Spring Review: Offensive Line

Be it to start or provide depth, Cyrus Hobbi and Aundrey Walker must be ready from the moment they arrive on campus.

Post-Spring Depth Chart
Left Tackle
1. Matt Kalil
2. David Garness

Left Guard
1. John Martinez OR Giovanni Di Poalo

Center
1. Khaled Holmes
2. Abe Markowitz

Right Guard
1. Martin Coleman OR Nathan Guertier

Right Tackle
1. Jeremy Galten OR Kevin Graf

Projected Post-Fall Camp Depth Chart
Left Tackle
1. Matt Kalil
2. Jeremy Galten

Left Guard
1. John Martinez
2. Giovanni Di Poalo

Center
1. Khaled Holmes
2. Abe Markowitz

Right Guard
1. Cyrus Hobbi
2. Martin Coleman

Right Tackle
1. Kevin Graf
2. Aundrey Walker

Three Questions Answered in the Spring
1. Matt Kalil is a first-round pick. Now can he play like it?
USC right tackle Tyron Smith was drafted No. 9 overall by the Dallas Cowboys to play left tackle in the NFL.

Based on that, the guy who was protecting the blind side for the Trojans could be a top five selection a year or two from now. Matt Kalil has the prototypical size, strength and athleticism to hold off the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Elvis Dumervil at the next level.

The only thing lacking is game tape worthy of Kalil's pedigree and talents.

With big brother Ryan earning All-Pro honors in Carolina after a tremendous college career, Matt hasn't yet delivered a dominant season and was erratic last season, drawing the ire of coach Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin refused to put Kalil on his list of NFL-caliber performers this spring, citing his inconsistent play. As the one experienced lineman available, Kalil was solid but not spectacular.

He'll have to continue that development and be the one sure thing in a front five with plenty of concerns.

2. Kiffin is rolling the dice on Holmes and Graf.
Then again, what choice does he have? It's not like the Trojans have excess linemen running around.

Circumstances and recruiting practices left a depleted group on the O-line, six scholarship players available in the spring. Given how they performed, it wasn't a surprise that Holmes and Graf will be immediately plugged back into the starting lineup. But each comes with major question marks.

After starting all of last season at right guard, Holmes is set to play center. It's a natural fit, given his high football IQ. But as Mike Pouncey showed at Florida, moving over one spot isn't always that easy.

Holmes has never snapped in a real game, so errant balls are a worry, but the bigger concern is the series of stingers he suffered, leading Kiffin to declare at one point it was career-threatening.

Center would seem to be a better fit given Holmes' neck issues, but one wrong blow could mean the end.

Abe Markowitz would be the next man up, but he must shake the foot injury that cost him last season. John Martinez was all right there in the spring. Cody Temple is the future at center, but needs a redshirt year to develop.

With Graf, it's a question of experience, having appeared in just four games. He really could have used the 15 spring practices to go against the talented tandem of defensive ends Nick Perry and Wes Horton, see all those first-team reps to get ready for what he will face this fall.

Much like Kalil, Holmes and Graf have the bloodlines to be exceptional players for USC. How they perform will go a long way in determining the Trojans' record in 2011.

3. The freshmen will be called upon from day one.
Be it to start or provide depth, Cyrus Hobbi and Aundrey Walker must be ready from the moment they arrive on campus. That's as much an indictment of the available numbers as testament to the skills of the out-of-state recruits. Still there are plenty of signs that bode well.

Each comes from a high school renowned for producing FBS talent, Hobbi at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro, Walker the famed Ohio State feeder Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville. Each delivered against elite competition in the various All-Star games. Each has the body to produce immediately, though Walker's size and conditioning will be a concern.

But introducing freshmen to an already inexperienced group might not be the best formula. When center Kris O'Dowd was thrown into the mix in 2007, veterans like All-America tackle Sam Baker, Chilo Rachal and Jeff Byers were there to support him. Managing the situation will be a test for Kiffin and assistant coach James Cregg.


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