Clay Helton said tonight that offensive guard Damien Mama did not start against UCLA because of a team rules violation. Chris Brown started in his place but Mama also played. Center Khaliel Rodgers, who suffered a high-ankle sprain, is questionable for the Stanford game.
Helton on reaching the Pac-12 championship game: “It’s something we can’t be satisfied with as a team.”
Helton on if he wants to be a head coach at USC or somewhere else next year: “My goal is to beat Stanford. I’ve got blinders on for Stanford. I want to be the head coach at USC as long as possible.”
The announced attendance of 83,602 was the smallest crowd for a USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum since 1980 (83,491), which was the final Crosstown Rivalry at the Coliseum where the Bruins were the home team (a 20-17 UCLA victory).
It was the smallest USC-UCLA crowd at the Coliseum when USC was the home team since 1975 (80,927), a 25-22 UCLA win. Since 2007, the sixth consecutive USC/UCLA sellout, there has been only one sellout in the series, the Trojans’ 50-0 victory the Bruins at the Coliseum four years ago.
UCLA QB Josh Rosen was sacked by USC three times yesterday. He was sacked only 11 times in the previous 11 games. Was USC’s pressure something Rosen was not used to seeing this season? You would think he would be less rattled playing in his 12th game.
But he seemed to run into the pressure some plays and threw some wild passes trying to escape pressure. This pressure was probably the key to the Trojans’ victory.
This is not hard to believe because I’ve heard USC has reached out to the agents of around 20 coaches, much like two years ago. Kelly would make a splash. And maybe he appeals to Pat Haden because Haden knows he won’t be around to deal with Kelly.
Excerpts: “All of this proves that any coach can win at USC simply by getting out of the way and letting the players play.
“The talent on that squad is simply amazing,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said.
“Dig deeper and another key reason for victory was limiting the influence of quarterback Cody Kessler. As much as Helton compliments Kessler, he seems to reduce his role. This is sane coaching because when the Trojans faced good teams the past two years, Kessler’s contributions veered toward negative.”
So the Pac-12 title game is two teams on an emotional high, as the Cardinal beat Notre Dame at the buzzer, 38-36. Or, to put it another way, two teams that lost to Oregon are playing for the Pac-12 title.
USC finally beats UCLA. And they did it with big plays by the defense and a physical offense. That’s really how they win now by making Cody Kessler’s role simple. Clay Helton is 5-0 when he plays underdogs and 0-2 against favorites. Is that enough to win the job?