USC football: Previewing the offensive line

Tim Drevno will coach the offensive line for the USC Trojans this year. He has 23 years of coaching experience and most recently coached the O-line for a San Francisco 49ers team that had two offensive linemen make the Pro Bowl.

Drevno brings experience and professionalism to an offensive line in flux. His hiring wipes the slate clean for players like Aundrey Walker and Jordan Simmons who have battled inconsistencies and injuries, though he may favor younger players who he can mold and develop to his liking.

Not many spots along the line are solidified, especially with Chris Brown, Viane Talamaivao, and Damien Mama coming in the fall. These three freshmen will have every opportunity to push the older guys to their limits and compete for a starting position.

Aundrey Walker, Jordan Simmons, and Nico Falah all return from injury in time for fall camp, further muddling the projected starting line.

Chad Wheeler and Max Tuerk are the only two returning starters, making the left side of the line a strength, while less experienced guys will be tested along the right side.

The left tackle position will be anchored by redshirt sophomore Chad Wheeler. He started every game at left tackle last year and projects to be a solid starter this year.

Behind him on the depth chart is freshman Jordan Austin. As an early enrollee freshman, Austin has come into camp ready to prove himself. He is a bit of a long shot to overtake Wheeler on the depth chart, but will provide much needed depth at the tackle position. Nico Falah is a redshirt freshman competing for playing time along the offensive line. He has been hurt, but should be full strength for the fall.

Toa Lobendahn has emerged as the favorite to start at left guard for the Trojans this fall. He enrolled early at USC in the spring to get a jump-start at cracking the starting rotation. He has shown outstanding quickness and explosion, along with above average size for a freshman.

Behind him are Gio Di Poalo and Jordan Simmons. Di Poalo brings experience to the line as a redshirt senior, but has never had extensive playing time with the starters. He will have a shot to compete at both guard positions. Jordan Simmons sat out the spring while recovering from a knee injury. Expected to be healthy for the fall, he will be getting reps at both guard and center. He has potential to start, but will likely provide depth and special teams play this year.

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Max Tuerk

The center spot will likely be occupied by returning starter Max Tuerk. He has 20 career starts coming into his junior year and is versatile enough to play all o-line positions. The previously mentioned Gio Di Poalo, will be providing depth behind Tuerk at center as of right now.

At right guard, Khaliel Rodgers is penciled in as the starter right now. He is a redshirt freshman and has the necessary bulk to play at right guard. Behind him is Aundrey Walker, one of USC’s most veteran linemen as a senior with 18 career starts. He has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his career. He has previously been promoted to a starting job and subsequently demoted more than once. He sat out spring practice with injury, but will no doubt come back strong in the fall with a level head and a chip on his shoulder.

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Zach Banner

Zach Banner has been a very promising right tackle for the Trojans. As a redshirt sophomore, he has taken advantage of his opportunity to show off his skills. He has outstanding size at 6-foot-9 and 345 pounds. He, too, has seen his share of injury, but has battled strong and seems ready for a breakout performance in 2014. Behind him is Nathan Guertler.  Guertler earned a scholarship this spring after being a walk-on for the previous four years. He won’t do much more than provide depth and solid special teams play.

  • tklsmooth

    USC has the mixture of talent, youth, experience, depth, and coaching on the offensive line to have one of the top offensive lines in the nation, this year, and beyond ! And starting next year we get all our scholarships back !