USC Morning Buzz: Grades From The Notre Dame Nightmare

USC’s national-title hopes imploded with a nationally televised self-destruction. So with that small detail in mind, here is the report card from the Notre Dame game.


Sam Darnold completed 20 of 28 passes but what does it matter really with the myriad problems facing the Trojans. He has 10 interceptions this season. But what QB in the nation would be doing a better job in this offense?

Grade: C+


Ronald Jones had 12 carries and not much blocking, which is becoming the norm with the offensive line. How about throwing a screen that is not behind the line of scrimmage to get Jones going with his porous blocking. Completely taken out of the game.



This was considered one of the better group efforts of the year, which shows how bad overall the receiving corps is this season. Steven Mitchell caught seven passes but dropped a big deep ball that wasn’t perfect but needs to be caught in a big game. You want to say Tyler Vaughns was the bright spot? Then why was he playing behind Jalen Greene until Greene got hurt?

The receivers are so average that even regular play gets applauded.



There are some freshmen playing but does this excuse that overall the line often looks like it lacks basic fundamentals? There was never a question it would be manhandled by Notre Dame’s defensive line. No holes to run through and Sam Darnold is scrambling for his life throughout the game. Not to mention that first snap of the game.



A former USC player told me he wonders what this group gets taught during the week because they look completely over their heads during games. There was no chance against Notre Dame’s talented left side especially. Rasheem Green couldn’t deal with double teams, mainly because he didn’t look like he was taught any technique.



Cameron Smith is making plays but it often looks like John Houston is just trying to survive, a safety playing linebacker. Uchenna Nwosu and Christian Rector were very quiet, which happens when you finally play a good team.



They could have given up three TD passes to start the game if Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush was more accurate. Jack Jones was all over the shop and Iman Marshall left with a knee injury, which meant Isaiah Langley got to give up a TD pass. Have they improved? Has anyone on this team?



Chase McGrath missed a 22-yard field goal. It happens. But the killer was Jack Jones’ fumble on the punt return. What was John Baxter thinking giving Jones his debut at Notre Dame? He couldn’t have broken him in against Oregon State or Utah?

No, let’s break him out in the toughest road environment of the season. That is the hubris that often guides special teams under Baxter.



When does USC not get off to a slow start? When things do not go exactly as planned, when does USC have a Plan B? When does the sideline look organized? The program looks sideways, a shell of the confident group that ended last season with a Rose Bowl victory. When does a player get taken to task for not doing his job? Everyone’s gotten too comfortable after last season’s success and there is no sense of urgency. USC’s lost two games by 35-or-more points in the past 50 years. And the same coaching staff participated in both games.

Grade: F

131 thoughts on “USC Morning Buzz: Grades From The Notre Dame Nightmare

  1. What a surprise! I thought it was going to be all F’s! Still, the team deserves a big F! They couldn’t have played any worse in that game!

    • Yes, F’s all around is fine with me. The interesting thing is that one or two people think that Swann is going to jump in and save the day. Please people! Swann is NOT the answer —-he’s part of the problem.

        • Stop. That’s the Pat Haden excuse for not suing the NCAA.
          Do what you think is right, A.D. Swann —-or step away.

          • The problem is that Nikias hired Helton, not Haden. Pure fact. Nikias made the complete decision there.

            Nikias is NOT committed to USC football greatness – at least not now.

            Swann is committed to USC football greatness. Now, he has to impose his will, like he did when he insisted that Darnold become the starter last year.

          • No matter who hired Helton, it’s 2017 now and Swann is supposed to be in charge of the quality of coaching at USC. If he’s only kept around as a hood ornament, then do the honorable thing and step down. Go some place where you can do some good. Otherwise, tell Helton to announce at Tuesday’s post practice interview that it’s never too late to learn —and that he’s going to initiate tougher, more physical practices. That announcement, by itself, will be little more than a nod to having been burned by Swann —-but it will signal to the team that half a**ed play during games will get you pulled for good. Put guys who give up on the line without a fight a seat on he bench. I don’t care how many stars they came in with. Wipe some smiles off some faces. What happened in South Bend was not the result of a bad call on the first play. It was the result of too many “I just loves these kids. Hate to see then hurting” comments.

          • Swann can talk all he wants to Helton and it’s not gonna make these Trojans a terrific team. This team is baked for now.

            We’ll beat mediocre and lose to really good – with the coaches we have. We would lose to ND 10 out of 10 times this season, regardless of how fired up we are. We don’t have the talent or the proper philosophy and coaching to win against a powerful team like that, which is why we nearly lost to mediocre teams like TEXAS and UTAH. But we play in the Pac12, where mediocre-to-good can win it all this season.

            USC lacks experienced OL talent, period. Guys like weak starter Toa Lobendahn look like junior college players to me. He gets pushed around more than an entitled Hollywood gopher. Our younger guys can be good, but not now. That’s why we gained nothing on the ground all night.

            It would be the same story every week with our players and coaches – and we have a great RB coach in my mind. But our OL stinks and it’s gonna be that way against anyone any good the rest of the year. Fortunately, we don’t play anyone very good.

            For USC to markedly improve, we need a minimum of 3 new important assts and I’d be happier with 5. We probably need a new HC, but I’m afraid he’ll hang on for another year because we’ll still get into a decent bowl game.

            Nobody can spread any fairy dust on our outfit and suddenly make it capable of beating ND, ALA or OHIO ST. Those changes would have needed to take place 6-8 months ago – like what Kelly did by replacing both coordinators and coming up with a terrific running QB.

            USC does not have a top 20 team. I don’t think we even have a top 25 team. Swann can’t fix that with Monday Helton pep talks. We need structural change and that can’t happen until after the season.

          • You’re talking long term. I’m talking short term. And there is a short term. And we should take a stab at improving it…..even if there is only a 2% chance that it’s gonna do any good.

          • Jacko,
            Are you familiar with either business management OR the concept of the food chain?

          • I don’t want —for a host of reasons —to see Helton canned. But I’d like Swann to perform an “intervention” at this point. Not behind closed doors —-but something dramatic. Something along the lines of Helton announcing at Tuesday’s practice that this team has a LONG way to go…and that it’s his job as a coach to get them there BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. I want him to announce a re-set —-and say it’ll be reflected in practices that are the roughest & toughest in the country. I’d like Swann to be standing at his side when he says it.

          • Perhaps, clay lacks the mental capacity to take constructive criticism and transfer it into gainful improvements. IMO, he’s not the sharpest tool. I get flashes of coach O

          • When I watch Clay in interviews —as opposed to his post games talks to the team after a loss (where he seems much more real) —-he talks like a push- over substitute teacher. “Happy Tuesday, everybody.” (1) I don’t think that’s the real him and (2) he’s the Head Coach of the USC football team, not a church deacon. He seems —not so much to be lacking in smarts —-but more like trapped in a persona that he thinks makes him appear more friendly and upbeat than Kiffin or Sark. I say, f**k the pose, get real with the team all the time (not just after losses) and remember that in big time college football, every Saturday somebody’s gonna get their a** kicked. It’s always better if it’s not you.

          • They were 1-3 last year and they righted the ship. I say give them a chance and let’s see how they handle this situation. CH has done some good things. Despite this massacre, they are still 15-2 in the last 17 games.
            Here’s my problem with firing him. This administration(the Board of Trustees) just can’t handle a great coach. They want a coach that they can control. You can’t control the great coaches. Can you imagine an Alabama trustee recommending that Nick Saban be fired? They would run him out of the state of Alabama. Great coaches acquire great power at the schools that they coach at because of their ability to win big. Nick Saban has more power than the school president. The SC BOT’s will not give anyone that kind of power. They’ll just go out and hire another assistant that they can control.
            When has SC ever hired a great coach? Only one that I can think of….Howard Jones back in the 20’s. He had already won a NC at Princeton. John McKay, John Robinson, Ted Tollner, Paul Hackett were all assistants when hired. Larry Smith had pretty good success as a HC at Tulane and Arizona. Pete Carroll was an unknown with limited success in the NFL.
            They’ll just go out and hire another unknown that they can control and we’ll go through this same process all over again. CH is an on the job trainee but he has shown signs that he is learning. Who knows what kind of a coach he will be in another couple of years. He’s got to get rid of some of these offensive coaches at the end of the year. The offensive line has been terrible all year. The play calling has been terrible. I like the fact that Lynn Swann has been critical since he came on the job. He seems to be saying “I didn’t hire this guy and if I had had my way, he wouldn’t have been hired”. That, at least, implies that he is not just a ‘yes-man’ like Haden and hopefully that the BOT’s are giving him some leeway to go out and hire a great coach if that becomes necessary. But right now, I’d give this guy some more time. We can’t be hiring a new coach every 2 years.It makes it look like SC’s program is a train wreck. Recruits won’t want to come to SC because they’ll be thinking “the guy that recruited me won’t be there in 2 years”. Great assistants won’t want to come there because they’ll look at SC as a coaches graveyard. I say give him some more time.

          • Sober, smart analysis (while most of the rest of us wring our hands and go after each other’s jugulars over an embarrassing loss).

        • As numerous people have pointed out, Swann attends practices and meets with the coaches, including the Head Coach —– it would be difficult for him NOT to notice that there are players who are —not only not progressing— but regressing, wearing their jerseys out during games, sporting short pants, “retiring”, leaving the team without explanation, and playing games at such slow speed and with so little physicality that it seems as if the games hardly matter to them. To pretend that Swann is doing everything he can to toughen things up when Helton was still bouncing around last week with a clueless smile and a “Happy Wednesday, Everyone” is daft. In order to believe that Swann is doing his job I’d like to see Helton announce that —after meeting with the A.D.—- he’s seen the light, that the players are going to be greeted with a new, more intense, more physical practice atmosphere starting Tuesday and that Trojan fans will see a completely different attitude on the field Saturday or he’s stepping down at the end of the year. If something dramatic such as that doesn’t happen —and we continue to just float along —-then Swann is complicit. Staying out of the limelight, when the team needs a jump start, doesn’t make Swann a hero.

      • Like Mike Garret, Swann has a personal interest in USC football. I don’t think he is going to be as forgiving of this Coaching staff as you might think.

        • We sure are hearing from a lot of Swann supporters today. It’s so —–spontaneous.
          My question: Why hasn’t Swan —who I respected greatly as a player and a public figure—told Helton to announce that he’s initiating tougher, more physical practices, that the team isn’t going to be composed any longer of a bunch of ‘personalities’ who wear their uniforms with individual ‘flourishes’, and that we’re gonna win or lose games from here on in with physicality (like Trojans). As Marcus Allen said, “We have our brand of football here. It’s called we kick your a**.” What happened to that attitude? I don’t see that Swan has impressed it on Helton….yet.

          • USC is simply not built, physically speaking, to kick your arse. That’s not even remotely possible with the talent and coaching set-up we have now.

            And Swann can’t change this with one speech to Helton. Even if the coaches get with a new program, USC doesn’t have the players to play smash mouth, or stop smash mouth. That’s just a pipe dream with our bunch.

            We’re a finesse team despite what Helton said he wanted USC to be – run first and physical. My problem with the USC coaches is I don’t even know if they are trying to eventually become a team that can kick you arse. Nobody knows where USC is headed. That’s a real problem aside from the fact we don’t have a very physical team. ND was physical. That’s what physical looks like.

          • I don’t expect us to turn into Alabama on Saturday —-but you know what?—-I was checking the weights and heights of the Washington State players the other day and I was amazed to see how much smaller they were than us. We have been literally pushed around by smaller teams all season, except for Stanford (which would probably beat us now if we both get as far as the Pac 12 Championship game). I think Helton owes it to his team to get the most out of them and to expect the most from themselves. You’re probably right. Even a well disciplined, well coached Trojan team might not have been a match for Notre Dame last Saturday. But Notre Dame would, at least, have known they had been in a fight.

          • “We’re a finesse team despite what Helton said he wanted USC to be – run first and physical.”

            Bingo…best comment of the day

          • This finesse culture was est. by Sarkiffin and they recruited in the same manner. Everything revolves around being cute and that’s why when USC comes up against a smash mouth team they get crushed. Aside from the Stanford game, this has been the case. If you want to compete against Bama, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State, in order to win NCs then the culture has to change. This is why I’m against Chip Kelly taking over…more finesse and cutesy cutesy football.

          • We’re stuck in mediocre-to-good land with a finesse team and a QB in crisis.

            We’ll never be great with our current approach. I trust Swann knows this. What he’s gonna do about it, ain’t exactly clear.

          • Relax dude, You’re blood pressure is spiking. Right now would be a good time to pop a Valium.

            You can try to polish a turd, but it’s still a turd. Lowering your expectations at this point is not a bad thing, just realistic.

            Insinuate Swann is a component of the problems is a stretch.

          • You seem to have a grasp on the emotional and mental aspect. But what goes on between the goal posts I’m not so sure

          • ….And I think you have an excellent grasp of what goes on in between the goal posts —maybe together we’d make a great coach. Let me take this out of the somewhat heated perspective that we’ve both initiated. A lot of folks have been coming on to say that Helton isn’t responsible for the dumb mistakes that players are making. Some folks are saying that a lack of emotion on the sidelines doesn’t reflect on the coaching (and, beyond that, may not even be matter). Here’s what I think. Helton —and his staff —know the fundamentals of football as well as anyone (and I’ve never said otherwise), but you can tell from interviews that they aren’t the greatest motivators. Hate to pull in the old Pete Carroll reference —but—-his teams LOVED playing football. The sidelines were electric! Everyone KNEW they could overcome ANYTHING. Instilling that spirit is what separates the great technicians —which is what Helton is —from the truly great coaches.

          • Oh, don’t worry, gt. [It might actually be fun to stay on this “Notre Dame Grades” page for months —just going back and forth —-and back and forth some more —-with Gabby. Of course, no one would be reading either one us—-they’d all be on to Scott’s posts on the Arizona State game, and then the Arizona game —-right on through the bowl and recruiting —-but Gabby and me —-and by “me” I mean, of course, j. metaphor—–would just be stuck here typing crap to each other that reads like the tweets between the leaders of the USA and North Korea]……

          • Michael has been very testy today. The pressure of managing multiple handles is getting to him

          • We’re just here the help keep your heads from exploding from the inflated sense of self-worth and runaway egos.
            In your case, I should also mention your penchant for deflection.
            It’s healthy to admit you’re wrong. Let that prediction of a victory over ND go, Jacquie, it was ill advised, OK stupid, but don’t let it eat away at you. I believe you also predicted a victory over UCLA about two games ago.
            How will that prediction look if Coach Clay & company continue their slide?

          • analogy
            noun, plural analogies.
            a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based:

            Did that help?

      • I’m afraid Swann would only make politically correct decisions, which means the performance of the football team and its coaches could be secondary to what would look desirable to the public eyes.

        • So we’re in a bit of a Catch 22, aren’t we?
          [Bright side? Helton can go right back to being a hero by taking out the Arizona schools]…….

          • I don’t think Helton ever really comes all the way back from what happened on Saturday. He’d have to have McKay-like abilities to do that and we all know that dog won’t hunt.

            His real problem now will be convincing great assts to join his staff with the uncertainty about him being here more than 1-2 years. He’s already had trouble getting good assts. It won’t be any easier now.

          • Beat ASU with that glorious team that played ND only a few days ago? That’s pushing it, but I’ve seen stranger things in my life.

  2. I’ve seen you give out F minus for coaching before —–why just a regular old F this time?

    • Because they are making progress towards getting The Wolfman to a new personal season high in posts on this blog! That’s progress.

      • I’m proud to play a small role in this moment in history…..

  3. I don’t know what is more depressing. Losing to ND big, or reading the hundreds of negative comments from the SC rooters after the game.

    Of course, I didn’t have to read the comments. But I did.

  4. If you get a chance, listen to the Trojan podcast on TOS with Harvey Hyde. He makes some really pointed comments at the coaching staff and some of the players. Here are the bullet points.
    *Lack of imagination on offense and defense. Why is USC doing the same thing over and over at the goal line when they’ve had zero success? Lack of proper tackling fundamentals because there is no tackling in practice. Some players are free lancing and not doing their jobs.
    *CCH is too busy being buddy-buddy instead of the Head Coach. CCH needs to be chewing someone’s butt out, both players and coaches, for not doing their jobs. Players and coaches have no fear of him.
    *Overall lack of discipline in the program. Too many players not wearing the uniform properly which leads to individualism. I.E. Jack Jones and his shorts during the game which he changed at half time. Some players have their jerseys tucked in while others don’t. Some are wearing red tights, etc. This also goes back to the coaches attire. Every coach has a different shirt. As opposed to ND where everyone looked the same.
    *CCH needs to clean house with the coaching staff, much like what Brian Kelly did at ND, because Lynn Swann is not happy with what is going on.
    These are all little things but they add up to a big thing, which is a winning culture, something that USC doesn’t have right now.

    • SC Grad, you are being too sensible. I don’t know why, but this has been very visible from outside, since Carroll left. Pat Haden et. al. saw this coaching as just a regular job, or maybe like Harvey Hyde mentioned in many other podcasts, they wanted the ideal 8 win coach. We will see what the time will show, but CCH really needs a reality check. He is a few games away from completely loosing the team.

    • It’s Club Gomer, hugs all around ! Wear anything you want, I’m your buddy.

      Somewhere John McKay is fuming at all of this.

    • Well that’s the problem of hiring your brother, gonna be hard to fire him. This staff did ok in their first year when nobody knew their tendencies. Now everybody knows them (and Sam’s too), and they are doing nothing to change it.

      Clean house.

    • I listened…he has been saying this a long time, Dan Weber also…and the guys on the ‘we are SC’ site,especially Kevin Bruce…all agree the coaching is producing this over all problem…ND was 4 wins 8 losses last year, what changed ? and the ND admin said it better, or else…

    • I miss Trojan Brunch on 710AM on Sundays. The call in show after the SC games doesn’t compare.

  5. Can we get a grade for the refs? How about the schedule makers who gave ND 2 weeks to prepare?
    I know these are not the reason we lost the game, but it makes me happy to complain about something that isn’t USC for a change.
    Now back to bashing the coaches. Since their gpa is so low can we just say they have flunked out of USC and move on?

    • ND makes their own schedule, if SC isn’t smart enough to leave the miserable PAC 12, that’s on them

  6. Some grades are based on history or just the game itself. But then what a surprise from one of USC footballs biggest fans.

  7. There’s one more grade that should have been given out and it’s for Lynn Swann. It’s been reported that Lynn Swann meets every Monday with Clay Helton to discuss Saturday’s game and I’m pretty certain Swann attends a lot of the Trojans practices during the week. So how is it that Swann didn’t see Saturday’s embarrassment coming ahead of time and make some suggestions to Helton about establishing some discipline? Lynn Swann is a football guy and knows that nothing good ever comes from coddling the players the way Helton and his staff have done. Lynn Swann gets an F for impersonating an A.D. who is supposed to be looking out for the best interest of the sports programs he supposed to oversee.

    • There is no way Swann could can Gomer after he ran the table last year, no way. He was 5-1 this season, albeit it was smoke and mirrors, he can’t do anything.

      Now, if Gomer goes 1-3 to finish 7-5, then I think Swann will fire him.

      As for their Monday morning meetings, we have no idea what Swann is saying. He may be telling Gomer to mix it up, etc and Gomer just ignores him.

      • I know i have been hard on you, but I agree with all your comments. Calling Swann out is f***ing ridiculous. The narrow-minded fan base is looking for any and every reason to blame the collapse on.

        There are glaring issues surrounding the team and expectations need to be lowered. Let the season playout. When the dust settles, I trust that Swann will make the right decision/moves to correct the problems, going forward.

        A turnover of the entire coaching staff would not be a surprise. Which would affect recruiting to some degree

    • Tebow, it’s a little tough jumping on a new Coach that just won the Rose bowl and is 6-2, with a chance to win the Pac12. . Last year Helton proved to be a good coach this year, no.

    • You have no idea what Swann’s philosophy is regarding Helton and the team. Giving him a “F” is simple dumb

    • Swann can’t move now. He has to show patience here, at least publicly, for a dozen reasons, especially USC’s clusterf**ck recent history. Have no doubt, he’s working his way towards post-season adjustments, hopefully big ones.

      Swann should be graded based on what happens from late Nov thru Jan. Only then will we know what Swann’s plan is – because he has one.

      • Can Swan move without the blessing of the Greek? That is where one of the problems lie IMO. If he wanted Helton hired and Haden capitulated, then he has to approve? I think everyone wanted Helton to succeed and be given a chance. He has proved w/o a doubt that he is not capable or running a big time program intellectually or being able to employ assistants that can get the job done.

        • I was told that Swann took the USC AD job only after he was assured by Nikias that he would have the authority to make big moves. We shall see if that’s true or not.

  8. Swannie just end it …. Gomer is awful
    Let’s try a real football coach again and watch what happens

  9. This USC team was not assembled with an emphasis on line of scrimmage play, it’s built more for a flag football league. So I’m not sure why everybody closes their eyes, and pretends like the Trojans are championship material, because they are the farthest thing from it . When Steve Sarkisian hires the likes of a Bob Connelly, to develop an offensive line, then what does that tell you? Clay Helton brings in a has been, in Neil Calloway, and thinks he made a coaching splash, really?!! I never thought for a New York minute, that Helton put together a staff that would take us to a national championship. You pay for what you get nowadays, in the world of college football, coaching staffs, like it or not!

    • It’s 7 on 7 football Fred. It started with Kiffin, then Sark now Gomer. Not one of those three imbeciles knows what a power running game is.

      • Steve Sarkisian is taking heat from the media right now, because the Atlanta Falcons offense is horrible, so look for him to be fired at the end of the season.

      • I’ll give Kiffin a pass on the 7 on 7 approach, because with the Scholarship Reductions it was the best way to avoid a 3-8 season.

  10. I just realized what Helton meant when Scott asked him about everybody thinking USC was a playoff team and Helton said “I don’t worry about OTHER people’s opinions!” Helton DOESN’T think as much of his team as other people! WOW!

  11. Darnold gets a C+ when he fumbles and throws myriad INTs? Now you’re trying to make him the victim? Clever, Scottie, clever. Honest? Perhaps not so much.

  12. Two Piglet TO’s lead directly to 14 ND points. The ND debacle is worse than the Tixas Stadium disaster because the Piglet choked in So. Bend.

    As I recall, Max Browne had zero TO’s in the Alabama game, but took the brunt of the blame for the hideous, humiliating bozo u 48 point loss.

    Now in the wake of the ND’s 49 – 14 crushing victory, not once in over 600 posts, has the The Piglet been accused of choka, choka, choka, or to blame in bozo u’s humiliating FB performance.

    I watched the ND game (Considered a playoff situation by the Piglet.) and the best thing the Piglet did was spit lots of water on the sideline and look exceeding bewildered.

  13. Even Colin Cowherd now says USC needs staff changes. “It’s hit or miss, and a lot of miss.” Now it’s to the stage of national, public acknowledgement after the ND shellacking.

    This Trojan team is getting ready to burst at the seams and a loss this weekend to ASU would just about pop it. Might be good for everyone since we still don’t know if the entire coaching staff and many players have gotten the message,

    Look back at the ND game replay and the slaughter looks even worse. We were literally lambs to this slaughter like I’ve never quite seen from USC before. Our OL, DL and DBs are just plain bad and our LBs and WRs are strictly average. Our poor RBs are handcuffed and wasted with no room to run.

    Darnold (whom Cowherd still loves) has somehow miraculously morphed into an average QB. How this happened is just a mystery because many of his throws, even if he is not under pressure as usual, are way off target.

    USC special teams are either negative of invisible.

    The Arizona schools pose problems but everyone else is a rollover.

    Hope Swann’s meeting with Helton today is a life-changing experience for Helton. If not, just expect more of the same right through our bowl. We beat mediocrity, even barely, is the only guarantee.

    • Jack, this team and program needs to undergo a hard honest self evaluation. They need to be prepared to accept the findings and make the uncomfortable but needed changes. Each and every person connected to this program needs to complete their own self examination and the persons leading the program need to conduct a brutally honest evaluation of each and every player & coach. No one should be untouchable or above criticism. The fact that many people are making excuses for Sam is a big problem. Just because he is your best player and without him the results would be even worse, does not excuse his performance. He has contributed to this mess , like everyone else. He may be down the food chain of responsibility. But he should be held accountable for his shortcomings. I am a big Sam fan and think he can be special , but someone should be in his grill making him uncomfortable. If he is not held to account how can you expect the lesser players to be held accountable or accept responsibility for improving themselves.. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to fixing the problem. Make no mistake, USC has a problem.

  14. Hate to say this, but given the Offensive Line’s woes and inexperienced Wide Receivers, a more mobile Matt Fink may be better suited in this environment.

    • Bingo!!! in order for this offense to run at maximum efficiency, you need a mobile QB with 4.5 to 4.6 speed. Sam is not a threat to run the ball so it eliminates a key component behind the philosophy of this type of offense

  15. The offense is so predictable.. Every run play I see is predictable.. The ND DB’s were breaking to the WR’s routes before the WR’s did..
    I am not even mad at Tee Martin.. I am upset with Helton for teaching him such bad habits.

  16. Let’s not make excuses for John Houston. Groots was a safety playing LB. Sammy Knight was a safety playing LB. Both were football smart and aggressive, reading and attacking the play. Houston is passive and on his heels, getting pushed out of the play.

  17. On the devastating fumbled snap (after 3 and out to start the game and great field position), Helton said the snap came in hot and high — as if these things just happen. Snaps come in hot and high every single game. If you can’t do something as simple as snapping the ball, how are you going to get other fundamentals in order?

  18. As SI points out, SC has committed 19 turnovers in 8 games, and 16 of them have been committed by Darnold. His last three turned into 21 points for ND. Wolfie likes to protect Darnold because (C+?!) because it fits his narrative that Darnold always bails out the bad coaching, but Darnold’s turnover problem is the biggest single factor in why this 2017 team has not dominated weaker opponents this year and was not competitive against ND. It is a sign of bad coaching that he has not fixed this problem, but it also really makes me wonder just how bad of a QB Matt Fink is for him not to see the field yet. If Darnold comes out this weekend and turns the ball over on the first drive again, I would sit him in a New York Minute.

    • I agree with you, with one exception. Sam needs to fix his own problems, INT’s and fumbles are not a coaching issue.
      You either protect the ball or your a** should be on the bench. Sam seems to have no end to his leash

    • You answered your own question when it comes to playing Fink —-he IS that bad (obviously not as a runner —but as a passer). There is NO back up to Darnold this year.

        • Thanks for asking. Yes. It is a very educated opinion. I know what it takes to throw a football around and I know a good passer when I see one. I’ve watched Fink in practice and I’m amazed that he’s being used as a quarterback. Like Browne there’s nothing on his ball —especially his long ball. We wouldn’t be able to stretch the field with him in—-and I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to overpower anybody if we abandoned the pass. For better or worse, we’re stuck with Darnold —but that doesn’t mean we have to be satisfied with the way Darnold is playing now. Plenty of college quarterbacks have been —if not cured —lifted out of slumps and error prone football by aggressive coaching.

          • ” I’ve watched Fink in practice and I’m amazed that he’s being used as a quarterback.”

            That’s your “educated opinion”…alright!

            ….and he’s the future of USC football

          • Don’t take this personally, Gabby (except I know you can’t help it)—-but nobody super-duper is gonna come to USC to get coached up by the Helton Boys. Ask Matt Corrall and Justin Fields.

          • It’s ironic that you keep mentioning dope and valium and high blood pressure….and, now, “knowing who I am”……

      • True, but I meant my last sentence regardless of how bad Fink is. This team as a whole is missing the fundamental truth of the Carroll era — if you don’t do your job, you sit and someone else gets a chance to do it.

        • This more of Helton’s loyalty to sam than Fink being bad. Take the Max Browne situation as an example. Don’t believe all the nonsense that gets posted

          • I’m not agreeing with anyone that Fink is bad. I have no idea how Fink is. I certainly couldn’t stand to watch the 4th quarter of the ND game to get a look.

      • Personally I think Fink is a pretty good passer and his long passing game could not be any worse than Sams. He has great speed. Of course they don’t let him throw much, but he did over throw one deep ball, which is a first this season for USC.

        • The good news is that Fink is a 100% better passer than he was in fall camp. That said, I don’t think he would be one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac 12. It might be Sears in 2018, steveg.

  19. I’m going to get hated on this, but its not directed to the posters of this forum. So I will say, this USC meltdown could not have happened to a more delusional fan base, and a most hateful fan base. Go to USC forums, and see how much hate there is towards THEIR OWN. These “old time” fans talk so much crud to everyone else. I wont name a site, or posters. But anyone who has been on these sites know, you have to say what they want you to say, otherwise, you are dog meat.

  20. I agree with Wolf’s grading of this game COMPLETELY! What are the position coaches teaching their players during the week? We would all like to know! Come on Lynn swann, this is far below USC standards.

  21. As is so often mentioned here ND is SoCal’s “real” rival and UCLA a mere afterthought.
    How did that go for you?

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