USC offensive line coach Josh Henson is earning his money this season

When Lincoln Riley was hired at USC in late November of last year, the first and most important question was whether Alex Grinch would follow as defensive coordinator, and that got answered very quickly with a “yes.” The intrigue surrounding Riley’s staff quickly shifted to the offensive line, where initial reports indicated that Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh would become the guy for USC.

However, Bedenbaugh never did follow Riley to USC. He stayed put at Oklahoma.

Who would Riley find as his offensive line coach at USC? Lincoln went to Texas A&M to get Josh Henson from Jimbo Fisher’s staff.

It’s only Year 1, but Riley’s move certainly seems to be paying off. Let’s examine this:

ADVERSITY

Let’s start with the fact that Henson, thrown into the fire on the recruiting trail, watched Josh Conerly and Francis Mauigoa slip through his fingers. It was understandable that Henson caught a lot of heat for those missed recruitments, but this was his first offseason, and he wasn’t at USC for a full recruiting cycle. It was a little harsh to blame him for those recruitments, but with the whiffs piling up, what else were fans going to do? Who else was going to be blamed? Henson had to keep his head down and continue working.

BOUNCE BACK

Henson began to pull important offensive linemen on the trail. He responded well to the Conerly and Mauigoa setbacks.

MICAH BANUELOS

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Henson continued to shine on the trail with the pickup of Alani Noa.

NOA DOUBT ABOUT IT

ELIJAH PAIGE

COACHING THIS YEAR'S O-LINE

Henson knew — as we all did — that the starters he inherited from 2021 and Clay McGuire (the man who turned around last season’s offensive line) were very good. The real question was the depth and the layer of linemen behind the starters.

Henson’s big first task was to get Bobby Haskins on track after an injury-marred offseason. Would Haskins be ready if Courtland Ford got hurt?

Well, Ford did get hurt. Haskins stepped in at left tackle and did a very solid job. Henson had Haskins ready to play.

That’s just the start of his contributions to this offensive line.

HASKINS-FORD REVERSAL

Earlier in the year, Ford got hurt and Haskins replaced him.

Saturday against Arizona, Haskins got hurt and Ford replaced him.

Ford had played sparingly over the past month. Was he ready to go when Haskins went down? Yes he was. USC ran the ball well in the fourth quarter to drain clock and score the Trojans’ final touchdown, which provided the eight-point margin of victory.

Henson had Courtland Ford ready to go.

OTHER INJURIES, OTHER ADJUSTMENTS

Josh Henson has been able to get Gino Quinones some playing time as an injury fill-in on the interior of the O-line when Justin Dedich was hurt.

MASON MURPHY

Murphy had a rough go of it at left tackle against Fresno State when Haskins and Ford were both banged up in Week 3. Yet, you saw Murphy come in at right tackle against Arizona and play well except for one (admittedly big) holding penalty.

Henson is bringing along Murphy and moving pieces around as needed.

VORHEES INJURY AGAINST ARIZONA

ADDED RESHUFFLING

HOW DID THIS GROUP DO?

USC not only scored 45 points at Arizona with this reshuffled O-line; the Trojans dropped a touchdown pass (Brenden Rice), missed a 39-yard field goal, and had a short field goal taken away by #Pac12Refs at the end of the first half. The offense should have scored over 55 points.

Not bad for a reshuffled line without its best lineman, Vorhees, and which also watched Haskins get hurt in the second half.

That’s coaching, folks.

EVERYONE SEES THE DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE

Justin Dedich on Mason Murphy:

“Mason Murphy is a talented kid, probably the most talented in our room,” Dedich said, “and we all had confidence he was going to do the job, and he did.”

This is also a testament to how the various offensive linemen in the room appreciate Henson’s guidance and leadership.

JONAH MONHEIM

After the Arizona game, Lincoln Riley praised Monheim — who had to switch positions as part of the Vorhees-created reshuffle — as a “super-valuable” offensive lineman.

That’s also a credit to Henson.

DEDICH ON THE FULL O-LINE VS ARIZONA

“I was really impressed with how we performed tonight,” Dedich said.

LINCOLN RILEY

“So many guys stepping up, you kind of lose count,” Riley said about the whole USC team after the Arizona win. This certainly includes Henson’s offensive line.

JOSH HENSON ALWAYS BELIEVED THIS OFFENSIVE LINE COULD BE GOOD

And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

FURTHER READING

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire