Lincoln Riley feels momentum gathering for USC in spring

LOS ANGELES – For a coach charged with the monumental task of raising a prestigious college football program from its lowest depths in three decades, Lincoln Riley looked quite content after Southern California’s spring game.

Running out of the historic Coliseum tunnel in front of a cheering home crowd for the first time on a sun-kissed Saturday in Los Angeles left Riley even more confident he’s leading the Trojans in the right direction.

“If you’re in this city and you don’t feel the momentum around this program, you’re not paying attention,” Riley said.

Coaches frequently attempt to speak such feelings into existence, but the renewed excitement at USC isn’t just coach-speak. The Trojans went through their scrimmage in front of 33,427 fans – the largest crowd to attend the spring game since the school began keeping track in the 1990s.

A vast fan base is clearly renewing its passion for a program that mostly gave angst to its faithful in the past half-decade. USC’s success in recruiting and in the transfer market also have skyrocketed since Riley’s hiring less than five months ago, headlined by the arrival of Heisman Trophy hopeful Caleb Williams as the Trojans’ top quarterback.

In another sign of the renewed interest around USC, the spring game was broadcast nationally on ESPN. But winning is the most important step, and Riley believes the Trojans will be ready to do much more of it in his debut season.

“Today was a great example of the progress that’s been made in a really short time,” Riley said. “I thought the day was really representative of how the entire spring has gone.”

Many fans traveled downtown to the Coliseum to get their first look at Williams, the Oklahoma transfer with a smooth release and impressive poise in the pocket. The sophomore completed every pass he threw in the…

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