What Is USC Good At?

Related imageUSC 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.

122 thoughts on “What Is USC Good At?

  1. Say what so many do about Scott Wolf ‘but’ his column in today’s Daily N3ws was the only one that made a bit of sense. Helfand at the (imes had nothing to say, Kaufman wrote a report of the game.

    here’s a great laser sharp hit re. Helton.

    “This coaching staff does not improve players. It does not coach them up nor dress them down wyhen things go poorly. The Saturday Night massacre at Notre Dame was a disaster because there was an alarming lack of emotion on the sideline.”

    ” ‘Notre dame was well prepared,’ USC Coach Helton saud. ‘We helped them by mistakes.’ But was USC prepared? Helton is a nice guy but is he a leader of men?”

    As another noted recruits will flee coming to USC based on what the NFL thinks about how ready they are to invest money in them as players.. .

  2. Last night proved what a clown show this coaching staff is.

    The team has gotten WORSE. With improved ASU, UA, a game in Boulder that could get dicey due to bad weather and the mess of a team in westwood using the game as their bowl game, Gomer might be lucky to go 2-2, maybe.

    Even if he finishes 8-4, he should be fired because he can’t do the job. But, he never should have been hired to begin with

  3. USC is really good at running their collective mouths after every play even though they’re getting pummled by 28 points. They’re also really good at not wearing the uniform the right way; Jack Jones’s “shorts” and numerous others wearing red tights. Of course, this all began with the black socks against Utah. All this lands at the feet of CCH and his lack of discipline.

  4. I think Flutie touched on something towards the end of the game that speaks to a fundamental problem for USC as it relates to relevance nationally. He said USC is built to beat PAC 12 teams. We play football in an Olympic and women’s sports conference and the conference plays football accordingly.

    Our physicality and athleticism are enough for us to be a big fish in this small PAC 12 pond, but nobody in this pond is really able to swim with the sharks nationally. Of the teams we’ve played, TX and ND seemed to be bigger, stronger, more physical and athletic than we are, especially in the trenches. So, if you’re not as big, strong and athletic as those kinds of teams, you have to use things like tempo, creative offenses and play calling, deception, positioning, speed etc.. You also have to play clean and limit your mistakes. I think of Kelly’s duck teams as good examples of these sorts of teams. They had all of the above except for the fact that they couldn’t avoid mistakes and play clean enough to win against power/physical teams on the big stage. They could dominate the PAC 12, but not an SEC team and they struggled with Stanford.

    We’re neither an exceptionally physical team nor does our style of offense or defense really fool anyone. I rarely see where our supposed team speed advantage is apparent. We’re trying to be all things and ending up being good at nothing. We want to be tough, but we play in a passing league so we have to be lean and be able to cover everyone. Our favorite defense is the nickel defense. We want to be balanced on offense, but we can’t impose our will through physicality or deception/execution. On and on it goes. Look, bigger, stronger offensive lines with good running backs are going to expose our “built to defend the pass” defense. Bigger, stronger, more athletic defensive front sevens are going to expose our zone blocking, positioning, uncreative, finesse BS.

    We have to ask ourselves if getting to the Rose Bowl is still our goal every year. At one time, winning the RB and winning the National championship could be one in the same, but it’s not so now. If we want to win the PAC 12 and go to the RB every year, we can continue to do what we’re doing now along with our conference mates. If we want to win Nattys, some very fundamental things have to change. The landscape of college football has changed and as some feared, some of the bloom has come off of the Rose Bowl with the way national championships are decided now. Do we still want to play in the PAC 12 and try to win RBs while pretending to compete for national championships in a conference that isn’t well situated to compete for national championships?

    • I don’t know – the kids on the line looked small compared to the Irish esp. those two gorillas on the Irish left side that continually kept opening doors for the Irish QB and TB.

      Are SC players small? I’d says they were poorly coached, poorly prepared. I’d also say Tee Martin did not develop anything other than Darnold passing and, after the Western MI game, all opponents keyed in on that.

      As to TX – they just dropped their 3rd game in ‘OT’ so maybe the reality is USC is really that inept.

      I do agree we play in the weakest conference nationally but I also believe a change in coaching is what is needed just as it was as 2000 came to a close.

      Right now – and I believe it was you – the recruits are seeing USC as radioactive

      • Look at the personnel difference between teams like Ohio st, Bama, Clem, Georgia, ND etc and us. They have bigger, more athletic people throughout their rosters than we do. Defense has been our best side of the ball, how many of our starters could start for Alabama? MAYBE two? Compare the entire SEC conference against The entire PAC 12 and you will see the SEC has a ton more bigger, stronger, more athletic people. The athletes matter and when you have more bigger, stronger more athletic people at more positions, you’re going to win more individual battles and be better as a team and as a conference.

        • Yeah it was very graphic when they used that overhead camera to look down on the players esp. as the snap began.

          Off topic – so much for notre dame recruiting high IQ players

          • I’m not sure where they are academically, but their on the right track with the football program. I wish I could see that so clearly with USC.

          • Well aside from me I’d say any of the 4th estate that witnessed that ‘Cannae’ in So. Bend. Did you actually watch the way the USC squad was manhandled from the beginning of the game through the end?

            Worst defeat to any9ne since AZ St. clobbered us back in 2012 but hey we scored> 20 points

    • How many times has SC won the PAC 12 south ? We can’t even dominate that sad bunch of teams on a regular basis

      • I’m not talking about the sanction years, but right now and moving forward. Look at the team we appeared to be last night and yet we’re still in the driver’s seat to win the South and the Conference. Nobody in the PAC 12 is a top 5 program.

        • SC still has to get past ASU which is on a roll. Then the last 3 in November. Given what we saw last night, SC is not in the driver’s seat!

          • Win and they’re in. That’s controlling your own destiny. Our ability to control the teams on our schedule is another thing. I get your point though.

          • Put it this way. Our destiny is much more limited than before the ND fiasco. Now we are destined to pray that we get in a decent bowl, because if we lose 1 more game, we won’t.

            Helton’s “destiny” argument is laughable now that Kelly fleeced him and pulled down his pants on national television’s most watched game. I’ve never seen Helton look weaker than he did following last night’s game. That was almost as scary as the beat down on the field.

          • The team looked bad in every phase and it was embarassing.

            As bad as we played, it’s hard not to notice how much different ND is from the team we saw last year. They lost a bunch of guys to the pros too. I suspected we could lose, but I wasn’t expecting to see ND setting rivalry records against us. They looked like they had bigger, stronger, better organized guys to me. IDK.

          • After Kelly’s 2016 season, his coaching life flickered before him and he had to make massive changes, the kind we would like to see Helton make. Problem is, Delton and Darnold won a miracle Rose Bowl last January and we ALL drank the Kool-Aid.

            ND was bigger, faster, quicker, cleaner and better coached and much more confident than feeble USC last night, But Helton says we still control our own destiny, as if that’s enough.

            We’re in the Winning Ugly stage. I think we’ll have to get to the Losing Ugly stage, like Kelly did last year, to see any significant changes made.

          • We’ll see if self-preservation ends up overriding pure loyalty for CH. It’ll be interesting to watch.

          • Like many, I think Helton has a little bit too much teddy bear inside him. It sure as heck showed last night both during and after the game.

          • I had to skip all the post-mortem stuff, but I saw him yelling at refs more than I ever have. We’ll have to see how he gets the team to respond. Hopefully he’s not losing people in the locker room.

          • I don’t care about yelling at the refs. I never saw McKay yell at the refs one time in 15 years. He may have shook his head. That was about it.

            Helton lost control of the game by the 2nd Q because USC had no plan to successfully run on ND or stop their run. At 14-0, I predicted we’d lose by 35. We just looked like a dead man walking. Nothing good EVER happened during the entire 1st half for USC. I’ve never seen anything like it.

            Helton says he needs to look at the film. Really? My viewing party didn’t need to see film to see we were getting knocked off the ball on both O and D to the extent we had no ability to dictate the game on any terms.

            We looked a lot better when we got slaughtered against ALA. At least USC wasn’t entirely helpless then. We were helpless last night, start to finish. Helton’s yelling at the refs made me laugh more than anything else.

          • I’m just saying that it’s the most emotion I’ve seen from him in any context.

          • Perhaps, but it would look good on me. You could do that style in black or white too.

      • And made mistakes to give it away. That’s why I stress playing cleanly in order to win like that. I’ve youdont play clean then the physical advantages will win out every time. It’s a long game and getting leaned on by big, strong guys all game adds up. It’ll stay with you after the game too. We got tenderized last night and ASU could take advantage of it.

      • Having somebody on the ropes and actually winning are two entirely different things – light years apart.

          • I never thought ORE was the better team that night and in the end, they caved, like so many weaker teams do against more physically dominant outfits. I was really pulling for the Ducks that night and they were good enough to compete well, just not good enough to win IMO.

            Against physically dominant teams, I feel the same way about USC.

            Wait until we play TEXAS in Austin next year. Unless Helton pulls a full Brian Kelly with his team and staff, it won’t be pretty.

          • Texas is on the right track just like ND and we’ll see both of them again next year.

          • Nest year will be Helton’s Waterloo unless he comes to Jesus, realizes what he has on his hands and takes dramatic steps to alter the program both coaching and personnel-wise.

          • I think Sam’s stock is dropping and he won’t be so lured to leave. No way I make him the number 1 pick now. His regression is one of the weirdest things I’v ever seen at USC. I used to think it was all his supporting cast at USC, but not anymore. He’s just not as good as he was last year in every way. Bizarre.

          • I was impressed with Oregon’s ability to continually take body blows but yet still be in contention at the very end to pull off a victory. We will have the bodies to go toe-to-toe with Texas but will that transfer to the field? One season at a time

          • We have the bodies to compete with what TX is right now, but not with what they’re on their way to becoming. We are not “becoming” at the same rate as TX or ND.

          • Start with bigger, stronger, faster recruits. I still believe our roster is recovering from sanctions. I think we’ll be bigger and stronger in the fairly near future, but we need to go where the fish are in recruiting.

          • Oregon went into that game averaging 49 points per game and were beaten in the trenches. The following year, the opened up in the Kick Off Classic and were destroyed by another physical team, LSU.

          • You have me scratching my head, if you are beaten in the trenches wouldn’t the game have been a blowout, 22-19 on a last-second field goal, very competitive game. I would say the battle in the trenches was equal….nice try

          • Everyone knew the game was going to be a defensive battle you can throw that 49 points out the window.

      • But they couldn’t score. That middle linebacker was unstoppable against the ducks. They were held to 19 points.

      • I remember seeing that Auburn’s OL and DL players all looked larger than the poor Duckies.

        • IMO, Kelly was a good evaluator of talent and did more with less. Mariota was on no one’s radar but chip dug him out

        • They didn’t win the game but it showed the Pac-12 could compete against the SEC when all the national Talking Heads were given us no respect

    • Agree mostly, We aren’t set up to punch you in the mouth and put you down.

      Only difference is IMO, we COULD BE, and we could still win the pass happy P12 at the same time. USC has the clout to get those type of big athletes, but right now we don’t have the mentality or staff to do it.

      • I think we’re increasingly less able to compete for those guys because of the region and conference we compete in. To do what you’re saying (and I agree) you have to do it the way Carroll did it. There are more people in the south/Texas who are better suited to play the kind of football we’re talking about. We need fewer people from Utah and more from Texas/FLA/GA etc.

    • Flutie is calling out the Conference of Champions for being a women’s and Olympic team conference and he went to BU????? (or was it BC?) Whatever.
      Either way they are really good at Lacrosse & Crew.
      Stick to Dr. Pepper commercials One Shot.

      • None whatsoever and I didn’t catch that post from him. He sounds like a sensible individual though.

  5. When you practice in shorts while the other guys are in full gear,guess what? They recruit the same kids. They were 4-8 last yr.They changed all coaches. They are now a good team,improving weekly.SC not so much,and compared to Penn St who is improving, both with same coaches.Backs can’t run with no blocking,Sam can’t pass with no blocking. 2ndary can stay with no one, front 7 can’t tackle…did you see the holes they opened up? SC did not,when the other team is too strong,agile well coached…it is a miserable time…

  6. What is USC good at? How about what the rest of the college foot all landscape around the country already knows…wasting 4 & 5 star recruit talent! USC is known as “the place where 4 & 5 star recruit talent goes to die”. From Lane Kiffin to Steve Sarkisian and now Clay Helton, all have failed to develop the high level talent they were given.

  7. My goodness, ASU gave up an average of 34.4 points per game the first 5 games of the season, including 24 points to Stanford. In Game 6; ASU 13, #5 Washington 7. WHAT !!! Game 7; ASU 35, Utah 10. Where did ASU’s defense come from ???

  8. What is USC good at? Well, since Pete Carroll’s departure, USC has been very good at wasting talent and potential.

    History will prove that the cause of this is Pat Haden. The damage he inflicted on USC athletics in general, and the football program, in particular, cannot be overstated.

  9. News—Carson Palmer breaks arm, will need surgery and will be out 8 weeks. I’m predicting he never plays again after this season.

    • It is beyond that now. Beating ucla takes little joy out of this last loss, because they are already horrible. Helton has shown what he is capable of and more so, incapable of.

  10. 1. Helton is really good at mis-using timeouts

    2. USC is top of its class in hastily hiring poor coaches

    3. USC is a leader in having its DBs get burned deep

    4. USC has run away from the pack with boneheaded special teams play

    5. Jack Jones (Toast Jr) is making a serious play to be jackass of the year by trash talking, and then backing it up with being burned dep, dropping punts, and penalties

    6. USC is a contender for most turnovers

    7. USC is in a league of its own with most scandals

    8. USC certainly is a leader in injuries

    9. USC appears to lead the least physical category

    10. And finally, USC is leading the delusional category. Tee Martin, “We are getting better and better.” Helton, “there is a lot of football to play…we control our destiny.”

    11. One more, USC leads th biggest slide and disappointment of the season category.

    Congratulations Clay, you have proven what many of us suspected from the start…you are in so far over your head that your snorkel needs to be a 1000′ of hose…and that may not be long enough!

  11. it’s all settled. no playoffs, no Natty, no Heisman… most of the trOXan GOALS are now kaput!!!

    as wolf and the Cadre predicted!!

    and the Fanboys as wolf so brutally refers to them, are reeling in a quagmire of excuses, and self pity!!!


    • (Reposted repost) Clay Russell 20 days ago
      Clay Russell a month ago
      My expectation for USC football is simply a PAC 12 championship. Provided the PAC 12 champion is worthy of being one of the final 4, I expect SC to be there.
      5 Edit View
      7 Edit View

      • your on solid ground, Clay, you got street cred with the Cadre.


  12. Does Helton have the character fabric to out and out fire some staff? Of course, his brother stays no matter how incompetent he is. I would keep the RB coach, but that’s all.

  13. How about ND kind of twisting the knife with that flea-flicker. That was a little like a b***h slap to me.

  14. Anyone have a bead on how patient Swann will be considering the teams decline and prospects for program improvement?

    If I were the AD, at minimum, I would have a hot list of replacements at hand, maybe make a few exploratory calls.

    We are not dealing with a proven coach having a bad year. We are dealing with a neophyte who would be incredibly lucky to be a head coach at any college. How do we rebuild and sustain program excellence based on his profile and performance to date?

    • So who are your hot candidates? How do you recruit them given all the instability over the last four years?

    • The question becomes, why come coach for Helton? Because he’s a nice guy? Not good enough on the heels of the worst USC on-the-field defeat in 50 years.

      He was exposed last night as a coach who didn’t have the faintest clue about how to get his team ready for its biggest reg season game of they year and the only one the entire nation cared about. USC has looked bad all season long, even though we are 6-2, but playing in the super weak P12 South.

      I don’t see many of USC’s problems as immed correctable. We can beat mediocre teams but have no shot against teams that are real strong in the trenches. You can’t fix that in a heartbeat. Takes time and development. Helton doesn’t seem up to it. He still thinks Tee is awesome and USC’s sitting pretty.

      • Tee is in la la land. 1st change to make is remove him as OC and get someone with a much bigger box to think outside of, his is really small.
        To get really good coaches, USC has to spend some money, and that is one reason why we are where we are.

  15. Message to Lynn Swann: CLEAN HOUSE. Meaning football AND basketball. USC has more money than God. Have you been to the campus? It’s a 5-star resort! Cut the losses now. Spend the money to bring in top-flight football and basketball staffs and put an to this nonsense.

  16. I am sure Heltons Sunday night comments will be that our goal of winning a Pac12 championship are still alive. But we expected more as fans with this team i believe. Even if we win that we dont go to the Rose Bowl this year unless we get into the CFP.

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