Home US SportsNCAAF Insights from USC coach Lincoln Riley’s first week leading spring football

Insights from USC coach Lincoln Riley’s first week leading spring football

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Insights from USC coach Lincoln Riley’s first week leading spring football

USC coach Lincoln Riley watches observe as quarterback Caleb Williams throws a cross throughout a spring soccer observe Tuesday. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Occasions)

The primary official practices of the Lincoln Riley period at USC are within the rearview mirror. So what have we realized about USC’s new regime by means of one week of spring soccer observe?

Williams’ impression

Caleb Williams has seamlessly stepped right into a management position. He may’ve taken a flawed flip into his first USC observe, however the Trojans’ new QB1 has regarded fully relaxed on the helm of his new offense. Teammates are already raving. His gravitational pull throughout the program is highly effective.

“He’s a baller,” operating again Austin Jones stated. “He’s a leader. Most definitely, he’s an alpha.”

These {qualifications} ought to come as no shock after Williams easily took the reins from Spencer Rattler in the course of the season as a freshman at Oklahoma. He’ll benefit from a whole spring and summer season to determine himself at USC.

“He’s one of those guys who can walk into a room with people he doesn’t know and he’s kind of a chameleon, he can fit in in any place,” Riley stated.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams tosses a pass during spring practice

USC quarterback Caleb Williams tosses a cross throughout spring observe Tuesday. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Occasions)

Greater expectations

It’s far too early to say a method or one other if Riley has modified the tradition of USC soccer. That’s going to take some time. However judging by every week of feedback from coaches and gamers about the place this system stands at the beginning of spring, it’s clear the workers is pushing gamers to boost their very own expectations.

Assistants had been frank this week about how far their gamers should go. Inside linebackers coach Brian Odom stated his group was “nowhere near where it needs to be.” Others talked about gamers needing to regulate to a brand new mentality. Even with Williams, Riley stated he’d recognized “a lot of areas where he can improve as a player” and that the quarterback was “a long way from being the best player he can be.”

Elevating expectations is barely a primary step. Nevertheless it’s an vital one.

Nonetheless recruiting

Riley has added 13 transfers already, however USC is nowhere close to carried out with the portal. With 20 gamers on their manner out and people 13 coming aboard, Riley referred to his new crew this week “as one of the most unique rosters in the history of this sport.”

If Riley continues raiding the portal as deliberate, it ought to be much more extraordinary by the autumn.

The coach was clear this week that he’s anticipating so as to add 10 or extra further transfers after the spring, whereas a number of others are prone to go away amid the fallout. It’s unclear the place Riley plans so as to add, however quarterback and receiver are two positions he may hone in on.

USC has simply two wholesome scholarship quarterbacks this spring — “It’s not ideal,” Riley stated — however may probably get Mo Hasan again from a knee damage by fall. At receiver, assistant coach Dennis Simmons stated USC “definitely needs to add talent.”

That’s most likely additionally true on the offensive and defensive traces — and at linebacker, too. USC isn’t actually able to show down expertise at this level.

Operating again competitors

Travis Dye has a prolific pedigree. However USC might not have a transparent lead operating again till fall. Spring reps at operating again don’t imply a lot. Till it’s full contact, evaluating the backfield is inconceivable.

Oregon running back Travis Dye carries the ball during the 2021 season

Oregon operating again Travis Dye carries the ball through the 2021 season. He has transferred to USC, however he faces competitors for carries. (Stephen Brashear / Related Press)

What we do know is that USC has extra all-purpose expertise now than it did at this level final season. That begins with Dye, who left Oregon for USC after Riley pitched him on “exposing everything I can do,” stated Dye, who’s one among 5 Oregon backs to achieve 3,000 dashing yards.

Each he and Austin Jones have proven early they’re adept at catching passes out of the backfield; mixed, they convey 150 profession receptions to USC. That versatility ought to solely be extra of a weapon when five-star freshman Raleek Brown enters the combination this fall.

Riley’s method at operating again has various through the years. Final season at Oklahoma, he used Kennedy Brooks as a three-down workhorse. This season, the backfield is shaping up for a extra balanced method.

Fierce receiver competitors

USC added three transfers to assist remake the receiver room, and to date all three have been fixtures within the two-deep to begin spring.

Mario Williams is lightning fast. Brenden Rice is a powerful bodily specimen. And Terrell Bynum falls someplace in between. The query isn’t a lot whether or not these new guys will play, however what number of returners will think about to the rotation.

USC receiver Gary Bryant Jr. sets up for a play against BYU

USC receiver Gary Bryant Jr. units up for a play towards BYU in Los Angeles Nov. 27. (Ashley Landis / Related Press)

Gary Bryant appears certain to carve out a job, whereas Tahj Washington has earned early reward. Freshman C.J. Williams clearly has the expertise to make an impression. Kyle Ford, Michael Jackson III and Kyron Ware-Hudson will likely be combating by means of the autumn to get on the sector.

That competitors, Simmons stated, “is as wide [open] as this field is.”

Room to enhance

Defensive finish Korey Foreman and linebacker Raesjon Davis, the crown jewels of USC’s 2021 recruiting class, have an extended solution to go. They had been two of the highest 2021 prospects within the nation. However after disappointing freshman seasons at USC, each have evident inquiries to reply as sophomores.

Neither has put his greatest foot ahead but. Foreman has been restricted this spring with a knee damage, robbing him of essential time to study USC’s new protection. Davis has been wholesome, however established this week that he’s “got some maturing to do,” in line with linebackers coach Brian Odom.

USC desperately wants each gamers to develop forward of subsequent season. The jury remains to be out on whether or not they’ll dwell as much as expectations.

Skinny up entrance

USC solely has 13 scholarship offensive linemen. That’s not ideally suited. Ty Buchanan’s announcement Thursday that he was coming into the switch portal solely exacerbated an already regarding depth drawback up entrance. Of these 13, solely eight or so are linemen USC would belief proper now to play in a recreation.

That’s merely not sufficient depth to take right into a season. With that in thoughts, the upcoming determination from five-star offensive sort out Josh Conerly Jr. looms massive. A top-15 prospect, Conerly may make an instantaneous impression on a line with unanswered questions on the sides.

Virginia switch Bobby Haskins was supposed to assist, however he’s been restricted to begin spring with a foot damage.

Tuipulotu leads

Tuli Tuipulotu is main the way in which on USC’s line of defense. Shaun Nua spent final season teaching Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo at Michigan, two prime abilities within the upcoming draft. Requested if any of his new USC defensive linemen shared the same mentality to both of these two, he didn’t hesitate.

“Tuli, right now,” Nua stated.

Washington State offensive lineman Liam Ryan blocks USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu

Washington State offensive lineman Liam Ryan blocks USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu (49) in a recreation on Sept. 18 in Pullman, Wash. (Younger Kwak / Related Press)

It’s no shock that Tuipulotu would stand out early in spring. The one query now could be how Nua and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch plan to deploy him.

“He’ll be everywhere,” Nua stated. “He can play everything, seriously.”

Bullock’s progress

Calen Bullock is the one returning starter in USC’s secondary, however he’s nowhere close to a completed product. A silver lining in a darkish season, Bullock established himself as a future standout as a freshman. However Grinch hasn’t let the younger security relaxation on these laurels.

“You’re seeing a guy that has a little bit of confidence going into his second year, which you would expect for a guy like that.” Grinch stated. “You see some velocity parts, a man that may run the present on the again finish and make some communications that manner. Nonetheless a younger participant.

“What’s he got to fix? He’s got to become a bigger athlete. The sport demands that of you. So he’s one of those guys that has to put on some weight, put on some muscle. He’s got to look like a second-year guy. The things that made him a good player, give him credit for that as a freshman. OK, well, as a sophomore, the evaluation changes.”

The rest of USC’s secondary should be completely different. The Trojans brought in transfer cornerbacks Mekhi Blackmon and Latrell McCutchin, and signed three defensive backs in its 2022 class, including the state’s top prospect, Mater Dei High cornerback Domani Jackson.

Answers at kicker

Alex Stadthaus is likely to be USC’s kicker. Previously a walk-on, Stadthaus entered the transfer portal in December when he wasn’t sure if he could afford to forge on at USC without a scholarship.

But Riley came through, offering him one. Stadthaus, in turn, took his name out of the portal, making him the likeliest candidate to kick for USC this fall.

The Trojans also will be breaking in a new punter with Australian freshman Atticus Bertrams. They’ll do so, too, without the help of a full-time special teams coach.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.

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