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Practice Report: Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams Bringing Familiarity to USC Football's Offense

Aug 24, 2022

Sometimes all it will take is a thumbs up or a shrug for quarterback Caleb Williams to get the go ahead from head coach Lincoln Riley.

"Me and my teammates were laughing about it," Williams said with a smile. "We kind of communicate really fast when I'm on the field and he's on the sideline."

Williams hopes to be "Coach Riley: Part Two" between the hashes on game days, but admits that offensive play calling is at a different level with Riley.

"He's a mastermind, so he has all the stuff up in his head. And I don't know where he puts it all," Williams joked.

Though he is in year one of being a Trojan, Williams is now entering year two in Riley's scheme. The pace of the game has slowed down for the sophomore quarterback as a result.

"I don't necessarily just have to worry about playing. I can see things better from the defensive side," Williams said. "I know exactly where everybody has to line up, exactly where they're going to be on our side. So making sure we get the right runs into certain either blitzes or defenses or fronts. Making sure that we have certain checks."

Notes from USC's Wednesday practice of Mock Game Week

  • Transfer inside linebacker Eric Gentry spoke to the media for the first time Wednesday  since transferring from ASU. 

    • "We've got a lot of good players here; a lot of dynamic players … [We've been] fighting through a lot of adversity. It was a hard camp for a lot of us and it built a lot of calluses."

  • Gentry is recognized by his 6'6 frame; something that is unique for his current position at inside linebacker:

    • "That's where [the defensive staff] wants me. If they want me at rush, I'll play rush. If they want me at corner; I'll play corner. Wherever my defensive coordinator and my coaches want me to play, that's where I'll play."

  • Inside linebackers coach Brian Odom noted how Gentry is juggling a lot at the moment - learning a new defense and adjusting to in-person classes on campus:

    • "A lot of guys you see at that age are probably a fish out of water in terms of acclimating quickly. He's done a really good job with it. He's digested a lot of ball, super talented, but very excited about what he's gonna be able to do."

  • Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch echoed the same philosophy about practicing that Riley shared just a day earlier"

    • "We try to play the game on Tuesday and Wednesday, so the third time we play the game is on Saturday … You earn the right to have confidence walking into a stadium on Saturday; your logo is not going to get it done. It's how you prepare on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. [More] specifically, the physical work and the mental work beyond that."

  • Grinch, who also coaches USC's safeties, described the complex responsibilities of his position group:

    • "One of the things safeties have to do is kind of run the show on the back end. It's not enough just to know your job … Someone's got to communicate and it often falls in the safeties' lap. You just have to have a command out there and a commanding presence to put the other guys' mind at ease. And oh, by the way, do your job at the same time."

New numbers to know

  • Defensive lineman Nick Figueroa, who previously wore No. 50, now dons 99. The redshirt senior wore that number during his stint in junior college.

  • Defensive back Bryson Shaw, who transferred from Ohio State as a redshirt junior this summer, wears 27.

  • True freshman running back Raleek Brown sports the number 14.

  • Wide receiver Michael Jackson III, who previously wore No. 13, now wears the number 9.

  • Wide receiver Jordan Addison wears the once-retired No. 3, after Trojan legend Carson Palmer gave his blessing.

  • Redshirt senior defensive lineman Solomon Byrd, who transferred from Wyoming this summer, dons No. 51.

Wednesday's media availability: