USC offensive line woes on display in spring game – Daily News


LOS ANGELES — Usually a spring football game is a moment to assess a team’s status four or five months ahead of the start of the season – where the offense and defense stand, who might be on track for a breakout season and what units need to improve before kickoff.

But USC’s spring game, and specifically the performance of the offensive line within it, muddied the Trojans’ outlook rather than providing clarity.

The USC offensive line, split across the “Cardinal” and “Gold” teams Saturday at the Coliseum, surrendered eight sacks, six before halftime.

In the run game, the Cardinal line allowed running back Stephen Carr to be stuffed on fourth-and-two from the Gold 10 in the first half, though there was later redemption as the Cardinal line helped Vavae Malepeai convert a fourth-and goal rush attempt. To start the second half, Brandon Campbell was dropped for a loss on third-and-inches to behind the Gold line.

These raw facts are not promising for the USC offensive line, which has been a point of concern throughout spring camp. But the nature of the scrimmage made things more difficult to evaluate.

The USC coaching staff was split in half for the game, with coordinators Graham Harrell and Todd Orlando serving as head coaches. The staff proceeded to draft the rosters of each team rather than having first- and second-team units work together.

This meant the linemen were playing next to teammates they had not practiced with throughout camp – or, in the case of Andrew Vorhees, playing out of position.

The poor performance could be waved off as a function of the logistics of the game, though the defensive line has frequently gotten the better of its counterparts this spring.

“Over an entire camp, I have been pleased with the offensive line,” head coach Clay Helton said after the spring game. “I think some young players got beat today by a Drake Jackson and a Tuli [Tuipulotu].”

The thing is, the offensive line makes it difficult to evaluate any other position group properly.

The defensive line was dominant at times. On one drive, Jackson batted down a pass at the line, stopped a runner for a one-yard gain on second down and sacked quarterback Kedon Slovis on third. Tuipulotu, Jemar Sekona and Jay Toia all had moments, too.

But is the defensive line the dominant force it played like Saturday? Or is it still waiting for its first legitimate test?

The offensive line made evaluating quarterbacks difficult, too. Slovis, under duress for much of his opportunities, went 8 for 12 for 128 yards and an interception that was solely his fault – no pressure, just a telegraphed pass that Dorian Hewett saw coming all the way.

In the race to back up Slovis, senior quarterback Mo Hasan had an early touchdown pass on a fade to Bru McCoy before leaving in the first half due to a knee injury that will require an MRI.

Of the true freshmen, it was Jaxson Dart who shined, completing seven of 13 attempts for 99 yards. He threw one interception, but also completed two perfect balls that fellow freshman Michael Jackson caught with one hand. The first was on the sideline for 26 yards and the second was in the corner of the end zone to end the scrimmage.


Source link

WORLD NEWS