Left Tackle Open Again

Now leading the team in penalties, Aundrey Walker's starting position at left tackle is once again an open competition. Freshman Max Tuerk is seeing reps this week with the first team.

Coach Lane Kiffin said during fall camp the name Max Tuerk wasn't one he yelled much. He continued saying that it was a good thing, that it meant Tuerk was working in the right direction at practice.

Halfway through the Trojans' season, not much has changed in regards to the lack of Tuerk's name being yelled out. He is, however, now being called upon.

It started with the freshman challenging starting left tackle Aundrey Walker in week four, after Walker put on a lackluster performance in the loss to Stanford.

Tuerk didn't win the battle to start that week against California, but he did earn the chance to split reps with Walker through the first half. Walker went on to have what Kiffin called his best performance of the season.

With tight end Randall Telfer sidelined as the Trojans faced Washington last Saturday, Tuerk was moved from offensive lineman to tight end, "It was a lot of fun, definitely an adjustment," Tuerk said about the switch, where his focus was still blocking.

"Max is a smart guy," said Xavier Grimble, since spending time working with Tuerk at tight end. "He's really, really sharp for a freshman kid. He's always in the film room and it was pretty easy for him, it was just a lot of blocking stuff. It wasn't too different so I think he did a really good job."

Now, as the Trojans' prepare for Colorado he is once again back to taking reps as an offensive lineman. He is also back to challenging for a starting job at left tackle after Walker had another subpar performance versus the Huskies.

"Max took reps there with the ones today," Kiffin told reporters after practice Tuesday. "Aundrey has got to play better. He leads our team in penalties."

"I need to compete every day because competing makes everyone better," Tuerk said after practice. "I need to keep working on my weaknesses and just need to get better every day."

Whether he's lining up as a linemen or a tight end, a starter or coming off the bench, Tuerk knows any time on the field will only play to his benefit this season as well as in his future at USC.

"A little experience always helps," he said. "Right when you get out there you're always a little nervous, a little flustered but once you start getting a little more experience you get calmed down a little bit and start working hard."

Samantha Katzman contributed to this article.

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