Changes ahead for Lobendahn

Sophomore offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn talks about his new coach, new teammates and his future position.

Last season against Utah when Chad Wheeler went down with a season ending knee injury, Toa Lobendahn moved over from guard, taking over the left tackle position.

Lobendahn, who has the versatility to play every position on the line, is still at left tackle this spring while Wheeler is on the mend.

"At tackle I am just getting into the groove," Lobendahn said after practice. "I have my mistakes, but I have my mistakes everywhere. I am just trying to get better overall, honestly, and be a well-rounded player.

"I think when Chad gets back we will be fine, Zach is going to be good and Chuma is doing awesome out there too. We have a bunch of depth there at tackle and really a bunch of depth on the whole offensive line."

When Wheeler does return, Lobendahn will likely be on the move either to guard or even center.

"I am definitely moving around, just whatever coach sees as the best fit for me," he said. "[At center] I have been taking different series here and there, every practice now. It is definitely one of the spots."

With Tim Drevno moving on to Michigan, Lobendahn and the rest of the line are now taking direction from new offensive line coach Bob Connelly.

"It has been a pretty easy transition," Lobendahn explained. "Coach Connelly has been coaching us real well, just focusing on fundamentals, getting back to basics. It is just the way he is, the way he coaches, he isn't trying to do anything extra except get us better.

"I think overall as a team we put in a lot, fast. Faster than we did last spring, probably because we have more veterans and we are just used to it."

Connelly brings a different demeanor to the practice field.

"I would probably say that Connelly is more calmer, he isn't as wild of a person as Drevno, just the way they coach, the way they are. They are both great coaches."

Besides a new coach, the offensive line has a couple of new members as well, early enrollees Chuma Edoga and Roy Hemsley.

"Chuma is very good, there is a reason why he was a five-star. He has adapted well, coming out in his first spring, I can put myself in his position because that was me last year, so I can see he is taking it well.

"Roy is more on the learning curve, he hasn't been playing ball that long. So he is just trying to get better every day. He is a big freshman. I look at these kids and I just get mad because they are freshman and I am a sophomore. With that size, it is hard to lose sometimes."

Lobendahn may not be as big as some of the incoming freshmen, but he is about 20 pounds heavier than when he came in as an early enrollee a year ago.

"I have been 290 really in the spring, so I have been the heaviest I have been at SC for a while," he said. "It has been staying on better, it isn't just going to fall off like it did in the summer. They want me at 300, but right now I am at a good starting point because I was like 270 in the spring last year."

Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates from USC spring practice.


Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of USCFootball.com since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at ryan@uscfootball.com .

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