Practice Report: USC Football’s Veteran Relishes in One Final Opportunity for Success Under Lincoln Riley



Football | November 23, 2022

Andrew Vorhees has seen it all. USC’s starting left guard has played at the college level since he was just a true freshman in 2017.

The Trojans’ most experienced Offensive lineman had a decision to make when Lincoln Riley first arrived in Southern California last November. Vorhees could have left for the NFL, having already established his name at the college level, but instead chose to come back for his sixth year at USC.

“I think [it] sent a message to this entire roster about how serious guys within the walls were about getting this thing right,” Lincoln Riley said following USC’s Tuesday practice of Notre Dame Week.

It might have been overlooked at the time, but it was a pivotal moment for Riley and the culture he wanted to establish for USC’s football program.

“I’ll always look back and think of that,” Riley said. “I didn’t know it as much at the time, because I saw him and met him one day, and at that point I’d met about 5,000 people in the past 48 hours. So I probably didn’t realize how big that was at that time, but that was important. It was a tone-setter in a lot of ways.”

After many years in Cardinal and gold, Vorhees and his fellow Veteran Offensive lineman Brett Neilon will play in their Coliseum finale Saturday against Rival Notre Dame. It’s a long time coming for two Trojans who have dedicated so much to their university.

“The guys have been good players for us and they’ve been good leaders,” Riley said of Vorhees and Neilon. “They’ve wanted this [season’s success] to happen.”

The sour taste of USC’s 4-8 record in 2021 played a role in Neilon’s return for his sixth and final season. In the center’s mind, it was an opportunity to “make the wrongs right.”

“Certain teams really whooped us last year and disrespected us, even in our home stadium,” Neilon said. “I think that just made the bond even tighter between the guys that are left here and then I think maybe had a trickle-down effect to some of the new guys.”

It’s a unique and specific connection that motivates and ties those Trojans who remain from last year together. Especially for longtime veterans, like Vorhees and Neilon, who wanted one last chance to experience new levels of success in Cardinal and gold.

“It’s been fun seeing the guys be able to enjoy some of these moments, and all of them, but especially the ones that have been here for a while,” Riley noted. “You know their appreciation level for what this team has done, what they’ve led and what they’ve certainly made a big difference in doing. You can tell it means a lot to them.”

Notes from USC’s Tuesday practice of Notre Dame Week:

  • Lincoln Riley gave his Scouting report Tuesday on Notre Dame’s defense, which hasn’t allowed more than 400 yards of total offense this season:

    • “I don’t see just a ton of weaknesses with the group,” Riley said. “They’ve got guys that can Rush the passer, they’ve played well in the secondary, they’ve intercepted balls, and have been good on third down. They’re a good defense, they’re a challenging defense. The margins are thin with a group like that. You’ve got to execute at a high level and I’ve said that before when we’ve played a good group, but that’s what shows up.”

  • The head coach has stressed that USC wants to play a full 60 minutes of football on Saturdays. Riley updated where the team stands with that goal:

    • “I think we did some things the other night and then the last couple that gets you pretty excited about where we’re headed,” Riley said. “There are a lot of ups and downs throughout [the process] but I do see [our] mentality progressing. I see us finding some cool ways to win and obviously beat some good opponents, with some more here on deck. That’s the plan and that’s what we’re out here grinding for, working for and I think this team is very serious about getting it done.”

  • Wide receiver Jordan Addison shared what makes a quarterback Caleb Williams different when it comes to his ability to extend a play:

    • “Just the will to want to. Just his will,” Addison said. “He wants to extend the play, so he’s going to do it. He’s not going to just sit there and see that nobody’s open and take a sack or throw it out. He’s going to make something happen and that’s just the playmaker that he is .”

  • Defensive back Max Williams shared his Scouting report on Notre Dame’s offense:

    • “They’re a physical offense,” Williams said. “They want to run the ball, and then they really focus on finding ways to get the ball to [Michael Mayer]. He’s a great tight end. So, just find ways to stop the run and be physical, master physicality. We want to be more physical, so just find ways to get off the field.”

Quick Hits with Keely:

Tuesday’s media availability:



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