USC Morning Buzz: Tough Practices Are Matter Of Opinion

USC returns to practice today for the Cotton Bowl. The practices are not lighter than during the regular season, which will relieve those obsessed with such matters.

But an NFL scout recently complained to me that USC practices this season were not especially rigorous.

“This looks like a high school practice,” he said.

In other news, Mater Dei QB JT Daniels said over the weekend he would return for his senior season and not attempt to reclassify. It’s almost gross to write the word “reclassify” but after Marvin Bagley did it over the summer, it seems to be a part of high school athletics.

118 thoughts on “USC Morning Buzz: Tough Practices Are Matter Of Opinion

  1. Why on earth would an unidentified NFL scout be “complaining” that USC’s practices are not rigorous enough? What does he care? NFL teams have plenty of game film of players, plus workouts at the combine and for individual teams to make a decision on who to draft. Sounds to me like just another dig at Helton. How about some perspective. What do USC’s practices look like compared to the baby bruins, Huskies, or Cardinal? That would tell me a lot more than some anonymous “scout complaining”.

    • Exactly right. And in the NFL, they don’t hit at all during practices, as their plan is to protect their franchise players after a brutal game. Some “off the cuff” remark is hard to swallow without some context.

  2. Cotton bowl will reveal many things,looking forward to watching…How many SC linemen taken last year? what rounds? how many still on NFL team from last year.One of SC best players taken last yr Sua Cravens,what is he doing?

    • As you probably know, some guys just can’t perform as expected in the next level inexplicably. It happens in every sport, and it’s been that way for many years.

      • true, who eval/chose them ? who prep/coached them? SC a top 3 recruiter for several yrs top 10 for more than a decade…think about it…

    • Bingo!!…. I totally agree, the Cotton Bowl will reveal many things about USC, bad, or good, we will soon find out

  3. I like to think Helton knows what he is doing by giving the team “light” practices, according to some insiders. But what really matters is how the team performs on the field in actual games. If SC trounces the Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl, I’m sure he will shut up all the naysayers at least for a while. If it doesn’t, there will be some negativity lingering all throughout the off-season and then some.

      • Yes, but it’s not the time to be negative about anything on the team right now because the Cotton Bowl is way too huge for that. The game will show the true mettle of our team, and its result will speak louder than anything else, partner.

        • I think the CB is a big game but it takes an entire season to see what a team is made of with all the highs and lows. This is going to be a great game, the big test is an acumulation of a season, then next year it all starts over again. Every game displays the character and personality of the team to a degree, but I never see one game as the defining moment.

          • Yeah you’re right ‘but’ the problem is that final four bowl selection committee does.

          • Bowl committee selected 4 very good teams. USC was not up to their standard. It isn’t a problem, overall USC had a good win/loss record, two bad losses and some good wins. It is a season, the overall that weighs in.

          • I never said that was the issue rather the ‘2nd’ loss to notre dame was the coffin for USC – even accounting for the 6 day break and prior road game the squad looked woefully unprepared from the opening snap just as the Irish did when they, in turn, faced the Hurricanes

          • Yeah, of course every game is a big one in college football, but let’s not kid ourselves, steveg. This Cotton Bowl really IS bigger than other games we’ve played so far mainly because it gives the team lots of time to prepare to be the best it can be, and it’ll also set the tone for the entire season next year. What’s more, Ohio State will be better than all the teams we’ve played this season. Hey, I don’t think it can get any bigger than this, partner!

        • Then all the more reason to attempt to learn a new skill – head coach – his recruiting skill is solid. Helton needs to be and act as a head coach his peers both respect and are wary of – the unexpected. Right now that is what is missing.

        • Why would this all of a sudden be true? It wasn’t true for the naysayers after the RB last year. It wasn’t true after beating Stanford twice and winning the PAC 12. Sure after the CB everyone will be happy if we win and I’m sure the 5 or 6 of you will be back on the Helton hate wagon by the spring.

          • I really like Helton —and I really hope we win. And if we can’t, I hope we look strong and the game is competitive up til the very end (but I’d prefer winning by 3 million miles). Like a lot of fans, the only thing I DON’T want to see is a repeat of Alabama or Notre Dame.
            I can’t speak for anybody else but can I tell you why I’m a little bit worried? Before both of the games I mentioned, Helton looked confused —like something was bothering him. I saw that look last week. Pudly and Jack both pointed out that I’m overreacting —-and they may be right. But that’s what I saw. I saw that same look on Ray Leonard’s face when he announced he was fighting Marvin Hagler —and it made me nervous for Ray. I went to watch him spar and it was obvious he hadn’t decided yet whether he wanted to fight an offensive fight or a defensive fight. Which made me more worried for him. Then —right before the fight— he was asked if he could handle Hagler if Hagler came out looking for a quick knockout and Ray smiled and said “no problem.” He’d decided he was fighting an offensive fight. I want to see that confident smile on Clay’s face before the Cotton Bowl—it will mean he’s decided to play Oklahoma-style and bomb the crap out of Ohio State, that he’s dialed in, that he’s not betwixt and between.

          • I saw the confidence of a coach who knows his players and that they will be ready to win. Same glass, same half level. Whether it’s toward being full or empty depends on the POV.

          • Hey, MG. You and I are two Trojan brothers for a reason! Are we separated at birth? What you wrote here is exactly how I’ve been feeling from all the energies I’ve read from Helton so far! I’m simply amazed, bro!!!


          • RT (My Trojan Bro)—check out Dan Weber on YouTube—both he and Keely noticed how the Trojans were messing around at practice today. I know Helton fancies himself a “players’ coach” —-but he needs to reign his guys in for this game. Things can change —but right now the signs aren’t good.

          • MG, I definitely hear you, and I’m concerned, too, about those unusual moods the team seems to be in right now. It’d be great if it was a display of pure confidence, but it may also be a sign of an unfocused and undisciplined team. The good thing is we won’t have to wait too long to find out. Let’s hope for the best, bro.

          • If you want to see what confused (and overwhelmed) looks like, go back and take a look at Chris Peterson’s face during the 2016 Washington-USC game…………..

          • Brent4c, I’m sure you and I can pick out the 5 or 6 Deuce of Clubs we avoid day after day on SW’s Board. Coach Clay Helton for President !!! Maybe a word of respect and appreciation for his coaching skills will turn these downers around.

          • Hey, you know what? I’m truly touched by your undying loyalty toward Helton. It appears that any slight, constructive criticism against Helton disturbs you as if he’s related to you by blood or a marriage contract. In fact, Helton would be extremely fortuitous to have a spouse or children as dedicated as you are to defending him! LOL!

          • I feel the same way about Brent4c, RT —-he is the most loyal knight of Helton’s round table. It’s almost hard to criticize that kind of loyalty. Helton’s lucky to have such an unyielding apologist….

          • MG, I really don’t understand these hardline Helton defenders in here in that they try to monitor and battle every single comment that criticizes Helton and the team in any way. Heck, I tell even my own families that they suck when they do in what they do, and WTH can’t I do that when my football team’s coach does when he does? It’s absolutely ridiculous, MG!!!

          • I honestly don’t think Brent is reading our entire posts— If he did he’d see how supportive we are of Helton and the team. But Helton DOES have one weakness —he and his staff overindulge the team from time to time. Right now, while Clay is concentrating on recruiting, the staff is allowing the practices to get a bit too soft —especially toward the end. This thing coming up with Ohio State is gonna be hell on wheels and we’d better be ready for it —-mentally and physically.

          • Yeah, it’s quite hilarious to be called out so often by these weird breed of self-claimed SC fans who believe we should never be critical or even be concerned about the team when we see the room for improvement in certain areas. WTH is going on in this blog, bro?

            Completely agree with what you said there, MG. Now isn’t the time for our guys to relax and lose focus on the huge task at hand. The game is way too big not to prepare with an all-out attitude!

          • Yeah he’s a great guy…honest, outstanding recruiter. He’s won 11 games and a Rose Bowl in his first 2 full years as a HC…yeah he sucks your right. You offer no constructive criticism. You offer your opinions as facts with little to no real insight. You hated the hire from the beginning and rather wanted one of the many high profile coaches Helton has beat the past two years. You criticize in a bubble as if player youth and injuries are myths despite the fact anyone who knows anything about football understands how rediculous our schedule was. You and your compadres sound more and more like Wolf each day. When we beat OSU you’ll still have your negativity just like Wolf w cherry picked pieces.

          • Hey, I hope Helton will be with SC for life just to justify your blind faith in him. But will he? Hopes don’t always become the realities. Next season will be the critical one for your personal hero especially with Darnold likely gone.

          • Thishis wheree you are mistaken. I don’t have blind faith. I do have a clue how Helton is different then the typical HC out there. He’s actually about core values which I would expect you Debbie downers to respect, for some reason you don’t. He’s taken a dumpster fire of a situation and won 11 games back to back. If anything I’m realistic of where we were 3-4 years ago and recognize the amazing job Helton has done. Unlike you all I don’t believe every season is NC or bust. If that were the case USC has a lot of unsuccessful coaches in its history.

          • Why would you label any SC fan who has any critical views on anything a Debbie Downer? The truth is you’re the kind of “fan” that promotes divisiveness in this blog by ridiculing and deriding the ones with their own opinions on the team and its coaching staff. Just let them be and have their own thoughts, OK? You’ve got no rights to tell them not to think in certain ways.

            While I give Helton credit for having brought normalcy to SC football after the sanction era, I think he still needs to pass more tests to be truly embraced by our football community in general as a coach that befits the glamour and tradition of the program. And I think it’ll be after Sam Darnold leaves either after the Cotton Bowl or at the end of next season. So it’d be a hasty judgment by either of us to draw any final conclusions on him until then.

    • Light practices and no practices before the bowl game against Wisconsin, how did that turn out ?

      • How’d the Rose Bowl turn out? Severe case of anti-Helton selective memory. Works every time.

        • I’m a fan of tough practices — at least one or two per week. You practice slow, then you play slow, take the wrong angles, and get pushed around on the lines. I see the other side too — I am glad Rojo will be on the field and not in a boot after Christian Rector twists his ankle on a tackle. It’s a tough balance. But the Rose Bowl last year is NOT an example that lighter practices are fine. We gave up 49 points, and didn’t start to gel defensively until the fourth quarter. The light practices hurt the defense mainly, and those first three quarters were bad defensively. I am worried that the Cotton Bowl has more of a Wisconsin feel to it — we had better be ready on D.

          • For the Holiday Bowl against WIS, much of our staff was lame duck history and trying to line up new jobs, right?

            I didn’t like the look of that team in that game more than anyone else, but it in no way remotely resembles what is going on at this stage of the game with USC.

            Seems like USC is practicing plenty hard to me. I don’t see the practices, but most objective observers would assume all these very experienced and successful USC coaches have a clue about how to prepare for a Cotton Bowl. Just a hunch.

            Since SC handled David Shaw and STAN twice this season (very hard to do for any team), one can only guess if Shaw will have his team prepared for TCU in the Alamo. I wonder if all the STAN fans question Shaw’s ability to conduct the right practices?

          • Everything I have heard so far about our CB preparation sounds fine (if true), so I’m not criticizing CH. The pacing of what we’re doing sounds pretty good — and we’re having at least one padded practice a week (“very physical” according to CH). And yes, what we did verses Stanford was impressive. But the only thing that matters is, if Urban Meyer has his guys where he had them against Wisconsin, will our preparation at least match that? I hope so ’cause that defense and our o-line cannot come in soft, slow, and fat on Holiday ham like we did against Wisconsin. It’s a new day, this is a bigger game, etc. But we need the Stanford SC to show up and not the ND SC. You can’t argue with how Carroll handled these games, and he used every minute of practice he was allowed.

          • Maybe we can count on OHIO ST to give us their IOWA game. It works both ways.

            I’m fairly sure both teams are gonna really bring it for the Cotton. I’m still worried about our OL and CBs, though. We lack excellent talent in those spots and I don’t think a few more practices is gonna fix what has been problematic all season.

            But this SC team will be very ready to play. That doesn’t mean our OL can handle OHIO ST’s superior DL.

          • I’d also be happy with getting the Clemson-style Ohio State from last year! But yeah, I also expect a hard-nosed game and particularly worry about the DB position. While I felt bad for the Jack Jack injury, I was relieved to see Langley coming in for him late against Stanford. He just overthinks the position and forgets fundamentals. I predict a tight game and a 4-point SC victory on a late TD.

          • The corners will get beat a couple of times, but I am sure it is very much on their minds in this game. If the defense can bottle up Barrett then I see USC outscoring Ohio St. USC will run the same offense, going with what works. The pass will open the run, again.

          • I think SC’s gonna win it too. And I think it’s gonna be a thriller, something SC’s been good at pulling out all year, starting with the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 against PSU.

            We’ve perfected the winning ugly art form because somehow, along the way, there’s just enough brilliance to eek it out. I predict a lot of scoring and some see-saw. Maybe getting a classic is too much to ask but the stars are aligning that way with Darnold maybe on his way out.

            One thing for sure. If Helton beats Meyer, the narrative on that dude is gonna have to change. But you know what? Bet it won’t. Until he wins without Darnold, he’s stuck as the coach who still needs to prove it.

          • We have more depth on defense this season, which give the players a rest. I am confident in our defense that they can bottle up Barrett and shut down the OSU offense.

          • I read that USC is scheduled to run 4-5 practices in Dallas as well. Not sure if run throughs or pads.
            .Anyone know?

  4. I wonder if was when we had 18+ players hurt, nonetheless, how many games have we lost after the 15fh of Oct the last two years? Hmmm

  5. Was that comment taken out of context? Did the NFL scout refer to the entire practice or just certain components? And could you be more specific? Less hitting? More drills? Not very organized? And I have a hard time believing a NFL Scout was talking specifically to SW about USC’s practices……

    • Yeah, like, did the guy say this during a Thursday no-pads practice before an Oregon State game, or a Tuesday pads practice getting ready (or not) for Alabama?

    • Nice – on the money. We are asking for responsible and informed reporting. We are getting innuendo.

  6. I find it unusual, to say the least, that for the last several years, all of the comments about USC practices/personnel, etc made in Wolf’s presence from PAC12 asst. coaches and NFL people are NEGATIVE!!
    Based on his reporting, nothing good is ever said about our players, coaches, etc,etc.
    More fake news from America’s worst beat writer

    • How dare you question the long line of really dubious, anonymous, sources that always seem to directly reflect Wolf’s whining. I like that this one even went as far as to “complain” to him. Super normal for NFL scouts to just roll up and make unsolicited complaints to random beat reporters… happens all the time.

      • NFL scouts need a shoulder to cry on just like normal people, Evil Robot —-this is why there is always so much NFL foot traffic at Scott’s door. I’ve personally witnessed it —-long lines of disgruntled NFL scouts lined up on Scott’s porch and front lawn —- just wanting to get some things off their chest.

        • Sharing does mean caring… so I totally get your point. Maybe I’ve been to harsh on old Wolf and his imaginary… ERRR, UH, “anonymous” NFL friends.

    • Why would any NFL person speak w Wolf at all? Does anyone really believe Wolf has the trust of anyone at a USC practice?

      • No. Who would believe SW has any true access into the inner workings of USC football? Nobody.

          • I think we need some more mysterious, bear-like 1920’s building gargoyle photos with no info supplied to explain or identify. Now that’s deep inside.

    • The published reports and videos after last week’s practices showed a focused team.Fresh off finals.
      2 strong practices with game plan installed. Coach H and seniors reminded team of last game in ATT stadium. Team is focused on OSU.

    • I was surprised he was able to squeeze in one sentence regarding McLaughlin breaking the SC record for assists. It was almost in passing.

  7. ruins who played Cincinnati this weekend, had famed lithuanian basketballer LiAngelo ball pictured on their wonder they played so well

  8. I can personally attest to some very strenuous high school football practices. I would have to say that is where fundamentals are taught, over and over and over. An NFL “scout” would know that. Such a bogus statement by Wolf is shear fabrication for the sake of posting something.

  9. Does Daniels staying for his senior season point to him getting inside information (not from Flow, obviously) that Darnold plans to return also?

    • Why would it matter if Sam is staying or not, Daniels wouldn’t start over Fink and Sears next year anyway. He is good, but not that good.

      • That’s my theory based on probably a competitive kid not wanting to sit for a guaranteed year if Sam returns, as opposed to at least competing for the job against Sears/Fink after Sam leaves. If Sam stays, that’s just another year of sitting for all the QB’s below him, barring no injuries.

  10. Better that Daniels not come out earlier. Our QBs need some spacing, especially if Darnold stays.

    Ya, I’m sure NFL scouts “complain” to Big Sweatshirt Scott about USC practices. This is too funny. You can’t make this stuff up. Oh wait, you can!

  11. Many here say the Cotton Bowl will show just what USC is made of.

    Did none of you watch the prison r@pes by ND & Alabama ? Did you not see Penn St score on SEVEN CONSECUTIVE POSSESSIONS ? Did you not see this team struggle all year against inferior teams ?

    I hope Gomer wins the Cotton Bowl and recruits top players. I also hope he is FORCED TO UPGRADE HIS MISERABLE STAFF WITH TOP ASSISTANT COACHES !

    And I would suggest that Gomer visit PC, Belichick or Saben on how to run a proper practice.

    • You would know as much about how to run a “proper practice” as the man on the moon.

      Maybe had Saban been practicing better his team wouldn’t have lost the two most important games they played by far this year to CLEM and AUB.

      As far as PC goes, based on yesterday, he needs to completely re-evaluate how to prepare for games. Looks like the players are running practice in Seattle. Good job Pete!

    • If there is one thing I would love to see Helton do is bringing back a true competition atmosphere like under Carroll. Best man plays regardless if you’re a freshman or a senior. Compete every week or someone else starts instead of you if you take a week off.

      Love Pete Carroll’s “Always Compete” philosophy.

  12. “[O]bsessed with such matters.”

    That’s a curious statement from the blogger considering it’s about practices, something integral to discussions about the team and the program.

    How can Mr. Wolf say anything about that when he himself has consistently “obsessed” about minor and petty things on this blog – Nike shoes on a statue, a spelling on a statue at USC Village, a Pete Carroll nickname (Caesar), etc?

    • Big Sweatshirt Scott has a big thing for ex-USC coaches, statues, fountains, and uniform uniformity, just to name a few of his peeves. There’s no research or inside knowledge required for these subjects.

      • Exactly right – no research or inside knowledge required.

        Now shaking my head as to why this forum is called “Inside USC….”

    • Western Michigan football, Tim Floyd, quotes from Petros Papadakis, the list goes on….

      • One of my favorite lines… “The difference between Paul Hackett and Pete Carroll is the same difference between Petros and Reggie Bush”

  13. I have two questions and two observations. First is an NFL scout like a Girl scout? And why are NFL scouts going to high school practices?
    I am an iron sharpens iron type of guy who believes practice should reflect game conditions. But I also know that injuries to key players happen in practice situations. So a balance is needed.
    I also want to know why this and many other so called sources always seem to be anonymous. If the scout is from Cleveland I ask what do they know of football in Ohio? If the scout is from the Rams he might be more creditable. I guess what the L.A. paper needs is an anonymous writer.

  14. OSU should be an easy win for USC if they make jt barret throw the ball. Basically use the same scheme they did against Stanford. Usc needs to realize they will not be able to run the ball as effectively as they did against Stanford. they will need to rely more on the pass and sams feet. Now daniels stay for his senior year I think has nothing to do with sam staying. if sam was smart he would stay and convince the other Jrs to do the same. either way daniels more than likely will be redshirted his freshman year. which will give fink and year maybe two to play. the problem I see is sears ability to beat out fink or even daniels. out of the three qbs daniels is the better of them.

    • Barrett is indeed an up and down QB. OSU has a great D-line, and a great D-line coach. Trojan O-line performance will be critical. SW, any real information from practice?

      • Here’s some info on practice, trojan_1972. Porter Gustin is finally out of his protective boot! Sam says he’s taking on more of a leadership role with Tyson Helton out. Sam also says he’s seen Ohio State’s defensive schemes before and he feels our offense can look good against them. Chris Hawkins is real happy with how dialed in our defense is playing in practice and says that it will be ALL business and hard work going in to Dallas —none of the undisciplined nonsense we saw at the tunnel before the Alabama game.
        All is good.

  15. Perhaps that is why he is an NFL scout versus being a college coach. He doesn’t know what he is talking about 🙂

  16. Trying to get done early out here, but I keep looking at my phone. Gerard Martinez made a crystal ball pick for Jaiden Woodbey to USC so I take it he needed to check out FSU to be sure he was exploring all his options, but it sounds like he’s heading our way.

  17. According to a source, while using the head at the 5 guys, Wolf overheard a 12 year old boy sitting on the throne talking to a friend
    on his cell phone. The boy mentioned to the friend that his father, a former NFL scout, thought Coach killer’s Pop Warner practices were too soft.

    Wolf instantly thought this would make a great post for his blog, with the exception of twisting the facts to fit his agenda. Knowing the post had to truth to it didn’t matter to wolf. What mattered, was the 50+ replies it would generate

    • I never knew one could attain such valuable “inside” info while using the head at various fast food chains. Then I found out about Scott Wolf and his “blog”…

      • Back in wolf’s younger days, he would troll the men’s showers wearing a jockstrap, and eavesdrop on conversations, looking for inside info

  18. Was it the Cleveland Brown’s scout who knows what a High School Team looks like first hand by any chance?

  19. Preparation is the key. I hope they study a ton of film. Ohio State is going to challenge our secondary all game. Also Darnold is going to see a ton a pressure from their front 7 all game. We have the talent. The mental preparation and limiting mistakes will be the difference. I can’t wait to get back to AT&T Stadium and watch our Trojans. Fight On!!!!

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