Plattenburg pushing for starting role in USC’s secondary

If Saturday was a test, it’s safe to say John Plattenburg left Tucson with a passing grade.

Plattenburg was thrown into the fire Saturday night in USC’s 28-26 win over Arizona, and he played so well that he’s receiving consideration to start Saturday when the Trojans host Colorado, according to head coach Steve Sarkisian.

The USC head coach was impressed with Plattenburg’s performance at the back end of USC’s defense, along with the calls that he made.

Plattenburg came to USC as a cornerback but was moved to safety during camp. It’s a position that’s not foreign to him considering he played the position in high school as well.

There’s a glaring difference in the two spots.

"One’s giving the call and one’s just playing off the call so you got to know, really, what you’re doing back there," he said.

But it fits him.

"I like just being able to find the ball and just go after it without even thinking about it," Plattenburg said.

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It’s the cerebral part, however, that’s gotten the coaches attention. As the last line of defense, Plattenburg is responsible for making sure everyone in front of him is lined up properly by making the right calls based on what he sees.

The USC freshman was required to make some calls during his time at Corona Centennial High School and at Lamar (Texas) High School where he finished his prep career as a senior last season.

But it took some getting used to at this level.

"It was just gaining all of the concepts and being able to adjust to different formations and different situations in the game," Plattenburg said. "It really wasn’t that difficult. It was just gaining more confidence over time."

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Whether or not Plattenburg is inserted into the starting lineup, he’s certainly earned more playing time. Regardless of who’s in the defensive backfield, senior leader Gerald Bowman issued a decree to the unit following Wednesday’s practice.

"It’s the second half of the season," Bowman told his position group. "We really need to buckle down. Any type of mistakes are really not acceptable. We have to all hold ourselves accountable as a group.

"(As safeties) we’re the quarterback of the defense and so if we get it wrong than pretty much everybody has it wrong and any little thing can result in a touchdown and that’s what we don’t want."