From Day 1, I’ve written that anything less than a College Football Playoff appearance means this season is a disappointment. When USC was 4-1 and 5-1 this season, Clay Helton said the Trojans were having a better season than last year, when they started 1-3.
But USC also finished last season ranked No. 3 in the nation. So any ranking worse than that is also a sign the Trojans are having an inferior season.
Clay Helton said Notre Dame ran some new schemes against the Trojans that helped them run the ball better. He also said there were more instances of players getting beaten physically than assignment errors and credited Irish QB Brandon Wimbush for the defense’s problems.
Helton said cornerback Iman Marshall had an MRI on his knee today. I’ve heard he will be out 3-4 weeks, which could mean the regular season.
I asked Helton if college football pundits overestimated USC by picking them as a top-four team.
“I’ve always thought it’s not my job to worry about anybody else’s opinion,” Helton said.
One opinion who does matter is athletic director Lynn Swann. Helton said he and Swann meet every Monday to go over the previous game.
USC is poor at the line of scrimmage. The special teams are a circus. It can’t stop the run (546 yards in past two weeks). The secondary is extremely average (or less). The receiving corps has not developed since spring.
The two saving graces were quarterback and tailback. Now they are overcome by team issues. Maybe I was wrong when I said USC does not improve. Maybe USC gets worse.
USC was exposed after seven weeks of indifferent play and leadership, as I wrote in my analysis from South Bend.
Excerpt: This coaching staff does not improve players. It does not coach them up or dress them down when things go poorly. The Saturday night massacre at Notre Dame was a disaster because there was an alarming lack of emotion on the sideline.
If you cannot win the line of scrimmage, you cannot play with the nation’s best teams. You can prance around the dreadful Pac-12 South but that is hardly the goal, unless you listen to Clay Helton.