Reloaded USC ready to debut Lincoln Riley’s signature offense – San Bernardino Sun
Reloaded USC ready to debut Lincoln Riley’s signature offense – San Bernardino Sun

Reloaded USC ready to debut Lincoln Riley’s signature offense – San Bernardino Sun

When USC announced the hiring of Lincoln Riley in November, there was plenty of reason for optimism. New energy on the recruiting trail, a coach with College Football Playoff experience, a level of legitimacy USC hadn’t enjoyed in several seasons.

But perhaps the biggest reason for excitement surrounding Riley’s hiring: his creative, high-scoring offense.

In each of his seven seasons at Oklahoma, as both offensive coordinator and head coach, Riley’s offenses ranked at least 8th in points per game. It turned Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray into Heisman Trophy winners, not to mention producing top NFL talent like Mark Andrews, CeeDee Lamb and Joe Mixon.

Saturday’s season opener against Rice will be the first opportunity to see how Riley implements his iteration of the Air Raid at USC after spending an offseason reshaping the roster in his image (more on that in a moment).

It’s hard to predict exactly what the season will hold for USC. The natural growing pains that come with a new coaching staff and a pack of new players all over the field make predictions mere speculation.

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But a high-powered offense under Riley is almost a certainty.

“Coach Riley, he’s a brain, so he’s got all that stuff in his head. I don’t know where he puts everything,” quarterback Caleb Williams said. “It’s one of the reasons we came here because of his ability to adapt to his defenders and certain personalities.”

Now, as for that staff…

Quarterback

Williams’ transfer from Oklahoma in February was a big moment for this offense. He gives Riley a quarterback who knows his system and already has his trust, not to mention one who fits exactly what Riley wants to do with his mobility and arm strength.

Behind Williams is redshirt freshman Miller Moss, who made a strong impression in training camp, though his preference for playing in the pocket would give the offense a very different look if he took the field.

To run back

Despite losing Keaontay Ingram to the NFL Draft, USC has added plenty of intriguing talent in that room to go along with Darwin Barlow, who rushed 62 times for 289 yards last season.

The biggest addition is former Oregon quarterback Travis Dye, who totaled 1,673 yards from scrimmage last season while rushing for 16 touchdowns. He has averaged at least 6.0 yards per carry in each of the past three seasons and his ability to contribute in the passing game will make him a valuable asset.

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USC also added Stanford transfer Austin Jones and freshman Raleek Brown, whose speed should make him an option not only in the backfield but also in the slot.

Broadband receiver

This is the unit that has received perhaps the biggest influx of talent on the entire USC roster. The headliner, without a doubt, is Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison, whose top speed made him an unusual addition in May despite all the other receivers USC added before spring camp.

Former Oklahoma tight end Mario Williams gives Riley and Caleb Williams (no relation) a familiar target to work with and also has noticeable speed down the field. Brenden Rice gives USC a bigger target at 6-foot-2, while Terrell Bynum is a needed veteran presence in the gym.

And don’t forget the returners like Gary Bryant, Tahj Washington and Kyron Hudson competing for snaps.

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