Practice Report: Lincoln Riley Era Begins With USC's First Day of Spring Camp
There was no shortage of sun for USC's first day of spring camp. Sweat dripped from both players and coaches as the Lincoln Riley era officially began on Howard Jones Field Tuesday.
"Definitely the hottest first spring practice of my life, for sure," head coach Lincoln Riley said following practice. "But it was amazing, it was. The guys were great. They flew around. Energy was really good; excitement."
Riley deemed the Trojans' first practice a success from an energy standpoint, but noted that there is a long way to go in order to build a championship culture.
"Now, we've got a ton of work to do," the head coach said. "A lot to clean up, but I like the energy. I like the way we're flying around. I like the way the team is starting to come together."
Things to note:
- USC is poised to have some fierce competition at the wide receiver position with the likes of Mario Williams, Terrell Bynum, Brenden Rice, Gary Bryant Jr., and more. Riley detailed his plans for the position group: "A ton can get involved. A ton. I mean, we play, you know, bare minimum, we're gonna play eight receivers a game … I like what I saw at the receiver position, I think we're going to have some really good battles."
- Riley noted that it's "not ideal" to have just two healthy scholarship quarterbacks at the moment. He also added that there is still work to do on USC's roster prior to the Trojans' season opener. "There's going to be double-digit additions. I mean, there's no question about it," Riley said.
- Inside wide receivers coach Dave Nichol has taken a leave of absence due to a "private medical matter." Offensive analyst Luke Huard is currently serving on an interim basis in Nichol's place. Riley said that there is hope Nichol will eventually return, but it's a tough situation at the moment. "So I just ask our Trojan family for their prayers," Riley added.
- Riley listed edge rusher Korey Foreman and offensive lineman Bobby Haskins as "limited" currently. "We expect that to change here as spring goes on," Riley shared. "We certainly expect them to participate in a full manner before the spring is over."
- Defensive lineman Brandon Pili participated in his first practice since tearing his Achilles during USC's spring camp in 2021.
Alums in attendance:
- Mark Sanchez
- Ronnie Lott
- Lott gave a motivational speech to the team following their first practice
- Riki Ellison
— USC Football (@USC_FB) March 23, 2022
A select group of offensive players and coaches spoke to the media following USC's first spring camp practice. Here are the top quotes from the day:
Sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams:
On his ability to become a leader in the locker room
"I've done it before. I stepped in at Oklahoma and even though I wasn't the starter then, I still stepped in and tried to lead, and tried to find ways to lead. And now I have a bigger responsibility. And I'm all fine with taking that responsibility, and leading these guys to where we want to go."
On handling potential hype and expectations that come with the quarterback role
"Don't worry about it. Focus on the guys here. Focus on leading these guys. Those guys will get me to there. And I'm gonna help those guys to get to our main goals, which is national championships, and … going 1-0 every week. That is my main goal. I don't really focus on my own goals. Obviously, I mean, who wouldn't want to have a Heisman? I mean, who wouldn't? It's one of my goals, but not really the goal of the team. And that's what we're focusing on here.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Miller Moss:
On what Lincoln Riley is building at USC
I think the biggest thing with Coach Riley is that he has a formula, you know? And he has a formula that we as players can believe in because it's worked. We're not just throwing stuff on the walls and hoping it sticks. And I think the fact that he has a formula laid out for us gives us a ton of belief in what he's telling us.
On Caleb Williams transferring to USC
Me and Coach Riley had a talk about it. And, you know, he was upfront with me from the beginning, which I really appreciated. He called me before [Williams committed], which I didn't expect. He didn't have to do [that]. So that gave me confidence in how [Riley] was going to handle the situation going forward and made me a lot more comfortable with him.
Offensive line coach Josh Henson:
On whether physicality can be taught
I think physicality can be taught because I think you can inspire guys to play more physical. I think you can challenge guys to play more physical. And I think you c an show guys what "finish" and playing at a physical next level really is … and this is just the way we play it at 'SC. And so yes, how long it takes? I don't know. It's different for every guy. But I think you can accomplish some of those things. I think you become a more physical unit, you know, in a block of time like a spring practice or fall practice as you're leading up to a season.
Junior wide receiver Brenden Rice:
On how USC recruited him out of the NCAA Transfer Portal
I hoped in the portal, and when I hoped in the portal I was still [undecided], but I thought about going back to Colorado. Next thing you know, I'm on the phone with Lincoln [Riley] within the first 30 minutes, 15 minutes? I'm like, 'Wow, okay!' … I get a couple other calls, but as soon as I heard Lincoln call, you know, you have to go. Especially being in a situation like 'SC with [the] biggest names, biggest receivers. You got to come. You have to.
New numbers to know:
0 - WR Terrell Bynum
2 - WR Brenden Rice
4 - WR Mario Williams
6 - RB Austin Jones
8 - WR CJ Williams
13 - QB Caleb Williams
26 - RB Travis Dye
70 - OL Bobby Haskins
1 - CB Domani Jackson
2 - EDGE Romello Height
6 - CB Mekhi Blackmon
21 - CB Latrell McCutchin
31 - DL Tyrone Taleni
53 - ILB Shane Lee
97 - DT Earl Barquet
Set The Date:
Fans' first chance to see the Trojans this spring will be at USC's Spring Game on April 23.