Lincoln Riley details how USC will differ schematically from Oklahoma
Will a Lincoln Riley-led USC look like a carbon of the Lincoln Riley-led Oklahoma teams? Or are changes coming to the formula that helped make Riley one of the most accomplished coaches in the sport before his 40th birthday?
That’s the big question a team like Stanford is asking right now. Early teams on the Trojans’ 2022 schedule will be guessing in some respects during gameplan for USC. The spring game was vanilla. Virtually the entire roster is new. Is Riley going to plug his modified Air Raid into the Pac-12 and run with it?
“There’ll be pieces of both, for sure,” Riley told ESPN’s Greg McElroy during a recent appearance on the Always College Football show.
“Schematically, we’ve always taken pride on all sides of the ball being on the cutting edge and being guys that innovate and can adjust to what our opponents are doing, adjust to the personnel that we have. So that certainly won’t change. But I think we’ll continue to evolve. And then I think too there are some differences in just the nature of the programs. Obviously, I took over a program that was doing very well at the time with Coach (Bob) Stoops in Oklahoma. We certainly changed some things along the way, but there was probably a little bit less to change and more to continue to try to build on and find ways to be better.
“This is a different situation. But with that, it also provides kind of a blank canvas to start and build exactly the way that you feel is best and that we as a staff feels is best. So there are some advantages there, without a doubt. Instilling the culture and the mentality that we believe in, in some ways, there’s the give and take.”
Riley has added a couple of transfer portal pieces that should help that process along. Caleb Williams on offense and Shane Lee on defense, just to name a few, are players who have come in and helped set the tone for what Riley wants the USC program to be about moving forward.
The other program (we) took over in a better state, a better culture. But maybe more difficult to sometimes make the changes you want to make. Whereas here, to be able to start from the ground floor with these guys, there are some built-in advantages. We felt like we’ve seen some of that here in the first few months. We’ve enjoyed that part of it.
“To answer your question, there’s certainly going to be parts that were the same. We won a lot of games at OU, had a lot of success. We’re not going to completely scrap what we’re doing but I do think there are areas that we feel like we can be better as a staff. We want to adapt to what we feel like we can be here at SC.”
The Trojans begin their season on Sept. 3 at home against Rice.
You can see the rest of the interview below: