Navigating Uncertainty: USC’s Offensive Line Challenges as Crucial Tests Approach

USC entered the 2023 college football season with high hopes for its offensive line. They had made significant offseason changes, bringing in three transfers with impressive talent and experience. The expectation was that these additions would seamlessly integrate into a unit that had enjoyed unusual continuity in the past.

However, as the Trojans hit the midway point of the season, it’s clear that the transformation hasn’t been as smooth as anticipated. USC’s offensive line coach, Josh Henson, has openly acknowledged that the line remains "a work in progress." Justin Dedich, the fifth-year center and team captain, also agrees that the revamped group hasn’t quite gelled at the same pace as in previous seasons.

The Progression Challenge


Dedich emphasized that the difference isn’t necessarily a negative one, stating, "Not saying it’s good or bad, just different." Coach Lincoln Riley echoes this sentiment, emphasizing patience as the team works to solidify their offensive line chemistry.

But there’s no denying the significance of this issue, especially as USC faces a tough stretch of games. The Trojans have Notre Dame, a team known for its physical front, on the horizon. The success of USC’s offense and the protection of their Heisman-winning quarterback depend on how well they can address these concerns.

Henson expressed, "We can play much better. There are still so many missed moments, where we have an opportunity and we’re almost there. But you know, close isn’t good enough, especially as we go down the stretch to the last half of the season."

On-field Challenges

One of these missed moments occurred in a recent game against Arizona when defensive end Russell Davis managed to slip past USC’s right tackle, Michael Tarquin, resulting in a crucial sack. The following play, Tarquin was again beaten on the edge, leading to a rushed throw by the quarterback, Caleb Williams.

The repercussions were evident as Tarquin, a redshirt senior, didn’t return to the game after that drive. Instead, sophomore tackle Mason Murphy took his place. The competition for the right tackle position remains undecided, and Henson has been tight-lipped about the starter for the upcoming game against Notre Dame.

Inconsistent Performances

The performance of USC’s offensive line has been inconsistent this season. In one game, against Colorado, the Trojans struggled with run blocking, while in the following game against Arizona, it was pass protection that posed the problem. The Arizona game saw Williams sacked four times, which was a season high.

Over the past three weeks, Williams has faced relentless pressure, getting hit more often than USC would prefer. The challenge now lies in finding the right balance between run blocking and pass protection to ensure their Heisman-winning quarterback’s safety.

In conclusion, USC’s offensive line remains a topic of concern as they navigate a demanding portion of their schedule. As the Trojans continue to work on their chemistry and consistency, they must address these issues promptly to succeed in the upcoming tests, including the formidable Notre Dame defense.

Relevant Issues to Keep an Eye On

Can USC rebuild its offensive line in the offseason?

When USC embarked on the mission to rebuild its offensive line during the offseason, the question lingered: Could three talented and experienced transfers seamlessly integrate into a unit that had enjoyed unusual continuity? Over the course of six weeks, the answer has begun to emerge. It hasn’t been as smooth a transition as USC had initially hoped.

The Trojans’ offensive line, despite high expectations, remains ‘a work in progress’ as the challenges and tests of the season continue to loom. Can USC rebuild its offensive line in the offseason? is a question that still begs for a definitive answer.

What has worked with USC’s offensive line?

What has worked with USC’s offensive line? It’s a question that finds its answer in the weekly variations. When facing Colorado, the Trojans endured a physical beating in the ground game. However, just a week later, against Arizona, the story took a different turn. Run blocking showed marked improvement, yet pass protection emerged as the Achilles’ heel. In this game, Caleb Williams was sacked four times, marking a season high for the Trojans.

How is USC dealing with offensive line limitations in the Cotton Bowl?

How is USC addressing offensive line limitations in the Cotton Bowl? The challenge centers around the absence of center Brett Neilon, who is sidelined due to injury and won’t be able to play. To fill this gap, USC has opted for Justin Dedich, who is shifting positions along the offensive front, as they navigate the Cotton Bowl.

How did LSU beat the Crimson Tide in overtime?

How did LSU secure their victory against the Crimson Tide in overtime? In this thrilling matchup, LSU (7-2, 5-1 SEC) emerged victorious by executing a game-winning two-point conversion in overtime. Quarterback Jayden Daniels orchestrated the defining play, sprinting to his right and connecting with freshman tight end Mason Taylor near the goal line, ultimately sealing the win.

How is USC preparing for Notre Dame’s physical front?

How is USC gearing up to confront Notre Dame’s formidable physical front? In readiness for a potentially challenging Saturday matchup, USC football coaches have gone to great lengths to prepare. They simulated adverse weather conditions by drenching their punt returners with water, anticipating the rainy conditions they might encounter when facing Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish pose a substantial challenge, making them USC’s most formidable opponent thus far in their impressive 6-0 start to the season.

USC football offensive line depth: Trojans starting unit has major …

What is the state of USC football’s offensive line depth? Of the five anticipated starters, both Tarquin and Kingston had injuries last year, resulting in missed games. This raises questions about their durability. USC faces another challenge in the form of limited proven depth behind the starting lineup, especially in the tackle position. However, it’s worth noting that many of the starters possess the versatility to play multiple positions, offering a potential solution to the depth concern.

How many USC offensive linemen are on scholarship?

How many USC offensive linemen are currently on scholarship? USC’s scholarship roster currently comprises just 13 offensive linemen, with only four of them assigned to tackle positions, as reported by The Athletic’s Antonio Morales.

Why is USC a bad team?

What factors contribute to USC’s performance challenges? USC faces struggles partly due to a lack of proven depth behind their starters, especially in the realm of tackle positions. Tackle depth appears notably weak, though several starters possess the flexibility to play multiple positions. In case of injuries, there may be a need to reassign starters to different roles to optimize the team’s capabilities.

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