USC officially announced Clay McGuire as the new offensive line coach for the Trojans on Monday morning.
McGuire comes to USC after two years at Texas State. He’s spent a majority of his coaching career working under Mike Leach at Texas Tech and Washington State.
“We are excited to welcome Clay McGuire to the Trojan Family,” USC head coach Clay Helton said in a statement released by the school. “His extensive knowledge of our offensive system and time spent under great offensive minds like Mike Leach and Kliff Kingsbury made him a top target for us. His ability to develop players and build relationships in recruiting will help our program grow. We look forward to the passion and competitiveness he will bring to our football team.”
McGuire is well thought of and had a very quick rise to his coaching career, moving from video intern, to graduate assistant, to special teams coordinator, to running backs coach in just four years with Texas Tech. He’s also been connected to some other offensive minds, as he was a running backs and special teams coach at East Carolina, alongside offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Texas State head coach Jake Spavital plucked McGuire away from Texas Tech when he took over the Bobcats program.
McGuire has produced some talented offensive linemen while working with lower-ranked recruits throughout his career. Washington State’s Cody O’Connell was an Outland Trophy finalist and two-time All-American. He also coached Pac-12 First-Team tackle Joe Dahl and NFL players Andre Dillard and Cole Madison. Last year at Texas State, left tackle Dalton Cooper was named a Second-Team Freshman All-American.
McGuire is familiar with the Air Raid offense, and with USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, having been on staff while Harrell was a player with Texas Tech and having coached on the same staff as Harrell at Washington State.
McGuire will be challenged on two fronts at USC. The first is getting production out of the players already on campus. There is a gaping hole at left tackle following the departure of Alijah Vera-Tucker and no obvious answer for filling it. USC does have plenty of options, including moving starters from other positions or looking into the depth chart for younger players, but it’s probably too soon to assume that the No. 2 left tackle last year — freshman Casey Collier — is absolutely ready to assume the position. Though, Collier will undoubtedly get a look, along with fellow second-year player Courtland Ford, and potentially a couple of veterans.
Overall, USC simply needs more out of its offensive line moving forward. Quarterback Kedon Slovis was sacked 15 times in six games and again finished a season with an injury that won’t allow him a completely healthy offseason. And USC’s run game disappeared completely at times this past season. After the Trojans ran for 120 yards per game in 2019, Helton said he was looking for that number to increase to around 165 yards per game in 2020. Instead, USC was held to 100 yards or fewer in more than half its games and finished the season averaging 97 yards per contest.
Helton and Harrell have spoken at length about the importance of the running game, and a large part of getting that accomplished could now fall on McGuire’s shoulders.
He’ll also need to it the ground recruiting for USC. The Trojans have signed nine offensive linemen over the past two recruiting classes, but just three of them have been rated as four-star prospects and USC has missed on a number of its top targets.
Starting with potentially grabbing a plug-and-play left tackle out of the transfer portal, McGuire will be tasked with infusing more and more talent into the depth chart up front.
The 2022 offensive line class on the West Coast has some elite prospects, starting with local lineman Earnest Greene (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), a top-50 player nationally. Offensive tackles Josh Connerly (Seattle/Rainier Beach), Malik Agbo (Federal Way, Wash./Todd Beamer) and Jake Taylor (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), and guards George Maile (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) and Dave Iuli (Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup) are all four-star prospects in the Pac-12 footprint.
McGuire is another USC assistant coach with strong Texas ties, which should continue to open that state up to Trojan recruiting. McGuire attended Texas Tech, where he played for four years as an H-back.