Scott Huber's Game Analysis
I heard from credible sources that following the 2017 campaign a number of prominent USC football alum and administrators approached the USC football program with a list of major concerns they had about Trojan football moving into 2018. \
These concerns included Tee Martin'‘s role as playcaller, the offensive line coach, and the secondary. Helton ignored them, didn’t make any changes and allowed these issues to fester and ultimately drag USC to the bottom of the PAC-12. I can respect a coach wanting to do it his way. But at a certain point stubborn becomes stupid, we passed that point somewhere before the ASU game. Helton has already set us back years with players he’s recruited. If Helton comes for a 4th season it will cost of more than just another wasted season. Helton’s impact is now being felt in dog years. Helton is just a poor evaluator of talent and every year he stays at USC, he’ll bring in another group of mediocre guys who will linger in the program for 5 years. Just look at Chip Kelly, he is dealing with this at UCLA. Much like Helton, Mora brought in a big time QB who for 3 years covered up his deficiencies as a recruiter and evaluator of talent. By the time UCLA got rid of Mora their program was filled with sub-par players. Now Chip Kelly is left rebuilding a talentless program. He’s playing 11 true freshman, and only 3 seniors and struggling along at 2-8. When Helton leaves, he will have done a similar number on USC, mark my words.
Nothing against the kids. They are who they are. They would be great somewhere, but they aren’t championship level guys. When you are SC, and get every teams best shot every week, you need to be more talented.This season will haunt is for years. The embarrassment will fade, but the impact on our recruiting and image will linger for years. I stay in touch with a number of recruits around the Southern California area, most of them are 3 star guys at best. Many of these guys have offers from SC, and a few of them don’t even reply when Helton texts them. Let that sink in, our head coach, is getting left on read by guys who are taking trips to Wyoming.
Contrast this with any other USC coach. Do you think Kids ignores Carroll’s texts? I know kids who framed the letters they received from him during recruiting. This just illustrates how far we’ve fallen in the hearts and minds of recruits. To the casual observer its been a speedy decline, but serious fans know that Sam Darnold was the only reason we weren’t stinking up the PAC-12 in 2016 and 2017. Every year under Helton I’ve seen a drop in the level of execution and talent. These players are now all Helton’s guys. He clearly doesn’t have the touch when it comes to recruiting. He’s recruited a bunch of average 3 star guys and some fake 4 stars recruits who can’t live up to the hype. He hasn’t developed them and now its starting to show at all positions. Short of a miracle Pete Carroll type hire, it could take 3 or 4 years to rebuild USC into a competitive team. The talent cabinet is bare. You can’t sign an entire offensive line in one year.
Where is Lynn Swann? The guy has absent. Nothing in the media, no rumors of ass chewings coming out of the football offices. I’m looking for any sign of life. Show us you care! Show us that you are seeing what we’re seeing! The silence is deafening, and concerning. I actually heard from a legitimate source that they want to bring Helton back for 2019. If thats the case then Lynn Swann may see his way out in 2019 with Helton. Another year of this and his head will be on the chopping block too. Failure in this level is costing USC big bucks. A not top 25 USC team won’t get national games, wont’ get big bowl payouts, and won’t sell tickets. The coliseum was less than half full when I was there for the ASU game. USC is spending big bucks to ground lease the coliseum and a ton of money is being sunk into the remodel. No one is buying inflated season tickets or pricey box seats to watch USC lose to Cal and ASU. If Swann doesn’t step in and make a change the university might.
We look like a team that doesn’t believe in their coaching. We lost the turnover and adjustment battle again. We lacked energy and discipline. JT Daniels is starting to play like a shell shocked pro. He reminds me of David Carr in Houston. When he showed up on campus and when he won the job, Helton told us he was ready for big time college football. This turned out to be far from the truth. Ten weeks into the season and JT continues to get worse. His continues to stare down receiver which directly lead to an interception, multiple almost interception, and a ton of deflected passes. Cal’s DB, were looking at JT’s eyes all game long, which is all you have to do to defend our pass game.
JT was under pressure all night, and still throwing off his backfoot, which messed with his accuracy. He still hasn’t shown the ability to effectively throw the deep ball (he underthrew all 4 that I saw). He just has a bad combination of poor pocket presence, slow feet, and lack of speed. When you combine this with his poor blitz reads against CAL you end up with a bad QB. I’m not saying he can’t turn into something great, but right now he’s just bad. He made multiple little mistakes that ended up costing us big (sliding before he got the first down in the 3rd Quarter comes to mind). It wasn’t all on JT, he got ) protection (even versus a 4 man rush) and his receivers were dropping balls left and right.
For most of the 2nd half Cal was only keeping 4 defenders in the box. Their LB’s dropped to coverage without even reading run. We must have showed a tendency on film that Cal picked up on. Cal’s defense reacted like they knew whether it was pass or run before the ball was snapped . With only 4 defender rushing you end up with 7 guys in coverage. It’s very hard to consistently throw with that many guys in coverage. As a staff USC has to be able to self-scout that tendency and adjust. When the opponent drops that many guys, you need a QB that can tuck the ball and get you 10. JT is too slow. We would have benefited from a change at QB. Sears could have come in and done some damage with his legs versus this Cal front.
But we fell into the same shitty habits. If I had to bet I would guess Tee Martin was calling the plays again.
Our offense line play against OSU was a mirage; no coach can fix this group in 2 weeks. They returned to their old horrible selves versus Cal. Cal was able to pressure JT for most of the game using a 4 man rush.
When they dialed up blitzes that were resulting in QB hits, sacks, or hurries 75% of the time. #54 was an improvement at RT, but he was still bad, giving up a few sacks and TFL in the run game. No one was as bad as our center #50. We were once again the victim of his bad snaps ( he has to be in double digit bad snaps on the year).
He has had more errand snaps this year than my teams have had collectively in my 10 years of high school football coaching. It’s unforgivable, and it cost us huge momentum and points at a critical point in the game. #50 gave up multiple sacks. Cal clearly scouted out our OL and saw that #50 buries his head and turns his shoulders in pass protection.
So whenever the MLB saw #50 bury his head, he delayed blitzed and sack JT twice in a row in the 4th Qtr on this same action. #73 at LT still lacks any energy, he gave up multiple pressures, and still doesn’t play til the whistle. He spend way too much time standing around not blocking anybody. LB’s blew through his gap in the run game multiple times in the first half.
If it wasn’t for breakdown our power run game would have looked pretty good, maybe even consistent. Our tight ends didn’t help things. In my experience TE’s are usually either great receivers or great blocker. The ones who make in the NFL can do both. Our TE’s couldn’t do either against Cal, #82, #83, and #84 all missed multiple block in pass pro and in the run game. Some of this is on the coaches for putting them in bad situations (you can’t put a TE on a good DE in pass pro), but since none of them are elite receivers they should be able to block. Bottom line is we put on 14 points on an averages Cal football team, which is unacceptable. We had Cal down 14-0 in the second quarter, with a chance to go up 21-0. We turn the ball over and quickly give up a touchdown and a safety to let them back in the game. Once against, under Helton, we failed to put away an inferior opponent.
Our defense did enough to win this game. They held Cal to 15 point. It would have been less if our offense didn’t hang our defense out to dry with so many turnovers and 3 and outs. Once again we lost the turnover battle. You can’t put defense on the field that long and expect to win. We ultimately ran out of gas. Cal’s offense is bad, but even a bad offense will hit a couple of time if given enough chances.
We still struggled providing a consistent pass rush, it was mostly a sack or nothing at all. Very few hurries and pressures. We still can’t cover 1 on 1, which kills us when we try to blitz. In the second quarter #4 got burned for a TD in 1 on 1 cover during a blitz. Cal did enough on offense to win. They were able to move the ball and keep our offense on the sidelines.
They took advantage of our lack of discipline on defense by running the option, option read and counter. They were able to ride this advantage to a second half score and used it to grind out a few first downs at the end of the game to seal the win.