USC football practice notes: Offensive line experiment on Day 9 (8/13)

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /
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Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC football experimented with some new lineups on Day 9 of Fall Camp, looking to crosstrain linemen like Jalen McKenzie and Andrew Vorhees.

FALL CAMP. First Scrimmage Evaluations

Since the start of Spring Camp, USC football has operated with a largely unchanged offensive line.

With the exception of a few shifts because of the occasional injury, the first team line has included right tackle Jalen McKenzie, right guard Andrew Vorhees, center Brett Neilon, left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and left tackle Austin Jackson. Tennessee transfer Drew Richmond stood in for Jackson as he was eased back into action after a bone marrow donation for his sister.

On Tuesday, for the first time, the Trojans shook up the line up fairly drastically.

McKenzie moved inside to guard and Richmond slid over to the right in his place. Vorhees worked with the second team at right tackle.

It was a different look for USC up front, but not an unwelcome experiment. It’s one which could help the coaches get a better idea of who fits were and who fits best.

“Coach is trying to figure out the best five to go out there at any position,” McKenzie said after practice. “So we just worked up and down the line.”

McKenzie said there are “100 football differences” between playing tackle and guard, but the position isn’t exactly foreign to him. In high school he played center, guard and tackle.

“So it’s nothing,” he said.

Offensive line coach Tim Drevno didn’t commit to making any of those position changes permanent, pointing more to the obvious value of having versatility across the line.

“You always want to cross train, because you never know what’s going to come,” said Drevno. “Unfortunately, in this game, sometimes you get injuries, you get setbacks and you gotta cross train to make sure everybody’s in the right spot.”

Practicing at a position, even without the intention of moving there full-time, builds recall which could come in handy if a move is required during the season, Drevno explained.

There’s another player who has always stood out as a potential crosstrainer. That’s center Justin Dedich. He has spent this offseason behind Brett Neilon at center, but he may have the skillset to thrive at guard as well.

Is it possible to see him tried out there eventually?

“Nothing’s ruled out,” Drevno said.