Sunday Night With Clay Helton

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold (14) is tackled by California’s Devante Downs during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Clay Helton said several players stood out on film against Cal: Linebacker Cam Smith, safety Marvell Tell, defensive lineman Christian Rector, cornerback Ykili Ross, tailback Stephen Carr and wide receiver Tyler Vaughns. Helton said the only injury was defensive tackle Josh Fatu’s sprained ankle. Ronald Jones “moved around a little bit” today but Helton had no timetable on Jones’ return.

Among weaknesses, Helton said the Trojans’ longest pass play was 19 yards. He said USC “”needs to do a better job hooking up deep.”

For several weeks, I’ve mentioned throwing deep was a team weak spot. Helton also mentioned not finishing drives, such as converting on fourth down.

Helton said he had not spoken to the team yet about the President Trump-NFL controversy but would this week. Helton said “obviously I’ve always been supportive of freedom of choice.”

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  • RegalTrojan

    I’ll be blunt here. Helton is an exceptionally classy man with tons of great attributes, and he’s a good coach. But despite the 4-0 record so far, I really don’t see any clear evidence of brilliant coaching and play-calling from him and coaching staff in recent games, especially with the offense. In fact, the team seems to be relying heavily on individual talent and the opponents’ mistakes caused mainly by their inexperienced QBs so far in this season. The chances are the team will be challenged by the teams that won’t give out free gifts sooner or later, and unless they apply some quick and meaningful improvements, all the shortcomings will be exposed and the team will go down in a downward spiral, which is what no Trojan fans would enjoy to witness.

    • Jack B

      One thing I know is that every QB, starter or back-up, looks like a superstar against us. We made that TEXAS frosh look like like a top 5 Heisman dude. And Chryst looked like an All-Conf player. What’s with that? And our DL has played pretty damn well. So have our LBs.

      Hope our DBs get a clue. Opposing team WRs always seem to stop exactly where they need to and catch it for a first, long or short. Darn if it doesn’t happen several times every game, extending crucial drives. At least Jack Jones is picking up his game, even if he’s loudly trash talking a mile-a-minute while on the run. Boys will be boys.

      • Lajollaboy

        True but in the 2nd half of the Cal game, the defense made Bowers look like a Redshirt Freshman QB. We just need to play that way the whole game and not just for a half or one quarter. Same with the offense that they need to step up and play like they did against Stanford all game long. Coaches need to get the players ready mentally and emotionally.

        • Jack B

          I would only say Bowers made himself look that way with his deep lobs to nowhere for reasons unknown. But he still managed to pass USC silly most of the time from what I saw and his stats show it.

          • Lajollaboy

            22-50 for 303 1 TD and 4 INTs. Most of that yardage came in the first half before the D tightened up. If we can do that to Falk next Friday, we should win at Wazzu.

          • Jack B

            You must have missed his late and long 4th Q drive for an easy TD against the woeful USC DBs, giving the Bears 20. It was a thing of beauty if you were a Bears fan.

            Anyway, I saw the game with about 15 Trojans, including some old players, and nobody thought USC looked very good, especially our running game and defensive backfield. To each his own.

          • ItsAllAboutTheBall

            That drive was against 100% Second Team D..and still needed a 4th down conversion.

          • Lajollaboy

            I wasn’t saying we were perfect for sure. Our running game did struggle and the D had problems in the first half. But the D play better in the 2nd half and they were the big reason for the win. I think the team will do well this year but we need to start playing complete football for all 4 quarters to return to what we once were years ago. The talent is there and it just a matter of the coaches putting all together and making it work, Fight On!

          • Jack B

            Our D’s fine but our DB’s routinely give up big plays. That’s my only point. QBs have a habit of feasting on us, even freshman or long-timers who are finally getting a chance. It’s not like we’ve been going up against the Sam Darnold’s of the world.

            And the last two games our OL has looked like it’s playing in water and certainly not physical – which I thought was gonna be our calling card. CAL totally shoved around our OL. They have zippo DL talent compared to us, match-up wise. Go figure.

            SC’s doing fine. We’re 4-0 and generously ranked #5 – because of pre-season expectations, not performance. But everybody knows we’re riding a thin line between excellence and mediocrity. That’s just who were are.

            For a team with as many holes and injuries as we have, I’d say Helton’s doing fine. But if we lose to WSU, a team with half the talent we have, things could change quickly.

            It’s great to be a Trojan living on the hi-wire. We better improve a lot, or we are going down. At least that’s what every so-called expert says to a man. I believe them too,

          • Cloud Shaman

            Leach is crafty

          • fast fred

            Not so sure about the future as you once were??? We didn’t hear about the o-line and Sam having trouble—- seems like your new posts will set you up for the coming downfall.

          • Jack B

            As long as USC has you pitiful little gutties on our schedule, all is good. Congrats on yet another ucla faceplant against STAN. USC #5. ucla #75. You’re looking good baby gutty.

          • Cloud Shaman

            re: tough games every week thus far. All top ten teams are challenged by unranked teams.

          • SweatPee

            Did you you know that on the last drive our defensive backs were our backups? They included Pollard, Langley (who was beat for the td), Ross and Jamel Cook. I don’t think they would have scored if interference would have been called against receiver as it should have been on the td. Nor do I think they would have scored if the starters were in.
            Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

        • Cloud Shaman

          It seems Clancy plays basic the first half then makes adjustments in 2nd half

      • peter

        In 4 games this year, 3 of those opponents came sky high emotional gunning for us.In 1 game we were sky high playing another team.I’m not sure top to bottom we are mature enough YET to play 3-4 quarter football. Last 2 weeks have been very hard games to watch. The players that have played lights out.Kicker. Number of guys on D and 1 series on O. Only 1 team in CFB is playing 4 quarter football . I think come home from from WSU with a victory, some way, some how ,the chances to mature and win Pac 12 greatly improve. We have just 1 captain on O,to win other guys on O need to show leadership. Take the game over. It starts at line of scrimmage.

      • RegalTrojan

        I don’t appreciate that our team gave 3 of 4 teams they’ve faced “moral victories” by underperforming their potential. And they might give their upcoming opponents real victories unless they clean up some key areas quickly. Yes, we’ve got problems if our aspirations are beyond winning our division this season.

        • Jack B

          Well-stated. And it seems like every team we play, some USC fans say we are holding back things for later. IMO those are just excuses for looking bad. Always the excuses.

          I wouldn’t be so bothered except our running game has taken a total dump and we’re supposed to be a run-first team. We should have blown CAL to high heaven on the ground, but we only won a 6-turnover game by a measly 10 points. That’s just not good unless you want to say we were holding back for WSU, the weekly mantra.

          And poor Darnold. We should start calling him Houdini he has to get out of trouble so fast. It’ll work until it doesn’t. Kind of a time bomb approach to winning.

          • RegalTrojan

            Amen, partner.

    • schammer47

      After following closely USC’s college football program for the past 55 years, while arttending the USC as an undergrad from 1965 to 1969 the Trojans appeared in 3 Rose Bowl Games, won a National Championship and were awarded 2 Heisman Trophies. I have watched the Trojan Texas, Stanford, and Cal games from kickoff to the final whistle on TV. Because our 2017 roster with it’s current injuries does not measure up to our 2016 roster in any way shape, manner, or form, our Coaching Staff and players have done an incredible job pounding the Trees and the Bears at the same time defeating a resurrected Texas program that, in all likely,hood, will win the Big 12 this year. Our season will only get better, if 4-0 isn’t enough.

      • Brent4c

        Never heard so many people question a coach who’s on a 13 game win streak including a RB victory. All the Helton isn’t a good enough coach nonsense needs to stop. We play w backups on the road against a very hot team and win by double digits.

      • Michael Guarino

        I mostly agree. Helton should get credit for steering our injury riddled team thru a tricky, byeless schedule. And I suspect he’s got a plan for when to use certain players who are being presently held out [like, for instance, this Friday]! But, injuries are part of the game and a lot of teams haven’t had a bye yet, and still they seem to run significantly smoother offensive series than we do. With our talent there shouldn’t be so many 3 and outs, Sam should have way more yards and we should shouldn’t see teams with bottom rated defensive lines pushing our o-line around.

    • Michael Guarino

      You’re right, RT. This isn’t a team yet —it’s a collection of talented players. We should have WAY more identity on offense by now (unless our identity is hurried short passes). The chance of somebody (1) catching us on an off night— and (2) having the weapons to take advantage of all our weaknesses isn’t likely to come up more than once or twice —but that’s enough to keep us out of the big parade.

      • RegalTrojan

        Of course there’s not one way to win games, but our team is dangerously flirting with a sudden disaster at the moment being out-of-sync offensively and with the secondary that allows way too many big plays. We’ve been lucky to have a few inexperienced opposing QBs that helped us so far, but we can only go so far with luck. It’s time for us to play to our true potential.

        • Michael Guarino

          Well, we’re about to face our first great quarterback. All questions get answered on Friday. Beat Washington State and we could very well go all the way.

          • RegalTrojan

            Yes, there’s no question about that, MG. It’ll be a big test for us!

          • gotroy22

            The Pac 12 is exposed now as being mediocre. Once we beat the Cougs we will easily defeat the rest of these weak sisters.

  • Old Trojans never die

    I hope the war over the Star Spangled Banner ends before Trump cuts tax breaks and the anti-trust exemption.
    As for the Trojans Mr. Helton needs to find a new way to wake the hungry beast we fans expect each game. USC has looked more like a group of sandlot players, than a well coaches team. One wicked hit on the quarterback and the game is over. There is no backup plan and the offensive line is allowing the other teams carte blanch in the backfield. Things must change.

    • Jack B

      Our OL is literally a danger to Darnold half the time. I don’t know how he stays upright let alone completes passes, often wildly on the run or dodging rushers. Darnold’s feet and release are SO quick. He’s such a pleasure to watch.

      • Pac12 fan

        The offensive line is disappointing as usual as you state Jack B. The Stanford game was awesome and physical but we should be running over teams lime Cal.

        • Jack B

          Stay in your lane little gutty. You’re no Trojan so drop the “we”. You’ve never fooled anybody here so stick to figuring out why ucla stinks every single year.

          USC is gonna stomp you in November, again. I can’t wait to see it in person.

      • Old Trojans never die

        I would love watching him without having to scramble every down. But the picture shows his legs are targets . If something isn’t done he’s at risk.

      • fast fred

        How do you do!!!

    • rusoviet

      We’re 4 – 0 and you’d better watch TX run the table starting with IA St. this week.

      Look at the top tiered conferences and the legacy programs are on top: AL OK, MI, PA St., Clemson, an 1 loss squads- notre dame, Miami – the olny one I consider missing is clueless NE – lost since they joined the Big 10.

      USC is back to where it belongs – on top # 5

    • gotroy22

      That would be sugar sweet if Congress sticks it to Roger Goodell in the new tax legislation.

  • rusoviet

    What happened to 710 AM Sunday morning show with Coach Henry Hyde?

    Oh yeah for all the bel-air tech fans going nuts about Mora – the problem is Mora was able to get that fool of an athletic director Dan Guerrero to agree to a huge buy out – even at this year it’s >$9 million for Mora alone not including staff and it drops to >$6 million next year.

    No problem blowing (what was the figure $50 million?) for the Wasserman center with that jewel of an 80 yard field. bel-air tech the place bad coaches go to extend their career’s.

    • USC jojo

      He has a hour long radio show on 830 am at 7:00 pm. I believe its on Monday thru Fridays.

      • rusoviet

        Thanks jojo – sure miss that Sunday show. Hey BTW is the old ‘We Are SC” now no longer copyrighted or it never was to begin with? I’ve been hearing Fox Sports use it for over a decade and I don’t hardly ever hear it used by SC.

        • USC jojo

          You’re right. I never thought about that. I don’t know if it was ever copyrighted or not.
          I’ve heard it chanted by fans at the coliseum when SC has won the game in the 4th quarter.

    • Jack B

      Problem for ucla is Guerrero big-time. He can’t hire a good football coach to save himself. As long as Guerrero’s at ucla, the bruins will continue to stink.

      USC is very lucky to have Swann. He’s a continual match lighting a fire under the expectations of USC football at the McKay Center. He laid down the law after last year’s STAN game big-time and nothing has since been the same about USC football.

    • gotroy22

      That great Sunday show was dropped by the geniuses at ESPN. They can’t do anything right these days.

  • Pac12 fan

    Helton good for this team. We always have top 5 recruiting classes and he has eliminated the Usual Hollywood drama associated with USC

    • Jack B

      Worry about your own crappy bruins.

      You have many superior football athletes at ucla but can’t win diddly squat, ever. Mora is a bursting-neck-vein-disgrace and he promotes dirty play from ucla’s players. Too bad he also stinks as a HC and has hired some really bad bruin assts. Congrats on being STAN’s decade-wimp. You ready to double-down on that little gutty.

      • Pac12 fan

        Sorry but not a big Bruin fan never have been

        • Jack B

          You’re just ashamed, and predictable. Drop the act. You’re no Trojan. Stick to what you know, ucla football failure.

          • Pac12 fan

            Add something to the analysis just not derogatory comments

          • Jack B

            You obviously don’t understand what analysis means. I’m not analyzing anything with you. Get it little gutty.

          • Pac12 fan

            Never vote for myself

          • Jack B

            That’s what you did at the top of this thread idiot. Go ahead and downvote yourself, liar.

          • fast fred

            Getting a little angry are we? Maybe your posts are so two sided– planning for the downfall?

          • Jack B

            You little gutties always accuse people of getting angry whenever we make you look stupid. Ya, it’s so sad being a Trojan fan these days. What’s it like for you pitiful little gutties these days? Hah, hah, hah!

          • rusoviet

            You run amok of jaqueline? Bubbling anger is his mien.

    • Cloud Shaman

      and teams are adjusting for Darnold. Look what happened to Derek Carr vs Redskins

  • Pac12 fan

    Pete Carolls rah rah as a coach catching up with him in Seattle. Works for a few years but utimately it takes more than just enthusiasm

    • RegalTrojan

      Don’t worry about Pete! He’s one of the only 3 or 4 coaches who won both college football national championships and Super Bowl. What have you won in your life? A California Scratcher? LOL!

    • Jethro G Sabbath

      Do you think just maybe the salary cap has something to do with it? New England is the only team that manages to stay at the top but they have to cheat to do it.

  • jim

    I just heard that Cary Angeline quit the team. I still wish we would have hung onto Caleb Wilson.

    • USC jojo

      Wearescdotcom reported on it.
      Lets see how long it takes sw to read your comment and post it.

      • jim

        Maybe I ought to have my own football forum. I’d be the Walter Cronkite of college football.

    • Rabb

      The TEs are not a focal point in Tee Martin offensive scheme anyway. I’ve said it time and time again, why TEs if you never gonna use them. I would have quit as well.

      • jim

        You’re right. Under Tee Martin they don’t use the tight ends as much as they should. I think the tight ends are a valuable part of an offense. I would even like to see them use a fullback once in awhile.

  • Pete

    Anyone know why Cary Angeline quit?

    • Sandy Underpants

      I don’t know but I see her driving her pink corvette on the 101 through the valley like at least once a month if not more.

    • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

      We’ve got 5 tight ends and he was at the end of the list, behind 2 true freshmen. He’s pretty skinny for a TE and cant block. Probably upset with the lack of play time.

  • Sandy Underpants

    Helton is the worst 13 consecutive win head coach in history. Nobody can explain how he’s winning these games, but Brian Kelly should definitely give him a call and ask for some advice.

  • steveg

    Imagine if Saban or Harbaugh were the USC coach, how often would they turn and walk out after some of the stupid issues come up in the press conference. Helton stays and gives answers, I applaud that.

  • David Keeling

    Let’s keep politics out of this website please, OK?

  • Cloud Shaman

    Washington State is overrated. California is the better of the two teams. They were in high scoring shootout and barely beat Boise State who got beat thoroughly by Virginia and they barely beat Troy.