USC’s OL receiving double the attention

LOS ANGELES — There will be plenty of eyes on the USC offensive line this season.

Coach Lane Kiffin has already gone on record saying he wants to run the ball more in 2013 than he did in 2012.

Not only does Kiffin expect to run the ball more, he said his team has talent at the running back position good enough to rival the production of some of the great USC running teams of the past.

In order to do so, he’s brought in reinforcements.

USC has, not one, but two offensive line coaches this season with Mike Summers joining the staff and working alongside James Cregg.

That’s two minds. Four eyes. Double the correction the unit received a season ago.

“It’s something that every NFL team does (and) some college teams do with a limited number of coaches,” Kiffin said. “The individual attention they get (is beneficial). Five guys are going on a snap and one’s watching front side and one’s watching backside. And when you only have one guy it’s impossible to see all five and coach them all at the same time.”

A heavier emphasis on the running game has drawn the excitement of coaches and players alike.

“We’re geeked up about it,” Cregg said. “No doubt we need to run the football and that’s what every offensive line coach wants to (do). Every offensive lineman wants to. We’re excited about that.”

Said Summers: “Certainly if you’re an offensive linemen, you’d like to put your hand in the dirt and come off the ball. That hasn’t changed since Knute Rockne was coaching.”

There was much talk about the USC running backs entering last season. The Trojans had two backs coming off of 1,000-yard seasons but failed to get anyone over that mark in 2012.

It was a frustrating season for an offensive line that was hampered with a combination of youth and injuries.

This time around, that youth is a little older and they’ve maintained their health, so far, during camp.

A lot has happened since the end of last season.

The addition of Summers has given USC a running game coordinator that has broken down the nuances of steering a successful running game to the offensive line.

“(He’s) really emphasized it and just really taken it step-by-step to make sure that our technique is perfect,” Kevin Graf said of Summers.

Marcus Martin appears to be settling in nicely at center after moving over from left guard.

Max Tuerk, who saw time at guard and tackle last season, has his weight up to be able to better compete at the Division I level. He played at 275 pounds last season and is now up to 305 and is looking to fill the void left by Martin at left guard.

Aundrey Walker is back at left tackle as is John Martinez at right guard and Graf at right tackle.

A year older, a year wiser and the offensive line could very well be improved with four of five starters returning.

At the very least, they’re certainly getting enough attention to take a step forward in their execution.

“If you think about it there’s 11 players that play on offense,” Kiffin said. “You’re always playing with five linemen so that’s almost half your offense.”