USC-Colorado Report Card

Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Devin Ross ...

Here are the grades for another inconsistent performance against Colorado. Make sure to read all the way through to see my comments on coaching.


Any Sam Darnold critics out there? He’s been playing like he did last season and has 15 TDs and only three interceptions in the past six games. His NFL stock must be zooming.

Grade: A-


Ronald Jones gained 142 yards but it was a more workmanlike performance. Maybe that is what makes it impressive because he’s been reliable nearly every week. Why did Aca’Cedric Ware mysteriously get 14 carries last week and only 2 vs. Colorado? It couldn’t have been that there were rumors he would transfer two weeks ago.



So are Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns playing better because they have developed or simply because they are playing more? Why has tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe become so irrelevant to the offense? Is he still hurt?



It would be interesting to see how many missed assignments USC’s coaches find when it watches the film. There are plenty to notice just casually watching the game on TV. But it’s been that way all season. Like so many things, it doesn’t matter against the likes of Colorado.



Uchenna Nwosu broke up two passes and Christian Rector had a sack in his first game back since breaking his hand. Rasheem Green also had a sack and seemed to be in on more plays despite registering only one tackle.



John Houston had a team-high 11 tackles while Cameron Smith added 4. Things go better against bad teams.



The good: Ajene Harris had two interceptions and a pick six. The bad: Jack Jones looked completely lost on some plays and got another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maybe Clay Helton should actually discipline Jones for once to get him keep his emotions under control. Then again, what is secondary coach Ronnie Bradford doing in this regard? Colorado QB Steven Montez had a shaky game and still passed for 376 yards.



Two blocked field goals although the Colorado kicker kicked both low and said one went off his ankle. On the other hand, USC had a punt blocked, missed an extra point and field goal. Punt returns looks so muddled as Tyler Vaughns suddenly joined the returning corps. Did you see the timeout to get an 11th man on the field for a punt?



USC did not come out with any real emotion or fire in the first half but still led because Colorado is a bad team. When the Buffs played a little better in the second half, all of a sudden it got closer.

What was the answer? A trick pass play that didn’t work where they were going to throw a TD pass to Sam Darnold. There was another failed fourth-down conversion and an aversion to going under center on short-yardage situations.

There was the Colorado tight end completely uncovered in the end zone, another thing that happens regularly. And the blown coverages that included a 79-yard TD pass. But Clancy Pendergast is doing a great job.

What would happen if USC had to play Alabama, Georgia and Auburn in conference games? Some of you will suddenly say Georgia is terrible because they lost a road game at Auburn. That’s way worse than losing at Washington State, right?

Where is USC’s discipline? Players are taking pictures in the fourth quarter? Colorado still had a chance to come back. Amazing.


130 thoughts on “USC-Colorado Report Card

  1. I won’t argue the ‘critique’ save that it sure beats being where: GA, notre dame, TCU, WA, found themselves yesterday morning – most of their hopes dashed. I’d rather a win than a loss and a guaranteed shot at a conference championship and the boost it gives in the rankings then the ‘designer jeans’ scheme ‘the princess’ get every year – avoiding a CCG.

  2. Pac 12 ain’t what it used to be.., in football. Wash got in there last year somehow , and Oregon a few years ago. This year no one is a top 5 or 6 team nor would they beat any of them.Stanford will get a shot vs ND maybe they will win, but I doubt it. There is a good chance SC will replay Stanford or Wash St in that title game,Wash does have home field advantage in the apple cup,but I like Wash St in that game which eliminates Stanford. I don’t see SC winning a big time Bowl game, they are not playing as well as last year in the line, where it all starts.

      • SC will look good running around in shorts while preparing to get smashed even worse than ND game…I feel sorry for these guys with this coaching

  3. Trojan fans, whose opinion on SC football would you rather trust? Scott Wolf’s? Or the same old garbage put out by these highly suspicious “Helton Defenders” who put every single thing SW’s writes up for derision and contempt through dozens of fake handles? Granted, SW might occasionally dramatize and exaggerate things to draw more interest from the participants in this blog, but here’s a guy who’s a long time professional beat writer on SC football, and who spends most of his time observing the team in person on campus and traveling with the team, let alone constant interviews on players and coaches. Can any of these loser boneheads claim they do the same?

  4. Wolf has a new legion of followers. The internet coaches can now join with UCLA hacks and tell everybody how USC does everything wrong.

    • regaltrojan 1A and the killer 1B, would top mylist

      Please add to the list, we know who they are

    • I resent the label UCLA hack ricki. I can’t remember ever having criticized Helton on this blog. He’s better than JimmyBall.

      Andyain’twinning is another story. He claims he didn’t know squat, but should have.

    • Show me another coach that could go into Notre Dame with 3 freshman oline and banged up dline facing a team with 2 weeks to prepare. Saban would get steam rolled in that situation.

      • No he wouldn’t because he’d have the back ups ready. Plus he’d watch the ND game film and notice that their QB isn’t a good passer and dare him to beat him with his arm. Oh wait, Miami did that, wonder why Clancy didn’t ?

        • Your just here to stir the pot or your clueless. Your comments have no basis in reality.

          • Answer the question rah rah, why didn’t Clancy stack the box and dare the ND QB to beat him.

            Miami stacked the box and dared the ND QB to beat them, that’s a fact.

          • Did you watch the game Cortez the Clueless? First 2 scores where with a stack box and Wimbush throwing for touchdowns. We had a 3rd string freshman on dline who was supposed to redshirt starting. Plus after the first series we lost our starting DB. Also add 2 starting LB’s out. Please try and understand the game before speaking. You might even have less knowledge than Wolf.

          • SC was on their own 23 & 26, do expect them to be 20 yards deep ?

            Their QB was 9 for 22

            ND ran for 377, passed for 120, not exactly stacking the box there genius

          • reading the box scores is different than watching the actual game. Try turning the tv on…….coach Madden

          • Try not to pick on Killer. He’ll just come back for more with the exact same statement and you’ll get bored.

            USC couldn’t defend anything against the Irish, who had two beautiful precision TD throws on us and ran at will. Plus the Irish completely stuffed our run game and took us off the field. USC would have been better off just staying in the locker room that day.

            USC doesn’t have the strength in the trenches to handle ND like MIA did. Pretty simple. We’re just not there. We were counting on guys like Bigelow before the season and he’s so into football, he literally “retired” before the ND game. Hugely over-rated dude could never play his way out of a paper bag and it was never just the constant injuries.

            Losing Grabby wasn’t much though. He can’t cover anybody anyway and I’m praying he doesn’t play against ucla and get caught holding every other play. USC has big-name HS recruits at CB who have been exposed in college. Jones will end up okay, maybe good, but he’s an emotional child who is embarrassing to watch.

            USC has some big talent gaps, so it’s not all about the coaching. But sometimes our coaching is bad too, and that’s when you lose to ND in what was the worst loss to the Irish I have ever seen.

          • That was the logical game plan going into ND and that was what was used initially. You are correct, Wimbush made some great throws and it went out the window.
            As Mike Tyson once said “Everyone has a plan til they get punched in the face”

          • They stopped ND on their first series before SD had his awful fumble. Especially when playing on the road turnovers matter and our QB had 2 awful ones in the first half. You’ll blame that on the coaches though.

          • They stopped ND on their first series before SD had his awful fumble. Especially when playing on the road turnovers matter and our QB had 2 awful ones in the first half. You’ll blame that on the coaches though.

          • you stupid idiot. Why were you not calling for “stack the box” before we played ND.

            Because your football IQ is so limited you could not comprehend the concept until another team (Miami) did it, after the fact

            Take yourself and all your other little handles and go play on the freeway…..405 sounds good

          • Hey killer, playing football on the xbox, 24/7 doesn’t transfer over to the college game….just saying

      • Outstanding but You’re wasting your time with logic and a understanding of football with some who just don’t know or don’t want to know.

        • Why don’t you answer the question as to why Clancy didn’t stack the box and dare the ND QB to beat him with is arm trojans6942

        • Exactly……very good comment. They only perceive what they can comprehend. But yet, call people out who have a far better understanding on what’s taking place on the field

  5. What I want to know is why we have so much trouble getting 11 men on the field for special teams? Outside of the obvious issue of poor coaching, why can’t our players remember their job?
    I noticed that AZ needed a person with a flag like a tour group from another country to gather their troops. Maybe we should try colored wrist bands or perhaps take away the phones so the entire team pays attention to the game they are in.

    • Seeing the players playing with cell phones on the sideline was a stunner. The cell phone antics during the game underscored the long held belief that this teams lacks discipline. What’s next coaches posing with players for selfies between plays?

      • Cell phones, the act before the Bama game, players wearing whatever they feel like, Jack Jones not being reamed for his antics, the trash talking, etc. Gomer is soft.

    • Getting the correct number of players on the field for an extra point has been a problem since last year’s Stanford game. We have a special teams coach, so the problem is a glaring one, pointing out lack of organization. You can get that penalty once a year at worse and to have it half dozen times in two years is telling sign.

  6. WR’s had a great game, A+, but TE was about a C+. Was McGrath hurt or what, does our journalist know? Kind of tough to go into a CCG or Bowl with no kicker. I was glad to see the highly maligned Huston had so many tackles and showed what he can do.

  7. D- is exactly right, not just for the Colorado game but for most games this season. I think this Saturday’s game will be hugely telling. Can USC, with nothing to play for (which is how they’ve played all year) get up for this game against f ucla? It seems like they should be easily fired up. But with this clueless coaching staff, who can’t prepare USC to play hard week to week, you never know.

  8. Scooter, do tell about the two point conversion? Colorado sold out to stop the run and let Darnold beat them with his arm. Darnold got sacked once or twice. Didn’t USC run the ball for over three hundred yards? The o line grade has to go up to a B. Scooter, if they run over three hundred, then they did their job. You have to analyise the game to understand why SC is doing what they are doing and to understand how they will counter.
    Now I agree with the coaching grade Scooter. On the goal line they did not go heavy and were stopped. T Martin needs to put in fullbacks to help and get Darnold under center.

    • Apparently you didn’t notice that Ronald Jones was gaining all his yards by himself because there sure as hell weren’t any holes being created for him to run through by the offensive line.

      • If you noticed, he was doing heavy sledding for 4 to 5 yards a carry. That is what an o linemen expects to see every time a ball carrier runs. Colorado sold out to stop the run. SC ran and ran and ran and ran. SC won and they won the battle at the line of scrimmage. Not every run is going for 50 yards.

    • When you football IQ is limited, like wolf’s, it’s hard to comprehend the game within the game, so we get one-sided and narrow-minded opinions from someone who is clueless, but yet parades around as an expert

  9. Lets look at Clay Helton’s GPA for the season for the coaching job he has done. And here it is, to quote Dean Faber, Helton’s GPA is “ZERO POINT…ZERO”.

  10. Trojan fans, whose opinion on SC football would you rather trust? The reasonable,objective and open-minded type? Or the same old garbage put out by these highly suspicious “Helton Haters” who put every single thing SW writes up for adulation and praise through dozens of fake handles with the same agenda? SW always dramatizes and exaggerates things to draw more interest from the participants in this blog, he’s also a lazy long time unprofessional beat writer on SC football, and who spends most of his time sitting on the couch eating jelly filled donuts, and never observes the team in person on campus and travels with the team, he’s to cheap to pay for the Pac12 network, let alone lack of interviews on players and coaches.

    (Hey RegalTrojan, I love you like a stepbrother, look in the mirror, you’re the true “bonehead”)


    • What a load of crap. First of all Scott likes glazed donuts, and Lane Kiffin had to ban Scott from Trojan practices because he was so studious in his attendance, if that sentence even makes sense.

    • Gabby took a football 101 class at Cerritos College, she knows as much about football as Gomer does. LOL

      • You would be surprised what my football background is. There is a couple of people who frequent is blog that know my past. I’m sure my youngest daughter has a higher football IQ than you, I know it hurts


    • Gabriel/Gabriella, I’m glad you’re around to mete out justice while my cape and tights are at the cleaners. Fight On!

    • I think there is a modicum of wisdom in your post. I too would like to see less Helton bashing in comments if only for the sake of the team. However Scott makes some valid points when it comes to discipline on the sidelines.

      And bashing the coach is as American as it gets. (Europeans would have stormed the field and carried him off.) I played high school ball and didn’t wear a leather helmet, so I know something about football. I also have the rule book, bookmarked because I hate the refs. I have a degree in supervision and two teaching credentials, but all of that doesn’t make me a coach.

      Furthermore, I do not attend team practices or meetings, so I do not know what the private side of Helton is as opposed to his public persona. I assume he has a management style that addresses the problems Scott points out.
      When it comes to head coach people are going to did agree. and that’s fine.

      I do like that you stay on message :


  11. One big positive from this game that no one has talked about so far is that USC got back to really HITTING. Hoping for more next week.

  12. At first blush D- seems harsh. Then again, it’s probably accurate, not just for the Colorado game but most games this season.

    Bizarre play calling, misuse of players (including injured ones like Porter Gustin), consistent failure to adequately prepare the team for games, and a wild ineptitude regarding teaching them how to finish off opponents after getting a big lead big lead has been indescribably frustrating.

    Interested to see how USC plays this weekend because, in essence, they really have nothing to play for (but that’s the way they’ve played all year anyway).

    If USC comes out flat against f ucla, it’s on the coaches, plain and simple.

  13. D-?!!??!? I just watched the game last night, and the Trojans destroyed Colorado. It was 21-0 at halftime. Sure it could’ve been 42-0, but you can’t hold them to less than 0. The game was never in doubt, the score was only as close as it was because the 2nd half was mostly garbage time, and USC left points on the field because they don’t run up the score like Mark Richt.

    • Helton haters were disgusted with a 21-0 halftime lead. The majority of them left in favor of chasing parked cars

  14. Looks like the Helton Sunshine Pumpers are feeling the heat from Gomer’s hot seat. They’re getting desperate with their rah rah Gomer cheer. LOL

  15. Surprisingly Flow’s report card is pretty accurate.. This team does lack discipline which has caused them huge scoring drives ..

    If this team had structure from top to bottom, it would be scary.. As I said yesterday, ask the flow questions..

    Ask Helton if he plans on making coaching changes..

    Simple fixes would change results..
    Also play the kids and move on from
    Marshall and Jones..

    It is what it is, simple fixes

    USC 44
    Ucla 31

    Fight On.

    • USC sits behind many two-loss teams in the AP poll because we always win ugly and don’t pump out dominating wins like AUB, OKS, OHIO ST and TCU do.

      USC is just a sloppy, immature team that has a few spectacular players and a talent edge over everyone we played except ND. Watching USC is very frustrating if you ever expect to see a “clean game” and seeing USC totally let both ARIZ and CU back into what could be wipe-outs says a lot about our coaching.

      But we’ve won some great, super exciting games this year and with the season winding down, I’m just happy to be 9-2 with the hapless bruins fully capable of having more penalties than we do.

      I agree about Jones and Marshall. Jones should be sat on hard until he grows up and Marshall should be moved into a Craven’s-type role because he can’t cover his own shadow. Problem is, we don’t really need him at safety because our safeties are better than Grabby. Hopefully, he’ll leave for a shot to prove he can’t cover on the NFL level soon.

      Helton will never be a disciplinary coach I’m afraid. But his kids like to play for him, so you take what you can get and as long as Swann’s in the background, I’m okay.

  16. Those who work in the USC athletic dept. and who’s job security rests with Gomer are working overtime this morning trying to keep the lipstick on the current coaching staffs pigskin. LOL

  17. I am joining the discussion late, so apologies if this point has been made, but why the “B” grade for running backs? How many times this season have you seen a back play with more heart and effort than Rojo did on Saturday? SW, were you watching him? He created yardage purely on his own. With better blocking – and better playcalling – he would have been over 200 yards.

    • As good as he already was, I think RoJo is USC’s most improved player. He is absolutely nails now, breaks a lot more tackles, and if we had a better OL, he’d rush for 2,000 yds. Props to our new OL coach, Deland McCullough – a fantastic hire by Helton who deserves some credit for this.

  18. ‘Why did Aca’Cedric Ware mysteriously get 14 carries last week and only 2 vs. Colorado? It couldn’t have been that there were rumors he would transfer two weeks ago.”

    Oooooooorrrrrr, perhaps it was because Vavea was injured and did not play last week, leaving Ced Ware as the #2 back getting the bulk of the second carries. This week, Vavea was back and there were less carries to go around because Ced Ware is clearly the #4 option when Carr and Vavae are healthy.

    You would think someone who covers the team every day could do the obvious math on that one.

  19. C+ is extremely generous for the O-line. I saw play after play the linemen either standing straight up and trying to block someone or on the ground with no defender next to them. They are so poorly coached you want to cry. Callaway needs to retire and talk about his better days of 30 years ago. And again and again…. when RJ gets any yardage, it is sweeping around the end of the line.

  20. Here is an upgrade of SW’s attempt. QB = A. Liked that TD scamper. Tailback = A. Decidedly. Rojo made yards on his own. Run blocking sucked. Wide Receiver = A-. Vaughs backup and TE Imatorbhebhe mistake filled game could have taken a toll. Offensive Line = A pass protection. D+ run blocking. Defensive Line = B. Agree with SW. Linebackers = B. Stopped the run game. No pressure on QB. Defensive Backs = B+ (SW’s D- is horse cr@p). Ajene Harris’s performance was the best USC secondary play of the season. Isaiah Langley looked solid. Tite coverage. Exceptional tackling. Special Teams = C. Up and Down. For crying out loud, Chase McGrath has a pulled groin muscle. Coaching = Offense B+, Play calling broke down several/multiple times. Defense = A first half. D+/C- second half. Colo put in a new offense in the second half, TB’s on each side of the QB.

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