The Sports Report: USC’s offensive line wants to better protect Caleb Williams

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - OCT. 1, 2022. USC quarterback Caleb Williams throws on the run against Arizona State.
Caleb Williams throws on the run against Arizona State in the third quarter Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Ryan Kartje: When Josh Henson first took stock of USC’s offensive line last spring, the new offensive coordinator made note of what he thought was the Trojans’ most glaring need up front.

“We need to develop depth,” Henson said in March. “I think that’s what our challenge is this spring, to develop depth behind that first group and to get some guys closer to the first group so they can go compete. The best lines I’ve been in, we’ve had eight or nine guys that could play.”

Six months later, that depth suddenly faced its stiffest challenge yet, as redshirt junior reserve Gino Quinones stepped in at right guard last Saturday in place of injured team captain Justin Dedich, with fewer than two dozen snaps of experience.

Quinones hadn’t played a snap on the offensive line during his three previous seasons. Now he was being thrust into 70 snaps against one of the Pac-12’s stoutest interiors. It was a tall order.


USC coach Lincoln Riley called it “a big deal.”

“I thought he fought really hard and held his own for the most part,” right tackle Jonah Monheim added. “I was really proud of him.”

Still, Dedich’s absence loomed large last Saturday, as USC’s shorthanded offensive line had its most disappointing performance to date. Caleb Williams was under constant pressure by Arizona State’s defense, forced to make daring escapes from the pocket, while USC’s rushing attack managed a meager 137 yards, its lowest total of the season.

Until that point, the offensive line had largely been a strength of USC’s offense. But last week, the group struggled to communicate, leading to mistakes, center Brett Neilon said. “Sometimes, it got sloppy.”

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From Ben Bolch: On a night of greatest hits for Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the topper might have been a hit delivered by the UCLA quarterback.

As a tipped pass fluttered into the air, Thompson-Robinson lowered his helmet into a defensive lineman’s abdomen to dislodge the ball so it wasn’t intercepted.

The veteran quarterback celebrated the first pass breakup of his career Friday night by waving his arms horizontally to signal incomplete.


“That was honestly my play of the game,” he said Monday.

There were lots of candidates.

Thompson-Robinson turned the Rose Bowl into his own jukebox during the Bruins’ 40-32 victory over then-No. 15 Washington, hurdling one defender and sidestepping another. The latter defender collided with a Huskies teammate as Thompson-Robinson scooted past them into the end zone, the unfortunate duo falling in a heap like foiled cartoon villains.


From Jack Harris: The most important 15 minutes of the day happen hours before first pitch.

That’s when, home or road, day or night, opposing ace or patchwork bullpen game awaiting them on the mound, every member of the Dodgers lineup will gather in the batting cages near their clubhouse.

They’ll sit in a group, study-session style.

And they’ll start to talk — about that game’s pitcher, about their plan of attack and about how to raise the bar for baseball’s best offense a little higher.

Hitters’ meetings like this are standard around baseball, a daily staple of life in the majors.

What’s different with the Dodgers is the way they go about it.


New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hits 62nd homer to break AL record


From Sarah Valenzuela: Every losing season the Angels have endured in the last 10 years, Mike Trout usually gets asked some iteration of whether he still wants to stay in Anaheim. He also typically is asked how he can continue to remain optimistic season after season when his Angels aren’t in the playoffs.

During his end-of-the-season media availability Tuesday, he cut short a question about the no-trade clause in his contract. “I haven’t even thought about any of that stuff,” he said.

And of that optimism, he said, “I hate losing. … I think for me, in this game, as a personal standpoint, you’re gonna fail a lot. At the plate you make mistakes, but the biggest thing is you try to turn the page and that’s what I’m trying to do after the season.

“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “It’s not where we want to be. But talking with guys to try to change this thing, we’re doing everything we can to give it all we have.”


Angels’ Kurt Suzuki reminisces about his MLB debut with A’s as retirement looms


From Dan Woike: Even as the Lakers opened their preseason Monday night, questions about Russell Westbrook’s future with the organization continued to be asked.

After yet another story detailing a potential Westbrook trade — again about a Buddy Hield and Myles Turner deal — Westbrook and Lakers coach Darvin Ham discussed the former MVP’s place within the organization.

“I’m super blessed and thankful for what I have and what I’ve been given,” Westbrook told The Times following Monday’s preseason opener. “I’ve got an unbelievable support system, family, leaning on my faith. Everything else will take care of itself. So, all summer, my whole life, I’ve been hearing the stories about myself. That’s not going to change today. So, nothing new for me. I’m going to continue to keep my head down, focus on competing. And everything else will take care of itself.”


From Gary Klein: The beleaguered Rams got more bad news Tuesday.

A day after his team suffered a beatdown by the San Francisco 49ers, coach Sean McVay said that center Coleman Shelton would be sidelined four to six weeks because of a high ankle sprain and safety Jordan Fuller two to four weeks because of a hamstring injury.

The Rams (2-2) play the surging Dallas Cowboys (3-1) on Sunday at SoFi Stadium with a team thinned by injuries along the offensive line, receiver corps and secondary.


NFL Week 5 best bets: Three games with intriguing early lines and odds


1900 — Britain’s Harry Vardon wins the U.S. Open golf title, beating J.H. Taylor with a 313 total at the Chicago Golf Club.

1985 — Eddie Robinson becomes college football’s winningest coach as Grambling beats Prairie View A&M 27-7. It’s Robinson’s 324th victory, one more than Paul “Bear” Bryant had before he retired from Alabama after the 1982 season.

1991 — Fresno State ties an NCAA record for most points in a quarter, with 49 in the second period as it pounds New Mexico 94-17. Fresno State’s Derek Mahoney ties an NCAA record with 13 extra points.

1994 — The NBA shortens the 3-point distance to a uniform 22 feet.

1996 — Byron Hanspard rushes for 287 yards, his fifth straight 200-yard game this season, to lead Texas Tech to a 45-24 win over Baylor.

2001 — Barry Bonds sets a new mark for home runs in a single season, hitting Nos. 71 and 72, but San Francisco is eliminated from the playoffs with an 11-10 loss to the Dodgers.

2001 — The Mariners win their 115th game of the year to become the winningest team in American League history, passing the record the Yankees set three years earlier.

2005 — Daniel Alfredsson scores twice in the final 6 minutes of regulation and once during the first shootout in NHL history, leading Ottawa to a 3-2 win over Toronto.

2006 — Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers becomes the 15th player with 600 goals in the NHL when he scores twice in a 5-2 win over Washington.

2008 — Peyton Manning turns a colossal collapse by the Houston Texans into a stunning victory for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts score 21 points in a late span of 2:10 — two touchdowns thanks to fumbles by Sage Rosenfels — then intercepts Rosenfels’ last-ditch comeback attempt for a 31-27 win.

2013 — Eighth-ranked Florida State stays undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 63-0 victory over No. 25 Maryland. Maryland matches the largest losing margin by a ranked team. UCLA beat No. 11 Texas 66-3, on Sept. 13, 1997.

2013 — Marcus Mariota throws five touchdown passes and runs for two scores as No. 2 Oregon routs Colorado 57-16. The Ducks reach the 50-point plateau for a school record fifth straight time. Oregon have scored at least 55 points in all of its games under first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

2014 — Brian Hoyer’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin with 1:09 left rallies the Cleveland Browns from a 25-point deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 29-28. It’s the largest comeback in league history by a road team.

2014 — Denver’s Peyton Manning was 31 of 47 for a career-high 479 yards with four TDs, including the 500th of his career, along with two interceptions to help the Broncos beat Arizona 41-20.

2015 — San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres is hit with the longest suspension in NHL history when the league banned him for the first 41 games of the season for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg during an Oct. 3 preseason game.

2017 — Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds and Brandon Saad each record a hat trick in his team’s season opener. It’s the first time four different players score at least three goals in his season opener in 100 years, since the NHL’s first two games back in 1917.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Peyton Manning completes his 500th touchdown pass. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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