By Carson Marsh
With three open spots and a real need to generate some overall improvement, the offensive line was one of the key positions for the USC Trojans this spring. With two returning starters in left tackle Austin Jackson and right guard Andrew Vorhees, finding fits at the other spots was important this spring. It looks as though the coaches have their answer at left guard in Alijah Vera-Tucker.
We caught up with Vera-Tucker during the final week of spring ball.
How would you evaluate your spring and what did you improve upon the most?
“Spring has been going pretty well. I learned a lot more technique now with [coach Tim] Drevno. I’ve been focusing a lot on my run-blocking technique and I got to get better at that, especially going up against guys like Jay Tufele, and I am improving on my pass blocking as well. I feel like communication throughout the whole line is getting better.”
Coach Helton preaches a lot about family. How do you think this line is coming together so far?
“We are definitely more connected. We do a lot of things outside of the field, and we really are building a family on this line. In terms of football, our communication is way better and so is our technique.”
How would you describe your relationship with left tackle Austin Jackson now that you will be lined up next to him throughout fall camp?
“[Austin]’s my guy. He’s been my guy since day one. I’ve been his roommate since coming in, so we have built a really strong relationship, so I am excited for it.”
What’s your mindset for the upcoming season and do you expect to start in the fall?
“Yeah I expect to start. But the job isn’t given yet, so I’m still working to keep the job and I gotta continue to work.”
How do you like this new offense and how does it utilize the run game?
“It’s very simple. It’s very easy to adjust to, especially for the O line. Minimal amount of calls to be made and less plays to be remembered, but that comes with a responsibility to do what you’re supposed to do.”
[On the Run Game]: “For me, I like it. I like the rush game, but I know most of the time we are going to be passing the ball, so we definitely have to work on our pass sets, but also you can’t forget about the run game too, because our team needs that. The running backs are gonna be catching a lot of balls.”
Who would you say are the leaders on this offense right now?
“The leaders on this offense, I would say, Austin Jackson, Jalen McKenzie, Michael Pittman, and Tyler Vaughns.”