When the Trojans moved in four weeks ago today for the start of fall camp, the biggest weakness on the team was clear: the big uglies on the offensive line.
At that time, there were two certainties on the line and three uncertainties. Left tackle Matt Kalil and center Khaled Holmes were the former; the left guard, right guard and right tackle spots were the latter.
Now, four weeks later, three days until the season opener, there are three certainties and two uncertainties. Kalil, Holmes and right tackle Kevin Graf are the former; the left and right guard spots are still the latter.
In other words, little has changed.
"I don’t know that we feel much better than we did coming into camp with our offensive line," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday. "We’re pretty much right where we started, unfortunately."
And that's not really a good thing, of course. The one good thing: Graf has proven to be a capable blocker in both pass and run situations and comfortably recovered from the shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of spring practice. But the fact that he's only played briefly in four games and started none hasn't gone away -- and it won't until Saturday.
The bad things: Most of USC's offensive linemen have been tried out at the guard spots at various points throughout camp. None of them really stuck. It almost seems like the players that are going to end up starting Saturday are only in that position because of the timing: i.e., their opportunity came at the right time, even if they didn't truly seize it.
The next week's game against Utah could see an entirely different guard lineup, and the next week's against Syracuse could too.
"We feel very good about the left tackle and the center," Kiffin said. "We’re pleased with where the right tackle is – the only difference is he hasn’t played in a significant game really. It’s gonna be a step up for him.
"And then we really haven’t made a whole lot of progress inside with the two guards, so it’ll be a work in progress and hopefully it gets figured out here pretty soon."