LOS ANGELES — One of the better compliments that can be paid to an offensive lineman is that he wasn’t noticed during a game. That usually means he has done his job well.
Jonah Monheim is a player who might have flown under the radar during No. 7 USC’s undefeated start to the year.
The first three weeks of the season, the right tackle has played 109 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. In those reps, he has not allowed a single sack, nor even a hit of the quarterback.
It’s a big leap forward for the redshirt sophomore, who allowed four sacks in seven starts last season before taking a step back from the first-team offense.
“I think I’m seeing things progressing a little bit,” Monheim said. “Definitely trying to build on the previous weeks and learn from myself.”
Monheim has always been regarded as a cerebral player, known for his football IQ. But at times as a redshirt freshman, it seemed like he got too lost in his own head. Overthinking his assignments, allowing mistakes to compound.
It eventually resulted in being more of a spectator toward the back half of the season. But he remained a good soldier, and when his role expanded again in the season finale against Cal, he walked away with a clean slate and not even so much as a quarterback hurry allowed.
“He’s a confident kid and he just trusted himself,” center Brett Neilon said. “I think everyone around him helped push him and he’s done a great job.”
In his third year in college, it appears that Monheim’s body has caught up with his mind and allowed him to be a surer hand at right tackle. He so thoroughly controlled the position through spring and fall camps that there was never so much as a hint of competition for his job.
“I don’t think he’s missed one day of anything,” head coach Lincoln Riley said. “He’s a really consistent competitor and he’s mentally tough and very smart, when you consider his age, he’s advanced there. I mean, in those two areas he’s above and beyond what you would see especially with an offensive lineman of that age.”
Monheim agrees that there’s been a clear merging of mind and body. But he also feels as though the techniques that he’s picked up from offensive line coach Josh Henson and graduate assistant Zach Crabtree have been the true cause of the breakthrough.
“I’ve still got so many things to clean up, so many things to work on,” Monheim said. “But it’s like a clear picture of when those things work and when those things come together, why we’re taught that, why it works so well. So it’s continually trying to build habits, build muscle memory because that’s all o-line is is a position of habits. So certainly mind-body, but a lot of that’s technique.”
Bryant to redshirt
Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. is planning on redshirting, Riley said after practice on Tuesday. The junior was working with USC’s scout team during practice.
Bryant was one of the Trojans’ top receivers in 2021, but as a junior has struggled to work his way into the mix. So far this season, he has two receptions for 15 yards while mostly working in kickoff returns for USC.
Left tackles Courtland Ford (ankle) and Bobby Haskins (shoulder) were both full participants at practice on Tuesday, Riley said. The coach expects the pair to continue splitting snaps at the position this week against Oregon State.