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Practice Report: Lincoln Riley Calls Oregon State's Offense 'Big Challenge' For USC Football

Sep 20, 2022

If you didn't know any better, you would think that a major landscaping project was taking place on Howard Jones Field Tuesday (Sept. 20) morning. Chainsaw noises that can normally be heard blasting through Reser Stadium, accompanied No. 7 USC's practice reps as the team prepared for its next challenge on the road.

Oregon State, led by head coach Jonathan Smith, poses a unique threat on offense for the Trojans. Head coach Lincoln Riley previewed the matchup up north on Tuesday.

"A lot of challenges. They do a good job in their different personnel groupings," Riley explained. "They're very creative with the personnel that they use. They certainly got a system that they believe in and a style of ball they believe in and they do it very well."

Quarterback Chance Nolan has shown more confidence this year for the Beavers. He has a 62.7 completion percentage through three games and is averaging 248.7 passing yards per game.

"You see [Nolan's] experience starting to show up more and more as he gets more game reps." Riley said. "They just present a lot of challenges in terms of all the things to do with their tight ends, their motions of run game, marrying the play action game off of it. So it'll be a big challenge for us, there's no question."

Notes from USC's Tuesday practice of Oregon State Week:

  • Riley listed both left tackles Courtland Ford and Bobby Haskins as full participants for Tuesday's practice:

    • "We'll see," Riley said. "We just gotta watch how the week unfolds, how these guys practice. But having both healthy is certainly a big plus for us going into the week."

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. practiced with USC's scout team Tuesday. "Right now the plan is for him to redshirt," Riley said.

  • Riley also provided an update on running back Raleek Brown:

    • "He hasn't been full speed here the last few weeks, but he's getting on it," Riley said. "So we want to get him back healthy, get moving around the way he can. And when he does that, he'll have a significant role."

  • Linebacker and team captain Shane Lee shared his assessment of USC's defense now three games into the season:

    • "I think we're playing okay at times," Lee said. "I think we have things to improve on, like explosive plays. I think the big thing is just the yardage in the run game. But I think we make sound stops: third down stops, fourth down stops, redzone stops. So we're a good defense, we just have to keep building. Like, it takes time. And so it's still the beginning of the season, and I'm excited to see where we have to go."

  • Lee also noted that the tough stops the defense has made in the "bend, but don't break" moment can be attributed to the team's mindset.

    • "Everything's about mentality when it comes to that kind of stuff," Lee said. "Just having your back against the wall and having to make a play. Multiple guys have stepped up in those moments, and so it's definitely a testament to the guys and to the defense."

  • Riley praised offensive lineman Jonah Monheim for the growth he has made over the course of just three games:

    • "He's been fantastic for us," Riley said. "I don't think he's missed one day of anything. He's a really consistent competitor. He's mentally tough and very smart. When you consider his age, he's advanced there."

  • The head coach also shared his thoughts on the philosophy behind lining up defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu on both the inside and outside:

    • "Depends on matchups," Riley said. "Depends on what we're trying to do, schematically. There's a lot that goes into it. I think he's pretty comfortable at both. There are certainly times where we like him inside and times where we like him on the edge. I'm sure we'll continue to mix that up because we do think he could potentially be a mismatch in both places. And it's good to be able to keep people off balance. It's a lot easier if a team's got a really good interior lineman, but he plays the same place every single time. It's a lot easier to target them. Coach [Alex] Grinch and the staff, coach [Shaun] Nua, the guys are very creative with moving him around and moving that target, which makes it a lot more difficult to play against."

Tuesday's media availability:

Breaking down USC's win over Fresno State: