team’s defensive struggles. The loss prompted fans to call for Grinch’s firing, and it feels like a significant setback for his USC career.
While Alex Grinch’s tenure as USC’s defensive coordinator is not officially over, these moments exemplify the challenges he has faced. With time running out, Grinch must find a way to convince Lincoln Riley, the USC fan base, and even himself that he deserves to hold the position in 2024. The original story was originally published on Trojans Wire.
Alex Martin is your guide to the global phenomenon of football. With a focus on international leagues and tournaments, he provides match commentary, player interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories from the world of football.