New USC offensive line coach Bob Connelly got his first taste of action as a Trojan Tuesday when spring camp kicked off at Cromwell Field, commenting on the young linemen at his disposal and his coaching philosophy.
USC returns every starter from 2014 on the offensive line, including Viane Talamaivao, Toa Lobendahn, and Damien Mama, who all started games as freshmen, giving Connelly an impressive, but youthful pool of linemen to mold for 2015.
Still, Connelly told reporters after the first practice that he believes in holding linemen out until they have more time at the collegiate level under their belt. Ideally, Connelly would have all incoming freshman offensive lineman redshirt their first season. Even then, redshirt freshman would have to be special to jump straight into the line up.
USC may have the luxury to allow their young linemen to develop with more scholarships going forward, but that certainly wasn’t the case in 2014 when the three true freshmen saw extensive time as starters. Connelly said he was impressed by the “talented group” of players USC despite their youth.
There is still a long way to go in spring camp, but day one did reveal some solid information about the make up of the offensive line going forward.
Toa Lobendahn will remain at left tackle while Chad Wheeler continues his recovery from his 2014 ACL tear. Sophomore Nico Falah will also get reps on the left.
Meanwhile early enrollee Chuma Edoga will be eased into college life at the right tackle position.
Given Connelly’s preference for more experienced players, Khaliel Rodgers and Jordan Simmons could make waves at guard during spring, though their progression remains to be seen.
Sarkisian praised the offseason conditioning for Mama and Falah after practice, while Connelly noted that he would like to see Mama and Talamaivao slim down even more.
As for the most veteran player in the group, center Max Tuerk, Connelly announced no plans to adjust his unusual snapping technique.
Connelly joined USC after Signing Day in February, replacing Tim Drevno who took a position with Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. He has an 18-yard coaching career across the country, including stints at Oklahoma State, UCLA and Alabama
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