USC vs. Nevada preview: Caleb Williams turns up the pressure

USC offensive lineman Gino Quinones blocks quarterback Caleb Williams in the Cotton Bowl.

USC offensive lineman Gino Quinones blocks quarterback Caleb Williams in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. USC coaches are looking for standouts on the offensive line.

( Matthew Visinsky / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Challengers come from every corner. What USC needs on its offensive line, though, is a champion.

“We’re kind of going to Round 13 of a championship bout and where just one judge scored it 155-153, the next judge 152-155,” offensive line coach Josh Henson said of the ongoing position battles within his group. “I don’t know who won. Everybody thinks a different guy won. I’m just waiting for somebody to quit throwing body blows and throw some knockout punches.”

Riley said he didn’t anticipate repeating last week’s plan of changing the line every series, but frequent changes will remain until players separate themselves. The guard positions — where Gino Quinones, Alani Noa, Emmanuel Pregnon and Michael Tarquin are rotating — are especially tight.

Quinones, who started at right guard last week with the freshman Noa starting on the left side, said he wasn’t sure he would get the first snaps until the game started.

“It’s healthy for us,” said Quinones, a redshirt senior. “It’s a challenge for all of us to step up and when we go in, to make sure there’s no drop in any of the changes.”

Tarquin, a transfer from Florida, was among the players Riley said stood out in the first game. Tarquin was listed as a starter at right guard entering the opener but instead came off the bench behind Quinones.

While Henson appeared to be growing impatient with the lack of clarity within his group, he chose to focus on the silver lining that every player is getting critical game reps that will help solidify depth.

“You can be discouraged by it and be like, somebody needs to step forward with consistency with their play, or you can also look at it from the standpoint of the guys are playing pretty good and they’re battling,” Henson said. “You got more than one guy that’s sitting there playing at a pretty high level. That’s the way I kind of take it, as the second way.”