What Stood Out:When Max Tuerk became the first true freshman ever to start at LT for USC, he had incredibly large shoes to fill. Not only was he tasked with protecting Barkley’s blindside, but he also had to do so in the shadow of former LT Matt Kalil, who was outstanding. Tuerk–though no where near Kalil yet at such an early point in his career–held down his starting position through the majority of the season, and he did reasonably well. He set himself apart from other LT, Aundrey Walker, by being more consistent and more reliable in 2012. Going into Spring Ball, Tuerk needs to use that training period to really hone his blocking abilities.
What Needed Work:: As a true freshman, Tuerk’s youth made its presence known at various points in 2012. Not only that, but also the offensive line play in 2012 as a whole was just abismal. Growing pains by no means hampered him, but his occasional inability to fend off opposing defensive linemen left Barkley vulnerable to taste the turf, and he did so significantly more in 2012 than in 2011. One could almost argue that the Trojans should have moved veteran RT Kevin Graf to the left side, and let Tuerk develop at RT, especially once Tuerk and Walker showed signs of struggle. If Tuerk wants to keep his position at the starter, he will have to prove this spring that he can handle the responsibility that comes with it.
Final Word::Tuerk is only going to get betting over the coming years in Troy, that much is certain. He has a high ceiling for growth, and with the LT tackle tradition that USC touts, he could very well be the next Matt Kalil in a season or two. His biggest challenge now will be proving that he deserves the opportunity to stay there, which will require him to outperform his competition come spring. USC cannot afford another season of offensive line woes, and this starts with Tuerk.