USC’s linebacker corps made an impressive debut in the Trojans’ 56-3 victory over San Jose State on Saturday at the Coliseum.
Middle linebacker Chris Galippo and outside linebackers Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan showed there is life after Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Kaluka Maiava and Clay Matthews, all of whom were selected in April’s NFL draft.
“I really don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of drop-off,” Galippo said after leading the Trojans with nine tackles.
Galippo, a third-year sophomore, had three tackles for losses and was also credited with a forced fumble.
Smith, a junior, had five tackles and broke up a pass. Morgan, also a junior, made three tackles.
The Trojans also got a boost from freshman Jarvis Jones, who had five tackles, including one for a loss.
Quarterback Matt Barkley was the only true freshman to start Saturday, but Jones was among four others who also played.
Defensive end Devon Kennard made five tackles, including 1.5 for losses. Safety T.J. McDonald, who sat out most of training camp because of a torn ankle ligament, made three tackles.
Receiver De’Von Flournoy played but did not have a reception.
At least some of the USC defensive players were surprised when San Jose State stuck to its plan to rotate quarterbacks Kyle Reed and Jordan La Secla after Reed, the starter, used a mix of passing, option plays and scrambling to help his team to a 3-0 lead.
“I don’t know why they took him out,” Galippo said. “I think they were doing all right when he was in there.”
The less-mobile La Secla took over late in the first quarter and was sacked twice as USC took a 28-3 lead.
The two split time again in the second half and, for the game, combined to complete 14 of 27 passes for 109 yards.
USC held San Jose State’s running game to nine yards in 31 carries and, after a first-quarter field goal, pitched a shutout the rest of the game.
With the Spartans generating 121 yards of offense, USC has held opponents under the 200-yard mark in seven of the last nine games dating to last season.
Cornerback Josh Pinkard -- switching positions after Shareece Wright was declared academically ineligible -- broke up two passes and made four tackles.
“He is a special athlete and has such a knack to cover people,” USC Coach Pete Carroll said. “In our system, he is a more productive corner than a safety.”
USC tailback Curtis McNeal reinjured his shoulder and receiver Robbie Boyer suffered a broken bone in his hand.