USC takeaways: Lincoln Riley notes protection’s progress, standout O-linemen and extra

USC football players pose at media day Aug. 4, 2022, in Los Angeles.

USC soccer gamers pose at media day Aug. 4, the day earlier than fall camp started.
(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Occasions)

One week of USC’s first preseason camp below coach Lincoln Riley is within the books. That is what we’ve discovered:

Defensive progress

You may perceive why the Trojans’ new offensive weapons have gotten all the eye amid USC’s rebuild. There’s the Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, the 2 preseason All-Pac-12 Convention extensive receivers, the remade backfield.

You are reading: USC takeaways: Lincoln Riley notes protection’s progress, standout O-linemen and extra

However via one week of observe, Riley was clear about which aspect of the ball has been higher.

The protection, he stated Friday, has been “the dominant group no doubt.”

That’s a really constructive signal for USC, which confronted main depth points on protection within the spring. The Trojans had solely a handful of defensive backs and rush ends then. Reinforcements via the switch portal have clearly made a distinction early on.

USC cornerback Mekhi Blackmon warms up during a practice April 5, 2022.

Colorado switch Mekhi Blackmon, pictured in April, seems set to be USC’s prime cornerback.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Related Press)

Cornerback battle

There’s little doubt at this level that Mekhi Blackmon shall be USC’s prime cornerback. The Colorado switch has obtained constant, effusive reward since signing with the Trojans forward of spring. However after Blackmon, USC’s second nook spot seems to be up for grabs.

5-star freshman Domani Jackson is essentially the most intriguing candidate on the place. After lacking the spring whereas recovering from a knee ligament harm, the previous Mater Dei cornerback and prime state prospect within the 2022 class has already flashed his immense expertise at camp. If he can catch up mentally, he has the instruments to problem for that spot sooner moderately than later.

Others to regulate: Josh Jackson, Washington switch Jacobe Covington and Ceyair Wright, whom Riley stated took a significant leap over the summer time.

“He’s a significantly better participant now than he was within the spring,” Riley stated of Wright.

USC defensive back Domani Jackson (1) runs a drill at practice during the first day of fall training camp Aug. 5, 2022.

Trojans defensive again Domani Jackson (1) runs a drill at observe throughout the first day of fall coaching camp Aug. 5.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Occasions)

Passing choices

We haven’t seen a lot from reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, with reporters restricted to the primary 20 minutes or so of observe. However what is evident with the Pittsburgh switch within the fold is how deep USC is at wideout.

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Addison and Mario Williams are locks as USC’s prime two receivers. If Terrell Bynum and Brenden Rice slot in alongside them on the depth chart — and so they very properly may — the Trojans’ prime 4 receivers this season would all be new transfers.

Foreman’s forecast

This camp appeared like a very necessary alternative for Korey Foreman to show himself because the billboard-worthy expertise USC believed he could possibly be when he signed in 2021 because the crown jewel of its recruiting class. However after an unsure spring, Foreman missed many of the final week, first due to a earlier dedication after which due to an harm that left him unable to decorate Friday.

Riley stated the harm is “nothing too extreme” and that he needs to be again within the coming days. However his early absence opens the door for different cross rushers to push previous him on the depth chart.

Solomon Byrd, a Wyoming switch, could possibly be one of many principal beneficiaries. Byrd was a bit out of form when he arrived in the summertime, Riley stated, and he’s nonetheless studying the frenzy finish place in USC’s protection. However his uncooked instruments mixed along with his expertise have made for a powerful begin to camp.

“You may inform he’s performed ball,” Riley stated. “He’s picked up our schemes in a short time. A man that may naturally rush the passer. He’s moved round and performed completely different positions for us as properly.”

Byrd appears positive to consider on USC’s protection this season, whether or not at rush finish or someplace additional inside.

USC defensive lineman Jamar Sekona (77) and teammates practice Aug. 5.

(Michael Owen Baker / For The Occasions)

O-line rotation

Switch offensive tackles are a uncommon commodity today, so when the Trojans reeled one in from Virginia this offseason, it appeared protected to imagine that Bobby Haskins was assured a spot on the beginning line.

That hasn’t been the case via at the very least one week of camp. Haskins is working with the second-team offensive line throughout the open portion of observe behind Courtland Ford, who remains to be the starter at left deal with. Jonah Monheim seems — in the intervening time, at the very least — to be entrenched at proper deal with.

No deal with has apparently regarded higher than Monheim, whom Riley singled out as considered one of USC’s most constant performers up entrance.

When is the final time USC’s offensive line has been this settled initially of camp? The addition of an skilled left deal with and the return of an All-American guard don’t harm.

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The one query for the Trojans up entrance is depth, and Riley and offensive line coach Josh Henson appeared inspired by what they’d seen from redshirt junior guard Gino Quinones and redshirt freshman deal with Mason Murphy.

Quinones, who hasn’t performed a snap on the offensive line in his earlier three seasons, could possibly be a very nice shock.

“Gino has been the standout there for us proper now,” Riley stated.

Wolfe sidelined

Jude Wolfe was in line to be a breakout candidate as an H-back in Riley’s offense, however a foot harm will hold him out for at the very least half the season. Wolfe will endure surgical procedure within the coming days and will return in time for the second half of the season.

It’s a troublesome break for Wolfe, who rose up the depth chart in spring and expressed hope that he had lastly discovered the precise offense for his ability set. That arrival should wait, leaving the H-back spot unsure to begin the season.

Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams follows through on a pass at practice Aug. 5.

(Michael Owen Baker / For The Occasions)

Rookies to look at

Two freshmen to regulate the remainder of camp, each of whom performed on the identical Mater Dei offense final fall: operating again Raleek Brown and extensive receiver C.J. Williams.

There’s a transparent plan on USC’s offense for Brown, who has the potential to be an all-purpose menace, able to catching passes out of the backfield.

“Oh man, that child’s somewhat jitterbug,” senior operating again Travis Dye stated.

Not like Brown, Williams was in attendance throughout the spring. However an harm stored him out, delaying his arrival. By the primary week of camp, he has already labored in with the first-team offense on early hurry-up packages.

Riley wasn’t able to declare Williams part of USC’s receiver rotation, nevertheless it appears the freshman has an inside observe for some sort of involvement.

“He’s what we hoped and anticipated he could be,” Riley stated.

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