With loss of LT Wheeler, Trojans shaking up offensive line personnel

Toa Lobendahn has impressed the USC coaches with his work at left tackle. 'He's done a nice job,' offensive line coach Tim Drevno said. 'We think he's really going to excel there.'

Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Simply put, there are a lot of moving parts on the USC offensive line.

Chad Wheeler’s season-ending knee injury has led to shifting on the left side.

For starters Aundrey Walker, who primarily has played guard over the last two seasons, moved back outside to left tackle in Salt Lake City immediately following Wheeler’s injury.

Walker, Sarkisian announced on Sunday, would continue at left tackle in Wheeler’s absence.

That may have changed Tuesday.

True freshman Toa Lobendahn moved outside from left guard to left tackle and received a lot of work with the first unit. 

Since stepping onto campus last spring, Lobendahn has shown himself to be a valuable commodity on the USC offensive line. In practices he’s received reps at tackle, center, and guard. He eventually locked down the left guard position answering some questions for an offensive line that was a huge question mark coming into the season.

On Tuesday, the staff wanted to get a look at him at left tackle and the freshman did well.

"He’s done a nice job," offensive line coach Tim Drevno said. "We think he’s really going to excel there.

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"He’s got great football awareness and you tell him something he doesn’t flinch. He takes what we want  him to do and just runs with it."

With Lobendahn at left tackle Damien Mama and Khaliel Rodgers, who was expected to be a starter at the beginning of the season before being sidelined with a knee injury, were inserted at left guard. Mama re-aggravated a knee injury Tuesday and his health can have an effect on where Lobendahn lines up Saturday at Washington State, head coach Steve Sarkisian said. 

If Mama is healthy, Lobendahn could remain at left tackle. If not, the freshman could have to move back inside to guard, leaving Walker or, potentially, Nathan Guertler to handle the left tackle spot.

The competition between Lobendahn and Walker could go the whole week. It’s quite possible Walker could win the position but Sarkisian is going to allow it to play out.

Sarkisian says he would like to see more "consistency" from Walker.