Blood, sweat and tears: they’re all part of the game of football. But probably the smelliest, nastiest, most slippery substance of the three? That would be sweat.
There’s no questioning that USC junior offensive lineman Max Tuerk has had some trouble snapping the ball over the past couple of weeks, so offensive line coach Tim Drevno decided to try giving Tuerk a glove to wear on his snapping hand. Early results indicate the move has paid off.
“That things really worked,” Drevno said. “I think Max is a sweater and he sweats a lot on the ball. What we try to do at halftime is we try to make the center change his pants so the sweat isn’t leaking. We do that, the glove has helped. I learned that from Jonathan Goodwin of the 49ers, a 12-year NFL center, so he out it on. I felt like it gave him a mindset that he had a better grip and the snaps have been good. They really have.”
Tuerk’s bad snaps really became noticeable during the Utah game and that could be attributed to, you guessed it, all of his sweat. Not all snaps are going to be perfect though and Drevno along with his fellow coaches know this to be true. However, that’s no excuse not to try and be perfect.
“I think that if you’re a golfer, you’re going to try and shoot the ball and sometimes it curves right,” Drevno said. “Sometimes it ain’t going to be perfect. How would you like to have a guy breathing down your neck, 300-pounds? But we got to be better. It’s got to be on the money every time and that’s what we expect from our guys.”
Though he doesn’t have to deal with gripping the ball with a sweaty hand on every down, freshman Toa Lobendahn has faced his fair share of challenges at left tackle. Despite the challenges and taking over for a proven player in sophomore Chad Wheeler, the true freshman has really impressed Drevno.
“He’s doing really good,” Drevno said. “Gosh, he’s an athletic guy. He’s a smart kid. He’s got good football awareness. He could really play all five positions and do really well. It’s important to him to do well. He’s got a short term memory. He makes a mistake like we all do and he pushes on and doesn’t remember it. The great competitors forget about their mistake, they’ll fix their mistake, but they won’t let it affect them the next play. I call it short term memory and that’s how great competitors do in big arenas.”
When Wheeler went down, many USC fans thought that fifth-year senior Aundrey Walker would just step right in at left tackle. Though he did so for the remainder of the game in Utah, he was replaced next week, surprising some fans. Despite being passed over, Drevno is still very confident in Walker.
“We can put Aundrey in and be just fine,” Drevno said. “He does a really nice job. He really does. He’s really learned. He’s done a good job, he’s progressing well, he’s a team guy. We couldn’t ask for anything more from ‘Rozay'. We’re happy he’s on our football team… He’s ready to go. We just feel like Toa’s doing a good job and we’d feel comfortable putting ‘Rozay’ in there, but it’s about how you prepare every week and we just made an evaluation as a coaching staff and we felt Toa is better at this time, but ‘Rozay’ has got to be ready to get his call.”
In terms of how his offensive line is currently playing, Drevno is pleased. Steve Sarkisian has decided to throw the ball more the past couple of weeks, but this doesn’t mean that the run blocking should suffer. Drevno says there is no reason to worry.
“I think the last two weeks we’ve thrown the ball, we’ve run the ball,” Drevno said. “We’ve been probably more pass, but we’re going to be just fine. You pull out different things for each opponent and how you’re going to attack them, what’s going to be successful. Yeah, we do need to run the ball better and we need to get more yards on the ground, but we’re going to be just fine. I promise you that.”
Tim Drevno is a California kind of guy. He’s coached in the state for the past decade, but he’s never really been a part of the USC-UCLA rivalry until this year. He does understand why the duct tape is wrapped around all of the statues around campus, so he’s not a complete newbie. In fact, the rivalry between the two schools does remind him of one of his previous experiences.
“It’s special,” Drevno said. “You can feel the energy in the building. Coach Haden is walking around, he’s fired up. This is, to me, like playoff football in the National Football League. It’s exciting. Where else would you want to be than be a Trojan and go play the UCLA Bruins? It’s going to be fun.”
The USC campus is always upbeat during UCLA week and Drevno feels the same way about his group’s play on the practice field.
“It’s been great,” Drevno said. “It’s been really like every other week just in terms of the focus, energy, the details. It’s been really good. This is a good group of guys. Really focused and want to do really well.”
It’s hard to consider the game on Saturday as a true road game since, you know, the Rose Bowl is closer to USC than UCLA. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Bruins will be bringing in an impressive group of defensive linemen to face the Trojans on Saturday night. Drevno knows what his group is up against.
“Really good,” Drevno said about UCLA’s defensive line. “They’re very well coached, they’re physical, they have really good pass rushers. They’re a good defensive front. They really are. I would say up to date, they’re the best defensive front we’ve faced. I would say they’re similar to Utah’s. They have more earth up front. Bigger and stronger. They’re very well put together. They’ve done a nice job recruiting there and they do an outstanding job coaching.”