Offensive Line Woes

I spoke to a former USC offensive lineman today, who was less-than-enthused with techniques used by the Trojans’ offensive line.

“I’m really concerned about the pad level of our offensive line,” he said.

It’s a simple, basic aspect of offensive linemen to keep your pads low. He also mentioned poor footwork on double teams and often falling to the ground.

“There are too many missed assignments in turn-back pass protection,” he said.

These are simple things that should have been taught (or learned) a long time ago, especially by a veteran offensive line.

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  • Paul Muad’dib

    Hopefully the NCAA steps in and vacates these first four wins. That way this team gets the record they deserve! Then Scott Wolf can be happy inside.

    • CORTEZ THE KILLER

      Wolf is a tool but he’s right to point out that Helton & Co have not developed a freshman receiver and the OL isn’t playing well at all. He may beat it to death, but he’s right, and it will cost SC in a game, maybe against WSU.

      • Cloud Shaman

        I think his loyalty to seniors i.e. Green and Mitchell clouds his judgement. Another contributing factor is that other teams are using packages designed to disrupt the offenses rhythm especially Sam Darnold.

        • CORTEZ THE KILLER

          Yes, Helton has that loyalty thing, and that’s wrong, play the BEST PLAYERS. If the defenses are doing that, then it’s up to Helton, Martin & Co to beat it, think they can do that ?

          • Cloud Shaman

            Has to be a Saban like mentality

          • CORTEZ THE KILLER

            Belichick ” It’s not personal, it’s business “

        • Gabby

          Sam is being fooled by some of the coverage thrown at have.But he’s a very good student of the game and will learn from his mistakes…..growing pains are part of the game

  • Clay Russell

    Of all the things people talk about, this is the most distressing thing. After watching the O-line against WMU and Stan, I thought we had a really good run blocking unit and just needed to work on pass blocking. Now, it doesn’t look like we can count on the line to do either consistently well. If we can’t handle PAC 12 D-lines, it’s better to save the embarrassment and skip the playoffs. Our O-line has too much time in the program to be getting worked like they are. WTF is going on with the O-Line, Calloway?

    • Michael Guarino

      Is it possible we miss Banner and Wheeler’s leadership more than we could have anticipated? The o-line has played well in exactly one game this season. And some players look like they’re regressing (e.g.,Lobendahn)…..

      • CORTEZ THE KILLER

        Banner ? Overweight, slow and stupid, they guy constantly jumped offsides. Wheeler was BSC.

        IT’S THE COACHING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • schammer47

          No, Amigo. You must have missed Banner move the entire left side of the Penn State defense to their right, creating room for #25 to gain an important 5 yards setting up the winning 43 yard field goal. Pay attention.

          • Gabby

            The guy has selective memory…..

      • Clay Russell

        We should be doing better with the players we have. You would think that with an old school coach, basic technique would be a given.

        • Michael Guarino

          Yes—agreed. But what concerns me is certain players played better at the end of last year (under the same coaches) than they are playing this year. Sometimes that’s a result of a lack of maturity and leadership on the field (even if those missing mature players might have been “overweight and slow”)…….

          • CORTEZ THE KILLER

            Who says they were leaders ? Just because they were seniors doesn’t mean they were leaders. And remember who hired Connelly, a drunk.

          • Clay Russell

            Sam was playing better last year too.

          • Michael Guarino

            I don’t like to say this but Sam has regressed more than we’ve been willing to admit. For the most part, he doesn’t avoid the rush with the same dexterity as last year —and, when he does, he lets loose with balls that are seriously off target. Three times against Cal he escaped out of the pocket and threw first year freshman passes —and one of those came on what would have been an easy touchdown. Something more than a sudden drop off in coaching is behind Sam making mistakes like that. I wish I knew what it was.

          • Gabby

            For some reason, Sam is not seeing the field clearly. He got lucky on a few of his errant throws. Yet wolf continues to blame it on the receivers and coaching staff

          • Michael Guarino

            I think it’s hard for us to criticize somebody who has played such a big part in rescuing the program from the mess that Sark left. Sam is such a great young man that you feel like rat saying he’s regressed this year —but he has. I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with trying to shorten his throwing motion. That wind up he used last year seemed to work just fine. [And personally, with this o-line, I would like to see Sam moving out of the pocket every time he sees the opportunity].

          • Gabby

            Perhaps the new throwing motion has impacted his accuracy. But some of the throws are just being forced. Could be a little Sophomore slump….Hope it ended last game!

          • Cloud Shaman

            The defenses are taking angles and blitzing to take away those lanes for him

          • Michael Guarino

            Thanks —I’ll be paying more attention to that on Friday. [But Penn State blitzed plenty in the Rose Bowl and, for the most part, Sam handled the pressure pretty well].
            #ButSamGotBetterProtectionInRoseBowl,Too

          • Clay Russell

            I’m willing to chalk it up to a sophomore slump. He’s not the first one to have one and greater men than I have tried to explain it.

          • Michael Guarino

            Toledo at UCLA said the sophomore slump was a result of players getting their “antenna clogged” with too much information. In other words, not trusting their instincts and not having a great enough grasp of the skill sets necessary to replace those instincts.

          • Clay Russell

            That makes sense to me and is entirely plausible.

          • RegalTrojan

            MG, I think I know the answer to that. As the potential top NFL pick for next year’s draft, it appears Darnold is trying to establish himself as a true pro-style pocket passer, instead of a mobile QB. And that mentality along with the play-calling that caters to that new style seems to have curtailed his penchant for being elusive and rugged in his plays as he was last season. In other words, he seems to be trying to be a QB that really hasn’t been in the past, which might not be something that would create the best results. We know that trying to be someone else than who we really are rarely works, don’t we?

          • Michael Guarino

            Agreed. He was a one of a kind college talent who was tutored over the summer into being more of a pro type quarterback. I can get why Sam’s oneday agent would be happy with this —-but I don’t know why the USC coaching staff, in particular Tyson Helton, passively went along with it. Since the 2017 season started, Sam hasn’t spent one quarter of football looking as good as he did against Penn State. Hope he can shed the dark clouds this Friday and play like the old Sam.
            I’d hate to see everybody saying after the game that Luke Falk is the real Heisman contender.

          • RegalTrojan

            It’s quite simple, MG. Perhaps, their minds were already in NY in the middle of August. Let’s hope they could somehow focus on tasks at hand, instead of the possible prizes.

          • Michael Guarino

            I wish I could double click “like” on your post. I think you nailed it —–what disappoints me is, that of ALL the quarterbacks in 2017 college football, the one I would least expect to forget the task at hand, would be Sam Darnold. Whatever the quarterback gurus told him over the summer, all Sam needed to do to win the Pac 12 Championship, get USC into the playoffs and win the Heisman in 2017 —-was be the player he was in 2016.

          • RegalTrojan

            Bingo!!!

          • Gabby

            My same thoughts

          • schammer47

            Michael, We do miss Banner and Wheeler’s leadership, big time.

          • Michael Guarino

            Thanks, Schammer! Anyone who listened to Banner and Wheeler speak about how much it meant to them personally to bring USC back from NCAA-imposed oblivion, knows what they meant to the team. Banner had everybody pumped for the Washington game last year. Who’s taking his pace this week?

          • Gabby

            We need to find a leader of men, sooner than later

          • Cloud Shaman

            Washington State sucks you will see. Cal is better.

          • Michael Guarino

            Man, do I hope you’re right! The thing that scares me about Washington State (the only thing, as a matter of fact) is they have the most accurate passer I’ve seen in the Pac 12 —–and we have the most uneven secondary I’ve seen in the Pac 12. We need Gustin and Nwosu to rush the crap outta Falk to make up for Marshall and Jones.

          • Shawnman

            I am sorry, but did you watch Boise State vs Washington State game? Boise State looks really bad last week

          • Michael Guarino

            Yeah, Boise looked sick! What is going on with those guys?

          • marvgoux1

            They lost their coach to UW.

      • schammer47

        Michael, We do miss Banner and Wheeler’s leadership, big time, so far.

    • Lunderful

      In brief, Calloway and recruiting.

      • Clay Russell

        We have guys who are good enough to be doing a better job than they are.

        • CORTEZ THE KILLER

          Then it’s coaching.

          • Clay Russell

            That was the implication.

        • schammer47

          Don’t think so, Clay. Our two tackles and TE Petite frequently block poorly.

          • Clay Russell

            Then coach them up. You can’t tell me that we’ve just been unlucky with the 4 stars that we recruited. The O-line is regressing week to week and it probably has something to do with coaching. Plus, teams are trying to surprise us every week with stuff we aren’t prepared for.

          • schammer47

            Clay, This coming Friday, our Offensive Line WILL RULE. WaIt and see.

          • RoseBowlBound

            Cyrus Hobbi is Wolf’s mole.. The fact is, teams are loading the box and SC has not been able to out-scheme this approach yet. Hopefully, the figure it out soon…

          • Michael Guarino

            Well, no one on earth knows more about o-line excellence than Cyrus. He demonstrated so much excellence against Stanford in 2012 that Matt Barkley was never the same player again.

          • marvgoux1

            Was he the one who whiffed on Matt Barr in the f uucla game?

          • Michael Guarino

            No. marv —that was the equally wondrous Aundrey Walker (and he didn’t even look back to see how Matt was doing as he waddled off the field).
            #AllTimeCrapO-Line
            #KiffinDidn’tKnowYouNeededOne

          • Brent4c

            It is funny how all of these stellar fans are missing the number of players Texas and Cam committed to stopping the run. The biggest issue is lack of experience w WR. When SD begins to repair their route running and reads on coverages defenses will no longer be able to stack the box. If they do they will be torched later in the year.

          • Pete Smith

            a
            And what will are DBs look like????

    • RegalTrojan

      Look who opened his eyes! I’m glad you finally see something wrong with coaching, CR. I guess we now see things more in common. Finally.

      • Clay Russell

        I have a problem with Baxter and Callaway, but other than that, I’m fine with the staff.

        • Michael Guarino

          You picked “the right two” (kind of like Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”)……

        • RegalTrojan

          I’m not, but let’s not go there just yet.

        • Pasadena Trojan

          T Martin’s play calling has something to desire. They don’t have plays to counter the stacked box. They have not shown anything to counter it either.

          • Clay Russell

            It’s hard to be a good play-caller when nothing is working. I wonder what is going on pre-snap. They seem to have some kind of “check with me” system going on and I don’t know why we aren’t getting better adjustments.

      • Clay Russell

        Our “discussion” had nothing to do with the coaching staff. Unless I missed something, we talked about the state of the team without Sam. What does that have to do with the current topic?

        • RegalTrojan

          Well, you seemed to have changed your stance on the coaching side of things on the team, so I just recognized it.

          • Clay Russell

            No, Helton has us on a 13 game winning streak and introduced stability that has been sorely lacking. I don’t think he’s a superstar, but I think he could make some changes on his staff that he’s too loyal to make. What would it actually take for a guy like coach Helton to fire someone? My guess is that whenever he does it, it’ll be overdue.

          • EncinitasBruin

            Don’t confuse them with facts, Clay….

          • Clay Russell

            I wish they weren’t so confusing these days. What are we to expect from the bruins on Saturday?

          • EncinitasBruin

            A bounce-back win helped by the return of the Bruins’ best RB, Soso Jamabo, averaging 7.7 ypc. Takes the pressure off JR. I like the Vegas line giving UCLA a -6.5 edge. And your thoughts on a dangerous Wazzu team in the Palouse?

          • Clay Russell

            I saw him out there last Saturday and JR seemed to be under quite a bit of pressure. In fact, his uniform appeared to be very dirty.

            When I saw the spread for the SC game it was -4 and I think they will cover.

          • USC Heisman 7

            Another loss

          • RegalTrojan

            Believe it or not, I love him as a person, and I think he’s a good coach. We’d be hard pressed to find another coach who’s as genuine and real. Ever! But the most crucial part of head-coaching is managing the personnel of the team, and Helton’s focus on maintaining the team as a family has to be a double-edged sword when it comes to uprooting the less desirable elements in the team, such as firing and replacing assistants. I’m quite certain he will find ways to counterbalance between being a nice guy and being an efficient coach with more experience. And I hope it’ll happen to him while he’s coaching at SC, not after he will have moved on to another team.

          • Clay Russell

            He’s gotta be a CEO first and a father second. He has be hired to do a job and part of that is making sure he has coaches there for the right reasons.

          • RegalTrojan

            And here’s hoping that he’ll set the priorities straight sooner than later, or everything wrong with the team will ultimately become his own responsibility.

  • Yale O. Leftwich

    GLAD to see somebody ??? spoke up and sees what we all see; the excuses offered , gee we never saw that before,or too well disguised defense,means one thing …not well coached or can’t learn…one of them is accurate for a veteran line.

    • CORTEZ THE KILLER

      Not to mention that USC recruits 10056789994 WR’s and not a one of them is a deep threat, why ? SC can’t find ONE kid with breakaway speed ?

      • EncinitasBruin

        Well, UCLA landed Theo Howard over the Trojans, and he’s fast. He runs a 4.3–but he also dropped a momentum-killing TD pass against Stanford, so…

        • CORTEZ THE KILLER

          That may be true, but ucla may be one of the worst coached teams I’ve seen so maybe the kid isn’t coached well. Tthe threat of the deep ball opens the middle of the field, not that Tee Martin would know that .

          • Gabby

            Perhaps Mora would be open to your thoughts and opinions. When you say the deep threat would open the middle to the field, please explain your reasoning.

  • CORTEZ THE KILLER

    I’ll say this forever, this is not a good coaching staff. For some reason Helton can’t or will not upgrade his staff.

    You WILL see how bad this staff is once Sam leaves, it’s going to be a major cluster fark

    • Gabby

      Hey killer, have played or coached football at any level above Pop Warner?

  • Trojans 6942

    Well you’ll see a resurgence in the offensive line in the next 3 weeks, not necessarily because of improvements. Just talent they will play. Washington’s front Line is 240 tackle 297 nose, 255 tackle and a rush end that basically is a lb. at 225! Can you say really small.

  • Cloud Shaman

    Now this is good information

  • Pete

    What was the name of the offense lineman that gave his opinion. If SW can’t, then consider it a made up story. People who make a statement of fact but can’t substantiate it are making it up. The proof is always on the positive.

    • Pasadena Trojan

      Pete, I give the benefit of the doubt to Scooter. I am sure he did speak to a former o lineman. Remember, Harlow is a head coach in South Orange Co., so he knows about blocking and there are others near SC.

      • Pete

        So your saying you know for sure that he spoke to Harlow?

        • USC Heisman 7

          I will ask Pat!.

          • Pasadena Trojan

            It was a guess or an example. There are many former SC linemen in Southern California that he could have spoken to. He could have gone all the way back to the 50’s or 60’s. We won’t know unless he releases the name.

        • Pasadena Trojan

          No, I am not certain. However, if anyone found out that he made this up, then he loses any credibility that is left with him and his blog becomes a bigger joke than it is already.

      • GreenFox

        Why wouldn’t he name the former player? It criticism, but seems pretty tame.

        • marvgoux1

          Because he doesn’t want retribution from Heritage Hall.

  • Sas

    I think that former player is right. Toa Lobendahn was getting knocked back like he was in a fight with the Hulk because he was standing straight up getting blown away on power rush and was too slow covering the edge. And it’s not just him. On the missed 4th down the WHOLE ENTIRE OL failed to push the Cal defense back. That was just sad to watch.

    • Michael Guarino

      Yes, Sam. And Cal’s d-line is just about the worst in the Pac 12. It was sad.

      • Sas

        Exactly. Do our coaches walk away thinking that Cal just put up a good fight or that the Cal DLine was impressive? I don’t care care because we shouldn’t be struggling in this area at all, let alone against Cal.

        • Michael Guarino

          Cal’s D-line is made up of 2 star players. Not being able to blow them out, even if they were pumped up, is downright embarrassing. Hope the O-line bounces back in a BIG way on Friday. Protect Sam!

          • Sas

            Word for word you read my mind Mike!

          • Michael Guarino

            September 29th is make it or break it day, Sam!
            #FightOn!

  • Sas

    I’m almost ready to say f*ck It! And play Alijah Vera-Tucker or Austin Jackson.

  • MB

    I’ll do a half-tip of the hat to Wolf for trying to report on something involving the actual game, and being semi-specific. But if this is simply all there is to it, for the entire line, how did they rack up 300 yards rushing against Stanford? Was that all on Stanford. Were their pads even higher?

    Anybody who watched the UT and Cal games saw them bringing a ton of pressure on about 3/4 of all the plays. When SC broke off decent plays it was almost always because they had numbers – eg one linemen or blocking back per defender, and only one defender for the RB to beat. But that was few and far between. Tee and Helton announced basically at the Stanford game that they were going to be a dominant running team, and UT and Cal dared them to prove it. They brought the house, and SC kind of stubbornly stuck to the power run game. The intermediate pass game was there for taking against those schemes and they largely avoided it for three quarters in both games. They need to keep the blitz packages more honest, which will be a big help to the linemen.

    • Michael Guarino

      You’re right —Helton didn’t want to bail on the power game so he stubbornly stuck with it when other options were obviously open. The big problem with that approach is that we have a bunch of injured players as a result.

  • Ray

    usc 5-0

  • Pasadena Trojan

    Goal line, the olinemen stood straight up on the 4th and 1 against texas and against cal. They need to stay low with feet moving. When double teaming, both oline men must use the inside foot for intial push and then drive. That way the dlineman cannot split the double team.

  • Ignore_the_trolls

    Didn’t this exact same thing get posted about this time last year?

    • EncinitasBruin

      You receive the award for The Best User Name. Ever noticed that many trolls come from one’s own fan base?

  • Rabb

    Go back to using the HUDDLE. The no huddle isn’t working, teams can see what USC is gonna run every play. Tee Martin should allow Sam the opportunity to call AUDIBLES. Disguising the plays from the HUDDLE will help tremendously. Everyone watching can tell what the offense is running from the no huddle formation. Going back to the HUDDLE, Sam can look each player in the eye and light a fire in them.✌

    • Gabby

      Let’s go jumbo package, with fullback, extra TE, play a little smash mouth football. Stanford has been killing teams with this type of formation for years. Plus it forces defenses to stack the box which in return puts DB’s on an island and opens up more passing lanes

      • Rabb

        Bingo!!

    • Sas

      Rabb, I was thinking the very same thing during the Cal game when we pass happy throwing three in a row in various times of the game. Huddling up at times and a no huddle is a tactic that would work to our strenghts.

  • rusoviet

    The entire schedule of teams USC faces specifically plan for USC by going over game film hour after hour. It is the reason they seem so well prepared when they face Troy and mysteriously lose before or after facing USC.

    Consider a great baseball player – some phenom comes into the league and lights up everything because he hits everything singles, doubles, triples, homers etc.. The team he’s on goes through the league and then the return swing – if the scouts have been doing their job they’ve seen what he can and can’t hit – that’s what all great players face but the truly great ones – the HOF players note that and make their adjustment and continue on.

    So it is with USC – everyone is planning for them and no one else (Western MI, TX, Cal and the rest WA St. et. al.). I think the coaching staff realizes they have to constantly prepare for the counters thrown at them and should be doing so as they see them during the game. It’s what great coaches do and I believe we have a great coaching staff.

    Fight on!

    • Pudly76

      Just a quick reminder, of the four games played so far, all but one, furd, had a new coaching staff. We had no previous film of tendencies as they brought their A-games, using plays and formations for the first time.

      BTW, where was all this blitzing when that guy was our DC a couple years ago?