Does USC Have Run Game/Offensive Line Concerns?

Is it time to start worrying about USC’s running game? The Trojans averaged 3.5 yards a carry against Cal. Ronald Jones wasn’t playing but USC averaged 1.9 yards per carry against Texas with Jones.

Maybe a better way of saying this is the offensive line has really struggled the past two games. After the Stanford game, people talked about it being one of the line’s best performances in years. It’s been all downhill since then. Even Sam Darnold looked in the first half like he was forcing throws because of the pressure.

Remember, this is not an inexperienced line. Viane Talamaivao is a 4-year starter. Toa Lobendahn has started 4 seasons when not injured. Nico Falah is a 2-year starter. The question is will the line improve given that experience is producing the current results?

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  • steveg

    Like I said in another post, if this is an experienced O line, then they are just not that good. Either bad coaching (they have had several of those) or bad recruiting.

    • Trojan Dynasty

      From what I see the worst element of those you mentioned is bad coaching. I just didn’t see any brilliant changes from last week and during this week’s game.

  • SCgrad12

    Like what was stated on TOS, there is something definitely missing from this years squad. We all know that injuries are a factor, but aside from the Stanford game, there have been flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ball, along with some real head scratching moments. At the forefront of this are three things; consistent effort, attention to detail, and focus. When this team is going good they exhibit all three of these items, but when this team is going bad, they show none of these qualities.
    Is this lack of all three of these elements a coaching problem? Or is it a leadership problem? It is hard to tell. But one thing is certain. Unless this gets solved USC may be in for a rude awakening at Wazzu and Notre Dame. Maybe this group needs a loss to give them a wake up call, but you would think the Western Michigan and Texas games were that “wake up call”.

    • BearBryant3

      its not wake up call, it scheme. Vary the attack of the offense line they are only blocking two ways zone and reach. Which worked great last year because banner and maia just had to take a run side and take on there man. The line is smaller and athletic but needs angles to be effective and not the same type of blocking style. Mix it up.

      • SCgrad12

        All good points. But what really bothers me is the lack of concentration and effort at times.


    I’ll say this once again, this is a below average staff. If not for Darnold, AD Swann would have probably canned Gomer already. Once Darnold is gone you’ll see this decades version of Ted Tollner or for you not old enough to remember Ted T, Paul Hackett

    • Trojan Dynasty

      Of course, we won’t know how the team would do without Darnold next year or the following year, but I can’t say what you’re saying is completely without merit. This staff isn’t exactly brimming with wisdom at the moment.

  • Arturo

    Inaccurate reporting. Viane (325 lbs) split time last year with Mama last year and is not a four year starter. Nico (280) is solid at center, no complaints. Chris Brown (310) has been a pleasant surprise. Chuma (290) has nimble feet, not overpowering though. Toa (295) is not a LT. He has missed two seasons and has torn both ACLs. Toa would be a terrific center or guard. I think the coaches want the most experienced Oline possible even if that means playing Toa out of position. I think they do an above average job of working as a unit. They are just undersized at both tackle spots.

    • Trojans 6942

      Actually they run zone blocking technique. So really their a little oversized. I believe the cross block are pinch block is something they should look to try. Problem is they’re not getting to the spot on the pull formations. Ever dentally they don’t trust helmet to helmet, I know why, they’re simply not big enough or mean enough for that scheme.

      • Arturo

        Pass protection has been a problem though. Here’s where length seems to be the cause. The two guards seem to have a little nastiness to them.

        • Trojans 6942

          Now u just nail it. The problem with the line is they’re to small at tackle but they’re guards are to big for zone blocking technique. Your going to see them move Toa inside when Nathan Smith can play. I think they would do it now but it’s hard to change without a bye. Plus they don’t have a big nasty tackle right now to change technique.

    • UtahTrojan

      Wait a minute. Are you saying one of the few times Wolf uses facts he is lying?

      • Arturo

        Inaccurate, homey. He is reporting skewed info.

        • UtahTrojan

          If it is intentional it is lying.

          • Arturo

            Not here to accuse, just to clarify and clean up.

          • USC jojo

            Last nights post “USC Quote of the Night”
            sw says, “USC coach Clay Helton on Cal: “You can see that team is developing an identity.”

            So what exactly is USC’s identity tonight? Sam Darnold to the rescue?

            In todays Press Enterprise for the Inland Empire, writer Joey Kauffman writes, “You could see this team is developing an identity,” Helton said in reference to the Golden Bears.

            So one of these two guys is not seeing it correctly.


      RAH RAH RAH! ! ! ! !

      • Arturo

        What does this mean?

  • michael elliott

    I think we need to move toa he is not a left tackle. He needs to play guard and let’s let Jackson develop as our LT of the future since Chuma too afraid to play it

  • Sebastian Lane

    The offensive line is a cohesive unit. Just because they have experience doesn’t mean they have experince playing together. Toa is a horse, but clearly out of position at LT. Brown is a new starter and Chuma is often out, hurting chemistry. Yes, they need to play better, but some perspective please. All this negativity is a downer.

  • schammer47

    Here are the USC Trojan players who did not suit up for the Cal game: Banner, T; Wheeler, T; Mama, G: Imatorbhebhe, TE, inj; Ju-Ju, WR; Rodgers, WR; Mitchell, Jr, WR, inj; Jones ii, RB, inj; Gustin, OLB, inj; Tu’ikolovatu, DL; Jackson, CB Ret; McQuay iii, S; Brown, K, inj.

    The Trojan team that took the field yesterday beat Cal because of a superb effort by The Team, The entire Coaching Staff, and the Can Do Bonding of all concerned. FIGHT ON AND WIN, FOR OLE SC !!!

    • Jethro G Sabbath

      You forgot Marcus Allen.

      • schammer47

        Marcus Allen doesn’t fit the script. Sarcasm does though, JGS…….Downer……..


      RAH RAH RAH !!!

      • schammer47

        You got that right, Amigo !!!

  • BearBryant3

    The line is much more athletic then last year, need to mix in more down blocks so they have better angles for blocking and incorporate more pulling into the run game, last year with banner and maia it was difficult to pull because they werent athletic enough to be effective with that concept.

  • Rick S.

    I “wouldn’t” be concerned (Worried ?) about the Trojan Offensive Line, nor the Defense (Which played borderline “Fantastic” !) nor the Running Backs and not even the Receivers…

    If “anyone” is to be “worried” it’s about the USC Quarterback who again was “throwing” UP boneheaded passes of which again have happened tooooo many times of which Sam Darnold who is now [ 10 & 8 ] and who also is on his way to setting the “All-Time” USC Trojan Quarterback “interception” Record which could come soon because “8” interceptions in “4” games means “24” interceptions in a “12” regular season games not “counting” a Pac-12 Championship game (“If” Sam Darnold can “get” the Trojans there ???) and the Playoffs which “could” add up to “30” interceptions at years/season’s end…


    “Poor” USC Defense who had better get ready to play “40+” minutes per game to save-off the Opponents “Interception” rate ??? !

    Now “that” is something to be concerned/worried/troubled/discerned with/about…

    Doesn’t USC have a backup Quarterback ???


  • GreenFox

    I think the problem is more on the wide receivers. 5 guys can’t block 7 or 8 man fronts. It’s up to the wide receivers to get open to make the defense pay for playing so many guys at the line. Once the WRs start playing better, it will improve the efficiency of the O line. Obviously not having Mitchell hurt the team a lot.

  • David Keeling

    It sure isn’t the running backs fault….

  • David Keeling

    Why is it the running backs can’t find the holes to run through but the backers & safeties can find the angles to penetrate the line and make contact with the RB behind the line of scrimmage? This is happening every game.

  • Pasadena Trojan

    Scooter, the last two games the opposing defense has been loading the box and have been running different stunts and blitzes. The offensive coordinator needs to adjust to that by either bringing in a fullback, run counter, quick hitting post, square out, sweep, or have two fullbacks and run up the gut. It is not so much on the oline as it is in play calling and formation

  • Lunderful

    Our O-line is not particularly athletic. They are slow.