Texas crushes and embarrasses USC
If there is a turning point in the Clay Helton era at USC, it might be Saturday night’s embarrassing 37-14 loss to Texas before a school record 103,507 at Texas Memorial Stadium.
Does Helton have any supporters after another listless performance on the big state?
USC could not run the ball, it could not cover the middle of the field and it offered atrocious special teams play.
But Helton tried to put a brave face the Trojans’ second consecutive loss.
"There's a lot of guys playing a lot of good ball out there,” Helton said. “We're just not doing it all together right now. And it's my job, my responsibility. Put it on me."
The last time USC lost consecutive games by double digits was in Paul Hackett’s final season in 2000. Hackett lost three straight games by double digits.
The bigger problem for Helton is the mindset of the Trojans. In an amazing admission after the game, USC tailback Aca’Cedric Ware said this week’s practices were “lazy.”
"We gotta practice better. Period,” Ware said. “Practice this week was kind of lazy, kind of slow. I feel like if we practice harder, we're going to play harder. We gotta work on stuff like that."
It was stunning to think the players might feel this way heading into the Texas game. And it speaks volumes about Helton’s ability to win on a consistent basis without Sam Darnold.
Helton is now 0-6 without Darnold against Power 5 teams and this might have been worse than USC’s loss to Alabama two years ago because that was against Nick Saban.
This loss was to an average Texas team that struggled to beat Tulsa last week and lost to Maryland.
Texas outscored USC, 34-0, after the Trojans jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
USC finished with minus-5 rushing yards. Not counting sacks, USC had 21 yards in 13 carries.
Then there was special teams: USC had punts of 13, 22 and 29 yards. Kicker Chase McGrath’s 50-yard field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown.
Helton gave special teams coach John Baxter a vote of confidence after the game.
“John Baxter is as good a special teams coach as I've ever met and he does a tremendous job,” Helton said. “We’ll get the kickers better.”
McGrath was carted off the field and might have torn his ACL, which would further complicate the kicking woes.