Tuesday’s practice centers around O line

first_imgAt Tuesday’s practice, USC coaches were quick to address the offensive line, one of the worrisome aspects of the game against Arkansas State that was otherwise dominated by the Trojans.“We went back, and we re-emphasized everyone doing his job,” said Bob Connelly, offensive line coach, after practice. “We know what we’re doing. We know our assignments. Today, we talked about going out there and executing your job.”Overall, the line gave up five sacks, but also dominantly blocked runs, allowing for big holes for Tre Madden, who ran for 106 yards, and the three freshmen running backs. Connelly, however, was not satisfied with the performance.“It wasn’t good enough,” Connelly said. “I liked the effort. I liked the attitude that we played with, but the assignment football was not good enough, and we did not do a good enough job at protecting the passing unit as an offense.”Last season’s big concern, starting three freshmen on the offensive line, was supposed to become a strength for the team in Connelly’s first season at USC. Since the freshmen — now sophomores Toa Lobendahn, Viane Talamaivao and Damien Mama — showed flashes of excellence their first year, they are projected to be truly dominant this year. The offensive line, led by Max Tuerk, a preseason         All-American, should also benefit from the added stability of Chad Wheeler, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, at left tackle.“No matter how hard they practice all through fall camp, it is impossible to simulate true game speed and game physicality,” said George Tew, assistant offensive line coach for USC last season. “This is true across all levels. So, no matter how much this unit played together last season, it’s been a good eight months since they’ve played against full-go, game-speed opponents, and it’s going to take a few games of getting hit in the mouth to get back up to that speed.”The Trojans’ offense converted only three of 10 third downs, and the line seemed confused by Arkansas State’s stunts and twists for most of the first half. Arkansas State proved to be a good test for the Trojans. Even though their front seven were physically overmatched, they accounted for it by bringing heavy pressure and blitzing from all over the field, with a large amount of success.“The only way in this game that you get better is by playing,” said head coach Steve Sarkisian after the game Saturday. “You have to make mistakes and realize what the coach has been talking about. Surely we got better on the front because guys got experience, and it will make us a better team in the long haul.”Ten offensive linemen, nine defensive linemen and 10 linebackers played in the opener, according to Sarkisian. The offensive line was able to use a game against an unranked opponent to gel as a unit and become more adept at picking up blitzes without putting the win in jeopardy. Connelly will need to use Saturday’s game and next week’s against Idaho to get his line where it needs to be once conference play begins.“The biggest thing is just settling down,” Connelly said. “Again, there are young guys. There are some true freshmen that were in there playing for the first time in the Coliseum in front of 85,000 people. It’s a learning experience.”If the offensive line can get to the level where they are protecting Kessler as well as busting open holes for Madden and the backs, then there might not be anything else holding the Trojans back from really taking off this season.In other practice news, Adoree’ Jackson, who left last week’s game because of a strained abdominal muscle, showcased his usual quickness and athleticism. He participated in everything except team drills — including scout-team work, one-on-ones and punt returning — and is expected to play against Idaho this Saturday. Additionally, tailback Justin Davis practiced fully for the first time since suffering a rib injury Aug. 19 and is also on course to make his 2015 debut Saturday.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *