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Practice Report: Lincoln Riley Credits USC Football's Veteran Offensive Line for Mentoring Rookie Mason Murphy

Nov 1, 2022

When veteran Andrew Vorhees was not available to play against Arizona on Saturday, it was redshirt freshman Mason Murphy who got the nod. Offensive line coach Josh Henson could've chosen a more experienced player, but instead picked the second-year Trojan for the first start of his career. The development was a testament to the maturation of Murphy's game, both on and off the field.

"He was ready to go in there and compete," head coach Lincoln Riley said of Murphy. "Some guys rise up on game day, some guys cower down a little bit, but the moment for him certainly wasn't too big."

Riley credited Murphy for his competitiveness, but also praised the position room he finds himself in. The redshirt freshman is surrounded by veteran offensive linemen who have been around the block a few times. While Murphy was etching the number one in his column of collegiate starts on Saturday, he was alongside linemen who have played a combined total of 145 games in their career.

"He's in a great room for a young ... inexperienced guy to be in," Riley said. "Justin Dedich, Brett Neilon, Jonah Monheim, and all those guys have been on him. They've pushed him and they've set a good example for him. I give Mason credit, he's followed."

The mentorship process began several months ago during USC's offseason, according to Monheim. Dedich intentionally paired up with Murphy in the weight room, despite originally being scheduled to lift at a different time.

"He was in a different group and he ended up just switching over to work with Mason every day, kind of taking him under his wing," Monheim explained Tuesday. "And then the same thing goes for conditioning, school and accountability. We were all just trying to get on him every day to do the right things, to take each day at a time, improve everyday."

"It's definitely taken some time and some tough love out of that room," Riley said of Murphy's development.

Monheim shared that USC's veteran linemen continue to push Murphy out of "brotherly love." Because of their experience, they recognize what he's capable of and what he could possibly accomplish.

"He's a super talented guy," Monheim said. "If he does everything right day in and day out, sky's the limit for him."

 

Notes from USC's Tuesday practice of Cal Week:

  • Riley's first statement to the media Tuesday addressed the topic he knew he would immediately be asked about: USC's injuries.

    • "We are doing better. Everybody participated [today], but not in a full manner," Riley said. "We've got a lot of guys who are making a lot of progress. We've got a lot of guys who will be close for the game. My gut feeling is that we'll probably end up getting a few of them back, maybe not all, but very good progress. I don't know if I would definitively say that anybody is for sure in and I'm certainly not in position to say that anybody's for sure out right now." 

  • In light of the fact that the first round of College Football Playoff Rankings are set to debut Tuesday night, the head coach was asked how he digests those rankings so early in November. Riley quickly made his opinion clear.

    • "I don't even look at them. I don't. Ask all my friends back in Oklahoma, I don't care about them," Riley said. "Most of the time, I don't even know what they are because it doesn't matter right now. It does not matter one bit. You go be ranked whatever, but you go and lose, they don't matter. You keep winning, it takes care of itself.

    • "It matters none. I spend not one percent of my energy, brainpower, attention on it, I could not care less," Riley added. " I care about it at one time, and that's the last one. That's all that matters."

  • USC's top receivers, Jordan Addison and Mario Williams, did not play against Arizona Saturday, opening the door for a new crop of receivers to earn touches. Riley shared how sometimes that can actually be beneficial for a quarterback.

    • "Sometimes, guys play their very best because they quit worrying about who is out on the field and they just run the offense," Riley explained.  "[Caleb Williams] did a good job of that. If you look at how the targets were spaced out, a lot of guys got opportunities and obviously a lot of them stepped up. I think it's a good lesson for [Williams]; regardless of who's in there, an offensive system runs best when it's going where it needs to go."

Tuesday's media availability:

The Victory Podcast - Breaking down USC's 45-37 win over Arizona: