USC and Lincoln Riley’s long and strange road reaches the field

After eight months of analysis, tweaking, and nimble maneuvering in the first off-season of American football, something of a leeway, what will it be like for a new look early Friday morning? USK Trojans to finally be together at Brian Kennedy Field?

“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” said Lincoln Riley, USC’s first-year head coach.

He smiled but seemed genuine in his concern.

“This band has come a long way to this point,” Riley said. “This group faced different challenges and they kept responding. Obviously, we talked a lot about how this lineup came together, and I think they are happy to see all their guys. Now let’s get to work and start building this.”

Riley’s longtime ally, USC receivers coach Dennis Simmons, called the Trojans created on the 2022 transfer portal “a bit of a marriage of convenience.”

“A lot of these kids, we didn’t sit in their parents’ living room and discuss how we can help their child grow,” Simmons said, “and on the other hand, a lot of these kids we worked with in the spring didn’t connect with us.” .

Hasty Trojan Alliance – From Riley and his band of Oklahoma believers who joined his USC staff to former Sooners defender Caleb Williams the current winner of the Biletnikoff Award Jordan Addisonmoving from Pittsburgh to the revamped linebacker corps — Friday seems to be the start of a happy honeymoon.

The disappointment of the Trojans’ 4-8 record last season and the lingering turmoil that characterized the later years of the Clay Helton era are gone.

“Along with a lot of new players, there are some of the best players in college football,” said center Brett Nylon, who is in his sixth year with the Trojans. “You have Caleb, Jordan won Biletnikoff, you have Travis. [Dye], you have Austin Jones, you have Brenden Rice. In that regard, it’s great that we’ve got a lot of players, but they’re also extremely talented.”

Friday was Addison’s first practice at Cardinal and Gold – and Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. previously retired no. 3 jersey – and the young man definitely looked the part.

“He’s a good player,” Riley said with a hint of understatement. “He’s very attentive. You train the details and you see them show up pretty quickly on the pitch. He made some good games for us today. Obviously he’s a proven player in the past. He has to come in and prove it here. But for the first time really coaching him on the pitch, he’s impressive.”

Of course, getting USC back to being USC quickly will take more than a flash in skill positions.

“We’re still in the ‘to prove’ stage,” Simmons said. “Do I think we have a lot of talent? Yes. Do I think we have all the size, strength and speed we need? Yes. But who we are as a whole and who we want to become as a whole remains to be seen. This is what autumn camp is all about. I think the strength of our team will be our resilience.”

USC head coach Lincoln Riley is on the defensive as he works out with receivers in practice.

USC head coach Lincoln Riley works with receivers during the first day of training on Friday.

(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

On that note, Riley said that the Trojans won’t have a let-down period in the coming days as they complete some training at the Colosseum to get used to the old iconic building that really is their new home.

“For us right now, Year 1, there is so much new on this list,” Riley said. “We are going to attack him and then at the right moment we will break away from them a bit, try to get their bodies back and start preparing for the opponents.

“But right now we have to get USC right. We must win our internal battle, and this is our daily battle. As opposed to thinking of it as a marathon where you run a little every day, our deal is that every day is a fistfight and you wake up and get ready to fight again.”