USC has just one on-field assistant coaching position open right now, but it’s a big one, as the the Trojans are searching for an offensive line coach capable of helping to boost a lethargic running game and keep quarterback Kedon Slovis upright and healthy.
Davis is familiar with USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, as both were on the North Texas staff during the 2016 season. It was the first season with the Mean Green for both coaches and Davis moved on after that year. Davis coached the offensive line at Florida in 2017, Missouri in 2018 and 2019, and then Arkansas this past season.
Davis likely won’t be a well known name to USC fans as he’s a native of Baton Rouge, played football at Oklahoma and his only West Coast coaching experience was as the offensive line coach at Portland State from 2009-2013. But he got a stamp of approval from Sam Pittman, a well-regarded offensive line coach who made Davis his first hire when presented with the opportunity to make the jump from Georgia offensive line coach to Arkansas head coach. Arkansas rushed for 151.3 yards per game and 3.8 yards per rush in 2020, as Davis took over an offensive line that had struggled in previous seasons. Arkansas players spoke glowingly of Davis as a coach and what he brought to that position room.
“He’s unbelievable in how much he teaches you,” said Arkansas offensive lineman Dalton Wagner, according to HawgBeat.com. “Coach Davis, his expectations are way higher than anybody has ever had for us before…He demands perfection in everything he does. He coaches us as hard as he can because he wants us to be successful.”
It makes sense for USC to target someone who is familiar with Harrell’s offense, as the offensive line has felt a bit like a work in progress for two years now, despite a combination of talent and veterans up front. USC rushed for just 97 yards per game last year after head coach Clay Helton said that aspect of the offense would be a focal point in the 2020 season.
The Trojans will be without starting left tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker this year, after Vera-Tucker announced he would leave early and make himself available for the NFL Draft. The Trojans could bring back the other four starters for next season, and either turn to the transfer portal or a young backup to fill the hole at left tackle.
In addition to offensive line coach, USC will also make a change at head strength and conditioning coach, where Aaron Ausmus was hired before the 2019 season but his contract was allowed to expire.