A USC Training Camp Issue That Cannot Last . . .

USC has three offensive line starters back and two big-time tailbacks (Ronald Jones, Stephen Carr). But the Trojans were unable to run the ball Saturday against the first-team defense. And not able to run the ball Tuesday at the Coliseum.

So USC’s defense is just that good? Maybe. But USC better be able to run against Stanford or Texas. And so far, it’s not really doing it. Sometimes things happen in training camp that do not carry over into the real season. USC hopes this is one of them.

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  • Michael Guarino

    Just a suggestion —-start giving Carr much more work with the ones. Let’s not repeat the Max Browne mistake by sticking with Jones through 3 critical September games. We need Stanford to respect the running game or Sam is gonna be a sitting duck.

    • CORTEZ THE KILLER

      I hear you, but Helton seems to not want to hurt feelings.

      As Bill Belichick says, it’s not personal, it’s a business.

      • Michael Guarino

        Yep. Agreed. (And) It could get very personal for Helton if we blow two of our first three games cuz we are relying on a running back who can’t break thru the Stanford or Texas lines.

        • hoohoolianFUCLA

          Not sure how getting Carr more reps helps the OL (The OL, to me, is 90% responsible for getting a back past the DL).

          Also, I don’t think your Browne/Carr comparison works either. I think a QB needs a lot more reps than Browne got as a back-up, but I think Carr (and many RBs at his level) can be explosive with a very few reps — so long as he has an OL. I don’t think we would be in any trouble at RB even if we lost 2 — maybe even 3 guys.

          Our running game issues are all on the OL right now. It’s like Bob Connelly all over again (But, unlike with Bob, I have confidence that it will not be an ongoing problem.)

          • Michael Guarino

            Yeah, sure—-O-line is a huge factor in the running game. Wish we still had Tim Drevno. But the guy we got is good and supposed to be a great teacher. So let’s see where we are by September 3rd.
            Last year, I remember always feeling better on third and three with Justin Davis, rather than Rojo, at tailback. I’m not going to go back and research the yards per carry these guys got in those situations, but it sure seemed like Justin got it done way more often than Jones. Obviously, they were both running behind the same o-line. Some backs just get to the hole better than others. I don’t what it is —some combination of instinct, eyesight, determination and football smarts.

          • hoohoolianFUCLA

            I can relate to the stats issue between that “feeling” and actually looking up all those situations! I’ve got a who spread sheet on Browne as a Back-up, since I was really pissed that Helton didn’t get him more action before Alabama. I even totaled each game for Browne’s minutes-on-the-field. (UGH: The crap I got for bagging on Browne, I had to check back to see if I was signing my posts “Scott Wolf!”)

            Jones has bulked up some (over 20 pounds, with no loss of speed or agility), so he’s probably going to be better on 3rd-and-3. Davis played at 200 last year and RJII was at 185.

            I suspect Vavae may be our 3rd-down back anyway, since he seems to have the best catching ability.

          • Michael Guarino

            Jones SHOULD be better (more physical) at 200. And don’t forget about Ware —although he seems to get dinged up a lot —both in games and in practice. And Malepeai could be a beast inside the 5 yd line. We should be good to go even without Carr. I just can’t ignore the genuine tones of respect (maybe even awe) in our running back coach’s voice when he was discussing Carr’s skills. It seemed to me he was sold on Carr being the best of the lot —but didn’t want to come out
            and say so explicitly.
            I have to say I love the idea of signing off as Scott Wolf. I’ll go with Scot Wolf and you go with Scott Wolfe. We’ll triple the amount of hits on Inside USC overnight.

    • schammer47

      After watching USC Trojan football the past 55 years, IMO, the year the USC Tailback Ron Jones had throughout the 2016/Rose Bowl Game season, when his the OL showed up, WAS OUTSTANDING. For you to ignore the need of an effective run blocking offensive line, AND, to run down accuse Ron Jones of when compared to a untried untested rank freshman TB is incredibly Dead Wrong.

      • Michael Guarino

        Ronald Jones looked great against totally beaten down Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame teams. I just can’t get the Utah and Utah State games out of my head. And I don’t want to ENTIRELY chalk those games up to the o-line. By the way, don’t be scared of freshman running backs —lots of great teams have done just fine by them.

    • Pudly76

      Hey Michael, how you doin? I’m a bit of a fence sitter on RJ II. But what I’m pretty sure of is that we’ll know much more after this week when the oline is settled and the running backs can get a sense of timing working with them. I can’t remember the last season that we went the whole year without losing a center or tackle or both. So I’m on board with the coaches going to extended reps with these guys trading positions just for insurance and piece of mind.
      We’ve got a new rb coach now, so I figure he deserves the chance to at least show what he’s got. He put three guys in the pros the last 3 yrs. and one just signed a contract making him one of the highest paid rb in the pros.

      • Michael Guarino

        I really like the new running back coach —he’s smart and charismatic. And I get the feeling he’ll push for Carr if we have early trouble running the ball against Stanford. You can tell he’s impressed with what Carr can do.
        But having said all that —I have ENMORMOUS respect for SCHAMMER 47’s football knowledge. And I’d be happy if Rojo’s hard work and commitment paid off in 2017.

      • hoohoolianFUCLA

        He put three guys in the pros the last 3 yrs…

        …starting with 3-star RBs running behind a 3-star OL against BIG10 defenses (for those of you who went to ucla, the BIG10 is known as a running league)! Indiana isn’t exactly a running back academy that can sign 9000-point linemen, let alone 9500s. They don’t have a history of being a running team for the ages like Nebraska (back in the day), GTech or Navy.

        To appreciate what he did, know that between 2010 and 2016,Indiana signed 19 players with a 247 composite score of 8600 or better and only 2 guys over 9000. (I have no idea if these guys played, I have only looked at the recruiting classes). Indiana is barely a bowl team, averaging fewer than 5 wins in this term.

        Their highest rated player since 2010 was a Tackle rating 9114 in 2013. Otherwise, their highest rated OL guys each season averaged 8553. The best 2 RBs of that era were rated 8557 and 8640.

        • Pudly76

          Thanks for taking the time to find and share the specifics. Hopefully he can bring some of his magic to our backfield and oline. Once the line is set I’m thinking we’ll get the offense going again.

    • Sas

      Great point Mike!
      And with all the backs that we have now and will most likely continue to have we should never be a team with one back getting the bulk of the carries. We should always have a 1-2 punch at RB.

      • Michael Guarino

        A guarantee of success in 2017: two backs who could each be relied on to gain in the vicinity of 100 yards every game! How great would that be, Sam?
        #We KnowDarnoldIsGonnaAdd350ToThat

        • Sas

          I want our running game to wear teams down. When Stanford and Washington know we’re gonna run on those important 3rd down and 3’s I want to get 5 to break the spirit of that defense. We have the talent to do all of that and we just have to get there. It sounds like Carr is the real deal and we should be dangerous running RoJo and Carr this season…The O-line has to be more physical, but they should be able pave the way for our backs.

          • Michael Guarino

            Oh, you’re asking for a mean and nasty o-line, too?! Yeah, Sam! As the British say, “that’s the ticket!”

          • Sas

            Mean baby!!!

  • Yale O. Leftwich

    When they get the best 5 O linemen figured and in position it would seem they will begin to move as a unit. Coaches always run plays their athletes are best suited to run,and having a q/b that is very mobile and backs that can catch loosens up defenses. Having a stellar defense always makes it tougher ,but a q/b that can call audibles is a plus also. It should begin to gel this week and be more on display next week…right…

  • CORTEZ THE KILLER

    When was the last time SC ran the ball effectively game in and game out, 2005 ?

    • Michael Guarino

      …a mere 12 years ago…

  • Ken Hart

    Do you always see the glass as half empty? Our D has set a goal of being the best. Maybe they are ahead of schedule Scotty.

    • SCgrad12

      Ken, you need to understand something about Wolf. He could wake up in bed with Penelope Cruz and Selma Hayak pleasuring him and he would find something to bitch about.

      • Ben Factor

        If anything, Scott has shown a preference for blondes. Still, only the hair/eye color and names would change, not the complaining.

    • Ben Factor

      For once, Scott is not merely being provocative. The OL was not much last year, and predictions of great improvement have yet to be seen.

      OTOH, an investigative reporter might attempt to gain greater insight into the problem. If he would do so half-successfully, it would interest me a lot more than the combination of the Hecuba statue, the new TJs, and the Cowlings Residential Hall.

      I have a feeling that my interests are may be shared by other here.

  • jim

    If they can get the O-line going and get some of those great receivers that they have to step up and fulfill their destiny, they should have a great offense in the 2nd half of the year. Until then they need to play great D.

  • Pete

    The best defense the Trojans are going to face in the PAC 12 is the defense they are playing against right now. Defenses in the beginning of the season are usually ahead of the offense. Just wait and see before we get all huffy and puffy about something that hasn’t happened yet. The folks over at USC football dot com aren’t too concerned about it right now. They have much more insight then SW has and better credibility….Fight On!

    • fryer tuck

      Ouch, as Flow would say the pain is truthful. Fight On!

    • Ben Factor

      You may be right, but Stanford and Washington might take issue here, to say nothing of “outsiders” Texas and ND.

      • Pete

        Ben, I hope those 4 schools bring their A Game. No excuses…..Fight On!