USC Football: Trojans Benefit from Double-Training Philosophy

(Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
(Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

USC football’s “double-train” philosophy has paid off in the past. The Trojans hope it will continue as injuries mount on the offensive line.

There’s no question that USC football covets versatility. It’s evident in the footprint left behind by the Trojan offensive line over the years, with players moving around as needed.

And it’s something head coach Clay Helton intends to lean on again in 2017 and beyond.

“As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, guys need to trained at two positions because if you get a couple of injuries, you’re going to have to move one,” Helton said following USC’s Tuesday practice at Howard Jones Field.

“We will double-train guys, whether it’s a guy playing center-guard or a guy playing tackle-guard, just to be able to be ready for the worst possible case scenario.”

USC isn’t afraid to tinker up front, moving players from their established roles just to see what they have to work with at each position.

USC has come close to a worst case scenario already this spring with injuries holding out projected starters Toa Lobendahn, Nico Falah and Viane Talamaivao on an offensive line already reeling from the loss of three 2016 starters in the trenches.

Those injuries have forced the Trojans to get creative with their line ups in practice, but they’re as well equipped as they could be, specifically because of the double-training philosophy.

USC isn’t afraid to tinker up front, moving players from their established roles just to see what they have to work with at each position.

That’s why Toa Lobendahn has started multiple games at four different positions at USC.

It’s why Nico Falah was a godsend, moving over from tackle to center in the midst of an injury crisis. And why he could be the answer to USC’s big offensive line conundrum this year by shifting back outside.

SEE MORE: Nico Falah Mulling Move From Center To Tackle

And it’s why the likes of Chris Brown, Roy Hemsley and Andrew Voorhees have played different positions for stretches this spring.

USC’s spring prospectus lists Lobendahn, Brown, Hemsley and Jordan Austin as guard-tackles.

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Redshirt freshman Frank Martin appears on the roster at guard, but has played just as much center. Brown has also gotten reps in the middle in the past as an insurance policy.

It’s no accident that the Trojans feature so many linemen who can shift inside and out.

“We recruit athletes that can play multiple positions,” Helton said.

The head coach points to Max Tuerk, who arrived at USC in 2012 and started at tackle, then moved inside to guard, then moved again to center.

There are more versatile players on the way as well.

Four-star prospect Alijah Vera-Tucker is listed in the spring guide as an OG-OT. Blueshirt Jalen McKenzie was designated as a tackle and guard during the recruiting process and is likely to receive the same tag when he’s officially added to the roster in the fall.

Four-star center Brett Neilon could always end up at guard.

CHECK OUT: 5 Freshmen Who Could Start In 2017

That’s just the way it goes at USC, where coaches believe that fostering versatility is the best approach for the team and individuals.

“By multi-training guys, I think you make yourself a better asset, not only for this league but the next league,” Helton said.

The foundation of the double-train approach has been laid in spring ball, but the payoff won’t come until fall. Helton would prefer if the payoff was never needed, but you can never been too prepared for the hurdles football throws at you.