The two senior tackles that controlled the perimeter and protected the Trojan quarterbacks for the better part of the last three seasons are gone. They leave big shoes to fill, particularly Banner’s size 18s, but USC does have one experience veteran returning to the tackle position.
Junior Chuma Edoga competed against Wheeler and Banner the last two seasons, earning four starts but primarily serving as a backup. However, Edoga has been used liberally, playing more than 500 offensive snaps, making him the most experienced tackle option.
Edoga has played left and right tackle previously, but he appears the frontrunner for the left tackle spot where he’s earned the first-team snaps all spring.
“It's been going good,” Edoga said of the spring. “Just trying to hone my skills, get better at the little things. That's what Coach Callaway is always harping on, get better at the little things.”
Offensive line coach Neil Callaway said “all the little things” are exactly what Edoga needs to be working to improve: “Lining up onsides. Not being offsides. Taking the proper steps. Getting the hands in the right places and just doing the little things.”
Edoga added “angles on my sets where I know where to set up, how wide different guys are, especially my hands, keeping guys inside, using different punches, flashing, stuff like that.”
It’s a wide array of tasks that Edoga still needs to improve, but he has an elite combination of feet, quickness, athleticism to go with raw power. He has already made strides are his consistency and maturity.
“That word consistency is what steps into my mind. He's always been a talented player with flashes of brilliance,” USC head coach Clay Helton said. “Now we need a consistent 80 plays out of him. Not 30, not 40, but 80, especially when you're at that left tackle position.”
For Callaway, there is only one path to consistency.
“Just got to work hard. We're not going to cut any corners. Nobody gets any slack. We've all got to work hard enough. All got to do the right thing.”
Doing the right thing has been a concern for Edoga. One of the reasons for his inconsistency had been his immaturity. Edoga’s temperature gauge ran hot and cold to the extremes of the spectrum.
One play he may be dominant only to appear indifferent on the next. He also got into trouble with his temper, including when he was ejected from the Utah State game when he shoved a referee out of the way in an attempt to go after an Aggie defender he felt had wronged him.
“He was a young man that made some poor decisions on the field,” Helton said. “I’ve seen him mature over this last year and learn from some lessons early in the season last year. I'm proud of where he's at and he's got a big role for us right now. That left tackle position saves your quarterback day in and day out, so the consistency I hope will be there.”
“You have to be a dynamic athlete, you have to be a smart person,” Helton said of playing left tackle. “You can't blow an assignment or your quarterback is going to be killed, so he's both of those. He's really performing at a high level and we just need that consistency from him day in and day out.”
Watch Chuma Edoga, above, discuss how his spring is going at the left tackle spot, how the offensive line is adapting to each other and now being the emotional voice and fire of the position group.
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