June 16, 2024

USC Football: What Makes Lincoln Riley’s Offense Special, Per Former Trojans Quarterback

2021 USC Football Preseason Notes - USC Athletics

It’s not just an air raid.

Former USC Trojans quarterback Mo Hasan was at Radio Row in Las Vegas during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII, making the rounds at various media booths. Hasan visited the LAFB booth to share his thoughts on the current state of USC football and, more specifically, Trojan head coach Lincoln Riley.

Hasan played for the Trojans from 2020-2022, but never saw the field due to USC’s elite quarterback talent as well as a handful of injuries he suffered while at USC. He came into USC when former Trojan head coach Clay Helton was around, but also spent a year in Lincoln Riley’s quarterback room.

“Lincoln Riley’s offensive schemes are second to none,” said Hasan. “At least at the college level, to me he’s the best schemer of football and playing quarterback, this dude’s last three or four guys all won Heisman trophies.”

Hasan also shed some light on how Riley’s offense varies from the traditional air-raid offense that so many people try to label it.

“That is a huge misconception because I’ve played under the air-raid. So, Coach Leach’s system that Graham Harrell had at USC. That’s as close to air-raid as you’re going to get. Which, no knocking on it, there’s quarterbacks that have had a lot of success at it, but it’s a different thing. Now coach Riley has, he is committed to the running game. There are actually similarities to Iowa’s running game. The GT-pulling game that he does. The creativity with the RPO game. The quarterback run, there’s a reason why most of his quarterbacks have been dual threat. So he’s added so much more to what coach Leach has done. That’s the foundation of the passing game, but it’s a different entity itself.”

In Lincoln Riley’s first season at USC in 2022, the Trojans averaged 171 rushing yards per game. Mike Leach’s first season at Mississippi State in 2021 saw the Bulldogs run it for an average of just 63 yards per game. Riley’s offense averaged over 100 yards rushing more than Leach’s in their first seasons at USC and Mississippi State, respectively.

USC hires Lincoln Riley: 5 things every Trojan fan should know - Los  Angeles Times

“I don’t even know how to define it. It’s kind of just the coach Riley offense at this point.” said Hasan. Time will tell how Riley adapts his offense to fit the skillset of one of the two quarterbacks who will be competing for QB1 this spring in Miller Moss and UNLV transfer Jayden Maiava.

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