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USC football's new OL coach Clay McGuire says Trojans may go under center

Alicia de Artola
Feb 5, 2021, 1:08 PM PST
USC football offensive linemen.
USC football offensive linemen. | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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One of the most contentious moments of USC's 2020 season involved head coach Clay Helton and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell rejecting the idea of going under center.

The Trojans were struggling mightily running the ball in short-yardage situations and calls for putting the QB under center were roundly rejected by the staff.

Well, there's a new sherriff in town and he's changing USC's tune.

USC OL coach Clay McGuire says going under center is possible

"There's a time and place for it," new offensive line coach Clay McGuire said on Friday during his introductory press conference.

That's a very different message than the head coach and OC were delivering just a few months ago when the refrain was "that's just not us."

To be clear, McGuire isn't going to have USC under center all the time. He was quick to stress that going under center isn't a magic bullet. It doesn't make you good at running the ball. It's simply another tool in the arsenal of an offense.

McGuire said USC's run schemes will be undergoing major changes in general. His goal is for the Trojans to run more efficiently and for the run game to complement the passing attack more effectively.

Don't expect the Trojans to run more often. Expect them to get more from their running backs when they do.

If that means going under center on 3rd-and-1, then McGuire is at least open to the idea.

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Time will tell if he makes a difference, but it was refreshing to hear from McGuire. His familiarity with the Air Raid could lead to serious improvement for USC. He spent enough years under Mike Leach to know what works on the ground in that offensive style.

From 2015 to 2017, Washington State's leading rushers averaged better than 5.7 yards per carry. Between Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr, Kenan Christon and transfer Keontay Ingram, USC has backs capable of putting up numbers at least as good as those.

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