USC Football

Vera-Tucker prepared to play fast & physical in 2019

July 30, 2019
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Every time we saw USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker last Fall Camp, he looked like one of the most talented and impactful linemen the Trojans had. But he rarely saw the field and we asked him each week why. His answer was always a shrug of the shoulders and a quick, “I don’t know.”

We also did the same thing each week with OL Jalen Mckenzie, until USC fired offensive line coach Neil Callaway. We only stopped asking why they weren’t playing at that time, because new OL coach Tim Drevno played both the first game he coached the offensive line last season.

Vera-Tucker is the kind of offensive lineman who could garner All-Conference honors this season. We believe he’s that good and we also believe he’s being well coached by Drevno.

With Fall Camp approaching this week (8/2), we had an opportunity to pick Vera-Tucker’s brain about Graham Harrell’s Air-Raid Offense, how Aaron Ausmus  and the strenght and conditioning program has impacted him, the offseason changes with the culture of the program and much more.

Scott Schrader and Alijah Vera-Tucker Q&A:

SS: We're heading into fall camp and you had a spring with Graham Harrell--How has this offense changed, the way you see the offensive linemen.

Alijah Vera-Tucker: I think we're a lot more energetic now...a lot more than last season.  I think everyday we come out ready to play...we know that it's a fast tempo.  We know that.  We understand that.  We understand the plays a lot more so we come into this fall camp knowing that it's going to be a fast offense...a really fast pace and we're excited about it.

SS: Are there any differences on the way you'll play your position?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: No I don't think so...I think it's going to be the same thing (Coach) Drevno has been emphasizing through spring ball and coming up for fall camp.  So I don't think it's going to change the way I play.  I mean it's going to be a lot faster...hopefully faster than spring ball.  

SS: What kind of pace are we talking about?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: A pace where we can catch the defense slipping(sleeping?)...more often than not  I think it's an offense that can create opportunities for our wide outs and for our running backs too.  

SS: The "easier to understand" part--what does that mean to you?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: Obviously we had a new offense to learn when (Coach) Graham came in, for the spring.  So after the spring...watching all that film and have the opportunity to go over all the plays again on our own, and as a Oline group...and as a full offensive unit, I just think we've had a good opportunity to learn the plays and get them down.

SS: How will this offensive line play better than last year's

Alijah Vera-Tucker: I think Drevno really emphasizes physicality.   You know a lot of people say we lacked that, and maybe we did...maybe we didn't?   At least for me, I think we did a little bit and that one of the things we're emphasizing...along with better communication.  We were kind of lacking that(communication) last year too.

SS: Were you able to watch any film of Nort Texas to get an idea of what Graham is looking for?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: Yeah, all through spring ball and summer too the Oline would get together just to get a better understanding of Coach Graham's offense and to understand what he's looking for.

SS: When you talk about physicality, is it a different type of physicality with different emphasis on angles and things like that?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: Sure, there's that too.  Drevno wants to make sure everyone knows there assignments before everything else, but make sure you're physical too blowing people off the line.  We as an Oline want to be a team that no Dlinemen want to play against.

SS: The physical part as it relates back to Aaron Ausmus--How has that impacted you?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: For me it's impacted me the way I look at football as whole.  Coach Ausmus just emphasizes a lot more things than most strength coaches do.  Just the program itself...you've seen the results, it's gotten us all bigger.  And personally I think it's brought us closer as a team and we're really excited to have him.

SS: When did you start noticing the difference in your body and conditioning?

Alijah Vera-Tucker: After about week two I started to feel a lot stronger along with my fellow Oline teammates.

USC Fall Camp 2019 begins Friday August 2 at 4pm.

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Vera-Tucker prepared to play fast & physical in 2019

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