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Practice Report: Lincoln Riley Previews USC Football's Matchup Against Stanford

Sep 6, 2022

For the first time this season, USC's offense swapped its red "home" practice jerseys to white as a signal of what lies ahead. The Trojans will make the trek up north this weekend to take on their oldest rival - the Stanford Cardinal.

"We're excited about going and playing on the road for the first conference game," head coach Lincoln Riley said Tuesday. "As a program, if you want to be at a championship level, you've got to embrace going and playing on the road. These conference road games are like gold."

Stanford presents another opportunity for USC's defense to prove itself when it comes to stopping the run. The Trojans had mixed results against Rice, which is why Riley highlighted how important it will be against their conference foe.

"You're going to have to be clean in the run game, obviously they present a lot of different challenges that way," the head coach said. "We had some moments in this last game where we were [clean in the run game] and some moments where we weren't. We'll need to be more consistent there."

Riley also added how Stanford's Tanner McKee presents an additional problem for the Trojans' defenders.

"You're facing a really high-level quarterback on top of it," Riley said. "So coverage has got to be sharp. Guys have got to do a good job getting pressure on him. It's going to take a little bit of everybody. You've got to play great team defense against a group like this because they can obviously hurt you both ways."

Notes from USC's Tuesday practice of Stanford Week:

  • Now that game film can be studied, Riley gave an update on the competition at left tackle between Courtland Ford and Bobby Haskins:

    • "I think you've just gotta let it play out. There's benefits to [letting them continue to compete]. We know we're going to need more than five offensive linemen this year … If it works out where somebody separates himself, that's great. My hope is that somebody's playing unbelievable, and the other one is still playing really good. And that's the separation. Right now that's what it would take because they're both playing pretty good. And we want them to step up and play great."

  • Riley shared Tuesday that redshirt senior Mekhi Blackmon has "really solidified himself" as the team's top corner. He also explained that redshirt freshman Ceyair Wright has done a nice job so far, but the team will need to rely on many corners throughout the season.

  • Blackmon shared his thoughts on this year's Stanford team, which seems to be passing more than Cardinal teams of the past.

    • "It's kind of exciting for me, being a secondary guy. Of course, we're going to still have to fit the run. But guarding passes is where we make our money so I'm looking forward to it."

    • "They're always a very physical, good group of guys who don't make many  mistakes. So our mistakes have to be limited as well."

  • Redshirt senior running back Travis Dye had a highlight-worthy blitz pickup against Rice on Saturday. When recalling the play on Tuesday, Dye elicited a food analogy.

    • "I knew I had a route. I saw the defensive end coming up. You know, he's showing all these ribs and I had to give me some baby back ribs! Slap some barbecue sauce on there real quick. But yeah, you know, all my might went right into his side."

  • Dye continued with his humorous way of explaining things when describing the many talents of quarterback Caleb Williams.

    • "Man, he's a special kid and he can do it all. He can literally do it all. He can pass. He can paint your back porch. He could walk your dog. And he can run the ball. He's a great player."

Tuesday's media availability:

Breaking down USC's 66-14 win over Rice: