For offensive linemen, the summer is most notable for what happens away from the field more than what happens on the field. What are the big boys doing in the weight room? How are they staying in shape? Are they adding the pounds and girth or are they attempting to slim down?
USC sophomore guard Viane Talamaivao is one of the guys trying to trim away a couple of pounds. Currently at 329 pounds, Talamaivao, who is listed on the team roster at 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds, is hoping to get down that listed weight or possibly even 315 pounds by the time the season starts.
“I’m still pushing toward my goal of dropping more weight just so I can be more mobile, more agile,” Talamaivao said. “I feel good though. I feel explosive. I feel pretty good.”
More important to Talamaivao has been his conditioning. Even though he is at basically the same weight he played at last year, Talamaivao is much more confident in his body.
“One thing I can definitely feel that’s progressed from last year is my conditioning. Conditioning is a big thing for me. It’s a big thing for everyone really, but I wanted to work on that. I feel good out here during these team runs.”
Another progression for Talamaivao and the offensive lineman is the grasp of the offensive concepts.
“I can feel the difference between this year and last year just based solely on we have more individual time to work on technical stuff.”
Rather than focusing on learning the playbook, the offensive linemen are concentrating on running through drills and taking care of individual needs and techniques such as hand placement. But the Trojans aren’t learning on their own. It’s a group project and not the one where you sit on the outside of the circle eating cheese puffs and drinking a coke.
“It’s more hands on this year as opposed to last year, so we’re getting a lot of work done in each PRP,” Talamaivao said. “The thing that’s cool about offensive line is that it’s a jointed effort. We kind of just learn off of each other and we help each other out.
“It’s not really a matter of veteran guys teaching younger guys. We want the best out of each other, so it’s more of us just working off of each other and learning. It’s really cool because the structure of it is more based on respect. It’s a respect-based thing.”
The offensive linemen don’t play a huge role in the team portions of the player-run practices since the offensive and defensive linemen don’t go full speed without wearing pads. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting a ton of repetitions to make sure they know the playbook inside and out.
Talamaivao said constantly running plays keeps the linemen’s minds fresh and allows them to constantly working on their fundamentals.
“There isn’t anything too physical, but it’s all brushing up on technique,” he said. “But we’re getting progressively faster than we did last year.”