Tajwar's Take: Observations from USC's OL/DL in scrimmage
While much of the spotlight Saturday for USC's Fall Showcase scrimmage was on the quarterbacks, the receivers making big plays and the questions in the secondary, our Tajwar Khandaker focused on the battle up front between the Trojans' offensive and defensive linemen.
He offers his 10 biggest takeaways from the afternoon inside the Coliseum.
10. OL collectively still with much to prove
As a whole, the defensive line certainly got the better of its counterpart across the line of scrimmage Saturday. The ball barely moved on the ground -- side from a few punch-in touchdowns from right outside of the end zone, there were no rushing highlights to speak of in the scrimmage. Though the offensive line fared better in pass-blocking, the unit surrendered regular pressures all through the scrimmage. The quick-release nature of the offense helped mask their deficiencies -- which was part of the hope with the move to this new scheme -- but aside from a few bright spots the collective performance from O-line was still definitely below par. Coach Clay Helton called the unit "the most improved group" on the team, but as they say, it's all relative.
9. Austin Jackson settling in
Veteran left tackle Austin Jackson looked like the most comfortable and experienced player on the offensive line, which he probably should given his experience. Still, a positive is a positive. Jackson was steady throughout the day, holding up especially well in pass protection. He's being counted on to be the anchor and leader of the unit and he was that on Saturday.
8. Drew Richmond rotating
Tennessee graduate transfer Drew Richmond saw more action at right tackle, which is something we’ve only seen him do for a week now after backing up Jackson at left tackle for most of camp. Instead of competing with Jalen McKenzie for the RT spot, Richmond’s reps with the first team involved McKenzie sliding over to right guard. After the scrimmage, when asked about Richmond, Helton emphasized his appreciation for the versatility he offers and his desire to have an OL full of players capable of running multiple positions. He named McKenzie and incumbent right guard Andrew Vorhees as others capable of playing multiple spots. Richmond was Tennessee's starting RT last season, but it looks like he may be plugged into a utility role backing up both tackle spots for the Trojans -- unless, of course, the coaches decide he and McKenzie on the right side is a better tandem than McKenzie and Vorhees.
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