Lincoln Riley is back on the mend and back at USC’s practices after being absent to start the week. The head coach was held out of two practices due to an illness, and the program revealed recently Riley has been battling pneumonia.

During his Thursday virtual session with the media, Riley was asked about the timeline of his illness. He pointed to starting to feel under the weather last Tuesday but had “a little bit of adrenaline from the game” to get through Saturday.

Unfortunately, Sunday “didn’t go too well” per Riley. He was ordered by doctors to take some time for recovery and ultimately missed the first practice in 20 years of coaching.

“Appreciate all the people here that got me seen and taken care of. I think it’s the first practices I’ve missed in 20 years of coaching which was not very much fun, pretty excruciating to not be there with the guys and the staff,” said Riley. “I was able to interact some with the staff on Monday from home, kind of limited that day. Was able to do a little bit more with them Tuesday from home.”

Moving forward, Riley says recovery has been a slow process but he is in a much better place than he was. He admitted he was glad for a few more days to trend upward before Saturday’s game and noted his body needed the rest, even if he hated to take time off.

“I’m definitely a lot better than I was, but just kind of a slow process working your way back. I’ve never had something like this before, so I’m kind of learning a little bit as I go. It was good to get the days, as much as I didn’t want to do it,” Riley explained. “My body needed them… I’m better. Glad we’re not playing today. Glad I got still a little bit more time but much better. I’ve made some big improvements here in the last 24 hours and hopefully can keep making those jumps leading into Saturday.”

As a follow-up, Riley was asked if he anticipates the pneumonia lingering at all and what that would mean for the team. Riley said his main struggles left to get over are his energy level and the inability to yell right now.

Overall, his goal is to be with the team but says plans will be in place if he winds up being limited in Saturday’s game:

“Right now, just kind of energy level probably varies a bit right now. I can’t really yell, which maybe the players like that,” Riley said. “Communication is a little iffy, but I’m feeling a lot better… I just felt like for 7-8 days I really didn’t make much progress at all and started going the other direction. It feels good to finally make some progress.

“If I’m limited in any way, we’ll have plans in place and ready but definitely gonna do my best to be ready to do my part for the team come Saturday.”

Saturday’s game on the road against Cal is set for 1 pm PT.