As we move closer to spring ball, WeAreSC will break down the 15 things we’re most looking forward to watching during those 15 practices that kick off the 2020 season. Next up, we look at the offensive tackle spots.
There isn’t a more obvious opening in the starting lineup on either side of the ball than at left tackle, where Austin Jackson is off to the NFL and USC didn’t have a clear backup on the roster last season ready to immediately step in this spring.
Options exist on the roster, but it will likely require a position switch for somebody. Could entrenched left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker make the move out to left tackle? It seems as though USC is has far more guards on the roster than tackles, so maybe it makes sense to kick your best overall lineman out to the most important position.
But outside of a seemingly radical change to move arguably your most solid offensive starter, USC could take a look at several options at left tackle this spring. The easiest answer would be freshman Jason Rodriguez, who redshirted this past fall but was a major addition in the 2019 recruiting class. If he gets a shot there, he’ll likely be up against several linemen making a move from the same spot–right guard. Jalen McKenzie started the majority of last season there after he worked exclusively at right tackle last spring. Liam Jimmons filled in at times for McKenzie before he went down with an elbow injury. And Andrew Vorhees was the starter at right guard the previous season but missed nearly all of last year with a foot injury. Now, all three could be in line for a shot at left tackle.
Of those four names, USC could be looking at a starter at both left tackle and right tackle (and right guard as well), and there is some solid experience there. And with that group leading the way, Liam Douglass becomes one of the more intriguing offensive linemen to watch this spring, as we’ll get an opportunity to see where the redshirt freshman stands in the competition and whether he can jump into that group.