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Practice Report: USC Football’s O-Line To Be Tested Against Washington State

Oct 4, 2022

Saturday's matchup against Washington State presents a particular challenge for No. 6 USC's offensive line. The Cougars currently rank third in the nation in tackles for loss and seventh in the nation in sacks. 

"They do a lot like what our defense does. They're aggressive up front. They move enough to cause you problems," head coach Lincoln Riley previewed following USC's Tuesday practice. "Their linebackers are also very active, safeties are active. They fly around and cause a lot of havoc and do a really nice job of it. So, you've got to be on your game assignment wise…Your mistakes are going to be TFLs against these guys."

A key component of USC's success Saturday will rely on the Trojans' offensive line and its health. Riley shared the latest on right guard Justin Dedich, who did not play against Arizona State.

"He's better," Riley said. "It was good we were able to hold him [against ASU]. Where does that leave us? We'll see. We'll keep evaluating him throughout the week. We're trying to be smart. Obviously we would love for him to be able to play, but then the flip side of it is we've got a lot of season left, you know? And you've got to be smart with him. Obviously if he's not out there, it's not just… He didn't break a toenail."

Luckily for the Trojans, they have a dynamic weapon in quarterback Caleb Williams who has consistently evaded would-be sacks this season. Tight end Malcolm Epps couldn't help but boast about his teammate Tuesday.

"Oh, [other defense's] be like, 'We got a rushing defense. We got pass rushers,'" Epps said. "We have a Caleb Williams!"

Despite being a participant on the field, Epps explained that he is just as dumbfounded as USC fans when it comes to Williams' ability to escape pressure.

"There were a couple plays where I was like, 'Damn, he got sacked! Oh! He's still running!'" Epps said in a dramatic recreation. "With him, you gotta keep going or you might miss a play."


Notes from USC's Tuesday practice of Washington State Week

  • Redshirt junior Gino Quinones got his first career start on Saturday, filling in for the injured Justin Dedich. Right tackle Jonah Monheim praised the Quinones for his efforts:

    • "I was proud of how he prepared all week," Monheim said. "I thought he fought. I thought he held his own for the most part. He got a little banged up which didn't help him, but I was proud of how he fought" 

  • USC continues to lead the nation in turnover margin, now through five games. Defensive lineman Nick Figueroa shed some light on how the defense views that accomplishment.

    • "Three-and-out, takeaway mindset," Figueroa said. "We call them takeaways and not turnovers because we force them and your feelings have no place on the football field. Our job is to get the ball back to the offense. If that's 3-and-out or takeaway, you gotta get the ball back" 

  • It was a tale of two halves for the Trojans against Arizona State. Running back Travis Dye alluded following the game that his peers may have gotten too comfortable during their preparation for the Sun Devils. Center Brett Neilon weighed in on the matter Tuesday:

    • "Yeah, I think the energy was a little bit low," Neilon said. "Coming off a road game and traveling, going down to Corvallis, getting back late. Maybe we started the week off a little slower than usual. And it's something that, we just got to adjust and just power through. We picked it up in the second half, and came out and played really well, both sides of the ball. So that's encouraging. But, yeah, we just got to keep pounding and take that competitiveness all the way through the season and not get tired of it."

  •  USC will see a familiar face Saturday when it faces former offensive line coach Clay McGuire. Riley has coached previously with McGuire and relied on his advice during his move this past offseason to Southern California.

    • "I talked to him when I first got here and he was not only great with some of the roster, but it was cool to see his assessment of the place," Riley said. "When you get into it, everybody wants to tell you what's been good and what's been bad. The reality is, you appreciate everybody wanting to help, but you don't trust them because you haven't been in the foxhole with them. I've been in the foxhole with McGuire, and I know what kind of coach he is, what kind of person he is. So his assessment, not only of the roster but, living here and so much. He was very, very helpful, and he's a great friend."

Tuesday's media availability

Breaking down USC's win over Washington State